Welcome to the Recap and Ending Explained for Vinland Saga, Episode 21, titled “Courage.” The title of the episode relates to a series of events that will put the courage of several characters to the test. Courage is the ability to gather one’s will and do something that scares you. In the episode, we will see numerous opportunities where the characters successfully display courage but fail to do it. The episode is just another example of the perfect, nuanced writing that Vinland Saga offers over basically every single other anime on the air right now.
In the previous episode, we saw the consequences of Ketil antagonizing Canute, the King. The result was total destruction for Ketil’s army. Ketil himself is attacked on the head but remains alive thanks to Snake’s efforts. Thorgil’s attempt on Canute’s life also fails, as the warrior makes the stupid mistake of not going straight to the point and killing his target but glorifying himself before landing the final blow.
Arnheid, on the other hand, died, and she is now in a better place with her loved ones. Thorfinn decided to go and talk to Canute to put an end to all this bloodshed.
The following paragraphs contain spoilers for Vinland Saga: Season 2, Episode 21. Read at your own risk.
Do Ketil And His Family Surrender Before King Canute?
The episode begins with a display of death. We see the aftermath of the battle between Ketil and Canute’s forces. Of course, having better equipped and overall more talented warriors gave Canute the edge, and his soldiers killed dozens and dozens of soldiers, who in actuality, were no more than farmers.
Canute oversees the piling of the bodies and feels like a failure. His father’s head continues to follow him around and justifies Canute’s actions by telling him that this is a king’s work. A king must kill those who need killing and let live those who need living.
You can still feel that Canute is not happy with the result. Floki asks Canute if his soldiers can seize the farm’s houses, and Canute says no. He knows that pillaging will begin when the soldiers step onto the farm.
Canute reminds Floki that this entire operation aimed to appropriate Ketil’s farm, not its destruction. Canute needs the farm to be fully operational. He needs the money that will come from it. Canute sends one more messenger to Ketil’s forces, asking for their surrender. He hopes Ketil will accept his defeat and give the farm to him.
Meanwhile, at Ketil’s camp, we see Olmar arriving after his failed attempt on the Canute, and he sees a terrible landscape before his eyes. There are dozens of dead and injured men on the ground.
Many survivors have lost limbs, and the women are trying their best to patch up the wounds and keep as many of them alive as possible. The screams reach deep inside Olmar’s mind, and he loses it. Especially when he sees the father of one of the girls he used to bed with. The man now has no hands, and his beautiful daughter cries by his side. Olmar cannot do anything but puke at the nightmare he is living in.
Inside one of the cabins, we see old man Sverkel, Snake, Thorgil, his mother, and Ketil himself, still unconscious on the bed. They discuss what to do, and Snake explains that Canute has sent another offer for surrender. Thorgil rejects the idea and prefers to fight. He is ready for it. His mother also seems to prefer death before exile and becomes a beggar.
However, Sverkel informs Thorgil that it is not his decision to make. Ketil already had a successor in mind, and it wasn’t Thorgil but Olmar, so it fell into the young man’s hands to decide. Olmar feels the weight of the world.
Olmar reasons that he was the king’s excuse to begin a war against them. That is true. It is also true that the king would have found any other excuse to seize the farm, but it was Olmar who ended up being the gateway. And so, Olmar thinks he should be the one to finish it. He chooses to surrender and spare himself and the rest of the people under his command from death.
He does this in the face of his mother’s and brother’s pressure to fight. Snake congratulates Olmar for having the courage to go against them. However, Thorgil doesn’t agree and goes to do something that will probably not be subtle but violent, as is his nature.
Does Thorfinn Talk With Canute In This Episode?
As that happens at Sverkel’s place, we see Einar facing Arnheid’s grave. Einar is clearly more devastated by her death than anyone else because he has romantic feelings toward her. It makes everything really sad. Einar finally wakes up from his grief and realizes Thorfinn is not around. He goes and talks to Leif, who tells him about Thorfinn’s plan. Einar cannot understand why Leif let him do something like that after spending so many years trying to find him. Leif explains that something bigger is calling Thorfinn into action, and he should respect that.
Thorfinn arrives in Canute’s camp, and a group of Canute’s soldiers receive him. Thorfinn is very polite and asks, please, be able to talk to the King. The soldiers laugh. They cannot believe a slave is asking to talk to the king.
It is ridiculous. Thorfinn declares that he knows the king personally and that if they tell him his name, the king will surely recognize it. The big soldier before him hits Thorfinn but doesn’t bring him down. The other soldiers began to laugh at the soldier because he couldn’t bring down someone as small as Thorfinn with one blow.
Thorfinn explains that he was a member of the King’s Guard in the past, so he wants to talk to his former king. Wulf brings the news to Canute, and the king looks baffled at hearing Thorfinn’s name and certifying it is indeed him, who is just meters from him.
Canute doesn’t want to talk to Thorfinn and leaves. Floki is also surprised that Thorfinn is here and smiles. Einar arrives to help Thorfinn, but Thorfinn won’t leave. He explains that this is something he needs to do. The odds might be against him, but he needs to try to bring this entire conflict to an end.
Thorfinn sees that the soldiers are betting on how many punches he will resist before he cries. Thorfinn goes in on the bet and says he can resist 100 punches without crying about surrendering. The soldier is humiliated by Thorfinn’s small size and goes on a rampage. If Thorfinn wins the bet, he will be taken to the king. If he loses, then the soldiers promise they will take his life. Thorfinn is so close to Canute that it will be impossible for him to fail now.