Entering and Exiting Songrim
Episode 10 of Alchemy of Souls starts with Maidservant Kim preparing Jang-Uk’s abode for when he returns from Songrim. She’s convinced that he’s going to come back with a wife.
Using the familiar bird analogies, Mu-Deok and Kim verbally trade disagreements over this. Still, that doesn’t stop Mu-Deok having doubts sown in her mind over Jang-Uk’s true affection and whether Kim may actually be right.
Jang-Uk passes his test of reading the rules and mastering Songrim’s basic education in record time. Thus, he should be allowed to leave Songrim… right?
Well, Park Jin throws a curveball at him. He has another book Jang-Uk needs to read and memorize, and only then will be get to go outside. Unfortunately, this is not as easy as Jang-Uk believes, and as he sits at the table, he flicks through the pages and notices the entire book is empty.
The only way to read what’s inside is for Jang-Uk to focus his energy for the words to spring forth and reveal themselves. This is Master Seo-Gyeong’s book, Words of the Heart, and as such is not going to be anywhere near as easy a task as before. For now, Jang-Uk is stuck inside.
Dang-Gu, Yul and the others try to work out how long Jang-Uk is going to be here for, with the current bets up to around 6 months or so. On Jang-Uk’s first day, he attempts a litany of different experiments to reduce that time and prove everyone wrong, including ink and fire. Eventually he settles on the good old fashioned idea of…running away.
Meanwhile, Yul heads back to see Mu-Deok and check on her. She’s still carrying out her servant duties for now but when Mu-Deok quizzes why he’s there, Yul makes up an excuse about the umbrella. As the pair start searching through the market together, Jang-Uk ends up heading home. He enjoys the sweet treats on offer and prepares for a bath.
We mentioned last time about love being a dominating genre in this show now, and this time it turns to Dang-Gu and Cho-yeon to keep the torch burning.
They debate about when to conduct their “break-up” in front of the three sisters. Dang-Gu believes they need to go hard and make sure it’s believable, including a big argument and a slap. Eventually though, the pair decide to postpone for a few days. Cho-Yeon tellingly fingers the stem of her bowl while looking at Dang-Gu. There is definite romance there!
Meanwhile, that thief from the last episode is spotted in the market, trying to take another trinket. The two women whom she robbed originally chase her through the bustling streets, until she spies Mu-Deok.
Despite calling out for her, she doesn’t notice the girl. However, the thief is cornered, where we learn her name is actually So-I. So-I is wanted by a fair few people and a whole group of thugs appear and demand their money back.
With everything looking grim, it’s Yul who saves the day, He suddenly shows up and with one hand, manages to thwart all the attackers using his umbrella.
When Mu-Deok finaly learns that Jang-Uk has shown up back home, she arrives too late and he ends up leaving. Mu-Deok races across the town to try and find him, eventually tracking him down on the dock. Ironically it’s precisely where we first met Mu-Deok all those episodes ago, as she held on for dear life.
There’s definitely some poetry here, and as Jang-Uk travels back to Songrim, Mu-Deok wishes him a safe journey back.
Elsewhere, Jin-Mu bemoans how the Crown Prince has grown closer to Jang-Uk after their match. He heads into the basement, convinced that his next plan will cause the Prince to turn on Jang-Uk. This seems to involve a collection of giant urns holding something inside that will apparently work to subdue Jin Ho-Gyeong. Jin-Mu’s target for now is Jinyowon and he’s confident it’ll be his soon.
Back at Songrim, Hemp Master Lee shows up and offers Jang-Uk some advice on cracking the code. However, he also suggests he become his pupil…but he’d have to drink the special tea and Jang-Uk is not prepared to do that. He does give Jang-Uk a sight hint though, revealing that the book is actually a love letter.
When Hemp Master Lee leaves, Jang-Uk learns that Mu-Deok is heading to Songrim. She’s found a loophole in the form of Mu-Deok entering a contest to become a maid within Songrim.
Yul, Dang-Gu and the Crown Prince all learn about this too and check over the questions. There are some trick ones in here, and the Prince is absolutely convinced that Mu-Deok will fail.
The only way round this is for the most conspicuous member of the trio (the Prince) to deliver the perfect exam paper to Mu-Deok. So he does just that, dropping off the perfect exam questions while everyone is distracted outside.
The exam may have been a success but next up is the physical test, which is a lot more difficult to fake. Thankfully Mu-Deok is super skilled when it comes to cooking, cleaning and using a blade though, so she passes it all – including the fitness test at the last second.
Park Jin heads in to check up on Jang-Uk. He encourages the boy to have patience. Jang-Uk probes over the origins of this book, where we learn that the leader of Jinyowon couldn’t see and that is the person whom this love letter is for. The name of this first leader? Well, her name is Seol-Ran.
Through this knowledge, Jang-Uk manages to read the letter, which definitely has connotations of love, poetically brought together through vivid imagery and beautiful sentences.
With Mu-Deok and Uk both passing their respective tests, Park Jin puts two and two together, realizing that Mu-Deok has been instrumental in helping Jang-Uk all this time. He seems to realize she isn’t just a lowly maid after all… but will he learn the truth about her?
The Episode Review
Alchemy of Souls returns with another good episode, this time turning the attention across to Mu-Deok’s competition to become a maid inside Songrim. That works well to show the lengths she’s willing to go to get back to Jang-Uk, who has his own task this episode in trying to piece together the love letter.
Thanks to some guidance from Hemp Master Lee and Park-Jin, he cracks the code and it doesn’t take him six months after all!
There are some intriguing love triangles cropping up in the middle of all this though, which is likely to cause some spanners in the work going forward. Maidservant Kim is caught in the middle of both Park Jin and Hemp Master Lee, while both Yul and Jang-Uk are both pining for Mu-Deok.
This balance helps to steer the show into romance territory, which is effectively managed against the fantasy. It’ll be interesting to see how Jin-Mu plays into all this though and how he intends to thwart Jang-Uk and the others going forward. There are definitely going to be ramifications but for now, Alchemy of Souls bows out this week’s double-bill on a high.
|Expect A Full Season Write-Up When This Season Concludes!|