Episode 9 of Alchemy of Souls season 2 starts with Jang-uk questioning just who Bu-yeon actually is. “I am not Bu-yeon. My soul belongs to someone else.” She says cryptically, but refuses to divulge more. Unfortunately, Uk isn’t smart enough to figure it all out… yet!
Suddenly, the Crown Prince shows and questions what they’re both doing. Jang-uk shields Bu-yeon’s eyes so he can’t see her marks, and thankfully he doesn’t detect it. He tells Bu-yeon that only he can come this close. The trio work together and hold the ice stone, only Jang-uk believes they should leave it. It’s also here we learn that the Prince and Jang-uk made more than just a pact last time out, the former actually asked him to go to the North Fortress… and return immediately.
As for the Prince, he decides to gather all the soul shifters in one place (Cheonbugwan) so he can annihilate them. So why is the Prince siding with Uk now? Well, Jin-mu got rid of his turtle so now he wants revenge as a result.
Ho-gyeong confronts Master Lee and asks him about the soul situation mentioned in the last episode. He confirms that Bu-yeon’s soul has immense powers and as such, she should be fine. But we’ll have to wait and see. For now, it seems Jin-mu’s plan involves gathering his secret team and working to steal the firebird and the ice stone, two things that he desires.
With Bu-yeon through the portal and Jinyowon now vulnerable, Jin-mu wants to attack. He intends to gather that very night, introducing his secret organization to the Prince as promised and then attacking. Naturally, the Prince lets Jang-uk know, including the fact Bu-yeon is in Gwido.
The turtle just nonchalantly crawls up to them, surprising the pair. As they investigate where it came from, it turns out the portal to Gwido is actually open. It seems like the portal was conjured by Bu-yeon who managed to open the door for him.
In confidence, the Crown Prince admits to Bu-yeon what happened with Mu-deok and how ashamed he feels. In his desire to have her for himself and do everything he could to be with her, he lost sight of what really matters and ended up causing harm to a lot of people.
More details are unveiled about the past here too, specifically in the form of Yul uncovering something called the Bell Potion. Now, it seems like those who consume this potion can be put under control and hear bells at that time. The queen appears to be one of those who consumed it, however she’s loathe to actually divulge anything to Park-jin and the others when they show up.
Finally, after all this time, Jang-uk starts to realize that Bu-yeon and Mu-deok are one and the same. While he contemplates this, and prepares for the final fight against Jin-mu, Uk comes to realize that he’s the one who’s going to take out all the soul shifters at once, Bu-yeon shows up and Jang-uk echoes the Prince’s earlier words. He’s determined to do what’s right but questions Bu-yeon whether he should just stay there with her instead.
Bu-yeon is conflicted, bringing up that she could close Gwido’s door and they’d be done with it. Of course, that’s morally wrong and Bu-yeon knows this.
Jin-mu briefs his Cheonbugwan goons and tells them all that he’s determined to see this vision of a dry land, ripe for their ritual to take place and allow the strong to prospect. This new world order is not something the Prince is willing to accept, and he boasts that he’s about to show them just how powerful that rebellion is.
Just like that, Jin-mu is deceived and surrounded. Park-jin and the others show up through a portal at Cheongbugwan and they all head into the courtyard and start to fight. Uk is not among them though, as he instead shows up and confronts Jin-mu at the heart of the base.
After destroying the 78 other soul shifters that were with him, Uk decides to let the sorcerer go, claiming that the revenge is not for him to take. Instead, that’s for Bu-yeon to decide. Jin-mu is tricked by reaching out to grab an illusion of an icestone, eventually heading into Gwido. The sorcerer is pretty stupid and walks right up to the ice stone in the skeletal remains, taking it for himself.
Bu-yeon appears though and reveals that the ice stone is empty and it desires energy. Specifically energy from a soul shifter that has run wild. Bu-yeon deceives him and lets Jin-mu die a horrific death, pondering on the memory of Naksu and Danju as he does.
With Jin-mu defeated and all the Soul Shifters gone, it seems the fight is over. The royal family isn’t exactly happy, with the queen shocked that she’s now stuck in this body forever more, while the King believes a coup is coming in the future.
In Gwido, Bu-yeon lets the turtle into the sea, allowing it to swim freely. As it swims lazily away, something shiny happens to be gleaming in the light toward her. It’s the Jinyowon Plaque! This will subsequently allow her to leave and also fulfill her side of the promise to bring the plaque back.
Bu-yeon returns and hands over the plaque. She also apologizes to Ho-gyeong, deciding to confront the Unanimous Assembly herself. She speaks to Yul first and together they agree to feign ignorance about the whole thing. Yul brings up the situation about the bells and why she acted out of character, confirming that it was all Jin-mu’s doing.
After all this, Jang-uk decides to leave and head up to the North Fortress after all. It’s the best course of action for everyone involved and he says his goodbyes to everyone, including Kim and Park-jin. The pair contemplate whether to move up north after the wedding, while Yul reveals the heartbreaking truth to Uk. Naksu will disappear soon.
The Unanimous Assembly join together, contemplating what to do with Uk’s ice stone. Bu-yeon has the power to remove and place ice stones, as evidenced by what’s happened with Jin-mu. The thing is, if Jang-uk’s ice stone is removed then he could die. However, with no more soul sifters left, the Assembly argue that Uk’s ice stone should then be removed to prevent him being too powerful. Bu-yeon agrees to go along with whatever the Unanimous Assembly agree.
Meanwhile, the queen is led through the portal of Gwido by Yun-o, who learned from Cheonbugwan how to open it up. Together they head through the portal and disappear. With them gone, Uk shows up to see Bu-yeon, who happens to be by the tree.
Yun-o and the Queen show up to find Jin-mu fading away. Before he properly passes away though, the queen learns that the final Soul Ejector is actually inside the blood of the mage of the Choi family who created it in the first place. In other words, it’s inside the Queen. And at that, Jin-mu reaches inside her and takes the Soul Ejector out, watching as she passes away.
This leaves Yun-o all along and of course Jin-mu decides to switch souls with him, crafting his dark, mystical powers to trade places.
As the episode closes out, Jin-mu clearly heads back to Cheonbugwan and grabs a whole bunch of hair product. With his hair completely slicked back, he shows up to see the King, revealing that he’s actually Jin-mu but has shifted souls with Yun-o. The King welcomes him with open arms, alongside the Unanimous Assembly.
The Episode Review
The pacing for this second season has probably been the biggest issue with Alchemy of Souls because everything here happens at lightning speed. The Crown Prince and his turtle are still the absolute GOATs and can you imagine if we get a spin-off with these two? Wishful thinking and all that!
Being more serious though, there’s lots of intriguing points of worldbuilding and the like but this is also the sort of show that if you think too closely about plot elements, it does fall apart a bit. However, despite that it’s good to see Jang-uk finally grow wise to what’s happening with Bu-yeon and understand the tragedy of Naksu and how this will affect them all going forward. There will undoubtedly be consequences.
If that wasn’t enough, there’s also the subject of Jin-mu and his nefarious scheme. It’s perhaps unsurprising to find him back again, ready for one last fight after the big conflict in Cheonbugwan. Jang-uk is practically unstoppable at this point so it’ll be interesting to see how they handle that going into the final episode.
There are some characters who really haven’t been handled all that well this year, including Master “cryptic one-liners” Lee and Yul, the latter only now being given the opportunity to actually flex his powers after being infected all season long.
Still, everything here is left wide open for a final episode that promises at least 3 deaths, at least if those coffins at the end are anything to go by!