My first impressions of Neung Dao Fah Diew feel like a long time ago. In fact, it has been a long time ago, story wise. Since then Phor Kanthong has taken us on a journey of the literal fall of Ayutthaya, the most vibrant and flourishing era of the time. Not only is this a personal journey of a man who dedicates his life to uncovering the mystery of his parents’ death – by disguising as a eunuch no less – but this is a story of Ayutthaya as a character that dedicates her existence to protecting the Thai people but only to be destroyed by the very people she is protecting.

It is an example of what happens when people take advantage of an existence they do very little to care for. The culmination of the fall of an era was something we could see coming – at least I could see coming – a mile away. It started with the rotten leaders, who only cared for themselves, continued on with the trust in an ancient protection system designed to keep intruders at bay (probably intruders that do not have guns, ammunitions and bombs to destroy said walls), the seasonal flooding, along with the belief that the walls and palace are charmed to protect the Thai people; the very people who also believe that intruders simply cannot penetrate the royal army.

This story sets out not only to show a dark period in Thai history where they lost the country for a short period of time, but to also argue that the greatest threat to a country is its own people, fighting amongst themselves. We see this example in Jaokhun Polatape (and his slew of corrupt minions), along with Jao Jom Pen, who with their own greed for power and influence, were willing to sacrifice their own country. So it’s not solely that Burma could take down Ayutthaya, but that Thai people enabled it. It’s a call to arm so to speak, that every Thai individual should take it upon themselves to do something for their country, because everyone is responsible.

But there is a fine line when you’re creating a story to fuel food for thought or backup your argument: you don’t want to beat the viewers over the head, like for example, don’t do this otherwise karma is gonna get you! But Neung Dao Fah Diew walks that line very well, the show is able to take risks to draw out emotional resonance. There are some scenes that made me feel that show was committed to go ALL the way. For example, the end of this era is a scary time, we don’t understand how dangerous (not to mention illegal) it is to masquerade as a eunuch. The fact that Phor Kanthong and Phor Nen disguise for intel is risky business, and there’s a reason why they must keep their identities a secret.

We see the ramification play out when Phor Nen decides that in order to preserve their mission, one of them have to be the scapegoat: so he volunteers. This scene is tragic to be sure, but what made it gutsy is that Phor Kanthong must act like his best friend’s sacrifice/death doesn’t hit him like a ton of bricks. Everyone around him were in anguish, but he had to follow through with the mission, for it would mean all of the sacrifices are for nothing. It was an emotional scene that leaves me reeling.

Thus some time later, it comes as a huge surprise to Phor Kanthong when he gets found out – by none other than his crush – Mae Mangmao. He has done everything to ensure that nobody knows who he is. But Mae Mangmao is the most clever girl in Ayutthaya and has gotten that bright brain of hers working overtime. She solved the mystery that is Phor Kanthong. She probably used the same algorithm that she uses when trying to figure out a riddle. It is like Phor Kanthong gets the rug pulled from underneath him – it’s rather sad and funny at the same time because he’s been so wary and secretive, not able to relax with anyone – and come to find that Mae Mangmao has it all figured out- it must be freeing. This is why he totally and unequivocally surrendered to her. It is the most beautiful thing to behold:

He has always had a crush on her, because she’s incorrigible, brave, clever, honest and kind, and with the surrender to her wit, he also officially surrendered his heart. He had always told himself not to get attached with anyone and that his mission is his sole focus, but getting attached to Mae Mangmao has its rewards, because she finally came to him with the evidence to convict the people who betrayed the country and murdered his father. It’s one mission down and another mission left: though the mystery behind his mother’s death isn’t the only reason why he’s sticking around the palace and his disguise: Mae Mangmao is another.

The threat of losing her to Orkya Wang, a smitten man who pursues her and professes his love for her so openly (which is the bane of Phor Kanthong’s existence simply because he can’t just announce his feelings like Orkya Wang) so when he decides to throw caution to the wind and confess to Mae Mangmao, that is a huge step out of his comfort zone. What’s lovely about this moment is the dialogue that we’ve been waiting for so long. It’s short, but oh so rewarding:

Other noteworthy mentions that continue to keep the emotional resonance going are Phraya Taksin & Company. They are committed to fighting the good fight, and with such a smart General, who is determined to save his country, and with Aum Atichart front lining that SQUAD GOALS, every fight scenes and strategy scenes are compelling.

Now that Phor Kanthong’s mission to avenge his parents’ death has been realized, the future is open and hopeful. What to do with ALL the time now? I know there is a war, people, and Phor Kanthong’s next mission is also to save the country along with the Great Taksin, but on a personal level, there’s all this time left to charm the socks off of Mae Mangmao. Oh the giddiness I would feel, hahaha. This is why the final episodes teaser is so great, he tells Mae Mangmao that when the war is over, he has something really important to tell her. But because these two don’t need to say things to make each other understand (WELL, except for that tiny bit thing about Mae Mangmao needing to be told her ABCs that Phor Kanthong is a REAL man) Mae Mangmao replies that she can’t wait to hear what Phor Kanthong has to say. SQUEE.

In summary, Neung Dao Fah Diew is one of those lakorns that get better and better as it goes along. Each episode builds upon the last until the story reaches its climax. I’m so glad I stuck around to watch Phor Kanthong’s character growth, because it’s also James Ji’s actor’s growth. He has gotten so comfortable playing Phor Kanthong that he is Phor Kanthong. From the minutiae expressions, from the way that he speaks his lines and even from the use of the language, it’s music to my ears. Heck even the wardrobe starts to look sexy after awhile, when a guy can work that eunuch outfit, you know he’s a fine guy lol, and a guy who is committed to becoming his character.

The romance story is actually one that I look forward to every week, out of all of the currently airing lakorns. Phor Kanthong’s restrained, budding love for Mae Mangmao is so believable under his circumstances. But I call him Mr. Swoony Pants for a reason because he knows the way to her heart (and definitely ours by default). The small things that he does for her, to the big words that he uses without exactly telling her what he wants to say. It adds to the allure and the much needed comedic relief.

Show is gearing up for the grand finale week and with some resolutions and comeuppance already retaliated, we can breathe a little knowing we just need to tie up loose ends, and by that, I need to see Phor Kanthong shedding his eunuch ensemble, and showing Mae Mangmao (and us) what a REAL man looks like. I realized that every episodes has been brutal and stressful and tear-jerking leading up to the fall of Ayutthaya, but with the history and the missions coming full circle, and some time to spare, I am SO ready to cry happy tears. Because you know they’re coming.

Some more of their scenes that I tweeted about:

*All pictures credit to their owners

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