Arthdal Chronicles Episode 17 Recap
Part 3: The Prelude to all Legends
The Momo men and Karika, the Xabara of the Momo tribe, have saved Eunseom (Song Joong Ki) after he plunged from the waterfall. He wakes to find Dal Sae hugging him then the other escaped slave joins in. Eunseom can’t believe he’s alive. He sees the Momo surrounding him.
Karika asks Eunseom what he’ll do now. Eunseom must return to save his friend. She tells him once over the waterfall, he will be looked at differently. She offers safe haven with the Momo should he ever need it. The Momo leave.
Back at the Myo Clan of the Ago Tribe they pray for their greatest former leader Inaishingi to return. Yesran’s finance believes Eunseom lied. Mirusol doesn’t believe Ipsaeng of the Tae Clan of the Ago tribe and Eunseom’s sidekick would lie about such a thing. Yesran’s finance goes to Ipsaeng to find out. He warns Ipsaeng when it turns dark, he’ll die. He slices the rope that closes the cell. Ipsaeng can’t resist and tries to flee but Yesran’s finance is waiting. He brings Ipsaeng to the Chief and Mirusol. He declares if the Igutu was telling the truth, why would Ipsaeng attempt to flee?
Ipsaeng spits out that it was a lie. He declares he’s ready to die because he won’t be sold as a slave by his own tribe. He declares the Ago are killing themselves with this tactic. He dares them to say otherwise. No one can. Ipsaeng declares Inaishingi can’t save them, they must save themselves. Then Eunseom appears, takes Inaishingi’s sickle out of the tree stump, hands it to Yesran’s finance and asks the Chief if they’ve squared matters and he can take his friend. Ipsaeng stares at him in disbelief. His tribe programming kicks in and he calls Eunseom Inaishingi. Eunseom is surprised. Then everyone calls Eunseom Inaishingi. They lift him on their shoulders rejoicing that Inaishingi is back.
Was that a calculated move by Ipsaeng to call him Inaishingi or real?
At the tribal council Eunseom is declared the second coming of Inaishingi and their new leader. Eunseom protests that he had help after he went over the waterfall. The priestess points out that Inaishingi may also had help. She points out in this world having someone willing to save another says a lot about that person. Eunseom can’t help himself and starts to confess he never dreamed about Inaishingi. Yesran’s finance pulls him outside in front of the tribe. They kneel and declare that they will go save the Ago slaves. Yesran’s finance whispers that it doesn’t matter if Eunseom had the dream or not, he’s the leader and has changed the course of the tribe. Isn’t that what he wanted.
Ipsaeng tells Eunseom that he can’t walk away, he is the second coming of Inaishingi. Eunseom points out that’s because of Ipsaeng’s lie. Ipsaeng points out that Eunseom preached the tribe must change and save the slaves, and now they are willing to do that. Eunseom counters he must save the Wahan and Tanya. Ipsaeng counters that Eunseom needs muscle to make that happen and now he has 30,000 Ago that he can lead. Eunseom admits he’s scared of leading 30,000 potentially to their death. Ipsaeng counters if he doesn’t, Eunseom is a dead man.
I like how Eunseom is afraid for those that would follow him. He isn’t arrogant.
Dal Sae tells Eunseom he doesn’t believe the Wahan exist as a cohesive tribe anymore. He points out that Mung Tae betrayed them, he didn’t let Eunseom heal and dragged him to save them, and the others are now enmeshed in Arthdal. Eunseom is scared about leading so many. Dal Sae asks Eunseom if he remembers what the Wahan mother (Tanya’s mother) once told them went they hunting and got scared. “if you are scared, band together to fight, otherwise, flee quietly”. Dal Sae points out that the Ago are scared of reuniting. But Eunseom can facilitate. Even though he’s scared of the role of leader, Eunseom is their best hope. He recommends Eunseom fake it until he makes it as leader.
Eunseom considers. He watches the Myo prepare. He recalls telling Tagon that he would return to save the Wahan and Tagon telling him the Wahan would have no place to go. A little girl offers Eunseom her father’s fighting wear and asks Eunseom to accept it. Eunseom does. He thinks “Tanya my plans to save the Wahan have changed.”
Nice moment. Eunseom isn’t the great leader…yet…but he’s willing to give it a ago. He can’t do it alone, he must rely on the Ago.
Back at Arthdal, Tagon goes through town on a carried pallet. Kitoha yells at the citizens to get on their knees and bow. Moo Baek walks with Tagon’s warriors are recalls learning that Tagon slashed Asa Ron’s neck in an instant and ordered Harim the doctor that saved him killed (he doesn’t know why). Moo Baek wonders what’s going on with Tagon. Saya (Song Joong Ki) walking opposite to Moo Baek, looks at him and recalls him telling Tanya that he was the mirror. Saya wonders what the bell, mirror and sword mean. A priestess from the Bato tribe whose minister and others were killed, appears in the middle of the road and places a curse on Tagon with their god. Stone faced Tagon replies he’s a living god and cannot be cursed. Regardless, the priestess calls on everything that Tagon forgot that will bring him down. She then stabs herself in the heart and dies. Mung Tae is told to remove the body.
Taealha (Kim Ok Vin), leader of the Hae tribe and her father Hae Mi Ho (former leader of the Hae tribe) welcome Tagon to their library of knowledge. Mi Ho states everything under the sun belongs to Tagon. That gets Moo Baek’s attention. Tagon stares hard at Mi Ho and asks if he really means that. Mi Ho pauses then claims that is true. Tagon states it would be best if that were true.
Mi Ho and his assistant worry that Tagon was referring to the secret of the bronze.
Tagon, Taealha, Saya, Moo Baek, and Mung Tae gather. Tagon asks what he must do to become king. That gets Moo Baeks attention. Saya states the individual tribes must be unified into a single tribe called Arthdal. Taealha asks what about the people that live in Arthdal that are no affiliated with a tribe. Saya states a name must be devised for him. Tagon tells him to have the high priest Tanya come up with the name for the spiritual value. Saya states a new flag showing a single tribe Arthdal must be adopted. He goes to get it. As he passes by Taealha, she stops him and reminds him she made him. Saya demurs his concurrence. She leaves claiming she has Hae tribe matters to attend to.
Taealha leaves not liking everything she heard.
Saya tells Tagon that the secret of the bronze must be made his. He shrugs that Taealha won’t like it, but it is necessary for absolute power. Saya tells Moo Baek that the palace guards and warriors will be crucial during this transition.
Mi Ho tells his daughter Tagon won’t keep his promise to allow the secret of the bronze to stay with the Hae tribe. She counters that Tagon wouldn’t do that to her. Mi Ho counters their relationship is uneven. She totally trusts Tagon, again and again putting her life at risk for him. But would Tagon do the same? Taealha snaps that her father won’t come between her and Tagon. She states Arthdal will become ruled by a king, Tagon. Mi Ho states he’s lived under a king while she only has read about kings. He knows kings wants EVERYTHING in their kingdom and elevates them self above all. He tells Taealha she’s changed and not for the better.
Saya tells Tagon the Hae tribe cannot exist anymore. He warns that become king isn’t a sunshine and roses path. Tagon falls to his knees. Saya helps him up. Tagon states the injuries he sustained during the coup are healing slowly.
That’s interesting. Never seen Tagon weak (except when Harim was treating him after the coup). This makes him vulnerable.
Yeonbal, one of Tagon’s warriors, returns from Doldambul and reports to Moo Baek that some slaves escaped and some where killed. Moo Baek wonders what happened to Eunseom. He wonders if Saya is the mirror. The warrior offers his condolences on the death of Moo Baek’s brother.
Yeonbal goes to the throne room and is surprised by the formal nature that is maintained. Mung Tae blocks how close he can get to Tagon and he must kneel. Tagon walks to him and compliments him on a job well done. Yeonbal demurs it wasn’t a fully successful mission. Tagon states that doesn’t matter. Yeonbal spies Saya and is surprised that he looks like the Igutu slave from Doldambul. He’s further surprised when Tagon introduces Saya as his son and chief advisor. Saya seems to recognize his stare.
After exiting the throne room, Yeonbal takes Kitoha aside and tells him Saya looks like the Igutu slave that instigated the riot at Doldambul. Kitoha warns him that kind of talk could get him killed.
Tagon isn’t feeling well and cancels his other audiences and the message from the Ago clan. He struggles to stay upright going down the steps. Saya rushes to his side. He walks out of the throne room. Kitoha asks what is going on, the military were going to speak with Tagon. He’s told Tagon isn’t feeling well.
Yeonbal and Kitoha discuss Tagon’s health. Kitoha worries the Bato priestess’s curse is coming true. Yeonbal laughs. Kitoha states that more logical than an Igutu slave that looks like Saya. Of course, Saya is eavesdropping on their conversation.
Saya hears the shouts. He finds Tagon on the floor feverish.
The marketplace is a buzz with the news of Tagon.
Saya reads a book on Igutu health Taealha gave him years ago to figure out how to help Tagon. Hot and sweating Tagon declares he’ll be fine in a couple of days.
Doldambul…the guards and the site manager look at the slaves and warn them to behave. The front gate drum bangs. They investigate who it is. The man turns…it is Eunseom. He counts the number of men. He whistles. The Ago rush in and dispatch the men. Eunseom takes care of the site manager reminding him that he promised to return and bury him underground. Eunseom stands and says, “It has begun.”
Nice! Slaves are freed and Eunseom has his first triumph under his belt.
Tanya (Kim Ji Won), the Wahan great mother, direct descendant of Asa Sin and now high priest is told there was a riot at Doldambul and not all the slaves survived. It is unknown if the Wahan survived.
Tanya walks and refuses to believe Eunseom isn’t alive and, on his way, back to her.
Taealha recalls her father’s words that Tagon won’t share power with her. Tanya comes upon her and asks why she’s worried. Taealha denies this. She asks why Tanya wants power. Tanya states that once she’s served her purpose she’ll be discarded; such are the ways of Arthdal. Taealha is impressed Tanya is aware. Tanya makes the point in Arthdal everyone is alone. Hae Tauk rushes in with news of Tagon’s collapse.
Saya doesn’t understand why the fever medicine isn’t working. He looks at the stab wound and finds it infected. He tells Tagon the bad skin must be cut away. Tagon refuses. He sits up. Taealha rushes in and informs Tagon people are talking in the marketplace that the Bato priestess’ god is attacking him. They’ve gathered at the god’s statue to pray for Tagon She tries to see his wound but Tagon pushes her away. Taealha can’t believe it. Tagon stands and says he must go. Saya says he’s not strong enough. Tagon says he’ll do what he must. Taealha states it is too soon. Saya asks what they are talking about. Taealha says if he does this, it cannot be undone. Saya realizes what is intended. Tagon counters that Taealha pushed him not to care for other’s feelings. He leaves with Saya hot on his heels. Taealha mouth falls open in shock at Tagon’s choice.
At the Bato’s god’s statue, people are praying. Tagon and his entourage arrive. Taealha and Hae Tauk follow. The people wonder if Tagon is there to apologize. Tagon walks to the statue, takes out his knife, and swings at the base until the statue topples to the ground. People murmur in shock. Tagon tells the god he is the reincarnated Araman Haesulla. He tells the god to do his worse. He vows to the be last god standing. He decapitates the statue. He falls to the ground but gets up. He yells at his men to destroy all Bato god items throughout Arthdal. Unnerved by the order his men say nothing, but Tagon insists. The guards pledge to do as he orders. Tagon walks away thinking that his transformation from purple caterpillar to glistening butterfly ended on the night of the coup. Saya and Taealha are shocked at his decisive actions. The people rush to the statue and weep.
Tagon summed the strength to make his point. Going after gods…that invokes fear in all.
Taealha and Hae Tauk return to the palace. Taealha thinks she’s not the only one that has changed. Hae Tauk echoes her thoughts and states Tagon is a different man. Taealha asks who is alive that can be a truth serum. Hae Tauk provides the name. Taealha orders the woman brought to her tomorrow.
Tagon refuses Saya’s suggestion that a doctor cut of the infected flesh. He orders Saya to do so. Saya refuses. Tagon counters he can endure the pain and he can’t trust anyone else. Reluctantly Saya takes the scalpels and cuts away the flesh. Tagon grips a towel between his teeth so he doesn’t scream. Tagon faints after the infected flesh is cut away. Saya cauterizes the wound. He looks Tagon and thinks “I am your son and you will defeat any god out there.”
The next morning Tagon wakes and sees Saya sleeping on the floor. He covers Saya who wakes. Saya touches Tagon’s forehead and asks how he is. Tagon replies he’s much better. Saya states no god can defeat him. Tagon tells Saya that he will be king and Saya will be his heir. Saya is surprised and pleased. Tagon says he must own it all including the Mi Ho’s secret of the bronze. Saya says he’ll take care of it and strides away.
Mi Ho rolls the secret ingredient into the bronze making factory. All the workers, including Tanya’s father, turn away. Mi Ho adds the secret ingredient to the furnace. His assistant arrives and states Tagon wants to see him about the secret of the bronze.
Mi Ho and his assistant arrive at the palace. Yeonbal greets them and offers to escort. The guards block Mi Ho’s assistant. Mi Ho enters a room with Saya there. Mi Ho sees it is a torture room. Saya smiles and says he wants to ask a simple question.
The smiles on Yeonbal and Saya’s faces were unnerving.
A member of the Hae tribe and Tanya’s father report the bronze gift for Tagon is complete. Taealha says her father should be here to see it too. She’s told her father went to see Tagon this morning and hasn’t been seen since. Hae Tauk brings the woman that can make the truth serum. Her father’s words about not trusting Tagon echo in Taealha’s head. She rises and leaves.
Taealha visits Tagon and is relieved he’s recovered. He asks if she’s there about her father. She confirms this. Tagon states he couldn’t ask her to get the secret from her father, so he took matters into his own hands. Taealha isn’t happy he did this without telling her. Tagon counters the king must have everything. Taealha takes a breath and agrees. She offers a different option to get the secret from her father. She shows him a bottle and states it contains a truth serum.
Saya’s torture of Mi Ho is bloody but fruitless. Mi Ho tells him to kill him. Saya promises not to do that. Mi Ho says Tagon’s father should have killed Tagon when he had the chance. Taealha enters. She calls Saya’s brute force methods ineffective. She holds the truth serum and states this will get the secret out of her father. She tells her father he won’t be able to keep the secret now. Her father declares she can’t do this, her loyalty is misplaced in Tagon. She orders everyone out.
Taealha approaches her father bottle in hand. He tells her she should have come with poison not the truth serum. She lets him sniff the bottle. He realizes it is poison. She kneels before her father and apologizes. She tells him he was right. She promises revenge. She asks him to tell her the secret of the bronze. He tells her she must gather the tribe at the sacred place. Taealha admits they might not come but she’ll try.
Kitoha and Saya wait outside the torture room. Tagon arrives and asks why they are on the outside. Kitoha states Taealha ordered them out. Tagon orders them to open the door.
Tagon enters and finds Mi Ho spiting up blood. Taealha turns and stabs the woman that can make the truth serum. She coolly tells Tagon the bottle contains poison not truth serum. She points to the dead woman on the ground and states the only person that can make the truth serum is dead. Taealha states she’s the only person that knows the secret of the bronze. Tagon demands to know why she’s doing this. Taealha retorts he started it by conspiring with Saya behind her back. She reminds him she was instrumental in him becoming king. She screams how could you do this to me? Tagon says he can torture the secret out of her. Taealha laughs and says he can try but she’ll die first. She steps close to him and whispers that she’s pregnant with his child. She says she’s pregnant with Araman Haesulla’s child inside her. There’s a god on the way. She steps away from Tagon and asks what he’ll do. Torture her? Kill her? She states do it know or everyone will know. She tells him his lifelong loneliness is his Achilles heel.
Eunseom has an army and Taealha makes a bold move. Writers Kim Young Hyun and Park Sang Yeon division of the episode worked for me. One part was Eunseom’s journey to leader and the second part was the political machinations in Arthdal. I’ve always respected Taealha’s moxy and loyalty. It must be noted she pushed Tagon transform into a leader of fear, she just never thought he’d put himself above her. She finally had to agree with her father that Tagon had changed too. She dropped the bomb she was pregnant with his child. It doesn’t matter if it is true, Tagon craves a family that is his. Terrific episode just before the finale.
Saya (Song Joong Ki) nursed Tagon to health. Saya gritted his teeth and cleaned and cauterized Tagon’s infected wound. Saya is a power player and Tagon’s heir. He doesn’t know what being the mirror means. He overheard there’s another Igutu that looks like him.
Hae Mi Ho (leader of the Hae tribe) died willingly by the hands of his daughter. The secret of the bronze put a target on his back. Tagon decided he must know the secret and instructed Saya to handle it. But the torture failed. Enter Taealha his daughter and the poison. It was a tender moment when she admitted he was right. Tagon had changed and she would have her revenge. He gave her the secret, drank the poison and died.
Tagon (Jang Dong Gun) survived the infected wound. Tagon ordered Saya to cut the infected flesh away. To his credit he bore it well and it worked. Frankly I was glad to see him restored. I didn’t want a sick Tagon to be the foe in the final episode. Tagon is walking the brutal path of leadership. He has elevated himself above all others. That puts a target on his back.
Taealha (Kim Ok Vin) killed her father and has the secret of the bronze. Taealha has the ability to come up with plans to work towards her goals. I didn’t know why she’d summoned the only person that could make he truth serum. I didn’t understand why she was in the room when Mi Ho told her the secret of the bronze. But when Taealha killed her father and told Tagon that the only person that could make the truth serum was dead, the smarts of her plan were revealed. But the coup de grâce was the whispered reveal to Tagon she was pregnant with his child. Truth or fiction? It doesn’t matter.
Tanya (Kim Ji Won) impressed Taealha with her understanding that power was king in Arthdal. Tanya waits for Eunseom to return. It will happen in the finale.
Eunseom (Song Joong Ki) becomes the leader of the Argo. Eunseom didn’t want the role, but Ipsaeng finally gave him good advice. You need an army to take down Arthdal. Eunseom was scared about leading 30,000. Ipsaeng countered that he should fake it until he makes it. It felt wonderful to see Eunseom bang the drums at slave hell and declare that he’s back as promised. Next stop Arthdal.
My wish list for the final episode:
* Eunseom returns to Arthdal riding his horse, the reincarnated Kanmoreu. Where has that horse been hanging all this time?
* Eunseom’s quest to take down Arthdal succeeds. It will take more than might and I’m a bit worried about the political machinations.
* Saya will die. He’s the mirror, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be standing at the end.
* Taealha’s secret of the bronze could become obsolete if Tanya’s father figures out how to make swords with iron.
* Tanya will be reunited with Eunseom. I don’t see them leaving Arthdal. I see them restoring Arthdal. She has the ability to help Eunseom. She’s the high priest. She loves and support him. She’s smart and capable.
* Tagon will die. He’s walking the evil path. He must die.
* Nun Byeol will decide to live and procreate with our favorite last of the lineage twosome of Neanderthals, Yiseuroobeu and Rottip.
* Moo Baek will be a factor in the finale. I’ve liked this character the whole way through, but he’s been on the fringes of making an impact.
I rank this episode (on a scale from 1-10) as terrific. My rating chart is below: