Arthdal Chronicles Episode 18 Recap
Part 3: The Prelude to all Legends
Taealha (Kim Ok Vin) steps close to Tagon (Jang Dong Gun) 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. She strides out of the room brushing past Saya (Song Joong Ki) and bodyguard Mung Tae. Outside the room she stops and gasps her relief and grief. She tells herself human learn through pain. Not knowing what Taealha said to Tagon, Saya asks. Tagon strides out the room without saying a word.
Taealha has moxy!
Cue final intro symbol…
Taealha informs Hae Tauk and Mi Ho’s assistant that her father is dead. She says she killed him. She tells them to go get the body. Both women are shocked. Taealha walks away. Mi Ho’s assistant falls to her knees in grief. Hae Tauk attempts to comfort her.
Saya demands to know what happened with Taealha. She killed her father, has the secret of the bronze, but she walked away without punishment. Tagon tells him he’s got meetings to attend. Saya presses. Tagon states they’ll talk later. Saya can’t believe he’s been shut out.
Tagon’s meeting doesn’t bring good news. Moo Baek reports the soldiers torched the sacred place of the Bato gods. They are leaving Arthdal and returning to their homeland. Gil Sun reports the Ago clan raided Doldambul and freed slaves. Tagon doesn’t care. Gil Sun reports two tribe could be plotting rebellion. He recommends sending soldiers to squash any potential rebellion. Tagon stands and states none of this is unexpected. He directs them to follow Saya’s instructions for the coronation. He starts to walk out the room. Gil Sun asks if they should send soldiers. Tagon says no and exits. Everyone in the room is surprised at his non-reaction. Gil Sun worries not sending soldiers is the wrong response. Moo Baek counters it won’t make any difference. They ask Saya if he knows anything. Saya says no. The meeting ends.
Moo Baek considers Tagon’s statement that this is what he expected. He wonders what Tagon’s plan to counter this is.
In Tagon’s chambers, Tagon’s assistant Dundae falls to his knees and says he must speak even if he’s killed. Tagon allows him to talk. Dundae worries that unrest will sweep throughout all the tribes of Arthdal, each wondering when the axe could fall on them. Tagon reminds Dundae they are the only two that know about “red claw”. Dundae states red claw is their spy in the Ago clan. Tagon says the current unrest can be quelled by an even bigger crisis. Dundae leaves. Tagon sits on his bed and considers Taealha’s words. He wants to continue Araman Haesulla’s bloodline and his.
The key question is red claw in the Ago group with Eunseom?
Saya wonders what Taealha said to Tagon that changed everything.
Taealha stands at Gochiju rock and recalls her father telling her the fingers stand for those that destroyed their homeland. Mi Ho wanted the Hae tribe to be prepared. Taealha vows to her father to accomplish what he wanted and more.
A sobbing Dottie chokes the Harim and his wife have been killed. Susu is stunned. She continues that no one knows what happened to Chae Eun and Nun Byeol.
Nun Byeol won’t let Chae Eun remove her Neanderthal ability links. Instead she wants them fully restored. Chae Eun declares she could kill her. Nun Byeol doesn’t care, she wants it done even if she dies during the process. Chae Eun asks why. Nun Byeol counters Chae Eun knows why. She’ll get revenge on Tagon and Taealha for the death of her parents. Her eyes glow.
Nun Byeol can’t do it alone. But the “I hate Tagon” club is steadily growing.
Dottie and Susu go to see Tanya (Kim Ji Won), the Wahan great mother, direct descendant of Asa Sin and now high priest. Tanya sends her assistant out of the room. Dottie reports Chae Eun went to the apothecary and hasn’t been seen since. Saya reports he saw Eunseom. That gets Tanya’s attention.
Eunseom (Song Joong Ki) tells the freed slaves they can return to the homeland no questions asked. He asks the Argo to tell their tribe to do what he has done…rescue Ago slaves, free them and allow them to return to their homeland. One Ago freed slave believes there is a catch, a nefarious plan, they aren’t being told. Eunseom counters that he wants them to spread the message that even though they be subjugated, they can reach for a better life, be a better person. Eunseom announces this direction comes from him, the reincarnated Inaishingi. The freed Ago are gobsmacked. The Myo tribe Chief confirms that this is the reincarnated Inaishingi. Furthermore he will call for a meeting of the tribes and announce that Inaishingi has returned. Everyone but the stunned freed slaves chant “Come before Inaishingi”.
Eunseom is speaking with authority, I like it!
As the freed slaves walk home, they wonder if it is true. One says it doesn’t matter; they are free. And who but Inaishingi could pull this off? They chant “Inaishingi”.
The head of the Tae tribe is stunned when beloved members sold as slaves return. He asks what happened. They tell him first they must deliver a message from Inaishingi. Everyone’s eyes widen.
It’s celebration time at the Myo tribe. They circle Eunseom and chant his name. Eunseom raises his first and smiles.
Digging the tribal chant!
At Mi Ho’s funeral, Taealha lights the pyre. She stares at her father in the open casket. Tagon and his entourage arrive. They lock eyes. Taealha turns and looks at and old man. She recalls her father’s words to ask Hae Alyeong about the fruit of Hae Detu.
Flashback…Hae Alyeong shows Taealha a sword made out of steel. She wants to know who made it.
Wanna bet that Tanya’s father made the steel sword?
Tagon and Taealha meet privately. He tells her he shouldn’t have to apologize for exercising a king’s authority, but he is sorry. Taealha chuckles how she used to feel sorry from him; one against so many. Tagon says he vowed to one day does not need anyone’s authority but his own. Taealha states that’s the day he became a king. Tagon declares he wants her and the baby. He wants them to marry. Taealha agrees but on the conditions that she will not share the secret of the bronze and he share his power. Tagon agrees. Taealha asks if he knows what she will do if he doesn’t keep his word. Tagon knows she’ll try and kill him and kill the baby. She agrees but wants a prenuptial agreement laying out all the details. Tagon agrees. Taealha says getting a marriage proposal on the day of her father’s funeral suits them. They both hated their fathers. They both killed their fathers. They were meant for each other.
Taealha’s parallels are spot on. This once super couple has lost that loving feeling.
Taealha tells Hae Tauk to bring the legal counsel to her. She also asks to meet with Asa Sakan.
Tagon tells Dundae that the Hae legal council will arrive to negotiate a prenuptial agreement before he and Taealha marry. He tells Saya to get the coronation ready for a king and queen. He says the secret of the bronze is off limits now. Saya asks if Tagon is giving up on becoming king. Tagon sends Dundae out of the room. Saya states the king must own everything. Tagon says he will, with Saya’s help. He orders Saya to find out the secret of the bronze but do it quietly so no one, especially Taealha and the Hae clan, knows about it. Tagon states he won’t divulge what he and Taealha discuss. Saya states he’ll need someone smart but not crafty to make it happen. Tagon states Yeonbal, one of Tagon’s warriors, is the man for the job.
Taealha walks with Hae Tauk and remarks that world teaches hard lessons. But you either give up or embrace the lesson. Taealha vows to embrace the lesson.
Saya states he’ll need someone smart but not crafty to make it happen. Tagon states Yeonbal, one of Tagon’s warriors, is the man for the job.
Taealha visits the mother of the white mountain, Asa Sakan who surmises Taealha needs something from her. Taealha counters Asa Sakan needs her too. Asa Sakan grabs Taealha’s shoulders and declares by the god’s will.
Taealha’s assistant tattles to Saya that Taealha cried after a visit from Dottie and Susu. It was something to do with Harim and his family including Chae Eun and her sister.
Flashback…Saya tells Taealha that Eunseom and other slaves were betrayed by Mung Tae. Eunseom managed to help everyone escape.
Tanya cries and tells her assigned guard Yang Cha that she’s crying from determination. Her tattletale assistant arrives to inform her Saya wants to see her. She instructs her assistant to find a place where many people deserving of pity can be housed.
I dig Yang Cha now, not the one that slung his chain around Tanya and pulled her of Eunseom’s horse.
Tanya finds Saya in her chambers and assumes he wants to discuss the coronation. Instead he wants to come up with a name for their new country, one with no individual tribes, and with Tagon as king. He points out Arthdal needs to unify to protect from other countries such as Ago. Tanya retorts that proves unified tribes are a bad thing. Switching topics, Saya asks what she discussed with Moo Baek. She replies the religious ceremony for his dead brother. Dropping that Saya asks why she met with Susu. Tanya snaps she wanted to learn what happened to Chae Eun. She tells him she doesn’t want to him to question her every move. Saya sees the necklace she wears (Eunseom’s necklace) and leaves.
Mung Tae meets Saya outside and follows per Saya’s direction.
Tanya, Yang Cha and her entourage visit a child labor room. She sees their shackled feet. The slave master rushes forward and kneels. Tanya orders him to unshackle the children and put the shoes on their feet. The slave master protests the children will run away. Tanya asks if he’s implying her orders would cause problems. He backs down. She orders him to free the children 3 times a day. All the children turn towards her when they hear that. She walks to one of the children and kneels to put shoes on the child. The slave master unshackles the child. Tanya puts the shoes on the child. The child says, “you give us hope”. All the children begin crying.
That was a powerful scene. The little girl’s statement “you give me hope” brought tears to my eyes. Isn’t hope essential for life?
Tanya walks away knowing it was a good thing to do on the one hand but could be dangerous for the children on the other. Yang Cha wonders why she would do this unnecessary kindness. He asks her. She replies it wasn’t unnecessary. Yang Cha wonders if she can hear his thoughts. Tanya states the kids need to run outside and tell everyone she was kind.
Saya and Mung Tae visit Susu. He remembers Dottie saying a man that looked like Eunseom exists but to keep his features neutral should they meet. He doesn’t do so, and Mung Tae realizes he knows Eunseom. Mung Tae steps in front of him and states who Saya is. Saya asks why he meet with Tanya. Susu explains they discussed his late master’s daughter Chae Eun. Saya grabs him by the throat and order him to be forthcoming. Mung Tae throws Susu to the ground. Susu says Chae Eun sent him to Doldambul but he doesn’t know why. When he got there the slaves had rioted and escaped including the Wahan slaves. Tanya was worried the Wahan slaves might have died during the riot. But he told her the Wahan ran away. Saya assumes that is why Tanya was crying. He strides out.
As he walks Saya realizes the Igutu that looks like him was at Doldambul. He’s not happy.
Yeonbal is waiting for Saya in his chambers. He introduces himself. Saya sees the way he looks at him. He remembers what Yeonbal told Kitoha. He repeats what was said between the men. Yeonbal can’t deny he said the words. Then it dawns on Saya. He recalls the Wahan warrior named Eunseom who killed Tagon’s father. He asks how he was caught and killed. Yeonbal is forced to admit the man that was boiled alive wasn’t Eunseom. He states Moo Baek stabbed Eunseom in a river and his body was never found. Therefore the presumption is that he is dead. Saya questions Moo Baek’s report. Yeonbal declares Moo Baek would never lie. Saya recalls Moo Baek telling Taealha he was the mirror.
Finally, Saya starts to buy a clue. This is the last episode it has to happen.
Eunseom worries that the Ago leaders won’t come to the meeting. Ipsaeng admits the Tae clan leader isn’t a cooperative man.
The Tae tribe leader declares he won’t go to the meeting. The freed Tae members regale others with the reincarnated Inaishingi’s words. The Tae leader joins and declare he won’t go. The members are aghast. He states the Myo tribe has no authority to call a meeting and they are a bunch of liars. The priestess tells him that he should attend to ascertain and prove the Myo are lying. She states his tribe will love him for agreeing with them and going. His ego properly stroked, he agrees to go. Everyone smiles.
As promised the great shrine provides the food for the slave children. Tanya dishes up the food. One slave asks if she has to be a slave the rest of her life.
Flashback…Tanya asks her mother if she has to be the Great Mother or if she has choices. Her mother assures her, the choice is hers and there are many other options.
Tanya echoes her mother’s words and tells the slave she has many options. That gets the children’s attention. The slave is excited and hopes she has more than 10 options. Once again, she echoes her mother’s words and says there are many stars in the sky each represent what each person after death. Tanya turns to the slaves and states it is their choice. She thinks “Eunseom, I’m doing all I can. I won’t give up, just like you.”
Appreciated the weaving of Tanya’s mother’s words in those scenes.
The Sul tribe and Tae tribe arrive. The Myo leaders and Eunseom worry that more than the leaders have come. Do they plan to fight? Eunseom remembers what Ipsaeng said and tells him this might be important. Ipsaeng doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The Sul and Tae leaders enter the room. Ipsaeng makes a quick exit after looking at the Tae leader. Laughter if the Tae leader’s response to the story. He prompts Eunseom to lay out Inaishingi’s words. Eunseom does so – kindness to others, free slaves and reap the benefit or face misery if they don’t. The Sul leader and the Tae leader start pointing fingers at each other for the past. They both leave. Eunseom hangs his head. Ipsaeng reenters and asks how it went. He sees it was a bust. Eunseom states Ipsaeng’s words might turn the tide and strides out of the room. Ipsaeng still doesn’t know what he is referencing.
The Tae leader reports to his people Eunseom is a fake. Eunseom appears and address the tribe. He says the Ago were once brothers. He admits he’s not sure he’s the reincarnated Inaishingi everyone gasps. Ipsaeng shakes his head. With sincerity Eunseom declares if Inaishingi is within him, then his mission is the one they all must embraced. He declares if he’s real the Tae leader will die tomorrow. If he’s fake, he’ll die tomorrow. Everyone gasps.
Bold move Eunseom!
The Myo leaders can’t believe what Eunseom just did. He tells them to let it play out.
Outside Ipsaeng asks why Eunseom did that. Eunseom states Ago is made of 30 tribes that need to be united. He’s taking a change just like Ipsaeng once said. Ipsaeng still can’t remember what he said.
The Tae leader prepares to leave. The returned Tae members declare he is making a mistake. That doesn’t go over. They insist they’ve seen Inaishingi in Eunseom. Infuriated the Tae leader stabs one of them to death shocking everyone. He asks the other returned member if he has anything else to say. He kneels. Everyone kneels. The Tae leader smiles in satisfaction of his power being confirmed.
Power is key in this series. I just checked to make sure this was the finale episode. There’s only 20 minutes to go and we are no where near Arthdal. Yep, 18 episodes is the count.
While Saya reviews the coronation ceremony with Taealha he thinks he’ll learn the truth about what she’s hiding but she won’t like how he does it. She asks him to write the word star and tell her how to say it. He does so. She smiles.
Tanya’s father is frustrated he can’t recreate the steel sword. Yeonbal enters the forge.
Tagon enters the throne room and thinks tomorrow it will be done.
Yeonbal gathers the Wahan. Saya arrives and smiles at the trussed Wahan.
Taealha enters a room with Hae leaders.
Tagon stares at the throne.
The Tae leader stuffs his face. The priestess and his second in command enter looking somber.
Ipsaeng wakes Eunseom who says he had a dream for the first time in ages. Ipsaeng takes him outside and shows him….
Moo Baek tells Tanya when to enter for the ceremony. She states she’s still memorizing. Saya enters. Tanya stands and says she needs peace and quiet. Saya takes Moo Baek aside and informs him he was the Wahan. If Moo Baek doesn’t share what he knows about Saya, he’ll kill them after the coronation ceremony. Moo Baek stares at him in shock. The pipe sounds for the ceremony to begin. Saya smiles and states Tanya should be escorted now.
Saya, Moo Baek, Tanya, and the entourage walk to the coronation. They look at each other. Moo Baek leans in to talk to Saya. As they walk, Saya digests what Moo Baek said; Eunseom is alive and he is your twin. He looks back and Tanya and remembers her questioning about his parents and siblings. Saya stares at Tanya reeling from her betrayal. She looks at him no knowing why he is looking at her that way.
Cry me a river Saya. You aren’t trustworthy, why should others trust you? If only Tanya could read his mind, but that would be too easy wouldn’t it?
The Tae tribe arrives. The Myo tribe stares in shock. The priest declares Eunseom is the reincarnated Inaishingi. The leader displays the former Tae leader’s head and states Eunseom was right. Eunseom’s hope soars.
Throwing off tyranny is the theme of this finale.
Everyone is assembled for the coronation. Tagon and Taealha are in their finest. Tanya begins the ceremony. She calls Tagon to the front. Saya kneels with the crown.
Flashback…Taealha meets with leaders of the white mountain tribe that promise to back her.
Tanya crowns Tagon king. He turns to the crowd. They cheer.
Flashback…As Tagon and Taealha walk to the ceremony he says he wants her with all his heart. She returns the sentiment.
Taealha smiles and thinks she wants all of Arthdal.
Tanya thinks of Eunseom.
Back at the Myo Clan…Eunseom tells Ipsaeng his words were correct. Ipsaeng finally remembers telling Eunseom that if he didn’t respond to the 30,000 that were willing to follow him, he was dead. Ipsaeng stares at Eunseom disbelief that he bet everything on that piece of advice. The Tae priestess asks if he’ll accept their support. Eunseom declares he might have been born Inaishingi, but he is him now. He accepts the Tae tribe as brothers. They kneel before them. Eunseom crouches to the priestess and helps her to her feet. He nods and the remaining Tae rise. He declares to all “I, Eunseom of Wahan, bring back Ago’s glorious Inaishingi. I promise to take you all in as brothers.” Everyone cheers.
And with that, the leader that will smite Arthdal is born.
Tanya announces the union is dissolved, the tribes are united, and a country is born. She states they are all calls subjects now. They crowd cheers. Tanya thinks “I cast a spell on you. A subject may start at the bottom of the social standing, but you can become anything. My fate is intertwined with yours. I hope to protect you as long as I can.”
Eunseom is lifted to their shoulders. He wonders if he will succeed or die trying and will he finally be reunited with Taealha?
Tagon makes his first royal decree. Let Arthdal’s power spread throughout Arth.
His assistant Dundae wonders if Tagon wants a bigger storm to swallow the smaller storm.
Tagon announces he will conquer the east. He declares he will bring those clans including Ago to their knees. Tanya stares at him in shock. Kitoha declares they will conquer the Ago. The war drums sound. Moo Baek understand this was Tagon’s plan all along.
This a cliffhanger. We’ve only got a few minutes left.
The Ago celebrate unaware that war is looming. The priestess notes that a reincarnated Inaishingi is now their hero. She writes a note to Tagon…Eunseom will be a powerful enemy to Arthdal and sends it via hawk…she’s the red claw!
Tagon looks at his subjects.
Eunseom celebrates with his brothers.
I did not know this would be a cliffhanger. Writers Kim Young Hyun and Park Sang Yeon couldn’t accomplish what had to be done in a single episode, though I thought they would. Nope, this series must continue. I am assuming there will be a season 2. Frankly, I’m okay with that, though I wish I’d known. It made watching this episode a bit trying as I counted down the clock as things were not happening as rapidly as needed. Still this episode was full of satisfying moments. To Arthdal Chronicles Season 2!
Saya (Song Joong Ki) knows about Eunseom. Saya showed his ruthless side in this episode. He’s not to be trusted. While he isn’t Tagon’s biological son, Taealha and Tagon raised him to be a mini-me.
Hae Mi Ho (leader of the Hae tribe) was present in flashbacks with Taealha. He passed on several key items. Taealha immediately began using them to align a coalition behind her.
Tagon (Jang Dong Gun) was crowned king. Tagon used the coronation to announce war with Ago. This is a classic move. Distract the people from domestic problems by creating an external foe. Tagon asked Taealha to marry him and claimed he wouldn’t seek the secret of the bronze. He broke that promise immediately. Now these two will outmaneuver each other in the next season.
Taealha (Kim Ok Vin) swore to win. Taealha is smart and capable. She’s aligned backers to her cause. She and Tagon smile prettily at each other while both working separate agendas. They are mirror images of each other in many ways.
Tanya (Kim Ji Won) crowned Tagon. Tanya was shocked by his declaration of war. When she interacted with the slave children, it was touching.
Eunseom (Song Joong Ki) consolidates his leadership of 2 of the 30 Argo tribes. Eunseom’s bold prediction that the Tae tribe leader would die was facilitated by the priestess and the second in command. Little does he know, the priestess is Tagon’s spy, the red claw. Frankly I don’t know why she empowered Eunseom. She could have crippled his leadership by letting the Tae tribe leader live. Regardless, after 18 episodes, it is good to see Eunseom rise to leader.
My wish list for the final episode did not come true. But I stand by everything for Season 2.
I rank this episode (on a scale from 1-10) as almost terrific. My rating chart is below: