Arthdal Chronicles Episode 1 Recap
Part 1, The Children of Prophecy
A woman sleeps restlessly dreaming of those who told her the child she cared is cursed. A snake slithers up and poises itself to clamp jaws onto the baby. The baby’s eyes turn purple.
Voiceover “When man came from the trees, they learned to make tools, wheels, roads, and plant food. But they didn’t have a government system. This is the ancient place of Arth.”
Warriors are attacked in the woods. They don’t see their enemy and opt to flee. But they are plucked off one by one. When there is one warrior remaining a man/animal (his fingernails are claw like) approaches the frightened man and declares the land belongs to all. The tribe shoots arrows into the woods and the lone warrior is struck. The man/animal fleas. The warrior run into the woods and the lone warrior declares he is fine. He’s clearly disgusted that one Neanderthal eliminated his team. The warrior chases the Neanderthal.
Voiceover “When did it all go wrong? Yes, it was here.”
Top of the Mountain…
The Arthdal tribe representatives waits to meet the Tiger (Neanderthal) tribe representatives. The Tiger leader asks what they want. The Arthdal leader replies he wants to join forces. The Tiger leader declares they are totally different and have no shared interests. The Arthdal leader counters survival is a shared interest. The Arthdal leader shows food grown from agriculture, not gathered from mother nature. He declares his tribes’ skills working the other tribe’s lands would benefit them both. The Arthdal leader states if they build a nation together, they will rule together. The Tiger leader rejects the offer stating they have no need of what has been proposed. They leave.
The Arthdal tribe representatives return to their tribe dejected that things didn’t go as planned. Two warriors believe the only option is to fight the Tiger Tribe for the fertile land.
Voiceover “The war was easy. When the Tiger Tribe gathered for the annual week long fest, we sent fabrics and diseased animals as a gift.”
The Arthdal tribe representative, Asa Hon, finds a baby near its dead mother. The Arthdal tribe shoots burning “arrows” into the contested area. The Tiger tribe is severely hurt. The Tiger tribe representative gathers two babies to save them. The Arthdal tribe representative can’t believe the gift she brought was actually disease to destroy. The Tiger tribe warrior kills her escort and declares the Arthdal tribe evil. The Arthdal tribe representative sees he has a child. She points to her child and declares they must leave together to save the children.
The Arthdal tribe warrior shoot arrows at the Tiger tribe attempting to flee the burning arrow. They laugh at how easy this is.
Voiceover “The disease eliminated the advantages and physical strengths of the Tiger tribe. The Arthdal tribe had the will to scheme and eliminate.”
The Arthdal tribe leader thanks Tagon for helping them achieve victory.
Voiceover “Tagon, a young boy, devised the plan that we executed.”
The Arthdal tribe decides to hunt and kill any of the remaining Tiger tribe.
Voiceover “Even though we won, we were afraid and turned cruel. The remaining Tiger tribe were strong and difficult to hunt and kill.”
The Arthdal warrior hunt the Tiger tribe. The representative that fled with Asa Hon, hides his baby and fights the warriors. While the odds aren’t in his favor, his quickness and physical strength eliminates many warriors. A young Tiger boy rushes away to tell Asa Hon.
Asa Hon dreams of the demand for the baby she cares for that will bring calamity to all. The suggestion is to kill the baby’s brother which Asa Hon rejects. The declaration is made the baby’s father must die and this was Asa Hon’s choice. She’s warned when they meet again, she will not be spared. She’s told to run and not pursue the one that sings.
Asa Hon wakes. She wonders if that was a dream (something the Arthdal tribe does not experience). She sees the baby Eunseom is gone. She finds a young Tiger boy holding the baby. He says the fever is broken. The boy rushes from the woods and declares Ragaz is battling the Arthdal warrior as they speak. Asa Hon recalls the promise that father would die. The boy reports Ragaz is fighting with his son on his back. Asa Hon wants to go to them. The boy declares if she hands over the baby, she can live because her tribe can’t kill her. Asa Hon declares no one would kill a denseness baby under her protection. She goes to find Ragaz.
Ragaz is caught and stabbed (many times over). He spits blue blood. He states his dream predicted the Arthdal downfall. He declares they will kill each other. He dies. The warriors scoff at his dream. Tagon appears and declares his arrow was the one that disabled Ragaz. The warriors are deferential. A dying warrior asks Tagon to perform a death ritual a priest would perform. Tagon agrees to perform the ritual to the shock of the warriors. They watch Tagon perform the ritual. He demands participation from the warriors. They fall in. Tagon tells the dying man his family is now Tagon’s family. He kills the man.
Tagon and his men leave the warriors to gather the bodies. Moo Baek, the one warrior, that did not join in the death ritual, states allowing Tagon to perform the ritual was wrong. He’s accused of being worried that Tagon will like others but not him.
Asa Hon is in the woods. Tagon and his men find Ragaz’s baby. Tagon realizes it is a mixed blood baby. He holds the child. His men declare the child will bring disaster. He kills the men. Asa Hon is shocked to see Tagon holding the baby. Tagon tells the baby he will bring disaster. He smiles. Asa Hon watches Tagon walk away with the baby. She hears him sing. She remembers the dream not to pursue the one that sings.
The young Tiger boy finds Ragaz’s body hanging from a tree and Asa Hon nearby. She shares her belief that her unwillingness to give up the children was why Ragaz was killed. She further states she was cursed by an Arth god on the day her child was born. The young boy dismisses what she says but Asa Hon knows she’s correct. She recalls the god warning her to flee or die. She declares she’s going far away to Lark where the Arth god can’t reach her. The path to Lark can’t be traversed the boy declares. She leaves anyway.
Asa Hon vows to live so her son can live. Asa Hon travels her path through steep slopes, rivers, etc. She reaches the cliff. She tells her son Eunseom that Lark, at the bottom of the cliff, cannot be touched by the Arth god. She is determined to find the cave said to allow a descent.
10 years later…
Tagon (Jang Dong Gun) is now the celebrated leader. He’s fused certain tribes to create a Daekon Force. He wears the skull of what he claims is the last Tiger (Neanderthal). He toasts their fallen comrades. He smashes the skull. He declares the 10-year war is over. It’s time to party! Taealha (Kim Ok Vin) isn’t impressed to find Tagon drunk when she arrives. In their chambers she shows him a letter from the boy he took 10 years ago. She wants to know what his plan is for the boy. He diverts her by stating they should marry. She points out that in Arthdal there are tribal issues he must deal with per his father’s orders. He sighs. She tells him his father is jealous of Tagon. She tells him his father’s latest interest is Lark.
Tagon’s father, Sanoong, leader of the Saenyeok tribe, is excited to learn that the cave traversing the cliffs to Lark has been found.
Asa Ron, leader of the Hwinsan tribe, arrives. Hae Mi Ho, leader of the Hae tribe, arrives. Sanoong tells them now the 10-year war is over, he’s decided what is next. He declares they need more workers and Lark is the place to find them. Asa Ron scoffs the cliffs cannot be traversed. Sanoong states Hae Mi has found a way. Asa Ron declares that Tagon won’t like the new task of conquering Lark.
Eunseom (who has just traversed the cliff) shows his mother the salt he found from the long searched for salt dessert in Lark. She’s thrilled. They agree to leave the cave and go to Lark. They exit the cave and walk across the land. She tells her son when they get to Lark new people will be waiting. She tells him the color of his blood doesn’t matter. As she walks, she recalls her dream and tells herself finally she’s escaped to the land of Lark. But her vision blurs.
In the woods that night she falls to the ground exhausted. Eunseom makes a poultice for her feet. A pack of wolves find him. They charge him. He invokes his Tiger (Neanderthal) abilities to stay them until villagers find and frighten away the wolves. He begs them to help him and his mother. Asa Hon wakes to find parts of her dream coming when the villagers hold objects from her dream. The dream rings in her head. Eunseom is frightened. Asa Hon grabs her son and declares he used her to come to Lark. He doesn’t understand. She sobs. She hands him her father’s amulet She tells him to return. She wonders if she’s made a terrible mistake. She passes out. Eunseom calls to his mother.
Eunseom (Song Joong Ki), now a man, dreams as the villagers watch. The leader demands to know if he just woke from a dream.
Why am I watching this drama? Song Joong Ki is in the drama.
Am I going to be able to keep this cast of characters straight? I don’t watch trailers or learn much about a drama before watching it. This enables me to watch with minimal preconceived notions. When I went to Asian Wiki for the list of characters, I saw 4 different tribes and was aghast. Can I learn all these characters and keep them straight in my mind?
The first episode, set-up & background for the series, was a bit of magic, mayhem, and the goal of conquering for power. Dreaming being uncommon and possibly evil surprised me. The Tiger (Neanderthal) characteristics of blue blood, quickness, strength, etc. were interesting. The Arthdal’s “great hunt” aka Tiger genocide was cold blooded. Tagon as a youth was intriguing. You can see he’ll be a good villain. What’s up the child he took from Ragaz? Is he Eunseom’s brother? Will Tagon use him to hurt Eunseom? I was surprised when Asa Hon only found Lark at the end. Ten years living in the caves was a surprise. How cruel that once Eunseom found the way, she dreams the long ago dream and was suddenly afraid that she led the Arth god to Lark. If the dream held true, she died leaving Eunseom to fend for himself. Does Eunseom even know what he’s capable of?
I rank this episode (on a scale from 1-10) as good. My rating chart is below: