Vinland Saga season 2 episode 17 was released on Monday, May 1, 2023, bringing with it a truly exciting continuation to the Gardar-Arnheid escape storyline. Fans also got to see Thorfinn fight once again, albeit for a few brief moments. However, fans who were disappointed with the lack of combat thus far in the season were certainly happy with the latest development.
Vinland Saga season 2 episode 17 also continued its thought-provoking and insightful commentary on war and the true price of involving oneself in it. Seen primarily through the lens of Arnheid and Gardar’s relationship, it creates a string of scenes so sad that even the most aloof viewers may find themselves unexpectedly crying.
Vinland Saga season 2 episode 17 concludes Arnheid and Gardar’s storyline in most tragic way possible
Vinland Saga season 2 episode 17: The fight continues
Vinland Saga season 2 episode 17 begins immediately where the previous episode left off, showing Thorfinn continuing to dodge Snake’s attacks. He comments that Snake is faster than anyone he’s ever fought before, landing a kick on Snake’s face after he says this. Thorfinn also comments on how Snake both utilizes the curve of the blade and is defending the close-range of a dagger well with it.
Snake reflects on Thorfinn’s unarmed-yet-close quarters fighting style, before remarking how he’s a warrior of Miklagard, given that Thorfinn has been on battlefields his entire life. Snake questions what kind of monsters once surrounded Thorfinn on the battlefield, before the young Nord rushes Snake once more.
Vinland Saga season 2 episode 17 sees Thorfinn continue his strategy of dodging Snake’s blows at dagger-range and overwhelming him with punches and kicks. Thorfinn is then able to sweep Snake off of his legs, seemingly about to land a blow. However, Snake swings his sword up at Thorfinn’s cheek at the last moment, slicing it open.
The two also comment on each other's strength, with each questioning how the other ended up in their current life situation despite being so skilled. However, Snake then tells himself not to get distracted and accidentally play into Thorfinn’s strategy, rushing and stabbing at Thorfinn with a serious intent to kill. Thankfully, Thorfinn is able to dodge each blow, while commenting on how Snake’s strikes are getting quicker.
Vinland Saga season 2 episode 17 also sees Thorfinn add that he can see “it,” meaning Snake’s attack, when he’s suddenly blindsided by a kick. After recovering, he sees Snake already swinging his sword down on him, barely able to dodge in time. However, after dodging, he says that Snake “got” him, since he’s now standing next to Gardar with Thorfinn across from him.
Snake then turns around and sees Gardar, prompting Arnheid to cry out to him and beg him not to kill the former. She asks him to “let this go,” prompting him to scoff and call her self-centered. He reminds her that Gardar has killed five of her men, which is an inexcusable crime. Sverkel then says he’ll do whatever he can to appease Snake for his men’s lives, including selling his farm.
Vinland Saga season 2 episode 17 sees Snake say that it’s not about money, calling himself and his men “stupid, nasty scumbags,” who can’t even use their real names due to other crimes. Snake then questions if this means their lives have no meaning, further questioning if Gardar’s life is worth more than that of five others.
He demands Arnheid and Thorfinn to tell him how much Gardar is worth, with neither being able to give a response. Snake then seemingly comments on how Thorfinn and Arnheid aren’t that different, preparing to kill Gardar while saying the cost of life can only be paid with life. Thorfinn rushes to stop him, but Snake stabs Gardar in the chest with plenty of time to spare.
Vinland Saga season 2 episode 17 sees Arnheid fall to her knees as Thorfinn stands silently. The episode then sees Snake ask Thorfinn if he still wants to fight, and if he’ll avenge Gardar. He also asks Arnheid if she’s the one who cut Gardar’s binds, telling her that both she and Thorfinn will be punished accordingly once Ketil returns, and they’ll be bound until then.
However, as he’s speaking, Gardar is seen to be alive, reaching down and picking up Snake in a chokehold. Snake stabs at Gardar’s leg, but he doesn’t let go, with Snake then falling unconscious and Gardar refusing to let go. Thorfinn approaches Gardar and pleads with him to let go, but is unable to overpower the incredibly strong Gardar.
Vinland Saga season 2 episode 17 then sees Arnheid approach and tell Gardar that they should go home, adding that what he’s done is enough and that there’s no one who’ll get in their way. She even says that Hjalti, their presumably dead son, is waiting for them, prompting Gardar to regain consciousness and let go of Snake.
Gardar is then shown to be bleeding badly, but he remains conscious and asks where Hjalti is now. Thorfinn recognizes that Gardar is bleeding terribly, while Arnheid tells Gardar that Hjalti is with Gardar’s brother in Birka. She lies, saying that she sent him to safety before the fighting started. Gardar comments on how helpful his brother always is, adding that he’ll have to do something for his brother once they get there.
Vinland Saga season 2 episode 17: Accompanied to the end
Vinland Saga season 2 episode 17 then sees Gardar ask Thorfinn if he can borrow his cart, with Sverkel then revealing that the cart is actually his. Sverkel says he can borrow it, prompting Gardar to drop to his knees out of respect for Sverkel. The two introduce themselves, with Sverkel then telling Gardar to return home.
Gardar then thanks Sverkel, which leads Arnheid to thank Thorfinn and Einar. Thorfinn warns her that this is reckless, beginning to comment on how Gardar’s wounds have him near the end of his life. However, Arnheid simply says it’s fine and asks him to send them off, with the two then being shown riding in the cart during sunset.
Vinland Saga season 2 episode 17 sees Gardar driving the cart with Arnheid in the back, before the scenery changes to an afterworld-like setting and only Gardar is seen driving the cart. He’s also wearing clothes which he didn’t have on in the prior scenery, suggesting that he’s nearing the end of his life.
Gardar even comments on how he feels cold to his core, looking around and seeing various “unfortunate men, abandoned by the gods” lining the road he travels. He then approaches one who is revealed to be himself, as the scene reshifts perspective back to Arnheid and Gardar’s real travels. Gardar is jolted awake by a bump in the road and looks over at a very somber Arnheid.
Vinland Saga season 2 episode 17 sees Gardar notice a dandelion seed in his hand before thinking back to when Hjalti was born, which leads him to say he’ll be fighting for his son’s future wealth. The episode then sees the two raising Hjalti together, such as the late nights they had with him as an infant and his first steps as a child. Viewers also see Gardar hilariously trying to change his son’s diaper, as well as other aspects of their daily lives.
A shot of Gardar in the present makes it clear that he’s dying, with blood rapidly spilling out of him as he remembers his life. Another shot reveals Gardar caressing his son’s cheek after winning a fight against another man, smearing blood onto Hjalti’s cheek as a result. In the afterworld setting, Gardar sees himself being whipped and beaten by his former master.
Vinland Saga season 2 episode 17 sees Gardar, in reality, say “for honor and wealth” before asking Arnheid how old Hjalti is now. He guesses eight or nine years old, with Arnheid responding that Hjalti is six. Gardar begs forgiveness before explaining he lost track of time since being enslaved.
He calls it a shame that Hjalti is six since it means he missed his son’s “cute” years. He adds that Hjalti was still only one when he last saw him, before commenting on how their son has probably forgotten about them by now. Gardar adds that, as his son, Hjalti has undoubtedly grown into a prankster, saying he probably lights horses' tails on fire.
Vinland Saga season 2 episode 17 sees Arnheid perk up at this, asking Gardar if he actually did that as a child. Gardar confirms doing so, which got him in a lot of trouble with his father as a result. Arnheid laughs at this before Gardar comments on how Hjalti, once old enough, will likely say he wants to go adventuring. However, Gardar says he won’t allow it, seemingly touching Arnheid.
The cart then stops, with Gardar taking Arnheid’s hand before collapsing into her lap. She calls out to him but gets no response, shedding tears at his looming death. Gardar says he’s all right and is just a little tired, asking to be granted some rest for a little while. Arnheid begins sobbing at this, with Gardar's death soon dawning upon them.
Vinland Saga season 2 episode 17 then sees Gardar awaken in the past, watching himself leaving to fight for the iron from Arnheid’s perspective. He sees her face, seemingly realizing the mistake he made as his former self walks out the door without another word. He tries to call out to his former self, but can only whimper and is unable to speak.
When Gardar next opens his eyes, he’s back in reality, telling Arnheid and Hjalti that he’ll never leave their sides again as Arnheid continues sobbing over her husband’s death. An image of a younger Gardar waking up in a cart as rain falls on him is shown, with Gardar then laughing and briefly playing in the rain.
Vinland Saga season 2 episode 17 shows this same version of Gardar riding through a forest, eventually coming upon a dock and a village. He runs through the village with a smile on his face, eventually arriving to his six-year-old son Hjalti. The two each run to each other, clearly overjoyed to see one another as Gardar says he’s home.
In reality, Gardar utters the same words before dying in Arnheid’s lap immediately after saying them. Arnheid holds her dead husband and welcomes him home, as the two are approached by several of Snake’s men and the episode comes to an end.
Vinland Saga season 2 episode 17: In summation
Vinland Saga season 2 episode 17’s conclusion of the Arnheid-Gardar storyline makes for one of the most tragic episodes in the entire series thus far. Rife with commentary on conflict and what one abandons by going to war to gain something else, the episode is a truly heart wrenching one that is bound to make anyone shed a tear or two.
Vinland Saga season 2 episode 17 also reflects Thorfinn’s new outlook on the value of life, as evidenced by his apparent disinterest in fighting once he believed Snake had killed Gardar. While Gardar’s subsequent attacking of Snake didn’t give fans the opportunity to confirm this without a doubt, it has seemingly been heavily implied that this is Thorfinn’s mindset.