Mane of Glory #23: Arthdal Chronicles Eps 15&16
Our characters are heading towards their ultimate fate this week as they outsmart and out-kill their enemies. Come find out who is geared to be on top as we prepare ourselves for next week’s finale.
We left off last week with Asa Ron hiring an assassin (The Black Tongue) who stabs Tagon with a poisoned knife. Asa Ron starts crowing over how Tagon has lost, then he happens to notice the purple blood that is dripping from the wound. He and the Tribal leaders are shocked and panic when Tagon’s I heritage keeps him safe from the poison. Tagon declares that he tried to do things the bloodless way, but they ruined his plans. Now they will reap what they sowed.
Tagon counts down as he slaughters each person who witnessed his blood, flashing back to when his father said that anyone discovering his secret must die. Finally, only Asa Ron is left alive, having escaped into the forest.
But it is not just Tagon that is a target, his men, as Taealha, and Tanya are also all attacked. Saya disables Tanya’s attacker, despite being poisoned, and Tagon’s men catch on before they drink their poison. The assassin does manage to slice one of Tagon’s underlings in the neck, but his body fat makes the cut shallow enough to be back right away.
It is Taealha that really stands out in this series of scenes. Not only does Taealha manage to take out her attacker but she then rushes off to save Tagon. Her devotion truly is impressive. Not to mention, her fighting skills are not so shabby as she manages to take out several of the white mountain underlings.
Drama Geek: Okay, I’m not one for cheering a massive slaughter, but the editing during these scenes was pretty great and made me forget for a little while that the end game is for these two to be over the throne. was stunning in her blood-covered ride to save her beloved. Nothing, and I mean nothing, was going to stand in her way.
Clkytta: I had all the Girl Power feels for Taealha this week. She’s so cunning and deadly, and well, I just love her. This actress has really done such a good job at making me invested in this character, everything from her fight scenes to her little smirks make me cheer for Taealha.
Kdrama Jen: I loved her epic ride to rescue her man. I am so conflicted about this couple. On one hand, I feel like I should not be cheering for them, but there is something really compelling about their chemistry and their relationship. I can feel Tagon’s charisma and Taelha’s quiet power.
MiataMama: Well, I’m just gonna jump on the Taealha fangirl bandwagon here too! I was not a fan of her character during the early episodes, but now – wow! While I still don’t condone all her life choices, I concede that she is truly amazing when it comes to fighting a battle of wits or slaying with her knife and sword.
Kmuse: I try to remember that this is in a historic period where it was literally kill or be killed. Good for them for slaughtering everyone that wanted to slaughter them.
Taealha & Tagon continue to amaze with their devotion
One of the best scenes of these episodes occurred when Tagon and Taealha were both out in the forest battling assassins/attackers. The scene switched back and forth between their respective fights. Each of them drenched in the blood of their foes, they stumble towards each other. Just for breath and hugging each other as dead bodies scattered around them drench the area with blood. Is it kind of gross that they both have blood dripping down their faces as they embrace? Yup, but you can’t deny the devotion and love they have for one another.
Taealha says that it looks like they are not destined to be well liked by the people (referring to their attempt at a bloodless coup) but both agree that the situation is what it is and that more people will need to die now.
Kmuse: I love this couple so much. Are they morally gray? You bet your Aunt Betsy they are. But there is something so engaging about their love for each other. It is enough to make you ignore that they just slaughtered a whole bunch of people.
Drama Geek: Gray… ??? Um… I think they are morally red. And the next few scenes brought me right back to reality. LOL. I agree that their devotion to one another is pretty epic.
Clkytta: All empires and kingdoms are built on the bodies of the losers. So even though they are “morally red” as Drama Geek puts it, other rulers have won the throne in similar ways. Now we all know that they aren’t supposed to actually win, but a part of me wants them to be successful. They are that couple who embrace on the battlefield because they know that it’s a miracle they are both alive.
Kdrama Jen: Yup. I know I should be checking my own moral compass, but you have to give props to the way these two have remained devoted to one another through some pretty turbulent times!
MiataMama: Kdrama Jen, I’m pretty sure my moral compass needs to be recalibrated as well. But there is just something so mesmerizing about watching this couple as they pursue their ambition for power, and passion for one another.
Kill them all
Asa Ron is captured by a power-seeking Moongtae who is attempting to catch Tagon’s attention. Tagon quickly kills Asa Ron before he can reveal his Igutu secret, then calls for all the family of the conspirators to be arrested. When remaining tribe leaders complain about Tagon’s actions, he has his newest underling, Moongtae, kill the dissenters. It is no surprise that Tanya is having issues with the slaughtering. When she argues, Taealha tells her fall in line or the Wahans will be killed. Tanya tries to say that she and her people will disappear back to , but Taealha laughs and asks if they even want to leave now that they have experienced the wonders of Arthdal?
Drama Geek: This scene is Brutal. Moongtae has one purpose, and it’s to survive no matter what the cost. It’s interesting that there are so many people in that room that feel the same way. Saya is gleeful at Tagon not wimping out again, and my stomach turned seeing it. I had to step back and realize, that for him, there was never any hope at a better life unless Tagon took power and declared that Igutu people were not monsters. Sadly, they are monsters in the end.
Clkytta: Moongtae makes me so sad, he’s so afraid of what will happen when Eunseom returns. Well, he should be afraid because he’s a big fat traitor. He knows that he’s broken ties to his clan because he cares more about his own neck than his people. He’s pretending every time he’s with the Wahans, but the reality is that he will sacrifice all of them to save himself. Saya is pretty to look at, but he’s diabolical and detached. He has no real love in him.
Kdrama Jen: I do like how Moongtae’s descent into traitor and disloyalty is being juxtaposed against Eunsom’s moral struggle to continue to trust and have faith in his friend. It is very interesting to see how people change given their circumstances. Also, I could gaze at Saya all day—even if he is diabolical.
MiataMama: Moongtae knows he’s on the path of no return – he can’t go home at this point, so he’s making every effort to go big. It was really sad to watch him throw away any chance at redemption. And then there’s Saya. . . that look of delight in his eye when Tagon ordered the beating of the dissenters – eeek!
Kmuse: It is funny because I hate Moongtae for his disloyal decisions but cheer Tagon for being just as brutal. I guess that in the end Moongtae is completely selfish and has no ties to anyone where Tagon at least tries to think of others and their welfare. He kills but only because he has to. Moongtae kills before he really has to and that subtle difference means a lot in the end.
The Wahan Tribe loses themselves
Taealha is proved right as the Wahan tribe gathers with Tanya and show off all their new wealth and prestige. Even when Tanya explains that Tagon wants her to order the death of a lot of innocent people, everyone but Dotti mumbles their support of her. Wow. They really have lost their loyalty.
Drama Geek: I don’t know how I feel about the writing in this. Were they really taken with their new baubles or just happy to not be slaves anymore? Afraid that Tanya leaving her position would take that sense of security from them and make them live in fear for the rest of their lives. If they were are impressed with what Arthdal has to offer, I’m pretty disappointed in all of them.
Clkytta: I feel like this is a melding of two worlds. They have assimilated to their new lives and they see the value in objects now. In Iark, they were a community and supported each other, but now they have been victimized and they see importance of wealth and power. They are afraid of Tanya losing her position because then they will be slaves again and separated. They know now that they have to plan for the future.
Kdrama Jen: Although this is not real history, I do think Arthdal Chronicles is capturing some very important themes and enduring issues that are found throughout history and across cultures. In Iark, the Wahans lived a life where they shared with one another and lived in harmony. Now, though, this has all changed. Their hardships have made them change, but also their need to assimilate into this new world. Material things and property were not that important, but now they have meaning in this new society. I am not sure I can fault them for simply adapting to this new way of life.
MiataMama: I’m was pretty aghast at how nonchalant the Wahans were about Tanya having to give that terrible death order. I also felt Tanya’s disappointment and sorrow as she realized that there was no way for her or her people to return to how they used to be. They’ve ALL been corrupted by their exposure to the inequity of Arthdal.
Kmuse: I think my biggest issue with the Wahans is that they have turned selfish so quickly. Except for Tanya and Eunseom they all are willing to ditch their familial/tribal ties. It also bugs me that they are so nonchalant about other people being murdered and destroyed when they, themselves, were just in a similar situation. Where is the empathy?
Tanya gets herself some power
Saya, seeing Tanya’s distress, informs her that she needs to find herself a power base. Tagon is able to control her because Tanya has no power of her own. Tanya takes this advice to heart and when she is forced to tell the people of Arthdal what would happen to the imprisoned, she led them to think that she had gone to fight for the people. While Tanya did announce Tagon’s edicts, she switches the wording around to make it seem like their god had wanted to kill everyone, but she had convinced him to spare their lives and only punish them. By doing this, the crowd was cheering her name. Tagon watches on with a smile upon his lips at how clever Tanya switched things around but Taealha is not amused.
Drama Geek: I was getting a bit upset at how little Tanya had been able to do, and how much under Tagon’s thumb she’d been. She still has to do something horrendous, but it was a step to pave the way to claim her true place, and not just be a puppet.
Clkytta: I clapped my hands and cheered. Tanya is using her brain! She knows that if she wins over the people then she has some measure of safety. Just because she can’t read, and she isn’t from Arthdal, doesn’t mean that she is ignorant. She is the clan’s Great Mother for a reason.
Kdrama Jen: I think she has the right idea! If she wins the hearts of the people, then she will have incredible power.
MiataMama: She is one smart cookie! She didn’t crumble, but totally worked that horrid situation to her benefit. I also enjoyed Tagon’s smirk as he realized that maybe he had underestimated Tanya’s aptitude and fighting spirit.
Kmuse: I love Tanya. I just wish that the people she is fighting for were more loyal to her.
Eunseom is captured once again
You might be wondering where Eunseom is during all these going ons. Well, our valiant hero manages to get himself captured by the Ago tribe…. then released, only to be recaptured once again. At this point we could be playing a drinking game as often as Eunseom manages to get himself put in ropes.
But it is all for the greater good, as this gives him a chance to preach his idea of treating others decently to all the tribal leaders. Thinking that he might be on to something but hesitant to fight against Arthdal, they decide to let the gods decide by throwing Eunseom off a giant waterfall. If he lives then the God’s have spoken and they will go get their people back from Arthdal.
Thanks to the prompt arrival of the Momo tribe, Eunseom is saved from drowning and comes out of the water the leader who will take the Momo and Ago tribes against Arthdal
Drama Geek: We’re going to ignore how strong Igutus are supposed to be, and assume ropes can hold them. I feel a lot of this backend story for Eunseom rushed, but I do think that they created a situation for Eunseom to gain the Ago Tribe’s trust in a somewhat believable way. He’s essentially become their Tanya or Tagon by surviving the waterfall. It was also cool to see the Momo tribe swim in the water. I hope that skill will come in handy when they storm Arthdal.
Clkytta: I don’t know if they are trying to infer that since Eunseom and Saya are twins that they have less power than a regular Igutu? Maybe, but I’m really getting tired of Eunseom getting captured. The Momo tribe is freaking awesome, that part of the storytelling is stellar. I can’t gush over the leader of the Momo tribe enough, she’s fantastic.
Kdrama Jen: I adore the Momo tribe leader and her fierce painted warriors. I am not sure trial by waterfall is particularly fair, but I was very glad Momo tribe had his back (literally). I do like that Eunseom is remaining true to his beliefs, despite a moment of wavering. It must be really hard to extend trust so many times, only to be met with betrayal. It does seem to be working for him, though. He is also winning the hearts of others by simply being a good person.
MiataMama: Was I the only one who wished we could have chucked his Ago ‘friend’ off the edge of the waterfall instead?! Gah. Seriously! I was disappointed with the lack of Eunseom screen time this week. I’m in agreement with Drama Geek, that his storyline isn’t getting nearly the depth and attention as those of his Arthdal rivals. We need more Eunseom!!
Kmuse: I like Eunseom’s story. Sadly, it feels a lot more forced and less organic then everyone else’s. I know it is because of time constraints but it is still frustrating.
The Bell, The Mirror, & The Blade
Saya has been in the background all of this episode. We have witnessed his glee over his adopted father’s slaughter of his enemies but also thoughtful when it came to Tanya’s problems. He really is hard to pin down. Does Saya lean more towards a villainous lifestyle or is he just maladjusted because of his years in hiding?
It will be interesting to see what occurs now that he heard that he and Tanya are part of a prophesy. The Bell and Mirror are together but what will change when the Blade joins them and how will he react when he discovers that his visions of Tanya are referencing her time with his brother?
Drama Geek: I’ve wanted him to learn about for a while, and can’t wait to see “them” together. I understand for logistical purposes that bringing the brothers together needed to happen close to the end. With Saya, I think jealousy will get the best of him, and Eunseom will need to fight for his life. And the last thing Saya wants is the end to his dream of ruling everyone with his fake daddy. Hopefully, he will prove me wrong.
Clkytta: Oh I think it will be a tragic ending for Saya. I just don’t see how he can be redeemed. Saya has visions of taking over and ruling, we all know that, and Eunseom is a reluctant hero. So I think something tragic will happen to the brothers.
Kdrama Jen: Saya is so pretty to look at… Oh, wait. Plot. Right. Well, we know things are heading toward a confrontation soon. I am interested to see what happens when the mirror, the bell, and the blade get together? The prophecy is that the current world will end. So, what will be left in its place?
MiataMama: Oh, Saya is NOT going to cope well when he finds out about his brother. Especially when he realizes that the girl he’s pining over, is in love with his twin and not him. Bad things are going to happen – of that, I am certain. What I’m not certain about, is Saya’s role as the ‘mirror’ What exactly is the mirror’s purpose when it comes to fulfilling the end-of-the-world prophecy?
Kmuse: Can’t we just split the kingdom up and give half to Tagon and half to Eunseom? I know that isn’t realistic but I don’t want Saya to have to choose. He isn’t emotionally stable enough to make a good decision on who he will follow.
Kmuse: I can’t believe that we only have two episodes left. And not even the really long episodes that TvN is infamous for. I think that we could have easily had another 8 episodes of character development to make me feel that everyone’s stories were told the best that they could be.
Drama Geek: This writer is known for their longer dramas and it’s showing right now. They needed the of episodes that Kmuse to flesh out the rest of Eunseom and Tanya’s story arc. Both of them have just begun their journey of power, while Taealha and Tagon are getting a bit weary from theirs. That being said, I’ll probably look the other way, and hope for a glorious ending.
Clkytta: I’m ready for Eunseom and Saya to meet and for Eunseom and Tanya to be reunited. I’m curious how they will tie it all up well with only two episodes left, but it may turn out to be a solid ending.
Kdrama Jen: I have to agree that there needs to be more than two more episodes to give the Eunsome/Taya/Saya storyline the depth it needs. I also want to say that the multiple seasons is not working for me. I think I would be able to keep myself from liking Taelha and Tagon if I was binging. Then, the atrocities the committed would be fresh in my mind, so I would not be as likely to focus on how passionate they are with one another instead of how Tagon is responsible for the Wahan’s suffering.
MiataMama: Like my fellow fangirls, I can’t believe that we only have two episodes of this epic drama left. . . I’ve already begun preparing myself for the world of Arthdal to go up in flames, leaving no survivors. Except, maybe Nunbyeol. And those other two, rouge Neanthals. They will be the only ones left standing – you heard it here first! Seriously though, how’s it all going to end?!?!? Just one more week. . .
Til our next cutthroat moment,
Dramas With a Side of Kimchi