Episode 18 of Alchemy of Souls starts with Park Jin contemplating the real reason Mu-Deok has deciced to sacrifice herself. Now, as we know from the end of the last episode, Mu-Deok’s big reveal is that she’s actually Bu-Yeon. This could tip the scales in favour of Songrim. With tears falling from her cheeks, Mu-Deok dies but the ice stone moves forward and hovers in front of her, bringing he back.
Grey clouds gather, storm clouds thunderously growl as lightning crackles across the sky. Jin-Mu urges the queen to do something to stop this, while Ho-Gyeong drops to her knees in shock. So-I realizes that her cover could be blown if Mu-Deok is brought back so she steps up and smashes the ice stone. In doing so, the stone disappears and the storm moves away from the palace.
Over at the courtyard, there’s more drama when it’s revealed there’s some sort of barrier around Jeongjinjak. So-I is still alive too, having seemingly collapsed inside. Interestingly, these lot are inside the barrier but the various leaders and ministers are outside, still squabbling over who could be responsible.
Meanwhile, Mu-Deok deliberates over whether to switch souls with her enemies once she gets control of the ice stone. There’s a pretty hilarious montage here with Jin-Mu and the King both giggling (as if Mu-Deok has switched with them), before we get to the crux of the issue here.
This barrier is as a result of the ice stone, as Mu-Deok tells Jang-Uk that they’re actually inside the ice stone. As the pair talk, they wonder what the future may hold for them both, along with whether they’ll be able to take control of the ice stone or not.
Still, with the barrier up, Yeom tries to quell the concerns of everyone at the Unanimous Assembly. However, there are those in attendance that seek power in the wake of chaos. While they all wait for the Words of the Heart book to come forth, confirming Master Seo’s words, Jin-Mu tries to take advantage of this downtime.
Meanwhile, Ji-Ho (after feasting on that poor lady last episode) is off on the hunt and he sets his sights on So-I. When Park Jin finds out, he realizes that he’s taking advantage of the chaos and could well be inside Jeongjinjak.
When he approaches So-I, she saves her own skin, pointing out that she’s with Jin-Mu. When a mage shows to check on her, he’s unfortunately killed by Ji-Ho who decides to spare her – but only if she brings more mages. More mages including Yul, whom he has a big grudge against.
Unfortunately, this is something made all the more difficult by the power of the ice stone inside this barrier. It’s quickly discovered that no spells can be used nor can their swords be unsheathed either, given the power on display.
Now, Mu-Deok has a big choice to make regarding her power. If she souls shifts, it will also take the energy for those she’s shifting to and subsequently kill them.
Mu-Deok’s confliction continues throughout all of this, with some really nice dialogue – especially after speaking to Yul. While deliberating this, So-I approaches and asks Mu-Deok for help, wanting a new blanket.
Of course, we know that Ji-Ho is waiting in the wings, ready to pounce on his latest victim. Unfortunately, she sends Yul instead. When So-I finds out, she’s shocked and immediately hurries off.
Meanwhile, Jang-Uk and the Crown Prince discuss the ice stone and what they’d do with it. Of course, the Prince is pretty open about his greed but for Jang-Uk, he’s dead-set on sticking by whatever Master Seo says in his scripture. After realizing that stones appear to be passing through the barrier, Jang-Uk has the idea to pass a note through asking for help.
Inside, chaos descends on Jeongjinjak when Ji-Ho attacks. Yul and the rest of the mages fight him off but because of the barrier and the lack of magic able to be used, it’s futile and Ji-Ho comes out on top. Not only that but he drains several of the mages in the process.
Jang-Uk steps up and try to save the day, deciding to lure Ji-Ho into the secret room. In doing so, this also means that he’d likely sacrifice himself as a result. This is something Mu-Deok refuses to let happen and she hurries up to grab her sword.
Approaching the secret room, she opens it up to find Ji-Ho standing menacingly, caked in blood. Mu-Deok uses her powers and blasts him back – effortlessly I may add! Unsheathing her sword, she blasts the soul shifter down and knocks him out.
Jang-Uk is thankfully still alive, and he’s quick to point out that the fate of everyone is in her hands. Dropping the sword to her side, she asks for another promise from Jang-Uk. He doesn’t even need to say anything, as he steps up and kisses her. She kisses him back, hands gripping her sword and the crook of his back as the episode comes to a close.
The Episode Review
It’s been a long time coming but Alchemy of Souls pulls off one heck of a spicy kiss at the end there! Mu-Deok and Jang-Uk have had some great chemistry through this series and seeing them together here, right at the end, solidifies where we’re going romance wise.
Of course, it also destroys the possibility of Mu-Deok being with the Crown Prince or Seo Yul, who both speak their piece here and ultimately come up short.
Seeing Mu-Deok unsheathe her sword at the end and take out Ji-Ho is a nice payoff for what we’ve been waiting for for a while and the barrier, keeping everyone inside Jeongjinjak, gives a solid reason for us to slow down and actually develop a lot of these characters.
Not only that, but it helps to see Jang Gang and Jin-Mu’s ties too in that brief flashback, with the snivelling mage promising not to use the alchemy of souls ever again… and then proceeding to make it his life’s purpose, which is pretty amusing.
The show has been a decent watch and this episode really works well to up the stakes for many of the players. Moving into the final week, it would appear we’re on course for a cliffhanger ending, especially with the second season already confirmed. Everything here is left wide open for what may happen next and moving into the final week, it looks like we’re on course for quite the dramatic end!