Episode 2 of Joseon Exorcist begins in the past as a strange man wearing a fur coat approaches the steps of the palace. He lets out a bloodcurdling scream toward the different soldiers as the King commands them to wear ear plugs
The soldiers raise their bronze mirrors, showing the true face of this monstrous being. It’s enough for this walking plague to dissolve and turn into a plague of locusts. With this final act, they bury the creature and hope that’s the end of this nightmare. Unfortunately, it’s not.
Back in the present, King Taejong worries that this creature may have been unleashed again. While he heads up to the Mountains to examine the Well they buried him in, the Clown Prince fights off more of the undead. Thankfully, the royal guard show up and manage to save him, as orders come in to burn the living dead.
The corpses are brought into town too, with Prime Minister Tae-Mi overseeing affairs. He’s silent, especially when the Clown Prince arrives at the Inner Hall of the Palace and sees numerous men and women dead on the floor. Each have a distinct black bite on their neck. This appears to be the handywork of the woman from the palanquin. As we soon find out, she’s crawling around on the walls inside the Palace.
Meanwhile, the Sadangpae group sit together under the stars and discuss their next move. With a Priest in their midst speaking Latin, Byeo-Ri steps up and decides they should search for Wang-Yu. For now though, they’re going to sleep.
Elsewhere, Prince Chungnyeong is told the grim truth about what’s happening and the threat they’re facing by the two priests. The dead are too far gone and they need to behead those lying on the floor before it’s too late. If they don’t, they could come back to life. Despite the Prince’s wishes, Father John brandishes a knife and slices the head off one of the dead men on the ground.
However, another rises up before Chungnyeong can berate him and launches itself at the Prince. Thankfully, those from Sadangpae return and help out. The threat passes and Chungnyeong learns that there is one specific evil spirit that controls all. This is the Alpha, and the same being we saw at the start of this episode.
Back at the Palace, King Taejong returns and speaks to Prince Kangnyeong. Well, more specifically he talks to the creature dwelling inside him as he promises to kill it if he touches a hair on the child’s head. Just like that, Kangnyeong’s eyes blacken and he screams to the heavens, seemingly confirming that this evil being is controlling the Prince.
With King Taejong despairing, Prince Chungnyeong sends a letter to him and the Clown Prince, confirming that these undead beings can be vanquished and all hope is not lost. Within this letter he mentions the Shaman and the priests from the West.
Together with the Sadangpae group, Prince Chungnyeong shows up with a Royal Order to let them all into the Palace. Ji-Gyeom is not sure this is a good idea, especially with all these bandits they’re with roaming around, but Prince Chungnyeong allows this to play out.
Within these walls happens to be Wang Yu who, as we know from earlier, is the man these hunters are actually intending to go after. Still, for now the Sadangpae group enthusiastically decide to put on a big show. In secret, they plot to snatch up Wang Yu during the commotion.
Elsewhere in the palace, Tae-Mi shows Clown Prince Yangnyeong that he has one of the undead locked up in secret. He intends to disrupt the established order of the Royal family. Yangnyeong though is not so sure this is a good idea.
Well Yangnyeong has an idea of his own, and decides to examine an unconscious eunuch who may be infected. Unfortunately a splash of blood manages to land on its body, prompting this man to open his blackened eyes and prepare to strike.
While this is going on, the undead gather outside in the fields, seemingly controlled by the Alpha, who stands in front of numerous other undead ready to strike. Thankfully there’s still one more bronze mirror that could help defeat it, and that happens to be in the basement of the Fortress. King Taejong heads down and sees this himself.
When he returns to see Prince Kangnyeong, this child is well and truly being controlled by the Alpha leader. The young boy contorts and twists violently as the King watches on. With a coffin ready for the young Prince, the King looks on contemptuously.
The Episode Review
The follow-up episode to Joseon Exorcist predictably slows down a bit as we start to understand more about the make-up of these undead warriors. It seems like this Alpha leader is in charge of all the zombies and he also has quite the grudge against the King and Royal Family.
The undead are a bit overpowered if I’m honest and unlike Kingdom, there’s no clear pattern of attack. These zombies can climb across walls, attack at any time during day or night and also have some form of intelligence given they’ve been plotting and ambushing. Again, the latter point may well be Alpha’s doing.
Despite that though, the show continues to deliver decent action and there’s some pretty gnarly gore here too, especially early on with the undead’s head sliced open.
Understandably there is a lot of controversy surrounding this show, especially its ties to Chinese culture and distortion of history. As a Westerner, it doesn’t detract too much from the enjoyment but I can understand why Koreans are annoyed by this.
However, Joseon Exorcist is shaping up to be a fun horror ride across the weeks. Whether it can maintain the pace and thrills needed to carry it across a long stretch of episodes however, remains to be seen.
Edit – 26/03/2021 – In light of what’s happened in Korea recently and the outrage surrounding the Chinese influences to this drama, distorting the true history surrounding King Taejong and his people, we have revised our score to 2.5/5 stars rather than 4.
This is due to the distortion of Korean history which we have only just been made aware of. The recap above has been left in its entirety for you to read but we cannot, in good faith, keep the score high after reading about these issues. If you want to read more on what’s happened, Soompi have a great article explaining this HERE.
In the meantime, thank you for reading these recap & reviews!