Death At The Gambling Den
Episode 6 of Alchemy of Souls Season 2 begins with Jang-uk pointing out Mu-deok’s history and the tree that defines so much of her past. Bu-yeon points out that it was her, not Mu-deok, whom Jang-uk kissed and saw that night and it’s her he’s married to. However, the pair are distracted by a figure in the shadows – it’s Yul!
Yul is, of course, looking for So-yi, who’s still being tortured and captured by Ho-gyeong. The queen of Jinyowon points out that there is way to get rid of the blood parasite, but only if So-yi mentions who she’s told about this. So-yi lies, and by the time Yul shows up to see her, Ho-gyeong is gone. So-yi is quick to relay the information about the blood parasite, meaning there’s definitely a way to save him.
On the way out, So-yi touches Bu-yeon, knowing her secret. And of course, she’s quick to tell Yul as much, pointing out that Mu-deok (and by extension Naksu) are residing inside Bu-yeon. Of course, as a result he needs up seeing Mu-deok in Bu-yeon’s place when she heads into the room.
As for Jang-uk, he visits Ho-gyeong who shows him the fire bird, but things end up fiery when Jang-uk questions Ho-gyeong’s treatment of Bu-yeon and her plans for the future. When Jang-uk heads out, he bumps into Yul, who cryptically mentions that he needs to take care of himself. This is, of course, to do with Bu-yeon, although the latter claims to be friends with Yul, solidified by their earlier hug together.
Jang-uk inevitably ends up jealous when he finds out they spent a lot of time together in the past, holding Bu-yeon’s hand tightly when she mentions that he’s handsome. Is there a hint of jealousy here? Of course there is!
As for Yul, he speaks to So-yi in confidence, agreeing to keep her secret about Naksu and even helping her find a safe refuge to hide out. After though, he ends up experiencing a frightening vision of Mu-deok and blood – a nightmare that causes him to clutch his chest – and the wooden trinket that Mu-deok gave him in the past.
Kim breaks the news about her marriage to Jang-uk, who’s taken aback by this. He has a lot on his plate right now and apologizes that he can’t say more. Still, he gives her a big hug and whispers “congratulations” in her ear.”
Meanwhile, Park Jin learns more about the cunning plan (orchestrated by Jin-mu) to dry up the wells. Several boatmen found more along the canal, while Park Jin admits that they contain the power of a volcano, meaning there’s powerful magic around it. As we know, Jin-mu is using hidden agents to do his job but they panic en-route and end up dumping all their gear in the water.
Jin-mu heads to the King’s council and requests Cheonbugwan to gather the Unanimous Assembly. After all, drying up these wells is causing dissent among the people. He wants to advance the date of the rite and even mess about with the King’s troops too, deciding to appoint Jang-uk as a General, which would mean he needs to leave Daeho Fortress and head north.
Jang-uk can sense that powerful pieces are moving across the chessboard and look set to try and checkmate them all. He wants to attack the Crown and Cheongbugwan, desperate for revenge. Park Jin tells him not to. He shows Jang-uk the old emblem from the past and proceeds to tell him the full story of his birth, including how the King switched places with Jang gang. Given Jang-uk’s intent to cause chaos, Park Jin promises to do everything in his power to stop him if he goes down this path – even if he himself dies in the process.
Jang-uk ends up conflicted over what to do, and can’t make up his mind, even with Master Lee Cheol trying to guide him along the right path.
Bu-yeon continues to experience memories from the past, the most recent coming from attempting to hoist herself up at the bridge. This is, of course, a throwback to episode 1 last season when Mu-deok did the same thing and wasn’t able to lift herself up.
It seems we’re no closer to Bu-yeon getting all of her memories back, and she deliberates over what all of this means. She even heads in to see the Crown Prince’s turtle, although she ends up verbally sparring with the “Eunuch” himself, unaware that he is, of course, the Prince.
When the Prince breaks the news to Jang-uk about him needing to leave, Jang-uk bites back by bringing up the man’s alliance with Jin-mu. The Prince mentions the fire bird and how dangerous all of this is, annoyed by Jang-uk’s nonchalance to the whole affair.
Things are soured further when the mix-up about the turtle is revealed. When the Prince realizes his mistake, he points out that Jang-uk has turned from before and leaves in a huff.
Back at Songrim, Yul’s condition goes from bad to worse. He’s got a nasty fever and he’s super pale. So-yi struggles to hold back tears and heads off to get him some medicine to help quell the pain he’s feeling. When she leaves, Yul remembers the words he was told before, namely that the parasite is currently feeding on his energy. Yul clearly has a high pain tolerance, given he’s still alive. However, if the parasite goes mad then the pain it causes Yul will equally drive him crazy and eventually lead to death. It would seem that a bird is the solution to Yul’s problem, given they eat insects. Could it be the fire bird perhaps?
When Jin-mu finds out his agent has thrown all the “imparted goods” in the lake, he decides to bring So-yi back to front this operation instead. Of course, that puts her plan to leave in jeopardy, given she’s down by the docks and preparing to get a trip out of town on a boat. Before she does, So-yi reflects on he time in the village and how she sees Yul as the light of her life. She clearly likes him, but heads back to her gambling den one last time… and ends up surrounded by Cheonbugwan mages. They make swift work of her, knocking her down and demanding to know the truth about the blood parasite.
Speaking of leaving, Bu-yeon speaks to Dang-gu and decides she wants to leave and head to Danhyanggok. She’s heard about the gigantic tree and wants to see it for herself. Yul overhears their conversation, deciding to join her. When she informs Jang-uk of her plan, he allows her to go… but when she mentions it’ll be with Yul, he starts to get jealous again in an amusing segment. He eventually swallows his pride and lets her go.
Yul’s plan here clearly seems to be doing what the others are unwilling to do. In a vision, we see him conjure forth a sword and stab both himself and Bu-yeon, knowing that Naksu resides inside her. One of So-yi’s companions comes rushing back to the palace and informs Yul what’s happening with So-yi. He rushes to her location, just as the Cheonbugwan mage, Yeom-su, beats her with the umbrella and knocks her out.
Yul shows up at the den and comes face to face with Cheonbugwan. He starts to fight them off, but of course given he’s using the energy, Yeom-su immediately realizes he has the blood parasite inside him, as Yul’s energy dwindles. Before Yeom-su can hit the finishing blow, So-yi shows and stabs him in the thigh, before being thrown across the room.
Yul manages to hold them off, with So-yi’s distraction working to buy him precious time. When Yul holds her, So-yi ends up passing away. Yul valiantly attempts to hold off Cheonbugwan but it’s no good. Just before he’s hit with the killing blow, Jang-uk shows and saves him at the last second. When Yul passes out, Jang-uk grabs his sword and prepares to wage war on them all, promising that none of them will leave the room alive.
The Episode Review
Alchemy of Souls returns with another dramatic episode with plenty of talking points, especially that bit right at the very end. We did theorize in the last chapter that Yul or So-yi would die and it seems the latter has now gone from this story, having sacrificed herself to buy Yul some precious time.
It’s doubtful that Yul has also died though and I would imagine Yul is going to absolutely lay the smackdown on these Cheonbugwan mages, potentially setting up a big fight in the coming chapters – especially when the King learns what’s happened.
As for Bu-yeon, she still has her amnesia but the snippets of memories are slowly starting to come back now. It seems we’ll have to wait until the finale at this rate before we get a definitive answer over what her fate will be.
There’s a bit more urgency with this chapter though, and the amusing subplot involving the Crown Prince and his turtle – not to mention the coming wedding preparations – work to give this chapter some much-needed comedic levity.
Overall this is a great episode to drop on Christmas Day and there’s enough drama and action in this to make for a really enjoyable watch.