When I was younger, I had many idealistic delusions of the great good I would do in the world. Life eventually disillusioned me. I’m not saying that it’s bad to have ideals. It took me a long time to learn, but I’m now of the opinion that helping people and the world in small ways is a worthwhile path. You don’t need to save the world; you just need to do your best to help bring about one tiny positive outcome at a time. At the end of the day, our worlds as individuals are small. So, miniscule progress is fine.
Vinland Saga’s second season also promotes the idea of working toward small, positive change in one’s life. This is only one of the many interesting themes and bits of character psychology explored in the current season. It’s just a sample, but I thought it would make for an interesting introduction. Without further ado, here are my reviews for episodes 15, 16, and 17.
Episode 15: Storm
Arnheid goes to see her husband Gardar, the runaway slave who was captured after killing his master. Gardar attacks the guard who is watching them, fatally biting his neck. Now that Gardar has killed another one of Snake’s men, both he and Arnheid will probably be killed. So, Arnheid cuts Gardar’s ropes and the wrathful man slaughters all the rest of the guards. The husband and wife then flee the scene. When Snake returns and sees his men dead, he vows to find and kill Gardar.
The next morning, Thorfinn and Einar have a serious discussion about violence, war, and slavery. They both wish for a better world, but are unsure of how to create one. Thorfinn remembers Leif’s story of Vinland, the paradise far to the west over the ocean. If only they could run away to that land and start a peaceful country. It’s just a dream, but it cheers up Einar to hear the idea. The conversation is interrupted by Snake and his men as they search the slave shed for signs of Gardar. Thorfinn grimly realizes what must have happened. They will probably never see Arnheid again.
This episode was amazing. It was shocking when Gardar attacked that other man with his teeth, like some kind of wild animal. I’m guessing that Arnheid will be found and killed. If not, and her escape is successful, we probably won’t hear of her ever again. Either way, it’s sad for us viewers who liked having a nice female character around.
The discussion shared by Thorfinn and Einar was profound and emotional. I was deeply moved by Thorfinn’s regret and his resolution to make a better world however he can. I also have many regrets, and Thorfinn’s story is a reminder that people can change and redeem themselves. That’s a strong theme in Vinland Saga season 2.
As someone who also wants a less violent world, I have spent significant time thinking the same kind of thoughts as Thorfinn and Einar in this episode. It’s especially interesting to me that their conversation touched on the paradox of peace. Once you establish a land where there is no war, how do you protect the peace? Do you commit more violence in the name of protection, thus continuing the cycle of war? I don’t know how to solve the paradox, nor rid the world of war and slavery. But I agree with Thorfinn that even making one village or one home into a better, less violent place is meaningful and “worth it.” Every little bit helps.
Episode 16: Cause
Thorfinn and Einar run to Sverkel’s house and are surprised to see Arnheid there. Snake and two men are also present. Arnheid tells Thorfinn and Einar what happened last night. She and Gardar ran to Sverkel’s house to treat Gardar’s injuries, but the wounded man lost consciousness. With Sverkel’s help, Arnheid hid Gardar just as Snake got to the house. Snake is under the impression that Gardar is still on the loose and will come by to pick up Arnheid, so he’s staking out the house and using the woman as bait.
Einar makes the selfless decision to help Arnheid and Gardar escape. Thorfinn agrees to help too. Einar disguises himself, making Snake think he is Gardar, and leading him on a chase. Meanwhile, Thorfinn loads the unconscious Gardar into a horse-drawn cart. Sverkel volunteers to go in the cart as well, since he wants to help out. But before the escapees could depart, Snake returns to the house. He left his men chasing Einar and came back alone. Drawing his sword, Snake orders Thorfinn to surrender Gardar.
Thorfinn decides to fight to protect Arnheid and her husband. He’ll subdue Snake without killing him. A vision of Askeladd encourages the young man. But Thorfinn’s first attempt to strike doesn’t go well. Snake easily defends himself. So, Thorfinn takes up his old stance, but instead of dual-wielding knives, he has only his fists. Now, it’s time for the real fight to begin.
This episode got my blood pumping. It was so cool to see Thorfinn decide to fight again – this time for a good cause, and without the intent to kill. Watching him take his stance and brandish his fists was inspiring. I’m happy that Einar and Thorfinn decided to help Arnheid, because it was just too sad to watch her cry and lose hope. And it was also good to see Askeladd again and hear his distinct voice half-teasing and half-encouraging Thorfinn. I’m really excited for the next episode. It would be nice if Arnheid and Gardar escape before King Canute’s forces arrive to seize the farm. Anyway, that’s about it for my thoughts on episode 16.
Episode 17: The Road Home
The fight between Thorfinn and Snake is intense. Snake is faster than any opponent Thorfinn has previously defeated. Both men try their best, but Snake wins by knocking Thorfinn away from the cart. Now, Gardar’s unconscious body is unprotected. Despite Arnheid’s desperate pleas, Snake stabs Gardar. He then turns his back on the supposedly dead man and asks what Thorfinn will do now. Without any warning, Gardar springs up from the cart and catches Snake in a monstrously strong chokehold. Snake quickly loses consciousness, and would have died if Arnheid hadn’t called out to Gardar for him to stop.
Thorfinn realizes that despite this show of brute strength, Gardar doesn’t have much time to live. Arnheid understands that, but asks Thorfinn to send her off anyway. She and Gardar leave in the horse-drawn cart and travel slowly along the sunny road between the wheat fields. As Gardar starts to fade away, he sees many visions of his life, including his painful times as a slave, and his greatest mistake of all: leaving his wife and child to fight an unnecessary battle. Gardar apologizes to Arnheid. His last vision before dying is coming home to his son Hjalti, who would have been six by now. Arnheid tearfully holds Gardar in her arms as he finally dies.
The episode ends there, so we don’t yet know what will happen when Snake catches up to Arnheid. She will definitely face some kind of punishment along with Thorfinn and Einar. I just hope it isn’t too severe. I thought Snake was an impressive and interesting character in this episode. You can tell he was somewhat swayed by Sverkel and others asking him to give up the life of a Viking. Yet he couldn’t forgive Gardar for killing five of his men, and he felt obligated to enforce “justice.”
He may have chosen the wrong path, but I still admire some traits of Snake. If nothing else, his speed and physical prowess with the curved saber are magnificent. The fight looked really awesome. It was a shame that Thorfinn lost the fight, but I’m glad he got away with only a minor cut on his face.
Besides those thoughts, my main reaction to this episode was a surprisingly powerful bout of emotion. As I watched Gardar die, I couldn’t help crying. Vinland Saga always manages to pull heartstrings with such proficiency when it tries. The emotions I felt were mixed. I was glad that Gardar apologized to his wife and had a happy vision of fulfillment before death. And I was extremely sad for Arnheid that her beloved husband is now gone forever. All in all, this episode was masterfully executed. It’s one of my favorites in the new season. With that, I’ve covered everything I needed to for today.
Thank you for reading~