Episode 15 of Alchemy of Souls starts with snow floating lazily to the ground outside. We’re in the past and Yeom visits his master, Lee Cheol, who has been meditating for 100 days. Only it appears in that time that he’s passed away. Yeom agrees to give him a quiet farewell, burning him outside.
As he takes the man’s stick and prepares to stoke the flames, a homeless boy suddenly shows up and calls him foolish for burning his body. His body? Of course! He’s soul shifter! It’s Lee Cheom!
And as we jump back to the present, Master Lee tells everyone that he’s a Soul Shifter. As a result, he can see others who have soul shifted – presumably including the queen who happens to be seething with anger.
The King is impressed with his eternal youth and asks outright who the Soul Shifter may be. He can bring that out through instilling fear… but not alone. Remember his dog from earlier in the season, Gwigu? Well, he decides to bring the hound into the palace as a gift for the King to find the Soul Shifter.
Uk is the one tasked with bringing the mutt inside and if he can do that, Master Lee promises to get him a gift.
The Queen is shocked and in her most desperate hour, sends a message to bring Cheonbugwan to come to the throne room quickly. Meanwhile, the Queen tries to dissuade the king from taking in the dog, claiming it’s unwieldy and could cause chaos across the palace. She sees this as an attempt for Songrim to humiliate them and pleads with the King to see reason.
Out in the courtyard, Jin-Mu and the other Cheonbugwan assassins show and try to stop Uk from heading inside the palace. With little other choice, he brandishes his sword and begins attacking all the mages. Jin Mu slips away from the fighting though and heads into the throne room, pleading with the King to see reason and kick them out.
With the King torn between both sides, Master Lee speaks up and mentions how there’s been someone else born under the King’s Star after Master Seo, which of course we know is Jang-Uk.
When the Songrim mages do leave, Lee tends to his dog while Yul remains concerned over exactly how much he knows about Mu-Deok and her soul. Lee is also pretty confident that he knows who the soul shifter is though, reflecting on the queen’s actions and how she essentially outed herself through her irate attitude.
So-i manages to slip away from the scene of three murders without arousing suspicions (minus one person downstairs). Now, So-I actually had no intention of murdering these people herself, it was the Cheonbugwan assassin that committed the act.
As Mu-Deok appears in the room just after, she’s framed for the murders. Given the acts were conducted by a skilled assassin, Park-Jin surveys the area and tries to work out if she’s really responsible or not. Rumours are abound in the bar that thugs were looking for a female swindler but instead of So-I, Park-Jin immediately believes it’s Mu-Deok. Or at least Mu-Deok hiring an assassin at least.
When he relays this on to Maidservant Kim, she’s convinced it’s not her. Only, the man killed was actually the guy Park-Jin asked about Mu-Deok’s past, and given she’s hiding a dark secret (she’s Naksu, as we already know), this gives her a motive to have the guy killed.
That night, So-I learns that Mu-Deok is in town and actually serving as a maid for the Jang family. After finding out this information, she has the man killed and decides to go and visit her old friend.
Speaking of Mu-Deok, the Crown Prince sits with Lee and reflects on the rumours about Naksu. Specifically about her fearsome history and how the assassin is still alive and has soul shifted.
The Songrim group discuss who Naksu could be, but things turn frosty when Jang-Uk questions the notion of calling those responsible for burning Naksu’s body fools when they were just scared.
Speak of the devil, Mu-Deok asks Maidservant Kim to bring her to Jinyowon to see Cho-Yeon, given she ran into her earlier on at the bar. She was buying tickets to a magic show and become flustered when the pair spoke.
As she leaves, Mu-Deok runs into So-I but she obviously doesn’t recognize her friend. So-I mulls this over and tries to work out if it’s a good or bad thing. Speaking of conflicted feelings, Yul is also feeling that way too, desperate to bring Mu-Deok to the fortress before it’s too late.
Mu-Deok appears before Cho-Yeon and asks her for help, given she’s being framed for murder. She asks her to testify for her… but Cho-Yeon refuses to do so, given her embarrassment over being seen there buying tickets.
Getting nowhere, Mu-Deok throws a curveball and suggests she go and ask her mother instead, including telling her what happened at the bar. That does the trick, and Cho-Yeon agrees to help.
Speaking of Jinyowon, Jin Mu prepares his next stage of deception with So-I. Remember that needle prick and strange worm-like creature that came out? Well, Jin mu uses this on So-I so she has the Jin family blood flowing through her. Oh, and the worm will eat her from the inside out if she tries to run away.
Meanwhile, Jang-Uk is brought to the secret room while Yul examines the dead bodies. Noting the tattoos on their necks, he realizes they match the description of the thugs he fought with earlier in the season.
Not only that, but Cho-Yeon’s eyewitness account confirms tat Mu-Deok is innocent, given there’s no way she’d have enough time to kill them after the pair spoke.
Although Mu-Deok is cleared of charges, the pair are still locked up separately. Park Jin uses this to his advantage and puts Uk in a difficult position. He uses Uk and Mu-Deok against each other to find out exactly what they’re hiding from one another. He wants them to answer the exact same thing… and they do.
The pair are set free and reconvene in the courtyard. So what did they say to one another? Well, they show off their jade stones and claim they’re both in love with each other. Jang-Uk decides they should stick by their confessions to one another, and as they look in one another’s eyes, the episode comes to a close.
The Episode Review
Alchemy of Souls returns this week with another really good episode. Essentially the chapter is split in half, with the first tackling the drama inside the royal palace.
Master Lee’s cunning plan works an absolute treat as he figures out who the soul shifter is. The Queen doesn’t exactly make her displeasure a secret either, and her crazed attitude only cements Lee’s feelings.
Speaking of feelings, Jang-Uk and Mu-Deok also find themselves embracing theirs, managing to get out a tricky situation the only way they know how. It’s a nice way of tying everything we’ve learned thus far together, and it works well to bring the pair closer too, especially if they’re going to keep up their confessions to one another.
The magic is still a big part of this story of course, and mixed in with the politics there’s actually a really solid undercurrent of tension here, as Jin Mu makes use of his powers and prepares for the final conflict to come.
However, given this show has already been renewed for a second season, it could well be that we end on a big cliffhanger here – we shall see!
You can read our full season review for Alchemy of Souls Season 1 here!