A captivating premiere that pulls viewers in early and rewards them with a satisfying reveal at the end.
We recap the Netflix and Crunchyroll anime series Vinland Saga Season 2 Episode 1, “Slave,” which contains spoilers.
After a stellar first season, it’s not hard to see why Vinland Saga is one of the most anticipated anime returns of Winter 2023. Thorfinn’s (Y?to Uemura) blind passion and need for revenge, while admirable, often got him into trouble. In the end, though, it almost felt as if it was all for nothing when Thorfinn was denied the revenge that had fueled his motivation for living for so long. Seeing just how he would overcome, especially after attacking Canute (Kensho Ono), is what fans have been waiting for. However, the latest episode throws viewers for a loop, introducing them to an entirely new character named Einar. How he fits into the story and what he has to do with Thorfinn remains to be seen, but knowing Vinland Saga, it’s sure to be worth the watch.
Vinland Saga Season 2 Episode 1 Recap
A young man named Einar chops a tree in the forest, claiming he is training for war. His mother and sister, Lotta, find the idea to be a bit farfetched, lightly teasing him about it. He reveals that his village had only recently been rebuilt after the last invasion. He feels obligated to help protect people and avenge his father, who died protecting them in the last fight. He asks his mother if she’s not tired of losing, but she explains they haven’t lost everything yet, clearly changing Einar’s perspective a bit.
In the next scene, their village is under attack again. Houses and fields burn as Einar and his family hide in the nearby forest. As they attempt to run for it, his mother is shot in the back with an arrow. Despite trying to save her, she encourages Einar and Lotta to leave her behind, especially as the nearby raiders notice their position. Instead of running, the two linger, giving the other men time to catch up to them. They attempt to take Lotta, but she is killed after stabbing one of the men in the shoulder. Too devastated to fight, Einar is dragged away from the scene, as the men intend to sell him in exchange for money.
The next time we see Einar is on a boat traveling the sea, having been sold into slavery. He watches on in fear as a woman as the men throw a young woman on the brink of death overboard to make more space. Protesting the harsh treatment only gets him punched, and he slowly realizes the reality of the situation. Still, he refuses to die.
Once on land, the enslaved people are groomed for sale. When no one is looking, Einar takes off running into the nearby woods and eventually comes upon a cottage where he steals food. In the end, however, his effort proves futile, as he is captured and made an example of in front of the other slaves. The slave traders encourage the slaves to find a good master as opposed to trying to run off and make it on their own. Even as he is whipped, Einar holds on by remembering his commitment to living.
As Einar seems to resign himself to being a decent slave a man, that viewers will recognize as Leif, comes to the slave market in search of a boy named Thorfinn. The slave traders initially confuse Einar with Thorfinn, but Leif knows it is not him, as the two look nothing alike. They attempt to sell Einar anyway, but Leif has no interest in purchasing a slave. Still, he apologizes to Einar for wasting his time before he leaves.
As Einar watches Leif leave, a large blond man approaches, requesting to inspect him. After finding out he was a farmer before, the man asks Einar if he would like to join him on his farm. Einar agrees and is floored to see just how much his new owner’s farm reminds him of his home.
As they walk the farm, his new owner calls for Thorfinn to come over, and we get our first look at the protagonist since the end of season 1. Immediately Einar seems to recognize the name of the person Leif was looking for back at the slave market, as Einar informs us this is the story of how he and Thorfinn first met.
I wasn’t sure where this episode was going at first, but after a few minutes, I was immediately invested in this new character’s struggle. Vinland Saga always knows how to craft a compelling story, no matter who the episode is focusing on, and honestly, the build-up to Thorfinn’s appearance was well worth the wait.
Studio MAPPA’s animation is always top-tier when it comes to this series, especially in regard to character design. It’s easy to tell they put a lot of effort into Vinland Saga, and it pays off, making the episode that much more memorable.
A lot of Thorfinn’s motivation in season 1 revolved around getting revenge for his dad. Now that he can’t fulfill that desire, it will be interesting to see where he ends up and what his new goals will be. The fun of Vinland Saga right now is that it has the freedom to take Thorfinn’s story in just about any direction right now. Depending on where he ends up, this already has the potential to be one of the best shows this season.
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