An exciting, packed episode which culminates in revelations weeks in the making.
This recap of Alchemy of Souls season 1, episode 16 contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Picking up where we left off, Jang Uk finds himself upset by Mu-deok’s unloving glare, clarifying that if she is to look at him without sweetness, she should have said that she was “mildly attracted” to the young master instead of exclaiming that she loves him to death. However, the maid does have genuine concerns at what type of love should be shown to someone who finds himself encouraged to be married off. In due time, a promise is then suggested to guarantee that Mu-deok is Jang Uk’s, causing the young master to suddenly become cautious over how the two go about their affection. Then, the mood shifts, with the rookie mage explaining that Master Lee was always aware of Naksu’s true identity because of Gwigu. Meanwhile, Ho-gyeong confronts Park Jin in a bid to take the dog away due to her disappointment in his constant interference in soul shifter cases, though Lee stands firm that the relic also belongs to Songrim.
Alchemy of Souls season 1, episode 16 recap
After Ho-gyeong accuses Master Lee of being a thief, Gwigu fixates on Cho-yeon, making an attempt to go for her only stunted by the leader of Jinyowon’s sharp defence. Killing the dog, a stuttering excuse of protection is made which doesn’t cut through, given the revelation that the animal only sensed a need to attack Lady Jin because it had detected sorcery. Worried, Woo-tak knows this could be because of the blood sucking worm, but the shady husband sees his fears coincidentally relieved when Cho-yeon admits she used forbidden magic for a Lovers’ Charm.
With Gwigu vanished, Ho-gyeong prepares to chastise her child for disgracing Jinyowon, though is unable to when Dang-gu protects Lady Jin. Stunned, no further action appears to be taken, and we move forward to a group look at the wrapped corpse of the dog in the secret room. Here, Mu-deok wonders if Gwigu was covering for her too given that it never barked in her presence, while Jang Uk finds himself confused at the news that his friend and former fiancé are now lovers. Elsewhere, Ho-gyeong excuses herself after taking responsibility for the incident, yet finds herself irritated by Park Jin’s concern that Jin Mu is just fooling around with her regarding Bu-yeon. As such, Jinyowon’s leader rejects the idea of Dang-gu uniting the families, harbouring greater ambitions of marrying her daughter off to the Crown Prince. However, Cho-yeon is willing to be disobedient now, clinging onto her love’s arm in the hopes of sending a message that the couple are meant to be.
Somewhat cast aside, Dang-gu and Cho-yeon turn their attentions to Maidservant Kim, hoping that she can provide them with a place to stay for the time being. Concurrently, Jin Mu feeds back to the royal family that Gwigu has been dealt with, claiming that the dog was used by Songrim to threaten them, with his words then backed up by the Queen, who adds that the relic was a façade being utilised so that the King understands he could potentially be dethroned by the unanimous assembly. The Crown Prince does have his doubts about all this, seeing the good in what happened, but it’s evident that enough has been done to shake the people in charge.
Later on, the Crown Prince fails to fully buy Jin Mu’s report that the existence of the King’s Star could spell treason, believing that the monarchy is sturdy enough to survive. “It is preposterous to think that one can become king because of some constellation,” he says, only to be told that it’s possible should that person be from Songrim due to the revered nature of Daeho’s old saviour, Seo Gyeong. Mildly bothered, the heir states that he will not live under constant fear, yet seemingly edges closer to trusting the words of the assistant Gwanju.
Acknowledging that Park Jin was correct in believing that the Queen is on the side of Jin Mu, Master Lee listens to Songrim’s leader explain that the royal family cannot be provoked just yet, as they could use the circumstances of Jang Uk’s birth to force him, and subsequently where he resides, into becoming an enemy. “We need Jang Gang,” Park Jin bluntly adds, trusting that he knows the truth, as well as the weakness of Jin Mu, and that he will return once aware of the rumours involving soul shifters, “fearing for Songrim and for his son.” The next shot then shows the scraggly man walking with a determined look on his face.
Summoned by Master Lee to see Heo Yeom, Jang Uk is surprised to find out that he has been trusted with keeping Naksu’s sword. The elderly mage is startled too, pondering why the young master is being treated so fondly by the teacher when he isn’t even his pupil, in addition to why Lady Heo was charmed by him when he loves Mu-deok. Jang Uk humorously denies his knack for attracting people, but a very real warning does come that he should be careful not to stray should he wish to avoid the “merciless” side to Master Lee. Following that, Heo Yeom passes on a message about the sword to the young master, though we do not currently hear what that is.
Gifted her sword back, Naksu wonders why it is was given to Jang Uk. “Because I have you, I should have your sword too,” he replies, with the two knowing that a blind eye will continue to be kept about the maid’s soul shifting identity. We do also find out the message that was given to the young master, one that mentions that if anyone tries to use the weapon, they must be killed, and that Jang Uk will die as well should he fail to carry out that act. It’s a warning that the assassin form of Naksu cannot return, but a relieving message that she will be safe as Mu-deok. Still, the former assassin is concerned about the enemies that she will gain once her powers are returned, in addition to the idea that the master and pupil will have to go their separate ways. Jang Uk responds by wanting one more wish, that he is the first to be stabbed should Mu-deok ever become her old self again, though he also states that he will afford a promise to her should she withdraw the weapon. Following a message about finding the ice stone so Naksu doesn’t run wild, the young master leaves.
As Park Jin and Maidservant Kim talk about their tolerance levels towards the love of those they care about, the leader of Songrim wonders if an older, less handsome man could move the heart of his crush, worried about Master Lee’s appeal. However, Kim takes this a different way, believing that Park Jin wanted to know how she felt about him in a straightforward manner. Concurrently, the secretive young couple open up about their minor regret in running away together (albeit not to each other), but panic that their partner would be upset should any suggestion of returning home. A little later, Jang Uk mentions that it is dangerous if So-i is responsible for the murder case the former assassin is embroiled in, given that she knows who Mu-deok is.
After we see Seo Yul protect Mu-deok from being sent to help with any investigations into the murders of the thugs, knowing that it would cause more harm than good, So-i practices walking as a blind person with an umbrella outside, to the mild bemusement of a curious Yeom Soo. Meanwhile, Mu-deok struggles with the demands of Cho-yeon food wise, hiding her annoyance over Lady Jin’s similarities to Jang Uk until pushed into asking her to go home should she be anxious. There is some important context given here, that Cho-yeon was always treated as the black sheep of the family compared to the “pride and joy” Bu-yeon who had extreme power. Additionally, we find out that a powerful Jinyowon priestess can control people’s souls, trapping them to be helpless, something that sharply interests Naksu.
At the culmination of a sweet scene which shows the group of friends express their gratitude towards the mature Seo Yul protecting them in youth to the point he fell ill when lying (there is a more eery element of present day Dang-gu buying into the idea of soul shifters existing in Songrim), and joke about who will side with Dang-gu, we see that the genius mage is concerned about Seoho Fortress to the point he cannot sleep. Jang Uk is aware his friend is feigning ignorance though, knowing that Mu-deok is a trigger for these woes. Elsewhere, Naksu ponders over whether she will be as powerful as she was should her energy be regained, listening to Maidservant Kim express her worries over the “ominous” weapon now in Uk’s house.
Worried about what’s going on, the Crown Prince once more notices Eunuch Kim’s absence, so orders a discrete look into who the missing man is, when he started work, and if there is anything odd worth flagging up. At the same time, we see Jang Uk acknowledge to his maid that Shaman Choi, who Mu-deok knows is the Queen, must be the superior in Jin Mu’s plan. Yet we discover that Lady Heo did not spot signs of soul shifting when examining the royal, and she still has her lantern of life that belongs to those in the Seo family. Park Jin remains unconvinced still, staying adamant that she is a soul shifter who could be Jin Mu’s “greatest weakness.”
When Jin Mu stays calm over Songrim’s suspicions over the Queen, the royal turns the topic to So-i, wondering if she can safely enter Jinyowon. The assistant gwanju is confident, believing that the lost daughter will be found, and that a funeral will be held at the palace “because the Queen will have passed away.” The old body housing the soul of the true noblewoman will be dealt with, a point proven by the fact Woo-tak pays the host a visit to express his wishes for her to be let go.
At Gaema Village, Jang Uk attempts to find Shaman Bong, but ends up curious by the fact that both he and the strangely present Crown Prince have been directed to the Fire Priestess. Together, the two discuss their overlapping goals, sharing information with each other that leads to a joint trip to see Shaman Bong. In the background, Jang Gang watches on. Elsewhere, Dang-gu and Cho-yeon discuss their initial regrets in acting impulsively, though agree not to return home if it means signing a letter stating that they will not see each other again. Content, the couple eat together later, ready to temporarily move into Maidservant Kim’s offered accommodation. With that being said, Lady Jin does take back the letter after the meal, wanting to mull things over to potentially avoid being properly kicked out.
As we see Mu-deok’s scar that matches Bu-yeon’s, we cut to So-i showing off her developed one, ready to do her best in hoodwinking Jinyowon’s leader. Woo-tak is shown to not exactly be fully happy with the plan, however, as he states that it makes his “skin crawl” when the swindler addresses him as if he is her father. At that point, a distressed So-i notices the discarded bit of silk left from the lord, putting two and two together to wonder why Mu-deok had something with the Jin family crest.
That night, the story of Shaman Choi, a woman famed for her sorcery that “put hexes on people,” is regaled by Shaman Bong to Jang Uk and the Crown Prince. Learning that she was almost stopped by Cheonbugwan, but opted to throw herself in a fire that started rumours about whether or not she actually died, the royal believes she could have had a grudge against Jang Gang. Meanwhile, Dang-gu refuses to sign the paper due to his love for Lady Jin, and Cho-yeon attempts to move her things out of Jinyowon without being caught.
After this, Park Jin sends Dang-gu back to Jang Uk’s house, just not for the expected reason. His nephew is to see if Jang Gang appears there, wanting to be immediately told if it happens. Concurrently, Woo-tak is subtly shown to potentially be Shaman Choi’s brother, before we head to the introduction of So-i to Ho-gyeong. Convinced that this person is Bu-yeon when the doors to Jinyowon are opened (even if the audience knows this is likely due to Mu-deok), the leader embraces the swindler just as So-i spots her former friend, potentially realising what is going on.
Finally, the Crown Prince is told to keep today’s revelations a secret from Jin Mu, but he and Jang Uk are alarmed by the potential presence of a follower. So they split up, hoping to catch the man known to us as Jang Gang. In the midst of this, Ho-gyeong looks cautiously at her daughter and Mu-deok, and then the episode ends with the one-to-one revelation to Jang Uk that his father has arrived in front of him.