The Stalled Prophecy
Despite starting brightly, Arthdal Chronicles feels like its lost its way a little bit. Don’t get me wrong, the story is interesting despite feeling overly convoluted at times and the characters themselves are certainly endearing enough to keep you watching. Having said that though, the episodes feel a tad too long and some of the plot developments, especially in today’s episode, aren’t fully explained and leave many plot holes and unanswered questions hanging over the series.
We begin the episode with Saya talking to Taealha while Tanya eavesdrops at the door. They immediately spot her and hastily slam the door. While alone, Saya antagonizes Taealha, telling her to get revenge on him following Dan Byeok’s death. However, Tagon suspects Asa Ron is behind the killings but before he tries to get revenge, he lets Mihol go free.
When he returns home, Taealha tells him the truth – Tagon killed Sanung. However, she’s decided to stick by Tagon who heads into the sacred chamber while the man who looks like Eunseom is tied up in chair, bloodied and beaten. Tagon is finally being made union leader and as punishment for allegedly killing Sanung, the man who was dressed up to look like Eunseom is strung up and thrown into a boiling pot of water, killing him.
Tagon then addresses the unionized tribes and assigns them roles – including making Asa Ron a minister. This means Tagon now outranks him. While Asa Ron stews in his own anger, Saya speaks to his father about current affairs. He tells Tagon to be careful, telling his father that they, as Igutus, should rule in fear but Tagon tells him of the sacrifices he’s made to hide their lineage up until this point. He’s not about to blow it now.
In secret, Taealha speaks to Tanya and gives her a mission regarding Saya. She’s to keep an eye on him and tells her to keep it a secret or she will kill her father. Yeol-Son himself meanwhile, starts his job as a scribe.
Tanya and Too-Ak then teach Saya to fight but he runs away the first chance he gets, donning a robe and blending in with the locals. However, Tanya sees through this facade and chases after him. When she catches up with him on the outskirts of the city, they get talking. Eunseom and Saya appear to be seeing one another in their dreams. It turns out all three of them were born on the same day and appear to be inexplicably linked. Saya then takes her through a secret passage, allowing her to see her Father again. As it happens. Too-Ak was the one who killed Saya’s lover all those years ago. Once reunited, Yeol-Son and Tanya talk about what’s happened with the tribe and Arthdal in general.
As it happens, the real Eunseom is alive and well, recovering with a family on the outskirts of the city. However, two of the Wahan tribe arrive, Dal-Sae and Mung-Tae, who help Eunseom ambush the soldiers currently marching the fragmented Wahan Tribe across the frozen landscape. However, Mung-Tae has betrayed them all and it was actually a ploy to trap Eunseom all along. While the two are tied up and marched off, Mung-Tae is forced to continue his betrayal.
Saya then tells Tanya that Eunseom is dead, prompting her to grab him until Too-Ak interjects and Tanya is thrown into prison. Saya visits her soon after, lamenting the greed of people before telling Tanya that she’ll die before getting any real answers. However she decides she wants to live and feigns loyalty to Saya. However, in secret she casts a spell over him.
Arthdal Chronicles’ latest episode is a bit of a mixed bag if I’m honest. On the one hand, some of the stuff around Tanya and Saya is interesting, mired with enough mystery to keep you hanging on. However, in doing so we see the Wahan Tribe in peril again and there just doesn’t feel like an incentive or big reward coming for that storyline. To make matters worse, without a recap to show exactly what happened to Eunseom before, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was the actual end for our protagonist. Even a slight recap prior to this would have been helpful, given how heavy some of the plot points are in this show.
The show itself has been a little inconsistent with character block text for names too. Some episodes showcase every character, other times only a few whilst others don’t do it at all. This inconsistency is a real shame as personally, I’d rather they just put this in for every character, especially given the sheer number of characters to work with here. The show is certainly exciting though and I’m looking forward to seeing the next episode but right now, Arthdal Chronicles feels like its in a bit of a rut. In a way it’s shed the skin of its fantasy elements in favour of a story that can’t quite decide which direction to go in.
There’s still plenty of time yet to turn thing around and perhaps future episodes will make things a lot clearer. For me though, this episode felt a little lost to me. The prophecy feels uneven and inconclusive, the various players just don’t have enough screen time or presence whilst the whole Eunseom affair felt a little confusing, thanks in part to a lack of a recap to explain what happened prior. Despite all of that, Arthdal Chronicles is certainly a visually stunning show and its story has enough to it to keep you watching to find out what happens next.
edit – Thank you to those who commented below for helping to update some of the plot points here regarding Eunseom, much appreciated!