For Whom The Bell Tolls
What happens between Park Jin and Maidservant Kim?
Episode 20 of Alchemy of Souls starts this season finale with Park Jin walking with Maidservant Kim. She reveals she’d like to stay in a cosy house with her husband, sporting a small garden. Park Jin promises to look for that exact house for her and gift it to her on her wedding day. He brings up how Master Lee is clearly her suitor but Kim is incredulous over how foolish the leader is being.
“You’re the one I have feelings for!” She blurts out, as Park Jin is shocked that he missed this. Park Jin tries to right these wrongs but Kim rushes away, the word “lovingly” echoing in Park Jin’s mind.
When she heads home, Jang-Uk finds her crying and listens to her woes. However, he also turns it round with some good news, revealing he’s going to be getting married soon. As he mentions his bride will be Mu-Deok, Kim is shocked and bites down on her handkerchief.
Even Lady Heo has made peace with the idea of Jang-Uk being with Mu-Deok, believing she never really had a chance next to her.
What does Jin-Mu intend to do next?
Meanwhile, Jin-Mu continues to scheme, doing his best to convince the Crown Prince to team up with him. The Prince is quick to point out that Jang-Uk has lost all of his power and that, coupled with public opinion swinging toward him being the one to conjure the King’s Star, means he’ll politely decline. That is, until the slippery mage tells him that Jang-Uk could well be hiding his power.
With the Crown Prince conflicted, Jin-Mu tasks those in Cheonbugwan to bring him the Queen’s soul potions and the divination bells. Now, the latter actually belonged to Shaman Choi and could well be instrumental in Jin-Mu’s final gamble. He intends to make the soul shifters go on a rampage by ringing the bells. In doing so, this would essentially make Jang-Uk’s power with the ice stone come forth.
Ho-Gyeong waits for Woo-Tak to awaken, who’s actually still alive after stabbing himself in the gut last episode. She’s not exactly in the forgiving mood and tells him she hopes he’s in agony after what he’s done to their family. Tears silently fall from Woo-Tak’s face.
Does Jin-Mu learn the truth about Mu-Deok’s identity?
Although Yul is on the mend, he’s still experiencing pain. Now, the root cause of this is the blood parasite that So-I put inside him. So-i mulls this over and talks to herself, hoping that Yul takes the medicine in Jinyowon to relive the pain.
Meanwhile, Park Jin stops by to see Maidservant Kim before she leaves, offering his hand – and some seeds – as a gesture that he’s willing to wait with her. Kim gladly holds his hand and decides to “walk at his pace” going forward, solidifying the pair’s blossoming romance. Master Lee watches from afar and decides to leave them be. Unfortunately, he ends up crying his eyes out as a result, heartbroken over these turn of events.
As for Park Jin, he realizes Jin-Mu knows all about Jang Gang’s past and decides the only solution is to have him killed. Of course, we know that he’s about to launch a diabolical plan to thwart the upcoming wedding. Not only that but Jin-Mu starts to put all the pieces together and realizes that Mu-Deok is actually Naksu. Will Mu-Deok succumb to the bells and run wild?
Meanwhile, Ho-Gyeong confronts So-I after her lies while she’s rooting around in Jinyowon. She contemplates killing her but So-I uses the blindfold as a way of keeping herself alive, refusing to tell her where Bu-Yeon is until she’s guaranteed her own safety. For now, she gets away. So-I eventually smuggles the medicine to Yul to help him with his pain.
Does the Crown Prince work with Jin-Mu?
On the eve of Dang-Gu’s big wedding, the Crown Prince tells Mu-Deok exactly what he thinks of her, leaving things on a rather sour note after hoping that she and Jang-Uk leave far away so he can’t manifest his ill feelings toward them. Unfortunately, Jin-Mu uses this to his advantage and encourages the Crown Prince to make Jang-Uk hit rock bottom.
In the morning, Dang-Gu and Cho-Yeon’s wedding goes ahead but there are, of course, still hostilities between Ho-Gyeong and Park Jin. Mu-Deok is nowhere to be found either, given she’s fallen under the influence of Jin-Mu’s sorcery. Unfortunately, she kills a number of sorcerers guarding Woo-Tak before going after the main man.
Cho-yeon shows up in her bridal gear and tries to stop Mu-Deok but it’s no good. The assassin is too powerful. Dang-Gu tries to interject too but it’s too late, Mu-Deok kills Woo-Tak, properly this time it seems.
Does Mu-Deok go on a murderous rampage?
“Kill those who murdered your father,” Echoes the voice of Jin-Mu, as Mu-Deok finds herself on the cusp of going on a murderous rampage. Armed with the bells, Jin-Mu heads in to see Park Jin and warns that Naksu is on the rampage. We see the frightening power of this mage as Naksu takes out a number of mages with ease.
Park-Jin shows with his bow and fires a magical arrow her way… until Jang-Uk steps up and stop the blow. Park Jin moves it at the last second but Jang-Uk opens himself up for Mu-Deok stabbing him through the gut.
Does Jang-Uk die?
As Jang-Uk bleeds out, he drops to his knees and pleads with Mu-Deok to snap put of her trance. It seems to do the trick but she suddenly realizes what’s happened, and she’s shocked. Of course, all of this was foreshadowed last episode but it still doesn’t stop the heartbreaking effect of this.
The bells ring once more but this time Mu-Deok takes off, leaving Jang-Uk to bleed out on the ground. As news spreads of what’s happened, Jang-Uk’s body is eventually brought to the secret room. Jin-mu uses this to his advantage, pleading with the king to punish Songrim for this.
As for Ho-Gyeong, she decides to try and find Mu-Deok, determined to find out exactly whose body she’s taken. Cheonbugwan are also after her too, so it really is coming right down to the wire.
How does Alchemy of Souls season 1 end?
As we know, Jang-Uk is the King’s Star Aand as the pyre burns in the courtyard, the fire suddenly turns blue and rages on. Out from the fire steps Jang-Uk! He’s okay after all! Master Lee is there to watch this too as he knows that this isn’t Jang-Uk’s time to die. Our protagonist walks purposefully out from the smouldering ruins.
We cut back to Mu-Deok who can no longer hear bells but her skin is cracked. Standing on the edge of a cliff, Jin-Mu is convinced this is where she meets her demise. She jumps into the water and lets herself be submerged to the depths. However, hands grab her and start to bring her back to the surface.
Will Mu-Deok be saved? What will Jang-Uk do next? What will the fate of Songrim, Jinyowon and Cheonbugwan be? We’ll have to wait and find out when this show returns later on this year!
The Episode Review
With Jin-Mu’s main plan thwarted last episode, this finale essentially works to wrap that up but also open a new threat for the second season. This appears to come in the form of Mu-Deok being influenced by the bells and being controlled by Jin-Mu.
Speaking of which, if Bu-Yeon is supposed to be this powerful sorceress, shouldn’t she have interfered with the whole bells malarkey? For me it’s a little contrived and works to basically set up a second season. To be fair though, the story could have been wrapped up in episode 19, which felt like a natural conclusion. In many ways, this chapter is basically like the opening chapter to season 2!
However, we also have the issue involving Jin-Mu and how he’s managed to weasel his way into the throne room and is influencing the royal family. That itself is a little contrived too because shouldn’t the queen absolutely despise Jin-Mu by this point? Why is she accepting of what he’s saying? Now, it could well be that the king punishes Songrim for what’s happened and this plays right into the hands of Jin-Mu.
There are a lot of loose ends still to be resolved here and in many ways you can forgive the cliffhanger ending because we know there’s another season coming. All the drama involving Ho-Gyeong’s daughter, the ice stone, Jang-Uk’s new purpose etc. will hopefully come around later this year.
This first season has been a great watch and the mix of romance, fantasy and drama has certainly made this another hit on Netflix. Will the follow-up be as good? We’ll have to wait and see.