Standing On The Brink Of War
Episode 17 of Alchemy of Souls starts with that shocking cliffhanger we ended on last time. Jang-Uk ends up face to face with his father. Jang Gang asks Jang-Uk to put down his weapon, pointing out that it’s dangerous to brandish his Cheonbugwan sword here.
“You carry the sword. You must be his son.” The man says, as he comments how Do-Hwa is the biggest victim of all. He knows exactly who Jang-Uk’s mother is, pointing out she was the most beautiful person in all the land.
Jang-Uk eventually opens up and admits he’s looking for Shaman Choi. Now, it’s foretold that the Choi family were destroyed by Master Seo Gyeong a long time ago. He warns Jang-Uk not to be so curious as that can get him killed. Eventually the mysterious man walks away, pointing out that he’s damaged right down to his soul, but no closer to revealing to Jang-Uk that he’s his son.
Meanwhile, So-I manages to open Jinyowon but in doing so, looks straight at Mu-Deok. She recognizes her from town and begins to question the whole story around her blindness.
Jin-Mu is there too of course and he watches as the doors close, with So-I taken away, he questions what Mu-Deok is doing there. Of course, by now the family are convinced that she’s Bu-Yeon.
So-I plays the part well, convincing Jin Ho-Gyeong that she’s her daughter. Word of the doors opening reaches Park Jin and the rest of Songrim too, who question Bu-yeon returning. But yet, there’s the subject of Mu-Deok and her headaches too. Why did she feel that way outside the doors? I said before that it could well be that she’s actually Bu-Yeon. That’s certainly So-I’s thinking later on in the episode too, who’s worried that the truth could be unveiled.
Speaking of Mu-Deok, she ends up getting a makeover in town that night, courtesy of Jang-Uk who ends up putting lovely red spots of blusher on her cheeks.
Soon, the attention turns to Jinyowon again. Mu-Deok points out to Yul that Bu-yeon is back but she was holding an umbrella – the same one Yul originally had – rather than a cane. Dang-Gu comes bounding in, but his smile vanishes when he realizes that Bu-Yeon is actually the swindler So-I. Jang-Uk deduces that Jin-Mu is scheming and has something big planned for Jinyowon.
Jin-Mu shows up at the royal court, skulking about as he ends up drinking with the Royal Prince. Apparently the King is still discussing the King’s Star. And for Jin-Mu, he broaches the subject of the ice stone and the alchemy of souls. He believes they should start a new order within the royal palace. He also brings up Bu-yeon’s divine power, continuing to spin his web of deceit.
Jin-Mu shows up to see Ho-Gyeong, who’s concerned about So-I and how her ears aren’t the same as Bu-Yeon’s. Jin-Mu urges Ho-Gyeong to make a decision and push her perceived daughter into becoming queen- and manoeuvring Jin-Mu into the driver’s seat for deciding the crown’s destiny. Anyway, he also promises to return the ice stone back where it belongs.
Jin-mu uses the ice stone as a bargaining chip, telling Ho-Gyeong to fight against Songrim. Only through the collapse of Songrim can they move forward.
Over at Cheonbugwan, Jin-Mu gathers the troops and unveils the Danju of their secret organization. That, of course, being So-I. Jin-Mu presents her as Bu-yeon, playing into this whole narrative but with a far more sinister end-game, involving the ice stone and Seo Ha-Sun.
Jang-Uk and the others notice everyone file out of the palace and realize Jin-Mu is speeding his plans up faster than they thought. Jin-Mu heads into the royal palace and the attacks are immediately levelled against Songrim.
Following her chat with Jin-Mu, Ho-Gyeong presents So-I as her long-lost daughter and also shows the ice stone too. Now, the plan here is for the queen to use So-I as a vessel to move her soul into.
Park Jin believes the stone should be destroyed but as all the different houses debate what to do, Ho-Gyeong suggests that the Assembly should be held at Jinyowon instead of Songrim from now on. As everyone sits in silence, Park-Jin and Ho-Gyeong come to blows (verbally) over what to do with the ice stone.
With everything escalating, Jang-Uk steps up and confronts the King and the others in the Assembly. Apparently Master Seo’s wishes are actually written down in a book called the Words of the Heart. Jin-Mu and the Queen are concerned, believing this could be their undoing but the former tries to encourage her that Jang-Uk is just bluffing.
While this is going on, Dang-Gu speaks to Cho-Yeon and reveals exactly who So-I is.
Back in the meeting, the King decides they should check how powerful this ice stone actually is. In order to do that, he suggests that they bring back a dead person to life, claiming it’s a good deed. He jokingly (or not) suggests they kill someone and bring them back. And who better to test that on than a lowly maid… like Mu-Deok.
So the action spills over into the courtyard, where Mu-Deok realizes this could be a golden opportunity to clutch the ice stone and take it. But this is a perilous situation and one wracked in drama. As Mu-Deok herself utters, she’s standing on the edge of a cliff.
But as she’s on the edge of life, choked out by Ho-Gyeong, she senses memories as a child and realizes that she’s actually Bu-Yeon. As she chokes out a “mother,” Ho-Gyeong is stunned and seems to relinquish her hold a little.
The Episode Review
After a week’s hiatus, Alchemy of Souls returns with another dramatic episode, one that sees Jin-Mu step up his game and start to intensify his desire to take over the realm.
Interestingly, the ending seems to hint that Ho-Gyeong is going to be the deciding factor in whether that happens or not, especially as she seems to know now that Mu-Deok is her daughter.
Beyond that, we still get a few moments of levity, involving that cute moment with Jang-Uk and Mu-Deok in town with the blusher. It’s a small segment in truth, but a welcome one, helping to lighten up some of the more tense drama this chapter deals with.
Nowhere else is that more evident than in the Unanimous Assembly meeting, with everything bubbling over and almost resulting in a big war. This is, of course, all part of Jin-Mu’s plan and it’s lining up nicely for him to try and seize control.
As mentioned before though, Mu-Deok is the real wildcard here and the ending certainly leaves the door wide open for where tomorrow’s episode may go. Based on this evidence, it’s turning into a must-watch chapter!