The Truth Will Out
After yesterday’s dramatic episode, Arthdal Chronicles returns for an action packed slice of drama, chock full of exciting set pieces and a very dramatic finale. Out of all the episodes in this 3 part run, Arthdal Chronicles delivers one of its best here and although the plot is a little complicated and littered with numerous tribes, the episode does well to juggle all this and deliver a relatively straight forward episode that culminates in Tagon falling from grace.
While the rogue tribe members follow the marks left by Eunseon in the Mountains, we begin back in Arthdal with a raging bull stopped by a strange girl with Neanthal powers. Meanwhile, Tagon is greeted by Mihol in the throne room where they discuss the kingdom’s future. Confidently, he tells Tagon no one will replace him before offering his loyalty, given he always sides with the most powerful person. Afterward, Tagon meets with his Daekan Warriors and admits he hates killing people, eventually revealing the truth that he has a son.
At the same time, Saya guides Tanya outside after helping her with her preparations, discussing the tribe and their family. As they walk into the main square, Mugwang scoffs at the idea of the two together, his prophetic fate still hanging heavy in his mind, while Asa Ron consults his clan and considers what this Gohamsani means for their tribe.
Up in the Hasi Mountains, Eunseom continues to trudge through the snow with Ipsaeng while the soldiers hunt them. Hearing rustling in the trees nearby, Eunseom freezes. He steps back and tells his comrade to run as a bear charges out the shrubbery and chases them. After striking it in the head with a very impressive diving swing with a tree branch, Eunseom fights off the bear as best he can. As it raises up on its hind legs, Ipsaeng flees and leaves him to his fate.
However, two Neanthals arrive and save him from the beast, using their powers to stop the bear attacking. He tells them he’s an Igutu, prompting one of the men to run up and smell him. As they leave, discussing Asa Hon and who Eunseom may be, the tribal warriors find Ipsaeng and he strikes a deal with them while Eunseom himself watches on from afar. Following from afar, he finds an opportune moment and manages to hold one of them up by the neck by a noose; just enough of a distraction to break Ipsaeng free and escape the warriors. Alone, he questions Eunseom’s unwavering desire to save him, especially given how horrible he’s been but Eunseom simply tells him he needed power and was using Ipsaeng as strength given he has no power. As they set off together down the stream they come across the fabled Ago Tribe as ominous music kicks in.
It’s at this point we cut back to Saya who ponders his dreams about that very same tribe while waiting for Tanya to finish her meeting with the Asa Clan, who discuss the Gohamsani. It’s to take place in two days, as it happens, and as Tagon learns of this, he heads out on his own without guards into the woods where he’s haunted by flashes to the past. He heads to the grave site of his Father where we learn the truth about what happened to him as a child.
He promises his Father he’ll become Aramun and all the sacrifices he made to keep his lineage a secret are shown in their ugly truth. It turns out he promised to kill all the Neanthals and Igutus just to save his own skin and stay in Arthdal, especially given he promised to become Aramun.
Unfortunately, Asa Ron overhears him talking to himself and steps out of the shadows and reveals his true intentions. They dance around the idea of murder before Asa Ron thinks out loud, wondering just why Sanung hated his son so much. He tells him it’s sad and Tagon replies with regret that it’s never a good thing to kill his own Father. Unfortunately, as the people and warriors of Asa Ron surround him, having hidden out in the shadows too, he realizes the Asa Clan have played him and that the people will now know the truth. Unfortunately this will also implicate Tanya and Taealha.
Asa Ron unleashes the Black Tongue on him; a warrior that paralyses with a single blow. Purple blood oozes from his cut as he’s forced to witness everyone finding out the truth that he is, infact, an Igutu. Throwing the knife to the ground, Tagon grits his teeth and tells them all they brought this on themselves. At this point he unleashes his true power, revealing his purple eyes and baring his teeth, promising to kill them all. As he charges at Asa Ron, the episode leaves things wide open for next week.
Out of all the cliffhanger endings I’ve watched this year, Arthdal Chronicles’ latest in this episode is up there with the most agonizing. The ending is incredibly tense too and there’s an urgency to Arthdal Chronicles now that was somewhat lacking in the first two parts. Given how much money has been poured into this show, it is a bit of a shame this hasn’t been embraced as fondly in Korea but the third part has, so far, rewarded those who have stuck by this drama.
The action is really impressively shot too, with some nice use of crane shots and dolly movements to really give a cinematic edge to these segments. The bear fight in the snow is one such example of this, matching the tense nature of the early fight between Eunseom and Yang-Cha. Since then, there’s been some good group fights but nothing that’s really hit that exciting, intimate one on one feel. That’s certainly one of the highlights here but the big talking point is almost certainly going to be the final scenes here.
With Arthdal now aware of Tagon’s lineage, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with him going forward and given the ending I highly doubt we’ll see a major death early in the next episode, despite the hinted possibility of Asa Ron meeting a grisly demise (especially given his foreshadowing remark about being dead and seeing Tagon fail). Quite where Arthdal Chronicles will go from here remains to be seen but if it can keep up this level of intensity, we could be in for an impressive finale to end this series off on a high.