Warning: The following discussion contains spoilers for the Season 2 finale of Vinland Saga, titled "Home."
One of the fascinating aspects of Vinland Saga is its ever-shifting tone, which has divided the fanbase, particularly among those who haven't read the manga. Expectations for continuous warfare and violence, reminiscent of most of Season 1, were shattered in Season 2 as the show took a slower pace, emphasizing in-depth conversations, tranquil settings, diplomacy, and ultimately, the pursuit of peace.
Vinland Saga meticulously builds up its narrative, leading to the final few episodes where King Canute arrives at Ketil's farm with intentions to claim it as part of a requisition motion. While the series hinted at a violent confrontation and the culmination of Canute's rivalry with Thorfinn, the finale unexpectedly delivers the most uneventful episode yet. However, this seeming lack of action serves a crucial purpose: reigniting a sense of purpose that Thorfinn had once lost.
Vinland Saga's Season 2 Finale Gives Thorfinn a Drab Homecoming
There's just something about this series when it comes to reunions. When Leif meets Thorfinn on Ketil's farm after years of searching for the kid, it's underplayed. They don't greet or hug; Vinland Saga just has an anticlimactic exchange where they're focusing on other slaves. Season 2 does the same with the finale, "Home," when Leif takes Thorfinn back to Iceland after being missing for 16 years.
It's all due to Thorfinn convincing Canute in the episode prior, "Two Paths," to stop his violent ways. But there's no party or triumphant celebration — Thorfinn just spends time convincing his sister, Ylva, he's real, which his mother, Helga, attests to. Bar some comedic moments, it's low-key with Thorfinn reacquainting with old buddies and playing with nieces and nephews. Some think this is underwhelming, lacking a crescendo, but it kills the pace off with intent, all to tease a time jump at the very end.
Vinland Saga's Slow Approach Creates Emotional Resonance
The gradual and contemplative approach taken in the finale creates a powerful emotional resonance, particularly in the final shot featuring an older Thorfinn who has successfully established his own colony. This nod to the ending of Season 1, where Thorfinn was aged up and sold as a slave, hints at the fulfillment of his father Thors' dream of founding Vinland—a land where everyone can live freely. After Thors' death, Thorfinn had forgotten about this dream, understandably consumed by his quest for vengeance, which ultimately led to his enslavement.
However, the patient and methodical storytelling, with its focus on the tender moments shared with his family, pays off when Thorfinn reveals to his best friend, Einar, what they need to do. This contextualizes the significance of the Vinland dream and explains why Einar is present in the flash-forward. It suggests that they have indeed achieved this paradise, establishing new families and finding fulfillment. This realization is sparked once again as Thorfinn absorbs the seemingly uneventful finale.
This conclusion speaks to the contemplative nature of individuals during quiet moments, as Thorfinn comes to understand that he must pursue this dream in honor of his father. Furthermore, through these new connections, he accepts that the boy who left never truly returned home. As for Einar, he wholeheartedly embraces this vision because he desires a world that treats former slaves like himself and his beloved late Arnheid with respect. Ultimately, the finale may lack action or political intrigue, but it offers an inspiring conclusion centered around community and the symbol of hope that Thorfinn's family sees in him, even if the restless hero must once again depart from their midst for a greater purpose.