Vinland Saga Season 2: Episodes 18 to 20 Reviews

The land has been trampled, and the remaining grass is stained with dark, heavy blood. A man’s cut-off arm lies alone in the mud. A dying man moans in pain from slow bleeding. Flies gather, and the air begins to stink. The once beautiful fields are now desecrated. This is what violence does to the world. This is the miserable scene after a battle. People have differing and complex views about war and violence, with some finding sadistic enjoyment, and others mourning their participation in such brutality.

The cycle of violence is a key theme in Vinland Saga. From slave beatings to Viking plundering, the world is violent. Rage and revenge lead to more of it. But in this world, Thorfinn is a character who seeks to break the cycle. Without any more rambling, I present my episode reviews for Vinland Saga S2, episodes 18 to 20.

Episode 18: First Measure

Ketil and company arrive at the farm, with King Canute and his army only a few days behind. Thorgil is excited to “go to war”, completely careless of the many lives he is putting in danger for no good reason. When the emotionally unstable Ketil hears of Arnheid’s rebellion, he becomes even more unhinged. Stress turns to irrational rage. Ketil finds Arnheid and beats her with a wooden staff within an inch of her life. If Snake hadn’t interfered, the woman would have been killed by her insane master.

Leif, who was responsible for getting the men back to the farm, demands his side of the deal in return. He wants to buy Thorfinn and set him free. Pater begs Leif to buy Einar and Arnheid in addition to Thorfinn. This will save them all from punishment. After understanding a bit more of the situation, Leif agrees to this. However, Ketil refuses to sell Arnheid. While Pater is tending to Arnheid’s serious wounds, Ketil joins Thorgil in preparing for battle.

Wow… This episode was intense and difficult to watch with the brutal beating of Arnheid. I regret ever thinking that Ketil was a remotely good person. In hindsight, it’s obvious that he was emotionally unstable, but I had no idea he would flip to this degree once he felt betrayed. Ketil has made himself completely irredeemable, at least in my eyes. I dread what Einar is going to do now that Arnheid has been seriously hurt, but I also think he might not get the chance to do anything before Canute’s forces arrive.

As for my other thoughts, I loved Pater in this episode, and continued to find everything about Thorgil disgusting. I also have one thought about the episode title, “First Measure.” Thorfinn says to Einar that violence should be the last resort in any case. But as for a man like a Ketil, he defaulted to using violence right off the bat – his “first measure.” That’s tragic and wrong. Although I do hope Ketil gets what’s coming to him, I also wish the whole community of farm people didn’t have to pay for the mistakes of the insane man and his insane, bloodthirsty son. That’s all for episode 18.

Episode 19: The Battle of Ketil’s Farm

The king’s forces arrive with the announcement that Ketil and all members of his family must leave the country and become outlaws for their crimes. If they put up any kind of fight, they will all be killed. Naturally, Ketil and Thorgil have no intention of surrendering. Both are anxious for battle. Snake advises against fighting, saying that they will certainly lose. However, he agrees to fight anyway to repay Ketil for putting him up on the farm for free for so long. Reluctantly, Fox and the other followers of Snake decide to fight, too.

As the battle approaches, Leif plans to flee with Einar, Thorfinn, and the unconscious Arnheid. He will leave behind enough money to pay for Arnheid, and then get away as quickly as possible in a wagon. Meanwhile, on the shore, the king’s forces quickly wipe out the first bunch of people defending the farm. They proceed further inland and engage in fierce battle with Ketil’s main force. As for Thorgil, he jumps into the ocean and swims up behind the king’s ships. Now, he can surprise-attack the king while his back is turned. As Thorgil starts his covert attack, Leif and the slaves are already fleeing in a wagon. Arnheid regains consciousness. That’s where the episode leaves off.

I don’t have many thoughts in particular on this episode. As usual, war was depicted as a gruesome spectacle and nothing glorious. I think that’s appropriate and it’s one of the things I love about this story. Olmar seems miserable and I wonder what’s going to happen to him since he’s not qualified as a warrior. It’s good that Arnheid regained consciousness, but she’s going to have a hard road from here with an ongoing pregnancy. Snake’s decision to fight shows that he has a strong sense of personal honor. I agree with Thorfinn that Snake is a cool guy. I think that’s it for now.

Episode 20: Pain

The battle at Ketil’s farm rages on with cascades of violence and buckets of blood. Snake calls for his side to retreat. Ketil is furious at this, but his rage is quickly quelled as he is knocked unconscious by an axe to the helmet. Snake is able to find Ketil later, verify that he’s alive, and carry him away from the battlefield. Meanwhile, Thorgil attacks Canute from behind. He nearly succeeds in killing him, but the young king is able to defend himself until Wulf moves in to save him. Thorgil is forced to retreat when all the king’s guard starts coming toward him. He escapes.

Elsewhere, Thorfinn and company are fleeing in the wagon. Arnheid, now awake, expresses her gratitude to Einar and Thorfinn for helping her so much. She says she doesn’t plan to go to Leif’s village as the old man suggested. Weakened and in despair, she gives up on life. (I can’t blame her after all she went through.) After Arnheid’s heart stops, Thorfinn tries to revive her with chest compressions, but it doesn’t work. Arnheid dies. Shortly after, Snake appears carrying Ketil. Although Einar charges in with the intent to murder the unconscious slave-master, Thorfinn manages to stop him.

At the end of the episode, Thorfinn leaves Leif, saying he’s going to meet up with Canute. His goal is to save more lives, although I don’t know exactly what he is planning. My theory is that he’s going to ask Canute to start a new nation overseas in “Vinland.” As for my response to this episode, well, I have more emotions than thoughts. This episode made me cry – kind of a lot. It was so tragic to watch Arnheid die. The hopelessness was poignant. The episode was aptly named because it was profoundly painful. Vinland Saga is proficient at moving the hearts of the audience, especially in the second season. From here, I hope things will get a bit less depressing, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Thank you for reading~

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