A flawlessly emotional end to a series which has continued to grow in impact.
This recap of Netflix K-Drama series Bulgasal: Immortal Souls season 1, episode 16 — the finale and ending explained — contains spoilers.
Read the recap of the previous episode.
As we enter the climax of Bulgasal: Immortal Souls, it’s worth mentioning a couple of things. Firstly, how the drama has successfully managed to build the stakes over the course of the series without dropping into a lull, with emotion, intensity and action all balanced on a flawlessly controlled knife edge. Secondly, it’s important that praise is given to Lee Joon, who has performed expertly as Ok Eul-tae. Dramatic, charismatic and every bit enthralling to watch, the actor has brought his role to life, and in some scenes completely dominated the screen. Without Lee, it’s conceivable the show wouldn’t have been as strong as it has been.
Bulgasal: Immortal Souls season 1, episode 16 recap – the finale and ending explained
Beginning the episode, we start with a flashback to 1000 years ago, witnessing a distressed couple instructing their young daughter to run away with her sibling. As the young child upsettingly wavers on where to go, we see a supposed monster advance, but it turns out to be the past life iteration of Sang-un. She’s later joined by Hwal, before we cut to a scene with the Hye-suk of all those years ago, a doting woman ready to take care of the two orphans.
However, Sang-un is still in the vicinity, watching proceedings unfold as we flit between numerous backdrops. Then, we reach five years later, and see the two children playing in the mountains as Hye-suk continues to look after them. But it doesn’t prevent trouble, as before long Jomagu, a monster described as ravenous enough to eat corpses, begins to attack the youngsters. That is until Sang-un appears, scaring Jomagu off for the sake of the two children’s survival. She emotionally accepts their thanks too, unable to muster any words as she stares at the berries she was given.
“You’re infatuated with those children,” Hwal telepathically says to his partner, expressing his worry that she might decide to leave him for the sake of them. Sang-un alleviates these fears, though, citing the fact that they are the only Bulgasals as the reason she cannot depart his side. The pairing appear to care for each other deeply, but when Sang-un arrives with herbs at the sibling’s household, things start to change. Invited in by Hye-suk, who quizzes the female Bulgasal about her living conditions, it results in a new kind of arrangement, one that leaves Hwal completely alone.
Now, the divide between the two Bulgasals widens, Hwal evidently heartbroken by the fact that Sang-un has not returned. Before long, we’re brought 10 years into the future, and we see that the two children are indeed past life versions of Si-ho and Do-yoon. Whilst in this flashback, we see that the close-knit siblings bare witness to Eul-tae, who is viscously slaughtering his brother before he spots the onlooking family, and fires an arrow into the back of Do-yoon. He cannot make any sort of advance onto the two, however, as Sang-un intervenes, grabbing his wrist in a move which terrifies the villain into fleeing.
Following that, Hye-suk discusses with Si-ho how they will eventually have to rid Sang-un from their family, while we also see a repeat of a previous flashback which details Eul-tae and his resentment towards his father, who is a previous iteration of Ho-yeol. Shortly after, Sang-un and Si-ho have a heart-to-heart about the former’s identity as Bulgasal, with the two forging a promise that the monster will never harm humans. Concurrently, we see Eul-tae deceive Ho-yeol, blaming Bulgasal on the death of his brother that he himself caused.
Naturally, this leads into Sang-un and her pseudo-family being removed from her house, with her identity as Bulgasal swiftly revealed too by way of the hunters watching her wounds recover. This then leads to a burning of the place where the monster has resided, in addition to the re-emergence of Hwal following the stabbing of Sang-un’s heart. It causes her to faint, and when she regains consciousness, we see that Hye-suk has died in the massacre. Witnessing this act allows Sang-un to feel emotion, one of sadness, but something that becomes extreme anger when she sees her partner is the culprit of what has unfolded.
At this point, the treble stabbing by the hands of Ho-yeol, Si-ho and Do-yoon takes place, but Hwal is completely resistant to the pain. As such, he goes to kill the three people who wished to end his life, saying that he will continue to murder them in their later lives for as long as he lives. Yet, there’s a pause in the vengeful Bulgasal’s mission, as Sang-un stabs her heart, an act that results in both of the monsters falling to their death. There’s then one more bitter threat made by Hwal, the same one we saw at the end of last episode, prior to the emergence of Eul-tae amidst the bloodbath and house-fire. Dropping to his knees, the sinister man wishes to become just like Bulgasal, saying that he needs the monster before taking Hwal’s body away.
Shockingly, Ho-yeol doesn’t disallow this act, stabbing Do-yoon as he tries to pursue Eul-tae, and finalising the young man’s death mercilessly. “After all, he is still my son,” we are told via an internal monologue, but the royal notes that he will ask for forgiveness should they ever meet again. Then, when we cut to Eul-tae and Hwal, we see the scene of the soul being ripped from the body, as well as Hwal’s disappearance from the site he was granted a chance to live at.
Back in the present, Eul-tae weakens and bleeds from his dark hole, unable to properly fight off Sang-un, who has stabbed him with the poison. “The soul will return to its rightful owner,” the voice of Hye-suk prophesies in the head of the villain, who himself is dismayed at the idea that he may have to become human again.
Next, Sang-un apologies for running away to the deceased Ho-yeol, putting the group picture in his hands before once again departing to finish off what she started. Meanwhile, Hwal returns to the cave he once lived in, finding Eul-tae who is provocatively trying to evoke memories of his past. He recalls how Sang-un waited for him in this very location, unaware of his death as a human, but it turns out that action was only performed so that she could kill him. “The one who protected you from her was me,” Eul-tae continues, wanting to know whether Hwal is ready to kill his current ally yet, and “fulfil” his curse.
Emerging from the dark corner he is standing in, Eul-tae begins to talk about his own craving for human blood, explaining that he was hesitant to try it at first, but the more he had, the “less disgusted” he felt. This love of blood allowed for his human emotion to fade, so that he could become a true monster. Believing Hwal will also end up the same way, as he once was, Eul-tae tries to share his blood with him, hoping it will make some level of appreciation form.
Now increasingly desperate, Eul-tae further pleads with Hwal to return to the monster he was 1000 years ago, and to help him get rid of the dark hole. “I’ve always wanted to become like you,” he says, but Hwal resists the urge to return to becoming the bloodthirsty Bulgasal he used to be, wanting to become human instead. So a brutal fight starts, one which Sang-un unsuccessfully intervenes in. Blaming her for everything, Eul-tae confronts his enemy, ready to kill her.
However, Hwal comes to the rescue, drinking the blood of Eul-tae ruthlessly and stabbing him in the heart. It renders the villain almost lifeless, with Sang-un applying the finishing touches by injecting more poison into his neck. It’s no time for celebration, though, as the dying Eul-tae explains to his foe that there’s no turning back for Hwal now that he has drank blood, implying a return to the relentlessly villainous monster he once was. A visibly upset Hwal doesn’t allow this to happen though, as he thrusts a knife into his own heart, presumably to protect those close to him. “As long as I’m alive, the curse will continue” he says, rationalising his death as a way for Do-yoon and Si-ho to live peaceful lives. After an apology, as well as further detailing of his sorrows and hopes, a devastated Sang-un is left behind with potentially false ambitions that the two can reconvene down the line. Elsewhere, we see that Eul-tae has also passed away.
In due time, Si-ho and Do-yoon are informed about the deaths of Ho-yeol, Eul-tae and Hwal, leaving the trio in a pit of despair and grief. When they appear to be somewhat composing themselves, Sang-un collapses with her previously gained injuries, rejecting help as she has “lost too much.” She allows her sister to look into the immediate past to locate Ho-yeol, and passes away following a deep look into the events that unfolded.
Left alone, Si-ho and Do-yoon hold a funeral for those they’ve lost, with the orphan choosing to remain optimistic afterwards, wanting the two to stay together and bide their time for the reincarnations of Hwal and Sang-un. Then, we move through the years, navigating Si-ho’s birth, Min-seo (the child) growing up, Do-yoon getting married, and then the family ageing together.
Touchingly, we see that the reincarnation of Sang-un has been tracked down, and that she also appears to hold memories of her old house. She visits too, appearing to recall everything, until she is interrupted by the reincarnation of none other than Hwal, who is purchasing the property. The scar on his hand returns after a clumsy fall, and the two appear to fall for each other in a fateful act. “Have we met before?” Hwal says, with the group photo visible in the background of the place they are now meeting in. And, in that moment, the episode, and show, finishes.
What did you think of the Netflix K-Drama series Bulgasal: Immortal Souls season 1, episode 16 (finale), and the ending? Comment below!
You can watch Bulgasal: Immortal Souls by subscribing to the streaming service.
1 thought on “Bulgasal: Immortal Souls season 1, episode 16 recap – the finale and ending explained”
I loved it this whole series. I just wished we had more the latest reincarnation of Hwal and Sang-un in the finale.