Vinland Saga season 2 episode 20: Arnheid and Einar's love story ends while Thorfinn goes to confront Canute

An angry Thorfinn makes his way to former friend Canute in the wake of Arnheid
An angry Thorfinn makes his way to former friend Canute in the wake of Arnheid's death (Image via Sportskeeda)

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 20 was released on Monday, May 22, 2023, bringing with it a truly exciting installment, albeit a simultaneously heartbreaking one. Arnheid's story does indeed reach its conclusion in the latest episode, doing so in an incredibly heartbreaking and poignant way, which embodies the overall theme and message of season 2 thus far.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 20 also sees Ketil's fight with Canute not necessarily end, but at least come to a definitive pause in the action after Thorgil's nearly successful assassination. However, with Olmar being completely unseen in this episode, there's still a chance that Canute can be assassinated by one of Ketil's two sons in the near future.


Vinland Saga season 2 episode 20 sees Thorfinn dream of Vinland once again in wake of excessive violence

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 20: A bloody and brutal battle

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 20 begins with a monologue from Fox, where he claims to have killed 13 people in his life. He asserts that he thinks he's fairly strong compared to the average person, and calls killing fun. He remembers when he killed a jarl's son while saying this, recounting the face his victim made as he died.

Fox begins asserting what this tells him about the enemies before him but doesn't finish his sentence, instead watching in horror as a soldier slices both the hands of a man at once. Fox then says he's scared, while seemingly horrified at how much the soldiers are enjoying this. Several of Ketil's fighters are shown with mortal injuries.

Badger is revealed to be missing his left hand by this point and is trying to fight by swinging his ax wildly with one arm. Vinland Saga season 2 episode 20 sees Fox call out to Badger by his real name, Gudmund here, before looking down in front of him and realizing his legs are shaking. He recognizes that Badger will likely die, before questioning how he's able to get so close to the Jomsvikings.

Badger then falls backwards and is seemingly done for, when Snake suddenly rushes in and beheads Badger's attacker. Snake tells Fox to retreat to the fort with Badger, ordering the rest of his forces to do this as well. Badger questions this choice, but Snake tells him to look at those dead all around him, which convinces both him and Fox to retreat.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 20 sees the rest of Ketil's fighters hear this and retreat as well if they're able, prompting Ketil to begin shouting at them not to run. Ketil gets off of his horse and grabs one of the men, reminding him that his debt won't be forgiven if he runs. However, the man laughs, saying Ketil is finished either way so the debt doesn't matter.

The man asks Ketil if he understands what it's like to be poor like them now, adding that one shouldn't defy the King in any scenario. Likewise, it's why they've always listened to Ketil, furthering that might makes right and that the world exists for people stronger than Ketil. He's then let go by Ketil, who turns to see one of Canute's forces heading towards him.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 20 then sees Ketil's helmet go flying with a spray of blood after an axe is seen being swung. Wulf seemingly notices this, explaining that Ketil may have just been killed by one of their men. Canute reminds Wulf that his orders were to capture Ketil alive, prompting Wulf to begin apologizing.

Wulf adds that he will go confirm what happened, while Canute furthers that the Jomsvikings attacking the retreating soldiers also goes against his wishes, and asks Wulf to tell Floki to stop this. As Wulf departs, Thorgil creeps up along the shore, rushing at Canute, who asks to treat the bodies of the dead with care.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 20 sees Canute turn around just as Thorgil is approaching and preparing to swing, with the latter saying Canute's head is his. However, as Thorgil swings his blade down, Canute is able to draw his own in time and block the attack. Unfortunately, this chips Canute's sword deeply, seemingly breaking it to the point of unusability.


Vinland Saga season 2 episode 20: Assassination attempted

As the guards Wulf left behind realize Thorgil's presence, he beheads them both in one clean stroke. Thorgil then compliments Canute's skills and says they've improved, while Canute realizes his right hand may be sprained from blocking just one of Thorgil's attacks. Thorgil then rushes Canute once more, knocking his sword away while calling Canute a commander worth killing.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 20 then sees Canute throw his cape at Thorgil, disorienting him and stopping his attack temporarily. However, it isn't enough time, as Thorgil is able to escape and incapacitate Canute before the latter can grab a new weapon. Just as Thorgil is about to kill Canute, Wulf appears and launches his sword into and through Thorgil's right wrist.

Wulf then tackles Thorgil and begins to choke him, berating him for attacking Canute all the while. Thorgil begins gouging Wulf's right eye in retaliation, but neither man falters in their actions. Thorgil is somehow able to throw Wulf off of him in time, narrowly avoiding an attack from Canute after.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 20 sees Wulf ask for Canute's sword as other soldiers approach, with Thorgil seemingly worried. Thorgil himself then begins retreating, with Canute telling Wulf not to pursue him too far since he's also injured. Canute emphasizes that while he did let his guard down, Thorgil is obviously a bold man, and he wishes Thorgil would serve him again.

The rest of the Kingsguard is then seen falling back to Canute's location, while Snake is left questioning what happened and whether or not Thorgil is responsible. Snake begins breathing a sigh of relief while saying how close that was, then rushing to Ketil's side to see if he's still alive. Ketil is obviously injured, but thankfully still alive.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 20 sees Snake call Ketil a lucky man for being unrecognized by the soldiers, picking him up and warning him that he can't get off easy by dying. Mockingly calling him Iron Fist Ketil, Snake adds that he has responsibilities as the losing side's commander.

The episode then shifts perspectives back to Thorfinn, Arnheid, Einar, and Leif, where Arnheid says she can hear the sound she heard when her village burned. She calls it the sound of the world falling apart, asking if a fight is going on nearby. Einar tells her not to worry, saying they aren't slaves anymore and that they're leaving the farm.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 20 sees him assure her that the battle has nothing to do with them, prompting Arnheid to ask where they'll go next. Leif says they can go to his village, calling it a cold but nice place. Arnheid weakly asks if he has slaves or wars there, to which Leif says battles were indeed once fought there, and he can't promise it won't happen again.

Arnheid says that she isn't going and that she's going somewhere else. She says that Gardar and her children are waiting for her and that she just wanted to express her gratitude for all Einar and Thorfinn have done for her. She says that life felt like she was wandering through a terrible nightmare all alone, but when they showed up, their morning chats made her happy.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 20 sees her directly say she enjoyed Einar's stories before closing her eyes and seemingly passing out. Einar tries to shake her awake and asks her to hang in there while calling her name and grabbing her hand, even asking her about her promise to protect her unborn child.

Arnheid says that her child has already gone to the other side, opening her eyes and saying that all of her loved ones are now dead. She questions what point there is in continuing to live, adding that there's nothing left for her in life. She questions why she has to live as Thorfinn looks on in horror, while Einar tries to find the words to say he loves her.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 20 then sees Arnheid pass out once more, prompting Thorfinn to take over and try to perform CPR on her. He says his father taught it to him as a means of bringing someone back from the dead, telling Einar to speak to her as loudly as he can. Einar tells her not to go, finally saying that he loves and needs her here with him, and wants her to laugh at his stories again.


Vinland Saga season 2 episode 20: A painful goodbye

Einar begs her to live with him again, clearly pained by the reality of the situation. He is even seen trying the technique for himself, but Thorfinn tells him that's enough, as Arnheid is shown to have died with a seemingly peaceful look on her face. Thorfinn then picks up her head and begins saying that far to the west across the sea, there's a place called Vinland.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 20 sees him say it's a warm and bountiful land, beyond the reach of slave traders and the flames of war. Thorfinn says she'd be able to live without suffering there, before saying they should go there together and build a peaceful nation in Vinland. Einar begins crying, while Thorfinn stoically continues looking at Arnheid's corpse.

Snake then approaches the group with Ketil on his back, asking them what they're still doing here. Einar then realizes that Ketil is still alive, becoming furious and approaching the two. Einar accuses Ketil of killing Arnheid, saying he will kill him in response. However, Thorfinn holds Einar back while saying that killing Ketil won't help.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 20 sees Einar punch Thorfinn in the face in response, while Snake calmly says that Arnheid is now dead. Thorfinn then grabs Einar's shoulders, begging his friend to open his eyes before punching him and knocking him to the ground. This brings Einar back to reality, prompting him to begin sobbing.

Thorfinn approaches Einar, warning him that killing Ketil won't quell his rage and that anger only begets more anger and results in more deaths, one after the other. Thorifnn says he was stuck in that hell for quite some time, begging his friend to not fall under the same curse that once afflicted him.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 20 sees Thorfinn begin crying as he says this, clearly in pain about how upset his friend feels. The episode then fades to black before returning to the gravesite Thorfinn and Einar made for Arnheid. Leif tells Bug-Eyes to get the ship ready, as everyone else leaves the two with their deceased friend.

Thorfinn looks out onto the sea silently before balling up his fist, as Canute's voice can be heard saying that God must be watching over them even as they stand there now. Canute continues, discussing how even horrible things such as parents and children killing each other are observed by God while he's high up in heaven.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 20 sees a ray of light break through the clouds and shine upon a determined Thorfinn as Canute says this. He then begins walking away from Arnheid's grave, with Leif asking him where he's going. Thorfinn says he's going to see Canute, adding that Ketil is still alive and hasn't been captured, so the battle isn't over. Likewise, Thorfinn intends to prevent more deaths.

Leif says that they have to leave immediately, questioning why Thorfinn wants to do this. Leif begs Thorfinn to let him take him back to Iceland this time, prompting Thorfinn to remind Leif of the time he told him that their ancestors fled from war and ended up in Iceland. Thorfinn says he thought it was lame at the time, but now, he's proud of them.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 20 sees Thorfinn estimate Canute's forces at about 100 men, saying that no matter how badly it turns out, he will be able to make it back alive. Leif is seemingly appeased by this promise, saying he will have the ship ready to depart as soon as Thorfinn is ready. He adds that they're going back to Iceland together no matter what, as the episode comes to an end.


Vinland Saga season 2 episode 20: In summation

Despite starting out with arguably some of the most brutal and intense action of the Spring 2023 season, Vinland Saga season 2 episode 20 is a heartbreaking episode in its final moments. Arnheid's tragic passing, as well as Einar's brutal reaction to it, is such an emotionally poignant moment that it's impossible not to shed a tear.

The episode also establishes Thorfinn as completely different than he once was, determined to see Canute but not fight his way there if need be. Similarly, Thorfinn punching Einar to snap him out of his rage represents Thorfinn coming to terms with the fact that sometimes, violence is necessary to protect the ones you love.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 20 is somewhat of a letdown in that fans don't get to see Arnheid's triumphant return and crossing over to the other side with Gardar and her children. While obviously not necessary for the conclusion of her character and story arc, it would've been nice to see this narrative parity between her and Gardar's final moments.


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.