The Sound of Magic season 1, episode 5 recap – “Curse of asphalt”

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: May 6, 2022
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The Sound of Magic season 1, episode 5 recap - "Curse of asphalt"


“Curse of asphalt” delivers some strong character work as the mystery still offers few answers in this penultimate episode.

This recap of The Sound of Magic season 1, episode 5, “Curse of asphalt”, contains spoilers.

All stories are about conflict, in one way or another, and a lot of the conflict in The Sound of Magic has been internal. We saw it in how Ah-yi agonized over whether to make that arrangement with Il-deung. We’ve seen in her toing and froing over whether to buy into Ri-eul’s idea of magic. Is he a real magician? Do we even live in such a world where it’s possible to be one?

The Sound of Magic season 1, episode 5 recap

The footage of Ri-eul obviously casts some doubt on these ideas. Ha-na thinks she’s found the motherlode, and Ah-yi isn’t having that. But she can’t reconcile what she wants to believe with what she sees to be true. And Ha-na doesn’t plan on letting it go either.

After Ah-yi hovers around and exchanges numbers with a pregnant woman – it’ll matter later – Ha-na sneaks into the fairground only to have her position given away by the parrot, Bella. Ri-eul is still adamant about the authenticity of his magic even after being confronted with the footage of him attacking a man, but his niceties don’t hold much weight in the face of the accusations. It’s only Bella being hurt that buys Ha-na time to flee from his clutches, at which point she runs into a similarly curious Il-deung.

Again, it comes back to belief. If you think right back to the premiere, one of the crucial ways in which Ri-eul ingratiated himself with Ah-yi was asking her if she believed in magic. And throughout the series, we’ve seen why she has cause to, how her circumstances are so dire that the only way she can imagine escaping them is with otherworldly intervention. The show has also made a point to position Il-deung as the antithesis of her; someone with all the money and privilege in the world.

In “Curse of asphalt”, though, we see how much Il-deung is struggling. We see him being berated by his parents, dissuaded from pursuing any of his own passions or ambitions, and physically abused by his father. Where does this lead him? Back to the theme park, of course.  But he doesn’t quite make it, instead passing out and having visions of himself driving a sporty car to a field of bright yellow flowers; when he wakes, he sees the same flowers drawn in chalk all around him on the ground.

In the latest development around Ri-eul’s potential evildoing, we see him mug an old lady in the middle of the night, and Ah-yi is interrogated as a potential witness. Also involved as a reference witness is Ah-yi’s old boss from the store who tried to sexually assault her. He even gets physical with her again when he explains how, from his point of view, Ri-eul tossed him directly over the railings that night, and the timing of the event suggests that Ah-yi was his accomplice. Naturally, Il-deung gives him an alibi.

In Il-deung’s recollections of passing out, he seems to recall Ri-eul laying his cloak over him, suggesting someone trying to frame the magician as being guilty. But this is a bad episode for Il-deung, whose testimony here doesn’t do him any social favors. The episode ends with him having another attack, and throwing a chair through one of the school’s windows. With shards of glass in his hand, he spies a butterfly nearby and implores Ri-eul to free him from the curse of the asphalt, the road his father has paved for him that he continues to find himself buried beneath.

You can stream The Sound of Magic season 1, episode 5, “Curse of asphalt”, exclusively on Netflix.

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