Vinland Saga Season 2 Episode 1: Einar meets Thorfinn as Slave arc begins

Einar stars in the premiere episode of Vinland Saga season 2 (Image via MAPPA Studios)
Einar stars in the premiere episode of Vinland Saga season 2 (Image via MAPPA Studios)

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 1 marks the highly anticipated return of the smash-hit anime series from the summer of 2019, bringing with it the widely beloved Slave arc. While Thorfinn isn’t exactly in the spotlight this episode, fans do see him return towards its end, as focus is instead given to brand new character Einar.

Likewise, Vinland Saga season 2 episode 1 makes the fantastic decision to create additional anime-only scenes to give viewers context as to who Einar is. While manga readers may find themselves confused when watching, these additions are expertly done through the eyes of an anime-only fan experiencing this material for the first time.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 1’s pushing Thorfinn to the side is expertly done, with he and Einar meeting in final scene

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 1: Life of peace, interrupted

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 1 opens with images of a knife being smithed by someone with long, curly, dark hair. They’re repeating a mantra centered around the phrase “carve it,” discussing how “it” needs to be carved into the land, the sea, one’s enemies, one’s spoils, and so on.

Images of Nordic life are seen as this plays out, including shots of farming, ocean travel, combat, slave trades, and more. The mantra ends with a shot of a man seemingly having just killed another for sport. He approaches his presumed wife and child, touching his child’s face with a bloodied hand before the screen cuts to black and the voice says, “Carve that warmth into me.”

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 1 then cuts to a man chopping down a tree, as the episode’s title, Slave, is first revealed. The man only wedges his ax into the tree, but still smiles and celebrates. Suddenly, someone calls his name, Einar, and throws something at him, hitting him in the head.

He asks what she’s doing, to which she says he shouldn’t attack that tree since it might crush the house. Another woman asks Einar if he’ll be a woodcutter, to which he responds that he’s training for battle. The original woman who threw something at him compliments his size but says he’d be absolutely useless in battle.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 1 then sees her tell him to get ready for lunch, while he remarks that throwing a knife at him was excessive when she was holding dishes and spoons. The trio are then seen having lunch, when the original woman asks Einar why he’s training again so suddenly.

He says that he has to protect “this place,” before recounting how it was recently burned to ashes and has been rebuilt. He says he’s not letting that happen again as the woman looks at him with reverence. As he says he’s sure it’s what his father would do, he’s interrupted by the third woman, who says that “Mister Guthmur’s milk” is so delicious.

The other woman jokes that he “knows his way around a teat” while making groping motions with her hands, as an angry Einar demands to be listened to. The woman tells him not to bother sticking his nose into warrior stuff, prompting Einar to ask her if always being on the losing side frustrates her.

He reminds her that his father died protecting them, but Vinland Saga season 2 episode 1 sees her counter that he’s alive, he rebuilt the village, and is eating lunch with two beautiful women. She reminds him that they “haven’t lost at all,” as she happily looks out at the rebuilt village. Einar does the same, seeing various people happily going about their daily lives.

This seems to move Einar as the screen fades to black, before showing the village being attacked yet again. Einar and the two women are seen hiding as the villagers are slaughtered and buildings are burned, as the knife-throwing woman (revealed to be Einar’s mother) tells him and Lotta (the other woman) to run and follow the river once they enter the woods.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 1: Death and loss

Einar’s mother caresses Lotta and calms her, telling her to just run straight ahead and not think, revealing that Lotta is also her daughter in the process. She says that they’ll be right behind her, as the three are seen sprinting away from the village in an effort to live. However, their mother is suddenly shot in the back with an arrow.

Lotta hears Einar call out to his mother, prompting her to head back to where they are. Einar tries to get her to stand, but she collapses instantly as her wound starts bleeding. She tells him to run and leave her, but he refuses, imploring her to stand. Lotta arrives, and Vinland Saga season 2 episode 1 sees her begin to cry over her mother’s fate as soldiers approach them.

Einar’s mother implores him to stand up and leave with his sister, saying that “even a dying old hag can still manage.” She implores him and Lotta to live, beginning a thought about what they can do as long as they’re still alive, before quickly trailing off. She closes her eyes, sadly dying here from her wounds.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 1 sees the soldiers finally reach the group, grabbing Lotta and prompting Einar to begin fighting. However, he’s quickly and easily subdued by the group, as Lotta is forced to use a hairpin to stab her captor in the back. The same captor, however, instantly slashes her across the chest, with blood immediately spilling out as Lotta collapses and dies.

The other soldiers berate him for wasting her life, saying that they’ll sell Einar (presumably into slavery) for beer money while dragging him away by his collar. He struggles to free himself, but makes no progress, as shots of his fallen sister, mother, and the burning village are seen. A rage-filled Einar then screams as the scene transitions into a snowy area.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 1 then sees the following poem by Hávamál appear:

A fir on a barren land withers

With neither bark nor leaves

So too does the man loved by none

Why should he live a long life?

The poem quickly fades away, revealing a ship traveling on the seas during a storm. Einar is seen on board as a woman coughs and rolls around on the ground in front of him. He looks at her with what appears to be disinterest before standing and looking at her. Two men discuss how she likely won’t make it, moving her outside the boat’s tent and throwing her overboard.

The woman is seen drowning in the seas, much to Einar’s shock, as he asks the men what they did that for. He, however, is quickly punched in the stomach before a man looks at him and says it’s good that he’s not swollen. The other man then hands out blankets, telling them to keep warm and not get sick unless they say so since they paid a fortune for them.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 1 sees Einar look back into the ocean where the woman was, seeing an image of someone yelling at him appear as he does. Einar then thinks to himself that he has to live, as the scene changes to a more temperate climate. The slavers are instructing their slaves to eat and clean themselves up for sale, with the women also having their makeup done.

The process seems to be one that prepares slaves for sale, but a passerby comments on how they’re all second-rate anyway. Einar takes advantage of this opportunity to run away, saying that as long as he survives, he can “try again.” He’s seen taking a rest near a stream as his stomach growls, before entering and looting a home for its food.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 1: Freedom at last…?

However, Vinland Saga season 2 episode 1 sees him recaptured by the slavers as he leaves the home, where he’s beaten and made an example of to the others. The slaver tells the others that no matter how hard they struggle, they’ll never return home. He adds that no one will help them as outsiders and slaves, imploring them to find a good master and serve them well.

He asks them to consider whether survival or adventuring is better before turning his attention back to Einar and asking him if he understands that. Einar is then seen being whipped for the crime of running away, while chanting to himself that he has to live. Einar is then seen standing in line, being looked at by a potential buyer, but is unfortunately passed down for not being “cute” enough.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 1 then sees Einar realize that the slavers were correct and that he’d have no idea where he was going even if he did blindly run away. He then says that even if he did, he’d have nowhere to return to, being under the impression that his mother and sister are dead.

He muses on finding a good master to serve as someone who is revealed to be Leif Erikson approaches him as a potential buyer. The slaver asks him if Einar is the one he’s “looking for,” but Leif angrily yells that Einar looks nothing like Thorfinn, not being blonde or small. The slaver apologizes, but tries selling him on Einar anyway.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 1 then sees Leif reaffirm that he doesn’t want a worker, and only wants to free his blonde and small relative named Thorfinn. The slaver shrugs for having no idea who Thorfinn is or where he is, prompting Leif to grip Einar and apologize to him before walking off to continue his search.

Einar muses on how, however, Leif is looking for is “one lucky guy,” before being approached by another buyer and being asked if he can speak and show his teeth. The man asks him his name, where he’s from, and what he did before, to which Einar responds that he used to be a farmer in Northern England.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 1 then sees the man ask Einar if he wants to come help out on his farm, prompting Einar to have a vision of a field before him. The man then speaks with the slaver, as the scene transitions into a shot of Einar following his new master home. The man says he’ll introduce Einar to everyone at dinner since they’re all working now before telling him to look at his farm.

The land is shown to be massive and sprawling with wheat and other healthy vegetation. Einar then remembers his mother’s words, asking her if her words were true that he hasn’t still lost, even though he’ll never spend another day being free again. The sound of an ax hitting a tree can be heard as the wind blows, prompting Einar to follow his new master down the path.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 1 sees Einar muse on what he lost, saying he doesn’t even know what the point of living is anymore. Einar and his master stop near the edge of a forest, as the master calls out to Thorfinn, who exits the woods with an ax on his shoulder. Einar muses on how he began falling into a slave mentality before saying that was how he and Thorfinn met as the episode comes to an end.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 1: In summation

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 1 marks a fantastic way to begin the sequel season, despite the lack of focus on Thorfinn possibly being off-putting to some. For those who push through, however, a fantastic episode awaits, which is expertly wrapped up by giving fans what they want in the return of Thorfinn in the episode’s final scenes.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 1 is also remarkable in the themes it shows. The concept of home, whether it’s better to die free or live enslaved, and the overall grieving process for understanding loss are just some of those touched on in this episode. Although only the first installment, these will likely be some of the second season’s major themes throughout.

While somewhat less exciting than Thorfinn’s return, the appearance of Leif Erikson in Vinland Saga season 2 episode 1 is also incredibly welcome. While fans obviously didn’t see him get a lead on Thorfinn’s location in the episode, he’s in the right area to find his long-lost “relative,” and fans may see this reunion come sooner rather than later.

Be sure to keep up with all Vinland Saga anime and manga news, as well as general anime, manga, film, and live-action news as 2023 progresses.