Vinland Saga season 2 episode 8: Thorfinn takes a step back in rebirth due to the retainers' destruction of Einar and Thorfinn's wheat field

Thorfinn and Einar
Thorfinn and Einar's hard work is quite literally trampled on in the latest addition to the Vinland Saga anime series (Image via MAPPA Studios)

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 8 was released on Monday, February 27, 2023, bringing with it an exhilarating and momentous installment to the smash-hit anime series. Fans excitingly see Thorfinn and Einar continue to progress in their friendship, giving them a bonding experience in the episode’s final act.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 8 also introduces the season’s first true man versus man conflict thus far, in the form of Einar and Thorfinn versus the retainers. While Thorfinn is trying to better himself and become a new person, it seems that this conflict with the retainers may be subconsciously forcing him to cling to his old way of life.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 8 sees Thorfinn take a step back in his rebirth process

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 8: Conversations about the past

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 8 begins with Thorfinn seemingly in a nightmare, encountering a family who is cowering before him as he stands in the doorway of their home. He steps back, seemingly confused, but then recognizes the young boy in his dream as Einar. He then sees a younger version of himself enter the house and pleads with him to stop.

The ground beneath him then gives way, seeing Thorfinn crash and fall through the ground below. An adult Thorfinn is seen climbing up from the abyss he just fell down, questioning why he’s there in the first place. He reminds himself that he mustn’t fall as several decaying hands and arms grab him and try to force him to fall.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 8 sees them be successful in this endeavor, as Thorfinn awakes with a fright in the real world. Einar comments that he was screaming “even more than usual” this morning, prompting Thorfinn to share his dream about falling down a cliff. Einar also shares that Thorfinn said all kinds of things in his sleep, such as “Father” and “Askeladd.”

This visibly troubles Thorfinn as the episode heads into its opening theme sequence. Upon returning, Thorfinn is seen drawing water from the well, commenting that no matter what he does, he can’t fully remember his dreams. He only knows that they’re horrifying and that he feels like he’s forgotten something “really important.”

He continues musing on this and how deeply it scares him but adds that whatever he did forget must be something that he can’t. He wonders what it is before Vinland Saga season 2 episode 8 sees Thorfinn, Einar, and a horse all clearing a tree trunk they chopped down. The retainers comment on how much the wheat has grown already, eventually attributing the progress and success to Einar’s arrival.

One of the retainers criticizes Ketil’s decision to allow slaves to do farm work, saying that it isn’t right even if it’s Ketil’s orders. He claims the world will fall into chaos if slaves are treated the same as retainers, prompting him to look to his peers for support. However, they give him none as the scene changes to a barren field with an empty plot of land.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 8 then sees Thorfinn admit that Askeladd is the man who killed his father, telling Einar that he was a strong and cruel Danish warmonger. The two discuss this as they seem to be roofing a house with straw. Einar asks if Askeladd showed up in Thorfinn’s dream, but Thorfinn says he’s not sure.

He continues, explaining that he followed Askeladd into battle to avenge his father one day. He explains that he fought for 11 years and hated Askeladd deeply. Thorfinn even says he wanted to kill him outside of the context of revenge, prompting Einar to ask if he did so to get his revenge. Thorfinn says that he didn’t and that another man killed Askeladd right before his eyes.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 8 sees Einar admit to beginning to understand why Thorfinn is the way he is. Einar adds that if Thorfinn still dreams about Askeladd, he’s not over it yet, with the latter responding that maybe he’s right. Internally, Thorfinn adds that there’s something else, likening this “something else” to the very important thing he has forgotten.

Einar responds that it’s not the kind of thing someone can get over just because they’re told to, but at least his quest for revenge is over now. Einar adds that hating a dead man will get Thorfinn nowhere, prompting the latter to remember Askeladd’s death. He then admits that he no longer hates Askeladd, which is exactly his problem.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 8 sees Thorfinn call himself empty without hate, explaining that he survived on hatred alone for so long. He adds that he knows nothing but the battlefield, much less fixing a roof. He says that he can’t do anything and that he doesn’t even know what he should be doing, calling himself empty once more.

Einar silently watches Thorfinn as he says this when Sverkel suddenly shows up and tells them to work if they have time to talk. He adds that the roof isn’t their only job for the day, as the scene changes to sunset by the ocean where the three are standing. Sverkel then tosses a net after telling Einar and Thorfinn to watch, showing them how he catches a bunch of fish with one toss.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 8: Rebirth

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 8 then sees Einar and Thorfinn trying to learn how to use the net, while Sverkel comments on how fish is needed because it’s lent and they can’t eat meat. Thorfinn laments not catching a single one in his first toss, prompting Sverkel to explain he needs to spin the net and not keep throwing it in the same area.

Sverkel then says Thorfinn can start learning things one at a time, explaining that if he’s empty, anything can fit inside him. Sverkel even adds that it’s better for Thorfinn to be empty if he wants to be reborn. These words seem to touch Thorfinn, who then asks if he even can be reborn.

Sverkel hilariously responds by telling Thorfinn to work and that his hands aren’t moving, as Vinland Saga season 2 episode 8 shifts perspectives again. Einar is seen commenting on how cold it is and how difficult catching fish will be in this weather, optimistically talking to Thorfinn about how they’ll be better today. However, Thorfinn is revealed not to have been listening.

He then asks Einar if people truly can change, asking what it takes for someone to change. Einar asks Thorfinn if he was once a warrior, which the latter confirms, prompting Einar to do his best warrior impression. Thorfinn tells Einar that he’s more or less accurate aside from the ax, prompting Einar to say that Thorfinn doesn’t look anything like a former warrior now.

Thorfinn questions this, but Einar tells him to look at his own face in the water. The two keep walking, and Einar says that he’s glad he didn’t meet Thorfinn when he was a warrior since Thorfinn might’ve killed him. Einar then reassures him that people can change, telling Thorfinn that he’s on his way to becoming a better person right now.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 8 then shows Thorfinn looking off into the forest, seeing a vision of Askeladd as he does so. He then thanks Einar for the kind words as the two continue walking. However, Einar suddenly stops, shocked by what he sees before him. The two then find their entire wheat field crushed and trampled by something.

Einar is in complete and utter shock, unable to speak as he picks up the dead seedlings and mourns them. Thorfinn questions if people did this and why, with Einar answering that wheat is a hardy crop and that only humans could’ve fully put it down. He even asserts that they knew exactly what they were doing by digging up the roots of the seedlings, saying it must have been the retainers.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 8 sees Einar begin to walk off, prompting Thorfinn to chase after him and remind him what the punishment is for slaves hitting free men. Einar responds that he doesn’t care and will kill the retainers, prompting Thorfinn to remind him that they have no proof and are unlikely to get any.

He suggests talking to Pater first, prompting Einar to grab Thorfinn by the collar and explain the situation. Einar asserts that they used up the soil’s fertility but will have no harvest, in addition to needing to borrow seeds for the next harvest too. However, Einar shares that he’s most upset at their blatant disregard for the difficulty and joy of growing wheat, which they undoubtedly know as farmers.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 8 sees Einar tell Thorfinn that he should be angry too since their wheat is ruined. However, he responds that as someone who took and destroyed until now, he has no right to be angry at the retainers. Thorfinn tells Einar that if he wants to kill the retainers, then Thorfinn deserves to die by his hand a hundred times over as well.

This seemingly calms Einar down, with Thorfinn begging him to relax. The scene then changes to the two explaining their situation to Pater, who is now inspecting their wheat fields. He confirms that neither Thorfinn nor Einar saw what happened with the field, telling them they must leave it the way it is until he’s done with his investigation since some clues may have been left behind.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 8 then sees Pater ask them if they have any idea who did it, to which Einar angrily responds that the retainers would have. Pater says he’ll report it all to Ketil before sharing that he suffered a lot as a slave as well. He shares his own process in questioning why his bullies did something that didn’t benefit them in any way.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 8: Relapse

Pater says that not everyone loves to discriminate wherever they can, telling Einar and Thorfinn not to lose hope. The scene then changes to the latter pair silently walking back to their sleeping quarters. Einar says that, apparently, Ketil has taken a liking to Arnheid, who doesn’t have a deal like theirs that allows her to earn her freedom.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 8 sees Einar continue by claiming that she seems to have given up hope on being free again. He then explains that if a slave is liked by their master, they become bound to them, and if they’re hated, they get treated like he and Thorfinn are. He then tearily asks what kind of life they’re living when the retainers suddenly appear in front of them.

They’re shown to be carrying shovels and talking about how something was harder than expected, prompting Thorfinn to suggest going a different way. However, Einar responds that they have no reason to sneak around, walking right towards the retainers, who imply that they were just speaking of the pair.

Thorfinn tells Einar to restrain himself as Vinland Saga season 2 episode 8 sees the latter and the retainer who criticized them earlier come face to face. Einar asks for confirmation that they’re the ones who ravaged their farm, prompting the retainer to say he has no idea what he’s talking about, infuriating Einar.

The retainer then pretends that he’s sorry to hear about their farm getting ravaged, adding that there’s no reason to be down since it was wheat grown by slaves. The retainer asserts that it would’ve been too putrid for anyone to eat, prompting Einar to raise his fist. However, before he can swing it, Thorfinn punches the retainer square in the mouth, seemingly infuriated by his words.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 8 then sees Thorfinn exit this trance-like state, shocked at what he did. The retainer’s jaw is now broken, prompting Einar to congratulate Thorfinn’s attack. The other retainers prepare to punish Thorfinn, but Einar kicks one way as he rushes towards the pair, telling them to shut up about their being slaves.

Thorfinn is then hit in the back of the head with a shovel, while another retainer tackles Einar, and a third attacks him with a shovel. Thorfinn begs them to stop and sees an image of an elderly woman as he watches Einar get attacked.

Thorfinn is attacked once more, kicked in the jaw by a retainer, prompting him to see a vision of his father Thors telling him something. Vinland Saga season 2 episode 8 then sees Thorfinn falling down the same fissure from earlier in the episode as the installment ends.

In summation

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 8 is incredibly exciting and engaging, yet again focusing on Thorfinn’s development from a warrior to someone who wants to be reborn. While fans see Thorfinn fall back into his old ways again within the episode’s events, it’s clear that he wants to move past his warrior ways despite this slip-up.

The episode also seemingly sets up the season’s first major conflict, Thorfinn and Einar versus the retainers. Considering the offensive the pair launched on the group in the final act of this episode, it’s doubtful that the retainers will just brush it off. Likewise, Einar and Thorfinn seem set to endure however they can, even if it means confrontation.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 8 also seemingly introduces another new theme for the season via Sverkel and his comments about being empty and being reborn. With Thorfinn admittedly seeming emotionally hollow at the beginning of the season, this theme is a great way to tie together how fans first reunited with Thorfinn to what his eventual growth and development will be.

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.

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