‘Vinland Saga: Season 2’ Episode 20 Recap & Ending Explained: Does Thorgil Manage to Kill Canute with His Sneak Attack?
Welcome to the Recap and Ending Explained for Vinland Saga: Season 2, Episode 20, titled “Pain.” This episode marks a transitional point for the series. The Ketil Farm arc is basically done, and now Thorfinn and Einar need to think about their next step and think they will, as the resolution to many of the plot lines presented during the arc finally come to a close. It is emotional, exciting, and quite sad. Vinland Saga: Season 2 has really managed to become one of the best depictions of adult drama in any anime series ever. The animators, directors, and artists at Mappa should be proud.
In the previous episode, we saw how Einar, Thorfinn, and Leif decided to escape the farm. Ketil had brutally punished Arnheid for her supposed crimes, and she is now bedridden, on the brink of death. Although Ketil allowed Thorfinn and Einar just to leave, they couldn’t leave their friend behind, so they seized the chaos of the battle between Ketil and Thorfinn to devise an escape. We also learn that the Ketil we know is not Iron Fist Ketil; in reality, he is just a scammer that used the name to build his farming empire. It all comes crashing down in the end.
The following paragraphs contain spoilers for Vinland Saga: Season 2, Episode 20. Read at your own risk.
Does Thorgil Manage To Kill Canute With His Sneak Attack?
The episode begins with one of Snake’s men describing how he liked to kill. We already know that Snake and probably the rest of his men are all criminals, they all come from different lands where they did something horrible, and so they needed to escape justice. The man speaking tells us he killed a young jarl in his homeland, so he escaped. Because he knows that killing is fun and because he enjoys it himself, he can tell that Canute’s soldiers also like killing and are having the time of their lives, destroying Ketil’s army with ease.
The battlefield is a one-sided bloodbath, with many members of the Ketil’s army being killed left and right. There are pools of thick blood on the ground and limbs scattered everywhere; arms, legs, heads, and other body parts decorate the landscape. It is pretty gruesome.
Snake saves some of his men, as he is an excellent fighter, but Badger loses one arm. Snake commands the entire army to retreat, the battle is lost, and they must cut their losses. Ketil sees his army retreat and orders his men to keep fighting. But it is futile. As one of these men says to him, he is done. It was a mistake to go against the king himself.
As Ketil becomes baffled by his defeat, an enemy soldier appears and strikes him. Meanwhile, Canute oversees the battlefield from his command tent and sees they have an easy win. Wulf sees that Ketil has gone down and apologizes to Canute for it. Canute points out that he ordered Ketil to be captured alive, and he also points out that the soldiers, against his orders, are pursuing those who are abandoning the field. Wulf walks into the battlefield to solve these issues, leaving Canute alone with just a couple of guards.
It is here that Thorgil seizes his opportunity. In the previous episode, we saw him coming from behind the command tent and getting ready to kill Canute from behind. He launches himself against Canute, aiming to cut his head, but Canute’s reflexes are fast, and he manages to shield himself with his sword.
Thorgil kills the two guards present and then focuses on Canute. Thorgil congratulates Canute; it seems his training has been worth it. However, Canute is no match for Thorgil, who strikes him and sends him to the ground. Thorgil makes the stupid mistake of talking instead of killing, giving Wulf enough time to come back to protect his king.
Wulf and Thorgil battle out, and it is quite bloody. Wulf manages to send his sword through Thorgil’s right wrist and jumps on Thorgil, strangling him. Thorgil tries to escape and puts two fingers through Wulf’s left eye. Both men are about to give up. Wulf releases Thorgil from his embrace, and Thorgil sees he has failed as more and more reinforcements converge on his position.
He escapes going back to the sea. Canute praises Thorgil for such a bold attack and claims he still wants Thorgil as his subordinate. On the battlefield, Snake sees how Canute’s army also retreats, trying to protect their king. He finds Ketil’s body on the ground, still alive, and takes it.
Snake says Ketil can’t die, as now he will have to face the responsibility of leading a defeated army.
Does Arnheid Survive Her Escape From Ketil’s Farm?
We return to Thorfinn, Einar, and Leif, who are carrying Arnheid in a wagon. They are escaping the farm, now free men, and ready to start anew. Arnheid wakes up in the middle of their escape. We saw in the previous episode that she was about to die, and she just wanted one more waking hour in the world of the living to say goodbye to his friend for helping her.
Anrheid wakes up and realizes there is a battle going on. Einar tries comforting her by saying they are now free and can go to a new place. Leif offers his village as the destination.
Arnheid asks if, at Leif’s village, there are slaves and war, and Leif responds by saying that there has been war in the past, and he cannot assure there won’t be war in the future. Arnheid explains that she cannot live anymore in a war like this. She explains that her sons and her husband are waiting for her in the afterlife. With no more reason for living, she says goodbye, and thanks both Thorfinn and Einar for being her friends. She says she felt trapped in a nightmare before they arrived and that their morning talks really made her feel like a normal person. Arnheid dies, ending her suffering.
Snake arrives carrying Ketil on his back. He wonders why Thorfinn and the others are still there. Einar becomes quite angry when he sees that Ketil is still alive. His rage blinds him, and he aims to kill the defeated master. Thorfinn tries to stop him by telling him that killing the master will not bring Arnheid back and won’t end his pain. Einar’s rage is so strong that Thorfinn is forced to punch him in the face to wake him up. Einar is forced to the ground and cries as the woman he loves is dead.
The group buries Arnheid on a hill, looking towards the ocean. Thorfinn seems quite meditative, and Leif asks what the matter is. Thorfinn reminds Leif of the tale he told him as a kid. The tale regarding their ancestors running away from the fighting and settling in Iceland.
Thorfinn says he thought that was uncool when he was a kid, but now he understands his ancestors and is proud of them for having the courage to step away from the cycle of violence. Thorfinn then marches towards Canute. He will meet him and hopefully end the massacre. Leif tries to stop him, but it is useless. The episode ends with Thorfinn walking to meet the King.