Alchemy Of Souls Season 2 Review – Fantastical follow-up loses its magic

Season 1

Season 2

Episode Guide

Episode 1 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 2 -|Review Score – 3/5
Episode 3 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 4 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 5 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 6 -|Review Score – 3/5
Episode 7 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 8 -|Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 9 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 10 -|Review Score – 2.5/5



Alchemy of Souls season 2 is… fine. After a pretty shaky ending to the first season, this fantastical drama returns with a more condensed 10 episode story but one that also comes with its own set of pitfalls and issues. Although the characters are still their lovable old selves and there are some stand-out moments here, compared to other Korean dramas, this really doesn’t have the pizzazz needed to really shine brightly.

The story picks up three years after the devastating events at the end of season 1. Mu-deok (who’s possessed by Naksu) is gone, having been saved from certain death by mysterious forces. As for Jang-uk, he’s back and more badass than ever before. He’s a hunter of soul-shifters and nigh-on unstoppable. He’s basically Neo from The Matrix Reloaded here, and it’s quite startling how similar those characters overlap narratively.

When Jang-uk comes across Bu-yeon, the long-forgotten princess of Jinyowon that’s been imprisoned by her mother, what ensues is an unlikely romance wrapped around a larger plot for saving the Kingdom. Only, it turns out Bu-yeon is actually Naksu and Mu-deok in disguise, although she doesn’t remember any of it.

As the season progresses, we essentially get two plots wrapped in one. The first sees Jang-uk and Songrim working to try and figure out what Jin-Mu and his monstrous mages over at Cheonbugwan have planned. It seems to involve drying up the lakes and enacting some sort of ritual to bring about their dastardly plan. The other, sees Jang-uk and Bu-yeon falling in love but also tiptoeing around the truth.

The pace is pretty uneven and some of that is attributed to the story, which see-saws between these two different plot elements without much urgency. That is, until the final few episodes where everything is ratcheted up to 100 and the story bursts into life.

The characters themselves are a bit of a mixed bag here too. Park-jin and Kim are relegated to comedic pieces, with the former no longer involved in the affairs of Songrim…until the last few episodes. Meanwhile, the Crown Prince ends up in his own subplot involving a very special turtle (which works surprisingly well) while Yul ends up infected with the blood parasite (which doesn’t work well). The biggest issue here though comes from Bu-yeon’s character itself.

Much has been said about the actress change but beyond that, the character is played completely differently. No longer is Naksu this tortured assassin that can more than hold her own. Instead, Naksu (within Bu-yeon’s body) plays the role of damsel in distress and it feels like a devolution of the character we’ve known across the show’s run.

Don’t get me wrong though, this season does have some really strong elements. The action and the special effects are just as good as they were before, while the overarching story involving Cheonbugwan is equally as endearing. The worldbuilding is interesting and the production design – especially the sets – look fantastic.

It’s just a shame then that the narrative doesn’t really stand out, at least not this year. There’s nothing particularly bad with this second season but equally, there’s nothing outstanding or amazing either. The story functions as well as it could and there’s enough twists and turns – especially late on – to keep you glued to see how this one concludes. Whether that’s enough to stand out next to a wealth of other Korean content on the market right now is another matter.

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  • Verdict - 6.5/10

29 thoughts on “Alchemy Of Souls Season 2 Review – Fantastical follow-up loses its magic”

  1. I was also disappointed in the actress change for season 2. But something that really impresses me is the acting style for Jung Uk. While in season 1, he smiles a lot and is kind of a happy-go-lucky guy, in season 2, he is dark. The scenes are dark and I just want to say kudos to him for still being the same character but showing how he is suffering and depressed in a very realistic way and how he doesn’t just snap out of it. But he slowly starts to let love back in his life. The new actress, well, I honestly don’t think she was very good. Same facial expression constantly. And just so clingy and needy…..not Mu-Deok, thats for sure. It’s a shame that the writers lost Naksu’s true spirit in the FL in season 2. She no longer has the personality or independence or creativity or spunk. All she’s about is having a husband. And I just didn’t get the Jong Uk seems so attracted to her like he was to Naksu. I really loved the friendships between all the young men and also the prince who makes up his mind based on a turtle. That was pretty silly but does show how power can be used in such capricious manners. While, for the most part, all the laces are tied in the end, the ending kind of sputters to a stop. For the intense drama of season 1, I expected a stronger ending. And that we learn more about the lives of the minor characters at the end rather then the hero and heroine. It just seems like the writers were rushed at the end and didn’t bring out their best ideas, like how season 1 was.

  2. Season 1 by far is the best. Season 2 makes me drag myself just to continue watching. No chemistry between LJW and GYJ. Storyline was boring specially the first half. Hated when they changed JSM who, in my opinion was a very good actress and portayed the role very well. While in season 2, actress keeps on smiling and having such happy personality knowing that the souls are not near what she’s portraying. Acting was so bad. Hopefully next time, writters will realize it was a big mistake changing the female lead which took them 20 episodes to build the love story only to disacppoint viewers for their next season. They could have used the same face but through Jin’s power, people around them can only see a different face. It could have been better. Anyway, just expressing my disappointment with season 2!

  3. I agree with all your point. Actually i’m a fan of both jung somin and go youn jung. I don’t mind they change the actress. But i was disappointed that they change her whole character as well. I mean, if I want to watch that kind of sweet, dumb female character, i can watch tons of other kdramas out there. What makes the female character stands out in season 1 is because of her brave, clever and strong character. But in season 2, it becomes just a typical female character with a typical kdrama trope and therefore, its boring. I was dragging myself to watch the first 6 episodes. Not to mention the unfunny comedies that the writer put in the script as fillers.

    Go youn jung’s acting in this drama is questionable too. To be honest, her acting style doesn’t fit for historical/segeuk drama. Sometimes her body is too stiff, and sometimes she moves too much. She looks like a modern woman lost in the ancient era. In terms of facial expression, Lee jae wook and jung somin are brilliant, but go youn jung is lacking in that part. Her tears and smile seems forced. And that makes me can’t really feel the emotions when watching her acting in this season.To me she has good chemistry with lee jae wook only behind the scene but not on screen. Her emotional acting was more realistic in her previous drama Law School but not in this drama. I’m sorry go youn jung, i like your acting in other dramas but not this one.
    And I can’t feel the love between jang uk and buyeon at all. The writer made bu yeon fall in love too fast in the 1st episode, while she had only talked to him for a few minutes in their previous scenes. It doesn’t feel logic. Too many flaws with the script.

  4. Season 1 Alchemy of Souls was fantastic loved it and the female lead and the male lead had a lot of chemistry and made the show. I was sooooo disappointed with season 2 the chemistry is severely lacking like there is non. I am trying to continue to watch season 2 but it’s very difficult. They made a severe mistake replacing the lead actress. Will there be season 3 who knows but I do hope it will improve and hoping that there will be some good chemistry with the lead actors and actresses.

  5. Whyyyyyyyyy whyyyyy do we have to have a stupid girl who is soooo annoying I wish Mu deock could come back for the wedding and I’m here on google trying to find out the story for 2 DAYS and I still don’t get it

  6. I watched the first 27 minutes of SEASON 2 and my heart just broke and I am so pissed off. I hate the new character and face of ‘Mudeok’. I loved the former actress and her brilliant performance, and now I will not continue watchingSEASON 2.

    SEASON 1 was perfection and I couldn’t wait for season 2…. I wanted THAT Mudeok and Jang Uk to end up together… and not this big-nosed princess who is a loser…

    I am so angry that I don’t get to see my fantasy ending, and I needed a platform such as this to vent my ANGER.

  7. seizoen 1 is geweldig, FANTASTIC, seizoen 2 heb ik 2 afleveringen gekeken en ben toen gestopt. wat enorm teleurstellend; DISAPPOINTING.
    De Koreanen weten goede series te maken, maar vaak hebben deze een teleurstellend of vreemd en ongeloofwaardig einde. Jammer!!

  8. I Feel so disappointed that mu deok is gone.i was already overwhelmed by the love between uk and mu deok even though they had not realized it fed up thinking that mu deok is gone it’s like the show is really going to miss her funny ways. and I wonder if uk was able to retrieve the Jin and Jade bead for her.

  9. I was not pleased with how Season 1 ended with Mudeok perishing in that way… but the eagerness of wanting to know what Season 2 will be like kept me waiting. I was surprised to discover that Naksu has taken over with her real face … and how sweet she was and I honestly loved the sweet Naksu without being this gruesome assassin and whenever that Naksu traits appear Jin Mu was involved….I hated that guy strongly …and how he wanted to put Naksu in danger always.

  10. This why I can’t compare battle through heaven and alchemy of souls…. Season 2 of alchemy of souls is wack and boring lose interest in the movie after watching the first season. Battle through heavens is more interesting than alchemy of souls

  11. I can’t believe Mu Deok is not in season 2. Very disappointing!!!
    I only watch one episode in season 2 and that’s it. Season is over!

  12. I read all comments here.. Part 1 is really really good. Part 2, on the other hand.. I’m still thinking if I’d be able to go past ep 2.. yes I miss Mu-deok and her personality and fighting skills, I wish they could have written it with that same spirit.. 😪😪😪

  13. I loved season 1 so much, however season 2 was such a disappointment. I watched only few scenes of the season 2 and stopped watching. To say I’m disappointed in the season 2 is an understatement 👎

  14. I just loved the season 1 and as soon as I realized that mu deok/naksu is not their in the second season I am not able to watch the story any more, it is not justified and more over mu deok Or the jin buyeons is not someone who is a Barbie doll kind of a character they both are strong and powerful, so how come her whole character changes with a new girl, old mu deok was a perfect match for both the character not the new one. And for the love story it was mu deok and Uk not any one else. It is heard to see Uk without our mu deok. Can’t watch it any more.

  15. So Disappointed in Part 2..No subtitles and no Me-doak..I stopped watching the moment I realized they changed characters without showing us how this happened..SUBTITLES PLEASE AND BRING THE OLD ME-DOAK BACK

  16. I was absolutely obsessed with season 1. The chemistry between Mu Deok and Uk was incomparable and that whole dynamic worked. It was really difficult to watch season 2 after that, i honestly felt that Bu Yeon’s character had more chemistry with Yul. Part 2 was definitely not as enticing as part 1.

  17. I’m disappointed. I haven’t seen season 2 at all yet, still making my way through season 1 which is great. I don’t mind subtitles since I use them even if the people speak English. The English was kind of stilted anyway. However, I am going to miss the actress playing Naksu in season 1! And only 10 episodes??? Someone must have realized how bad it was….

  18. I would love to have a series that lasts up to 6 seasons. please don’t finish this.

    Naksu is the main character and the assassin. not a fairy. Dress her up and let her fight like Jang Uk.

    PS: Posted by a fan who was very happy watching

  19. I think that part one of the Alchemy of Souls is probably the best series I ever watched. Trust me I’m not easily please and I’ve watched thousand of cinematography. The plot was intense and the combination of both action and love intricately in twined, was epic. However, Part 2, I am completely disappointed with missing English voice overs, the emotional connect is lost in the translation. They did too good of a job in Part 1, with the perfect voice overs that it is painful to watch Part 2. Changing the storyline was a traumatic choice. This option is tantamount to the proverbial carrot placed on a stick hanging in front of the horse that unfortunately leads to traditional “ happily never after“ endings, that seems to be an non-western culture story line.
    Thumbs way up on Part 1.
    Thumbs down on Part 2.
    Unfortunately that happens when you tinker with and forget what made the success, by disregarding your audience.

  20. I think they killed the whole series by getting rid of Mu-Deuk’s character. She was the main actress. Honestly, I can’t even watch season 2 now. How do I get 20 episodes in then they bring in another actor? As well how come nothing has been done about assistant Gwanju yet? He was the one performing alchemy of souls. It just seems like it’s not well written. Mu-duek is gone and has Naksu’s face. Really? But none of Naksu’s memories and none of Be-loeung’s memories and none of Mu-Deuk’s memories. It’s such a disappointment
    Bring Mu-Deuk and Naksu

  21. I think they killed the whole series by getting rid of Mu-Deuk’s character. She was the main actress. Honestly, I can’t even watch season 2 now.

  22. I love the show. Watching part 1 a second time and it seems quite different than the first time watching it. My husband and I keep saying “ wait, we don’t remember this “ in many episodes. Same story but seemingly different pieces to it.

    I loved part 2. While we miss Mu deok and the actress, I thought they did well building up the chemistry between Uk and Bu yeon with the other actress.

  23. I totally agree with everything you said. I like the 2nd season just fine but had they kept Naksu’s character despite the change of actress I would have loved it more. I am highly disappointed by that honestly. although Go Youn Jung was great and her chemistry with Lee Jae Wook was amazing but I rarely ever felt like that was Naksu that I know and love. So in the last episode when Jang Uk said that deep down he knew all along who she was, I was honestly annoyed.

  24. I agree – I do like Season 2; although I miss Mu deok very much. I miss her spunk; her wits; her spirit. I do understand the story calling for Jin-Buyeon and Naksu’s face; but it could have included Naksu’s natural traits and character specially after regaining her memory slowly. I like that Jang Uk pined and longed for Me deok/Naksu and played excellently to resist Jin Buyeon’s charms

    Love Season 1 – My all time favorite since watching it and watched it many times since- Jang Uk and Mu deok all the way!
    Liked Season 2 – Great story, great actors
    Thank you for the the great ride

  25. Alchemy of Souls in Season 1 is amazing. Season 2 is fantastic .My friends and family circle are waiting for Season 3.

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