Arthdal Chronicles: Episode 6
I’m getting whiplash from how quickly alliances and enemies switch up in this show – you know things are getting weird when your worst enemy becomes your best bet for survival. Our innocent Igutu is becoming less innocent by the minute as his quick mind begins to figure out politics and how to manipulate your opponent. But with his lack of experience, can he somehow manage to stay one step ahead of the game?
EPISODE 6 RECAP
Tagon stands on his father’s funeral dais, surrounded in fireflies, which make him look to the people like a deity. Mugwang yells that he’s Aramun Haesulla, and soon the people are all chanting that Aramun Haesulla, god of union and founder of Arthdal, came down to inhabit Tagon’s body.
Eunseom watches the commotion from a distance and thinks, “Tagon, if you hurt the Wahan people, everyone in Arthdal will find out that you’re an Igutu.”
Pretending to speak as Aramun, Tagon calls for the creation of a mighty union, igniting another roar from the crowd. Eventually Tagon collapses, causing even more religious fervor, though Moobaek recalls the shaman Asa Sakan saying that someone killed their father last night.
After everything calms down, Mugwang comes to see Moobaek, still charged up from Tagon’s performance. Moobaek is angry, growling that Sanung dying wasn’t part of the plan, and he demands the truth. Mugwang tells the official story — that Eunseom kidnapped Sanung and killed him.
But Moobaek just visited the doctor who examined Sanung’s body, and he was killed with a skill only possible by someone very familiar with bronze weapons, which a dujeumsaeng like Eunseom wouldn’t be capable of. Mugwang vehemently (and loudly) insists that Tagon is Aramun Haesulla, and Moobaek leaves in disgust.
Outside, Tagon is being escorted home, humbly pretending to be back to himself and not to remember anything. When he finds Taealha, Tuak boisterously greets him (Tagon: “Not you, too…”) until Taealha irritably kicks her out. She shows Tagon the cloth with Tagon’s purple Igutu blood on it, and tells him that the dujeumsaeng was here.
She says that Eunseom definitely knows what an Igutu is, and what it means to be one in Arthdal. She tells Tagon that Eunseom wants to meet, and that no Wahan is to be harmed until that meeting happens.
Eunseom is sure that Tagon will meet with his demands, though he doesn’t tell the curious Chaeeun that it’s because he’s an Igutu. He asks her why she’s not scared of Igutus although she told him that most people are, and even said that Neanthals are pretty. Chaeeun says evasively that she’s heard stories but never seen one, and that she helped him because he looked familiar.
Tagon is up all night brooding over the bloody cloth. Eventually Taealha tells him to get a grip, because he needs to meet with Eunseom today and kill him. Tagon grumbles that Eunseom knows too much and must be getting help, so whoever is helping him will know his secret, too. He suddenly remembers that he ordered the Wahan tribe executed this morning and surges to his feet.
In the pit where the few surviving Wahans are being kept, Yeolson says that it’s time to decide how they die, because if they’re beheaded, their spirits won’t join the Great White Wolf. Tanya says that they must decide as a group, so they look to Yeolson for a verdict.
Above them, they can hear Tagon’s men preparing their executions, so Yeolson starts to say that they will each strangle the person next to them. But Tanya is next to him, and he breaks down, sobbing that he can’t do it. The whole tribe wails, until Dalsae (Eunseom’s loudest detractor) jumps up and says that he doesn’t care if he’s beheaded or joins the Great White Wolf — all he wants is Mugwang, who killed so many of their friends and children, dead.
Dalsae tries to rush Tagon when he enters the pit, only to get smacked against the wall by Kitoha. The Wahans are asked for someone who can tell them more about Eunseom, and Tanya sees an opportunity. She palms a sharp rock and offers to go with Tagon.
Her plan is to free Eunseom from her spell compelling him to help the Wahan, by attacking Tagon and dying for it — since she cast the spell, it will break once she dies. She’s taken to Tagon, who stands on a balcony over the market and tells her that she could have enjoyed all of these fine things if not for Eunseom.
He asks Tanya about Eunseom — if he’s ever been to Arthdal before and how he knew where Sanung would be, how he can ride a horse, and how he knows what Igutus and Neanthals are. Tanya just fixates on Tagon’s throat, knowing that she has one chance at this.
Tagon lunges angrily, telling Tanya that an Igutu is half person, half monster, with purple blood, cursed by the gods and killed on the spot when found. That distracts her so that when she strikes, Tagon easily deflects her hand and lifts her by the throat, demanding to know how a dujeumsaeng from Iark would know all this.
He flings her to the floor, where she gasps that he and his people are cowards who fear those different from them. She says that the Wahans believe that everything has a reason to exist, then she closes her eyes, preparing herself to die. Tagon just orders her back to her people, so Tanya asks why he’s not killing her when she just tried to kill him.
Tagon says he can’t harm even a toenail or her nose, and Tanya remembers Eunseom saying almost those exact words to her once. As she’s led away, she realizes that this is Eunseom’s doing. Back in the pit, she tells the Wahans that Tagon said he can’t kill them, and they understand that Eunseom is trying to save them.
Danbyeok’s people are looking for Taealha, and they arrest Tuak in an effort to find her. Tuak drops a note that Taealha gave her (which she and Taealha planned) for Mihol saying, “Father, please relay your orders as soon as you hear from Saehanmanop.” It does its job, as Danbyeok wonders who is giving Mihol orders.
Mihol and Asa Ron discuss Tagon’s popularity, knowing that if a tribal meeting is held, Tagon will become leader. Mihol tells Asa Ron that his declaration of Tagon’s supposed powers led to this, so they decide to talk to Danbyeok about eliminating Tagon. It’s risky, because Danbyeok’s forces could easily outnumber theirs, but Mihol feels sure he can convince Danbyeok to their side.
Mihol pulls no punches with Danbyeok — they both know that Sanung wanted Tagon dead, and with everything that’s happening, Tagon must be eliminated before he becomes Union leader. But when he mentions Asa Ron, Danbyeok says that his father fought hard against the Asa Clan gaining dictatorship. Mihol says they can worry about that after they take care of Tagon, and tells him to arrest Tagon for the murder of Sanung.
Danbyeok takes offense to that, but Mihol says that through his spy daughter, he knows Tagon killed Sanung. He asks Danbyeok to believe him and they can discover the whole truth later. Instead of answering, Danbyeok asks Mihol if he knows someone named Saehanmanop, and he doesn’t believe Mihol’s confused reaction (he thinks it’s a code name for Asa Ron). He tells Mihol to bring proof of his father’s murder if he wants an arrest, so Mihol gives up, and on his way out he gives orders to deploy their soldiers tonight.
Tagon goes to meet Eunseom in the marketplace tower. It’s empty except for a chair in the center of the room, with ropes tied to each arm. A voice tells him to sit or he’ll leave, so Tagon sits, and puts his arms through the ropes as instructed. As soon as he does, Eunseom pulls the ropes and traps Tagon in the chair.
Annoyed, Tagon easily rips one arm of the chair completely off with his Igutu strength. Eunseom orders Tagon to release the Wahans, but Tagon refuses, so Eunseom promises to take them back to Iark and never return. Tagon asks how Eunseom can trust him after watching him kill his own father.
He says he could just follow the Wahans back to Iark and kill them there, but he promises to give them good jobs (as slaves, naturally), and that they’ll never want for food like they might back in Iark. But he warns Eunseom that if his people find out he’s an Igutu, he’ll slaughter the Wahans mercilessly.
Eunseom asks what’s stopping Tagon from just killing him and silencing him about his secret. Tagon says that Eunseom could have already told someone his secret, so if he kills Eunseom, then he’s really screwed. Eunseom marvels that Tagon’s lack of trust in others actually makes him trust him, and he promises to keep quiet as long as the Wahans are safe.
Tagon agrees to his side of the bargain, but he adds that since Eunseom knows his secret, he’ll eventually track him down and kill him. In return, Eunseom vows to rescue all of the Wahans from Arthdal, but Tagon just scoffs that Arthdal is expanding, so where will they go? Eunseom says he’ll worry about that later and leaves, thinking, “Tanya, you must stay alive. I promise I’ll rescue you.”
Tagon goes home to Taealha, who says it must have gone well because Tagon has a gift for turning problems into opportunities, though she notes that matters involving Igutu make him lose his head. He agrees, so she asks why he brought Saya here, but he doesn’t even recognize the name of the Igutu baby he gave Taealha to raise twenty years ago, since Saya apparently changed his own name recently.
Tagon asks if Saya is still locked in the Fortress of Fire, but Taealha says he’d go mad, so he goes out at night sometimes. Tagon looks wary, but Taealha promises that she raised him to be aware that he’ll be killed if he’s discovered to be an Igutu.
That night, the Wahans are taken to a new place which, by the smoke, Tanya recognizes as the Fortress of Fire. Unbeknownst to Tagon, Mihol and Asa Ron have sent a message to Eunseom — turn himself in for the murder of Sanung by sunrise, or his people will be skinned, beheaded, and hung in the forest.
Mihol is certain Eunseom will show up and blame Tagon for Sanung’s death. If he doesn’t show up, he says, they’ll just hire someone to pretend to be him.
Chaeeun takes the message back to Eunseom, who wonders if Tagon is breaking their pact so soon. But he says he still won’t give away Tagon’s secret yet, because he knows something else — the night Sanung died, he’d told Eunseom that his son wanted him dead.
He tells Chaeeun that he’s noticed her people live together but are divided into cliques, while the Wahans’ enemies all lived outside their tribe. Chaeeun had told Eunseom that if Tagon has one enemy, it’s Mihol. He says he’s planning to use Mihol by giving him a weapon he can use against Tagon, and rescue the Wahans.
Chaeeun marvels that Eunseom has gotten so people-savvy so quickly, and came up with the idea to use power dynamics against Tagon. She tells Eunseom that he doesn’t even have to see Mihol in person, but he’s never seen writing before. His intensity as he studies the writing scares her a bit, as if he’s enjoying this, and he recalls Tanya making the same accusation. He wonders if it’s an illness, but admits that this is a little fun for him.
At sunrise, the Wahans are untied, and Tanya looks around. She sees the smoke continuing to billow from the fortress, and starts to become very afraid of what’s burning. A light shines in her eye from a reflection in one of the towers, but she can’t see what it is.
Little Doti gives a message to Mihol’s lady-in-waiting, which she passes on. It asks how much he’s willing to pay for a weapon that will end Tagon, and specifies a meeting time and place.
Tagon isn’t happy when he finds out the Wahans are gone, scared of what Eunseom will do if they’re harmed. Meanwhile, Tanya tries to explain that, strange as it sounds, the man she met yesterday is trying to save them and someone else is trying to kill them.
She says that Tagon may be able to save them, if he can find them, and that the Great White Wolf may be able to help him. She’s not referring to their deity, but a picture of the Great White Wolf that she carved into the wall where they’ve been kept.
Tagon does notice the picture, and another of the Fortress of Fire that Tanya added to it after talking to him. He gets the message and plans a raid on the Fortress of Fire tonight.
Moobaek has been compiling his own stash of information — Asa Ron probably moved the Wahans, but the dujeumsaeng is likely still in Arthdal. He guesses that Tagon is planning something treacherous, and asks himself what he’s willing to do about it.
He was told by the shaman that the man who killed his own father will fight against the three heavenly objects (sword, bell, and mirror) and keep the world from ending. Everyone else thinks that the dujeumsaeng killed Sanung, but Moobaek still believes that he saw Eunseom riding Kanmoreu, which would make him Aramun Haesulla.
Tanya is woken by the light shining in her eyes again, and she opens them to see a shadowy, long-haired figure in front of her. At first she thinks it’s Eunseom, but the figure motions to her to be quiet, and she notices the ornate jewelry they’re wearing. They gesture to a tower and quickly disappear, and Tanya wakes with a start.
Her gasp wakes up Yeolson, and she tells him that Eunseom was here wearing a necklace and bracelet made of Hard Stone. Yeolson looks at her in awe and breathes, “Tanya, I think you finally had a dream.” But Tanya sighs that it’s pointless now.
Danbyeok agrees to talk with Asa Ron, though he’s still suspicious of his newfound alliance with Mihol and wondering if Asa Ron is the Saehanmanop from Taealha’s note. They’re interrupted by a soldier, who says that armed Daekan warriors are headed to the Fortress of Fire. They meet Mihol at the Fortress, guessing that the warriors are coming for the Wahans, so Mihol orders them locked up and the Fortress barricaded.
In moments, the Daekan warriors are at the gate, and they easily force their way into the Fortress. Tagon says he’s here for the Wahans that he captured and that belong to him, but Asa Ron spits that that’s just an excuse.
He says they brought the Wahasn to capture the dujeumsaeng who killed Sanung, so obviously Tagon is afraid of the dujeumsaeng being caught and the truth being discovered. Tagon counters that the truth should be revealed, but he doesn’t trust Mihol with the job, since he tried to kill Tagon the day before the Sacred Trial.
He says that Mihol is trying to frame him, and even had Taealha try to poison him. From where he’s watching, Danbyeok thinks to himself that Sanung wouldn’t have given such orders, so Mihol must have been working alone.
Since Tagon has broken the law by bringing soldiers into the Fortress, Asa Ron orders Tagon arrested. But Danbyeok hesitates to have his guards arrest Tagon, instead asking Mihol why Taealha disappeared the morning of the Sacred Trial. He refutes Mihol’s claim that Sanung gave the order, since it’s Asa Ron who would have benefited the most if Tagon had died before the Trial.
He orders Asa Ron and Mihol arrested, and Tagon smirks, not having had to lift a finger. Mihol chuckles and signals to someone who douses all the torches, and in the dark and confusion, the guards scream for someone to stop Mihol before he escapes.
The guard watching the Wahans hears the commotion and peeks out the door, and Dalsae takes the opportunity to steal his sword and kill him with it. He proposes that they all die fighting in the name of Wahan, but Yeolson says sadly that Wahan no longer exists. He makes one final decision as their leader — he frees them of their ties to the Wahan name.
He says they may make their own decisions now, and that some of them will die, but they should stop hoping to be together after they die. Instead, he says they should hope to meet again while they still live. The people sob, but they bravely accept this decision, and stand to make their escape.
Mihol’s lady goes to the meeting place and tells Eunseom to follow her to Mihol at the Fortress of Fire, assuring him that they need the weapon against Tagon too much to betray him. They arrive just as Mihol creates his confusion, and the guards realize that the Wahans are escaping.
Tanya manages to slip away from the fighting and make her way to an empty room. It’s full of strange writing implements that she doesn’t understand, and she keeps going up a staircase to the tower the figure in her “dream” pointed to. In her hand she holds a Hard Stone, one she found after her “dream” that matches the one in the shadowy figure’s necklace.
Dalsae and Buksoe, another Wahan warrior, also escape the fighting. They climb the Fortress wall and land right in front of Eunseom, but before they can even greet each other, they’re confronted by Yangcha, Tagon’s masked warrior.
At the top of the tower, Tanya finds a lavish bedroom. The place sounds exactly like Eunseom’s dream of being locked up, with drawing on leather on the walls and rolls of sticks on a table. There’s a mirror in the room, but it’s not her own face she sees in it. Stepping back in surprise, she finds a bell on the floor.
The sight of Tagon’s man incites Mihol’s lady to drop her torch and run. She runs into Moobaek and points him to Eunseom’s location. As Moobaek heads that direction, he remembers the shaman’s words about the three sacred objects — a bell to echo throughout the world, a sword to slay the world, and a mirror to illuminate the world.
Eunseom faces Yangcha and his chain whip, and he urges Dalsae and Buksoe to run. In his hand he holds a large knife, one you might even call a sword.
In the tower, Tanya rings the bell, and in the mirror she sees someone slowly come out of hiding behind a curtain — someone who looks exactly like Eunseom.
So, Saya isn’t just Eunseom’s brother, but an identical twin. This makes things so much more interesting! And now we have a clue as to why Chaeeun helped Eunseom — she must know Saya somehow. She did seem strangely comfortable with Eunseom from their first meeting, and she said that he reminded her of someone. We’ve known of Saya’s existence from the beginning, but it never occurred to me that he’s Eunseom’s identical twin (though I won’t complain about more Song Joong-ki on my screen). I already find the comparisons between Eunseom and Saya fascinating… Saya grew up in captivity, though a luxurious one, while Eunseom grew up in much humbler surroundings, but free. And I love that all three sacred objects — the bell, the sword, and the mirror — all somehow relate back to Eunseom and Saya. Clearly these two have a very high calling.
I’m really enjoying Eunseom’s character arc, though I wish we could see more of him and less of the politics (more on that later). Eunseom started out so wide-eyed and innocent… the worst thing he had to worry about was whether he could tame a horse. Now he’s fighting for the survival of what’s left of the only family he’s ever known, and it’s tempering him into a lethal weapon. What’s amazing is that he’s willing to die for the people who were probably about to kick him out, but that doesn’t matter to Eunseom — they are his people, and he’ll do anything to save them and take them home. It’s sad that he had to harden up so quickly, due to the nature of Arthdal and the people in it, but thankfully he’s been able to rise to the task so far. My only wish would be to see a little less of Arthdal changing Eunseom, and a little more of him using the skills he’s learned while growing up in Iark to foil his enemies. I want to see arrogant Tagon, who’s so convinced that his advanced people and civilization are superior, taken down by the simple ways of a people who still know how to honor the land and its flora and fauna.
For the most part, I agree that Arthdal Chronicles is heavier on the politics than it needs to be, though not in the exact same way that dramallama feels about it. I don’t believe there’s too much politics going on, and what there is, isn’t too difficult to understand once you get the gist of what’s happening. What frustrates me is how the political maneuverings are portrayed in a confusing way — something will happen, or someone will be mentioned as if they’re important, before we know who that person is or what the repercussions of the events might be. So everyone onscreen is reacting like this is horrible, while I’m still wondering who the guy is that they’re talking about and why I should be worried about him, several scenes later. Instead of an explanation leading to an event leading to the consequences, which allows tension to build because we as an audience knows that it will be Very Bad if XYZ happens, we get XYZ first, then we see the consequences, then we get the explanation of why it’s not a good thing. So I spend twice as long watching an episode because I keep having to go back to watch events again, just to get the full impact. It’s an exhausting way to watch a drama (and the episodes are already too long!).
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