Vinland Saga (Season 2) Episodes 21, 22 & 23 Recap & Ending Explained: Vinland Saga’s three latest episodes take a break from the one-sided battle on Ketil’s farm, with Ketil’s family having to choose between the practical decision of surrendering or the prideful decision of fighting and thus, dying. While that’s being debated, Thorfinn has made a reckless and potentially lethal move of his own to solve everything by himself, and that storyline is what cements Vinland Saga as an anime masterpiece. It also showcases how far Thorfinn has come both in this season and in the story overall. These episodes conclude the Slave Arc of Vinland Saga, and it is likely that next week’s season finale will be a low–key affair, albeit an emotional one that sees Thorfinn finally return home.

Vinland Saga (Season 2) Episodes 21, 22 & 23 Recap:

Episode 21

In the aftermath of the battle, Canute’s soldiers gather the farmers killed during the battle and lay them out side by side. Given how many fighters they lost, Wulf assumes that they will have lost the will to fight, and says he will send another messenger asking for surrender.

Approaching Wulf and Canute, Floki asks the latter if his soldiers can take over some houses on the farms as they are fed up of sleeping in tents. Canute refuses, saying they are forbidden from even stepping foot on the farm, because as soon as they do, they will start pillaging it. Floki counters that they can do so as victors in the battle, but Canute still forbids it, instead saying that he will personally reward the Jomsvikings later. He also reminds Floki that their goal was to take over the farm, not pillage it. Floki reluctantly agrees.

Sweyn’s head appears to Canute, mockingly asking him if he is showing mercy, before stating that kings must spare those who should live and kill those who must die. Ordinary people, according to him, can never bear such a large weight on their shoulders. Canute’s work is incomplete as the paradise he wants has not yet come, since the world is still like hell, which he took advantage of by killing his father and brother since hell has different laws. Sweyn concludes by saying that Canute must keep piling up the corpses till he reaches paradise.

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At the mercenary camp on the farm, Olmar is horrified by the gore, blood and severe injuries and is called out to by the young woman who he was sleeping with early in the season. She tearfully states that her father has lost both his hands, having been maimed during battle, and the father begs Olmar to look after his family. Backing away, Olmar is confronted by the vision of the man he killed and starts vomiting, then crying as the young woman comforts him.

During a meeting between Ketil’s family and Snake, Snake informs them of the second offer of surrender from Canute, saying that they will still be declared outlaws. Ketil’s wife is furious and blames Snake for being a coward and a freeloader, even throwing water at him which angers Fox but he is stopped by Snake. Thorgil, unperturbed, asks Snake what he will do if they want to fight. Snake states that he will stick around, much to Thorgil’s joy. 

Thorgil reassures his mother that he will take care of matters, as he believes that the twenty remaining men that they have are enough to kill the king, and it is also a glorious death. Sverkel, silent up until this point, reminds Thorgil that it is not his decision to make, and Thorgil asks if Sverkel intends to make the decision instead. Denying this, Sverkel says that Ketil has already named a successor and since he is unconscious, this successor will make the decision.

It is revealed to be Olmar, who is summoned to the meeting. Olmar wants to surrender, and his mother angrily asks if he has no pride as a Norseman. He admits he is ashamed of himself, but he doesn’t want himself or anyone else to die and just wants all of it to be over. An irritated Thorgil reminds Olmar of the fact that he has always wanted to fight and that he is the one responsible for everything in the first place, but that does not convince Olmar. Instead, he agrees that the war is his fault and since he is the one who started it, he will also be the one who ends it.

Changing tactics, Thorgil apologizes, saying that Canute wanted their farm either way, but Olmar argues that he gave the king a perfect excuse to start a war through his actions. Thorgil, not backing down, continues that Canute would have found another way to seize their farm and that he defended his honour by being brave. Olmar counters that it was not bravery, as he made a fool of himself in front of the king and deserved being made fun of, but could not take it.

Stating he is not a warrior like Thorgil, Olmar also says he no longer cares about the honour of a Norseman and their pride as fighters. He concludes by saying that they will surrender and Thorgil is free to make fun of him for that. Sverkel tells Olmar to inform Canute of their decision to surrender, and Snake decides to accompany him to Canute’s camp. An angry Thorgil leaves, calling them cowards.

Left alone with an unconscious Ketil, Sverkel reminds him that too much wealth, land and power will be his undoing, yet they did not lose their farm for nothing, as Olmar has now become a man.

Elsewhere, Einar discovers the fact that Thorfinn has gone to Canute to try and convince him to stop fighting. He asks Leif why he let him go, especially since he has been looking after him for years. Leif explains that he will still take Thorfinn back home, and that Thorfinn is being moved by something bigger right now, and he decides to trust the look in his eyes. Additionally, Thorfinn promises to come back, with Leif choosing to place his trust in him.

At Canute’s camp, Thorfinn introduces himself to the soldiers as a farmhand of Ketil’s, here as a messenger to talk with the king. A soldier named Drott, however, correctly identifies him as a slave since he smells, causing all the soldiers to laugh, before telling Thorfinn that the war will continue till one of Ketil’s family comes to surrender.

Dropping the guise, Thorfinn reveals that he used to be a royal guard of Canute’s four years ago, and asks them to simply tell Canute his name. Drott, clearly not believing him, punches him and says that there was no way someone as small as him was a royal guard to the king. Thorfinn gets up, apologizing for offending Drott, but again asks him to tell Canute that he is here. Seeing Thorfinn still standing, the other men laugh at Drott’s weak punch, angering him.

Close by, Canute hears the noise coming from where the soldiers have gathered, and Wulf brings him up to speed, also giving him the name of the messenger. This visibly surprises Canute, as well as Floki. The former even describes his features to correctly identify him, which Wulf confirms. Surprised, he asks Canute if he wishes to meet with him, but after a short pause Canute declines.

Still angered, Drott keeps trying to punch Thorfinn who dodges all his attacks easily. The other soldiers reveal that they have started making bets on the situation, which Thorfinn hears and gets distracted, allowing a punch to connect. Einar arrives, and wants Thorfinn to leave with him, considering the whole affair pointless but Thorfinn refuses. He asks one of the soldiers about the bet, who explains that they had all started betting on how many punches Thorfinn can endure without fleeing or dying.

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Seeing his way in, Thorfinn asks to join in the bet, betting on himself but instead of money, he wants an audience with the king if he wins. They agree, and since the maximum number of punches bet on up until that point was in the nineties, Thorfinn has to endure a hundred punches. Thorfinn agrees, and tells a protesting Einar that he is glad to have ended up on this farm, where he met those who were kind to him, and he wishes to return the favour.

Further reassuring Einar by saying that there is a trick to getting hit, he also says he is no stranger to getting hit. As he faces Drott, the other soldiers continue to laugh at Drott for being weak, which further angers Drott and he declares he will kill Thorfinn as the episode ends.

A still from Vinland Saga Season 2.

Episode 22

As per the terms of the bet, Thorfinn begins to endure a hundred punches from Drott, and Drott realizes that something is off since he can barely feel his punches connect. Wulf is watching and sees that Thorfinn is twisting his body, specifically his neck and hips, to distribute the force of the punch throughout his body to reduce the damage he takes. Despite that, Wulf believes that Thorfinn cannot last a hundred punches owing to Drott’s strength. Einar is watching too, and thinks back to when Thorfinn had said violence should be a last resort, wondering if he means to just keep getting hit instead.

Olmar, accompanied by Snake, reaches the camp to offer their surrender. Upon seeing the fight, Snake tries to stop it as Thorfinn no longer has anything to do with the farm, and that distracts Thorfinn long enough for Drott to finally connect properly with his thirty – second punch. Knocked down, Thorfinn is checked on by Einar, Snake and Olmar, as Einar apprises Snake of the situation.

Believing it to be stupid, Snake tells Thorfinn that if conversation could have resolved everything, they would have already done so. However, Thorfinn wonders if that is really true, as he stands up. According to him, they decided to respond with violence the moment Canute started targeting them. The soldiers are surprised to see Thorfinn still standing. Thorfinn then taunts Drott by saying his punches are like bug bites to him and that he should get the remaining punches over with, since he is a busy man and has people waiting for him.

At the end of the day, the punches are nearly done and the soldiers watch on in silence, no longer cheering or mocking anyone. Drott’s punches have grown significantly weaker, and Thorfinn is heavily bruised and injured, but still standing, and he successfully endures a hundred punches from Drott, who falls to his knees out of exhaustion. Olmar watches with tears in his eyes.

Apologizing for doubting him, Drott calls him a true warrior and requests Wulf, who was still watching, to allow Thorfinn to meet with the king since he also served him once. Wulf walks over to Thorfinn, asking him why he didn’t fight back and defeat Drott, as that would have been proof of his skill and his past as Canute’s royal guard.

However, Thorfinn finds the question absurd, as he is here for negotiating peace and cannot fight someone if that is the case. He further adds that since they just met and know nothing about each other, they have no reason to hate each other and hold no grudges. The only ones who want to fight are Canute and Ketil, so they should resolve their differences over a game of hnefatafl (a board game) so as to avoid any deaths. Thorfinn concludes by saying that they are not his enemies, as he remembers his father’s words, and that he has no enemies.

Wulf finds him to be bold for denying war in the presence of so many professional soldiers, but is amused by the hnefatafl comment. He then reveals to Thorfinn that Canute does not fight wars because he wants to, and that he will understand once he speaks to Canute, if permitted. Commanding his men to clear a path, he takes Thorfinn to the king as promised, with Einar also accompanying him at Thorfinn’s prompting, since he might want to talk to the one who starts wars.

On their way to Canute, Thorfinn and Einar come across deceased farmers from Ketil’s and Thorfinn cautions Einar not to look at them, fearing that he may become upset if they see Pater among them. Upon learning of what transpired, Canute agrees to meet with Thorfinn out of respect for Wulf and his soldiers.

Canute greets Thorfinn, initially assuming that Thorfinn despises him for enslaving him, but quickly corrects himself, realizing that Thorfinn must hate him for what happened to Askeladd. Thorfinn, though, appreciates Canute’s thoughtfulness that he showed at the end of their previous encounter, where he attacked him, and apologizes for leaving a scar on Canute’s face. Wulf is taken aback upon discovering that Thorfinn is responsible for that scar, and then recognizes him as Thorfinn Karlsefni, the man who could match Thorkell in combat.

Getting down to business, Thorfinn expresses his desire for Canute to leave the farm, but Canute explains that he cannot do so because the conflict was initiated by Ketil. Thorfinn is aware of this, but he points out that over a hundred men have lost their lives, and the farm’s recovery may be jeopardized without the farmers. Canute blames Ketil for refusing to surrender and misjudging his chances, but he believes that the battle cannot conclude until Ketil’s family is punished for their actions.

Einar interjects, correctly summarizing that the battle will only end when they capture the farm, and he accuses Canute of being a thief. Einar argues that if Canute truly desired a farm, he should have built one himself and understood the cruelty of taking it from someone else.

Thorfinn recalls Canute’s earlier aspirations to create a paradise and wonders if he still holds onto that belief. Canute responds to the question by asserting his status as the king of the Vikings, ruler of vast lands, and commander of ten thousand men. He claims that his power surpasses human comprehension, allowing him to accomplish the impossible. He extends his hand towards the sea, telling them to witness him stopping the waves, but nothing happens.

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Canute then admits his powerlessness in halting the waves and acknowledges that only God can achieve such a feat. He argues that attempting to build a paradise on Earth is an act of defiance against God’s logic, a rebellion. Canute believes that true happiness cannot be found under God’s rule and states that as Vikings, they bear responsibility for the chaos and destruction. He questions whether they should also seek to live in paradise, knowing that humans are capable of sin. Canute asserts that unless he can save those abandoned by God, he will never be able to construct a paradise. He expresses his intention to rescue the Vikings, being the sole individual capable of conquering, ruling, unifying, and guiding them toward a paradise. Canute aims to unite all of humanity’s strength to challenge God.

Thorfinn admires Canute for his incredible aspirations to save the Vikings, something that never crossed his own mind before, which he admits to himself. However, Einar becomes enraged and confronts Canute, acknowledging that he is free to pursue his grand ambitions but questioning who will save the people Canute has killed in the process. Einar accuses Canute of selectively sparing the Vikings because they can be of use to him while stealing from and killing those who hold no value to his goals. Einar shares his personal grievances, recounting how King Ethelred burned his village and King Sweyn killed his family. He expresses his exhaustion and refusal to suffer any longer due to Canute’s actions, dismissing Canute’s ideals. Canute, though, accepts his hatred and says he will not be asking for forgiveness.

Thorfinn reiterates his request for Canute to leave, but Canute explains that he requires Ketil’s wealth to accomplish his objectives. Canute then ponders what Thorfinn’s next move will be and questions if Thorfinn will attempt to kill him, as he believes that unless Thorfinn eliminates him, he will not be stopped. Canute’s soldiers surround Thorfinn and Einar at this point, and the episode ends.

Episode 23

Picking up right where the last episode left off, Canute questions Thorfinn and asks if he possesses the ability to stop him as Askeladd did in the past. One of the soldiers advises Thorfinn to leave, expressing his reluctance to harm him. Sweyn’s head appears and admonishes Canute, reminding him that he is not a king yet.

Talking to Canute, Sweyn wonders why he revealed his true emotions to individuals of such low stature and expresses doubt as to whether they will ever comprehend each other. Sweyn likens the people to sheep and Canute to a shepherd, asserting that the sheep cannot understand the shepherd and that Canute should simply exert control over them. Thorfinn prepares to respond, prompting Sweyn to urge Canute to kill him, deeming Thorfinn dangerous. Sweyn argues that a single sheep can lead the entire flock astray, potentially causing them to fall off a cliff.

Thorfinn declares that if Canute plans to utilize his authority to impose his will, he will choose to escape. This statement leaves everyone momentarily speechless. Canute asks if Thorfinn’s sole intention is to flee, prompting Thorfinn to affirm that he sees no other course of action. Thorfinn acknowledges that Canute’s vision of paradise may benefit many people while oppressing a few. Although Thorfinn is uncertain whether this outcome is good or bad, he believes he lacks the right to criticize Canute’s ideas. Thus, he concludes that his only option is to run away. Thorfinn prepares to depart and calls for Einar to accompany him. Canute wonders if Thorfinn allowed himself to be beaten merely to reprimand Canute. In response, Thorfinn states that he has wasted his time and bids Canute farewell.

As Thorfinn and Einar depart, Canute can no longer contain his laughter. He explains that many people have attempted to negotiate with him, but Thorfinn is an utter fool. Thorfinn had no hidden agenda, arrived unarmed, willingly allowed himself to be beaten, all just to ask him not to requisition the farm. Canute finds this to be the most absurd peace talk he has ever encountered. Canute expresses surprise to himself at how the Vikings can have such a beautiful, pacific individual like Thorfinn. Canute then wonders where Thorfinn plans to run off to, but Thorfinn chooses not to share that with him.

Intrigued, Canute mentions that his territory is expanding and speculates that one day he may reach the place Thorfinn is headed, but Thorfinn remains resolute in his decision to keep running. As long as he can find somewhere to run, he will refrain from fighting. Thorfinn aims to create a peaceful haven using a different approach from Canute’s, one that accommodates even those who cannot exist within the world Canute is building.

Canute asks if Thorfinn will be able to fill the void in his dream. Thorfinn admits that he possesses limited power and cannot fill a substantial void. If Canute continues to oppress people, there will come a point where no one can save him. Thorfinn advises Canute to strive harder and not burden him with excessive work. Reflecting on the situation, Canute acknowledges that he has never engaged in such challenging peace talks before.

Vinland Saga (Season 2), Episode 23 Ending Explained:

How does the standoff between Thorfinn and Canute end?

A while later, Thorgil arrives at the beach where the army had camped only to discover that Canute has departed with his troops. Thorgil finds this hard to believe and wonders where they have gone, as he considers their battle far from over.

Meanwhile, aboard his fleet, Wulf informs Canute that Floki was discontented and failed to comprehend the reason for their withdrawal from the farm. Canute wonders if Wulf shares the same dissatisfaction, but Wulf denies it. Canute then informs Wulf that he is cancelling all other plans to capture additional farms, as he does not want to burden Thorfinn with more tasks. Canute had believed that Wulf was the only one fighting alongside him, but today he has gained a new ally in Thorfinn.

At this point, a voice-over from the narrator begins, who states that Canute issued a command to disband the Danish army stationed in England, which had been exerting pressure on English finances. Despite having only a single fleet of sixteen ships left, Canute’s Danish forces are relieved to see that the anticipated English uprising did not materialize. The English nobility recognized the trust Canute had placed in them by disbanding his army, and this act sparked a transformation in their relationship, changing it for the better.

Upon waking up the next morning, Thorfinn realizes that Einar is not in his bed. He ventures outside and discovers Einar by Arnheid’s grave. Einar ponders whether they will be departing for Vinland. In response, Thorfinn shares his thoughts on Arnheid’s death, recalling his struggle to find words to persuade her to keep living. Having witnessed her endure immense suffering, Thorfinn confesses his inability to provide solace to a soul that longs for the tranquility of death.

He yearns for a world where he can inspire people to live, a realm that offers a more enticing alternative to those who yearn for release. Even if such a place does not yet exist, Thorfinn is determined to create it. Thorfinn affectionately refers to Einar as his brother and implores him to join him in constructing this peaceful world in Vinland. Einar reciprocates the sentiment, addressing Thorfinn as his brother, and the two clasp hands.

Thorfinn and Einar make preparations to depart alongside Leif. Snake informs everyone that Olmar has convinced the king to leave, and questions if it is truly acceptable. Thorfinn confirms that it is indeed the case. Pater, who has survived the battle albeit with an injury, assures them that he will take care of Arnheid’s grave.

Olmar expresses his gratitude towards Thorfinn, expressing his desire to emulate his strength and kindness, aspiring to become a true man. Thorfinn learns that Olmar has made the decision to cease fighting, which he finds wonderful. Thorfinn shares that it took him fifteen years to come to the same realization and determine his new path. He expresses his appreciation to Sverkel for his assistance. Finally, Thorfinn and Einar depart alongside Leif. Before they leave, Snake calls out, revealing that his true name is Roald, the son of Grim.

In the following period, Olmar assumes responsibility for the farm and diligently carries out his duties. Snake and his comrades choose to remain, embracing the life of farmers and actively contributing to the work. Meanwhile, a wrathful Thorgil departs from the farm, setting off towards an undisclosed location. Lastly, Ketil has been reduced to a shell of his former self, and is distraught over the death of Arnheid.

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Vinland Saga (Season 2), Episodes 21, 22, 23 Links: IMDb
Vinland Saga (Season 2), Episodes 21, 22, 23 Cast: Yûto Uemura, Naoya Uchida, Mike Haimoto
Where to watch Vinland Saga

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