Vinland Saga 2 – Episode 9 Review

Following right behind the previous ep, we open up with an unconscious Thorfinn dreaming about Vinland. He envisions to himself a peaceful life – worth noticing that deep down his soul still longs for it – where he can finally rest, but in the real world, the truth is far from that. He was left unconscious, and Einar is alone fighting against the retainers – but it is deep down Thorfinn’s consciousness where the most important things take place.

In there, Thorfinn gets a chance to reunite with his father. I simply afore this moment too much, when Thors comes to confront what has been made of his son. He takes no shortcuts, rubbing much salt to the wound when he asks his son about the killing. Thors deeply laments the fact that he had to leave his son so abruptly and as soon as he did. There was still a lot he had to teach him – one of these is that his built up strenght was meant to protect the people he loved, but what leaves a mark here as his final words. “No one one really has enemies because there is no one whi it’s okay to hurt,” that is what he wished he had at least passed on to his child. Thorfinn, though, remains still deeply haunted by his past – so much so that he is remembered that he’s being dragged into Valhalla. The remaining truth is that even if he tries to move forward, he still won’t let his past sins – here represented by the corpses of the people he has killed – let him take the leap. And very much indeed, they keep dragging him to hell to make him pay for what he’s done.

Arriving there, he is forced to confront the reality of what war and warriors represent. It’s a disturbing hellish cycle of killing and getting killed, a scenario where only violence and cruelty rule. And if in Vinland, he was visited by his dad – in Valhalla, it is his other father figure, Askeladd, who makes the big entrance. He comes with the news that this is no afterlife whatsoever – much worse than that, it is the refection of a battlefield. A war with no end, where everyone besides you is your enemy, and there is no ending to the killing. It’s funny how Askeladd’s reaction upon seeing Thorfinn was of surprise to see him there. And what’s even funnier is how he can so easily see through Thorfinn, picking right up in the ordeals the kid is facing. Like I said, at some point, there was no more denying about the affection (however twisted it may have been) Askeladd developed for Thorfinn. It’s one of those connections where there isn’t an easy way to describe, but man. Does Yukimura-sensei plays it at its strongest here.

Thorfinn is struggling with his emptiness, but Askeladd speaks very true words when he says that for better of for worse, it was becoming empty that allowed him to get off of this place. Like I said in the previous ep review, I highly doubt that attaining the revenge at Askeladd would have been a better ending for Thorffin. And as it shows, he would have been condemned to vague in this place until he eventually died, too. He lived a life blinded only by his desire to get revenge, and as a result, committed countless horrific acts in his path to get to his goal, and the corpses dragging him down are the living proof of that (no pun intended here).

And yet… Askeladd tells him to climb up. Not pretend that his past doesn’t exist but at the same time, never allowing it stop him from moving forward. It came to me as if he was trying to let Throffin know just how much of a lucky fellow he is to have received this second chance in life. As it turns, not many do, and many less have the guts to accept taking in the challenge or even succeed at trying. But what else can he do? His killing can’t be erased, and the path to atonement will be a hard one to follow. Dying for it would be an easy escape, but living to atone for it by finding some meaning seems much better. As Askeladd said, this is his real battle starting right up. To not let himself be chained by what he’s done, and try to find some meaning to his existence as a form of atonement, hence why I believed he ordered him to listen to what the corpses had to say.

When he finally regains consciousness, Einar’s lights are the ones out. And man, just how wholesome is their friendship? Thorfinn vows to never hurt anyone again – as far as I can tell, he’s finally settled down on the fact that strength is needed only to protect those who he loves, to work twoards his goal. The whole moment has a nice ring to it, masterfully directed just like the rest of the ep. But the highlight here still remains their bromance. I simply love how Einar doesn’t get a thing of what’s happening, but what the hell. He’s a true bro, so whatever Thorfinn’s decision might be, he’s totally having his back on it.

And continuing on this (rare) flow of nice things happening to nice people, Pater managed to prove that it was the retainers who destroyed the wheat production. Ketil decides the matter is to be forgotten, illustrating a story to he told that will put neither Thorfinn and Einar nor the retainers in danger. And he’s damn right – Patel is a very brave man for doing what he’s done. And since we’re continuing to explore the theme of slavery, i hope he remains an important member of the cast. And yeah, it’s nice to see that so much good has happened to the main two, but if anything about the world of Vinland Saga still rings true, it is that it remains cruel to those without power. And if the preview is to be taken as any kind of indicator, much bigger events might be taking place in the outside world. Just what the implications will become to the rest of the story is a door yet to be opened.

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