Mane of Glory #18: Arthdal Chronicles Episodes 3&4

We travel from the happy lands of Iark to a much more cutthroat Arthdal as Tanya and the tribe are transported to the capital. Come join The Fangirls as we chat about all the best moments of episodes 3&4.

A boy and his magical horse

Eun Sum has chosen himself the horse of all horses to connect with. According to the Arthdals this horse is the descendant of the first horse Kanmoreu, and not only is he faster than all other horses, he can control them as well. Sure, we only get this explained visually with an intense shot of Helper’s eye, but it totally is a cool concept.

Drama Geek: Okay, Eun Sum and his horse may be one of my favorite aspects of this drama. Eun Sum is WAY behind his enemies in skills and knowledge. He needs a little magic, and thankfully he has Helper to aid him in his survival and eventual rescue of his people. My first thought when they arrived at the Great Black Cliff was how he was going to bring his horse with him. You can’t leave him behind!

MiataMama: Helper is my favorite sidekick in this show! Drama Geek pointed out it’s like a Flynn Ryder/Maximus type pairing and that only made me love this duo even more.

Kmuse: Helper is such a cool addition to team Eun Sum. I just really really wish the scenes were as exciting as the concept. I kept expecting there to be some super awesome action scenes and they never appeared. This could have easily been the equivalent of a casual cantor through the flowers, and without the music to add context, you would not know differently.

Transported to Arthdal

Arthdal’s newly acquired slaves from the Wahan tribe are transferred from Iark over the steaming sulfur flats to the Black cliffs. It is only then that they truly begin to understand what is happening. The expressions of despair and terror over seeing the contraptions that would take them up the cliffs was heart-wrenching.

Drama Geek: The entire trip was gut wrenching. They had no idea what to expect and they slowly had reality shown to them with each new phase of their journey. You start to wonder if the people who died in the village were the lucky ones.

MiataMama: Things are looking pretty bleak for the people of Iark. This trek was really hard to watch. . . like, physically sickening.

Kmuse: This was such a well-done segment. You could feel the confusion, despair, horror about what was happening to them. The inability to even comprehend their situation was imprinted on every person’s face. The above moment with Tanya and her mother looking back towards their homeland resonated with me through the whole episode.

A monster’s child (Igutas)

Eun Sum and Doti (a survivor from the Wahan attack) travel after their abducted tribe, determined to save them. They finally make it to Arthdal’s lands only to come across many confusing things. The concept of farming and cities is incomprehensible. Eun Sum interacts with a local farmer who is terrified to find a Neanthal in his fields. Eun Sum forces the man to explain that he is Igutas, which means half Arthdal and half Neanthal. Pretty much a monster.

Drama Geek: When Eun Sum met the man in the field I was devastated that he’d think he was half monster and that would be the end of it. I’m really glad the girl showed up so he could learn the truth about the Neanthals. And again, Eun Sum really does need any help he can get, he is outnumbered and is so out of his depth in Arthdal. (Is anyone else a bit sad we’re saying goodbye to the vest already?)

MiataMama: Girl in the field gave Eun Sum some basic info, but he doesn’t begin to know nearly enough, about his Neanthal heritage. He’s a little skittish right now and I’m worried that he’s going to let his emotions get the better of him. But on the flip side, can we take a moment and appreciate how sweet and protective he is with Doti?

Kmuse: I was wondering how they were going to get into the city with his purple lips? Now we know that makeup does wonders, and a little lipstick can make all the difference. I liked the introduction of Eun Sum’s new Arthdal friend. It helps explain how he can overcome the cultural differences without making a million mistakes. Can I also take this moment to comment on how many cool/strong female characters they have introduced already? It is a nice change from your usual damsel storyline.

Playing both sides

Taealha (previously shown as Tagon’s lady love) is playing both sides of the family squabble. Not only is she romantically involved Tagon, but is sleeping with his father as well. Thanks to her father’s political agenda, Taealha seduces both possible future leaders and plans to cement her power through marriage.

Drama Geek: Is it okay that I like her??? Sorry, I know she’s horrible like the rest of the Arthdal people, but she hasn’t really had much of a choice. Her mission from a young age was to seduce a man and his son and manipulate them for her family’s gain. I also enjoy her maid a lot too. Girl can take care of herself. LOL.

MiataMama: I have no idea what Taealha’s endgame is here. And I’m really not all that interested in her character at the moment. Her maid, though – she’s pretty awesome.

Kmuse: There is something so dynamic about this character. I completely believed that she was capable of playing multiple men. It was also interesting that Taealha obviously has stronger feelings for Tagon which might lead to her giving up on some of her safer schemes for love.

Tagon returns home with a plan

Tagon returns to an Arthdal which is politically stacked against him. At least among the ruling class and his father. However, the common people seem to see him as the second coming of Aramun which upsets his father even more. We also discover that Tagon was prophesized to be his father’s downfall which explains dad’s hatred. But Tagon is too wily to go down without a fight. Let the politicking machinations begin.

Drama Geek: The strategizing Tagon from the first episode returned and I enjoyed watching him try to best all the old dudes. Again, I know he’s a bad guy too, but I still like watching them trying to outsmart him, and then he gets them both.

MiataMama: I’m torn. I want the slightly crazy strategist from his youth to resurface. . . but now we seem to be veering into ‘political machinations’ territory and that makes my eyes glaze over.

Kmuse: POLITICKING!!!!! I love it to bits. I also love that smart Tagon is back and frat boy Tagon was left at the Black Cliffs.

The not so hidden evils of Arthdal

Eun Sum and Doti make it to Arthdal’s capital only to discover that all these modern miracles are not the work of a wondrous giant leader but that of thousands of slaves. Realizing that this is the fate that is in store for the Wahan captives, Eun Sum is even more determined to implement his plan of kidnapping the high chief for ransom to save his people.

Drama Geek: Eun Sum is faced with a lot of harsh realities all at once. He’s never even known a place where people lay claim to the land, let alone cage chickens and children. As his journey continues, I have a feeling that saving his people will only be the first step.

MiataMama: Eun Sum’s observation about the cliff ladder comes full circle at this point. The marvel that he thought must have been built by a giant, he now realizes was constructed with the blood, sweat, and tears of the Arthdal slaves.

Kmuse: I love that this drama is going into the details of a society based on slaves. It really is going in directions that Sageuks have not touched in the past. Very refreshing and I look forward to Eun Som upsetting the status quo.

To betray or not to betray

What happens when two people who are political beasts in their hearts, but also like each other, come together? Politicking magic of course! Taealha is sent by her father to murder Tagon with poisoned wine. But Tagon is way too smart to be fooled into thinking Taeala is totally on his side. He thwarts the attempt and let’s Taealha know that he was aware of her two-sided nature the whole time.

Drama Geek: See, this is why I’m having such a hard time not liking both of them. No, not in the sense that I won’t want them to die fiery deaths for all the horrors they’ve brought on innocent people, but I like that we get to see they have feelings and aren’t just evil overlords.

MiataMama: I wasn’t at all impressed with Tagon here. He’s the black sheep of the family, cast out to the far reaches of the land to fight their enemies. And yet he wasn’t the least bit suspicious about the drink his (spy) girlfriend brought to share? I’m doubtful about the success of his future schemes. . .

Kmuse: These two are a delight to watch and have much chemistry. I love how intertwined they are despite being products of abusive and power- hungry fathers. If it wasn’t for their horrible abuse of other humans, I would be totally cheering for this power couple.

Tanya channels her inner bad donkey

Anyone who thought Tanya was a damsel waiting to be saved was disabused of that notion this episode. Tanya faced down her captors and their abuse of her people. Prophesying that their tribe would be reaped from the earth and destroyed for their abuse of her people. The importance of her words was emphasized by the emergence of a mystical white wolf that stood by her side. Everyone was truly spooked but the Arthdal abusers pushed past their fear to stab her mother despite her warnings.

Drama Geek: I fell so hard for Tanya in this scene. Both the actress and character really stepped it up and commanded everyone’s attention. She was riveting enough to distract from the CGI wolf. I could also begin to see the warrior she will become. Eun Sum may not need to save his people if she continues on like this.

MiataMama: I was really impressed by the strength and bravery Tanya brought at this moment. She was quaking with fear on the inside, but she wasn’t going to let atrocities happening to her people go, without a fight. Or in this case, casting a really hefty curse upon their captors.

Kmuse: I have always liked this actress and have felt that people don’t give her enough credit in the past. I hope that with this strong performance she will be able to firmly throw off her second lead beginnings and stand as a strong leading lady. Truly a beautiful performance all around.

A Shaman’s passing

Tanya’s mother finally succumbs to the illness brought on from her infected stab wound. Tagon agrees to let Tanya give her mother a proper shaman send off and we get a tearful goodbye full of strength and confessions. Mother Shaman gives Tanya some final words of wisdom and tells her that this is all fated and that Tanya will now be in charge of leading her people through this trial. It was a very touching moment.

Drama Geek: I gasped when her mom confessed that she’d never dreamed once in her life. They did a beautiful job with her death and they had me tearing up for them. Again, I kept wondering if the shaman was the lucky one in all of this.

MiataMama: No one has been having the dreams. . . well this is an interesting revelation. It was sad to see our shaman mother slipping away, but I was happy she was able to see that the White Wolf was with Tanya, before she passed on.

Kmuse: I am really interested in what kind of visions the White Mountain Tribe receives. I have the heavy feeling that the Wahan tribe is descended from someone that escaped from the White Mountain Tribe of Arthdal since the magical dance and prophesies are so similar.

Tagon’s plan

Tagon’s grand plan is pretty much to play the spiritual White Mountain Tribe against his father’s Saenyeok Tribe. We witness that he has long planned this moment where his father accuses him of a spiritual sin in which time, he will boost the White Mountain Tribe up as his protectors. It was brilliantly done, and the only mistake is his father escapes in the fight for control.

Drama Geek: Tagon really was brilliant and had this planned out for YEARS. He knew the position he was in with all the clans and how the power dynamic was set up, so he banked on the long game. And I can guarantee that Eun Sum’s sibling is also part of his plan. I’ve seen speculation that the sibling will end up being a duel role for Song Joong Gi. That could be a lot of fun, if that’s true.

MiataMama: Plotting revenge takes a lot of time and energy, so I can see that a long game is necessary. However, I’m not really tracking this masterminded plan, that Tagon is so carefully executing. I apparently need a more detailed debriefing from my fellow fangirls. Help!

Kmuse: I LOVED THIS MOMENT! Nothing is better than seeing someone best a bad guy. Even if Tagon is just as much a bad guy as his father in this instance. I suspect that even his destruction of the Neanthal people were part of his long-term plan to be a beloved leader of the people so he could save his own life. You can tell that he was very traumatized when his father tried to kill him as a boy and that had to factor into his long-term plans.

Kidnapping a leader

With Tagon’s father fleeing the battle with his son, we see the perfect setup for Eun Sum to start his kidnapping plot. He rides into the fray and grabs an unsuspecting chief onto his horse, riding away into the sunset. Little does the chief know that Eun Sum isn’t saving him but using him as a bargaining chip to save the Wahan Tribee. Eun Sum takes him to a stable and demands his people be released or he will kill the chief. Tagon arrives at the scene and takes away his weapons to go and talk with Eun Sum. The two future titans finally meet face to face.

Drama Geek: I applaud Eun Sum for coming up with any plan that might work against the insurmountable odds he was facing. Yes, he was a bit naïve and doesn’t exactly know what he’s getting himself into, but it was a very valiant effort. He has a lot of learning to do before he’s able to outsmart the people he’s up against.

MiataMama: I absolutely LOVED when he swooped in to ‘rescue’/kidnap San Woong. Sure, he’s up against an evil that is way beyond his skillset, but he’s making plans and taking action. I really do wish he had some back-up, besides Helper, though. . . will he get a posse of his own?

Kmuse: I am enjoying Eun Sum’s character development. Right now he is naïve and slightly impulsive. However, I suspect that we are seeing the beginnings of a great warrior and leader in the making. My only complaint is that the whole scene is so dark. Can’t we get a tiny bit of light so we can properly appreciate the expressions on everyone’s faces as they face off?

Final Thoughts

Drama Geek: The story has been a strong one from the beginning and I think all of the developments this week really evened things out and allowed me to really enjoy everything that was unfolding around me. There are a few things that annoy me here and there, but for the most part I am fully intrigued with the story and don’t know where they’ll take it next.

MiataMama: There’s no denying that this drama is very engaging. I’m really enjoying all the performances of this extensive cast. There are no weak links – everyone is doing a fantastic job! The only downside, for me right now, is the increase in politicking. I’m not a fan, but I’m hanging on because it’s too late to turn away from the story at this point!

Kmuse: The story and character development just gets better and better. It is definitely strong enough to keep me hooked despite the lackluster directing. I was also happy to report that the styling got less costumey and I wasn’t distracted at all by episode 4.

Til our next magical moment.

The Fangirls

Dramas With a Side of Kimchi

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One thought on “Mane of Glory #18: Arthdal Chronicles Episodes 3&4

  1. Hi! Nice to see that you guys are enjoying this super well-written piece. Yeah, the directing is the only thing that’s off, and the CGI. Employing SFD guys would’ve been better. That aside, here are some of my thoughts after watching the first 4 episodes:

    -The writers could be telling us that this is about the gods (Aramun Haesulla in this drama) experiencing the greed of man, firsthand. It was like the gods stepping down seeing how man misused his knowledge and capability to make and do things, achieving great advancements in science and technology, at the cost of other peoples’ lives.

    -Another aspect, we should look at, Arthdal people seemed to respect and fear the gods less. Look how Asa Ron Niruha only ever invents interpretations of the oracle, how San Woong Niruha brazenly brought arms inside the Sacred Court for the guards and kill those priests. This just shows how humans have become twisted.

    -And so, my guess is that, Eun Seom (Aramun) is here to punish(?) the Sarams or put peace and order to his founded Arthdal Union once again.

    Again, the writers brought as a very intriguing piece. I could never ask for more other than better directing.

    PS. The dance scenes are lit. Better than the fight scenes.

    Would love to see more of your recaps!

    PS again: love for Mubaek please!

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