The Asa Clan’s Last Stand
When it comes to dramatic, action packed episodes, Arthdal Chronicles pulls out all the stops this week, delivering an exhilarating thrill ride that sees the Asa tribe meet their demise and Tagon finally ascending to his predestined position at the top of the hierarchy.
Before we get there though, we begin with Tagon fighting off Asa Ron’s guards, counting them down as he goes before rushing after Asa Ron and the others. Meanwhile, Taealha is attacked by the female assassin but manages to break free and slay her while Saya also realizes he’s in the presence of an assassin, who blows smoke in his face and watches as he passes out on the floor. Grabbing a knife, he creeps out the room but spies Tanya and holds her up at knife-point too. Thankfully, Saya saves her at the last minute before passing out from the smoke he ingested.
As Taealha regroups after the attack, she realizes the assassins are the Shahati, a group of assassins that have clearly been brought in by Asa Ron. Sensing danger, she hurries out the palace and, snatching the reigns of a stray horse, heads off in search of Tagon.
While the Daekan forces enjoy a drink, unbeknownst to them what’s happened elsewhere, the Black Tongue arrives and tries to poison them. The man slices Kitoha’s throat before Moo-Gwang manages to stab him and stop his rampage.
Meanwhile Tagon is surrounded by two more assassins who grin maniacally at him as they prepare to strike while Taealha finds herself surrounded by guards too after being knocked off her horse. As they both prepare for their last stands, all hell breaks loose as we cut back and forth between the different skirmishes in a dizzying and impressive display of choreography and fighting skills. Managing to thwart their enemies, Taealha and Tagon reunite, embracing while covered in blood as he tells her he killed all the Ministers.
Out in the woods, Asa Ron comes across the Wahan guard, Moong-Tae, who agrees to escort him while the words echo in his mind about power. With the guards rallied around the surviving two Royals, Tagon is told about Kitoha’s situation before he gives an impassioned speech that manages to inspire the troops and motivate them to fight for him. Deciding to sacrifice herself, Asa Hon heads off to confront Tagon while telling the remaining clan members to escape to the White Peak Mountain, sensing the end may be near for them.
However, Mihoka arrives as Tagon’s forces fight through the mountain, where they find out he’s okay due to the excess fat around his neck which prevented him from being more badly hurt. While Tanya is saved from certain death at the hands of another assassin by Yang-Cha, Tagon gathers the Asa Clan and laments Asa Ron not being among them. However, Moong-Tae arrives with him tied up over his shoulder and drops him before Tagon. As Asa Hon scrambles into the room, she finds she’s too late as Tagon kills Asa Ron with a slice of his blade. However, before being taken away she unleashes a snake that bites him.
As Tagon is treated by Harim, a suspicious Taealha has Mugwang follow him and as he arrives home, he tells his family to pack up and leave. Unfortunately the Daekan follow them, cornering them in the woods where Mugwang takes charge and begins methodically killing the family members, one by one. Unfortunately, Noon-Byul is among them and as she’s dragged away, she reveals her true Neanthal powers. She also utters the last words Mugwang will hear before dying. The prophecy comes true and he dies with his heart ripped out before the crescent moon.
Meanwhile in the Agoha forest, Eunseom finds himself captured. As he discusses whether to tell them he’s infected, he finds out they already speak his language and also that he’ll be sold as a slave. Unfortunately this is it for Eunseom this episode and we’re given a grand total of about 5 minutes for the character who was made out to be the protagonist early on, but is now reduced to a minor player.
Back in Arthdal, all the supporters of the Asa tribe are gathered up and captured, while Moong-Tae is caught and beaten by Tagon; he knows too much about Tagon’s true heritage. However, as the episode closes out, everyone is gathered in the main throne room where Tagon sits and addresses the room over what’s happened during the night. As he looks out upon his subjects, he makes the final step to solidify himself as a king, the self proclaimed king of disaster as he silently commands Moong-Tae to beat the prisoners to a pulp.
With a lot of action and excitement peppered throughout the episode, Arthdal Chronicles does a fabulous job here delivering an action-packed thrill ride full of little skirmishes and well written beats. While the series has certainly taken its sweet time before delivering battles like this, seeing more of the Neanthals and their power is certainly a welcome sight. While I’m still concerned over just how this one is likely to wrap up its many plot threads at the end, a profound lack of Eunseom during this third part of the series really isn’t helping.
Given how central Eunseom was to the early parts of this drama, it’s a little disappointing that he’s not featured more prominently or have more of a role in the various prophecies cropping up in Arthdal. Unless he’s likely going to merge all these tribes together to overthrow Arthdal for himself remains to be seen but for now, Arthdal Chronicles leaves plenty of questions hanging over the series after a particularly dramatic and action packed episode.