Taealha & Eunseom’s Power Plays
With one more episode to go after this, I’m struggling to see how Arthdal Chronicles will wrap up its fantasy epic in a satisfying manner. With an episode of political intrigue, power plays and alliances, Arthdal Chronicles does well to start progressing some of these characters forward but leaves little conclusive evidence that tomorrow’s finale will close things out in a way that doesn’t tease a second season.
We begin the episode with Eunseom saved from his watery fate. The Momo Tribe scramble to try and save him and as he regains his strength, the tribe rejoice before Karika tells Eunseom their fates are now entwined together. Before he’ll do anything else though, Eunseom tells her he needs to save his friend. Rejecting their services for the time being, he repeats again that he needs to go back.
Meanwhile in the village, Ipsaeng is told that he will die as day turns to night after the guard gives him his last meal. However, as he leaves Ipsaeng finds the cage binds cut, prompting him to try and escape. Unfortunately, he’s captured and brought before the tribe where he pleads with them to kill him. As the tribes continue to bicker over what to do next, Eunseom returns and stands by his side. He tells them they shouldn’t be arguing amongst themselves as they’re one singular tribe. As the villagers look at him in shock, they lift him up and cheer as they believe he’s Inaishingi, especially given he survived the treacherous waterfall.
It’s here he realizes they’ve thrust him in charge of the tribes now and, given their beliefs, they’ll follow his every word no matter what. After learning what’s happened to the fractured Wahan Tribe, including Moong-Tae’s betrayal, Eunseom is told to step up and unite the tribes.
Meanwhile in Arthdal, Tagon is carried through the streets as the Daekan warriors force everyone to put their foreheads to the ground and worship him. Along the way, they’re approached by a member of the Bato Tribe – Gompa. She curses him and proceeds to tell him exactly how he’ll die. As she continues, she gives him a cryptic message around who will kill him that appears to hint toward Eunseom. Before he gets a chance to hear any more, she plunges a dagger into her own chest as a sacrifice to the Gods.
Thinking nothing of it, Tagon brushes off the curse and heads back to the throne room. Once there, Tagon revels in his role as King and works to unite the tribes, Mihol confronts Taealha after the meeting while Yeon-Bal sees Saya for the first time after reporting back to Tagon, immediately catching him off guard. As he discusses matters with Kitoha, Saya overhears him talking about a man who looks identical to himself.
As Tagon suddenly flares up with a fever and finds himself bed-bound, rumours begin circulating around town as news of Tagon’s illness is met with whispers that the curse is true.
Back at Doldambul, an armoured Eunseom bangs the drums as soldiers confront him. As he counts the number standing infront of him, he whistles for reinforcements who storm the prison and free the slaves. News inevitably gets back to Arthdal, prompting Tanya to realize Eunseom is still alive. However, as she speaks to Taealha, the latter is pulled away to Tagon’s side where he tells her that the people believe Mihaje is punishing him. Defiantly deciding to head out, Saya warns Tagon against it given his cut is infected and he needs to rest.
Instead, he heads outside and desecrates the statue of Mihaje and provokes the Gods, telling the deities to grab him at the Great Shrine. He goes on to command his Daekan Warriors to burn the temple of Mihaje, showing himself as the man he really is to the people.
As he heads back to his room, he commands Saya to patch him up and fix his wound. He does too, although the pain is great enough to have Tagon pass out midway through. When he awakens, he tells Saya that he wants everything, meaning he’ll have to take care of Mihol. Escorted through the palace, the Daekan separate Mihol from his wife and lead him into an interrogation room. Smiling, Saya tells him he wants to ask one simple question – what is the secret of bronze?
As Taealha learns what Tagon has done, she looks at him incredulously as tears well up in her eyes. Despite her hatred for Mihol, he’s still her blood but caught in a tough position, she tells Tagon she’ll play along but use a hallucinogenic to get him to talk.
Mihol is interrogated and tortured by Saya who repeatedly asks him for the secret to Bronze. However, Mihol doesn’t give anything up leading Taealha to interject and tell him he’ll be drinking the hallucinogen instead. As everyone leaves the room, she shuts the door and makes her decision. She approaches Mihol and apologizes to him over how long it took her to agree with him. Falling to her knees, she pleads with him to give her the secret of the bronze and let him go. Instead he tells her to go to the great cliff where their tribe collapsed.
As Tagon approaches and enters the door, Taealha rises up and tells him she’s the only one who knows the secret of the bronze now, as she reveals a dead Mihol. He tells her he’ll torture her instead and smiles, prompting her to tell him she’s currently pregnant with his child where we leave the episode.
With the door wide open for the finale tomorrow, all roads lead to Eunseom storming Arthdal with the united tribes and taking back the lands for himself. Quite whether the show will play out that way remains to be seen but right now I’m a little concerned over just how Arthdal Chronicles is going to wrap up all its loose threads and numerous characters in a satisfying manner. To be honest, this feels like it may be more Memories Of The Alhambra than Hotel Del Luna given the way this one is playing out.
I hope I’m proven wrong and there’s no denying that Arthdal is a beautiful Korean drama with high production values. Despite the eerie similarities between Game Of Thrones’ throne room and Tagon’s most of the series has seen Arthdal Chronicles deliberately differentiate itself from other fantasies, acting as both the strongest and weakest parts of the show. Given the way this has deviated from a traditional narrative many times before, whether Arthdal can pull off the unthinkable and deliver a well written, perfectly executed finale remains to be seen.