The Final Goodbye?
Episode 8 of Alchemy of Souls begins with Uk and Bu-yeon continuing to kiss. After, Jang-uk thanks her and decides they should try to retract the promise made, hoping for Ho-gyeong’s blessing. He promises to be a good man to her and decides to go all-in with the idea of marriage.
Whether Ho-gyeong will agree to all of this though is another matter. The pair have a frosty relationship, as evidenced over the course of this season.
Just before they part ways, Jang-uk points out how he broke into Jinyowon before, with a doorway opening off the back of that soul-shifter fighter. Anyway, he promises to go and see her, sneaking in at night, as they part ways. However, more of Mu-deok’s memories filter back as they say their goodbyes.
Those in Songrim join and discuss Bu-yeon and Jang-uk’s ties. When Uk shows up, he’s happy to learn Yul was going to speak his part and help turn the tide with Lady Jin. Only, Park-jin encouraged him to stop, pointing out Uk originally said to give up much to the latter’s exasperation.
Yul acts coldly toward Bu-yeon, understanding that she’s Naksu and Mu-deok. He tells her not to smile, given what he intended to do had they left the palace. He tells her his heart aches for her (Mu-deok). In saying this, memories of her time with Yul as Mu-deok come back and Bu-yeon deliberates over what this means.
Bu-yeon wants to be with Jang-uk but is scared about what these true memories could mean. As Yul promises to be with her from the wings, helping her if she needs it, Yun-ok happens to be listening in. She wants to prove that she’s Naksu and breaks into the pharmacy, stealing vials that can show the mark of soul shifters.
Yul heads out to pay his respects to So-i, en-route to seeing Ho-gyeong. He tells Ho-gyeong that Naksu’s soul will disappear soon and when it does, Bu-yeon will properly take over the body. He tells Ho-gyeong to ask Master Lee herself, given they’e both been given conflicting information, but if she really wants Bu-yeon to return, she should allow her to marry Jang-uk.
The Crown Prince tells Jang-uk that if he doesn’t intend to fight him over the Gold Plaque then he should go to the Fortress. That way he can hide behind Jin-mu. This is all part of their plan and as the pair have a loose alliance, everything begins slotting into place. Park-jin also promises to stand by Uk’s side, as he decides to fight for what he believes in.
Out in the woods, Yun-ok splashes Bu-yeon with the special liquid and her eyes shine blue. She heads off alone and notices her reflection in the water. In doing so, she ends up seeing visions of Mu-deok that fateful last night before she perished in the lake. As for Yul, he reprimands Yun-ok and calls her out for stealing his letter.
Bu-yeon eventually does show up to see the infamous tree, where more memories of the past filter back. It all comes flooding back, one after another, as she eventually ends up seeing a younger Bu-yeon, the true owner of the body. She points out that Naksu will need to leave this body soon.
When she returns to the palace, Bu-yeon admits to Jang-uk that she saw exactly who she is and what became of her. She’s regained enough of her memory to piece together Mu-deok’s history.
She feels too guilty to stay with Jang-uk and decides to walk away. With tears running down her cheeks, she tells Jang-uk that she liked him more than he did her and as a result, she wants him to “turn the light back on” again and think clearly. As she lets go of his hand and apologizes, Jang-uk is left shocked. Bu-yeon returns to Jinyowon alone as promised.
With nothing else for it, Jang-uk prepares to become the General of the North Fortress, with plans to protect Daeho no matter what. He also reveals to the King that Bu-yeon will not be joining him.
Jang-uk shows up at Jinyoeon and reveals that he likes her a lot and brings up all the things she’s managed to do for him and why he cares for her so. He promises to return sooner than expected and the pair eventually part ways, with Jang-uk ready to go north.
The thing is, there’s a last minute sorcery spell that could well see Naksu and Jang-uk reunited once more. Lee brings up that this is forbidden magic, like the alchemy of souls, but it basically would allow Jang-uk to purge Bu-yeon’s soul and just keep Naksu’s. It will be agonizing and a horrific choice for anyone to make – much less Jang-uk.
Meanwhile, the Crown Prince quizzes Jin-mu about the lake’s rite and the secret organization he’s aligned with. The Prince wants to know everything and promises to be all-in on his mission, wanting to be as powerful as Jang-uk. In the midst of this, all those volcanic rocks are found in the lake by the common folk, who start an uproar and dissent occurs through the village, This is all Jin-mu’s plan, intending to thrive in the face of chaos.
With the Unanimous Assembly coming up, Jin- mu brings Ho-gyeong in and tells her that before tomorrow’s meeting, the priestess who will be dancing for the rite will not be from Jinyowon. Ho-gyeong is livid. Jin-mu brings up how Ho-gyeong will embarrass herself if she attempts to stand against the royal family and the Unanimous Assembly’s decision.
In the morning Bu-yeon heads out with the rest of the mages, having remembered just how dangerous Jin-mu is, including those infamous last episode bells that turned the tide of battle in episode 20.
Anyway, Jin-mu has plans to remove the Jinyowon plaque, pointing out that Ho-gyeong’s hair is turning grey and she doesn’t have the power she once had. Just as they talk, Bu-yeon, Cho-yeon and the other mages show (along with the black turtle) and Jin-mu questions their strength.
Bu-yeon steps up and decides she’s worthy, wanting to test her divine powers against his best, pointing out that she’s more than capable of keeping the plaque safe and that Jinyowon still holds power.
Bu-yeon’s task though is perilous and it involves throwing the plaque into Gwisu and she will have to bring it back within a day. Despite there being wraiths inside that could kill her, she intends to do this for the good of Jinyowon and believes she can bring it back within the allotted time.
Bu-yepn decides to go ahead but she does so with the black turtle, given it’s given her good luck up until now. She passes through the portal and finds herself in a strange world. She follows the turtle up the beach into the forest, where wraiths begin circling around her. She also finds skeletal remains and a glowing orb too.
When Bu-yeon reaches out for it, the wraiths materialize and start coming for her. Out of nowhere, Jang-uk suddenly appears and destroys the wraith. “Those marks in your eyes,” Jang-uk says as he looks at Bu-yeon “Who are you?”
The Episode Review
So Jang-uk shows up right at the death and saves Bu-yeon from the wraiths, naturally. This has been a regular occurrence this season hasn’t it? Jang-uk jumping in at the last second and saving the day.
We get the obligatory break up just before the final week too and the various subplots continue to tick on. There isn’t much in the way of stand-out elements this time around though, despite a really hot and passionate kiss at the start of this chapter which is a definite highlight!
It does seem like we’re going to get a happy ending with Jang-uk and Mu-deok after all, given this sudden last minute introduction of a spell to banish Bu-yeon. Whether Jang-uk will actually do that or not though remains to be seen. Next week’s double-bill looks like it’s going to be a cracker.