Episode 4 of Bulgasal: Immortal Souls begins with Si-Ho and Sang-Un hurrying away from Hwal, worried that he’s going to strike. They head back to the apartment together and talk about the sword, the same sword that Sang-Un wants to try and find in order to kill Bulgasal. However, Si-Ho suddenly springs big news on her – she’s pregnant!
Hwal meanwhile, continues to reel from this revelation about Si-Ho. He’s still haunted by the past and the old shaman’s words, telling Hwal that as long as she has his grudge and mission, his friends and enemies will be reincarnated to the next life and beyond. They will once again be dragged into his karma, which has wickedly twisted against him.
After Hwal crashes his car, he suddenly awakens to find himself driven away by the reincarnated shaman. She’s much younger now but somehow she knows that he’s centuries old. It appears that in this world there are different levels of reincarnation, with some people able to remember everything and those completely clueless. It would appear that Si-Ho falls into the latter.
Hwal decides to strike quickly, killing the monster after Sang-Un and Si-Ho before locking up the former and turning her into bulgasal. That’s the plan anyway, and he deduces that in turning back human again, he can just die.
Creaking upstairs sends Hwal into fighting mode where he stumbles upon the blonde-haired kid he saved last chapter. This kid is an orphan by the name of Do-Yun and he has nowhere else to go. He’s too scared to go to the orphanage and he throws his arms around Hwal, jumping on his back and begging him for a place to stay. Although Hwal agrees…he hogties him to the floor and leaves the kid to his own devices.
While Do-Yun is trying to break free from his bonds, that fired detective working on Sang-Un’s case, Kwon Ho-Yeol, rings one of the burners. When he learns Do-Yun is staying there, he requests an address so he can drop a package off.
When he heads inside, Ho-Yeol begins looking around and finds an address scribbled on a piece of paper. He also finds the pictures of Sang-Un too. When he realizes Do-Yun has seen Hwal’s face, he takes him along for the ride.
Now, Hwal actually happens to be at Sang-Un’s house. Given the maniacal bus driver monster is there to kill them, Hwal saves Si-Ho’s life before hunting the creature. In touching Si-Ho and holding her close though, she’s rattled and seems to remember something of her old life.
In fact, she rings Sang-Un and tells her that Hwal holding her brought up a weird sensation as if he’s not human. Sang-Un immediately tells her to hurry off and stay at a motel.
Hwal chases after this monster, eventually fighting it in a warehouse. When Hwal is choked out and left in a heap on the ground, the monster laughs and claims that “her soul will be ours.”
The word “our” seems to imply that he’s working with someone else, which Hwal immediately senses too and remains desperate to find out. As he begins choking him out, Ho-Yeol suddenly shows up and forces him to relinquish his grip on the monster.
Hwal is shocked, and as he leaves it becomes clear why. Ho-Yeol is the reincarnated version of his father, and is once more another indication of the cruel hands of fate working against him. Even worse though, the monster convinces Ho-Yeol that Hwal is the bad guy here (I mean, he is but the monster is obviously worse) and they hurry off together.
Do-Yun joins them too as the trio drive together but the former is quick to point out that the erratic bus driver is acting very strangely. Eventually the monsters reveal that Ho-Yeol is the Bulgasal.
Now, through all of this we get a glimpse of our “Dark Hole” monster. This character has been referenced right the way through the episode and he appears before Sang-Un. After evading him in the forest, Sang-Un finds Hwal in a tunnel and confronts him about the past and why he killed her family.
Sang-Un is beside herself with grief and after stabbing him with a sword, looks him dead in the eyes as he grits his teeth. Hwal tells her he “doesn’t kill the innocent.” A brief flashback to that time shows another hooded figure leaving the apartment that fateful day Sang-Yeon died. Could this be one of the monsters? Dark Hole perhaps? It certainly changes our perception of the past but Sang-Un doesn’t believe him. She’s convinced it was Hwal responsible.
As Ho-Yeol and the gang approach their destination, the car crashes thanks to the monster trying to choke Ho-Yeol out. Dark Hole is there too, and as Ha-Yeol turns, he begins bleeding from his nose and whispers in shock that this is Bulgasal.
Well, this man eventually confronts Hwal in the tunnel, right off the back of Sang-Un running away. He claims to have been walking the earth for much longer than Bulgasal. Apparently he’s the sole survivor from the monster annihilation back in the Joseon era. Only, hasn’t Hwal been about since the Goryeo period?
Anyway, the two end up fighting as this villain claims that Sang-Un is also indebted to him. He claims her soul is his and begins stalking Sang-Un through the woods.
Unfortunately Dark Hole runs into Sang-Un and begins chokings her out. As he does, Hwal steps up (thanks to Do-Yun pulling the sword out from his body moments earlier) and throws it directly into Dark Hole’s chest. It narrowly misses her throat as she watches, wide-eyed, as this monster begins to choke and sputter.
Dark Hole is still alive though, promising to see Sang-Un again. Hwal staggers over and holds her, just like he did with his wife. Sang-Un asks for help before falling unconscious.
The Episode Review
Bulgasal has been a really enticing project and in many ways it’s exactly what Tale of the Nine Tailed tried (and failed) to do last year. This series has managed to add deft layers of reincarnation and a compelling plot about souls and karma into what appears to be building to a complicated doomed romance.
Lee Jin-Wook’s acting as Hwal is so good here and given his restrained performance, a lot of the emotive work is done simply with his eyes and pained expressions. Revealing that Ho-Yeol is actually the General who raised him as a child from the Joseon period is a nice way of turning fate against him while the inclusion of this hierarchical levels of monsters also helps to grow the antagonistic threat in this.
Who was it that killed Sangyeon then? Was it really a monster? And when it comes to Si-Hi, could it be that she’s going to give birth to the reincarnated version of Hwal’s son? Or is Do-Yun the reincarnated version? There are a lot of questions and it’s absolutely fascinating trying to second-guess this show!
The various twists are nicely placed in the story and while the 80 minute chapter starts a little slowly, the rest of the drama manages to step on the gas and ramp things up.
The ending seems to hint that we’re going to slow down a little going into next week’s round of episodes so we’ll have to wait and see if that materializes or not! For now, this is turning into a must-watch drama!