Young Hearts, Run
Episode 12 of Alchemy of Souls starts with Jang-Uk in trouble. Having lost to another mage, only two gold toads now remain. As a result, Jang-Uk needs to up his game, especially if he’s going to get the jade stone back.
Mu-Deok gives some words of encouragement though, telling Jang-Uk to liken this to a game of tug and war. He needs to know exactly when to let his guard up and when to strike.
Hilariously though, the Crown Prince and Jang-Uk both find their hearts racing for Mu-Deok. With their jade stones in hand, they head out to the bridge but as romantic music plays… they realize they’ve both been deceived by their feeling and suddenly stop. It’s an amusing moment, one that leans into those BL drama vibes but does so in a satirical way.
Meanwhile, Dang-Gu heads in to see Yul with big news. There’s a big commotion in the capital as it turns out Master Kang from Daegangtongun has succumb to his illness. Rumours are abound though that assassins have attacked.
Park Jin is quick to show up and eager to investigate, surprised that they intend to cremate the body so soon before conducting a proper autopsy. They’re convinced that it was death by natural causes but Park-Jin is not so sure.
Jin-Mu speaks to Jin Ho-Gyeong in confidence and talks about Bu-Yeon. He promises to bring back her body no matter what, unbeknownst to those in Jinyowon that Jin-Mu is about to throw a mole in theor ranks. So-I is focused too, determined to become a part of the family.
Anyway, the cremation goes ahead and both Songrim and Cheonbugwan houses are there to oversee the burning. Now, Park-Jin actually tasked Yul with checking the body beforehand to find out if he’s a Soul Shifter. And by check, that involves using Chisu on Kang’s body. O
f course, that’s because Kang’s soul is actually inside this young man, who attempts to get away from the others when his cover is blown. Yul uses his abilities to thwart the infected, who rushes off after being stabbed. The familiar grey shine on his face shows the start of petrification and “running wild.”
Jin-Mu jumps in though and helps kill the guy. As a “reward” for Songrim, he decides to let Park-Jin and the others take credit for thisdeath. Park-Jin plays Jin-Mu’s game and decides to investigate the body.
Back with Yeom, the group work together to look into this further. Yeom closes the deceased’s energy gate to prevent more energy from seeping out and sets to work uncovering the truth – if he can. Part of that stems from reviving him. But that’s easier said than done with the man in such a bad way.
Meanwhile, Dang-Gu decides to step up and challenge Jang-Uk as a mage. Of course, this is all so they can fix the game but Jang-Uk doesn’t read Mu-Deok’s signals and ends up forfeiting. When they step outside and discuss this, they notice numerous guards hovering about and realize that the Soul Shifter must be there somewhere.
Tensions are high between Cheonbugwan and Songrim, with Mu-Deok tasked by Maidservant Kim to deliver some sweet treats to Jin-Mu.
An earlier chat involving Park Jin led to some pretty frosty words traded between the two. As a result of that, Park Jin decides to strengthen Songrim’s defences. Those who have mastered Ryusu and more are tasked with going to Sejukwon and following Sang-Ho’s orders. Jang-Uk is exempt from this though and told to stay behind. Jang-Uk immediately suspects this is as a result of the current rumblings about a soul shifter on the loose. Park Jin is saying nothing,
Jang-Uk runs into Mu-Deok outside and decides to join her as they head up to Cheonbugwan. Together, they marvel at the sights, especially at the constellation area.
They soon hide out when they overhear a commotion involving Eunuch Kim. Now, earlier in the episode we saw Kim antagonize Jin Ho-Gyeong up at Jinyowon. Kim feeds this back to Jin-mu and urges the mage to let him soul shift inside the woman’s body.
Jin-Mu has heard enough and stabs the eunuch, letting him run wild, deciding he’s heard enough. Jin-Mu is determined to stop him before anyone finds out he’s a soul shifter.
Jin0Mu notices water across the ground and follows the trail, demanding whoever is hiding to reveal themselves. So Jang-Uk comes out from hiding with the honey biscuits and acts innocently, pretending they haven’t just overheard that the royal eunuch is a soul shifter.
Unfortunately, Jin-Mu sees through this façade and decides to keep them around. Could he enact the alchemy of souls on them? Well, not yet, if at all.
Uk tries to fight back against Jin-Mu but the latter throws up a barrier and keeps him trapped. As for Mu-Deok, she’s kept all alone to deal with the wild eunuch.
With all hope lost, Jang-Uk manages to break the barrier he’s trapped in and try to help Mu-Deok. Only, she manages to thwart the threat, stopping the eunuch by feeding on his energy. “Am I… running wild?” Mu-Deok wonders, tears stinging her eyes. She warns Jang-Uk to stay away in case his energy is stolen.
Love conquers all though; Jang-Uk has already taken one leap of faith and he takes another, holding Mu-Deok in his arms. As he does, Mu-Deok’s arm drops into the pool of water atop the pedestal and the air fills with a beautiful constellation of stars.
The Episode Review
Despite this episode being much more plot-driven, exciting and urgent, Alchemy of Souls still has time to throw in some cleverly worked jokes. The whole BL drama segments involving the Crown Prince and Jang-Uk, complete with romantic music and their dialogue on the bridge, was so well done and is surprisingly effective at alleviating some of the tension in this chapter.
However, we also get a literal and figurative leap of faith from Jang-Uk at the end too, as we see him jumping from that high tower created as a barrier and again to hug Mu-Deok, despite what it could mean for his wellbeing. These moments certainly highlight the lengths Jang-Uk is willing to go for her.
We also see a lot more development with Cheongbugwan and their plans this episode as well, with Jin-Mu stepping up his game and hitting back against Songrim and the others.
This episode feels like a taster of what’s to come, as it looks like Jin-Mu is going to hit Jinyowon from within, courtesy of So-I’s influence.
Alchemy of Souls has been a really solid watch and the ending hints that we’ve got an exciting double bill to come.