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Arthdal Chronicles: Episode 18 (Final)

All of Arthdal is in turmoil – with its leadership up in the air, the people desperate to cling to any available glimmer of hope. Some will put their faith in a false god, while others see the future in a man who isn’t sure of his own place in the world. Yet others know the truth behind the lies, and use that knowledge to feed their own greed.

 
EPISODE 18 RECAP

After learning the secret of bronzeworking from Mihol, Taealha gives him poison to put him out of his misery. Tagon walks in just as Mihol is gasping his last breath. Taealha informs Tagon that not only is she now the only living person who knows how to work bronze, she’s also pregnant with his child.

She sails regally from the room, head high, but as soon as she’s alone she slumps against the wall, fighting back tears. Once she collects herself, she informs Hae Tuak and Yeobi that Mihol died at her hands.

Seeing Tagon’s shock, Saya asks Tagon what Taealha said to him, and why he let her go without argument. Tagon just says they’ll talk later and goes into a meeting, but Saya senses something is terribly wrong.

Tagon hears a report that the people are too scared to go into the market after he destroyed the statue of Mihaje, the Bato tribe’s god, and that some are even leaving Arthdal for their home villages. Moobaek says that there was no opposition when they torched the Batu’s sacred mountain, though a few Bato tribespeople jumped into the fire.

Tagon’s only comment on that is that they were foolish. He’s equally unconcerned that the Myo clan from the Ago tribe raided Doldambul and freed the slaves. He’s told that the Bato and Ggachinol tribes have been conducting suspicious activities, but he says that it’s all unfolding as he expected.

He leaves, and the others worry that the Bato tribe may be planning something and that other tribes might join them. Moobaek thinks that Tagon seem to already have a solution, and wonders what it could be.

Tagon’s scribe, Dae-dae, warns Tagon that Arthdal could fall apart if he doesn’t take action soon. Tagon reminds him about Red Claw, a spy Tagon planted in the Ago tribe, and he says that the storm sweeping across Arthdal will be consumed by a greater storm.

Only once he’s alone does Tagon finally let himself think about Taealha’s claim to be pregnant with his child. He thinks that the child will continue his bloodline, a god’s bloodline. Saya is also worried about Taealha — he doesn’t know what she said but he saw how Tagon changed.

Chaeeun and Nunbyeol are still hiding in a cave after their parents’ murders, and Nunbyeol resists Chaeeun’s urging to sever her lineages again. In fact she asks Chaeeun to reconnect them so she can be a full Neanthal, but Chaeeun has never done it and she’s scared it will kill Nunbyeol. Nunbyeol says she wants to get revenge, and her eyes glow blue as she growls, “Tagon, Taealha — I will destroy them.”

Seuchun takes Doti to Tanya to tell her about Harim and his wife’s deaths. Tanya is concerned, but she forgets everything else when Seuchun tells her that he’s seen Eunseom.

Eunseom tells the freed slaves that they can return to their tribes, and they ask him what he wants in return. He says that those who aren’t Ago don’t owe them anything, but he wants two things from the freed Ago tribe members, the first being to go home and free other Ago slaves.

They ask what happens after they send them home, and Eunseom says sheepishly, “That’s all. Just free them and send them home.” One man, TAE DACHI, gets angry, believing this is some kind of trick. He says he ended up in Doldambul because he was captured and sold there by the Myo clan, so he can’t believe that same clan would now free him and want nothing in return.

He asks what Eunseom’s second condition is, so Eunseom says he wants them to spread the word. He and the Myo warriors take turns reciting:

He who lowers himself despite knowing his sublimity,
He who protects darkness despite knowing his brilliance,
He who endures indignity despite knowing his dignity,
Tell everyone about the second coming of Inaishingi, the one spat out by the God of the Waterfall.

Pasa the Myo chief, swears by the Ago guardian spirits that Eunseom is Inaishingi, who survived the waterfall. He announces a tribal meeting to be held on Myo land, asking the chief of each clan to come before Inaishingi, and the Myo warriors take up the chant, “Come before Inaishingi!”

As they walk home, Tae Dachi and his friend, Tae Nima, wonder if Eunseom really is Inaishingi and if they’re truly bound to spread his message. Tae Dachi tells Tae Nima that he’s convinced — they’re going home, so it must be Inaishingi’s magic.

At the Tae clan’s village, the chief, TAE APDOK (Go Chang-seok), argues with SOOHANA (Kim Jung-young), one of the elders, over whether to ally with the Byeok clan. They’re interrupted by a loud outcry caused by Tae Dachi and Tae Nima’s return, and Tae Apdok greets them with tears and bear hugs, then awe when they pass on Inaishingi’s message.

At Mihol’s funeral, Taealha catches and holds Tagon’s gaze, and he looks down first. She looks back at an older man — Hae Alyeong, whom Mihol told Taealha to ask about the “Fruit of Hae Detu,” which had turned out to be a sword of pure steel, made with something found by chance in a kiln. Hae Alyeong had promised Taealha to find out who made it and how.

After the funeral Tagon apologizes to Taealha that she couldn’t tell him of her pregnancy with joy. She says he should be apologizing for torturing her father without telling her, but he counters that a king needn’t apologize for his authority.

Taealha asks why she felt so much pity, seeing Tagon standing alone in front of Asa Ron. Tagon says that what bothered him most while standing alone was that Asa Ron showed up just when he was venting to his father and filled with self-pity. He says that was when he decided to stop feeling sorry for himself and begging for acknowledgment, and to just start doing what he wanted.

Taealha says that was the moment Tagon became a king, and she sarcastically apologizes for not reading his mind and getting pregnant. Tagon says he wants her and their baby, and proposes marriage. He accepts her refusal to tell him the secret of bronzeworking, and her demand that he share his power with her, but she insists on getting it all in writing before marrying him.

She says wryly that it’s just like them to get engaged on the day of her father’s funeral, since their hatred for their fathers drew them together, and because they both killed their fathers. She sneers, “We’re probably meant to be together, right?”

Tagon informs Saya that he and Taealha will marry on the day of his coronation, and that no one is to speak of the secret of the bronze from now on. Saya asks if he’s giving up on becoming a king, since Taealha’s whisper was enough to change his mind about owning everything.

Tagon says he wants Saya to find out the secret of the bronze, and to take care not to let Taealha find out. Saya asks again what Taealha said to Tagon, but Tagon refuses to share that information. On the subject of the bronzeworking secret, Saya says he needs someone smart but not crafty to help him, so Tagon suggests Yeonbal for the job.

Meanwhile, Taealha goes to the Great Shrine’s dungeon to ask Asa Sakan for a favor. Asa Sakan grabs her and croons, “The gods’ will is truly…”

Saya is growing obsessed with whatever Tagon and Taealha are hiding from him. Tanya’s attendant reports that Tanya cried for a long time after speaking to Doti and Seuchun, who used to work for Harim and came to tell her about Chaeeun being missing.

She finds it strange that Tanya would cry so much over Chaeeun, and she’s right — Seuchun also told Tanya that Moongtae betrayed the Wahan slaves, Teodae killed himself, and later Eunseom led a successful revolt at Doldambul.

Tanya sits in the ceremonial chamber, and she tells Yangcha that she feels like she’s crying from determination. She’s summoned to see Saya, and on the way she asks her attendant to find a place where there are a lot of people who are suffering.

Saya tells Tanya about Tagon’s request that she come up with the name for his new kingdom. She says that what Tagon wants is a name that will make the tribes succumb to him, and Saya objects to her phrasing, saying that the people of the Union have agreed to this because they need protection in case the Ago or another tribe attacks. Tanya argues that it just proves that a kingdom is a bad thing.

Reining in his temper, Saya asks what Tanya was talking about with Moobaek. She says they only discussed the ollimsani for Moogwang. He asks why she met with Seuchun, and she says she wants to find Chaeeun. When he sees that she’s wearing her stone necklace, Saya assumes it’s the one he gave her and backs off.

The “place where people are suffering” that Tanya visits turns out to be the building where children are forced to make the smooth stones for decorating Arthdal’s monuments. Taking in the children’s shackles and bleeding feet, Tanya instructs Yangcha to give each child a pair of straw shoes.

The man who runs the factory says that they don’t need shoes because they never walk or run, but Tanya says that they will soon, because she forbids him to shackle them any longer. She also commands him to feed them three times a day with food provided by the Great Shrine, then begins removing one child’s shackles herself.

The child thanks her tearfully for giving them hope. Tanya says that she should be thanking them, and even Yangcha looks moved as all the children start crying for their mothers.

As she leaves, Tanya worries that her kind actions could put the slaves in danger. Yangcha wonders why she would do something so unnecessary, and Tanya replies out loud that it’s not unnecessary, startling him again by hearing his thoughts. She says that the children will wear those shoes to run around the marketplace and tell everyone how kind she is.

Saya shows up at Harim’s apothecary to speak to Seuchun, who thinks he’s Eunseom until he remembers Doti telling him that there’s someone who looks exactly like Eunseom. Moongtae is with Saya, and he spots Seuchun’s expression and quickly introduces Saya.

Saya asks Seuchun why he met with Tanya, and Seuchun says the same thing Tanya did — that they’re hoping to find Chaeeun. Saya asks how Seuchun knew that Chaeeun and Tanya know each other, pinning him to the wall by the throat, and Seuchun gasps that Doti told him. Saya snarls that that’s not the answer he’s looking for, and Moongtae slams Seuchun to the ground and orders him to tell the truth.

Seuchun stammers that they talked about the Wahan people who escaped Doldambul. He says he was at Doldambul on Chaeeun’s orders, but he doesn’t know why she sent him, all he knows is that there was a riot and Tanya was worried her people may have died. He says he told Tanya they ran away, so Saya assumes that’s why she cried.

Saya puts the clues together, that Chaeeun sent Seuchun way before Tanya became High Priestess, and he recalls hearing Kitoha saying something about an Igutu from Doldambul who looks like him. He slams angrily into his chambers, where Yeonbal is waiting for him.

This time when Yeonbal is caught staring, Saya asks if he was thinking he looks like the Igutu. Yeonbal quickly says he was mistaken, but Saya says it’s the same Igutu who killed Sanung and names Eunseom. He orders Yeonbal to tell him everything he knows.

Yeonbal confesses that the man they threw in the boiling water wasn’t Eunseom, but adds that he’s sure Eunseom is dead after Moobaek stabbed him and he fell into the river. Saya is skeptical, since there were no witnesses.

Eunseom is worried that the Ago leaders may not attend the meeting. Ipsaeng is also concerned, saying that the Tae chief is particularly uncooperative. Sure enough, Tae Apdok whines that they haven’t had such a meeting since Inaishingi died, and he refuses to obey any orders issued by the Myo clan.

He tells his people that the Myo clan is lying, but Soohana says that’s all the more reason for him to attend the meeting and test their honesty. She flatters Tae Apdok by saying that giving his people what they want will earn even more of their love and trust, so he’s persuaded to go.

Tanya personally feeds the slave children a meal, and when one little girl asks for seconds, Tanya asks how she became a slave as she dishes up the food. The girl says that Arthdal attacked her tribe and killed her parents, and she asks if she’ll be a slave until she dies. Oh, my heart.

Her question reminds Tanya of a night when she was young, and she’d asked Mother Choseol if she had to grow up to the the next Great Mother. Mother Choseol had told her she could be anything she wanted in addition to being the Great Mother.

Tanya tells the little girl that she can be anything she wants, and just as her mother told her, she points to the night sky and tells the slave children that when they complete their life missions, they will each become a star. Looking around at the smiling children, she thinks, “Eunseom-ah, I’ll do everything I can. I won’t give up, just like you.”

Practically the entire Tae clan follows Tae Apdok and Soohana to the meeting, wanting to see Inaishingi for themselves. The Sul clan chief also brings most of his people with him, making Eunseom worry that they may have weapons, but Ipsaeng says they don’t seem armed.

Ipsaeng avoids eye contact and leaves when Tae Apdok enters the council lodge. Tae Apdok laughs at the sight of Eunseom, but Pasa insists that he survived the Judgment of the Waterfall and Tachoogan snaps at him to be respectful. Tae Apdok asks Eunseom with sarcastic formality to tell them what Inaishingi said to him.

Eunseom says, “Be first to show generosity. Save those of other clans who were sold as slaves in Arthdal and return them to their families. Those who have been blessed will repay the favor by saving other clans. Go against my words, and excruciating pain will fall upon you before you perish.”

Tae Apdok bellows that the Sul chief sold off two of his nephews, and the Sul chief spits back that the Tae clan started it. The Sul chief storms out, declaring that this plan will never happen, and Tae Apdok leaves moments later. Ipsaeng comes back in and wilts at the sight of the disappointed faces, but something he says gives Eunseom an idea.

In front of all three clans, Tae Apdok accuses the Myo clan of lying about Eunseom being Inaishingi. Eunseom comes out to say that supposedly the Ago tribe were once all brothers, and that their infighting has only been happening for ten years (since Tagon laid down his rules).

He admits that he doesn’t know if he’s Inaishingi, though it’s true he survived the waterfall. Tae Apdok crows that he was right, but Eunseom declares that if Inaishingi did choose him, then Tae Apdok will die before sunrise, and if he’s not, then he himself will die.

In the council lodge, Tachoogan yells at Eunseom for saying something so stupid and ruining everything. Tae Maja suggests they just kill Tae Apdok, who was getting in the way anyway, but Eunseom tells them to just wait. Later Ipsaeng asks Eunseom what he was thinking, and Eunseom admits that he took a chance on something Ipsaeng said, because the thirty Ago clans need to be reunited.

Tae Maja urges Tae Apdok to rethink his stubborn stance, viewing Eunseom’s claim to be Inaishingi as their clan’s last hope for survival. Offended that his warriors don’t see him as a source of hope, Tae Apdok orders Tae Dachi whipped. But Tae Nima stands and says that he also saw Inaishingi in Eunseom, who saved him from the mines.

Tae Apdok draws his sword and strikes Tae Nima dead on the spot, then stabs his body repeatedly in his fury. He asks if there are any other objections, and his people simply kneel at his feet.

In Arthdal, Saya thinks to himself that whatever Tanya is hiding from him, he’ll discover soon on his own: “Though in a way you’ll hate.” Tanya asks him how to write the word “star,” so Saya draws the symbols and teaches her how to read them.

At the Fortress of Fire, Yeolson gets a visit from Yeonbal. Later, Yeonbal escorts Saya to a room where he’s got Yeolson and the other Wahans tied up. Tagon visits his throne room on the eve of his coronation, and Taealha secretly meets with the few remaining White Peak Mountain elders.

Tae Apdok is alone when Soohana and Tae Maja silently enter the lodge. In the morning, Ipsaeng screams for Eunseom to wake up, and Eunseom says sleepily that he had his first dream in a long time. Ipsaeng tells him that what’s happened is like a dream, and when they step outside the hut, Eunseom’s jaw drops in shock.

Moobaek tries to talk to Tanya about her role in the coronation, but she asks for privacy to study. When Saya shows up, Tanya snaps at him, annoyed. Saya tells Moobaek privately that he’s captured all the Wahans, and that unless Moobaek tells him everything he knows about himself, he’ll kill them all before the coronation.

During the procession to the Great Shrine for Tagon’s coronation ceremony, Tanya notices that Moobaek and Saya’s heads are bowed as if they’re having a discussion. Saya stares up at Moobaek, who looks extremely troubled, having just revealed that Eunseom is alive and is Saya’s twin.

Saya looks back at Tanya, remembering the time she asked if he was curious about his parents and siblings, and how she once said she regrets meeting him every time she sees him. The expression on Saya’s face is one of mixed anger, betrayal, and sorrow.

Eunseom and Ipsaeng, followed by the Myo tribesmen, talk to Soohana and the Tae clan. Tae Maja holds up Tae Apdok’s severed head, and Soohana announces that with his prediction confirmed, the Tae clan acknowledge Eunseom as Inaishingi’s chosen.

Tanya arrives at the Great Shrine, with Saya walking behind her carrying a golden crown. Addressing the crowd, Tanya says, “The Great Mother Asa Sin sent Aramun to this world by the wishes of Airuju, saved many clans from the war, and had them form a Union.

“Today, two hundred years later, Airuju wishes to tear down the Union he once founded and build something new with the newly-born Aramun. In front of the entire Union, I will convey the words of Airuju, the beginning and end of this world, and the one who moves all things.”

She summons Tagon forward and praises him as the new Aramun, then she crowns him king. As he stands before the people, Tagon thinks about his procession to the Great Shrine, when he’d told Taealha that he still wants her with all his heart. She’d returned the sentiment, and now she thinks, “Yes, I want it. Now, I wish to have all of Arthdal.”

Ipsaeng looks at Eunseom, impressed that he killed Tae Apdok with just his words. Eunseom tells the Ago clans that he wasn’t born as Inaishingi, but he’s become Inaishingi now. Soohana and her warriors kneel to him, but Eunseom bids them to stand, then says, “I, Wahan Eunseom, bring back Ago tribe’s glorious Inaishingi. I promise to accept you all.”

Tanya declares that the Union no longer exists, and that all Arthdal tribes will now become one country. She tells the people that this country will have a new name, and the people will be called “subjects.” Recalling Mother Choseol’s words, she thinks, “I Tanya of Arthdal, cast a spell on you all. Subjects. You may begin in this world as those of the lowest social status, but you can become anything. My fate is now entwined with yours. I hope to provide support as long as I protect you. My subjects.”

In their joy, the Ago people lift Eunseom high into the air, and he tells himself, “This passion and longing. Not just the Tae and Myo clan, but all those of Ago tribe, will share this dream and desire. Will it be able to save me, or will it lead to my demise? Will it finally lead me to Tanya, or will it divide us?”

Tagon halts the people’s cheers to issue his first royal command; for the power of Arthdal to spread to all the land of Arth. He announces his plan to conquer the East and bring all those against them to their knees, including the Ago tribe, and Tanya stares at him in shock.

Kitoha starts a chant, “Conquer the Ago tribe!” Moobaek realizes that this was Tagon’s plan — to start a war and conquer the people’s fear and discontent. Taealha smirks, but Tanya looks like she’s struggling to stifle a scream.

Tagon looks down on his people benevolently, while elsewhere, Eunseom is tossed into the air by the jubilant Ago tribe. A voice narrates: “It is unexpected… someone claiming to be Inaishingi, Ago tribe’s hero, has appeared. The return of the dead is the desire of the living. He saw through it and led Tae Apdok to his death. The entire Ago tribe is in turmoil because of him.

“He will be the most powerful enemy of Arthdal. I will wait for further instructions while aiding his quest. Red Claw blesses you, Tagon.” These words are written on a small scroll, which is tied to the leg of a hawk and sent winging to Arthdal. We see the face of Red Claw, Tagon’s spy — Soohana.

 
COMMENTS

So obviously, this is not the ending of Arthdal Chronicles, which came as an unpleasant shock to a lot of viewers, myself included. There are reports saying that there are to be two 18-episode seasons, and even this episode ends with a preview which claims that the story will continue, which I’d be happy for if only because I want to know hwo the story ends. The show’s ratings in Korea were decent, but not as high as expected, though tvN has said that “the possibility is high” that there will be a conclusion. I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see if the legend of Arthdal ever reaches its intended conclusion.

Personally, I’m angry about this — it’s bad enough that we had to wait two full months for the last six episodes. But to learn after the fact that this is only half the story and that the other half may never be told… I almost feel like I’ve been tricked. I never saw any indication that these three “seasons” weren’t the full story until after Episode 18 aired. I think it was wrong of Netflix and tvN not to let viewers know what they were in for from the beginning.

But for better or for worse, this is what we have now, and I do want to talk about how I feel about the story so far. I know that not everyone feels that Arthdal Chronicles was well-written or executed, but that’s not my opinion at all. Yes, there was a lot about the storytelling that could have been done better, particularly early on when introducing the overwhelming number of characters and the complicated tribal system in Arthdal, not to mention the lore surrounding Asa Sin and Aramun Haesulla. The show let us learn all this from context as the story progressed, which would have been fine if there wasn’t so much information to try and absorb. And goodness knows, my eyes (and my screencapping) would have been grateful if someone had ever turned on the damn lights on set!

Other than those few complaints, I thoroughly enjoyed the world of Arthdal and its inhabitants. Say what you will about the characters themselves, but the acting throughout Arthdal Chronicles was top-notch in every way. From the main players down to little Wahan Doti, every actor brought their A-game and gave their characters so much life that I was emotionally invested in each and every one of them. The quick cameos were some of my favorites, giving some familiar character actors a chance to surprise us, such as Go Chang-seok’s inspired portrayal of Tae Apdok, showing a side of his acting I’ve never seen before — I’m used to him as an affable, lovable sidekick-type. I also loved Lee Mi-do’s small but pivotal turn as the Bato shaman, again revealing that she’s capable of more than we’ve seen from her. And I appreciated Nichkhyun and Song Jong-ho as the last two remaining Neanthal men, though I have a feeling that they will have a much larger impact if the story is continued.

Song Joong-ki was above it all with his portrayal of separated twins Eunseom and Saya, making each character so distinct that even without the vastly different hair and clothes, I would have known which twin he was just by his expression, speech pattern, and body language. He was so perfect at portraying Eunseom’s simpleminded determination, yet he was equally skilled at showing Saya’s tendency to feel two or three emotions at once. Also of particular note was Kim Ok-bin’s characterization of power-hungry Taealha — she’s the perfect example of a character that could have been annoying and easy to hate, yet Kim Ok-bin somehow made me feel for the woman who was raised as a bargaining chip and who only wanted to win autonomy from her controlling father. The fact that her goal was to team up with Tagon and ruthlessly take over the world never took away from my awareness that Taealha just wanted to make her own choices in a society that viewed women’s worth as nothing more than decoration, or at best a tool for men to gain power.

I also respect how much thought went into the details of the story. There are many examples, such as Tanya’s prediction of Moogwang’s death — she told him the details of how he would die months before the scene where it happened was aired. In addition to that, there were several cases in which we were given details that seemed randomly thrown out or unconnected to anything, only to have them all come together in one AHA moment. We were given information about Nunbyeol in small bursts, sometimes many episodes apart, such as how her Neanthal powers were subdued, seeing her training with a sword, and the information that Neanthals aren’t capable of using weapons. But in the moment when Nunbyeol killed Moogwang, everything came together and it all made sense how she was able to use weapons because she trained without her powers. I appreciate this so much because it allows someone like me, who’s watched way too many movies and TV shows and am rarely surprised anymore, to experience that exciting feeling of not realizing how everything fits together until the perfect moment.

All in all, I felt that Arthdal Chronicles was successful in telling the story it set out to tell. We could pick it apart, as we could with any drama, but as a whole I felt that the show was enjoyable and exciting. I just hope that it doesn’t fall prey to Korea’s reluctance to invest in second seasons, and that they’re able to convince the cast to come back and finish the story, because I very much want to know how it all ends.

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The production says they've finished filming everything, but does "everything" include the now expected season 2? If they have not, and now have to call everyone back to film season 2, how long is it going to take? Cries.. Yes I agree, I feel cheated too, and I started Arthdal Chronicles late! I only started watching the whole series when part 3 started airing. I can't imagine how you felt when you had to wait 2 months for part 3.

Well, some of us waited a whole year between each season of Sherlock (BBC). Haha so I guess we are well trained

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I totally agree with your comments! Everyone did such an amazing job portraying their characters. I love this series and really hope we're able to see where the story ends!

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So although I wasn't a super fan of this show. I will watch a second season. I really liked Eunseom and his adventures. I also wanted him to reunite with Tanya. As for Arthdal and the political machinations with Tagon and Taelha, SIGH, I just lost interest. I rolled my eyes a lot. So I hope there will be a second season, plus the magic horse.

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totally agree with your comments - the show finally picked up in Part 2 n then Part 3, great script/concept + just amazing acting from all. so for it to just end like that - count me as one of the many annoyed/pissed fans!!! (i liken it to as if the LOTR movie trilogy ended at movie 2 and producers said oops sorry we ran outta budget! so we canโ€™t show u whether Sauron n the ring were finally defeated, the hobbits make it back home, n if Aragorn marries the elf babe... arghhh!!!!!)

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The drama did have positive aspects and I had looked forward to continuing it after its hiatus. Unfortunately, its momentum had stalled. If Eunseom, Saya and Tanya had met them, by the end of episode 13, the show might have been saved for me. But I could tell at that point the story's pacing was going too slow to end it well. I didn't know there would be another season, I just thought this one was off, with the result I stopped watching until the last episode. I'm glad I did. The only thing I was invested in was the three of them meeting up and providing a revolution of some kind, and it didn't even happen by then. Glad I didn't waste another five hours watching set up for an unexpected second season.

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Thank you @lollypip and thank you beanies who went on this journey with me. We earned that bean.

Toki Statement:
I have no desire to watch a Season 2 and indeed feel that TvN and Netflix behaved dishonestly in forcing the seasons format onto their viewers. They provided vague or conflicting information when they should have confirmed that this was a story spanning multiple seasons (and it's not even confirmed yet!). We are left with an unfinished product, and my faith in both TvN and Netflix is at an all-time low.

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@wishfultoki,
I understand how you feel. We've live-watched and fangirled over quite a few dramas together, especially saqeuks, and I know you to be a thoughtful and well-informed Kdrama viewer. For you to be this aggravated speaks volumes.

Now that we've gotten to the non-finale and I've had a chance to let the dust settle and my own exasperation cool, I can honestly state that I would watch the remainder of this story. It has enough substance to keep me happy plot-wise even if I wasn't always thrilled with the way it was implemented.

Timing is everything, and being in the dark about the true intended length of the show seriously threw off my expectations as a viewer when it came to the unfolding of the plot. And it's not because I am addicted to 3-act structure, dang it. I appreciate kishotenketsu (4-act structure without conflict), and five-act structure, and slice-of-life character studies as much as the next Beanie. Not being able to get a handle on ARTHDAL and where and how far it was intending to go in the allotted 18 episodes was what tried my patience. Plus the hiatus stalled the forward momentum just as it felt as if the show were finally getting in gear.

All that said, I will tune in to the remaining ARTHDAL CHRONICLES if and when they are produced because I want to know how the story and character arcs play out. Only then will I be able to evaluate the drama as a complete work. I'm willing to see it through to give it a fair shake. I do think it is possible to pull the chestnuts out of the fire.

Aside: I look forward to embarking with you on the journey to MY COUNTRY when it premieres on Oct. 4. See you in Goryeo. ;-)

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Aye, see you in Goryeo!

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This show has so many technical issues, I doubt I will even begin to touch on them, but I wanted to address some of the more obvious ones that stood out to me anyway.

Probably my greatest frustration with this episode is not that it on its own is any worse than the rest of the show, but that it in its anticlimax just culminates all the frustrations of the past 18 episodes, and brings into the glaring light (ha ha) not only the ordinary storytelling and technical issues of the show, but the base level production and promotional issues that this show has.

As has been pointed out before now, Netflixโ€™s meddling with this show has been extremely detrimental to the international fanโ€™s enjoyment and even comprehension of the story.
Withholding important information from Netflixโ€™s viewer base, like the fact that this was merely the teaser season if you will, to see if it did well enough to warrant more, cutting out the animation extras, and cutting even this season into three, is a terrible way to go about making a show. Particularly one that relies on worldbuilding for cohesion. I just donโ€™t think the production crew of anywhere, of any studio involved in this really understood what this show needed.
If you are targeting such a heavy fantasy show, with so much extra potentially off screen storytelling required even just to set up the world, you should probably promote that extra material at the beginning, promote how this show is going to work better, tease the next seasons to keep your viewers entertained, not cut extra storytelling entirely from the Netflix version,and have fans in limbo about whether or not this is the only season or not for almost the entire run.

How these studios went about promoting this show is obviously a problem. Their lack adeptness at clarifying the showโ€™s very physical nature does not help anyone making sense of the story.
But itโ€™s not the showโ€™s only problem.

If youโ€™re going to plan a multi seasonal show, and if you do fail at communicating that with your audience, then at least do a good job of setting up your story within those first 18 episodes to cater for more seasons, and to make sense on their own if you donโ€™t happen to get renewed.
This show did neither of those things.

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Whilst we might be willing to excuse a lot of unknowns in this show because of the revelation of possibly more seasons, Iโ€™m disinclined to give it total grace.
Yes, hopefully, if indeed there ARE more seasons, all the loose plot points may be tied up and be important later. But even if I DO think they will be tied up later (which I donโ€™t), the pacing, structure and execution of this season alone is so dismal and poorly done that it doesnโ€™t really matter if this show has more seasons or not, when the first season is fails epically at almost everything it's trying to do in the first place.

I have previously written about the direction and writing of Tagon and Taelha, and how their story could be complex and interesting, but is executed in the reverse order to have any emotional impact. I wonโ€™t talk much more on that as you can read it on the top comment of the episode 14 recap, but this continues to be an issue.
The motivations of these characters also seem to change on a whim to suit the plot, which does nothing to help the consistency of their writing. The deeper layers of their characters are only explored with tacky dialogue and said poor execution, meaning that even though with a bit of Viewer Roadside Maintenance, one can make sense of their actions and reasoning, on screen it feels like a weak shadow of what is intended by their character arcs. I should be feeling all kinds of emotions at their trajectory; perhaps sadness, perhaps pity, perhaps hope for redemption, perhaps anger at their failings, and yet I feel nothing.
This is the same for many other characters, like Saya, and many of this showโ€™s themes as well, not just characters.
The exploration of state vs church, corruption and power, and yes even the very unsavoury topics and badly handled strokes of racism and colonialism, could be fascinating, but instead theyโ€™re heavy handed, dragging and often leave a bad taste in your mouth, when youโ€™re not laughing at how ridiculous their execution is.
The whole thing is bogged down by bloated dialogue, that could be tolerable if it were more campy, and by badly structured subplots.

This brings me onto one of my greatest grievances with this show, and for it I will be using a bit of a strange example, so bear with me.

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The John Wick movies rely heavily on action sequences to forward everything well. The best action sequences in the movies are the ones that are written and choreographed so that they move forward with the story.
What I mean by that is that they're not just gratuitous fight scenes for flashy spectacle sakes: they have purpose. They move through not only the frame, but the setting and the story.
Of course the franchise is not by a long shot without its faults, and still has several fight scenes for spectacle only. However the best fight scenes still do the former.

Much of the plot movement in the middle episodes of Arthdal, did not move with this purpose.
There were seemingly endless episodes of the Union leaders simply moving round and round in circles, backstabbing their enemies, and their enemyโ€™s enemies, and forming a myriad of useless alliances with each other again and again. This would often happen up to three times an episode. They were just bickering for the sake of it and nothing moved anywhere. The plot action did not move through a scene with an end goal in mind; it meandered through the woods, stopped to smell the flowers and fight a bear on the way.
Side plots would just happen to cause drama, rather than to move the overall story along, and by episode 12 our main characters had the bare minimum of character development but were two THIRDS of the way through the show. And yes, I know that this is just โ€œthe first seasonโ€, but how do you maintain your viewerโ€™s interest when you spend so long doing nothing, and walking round in circles? The answer is: you donโ€™t.
The plot was not choreographed with purpose or focus.
I believe that Tagon and Taelha and Eunsomโ€™s characters have intent, but the structure of their stories leaves much to be desired in really digging into this intent, believing it, and wanting more of it.

Unfortunately, I think a lack of purpose in plot choreography is these writersโ€™ Achilles Heel.
Because in Tree With Deep Roots, which is by the same writing crew, that I am watching right now as well, has a similar issue. Fortunately for it the overall goal of the plot is a lot more clear, and has a clear end in sight, but it still gets hung up sometimes on creating a side plot, a side inconvenience for our main characters, for the sake of drama, and extending the story out, and nothing else. TWDR is of course, the better executed show, but it still suffers from this plot dancing that doesnโ€™t get John Wick to the other side of the Hotel, it just brings him back to the starting place, even if all the bad guys are dead. He now only has to walk to the other side, rather than moving there through well written action.

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This badly focused plot movement is not at all helped by the slow moving actual action. The first four episodes were rich in fighting and deaths, leading to a dreary 6 episodes of talking, and entire episodes of one character, and not another, which is no way to keep your audience hooked with everything going on, the odd death here and there, and then finally having an entire episode dedicated to massacre right near the end of your show/season. Putting all the fighting in such close quarters is as draining as doing nothing but talking for 8 hrs.
To keep your viewers entertained throughout the whole thing, to keep them invested in your show, and wanting to see more of everyone (Not just Magic Horse and Carrot Boy), it would, in my opinion, be better to have a more balanced structure of action and talking, Carrot Boy and the Union.
I am well aware that the Massacre of Episode 15 was supposed to indicate a change in how Tagon behaves and acts and a ruler, and was supposed to be important for character development and therefore plot, but as I have mentioned previously, Tagonโ€™s character execution is so poor, that any good intent by this development is lost.
There are of course, more mistakes in the literal story and plot, things like Olmadae, the Green Fireflies, and the Flower Crown Cult that Saya and the healerโ€™s family were in, not to mention the Disappearance of Magic Horse, the Cameo nature of the Neanthals, the treatment of the Neanthals as plot devices/characters in general, the introduction of two important Warrior Clans (the Momo and the Ago) quite late in the piece and others will be able to point out more. I wasnโ€™t keeping a running track of all of them, but it is exactly the kind of thing I mean when I talk about the structure and pacing issues this show has. These things just add to the lack of cohesiveness in the execution. Whether or not any of these get resolved later on isnโ€™t really the point; the point is that this part of the story was so poorly done.

I have to go now, and Iโ€™ll be back later to talk more about application of genre, how I would write huge swathes of this story differently and more, but I wonโ€™t leave without mentioning the lighting.
I and others have mentioned it and made fun of it numerous times throughout the run of this show, but it is quite honestly appalling. There were entire episodes in the middle third that were set and filmed ALL DURING THE NIGHT. No matter how much I turned up the brightness on my screen I couldnโ€™t see anything. Whoever was the lighting director should be fired from the industry, because I donโ€™t care what year this show was supposed to be set in and if it can be excused by wanting to go for that โ€œnatural lightingโ€ effect, aesthetics are one thing; not being able to see anything is a completely other thing.

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You have said almost everything I wanted to say, but more eloquently. I'll add what other things took me out of the world they were building - the costumes. How they were speaking & dressing did not line up with how developed their civilisation is supposed to be.
How am I supposed to buy a whole plot of the bronze when you're flaunting a Tanya in solitaire diamond drop earrings with fine craftsmanship?

In 18 episodes they were not able to establish any other image of Asdal other than Mean to achieve its residents supremacy.

Even a multi season fantasy epic series must have a conclusion, should achieve something in its first season. We all saw the establishment of kingship coming from episode 1 : Sanung Niruha showed signs of it when he did things on his own without consulting other tribe leaders of union, as the union leader.

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๐Ÿค™๐Ÿค™๐Ÿค™ I just said a lot more down below which probably touches on your other issues, of which I wholeheartedly concur with.
Super ranted out now, so peace out y'all and enjoy my essay(s) โœŒ๏ธ (cc: @bomibeans)

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@sicarius I am starting a petition here to create a separate section on DramaBeans titled Rantings of Sicarius, The K-Drama Queen. That's all. ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

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Signed. ๐Ÿค˜๐Ÿป

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LMAO~!!!!!
It could be a monthly special, do you reckon. hahaha

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You'll starve us, our Queenie. What will we do the rest of the other 3 weeks? It has gotta be fortnightly at least!

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fdajshfkhjal @maybemaknae so what I have to finish a show every two weeks AND rant about it in that time??????!!!!?

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Well it can be a quarterly based show roast, or just 1-2 episode roast every fortnight.... But all eyes are on you. We expect great things, the mantle of caustic wood is upon you. ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

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"or just 1-2 episode roast every fortnight"
isn't this what I do anyway, weekly? lmao

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aside from cutting the show for the last "season", everything makes sense and the story was perfect

if i'd nitpick some executions, yes it had many but story-wise, you can't complain a thing except it being "unfinished"

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Go against my words, and excruciating pain will fall upon you before you perish.โ€

Finally, a prophet who doesn't sugarcoat things.

Tae Maja holds up Tae Apdokโ€™s severed head

Ok, we have "perish", but what about the "excruciating"? Why don't they show the good stuff?

I think it was wrong of Netflix and tvN not to let viewers know what they were in for from the beginning.

OK, save "excruciating" for them. And the lighting guy.

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If you are going to multi season, TVN and Netflix should confirm and tell us this from the beginning. By the way 18 episodes in each season is not enough. They should make all three season at least 30 because there is a lot of more stories and tribes. I am iffy with to watch season 2 because supposedly it is next year in June 2020. That is long time to wait. Netflix should air the season 2 of the other Korean dramas first.

The only thing, I like in this episode is Tanya dress at the end. The new OST at the ending. That is about it. Everything was meh to me.

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I am definitely not a fan of multi-volume work. I remember reading Bourne Identity in one sitting (from after dinner to ~4am) and I had school the next morning. By the end of the book I was ๐Ÿ˜ต.

Same with LOTR 1. But... what happen to the ring?!?! I had known it is a trilogy, but did not fully understand what it means. My first experience with trilogy.

At least for those two I am actually interested in the next installment and can't wait for the next. For Arthdal, I think I am gonna stick with recaps and the ever-so-awesome beanies comments! ๐Ÿ‘ ๐Ÿ˜€

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Technically LOTR is a single story, a single volume. But since it is published and marketed as a trilogy (presumably because the whole thing is daunting although what with an increase in excruciatingly long fantasy novels in the past 20 years this shouldn't be an issue anymore), most people don't know this, don't read it as such, and don't get all three out at the same time.

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Will there be a "Most Disappointing Drama" question in the year-end poll? Asking for MANY friends.

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I'm sooooo.....glad I didn't waste my time.

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It wins the award for "Most to Trash" in a drama this year in my book. While that part was fun, as was laughing during the drama when I wasn't supposed to, it really wasn't worth my time.

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This will win awards for โ€œTop Disappointing Drama of the Yearโ€.
Magic Lord Horse should win award too. Because, Magic Lord Horse know what is going and put everyone in their place especially Carrot Boy. Too bad, he did not put Saya in his place.

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That might be easy for you guys to award but I'll be fighting five dramas in the back of Denny's at 5am with a Molotov Cocktail, a grubby jester hat and the thigh bone of Magic Horse.

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What an image!

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@sicarius,
Please leave Magic Horse's thigh bone where it belongs, and use the jawbone of an ass instead. Helper needs that leg.

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I nominate - Abyss, Vagabond, Trashdal, The Crowned Clown, Melt Me, My Absolute Boyfriend, Radiant, Watcher, & CWPFN.... For now. I think this list can be extended.

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Thank you @lollypip for sticking with this one. I will never trust Netflix again after this bait and switch. What should have happened by the last third of the drama still hasn't happened. While I did enjoy Song Joong Ki's performance(s), I might not want to waste another 27 hours of my life waiting to see what happens, since what happens might be another cliff hanger after nothing really happens. Fool me once...

I have so many unanswered questions. Will Eunseom and Karika get together (yes, this is my ship)? Will Magic Horse realize that Doti is the last true hope for Iark and come to her rescue? Will Moo Baek finally figure out what's happening and choose to serve a less brutal regime? Will Moo Baek and Chae Eun get together (small second ship)? Will Nunbyeol finally get to take vengeance and reunite with her Neanthal/vampire tribe? Will Yangcha realize that Nunbyeol is more his type of woman? I may never know.

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I never trusted Netflix and Kdramas to begin with, so far haven't been disappointed.

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Well, I am gonna wait for second season supposedly of some Korean dramas in Netflix to see if it is not worth it. However, I am soo happy that Peaky Blinders Season 5 is next week. Hubby and I are soo ready...

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We're watching Hollyoaks...

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Hey, I low-key shipped Moobaek with Nunbyeol back when they sparred for a bit with swords (and before he tried to kill her). I can also see it with Chaeun, though he's like 30 years her senior. Still looking young and fabulous though, so we can start writing fanfic. It's a fanfic writer's dream, this drama. XD

Judging by the cartoon epilogue (preview? grrrrr), I guess that the Daekan will take Eunseom back to Arthdal by mistake after The Battle, which leaves Saya with Karika. That is NOT a ship I support, so my non-existent willingness to endure another season of this became even more non-existent.

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No no no! No to Say and Karika. I think Karika might be able to dispatch him quickly.

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*Saya

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Hell no to Saya & Karika. The only two people he can end up with now is me *cough* or Tanya.
.....
And maaaaaaybe Taealha if I want to shit ship. Hey, might as well go full Oedipus with the whole Greek tragedy setup. Besides, she does seem to be quite handsy with him.

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I ship Tanya with Saya too! Always have. I thought she could influence him for the better, but she is just turning into a milder version of him.

By the way, did anyone catch the connection between Tanyaโ€™s thoughts about stars and the term โ€œsubjectโ€? Maybe the subtitles were off. I think it usually translates as โ€œthe people.โ€ I also noticed that Tanya cursed them as โ€œTanya of Arthdalโ€, claiming them for herself. But that backfired big time. Watching and waiting for too long only means giving in to the enemy, and Tanya has effectively placed Tagon in the position of king and undisputed authority.

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Tanya's plan is to "nice" them into liking her. I wish she was being kind as a way of honoring her upbringing, but no, it's a manipulation to gain power.

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@wishfultoki, @christina41218 Kaleidoscopic,

I was confused by Tanya's coining of "subject," and did not understand what she meant when she was talking about the stars to the little waifs. It sounded like a non-sequitur to me, or an iffy translation. Please enlighten me. I'm confused.

I agree with you about the potential for Tanya to exert a positive influence on Saya. Perhaps one of the cosmic reasons for Eunseom's arrival with Asa Hon in Iark was for him to convey those "dreams" of Tanya and a happy, flower-filled life in the sunlight to his imprisoned brother, who really needs her benevolent influence to counter his horrible upbringing. Although Eunseom has loved her since they were kids together, in the final episode we could hear him thinking to her that he may have another mission that takes precedence over their becoming an item. I think that that could be Eunseom's destiny talking, and his letting go of her to follow her own destiny, too. I could imagine him letting her go, whereas Saya would be unable to do so.

Eunseom helped Tanya with her training (by mirroring the dance steps to her) to become Great Mother -- but maybe she has always been destined for Saya.

I have another theory: Tanya now has two identical necklaces. When the three of them meet, I suspect that Tanya will present Eunseom and Saya with each other's necklaces. They will then truly mirror each other with what look like green jade rings, a symbol of infinity that has no beginning and no end. I suspect that Saya commissioned an artisan to make the necklace he gave Tanya, but would be tickled to bits if he made it himself. That would be very symbolic.

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@wishfultoki,
Yes! I noticed she no longer referred to herself as Wahan Tanya, but as Tanya of Arthdal.

Ah, so was there some kind of wordplay, or perhaps a homonym, involved in that spiel about stars?

I agree with you about Tanya's strategic blunder. On the other hand, I cannot fault her too much, seeing as he has a propensity to kill at the drop of a hat.

My sense at this point is that Tagon and Taealha are both so damaged that they are beyond redemption, and may end up killing each other. Saya is messed up, too, but I'd rather have him get a second chance at redemption with Tanya and the benign influence of his long-lost brother.

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@ndlessjoie mugyuljoie, September 26, 2019 at 9:10 PM

Yes! Tanya is trying to buy the waifs' love -- which is exactly what Tagon used to do. I agree with you, Tanya continues to be negatively influenced by the Arthdalian mindset. She has become corrupted by hunger for power. It is sad. In this respect, she's badly in need of a wake-up call from the noble Eunseom, who has himself resorted to making a "prophecy" that got another person killed. Maybe he's got a little Saya in him. *cries*

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@pakalanapikake the star spiel she gave to the little children was just to encourage them, saying that they can all become stars up there in the sky, something that is so unattainable to us as humans. Also, by that comparison, everyone, the rich & the poor, will become stars who stand next to each other then, regardless of stature. So it was just to emphasize that they can become whatever they want even if it feels impossible, regardless of their status on the social scale. About the naming - the Aniartz characters used to represent the word "Star", consists of two letters "Seong" & "Chin. So she took one of the letters, Seong, and added Baek in front of it. Baek means hundred. So to signify that they will be as numerous as the stars, & can also be bigger than whatever their current situation is, she named them "Baek Seong", which not only stands for 100 Stars, but also can be translated into "Subjects" in English now.

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Gosh thanks @christina41218 for that explanation about stars! I knew there was some wordplay involved but the meaning was lost on me. When Tanya asked about the characters I thought she was looking for a name for the country to supplant the "Union", as requested by Tagon. I expected her to call the country "Gojoseon" somehow LOL. Instead she coined a term for the people.

What bothered me is that the English term "subjects" has a connotation of being under an authority, so it didn't seem like a very auspicious scene for the people. They've gone from free members of tribeS willingly joined in a Union, to subjects of a king - and without even knowing it, they are celebrating their loss of freedom, to put it harshly. I suppose being "the hundreds of stars" is a kinder meaning of the word. Except Tanya also has the will to control now: "you will be my subjects".

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@pakalanapikake Tagon had actually asked Tanya for the name early on, calling it a "name that would put them under my control". Which Tanya did, except she flipped one little thing & spelled them to be subservient to her. The people don't know the true meaning of the word, or even the meaning of a King, and so they are seen celebrating, thinking that this means something better for them. All this is also why I don't think the Eunseom & Tanya can come to fruition anymore. The way they have been calling out for each other, it is more that both of them represent something that they have lost/want to rectify, and are actually wishing for that. In Tanya's case, Eunseom represents the time when she was completely innocent & "good". So calling out for him is like reminding herself that she is still good and can still put back everything to the way it used to be, closing her eyes to what she is becoming/has become. While for Eunseom, going back to Tanya means that he will be able to save the Wahan people & rid himself of this huge guilt that he has carried with him ever since they were enslaved, even more so since Eunseom had always been called cursed. He wants to prove to himself that he is not that person. Eunseom & Tanya have grown from what they used to be. Eunseom is turning into a leader who actually carries responsibility on his shoulders and is not some boy running around playing games anymore. Tanya is turning into a ruler, slowly amassing her power with manipulative cunningness. While I don't think this is a bad thing, after all, the way you use that power shows whether you are a good ruler or not, and it also gives the character more dimension than just being a plain flat goody two shoes, she is no longer the pure and untainted girl she used to be. And I don't think Eunseom will be able to digest that, because he essentially stands against the formation of a monarchy, while Tanya stands for. Their meeting is bound to be one of disappointment, where they realize that both of them have changed too much to be in a relationship anymore. Here's to hoping they at least remain friends. The reason why I would like to see Saya with Tanya is because I think both of them can bring each other to a good middle ground, where neither of them are too evil or too good, but have the right balance of compassion and ruthlessness, something that is needed when you have to rule a whole nation.

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@christina41218 kaleidoscopic September 29, 2019 at 8:35 AM โ€“ and โ€“ September 29, 2019 at 10:39 AM โ€“ cc: @wishfultoki, @ndlessjoie mugyuljoie

Part 1 of 2

Thank you for spelling out that sequence of events in Tanya's casting of the naming spell for the "Baek Seong / hundred stars / subjects" โ€“ and binding them to herself instead of Tagon. Daebak! Manseh!

And thanks for clarifying Tanya's talk about stars to the little kids in the gemstone polishing workshop. My translator's sixth sense was tingling at the possibility that word play was involved. What a great double meaning Writer-nim turned out to have used. That was truly masterful!

Duh! Baek = 100, as in [THE KING'S DAUGHTER,] SU BAEK HYANG = "Centennial Fragrance," a mythical tree whose blooming at 100-year intervals heralds times of peace, prosperity, and healing in Baekje.

Now that I think of it, baek also means white, with maybe a sly wink at White Peak Mountain?

You know, it's really ironic that Tanya is telling the children that people become stars when they die โ€“ which means they are essentially equal in the truly cosmic scheme of things, whereas on earth, they are "subject" to hierarchies of various kinds, and thus unequal.

I, too, have had the sinking feeling that Eunseom and Tanya have both changed too much to get back together. You can't go home again. In a way, it reminds me of the title of the Arthur C. Clarke novel, Childhood's End. Their younger, naive selves have been left behind as their minds and wills have evolved and matured. As you point out, neither of them are the goody two-shoes they used to be. The world they live in has also been evolving, and they have to keep up with the times. What worked in the past, under the simpler conditions of a more innocent time and place back in Iark, no longer cuts the mustard.

I agree that Tanya and Saya are much better suited to balancing each other out.

Now that I think of it, I wonder what the story was with Tanya's Doppelgรคnger. Who was she? Did Tanya herself have a long-lost twin? Why exactly did Taealha kill her โ€“ merely to spite Saya? Or was there something more to it? I'm not sure what's going on here, but it could be significant.

Sheesh, I just got another zing out of the blue. Instead of Saya and Tanya teaming up, maybe the endgame is that the brothers will share the leadership of Arthdal, with Tanya as priestess working with both of them. Suddenly the whole Castor and Pollux myth comes to mind.

- Continued -

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@christina41218 kaleidoscopic September 29, 2019 at 8:35 AM โ€“ and โ€“ September 29, 2019 at 10:39 AM โ€“ cc: @wishfultoki, @ndlessjoie mugyuljoie

Part 2 of 2

@Toki, re: "subject"

Per Merriam-Webster, the word literally derives from the Latin for

past participle of subicere to subject, literally, to throw under, from sub- + jacere to throw โ€” more at jet

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/subject

Why does this make me think of the phrase "to throw someone under the bus"?! Seriously though, it's only a small hop from "subjugate" to "subject."

You bring up a great point about the inability of the people of Arthdal to comprehend that they are losing their freedom. Talk about a bunch of boiled frogs. Cue up Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi."

This gambit is classic Tanya. It is just like her earlier decree that people's feet were to be cut off. She issued it in such a way that the victims not only anticipated the punishment with joy, but thanked her profusely for the blessed privilege of being maimed โ€“ rather than being torn limb from limb.

-30-

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Darn it @pakalanapikake you're making me almost want this to continue to see what happens.

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I have my doubts about the intellectual acumen of the people of Arthdal actually. The only ones we've seen up close who are not buying everything that Tagon and Tanya feed them (and are still alive) are Chae Eun and her melee of foreign looking merchants. Also, the White Mountain Hearts female leader looked miffed that Saya ordered reliefs of Tagon's deeds inscribed in the shrine before Asa Sin's. If Eunseom ever makes it to Arthdal I think he could rally those two groups to his rebel cause.

There is obviously a very big rift betwen Eunseom and Tanya's aims now: Eunseom wants to destroy Arthdal and Tanya wants to rule it. I still don't see how the bell, sword and mirror prophecy fits into this so I'll depend on you @pakalanapikake to keep us posted if the second season is ever made.

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Did you just abandon the Tanya x Yangcha ship? Shame on you!!! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

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I really think he belongs with Nunbyeol. That way he doesn't have to sacrifice himself to save Tanya. She's on her own. Good luck with that Tanya.

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What about Rottib and that whole plan to save the Neanthal race
(by walking away and disappearing, ok Iโ€™m still bitter)?

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Nunbyeol wasn't interested then. Maybe she is now? I still like Nunbyeol with the masked man.

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@wishfultoki, @sicarius, @ndlessjoie mugyuljoie,

I think that now that Nunbyeol knows the truth about herself, she'll at the very least want to meet up with the Neantal oppas to find out about her kind. The fact that they respected her self-determination and wishes is a huge selling point in their favor. They may know how to help her reconnect her meridians or whatever. And since she has a Saram sister who has been Neantal-friendly since she was a kid, so much the better. They could double date as they go on walkabout. LOL!

As for Yangcha, he may end up as Tanya's bodyguard for the rest of his days as penance for what he did to the Wahan. But I think that she's really intended to save Saya from himself.

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Scandalous! @pakalanapikake Are you suggesting a Nunbyeol-Rottib and Chaeeun-Stoic Older Neantal double date? And I thought Moobaek was too old for her LOL ;)

AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO SHIPS EUNSEOM WITH CHAE EUN LOL. She's kind hearted and open-minded, plus she knows Arthdal well. She'd be a wise companion and help Eunseom stay true to his nature. She gave him lipstick and helped nurse him, which should seal the deal.

Yes to Saya-Tanya ship. As @ndlessjoie once said, they are perfect for each other now. Yangcha seems doomed to atone for his sins by making the ultimate sacrifice.

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@wishfultoki September 29, 2019 at 10:22 AM

Scandalous! @pakalanapikake Are you suggesting a Nunbyeol-Rottib and Chaeeun-Stoic Older Neantal double date? And I thought Moobaek was too old for her LOL ;)

AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO SHIPS EUNSEOM WITH CHAE EUN LOL.

LMAO at Arthdal "dating scandals"!

Roddib is about 10 years older than the twins, so he's nowhere near as old as Moobaek. I'm not sure how much older Stoic Older Neantal Oppa is than Roddib. Is he the other young Neantal that Asa Hon and Ragaz rescued at the time of Tagon's attack? Or is he another person who was not a member of their family? (Meaning that Roddib's "brother" may have gotten killed in the interim.) If he's not the brother, then he could be around Moobaek's vintage.

As for Eunseom and Chaeeun, you do make a good case for them pairing off. She was kind to him and helped him disguise himself. I just haven't gotten the sense that she made a huge impression on him, but that may be because Tanya is on his mind.

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Chae Eun and Eunseom are a good pair, but I don't think she can protect him the way Karika can. He needs someone to keep him from being captured constantly.

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HA! Good point @ndlessjoie.

Though Chaeeun could probably provide him with Neanthal bodyguards. ;)

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I like that new ship, I'm in!

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Yay!

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omg Moo Baek and Chae Eun are one of my crack ships too! can't believe i'm not the only one

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You know I could easily ship anyone in this show as long as the writing was good and I wasn't sitting round wondering if the Daekan are like 20 years older than everyone (cos they uh... Are)

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@ndlessjoie mygyuljoie,
Ah, we're pondering many of the same hoped-for resolutions. I'm especially on tenterhooks about Yangcha. What the heck is his deal. All we know is that he is red-blooded, so is not an Igutu. But why the gag order? Methinks Tagon may not have been able to bear killing him when he saw the purple blood, and has silenced him but allowed him to live, if you catch my drift. Or maybe it has something to do with his mind-reading ability. So many questions...

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Song Joong-ki was above it all with his portrayal of separated twins Eunseom and Saya

Sigh. What other kind of twins is there in kdramaland, besides "separated"?

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Season 2 Love Geometry question:

Who should Eunsom end up with:

1: Tanya
2: Karika (Momo girl)
3: Miroosol (Ago / Myo girl)
4: Nunbyeol
5: Magic Horse
6: Song Hye-Kyo
7: Saya
8: Nobody

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9: 1 thru 7 (hey, he's a god now)

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2 of course.

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I cracked up way harder than I should have when I reached 6 ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

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10: Chae Eun
11: Ipsaeng
12: The Bear

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Moo Baek gets Chae Eun in my edition.

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I may have snort laughed when I got to #12.

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Forever Team Magic Horse(TM).

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13. The Neanthals
14. Aramun Haesulla

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5 + 2 + (7 + 1).

I need to see Eunseom be reunited with Helper and finally meet Saya to give his blessing to bro and Tanya. Eunseom himself should end up with Xabara Karika and her cute little son. Here's hoping Helper hits it off with her steed.

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So we had k-dramas with bad ending, incomprehensible ending, head-scratching ending, tear-inducing ending, bittersweet ending, ambiguous ending, happy ending, sad ending, all-k-tropes-smashed-in-last-10-minutes ending, beautiful ending, ugly ending, kiss-and-hug-at-least ending, WTF! ending... but k-drama with NO ENDING?!?!?!?! ๐Ÿคฆโ€โ™€๏ธ

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Joongki is awesome in portraying those two characters. I hope he will get a best actor award.

And let's not forget how hot Jang Dong Gun is.

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I have a LOT to say about the way this episode ended.

On a positive note though, two things need to be said:

- the acting was fantastic, no weak links in this Union!

- I REALLY appreciated that the background score/music stuck to instrumentals and didn't resort to noisy anachronistic kpop songs to soundtrack pivotal moments (a common thing in sageuks, and annoyingly distracting - I haven't forgotten Moon Lovers for taking it to its worst extent).

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oh lord Moon Lovers OST were terrible (not the songs but the placing of the songs in the drama)

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do not get me started on the choices of music for that drama, barring Will Be Back by Im Sun-Hye, most of the vocal tracks were just so jarring in-episode.

Arthdal, even at its worst, has never been THAT bad on the production side.

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Personally, I think the biggest problem for me when watching this show was that I expected the end to be episode 18. Like LollyPip mentioned, it was an unpleasant shock and felt like a trick. Not only that, it tainted my view of the earlier episodes.

I knew the ending of the show needed to reunite Eunseom, Saya and Tanya. I knew they needed to 'defeat'/'stop' Tagon and change Arthdal. So with this in mind, I would watch an episode and wonder "he's still a slave?" "She's still a slave" "He got captured again?" "She's only now starting to understand her power"... and those thoughts/frustrations were because I thought the show was ending at 18.

Episode 12 - Tanya finally gets some power. Unconsciously, my brain would be like "okay, she needs to use and gain power from Tagon in 6 more episodes. Doesn't feel like enough time"

Episode 14 - Eunseom is betrayed again and is about to be captured again. My brain: "Seriously, when is he going rise up and become a leader like they've been foreshadowing? Also, shouldn't you be reunited with Tanya by now or at least know of Saya's existence???"

Episode 15 - Tanya seems to be losing power or at least, control over the situation. My brain: "Girl, come on, you can do it. you have to hurry it up. Only 3 more episodes..."

Episode 16 - Eunseom is still a captive. Again, my brain would be like "Okay, there are TWO MORE EPISODES, how is he going to overtake Arthdal, find and 'save' Tanya and Wahan and meet Saya!??"

If I had known early on that this show was going to be 50 or more episodes, it would have changed my viewing experience of the show. "Oh, you're captured again. okay, that's fine. You're a slow learner. There's still like 40 more episodes." "Okay, she's starting to get power and winning over some allies. the next 40 episodes will be interesting". These 18 episodes were just set up and that bothered me because I didn't know there was more.

Kingdom is a Netflix South Korean show. I knew that the first season would be basically all set up. It didn't bother me because I knew from the beginning that it would be multiple seasons. (I wonder if SJK regrets turning down the role)

I also hope season 2 is already filmed. If I have to wait years for the stars to align for the cast to get back together (all star cast must be in demand) or if some people get recast (even the minor characters, I want them to be the same), I'm going to be disappointed. They should have released all the episodes at once, especially for a complex story like this.

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@lilramenlover,
Amen and amen! You must be reading my mind. That is exactly how my viewing experience has played out, and a big reason for my crankiness in earlier comments.

When I watched JUMONG in preparation for ARTHDAL CHRONICLES, I expected there to be setbacks for various characters, and time spent on many and various subplots. 81 episodes seemed like a lot, but given the scope and time span of the story over generations, it really wasn't excessive since it was laying the groundwork for the establishment of Goguryeo as an offshoot of Buyeo, which was an earlier successor to Gojoseon. Goguryeo, in turn, gave rise to Baekje in the course of the drama. JUMONG literally covered a tremendous amount of ground, including Buyeo's and Goguryeo's arms race to develop superior steel weapons with which to fight the Han overlords (Chinese) as well as each other.

The thing is, for me, JUMONG (and its historical follow-up, KINGDOM OF THE WINDS) was utterly cracktastic. It had me glued to my screen. It featured epic battles, loads of bromance, Bae Soo-bin looking every bit as attractive as Saya, and a metallurgy arc that showed people actually working in the forges.

Prior to ARTHDAL, I also watched THE STORY OF THE FIRST KING'S FOUR GODS. It starts out in pre-Gojoseon during the time of Hwanung and Dangun, and later takes up in Goguryeo days. It likewise has a significant ironworking arc, and a baneful comet putting the whammy on various characters, some of whom reincarnate from the original time line. It has a strong fantasy element, and ran for 24 episodes. The ending was messy because leading man Bae Yong-jun was seriously injured on set during the final episodes -- but it could not be helped.

All of these dramas drew me in and kept me entranced as they unfolded. And they had huge casts of side characters who were memorable and had their own stories that played out. Yes, there was some wheel-spinning, but it was bearable. Overall, they were truly epic, and I loved them. In comparison to these older (2006-2009) dramas, ARTHDAL came up short.

I don't watch dramas in a vacuum. Every show I watch, for better or for worse, is gauged against all the other Kdramas and Kmovies I've already seen. And some of those shows, despite their ancient handphones, dated hairstyles and clothing, and less-advanced CGI and cinematography, beat more recent shows all hollow because the writing and directing are superior, or the implementation is done more deftly.

I also watched KINGDOM, and will have to rewatch the first season before the second premieres. It's been too long, and I've forgotten it. But I am looking forward to it with bells on.

It doesn't sound as if ARTHDAL 2 has been filmed, so that is worrisome. I hope they can get the cast back together, too.

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@pakalanapikake Totally agree on how JUMONG and KINGDOM OF THE WINDS, even if set in a time where historical records are few and therefore writers rely a lot on fantasy, still stressed developments like metal work and epic battles with neighboring powers to build a nation. Apparently someone in Mihol's workshop has produced a steel sword already, before the invention of iron! Brain freeze.

Arthdal exists in a vacuum; we don't even know if the ancient Chinese civilizations were already around or not. It's as @sicarius said: ARTHDAL should have gone the all-fantasy route. That way it wouldn't look like a hollowed out or cheap version of prehistory.

Case in point: Tanya's jewelry. I am about to finish KING'S DAUGHTER SOO BAEK HYANG and people wear jade ornaments and exchange fine ceramics. There is also an important jade trade arc in the dealings between Baekje and Gaya, which keeps the show grounded and provides a nice contrast to war-hungry Gugoryeo. It's not anachronistic like Tanya's glittering diamond earrings.

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@wishfultoki,

Re: Brain freeze from steel produced in bronze forge, just in case you want to thaw geek out.

When I heard Tanya's dad mention smelting a black ore [magnetite] in the furnace, I did a little research on primitive iron-smelting technology, and learned about the bloomery process. It normally yields wrought iron, but sometimes produces steel when furnace conditions and the ore are just right (even without hot-burning coal or coke), as happened in a rustic video series I came across. Scroll down my fan wall to get to the last of the 4 (posted in reverse order), or use the permalink. There are 2 other unrelated videos on bloomery iron below them. They're fascinating. I've added comments on ARTHDAL, too.

Permalink:
http://www.dramabeans.com/members/pakalanapikake/activity/874845/

Look for time/date stamp:
September 13, 2019 at 8:38 PM

tagged:
ARTHDAL CHRONICLES, Ep. 14

Final thoughts and recap of the bloomery iron smelt
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGAzDBc1kQc

They got carried away and made high-carbon steel instead of wrought iron!
----

THE KING'S DAUGHTER, SOO BAEK HYANG takes place from late in the reign of King Gaero (455โ€“475 AD) to the accession of King Sejong the Holy [formerly Myongnong Seja] in 501 AD, by which time iron and steel weapons had supplanted bronze ones.

Like you, I appreciated the jade cutting and trading arc, which showcased breath-taking mountain scenery as various characters hiked between Gaya and Baekje.

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@pakalanapikake My brain has melted softly and I'm off to watch. Thanks for the links!

So it was Tanya's dad who forged the steel sword? I missed that, probably because it was too dark.

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I just want to stop by and say: the actress who plays Miroosol looks like Ha Ji-won... :)

Thank you @lollypip for the recap... :)

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Yes!

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All right, what follows was typed up in a fit of frustration during a night of insomnia. It is half in jest, half in earnest. .

Short review: Most anticipated drama of the year, biggest disappointment.

Long review: Initially, I followed my 4-episode rule and almost dropped it, but then I enjoyed Part 2 so I kept watching. The hiatus didnโ€™t do it any favours but I wanted to see how it ended... except it didnโ€™t. I wanted the twins to reunite and together defeat Tagon. Was that so difficult to achieve in 18 episodes? No. Less stalling and they could have done it, easily.

It turns out I was right to hone in on the suspicious-sounding title of Part 3 before: The Prelude to All Legends. Itโ€™s as if we watched a very long preview of The Horse and His Carrot Boy, an affectionate but inaccurate title for anything except episode 2. At least Carrot Boy had come into his own by the end of the drama, and I was relieved that his character remained consistently good in a backstabbing depressing world. But he was never the main character. There were supposed to be four main characters, but the women ended up being secondary to Tagon, and Eunseom was just the polar opposite of the real centre of the story: Tagon. I just looked at the posters again. Whoโ€™s in the middle? Tagon. Who increasingly got more lines, flashbacks, character development and screen time? Tagon. Eunseom languished in the mines for 6 episodes while Tagon was plotting his rise to power in Arthdal.

So, if I were to watch this drama again (which nothing can make me do), it would be with Tagon as the main character: A mixed-breed, lonely and conflicted hero with a toxic girlfriend, who went on to become the first king in ancient Korea. Epic. Thus, the ending is logical and satisfactory. It canโ€™t be a completely happy ending because realistically there are always people who will want to steal the throne from him. But never fear, he has a plan: start a war of conquest to unite the people and make them forget their local squabbles. Things are looking up for Arthdal so we end there.

Any further seasons can be in cartoon spin-off format, thank you very much. *endosolistrates the drama while sipping a glass of Duct Tape*

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Long? Review?
Also even if I'd watched this drama WITH Tagon as the main character in mind I still wouldn't have found it logical or satisfactory.

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Well, itโ€™s not long compared to your (most excellent) multi-part review, but Iโ€™m ranted our and have nothing more to add. Itโ€™s just all wrong on so many levels, not the least that this is supposed to be glorious prehistory of Korea and Gojoseonโ€™s capital ASEUDAL: A country founded on genocide, patricide, deicide, slavery, betrayal, manipulation, war and conquest. If I were Korean Iโ€™d hate it. JUMONG also Shows the establishment of a country (Goguryeo) but the treatment was entirely different. Even the villains acted as humans. It not a depressing world where you couldnโ€™t trust anybody (Mo Pal Mo, the smith who wrought iron swords and armour, was a shining example of loyalty). The world of Arthdal is too sick and depressing to be anything but a country that must be destroyed and built anew. And I have no intention of continuing to watch and hope that happens.

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Hehe I'm just teasing. I happened to see this as soon as I posted the final part of my idiotically long comment and had to giggle.

"It's just all wrong on so many levels"- yeahp.
Let's go on holiday Toki. In think We deserve to drink cocktails on a beach somewhere after this.

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@wishfultoki,

Too late I twigged to The Prelude to All Legends as a hint that everything we had seen so far, and were likely to see in the remainder of Part 3, was merely the set up for the main plot -- which we weren't going to see at all. I felt like one of the Martians in MARS ATTACKS when exposed to the resonant frequency of "Indian Love Call." My head (figuratively) exploded.

As I've been reading through the comments in this summation recap, it suddenly hit me that Tagon and Taealha are antiheroes or something. But they haven't been portrayed sympathetically the way crusading Prosecutor Jang Do-han was in LOOKOUT, so I haven't been persuaded to empathize with either of them. I've been appalled by their cruelty, violence, and unquenchable thirst for power. Their vulnerability was either revealed too late after they'd already done heinous things, or it simply didn't register in all the hubbub.

Now that you point out the central placement of Tagon's image in the poster, that does indeed indicate that he is the focus of the story. Saya is completely missing, which is odd, since he is Tagon's adopted son. He may have been left out to avoid spoiling his character arc.

However, the images of Tanya and Taealha are bigger than Tagon's, which lends credence to the old saw that behind every great man there is a great woman (or two). But neither of them are looking at him, although Tanya is facing his back. Taealha has her back to him. It reminds me of the poster for THE KING IN LOVE, with San's back to Seja and her looking away from him, and Wang Rin nowhere in sight.

Maybe there's a reason why Eunseom's image, which is also in the center, is so small. It could be a matter of perspective, with the younger Igutu actually standing very far in front of Tagon, perhaps in a position of spiritual advancement -- as indicated by the sunny nimbus behind him. (Or just artistic backlighting so we can see him against Tagon's dark clothing. Hint, hint, Lighting Dept.) He's also way ahead of fake seers Asa Ron and Tagon's official wife, Asa Mot.

In the poster's lower corners are Tagon's second-in-command, Moobaek, and his late half-brother, Dan-byeok. Behind them, flanking the seers, are Taealha's father, Hae Mi-hol, and Tagon's father Sanung (both murdered by their offspring). Behind them are Eunseom's father, Ragaz, and Carrot Boy's erstwhile antifan, Wahan Dal-sae.

Now that I know something about the characters and their arcs, the poster speaks volumes.

A look at the other four character posters is also instructive. Eunseom and Tanya are shown in their ceremonial face paint and flower crowns amidst lush vegtation, while Tagon broods in solitude with his sword on his impressive -- and totally isolating -- Bear Throne. Taealha stands in a similarly gloomy room with massive stone walls.

*endosolistrates the drama while sipping a glass of Duct Tape* -- ROFLMAO!

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@pakalanapikake It's very weird. Tagon and Taelha haven't been portrayed sympathetically but then they have these long monologues or conversations where it seems we are expected to sympathise with them? They just seem deluded more than anything.

All in all I think the writers have instilled an "ends justify the means" spirit into the drama which our characters constantly chant: "I wanted to survive", "I need power to save myself". This makes it, overall, a morally ambiguous and dark drama, which personally I find hard to digest. Other viewers might relish the ambiguity, but I like writers to be clear about who are the good, bad and grey characters.

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@wishfultoki,
You've hit the nail on the head. The Arthdal OTP are so Machiavellian I want to run away screaming. And as you correctly point out, they are delusional, especially Tagon. I cannot get behind either of them because of the heinous things they've done.

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@pakalanapikake The only interesting thing for a Season 2 is that the Arthdal OTP are no longer one team and Taelha is now actively plotting against him. I think meeting with Asa Sakan meant she plans to rally the Asa cla, Hae tribe and the disgruntled remnants of other tribes to topple Tagon from his throne. Tagon is surrounded by people, but he is in fact, alone. Such is the fate of tyrants.

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@wishfultoki October 1, 2019 at 8:26 AM

If season 2 does materialize, I'm expecting mutually-assured destruction of the erstwhile Arthdal OTP -- assuming that Saya doesn't bump both of them off first, which would be poetic justice. Except that their both being dispatched by an angry Neantal would be even more poetically just. At this point, I doubt that Nunbyeol is strong enough to beat Tagon even if he is "only" an Igutu. He was a soldier for 20 years or longer, so he knows how to fight dirty... I could see Nunbyeol and the Neantal dudes taking out Tagon, and Saya dispatching Taealha with poison, as there's no way he could beat her in hand-to-hand combat. Unless that's what he wants the Arthdal Overlords to think.

Tagon is finding himself in Wang So territory now that he's ensconced himself on that cave bear throne. (Tip of the hat to MOON LOVERS.) Kingship is a very isolated and isolating profession.

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I don't understand why they didn't say since the beginning that there will be 3 seasons or 2 seasons. We wouldn't have watched this drama and overall the 3rd part the same, if we knew that the story won't end. I watched the 3rd thinking it will be the end, but I don't think I will watch other seasons because I don't like the story, the editing, the characters, the costumes, the different sets, etc.

For this kind of story, I think to draw a map is the minimum to do : to show where the tribes live, the geography (moutains, sea, forest, etc.), the distances, etc. Like that, even if they didn't mention some tribes at the beginning, we could already know their existence.

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+1
Initially the confusion was because they announced three seasons which then turned out to be three parts. The idea of multiple seasons was mentioned over a year ago and then never brought up again.

A map would have been so helpful! I donโ€™t understand that decision to keep us ignorant about the lands and peopleโ€™s of Arth, because Iโ€™m positive I saw a map in the Special Episode that aired in July. It would have saved us some climactic whiplash, going from snow-capped mountains to rainforests in 5 minutes.

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For the characters, they never could tell their story continuously. Saya was missing during all the 1rst part, then Eunseom was doing nothing in the 2nd part, Saya suddenly became Tagon's puppy in the 3rd, etc.
For the actors, honestly I didn't find it was their best role. For example, the characters and the style of Saya and Eunseom are so different, so I don't think SJK did a great job. There was no subtlety to act twins. He could have added some similarities in the characters like gestures. And until now, he never had to act the both characters in the same scene. Yeo Jin Go was so better in The Crowned Clown by acting the King, the Clown, the Clown playing the King, we could see the difference but in the same time it was very subtil.

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All of them somehow ended up becoming manipulative. Is this the lesson the drama wants to teach its viewers, that sometimes it's better to manipulate people if that's how you get things done, a means to an end, nothing more? Tanya manipulates the gp to think she was being merciful to the traitors, and Eunseom manipulated the tae tribe to kill their leader so he can ascend as inaishingi. Idk.. I don't like the tae leader
either but it kinda leaves a bad taste in my mouth?

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The fact that they introduced the inaishingi hero towards the end of the drama (ep 14/13?) already rings alarm bells. The drama was setting itself so that even if the wahans were freed, Eunseom needed to attack tagon for other reasons- him becoming the ruthless conqueror- and this arc happened towards the last few ep. So I already knew the drama would be open-ended. It's impossible for them to wrap it up through ep 17-18.

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Like I still can't get over this because there was no indications in former episodes that eunsom became corrupted even after being dragged all over the tribes. He stayed honest and true. So his decision to do that to tae tribe and leader was a 180deg. turn of his character. It was like watching Jon snow manipulating the wildlings to kill their king, which he never did because he had ~honor~, as a rough analogy. And all this time I thought Eunseom was the Jon snow of arthdal. lol.

Will still watch the second season though if it pushes through.

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@phonytales theimprintonmynose,

Yes! I was thrown for a loop when I realized that Eunseom had pulled a fast one on the Tae clan chief. Say it isn't so!

I haven't seen GAME OF THRONES, but I can say that I am reminded of Boromir's betrayal in Lord of the Rings. He ultimately redeemed himself, but that's not the kind of character arc I want for Eunseom. Here's hoping his Mom appears to him in a dream and reads him the riot act. Or maybe this distressing development is exactly what he needs to undergo in order to understand Tanya when the finally catch up with each other.

In a way, I think these spiritual "growing pains" on the part of individual characters are allegories pointing to the evolution of human consciousness and society over long stretches of time.

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@phonytales theimprintonmynose,
I've been bothered by the spiritual corruption that nearly all the Wahans (aside from Doti) have been exhibiting. And now even Eunseom has become a manipulator. The Wahan are no longer living in harmony with nature. They have literally been dragged out of their Garden of Eden, and have eaten of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Some even seem to be enjoying it.

The murder of the Tae clan chief doesn't sit well with me, either. On the other hand, it's kill or be killed, and Eunseom has come perilously close to dying too many times. He cannot go on being a holy fool, or can he? In a way, he has to grow up and leave his naivete behind because it no longer serves him well. Being too trusting has nearly gotten himself killed. But he shouldn't go to the opposite extreme and become a paranoid wreck who distrusts everyone and their motivations the way so many of the bigwigs in Arthdal have done.

It just occurred to me that Helper could be viewed as Eunseom's totem animal, his "horse sense," if you will. Horses are very flighty and skittish. While he's got strong situational awareness, perhaps thanks to his Neantal heritage, Carrot Boy doesn't necessarily use his intellect the way his brother does. He's more instinctive. Instead of relying on brute physical strength and endurance to survive, he needs to use his mind, thoughts, and speech to secure his own safety, and that of those he cares for. Perhaps that is why we haven't seen Helper for so long. Eunseom needs to reclaim / cultivate his innate gifts, and develop a more strategic outlook. He has to do that while somehow continuing to be a basically righteous and honorable human being.

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Oh you thought I was finished? I havenโ€™t finished. Round two, letโ€™s go!

When this show started, most of the discussion on recaps and the fanwall were based around the historical accuracy of it, because we had been told it was set in the beginnings of Gojoseon Korea, which in legend was founded in 2333 BC. Bronze Age Korea. Thatโ€™s not really something that has, from my knowledge, ever been attempted in a kdrama before and it was originally one of the things that drew me to it.
The problem of course with setting a Kdrama in this era is that, is that from what I know, thereโ€™s not a lot of factual information about Korea during that period, and the information there IS about other neighbouring areas during that time period has some very clear clues as to what clothes, language, buildings, technology and society wouldโ€™ve looked like, and the problem with setting anything in any historical period is that you invite criticism and critique of historical accuracy.
Understandably many of the more historical minded Beans found a lot to pick at within the first episodes of this show.

This show wanted to take a (vague at best) Korean legend/myth, and adapt it into a historical fantasy saguek.
Or did they?
Thatโ€™s what we were told. So of course people got frustrated at a show that was promoted to them as historical, and was doing a terrible job of it.

What I think this show actually wanted to do was make a completely new fantasy world, based on a โ€œhistoricalโ€ legend, but individual in mythopoeia as it were. It wanted to create a world of its own in which to set these stories.

Worldbuilding is hard. Itโ€™s very hard. It takes a lot of detail and planning and a lot of content outside of what is seen in the actual story that needs to be consistent with itself to work well.
Maps, cultures, religions, languages, social and governmental dynamicsโ€ฆ all these things and much more have to be thought about.
And Arthdal did actually think about a lot of these things. They invented two languages for the show (no mean feat, by the way) and at a surface level they even addressed all the other aspects, or at least the ones I just listed. It HAD all the pieces to be the epic fantasy it wanted to be.
But I think it fell short in putting this idea on screen.
Iโ€™ve already mentioned the execution of this show is shocking, and the promotional management of it is not much better.
And we see this again seen through the application of genre: this show was promoted as a historical fantasy sageuk but has the bones of an epic fantasy.

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The problem being, you canโ€™t actually be both a historical fantasy, and an epic fantasy. You have to be one or the other.
If youโ€™re going for historical fantasy, then you need historical accuracy, and a focus on how fantasy influences that historical period and your story in that period. You need a way for magic to interact with an already existing world.
If youโ€™re going for epic fantasy then you need sound magical and non magical worldbuilding, in which everything in the world makes sense according to the rules youโ€™ve put in the world. You need a dedication to the fantasy and rules you have built, soft or hard, and you need to make it clear that this is EPIC FANTASY and not anything else.
And for both you need consistency in your visual application of these ideas, which Arthdal has never had.
If youโ€™re a historical fantasy set in Bronze Age Korea, then you canโ€™t have solitaire diamond drop earrings and machine sewn dresses.
If youโ€™re an epic fantasy then you need an internal reason for these to be plausible.
E.g. The Elves of Middle Earth have been around for thousands of years, live for forever unless theyโ€™re killed, and have learnt an extremely high level of magic and craftsmanship in literally everything, due to their relationship with the Ainur and their years years of experience as magical beings.

In my personal opinion,
a) They should never have tried to push the historical aspect of the show as much as they did.
b) They shouldโ€™ve embraced the fantasy aspects of the drama a lot more.
c) They never understood in the first place what either needed to work well beyond basic concepts and therefore they failed in the execution of these concepts .

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@sicarius,

You've hit the nail on the head. One of the things that has rattled my chain is the material culture aspect of the show. Some of the items, like the diamond earrings, stand out like sore thumbs. Don't even get me started on the kinds of fabrics or the colors that are achievable with plant dyes. (This is the downside of having a background in anthropology. LOL!)

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And now let me just talk about Carrot Boy for a second.

Honestly, by all means and rights I shouldnโ€™t find Eunsom as compelling as I do. Why not? Because heโ€™s the most formulaic, trope filled, cliched, chosen one hero I have seen in any story in a very long time. Letโ€™s list them:

1) Orphaned at a young age
2) Twin
3) Twin with the most screen time
4) Child of a prophecy
5) Born under a super powerful spiritual sign
6) Bought up by a people who disapprove of his โ€œkindโ€
7) Powerful abnormal Bloodline
8) Birth secret
9) Magic powers (being an igutu is one thing, being able to do anything after seeing it once is another)
10) Chosen by a divine ambassador to be the reincarnation of a god (Kanmoureu choosing him)
11) Divine Animal Familiar
12) Magically gets out of all deathly scrapes
`3) Is literally the incarnation of two gods โ€ฆ
(All evidence points to him being the legitimate incarnation of Aramun Haesulla and NOT Tagon. We know Tagon is an imposter, and just lied about his divinity to get power. We know that Magic Horse DID choose Eunsom, and rejected Saya, and doesnโ€™t condone the actions of Saya and Tagon, and was last seen trying to find Eunsom again.
On top of this Eunsom faked being Inaishingi, but then fulfilled all necessary requirements to actually be Inaishingi, and then united the tribes of the Ago, making him both the most likely candidate for not only going up against the โ€œAramunโ€, as it is said Inaishingi did, but disposing of the fake Aramun, and being/becoming the real Aramun.
If this changes in the future fine, but the information given clearly points to Eunsom being not one but two reincarnations of a god and if thatโ€™s not chosen one material I donโ€™t know what is)
14) A hero's journey, of discovering power, failing, getting back up and becoming stronger, and smarter in order to fight the Big Bad Guy โ„ข.

Now, thatโ€™s not to say that cliched chosen ones canโ€™t be done well or be compelling; on the contrary, they can. But due to the number of times this formulaic character as been done over the past two thousand plus years of storytelling, and even though it is a tried and true archetype, these days the likelihood of it being done well is just so low it might as well be negative percentages.
That being said, something about Eunsom is very compelling. He was frequently the most interesting part of the show and the person I looked forward to seeing on the screen the most. Whenever his arc WAS happening I was always more engaged, even if the plot was no technically better than anything happening with the Union.
Perhaps it was his earnestness, and integrity and dedication to his beliefs, perhaps it was his goofy naivety, perhaps it was only SJKโ€™s portrayal, perhaps it was just that you couldnโ€™t help but root for him since he was about the only decent person around.
.
.
But even though I liked Carrot Boy, despite his cliched hero's journey, I really struggled to understand where this show...

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@sicarius,
What a great analysis of Eunseom. For me, he has been the character I'm most invested in, with his benighted twin a close second.

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... thought it was going with anyone.
What was the point of this show at all?
What IS the point of this story? Is it just to fulfill the prophecy? Is it to show the beginning Korea as we know it, to show the formation of Gojoseon?
But this story isnโ€™t about the beginnings of civilisation. The Union already is a โ€œComing to A Dank River Valley Near Youโ€ Early World Civilisation. In fact, itโ€™s more advanced than MOST early world civilisations.
So what IS Eunsomโ€™s purpose? Tanyaโ€™s? Sayaโ€™s? Why them? Why are they here? To be the reincarnation of the gods? But why are the gods important? Why is the prophecy important?
Itโ€™s supposed to bring about the end of the world. Or is it to bring about the beginning? Will we ever know?
What about all those animated myths that Netflix cut from their versions, where the Arthdalians tell one version of the myths and the Neanthal pipes in throughout the whole thing saying it's all lies? Where is the implementation of that? What is the truth behind Arthdal and the Neanthalโ€™s history? Why are we supposedly focusing on the FUTURE of Arthdal, and how thatโ€™s apparently so important, and that a true nation hasnโ€™t been formed yet, when we donโ€™t even know the HISTORY of Arthdal properly? Why is the show about what is happening next, and not about how we got to where we are now, which seems equally important in my mind, if not more so?
Yet another execution issue. Another worldbuilding, technical storytelling issue. Screw the internal plot being unfocused, this whole thing is unfocused.

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@sicarius,
Thank you for articulating so many of the points that have been bugging me. We have been shown hardly anything about the Neantals and their culture -- other than how one of their own half-breeds was instrumental in annihilating most of them. Forget about all the rest of the tribes -- until Eunseom somehow happens to end up with them.

Where is the drama supposedly heading? How can we tell if we don't even know where it's starting out?

Is the drama supposed to be a ripsnortin' adventure saga? A cautionary tale of human greed and corruption vs. altruism? An allegory examining the devolution into materialistic excess and spiritual stagnation in the current age?

I've been waiting for the show to divulge these secrets, but apparently they are above my pay grade. ;-)

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I just really donโ€™t understand a lot of the basic story telling decisions.
You see, if I were going to write a show about twins separated at birth, who could literally scry what was happening to each other, and I had a character who KNEW THEY COULD DO THIS and knew both twins, and was with one twin right now, I wouldnโ€™t then write my story to ignore the magical properties of these twins as much as possible, and head in the direction of an epic Big Fantasy Battle โ„ข of all things!!!!!

If I had a fantasy story with the basics that this does- A few remaining super beings whoโ€™s entire race was wiped out, the half bloods, the mind reading, the curses, the magic dances, the water tribe, the magic horse- I would not take it in the direction of Big Fantasy Battle, especially not in what is just the first part of the show.
I would explore this twin connection, their relationship, the nature of their connection, what it can do, the dichotomy between the twins, I would use magic in it so much more. I would give the Neanthals a bigger role. I would explore on screen, not in cut animated shorts, why people dislike Igutus, and the effect the Extinction of the Neanthals had on the world around Arthdal a lot more than just what we saw in the first two episodes.
I would explore the untapped abilities of Tanya, Eunsom and the Momo tribe a shit tonne of a lot more, and I would honestly probably have a lot less focus on politics.
Politics and fantasy can be done, but you canโ€™t forget this is supposed to be fantasy, and not just another political sageuk in fantasy flower crown.

And on that note, an easy way out of, not all, but many of this showโ€™s failings, would be to just fully embrace the camp, and the wacky fantasy shit, and to have gone all out.
It wouldโ€™ve been much more entertaining, and a lot more tolerable if the camp factor of this show had been higher.
Alas, just when I thought it WAS doing this (episodes 11-14), it went back to talking too much. #massacretransitionsftw

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I think you really captured the major shortcoming here. So much material could have been expanded to make a really classic show. Instead, time was wasted repetitive battle scenes that did not advance the story and the epic CRAWL of Eunsom to re-unite with Tanya. Plus it just seems there was no story outline these writers followed at all. How did Tagon go from murdering an entire race and anyone else his father ordered to someone who supposedly avoided violence at all cost? Shouldn't there be a continuity editor for the storyline that would have pointed out this huge mistake?

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Exactly.
There was more than enough content to make this an original fantasy show.

I talked all about my issues with Tagon's writing in the Episode 14 recap so didn't really go into it here, but yes, yes there should've been someone, probably right back at the beginning before the script was even drafted, when the treatment was written, who read this and signed off on it, and if I were to blame a single person, it would be them.

(I talked more about the plot structure issues above as well, unfortunately I wrote this essay in two parts thus had to share it like five hours appart haha)

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Thank you, @sicarius.
I've been dying to explore the capabilities of the Igutu twins, and everything to do with the Neantals. How do the halflings differ from their blue-blood progenitors? Where does Eunseom get his ability to do distance viewing? Is it a Neantal trait? I feel as if I have been shortchanged as a viewer in so many ways.

The political machinations have been boring. And what is the deal with Hae Mi-hol's mantra about having worked for a real king in Remus? He never goes into concrete detail, so the whole thing is one big MacGuffin. Grrr.

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Everything, everything in this drama has technical execution issues, and I will be here forever listing them if I donโ€™t find a place to stop, so one last thing.

The difference in technical quality between Tree With Deep Rootsโ€™ script, in particular the dialogue, and the dialogue in this, is so enormous that if it didnโ€™t have the same plot issues, and if I didnโ€™t already know, there is no way in a million years I would believe they were written by the same team. In Tree With Deep Roots, I actually have to pay attention to what everyone is saying, because itโ€™s that complex and well written, and I donโ€™t speak Korean well enough to tune out to it, because itโ€™s not BASIC dialogue. Itโ€™s political and technical but itโ€™s interesting, and worthy of discussion about worldviews and linguistics and languageโ€™s influence on culture and identity.
The dialogue in Arthdalโ€ฆ is pitiful. Take anything Mihol thinks or says. Take anything the puppet Wahans say. Take any pathetic excuse for a love story/ power struggle between Taelha and Tagon. Itโ€™s cringe worthy, grimace inducing, cheesy, flowery language that is trying so dang hard to be something itโ€™s not.

If only this show had the linguistic history, philosophy and intelligence of TWDR and LOTR to match its made up languages and excessive soliloquies on what a King is.

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WOW O_O

It was very interesting to read! And very accurate! Thank you for sharing your opinion :)

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Bow my head. You wrote so eloquently about my every gripe I have with this show that I have nothing to add.

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Exactly!!!!

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@sicarius,
I have suspected that ARTHDAL's dialog has been less than epic, but because I don't understand Korean, I'm at a disadvantage. And I never know how much cab be ascribed to translation issues.

I watched TREE WITH DEEP ROOTS, but cannot say I recall the dialogue -- one of the downsides of binge-watching, I guess. As for LORD OF THE RINGS, I read the novels first, starting with THE HOBBIT. The language was majestic, and so deeply nuanced and built up on layer upon layer of allegory, that I loved it to pieces. It is simply in a class by itself. While I watched the movies, it was J.R.R. Tolkien's writing that hit me where I live.

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Right on, @sicarius. I agree with your assessment. Being of a historical bent, I did a bit of research and watched a couple of sageuks that I thought would be relevant to ARTHDAL. When the show actually commenced, I realized that I had barked up the wrong tree, and had chuck all the other information I had accumulated. I had to try to follow what was being depicted.

One of my frustrations has been the fact that I've watched and loved ARANG AND THE MAGISTRATE, a fantasy sageuk that did a great job of world building.

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I too love Arang and the Magistrate!
It's one of the few dramas I would say succeeded in the realms of Historical Fantasy. It was (from my knowledge) historically accurate to the time period, but succeeded in portraying how fantasy would work in its setting.
It's also partly the reason why I was looking forward to Arthdal- because Arang made me aware that fantasy sageuk may just be my ultimate crack. Alas Arthdal failed miserably to even come near to appeasing my crack factor, and I shall have to look for fantasy sageuks elsewhere.

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I sense a rewatch of ARANG in my not-too-distant future, and maybe yours, too. Plus I'm severely jonesing to see Lee Joon-gi kicking out the sageuk jams. It has been too long.

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Ooooo, if there's an Arang rewatch, count me in!

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I donโ€™t want to watch another season of this in a million years, and yet I also hate myself for being morbidly curious about it, and what they would do with my favourite characters.

Oh well. At least there were memes. And shitposting.
#MagicHorseForPresident2020

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We should hire someone to watch the next installments, if and when they happen. Unless @lollypip is ready for another round by then.

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thanks for your recap and i totally echo your comments here...firstly, i thank the internet, coz i watched this show on netflix, right till the last second of ep 18, and i was like no, they didn't just do this to us, and then i read about the animation floating around the web...while that doesn't help much, i can probably figure that team making this show either doesn't have the funds to do anything more right now or due to the ratings they are not doing anything further, i don't know, but atleast they (production) have plans to continue the storyline and the very fact that they did not end the story at ep18, coz that would have been terribly impossible...i mean when ep 16 ended, i couldn't imagine how by ep 18 Eunseom would become the opposing character for Tagon, coz Eunseom has a long way to go before he can reach that level of leadership....in a way, i'm okay that the show did not have the ultimate ending, but like so many others, i feel so cheated...there was just no hint about it, while its possible that the production team may have been in a difficult situation they could have given us some hint...later i did see that netflix mentioned 'seasons finale', and not series finale...i don't if that means something....anyways:
Tagon and Taelha: despite that fact that they are a product of their circumstances, don't see any happy ending for these two, ep 18 i felt tried to setup the fall of these two eventually...Tagon, wiped out an entire race of people, with whom he is connected by blood, so that will come back to haunt him...i think maybe Nunbyeol will play a role in one of their deaths but then again i think the kind of mind games these two play and win, Nunbyeol is no match for them.
Saya: i felt at the end scene, Saya knows the truth of his life and will seek revenge from Tagon but can't be sure....he is the only one currently who is capable of giving Tagon and Taelha run for their money in terms of the mind games and manipulation these guys can think of. i wonder if he gets a happy ending with anyone else...i read in the animation Karika finds someone on the beach...was that him?
Eunseom and Tanya: i really enjoy Eunseom's character and journey, between him and Saya i don't know who will finally have the crown but Eunseom's journey to becoming a leader is on track though he still has a lot more to go...Tanya, i feel will become even more powerful in her abilities
so, even though this show for whatever reasons couldn't make the ending they wanted (since the animation proves that they definitely had a longer storyline in mind), or if this is going as per their plans, i'm okay that they didn't rush the whole damn thing in ep 17 and ep 18, coz that would have been impossible and unbelievable...if there are more seasons i will watch because overall the show definitely held my attention:-)

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@pcch2345,
I agree with you about Saya. Much as I would like her to end up with one of the Neantals, I think that she, with her superior strength and fighting ability, would be a natural ally with Saya. His deviousness and ability to read minds would go a long ways to leveling the playing field when the showdown with Tagon and Taealha finally arrives. On the other hand, Saya's attraction to Tanya may be crucial to his redemption after what he has gone through at the hands of his captors.

I wouldn't mind if Eunseom moved to Momoland, where Igutu are not considered odd or inferior, and found happiness with Xabara Karika.

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Oops!

Correction to paragraph 1, sentence 2:

Much as I would like Nunbyeol to end up with one of the Neantals and raise a passel of little blue kiddies, I think that she, with her superior strength and fighting ability, would be a natural ally with Saya.

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So powerful baddies want Tanya to choose a new name for the kingdom...
... Haven't we already chosen for it the name it deserves?

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All hail, Arsedal!

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Lastly...
If this saga continues.. I want to see what's behind Yang-cha's mask and say something... I'd been more curious abot Yangcha than the ending of the chronicle... :).

I'm so curious why Tagon chose Yang-cha to first save Tanya in the cave, then to guard her... Tagon must have considerations why it should be Yangcha... and it's sweet to see how Yangcha started to "respect" Tanya, and "bewitched" by her actions.

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And why is Yang-cha the only person whose thoughts Tanya can hear? Or can she hear everyone's thoughts and the writers just didn't emphasize that?

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@onetempi Tanya could hear Saya's thoughts in an episode a long time ago in relation to the White Peak Mountain Hearts and has also overheard someone else's thoughts I think it was Tagon's or Mubaek's. Anyways it isn't that important to the story besides the fact that it is a godly ability. They could do more with it but I guess there's already too much going on

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Hoping for season 2 or maybe 3 as there's still a lot of story to tell. Eunseom just starting to build his own Kingdom. Tagon just been declared as a King. Eunseom , Tanya and Saya haven't met yet. Does the 2 neanthals just continue walking. How about Chaeun and Nunbyeol? I know it didn't had a high ratings in Korea but I think it was very popular overseas as some international viewers like these kind of theme like Games of Thrones.
Hope they ended shooting like up to Season 2 and they will announce it later. Kingdom is having season 2 some netflix original korean series are also divided to season 2 so I'm hoping Arthdal will have one just to answer all the viewers questions. Good Job for all the cast for their superb acting...

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And also just a thought why they didn't show the Animated ending of Arthdal in Netflix? I saw it in TVN official Instagram instead but didn't see it in Episode 18 in Netflix?

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@bebot2727,
I want to know why Netflix didn't air those extras either. Grrr!

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Unless they have cast already locked in contract I don't see how they'll be able to pull more seasons in near future, it seems more like wishful thinking.

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@shach,
That's exactly what I'm concerned about, too.

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I think arthdal Chronicles was excellent.I think the show was attacked a lot for no good reason I would not be surprised if Investors backed out over gossip and rumours.I get feeling makers of the show were given a hard time and the show was cut short. I think as Arthdal Chronicles is a masterpiece it will return at some stage in future. Congratulations to everybody who took part every actor brought their character to life,the writers directors and producers brought kdramas to a new high level. international viewers will rate show highly because they won't be affected by gossip about actors personal lives .10\10 for parts 1,2,3. I look forward to future of this show

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that last scene of eunseom crowed surfing amongst the Ago tribe was eerily similar to Daenerys in Game of Thrones, in fact Eunseoms 'journey' somewhat mirrors Daenerys's arc in GoT where she's disconnected from the other characters, building up her own people before she goes to take the throne

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the pace of the show makes me think it will never end lol

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I'm still getting over my annoyance that it ended like this but i'm glad the author is writing a truly organic story where anything can happen and yet that anything feels as if it was almost the thing that had to happen. I agree with you. I feel tricked. Nowhere had they mentioned two seasons of 18 episodes. I can deal with chinese dramas that take forever but then i know there will be an end. With a situation like this, i'm not sure if the possibility of the second (4th?) season..and that bothers me.

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I feel the same way as you, Carole - I'm getting over my own frustration at least enough to admit that I WANT that second season now , and that is because these 18 episodes, flawed as they are, still hooked me. But I still feel tricked and that's annoying!

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To not mention something so important....for nine whole months???? Kinda despicable and weird of netflix. But why keep closedmouth about it from the start?

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@scifiwritir CaroleMcDonnel, @pogo1,
Now that I've cooled down over being hoodwinked, I want to see how this saga plays out. It has its issues, but I like/am intrigued enough by some of the characters to want to see it through.

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me too! Between this and ever night...

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