A decent offering with a great ending.
This recap of the Netflix K-Drama Alchemy of Souls season 1, episode 13, contains spoilers.
Alchemy of Souls season 1, episode 13 recap
As Heo Yeom attempts to return the soul shifter they’re investigating to enough consciousness for an explanation of his situation, Seo Yul finds himself disappointed by Park Jin’s revelation that they’re not attempting to bring back these monsters to life, as he believes they’re no longer human once they run wild. So the genius suggests the ice stone can be used, only to hear back that such power should be “forbidden to mankind.” At that point, we head to Jin Mu’s secret room, where he mentions that the power of the soul ejector was taken away by the skies. Remembering Bu-yeon’s abilities, the assistant gwanju wonders whether she attempted to make the ice stone disappear, before explaining that she could have became a great priestess with the ability to control the energy of the skies, should she still be alive.
Realising that she has opened the ceiling above the constellation basin, which apparently can only be accessed with the energy of a constellation recorder mage, Mu-deok understands that her energy has returned due to the water. Discovering that lightning had struck where Jang Uk was based, Jin Mu heads back there, where we see the energy of the soul ejector in front of the young master. Additionally, Mu-deok has been blinded again, but the two are set to be bailed out when the yin-yang jade is used to summon the Crown Prince to the area.
Shocked at all that’s happened, Jin Mu orders Eunuch Kim’s dead body to be moved discreetly, also locking the exits of Cheonbugwan so that Jang Uk can be found, and potentially killed. Attempting to then provoke the hiding mage into appearing, he ends up receiving some goading himself, just as the Songrim rookie decides to come out of hiding. Then, following a back-and-forth which sees Jang Uk gain the upper-hand by revealing his yin-yang jade plan (which includes his red jade being allegedly hidden inside the robe of the dead eunuch), the Crown Prince arrives, temporarily pulling the assistant gwanju away from his confrontation.
When Jin Mu grasps that he has been duped, he returns to hear the Crown Prince expose his attempts at killing Jang Uk so that the secret of Eunuch Kim’s running wild could be kept. However, Cheonbugwan’s leader also seems to discover that the person Naksu inherited the body of is indeed Bu-yeon, so seems preoccupied even when asked to provide a good excuse for the “misunderstanding.” Meanwhile, Master Lee asks for information on Cho Chung from Maidservant Kim, who is happy to discuss the man’s friendship with Jang Gang, as well as the daughter he had who is presumed to be dead. Then, she adds that Jang had left over 20 years ago to find this person, never returning after that. Here, we see the teases that a member of the Cho family is still around, even if Teacher Lee falsely insists on Cho Chung’s daughter being deceased.
While Master Lee becomes concerned by Mu-deok’s labelling as an evil spirit, we return to Cheonbugwan, where Park Jin has also arrived. In time, the whole situation turns into a formal meeting, with the details laid bare by Jang Uk, only to be dismissed as lies by Jin Mu. At that point, Songrim’s leader wants to search for the eunuch to confirm whether there is a soul shifter in the vicinity, though both his and the Crown Prince’s requests (the royal wanted to check whether he was in the palace) become fruitless when the supposedly petrified monster appears unscathed alongside the Queen. A quick context-giving scene confirms that the ice stone was used for this, which pleases Jang Uk when he begins to surmise that it means Naksu can be saved after she runs wild. Happy to then be deemed a liar, in addition to having to take responsibility for the breaking of the constellation basin, the young master pulls a stunt to ensure a safe exit from the place he was meant to die in, much to the annoyance of the assistant gwanju.
Promising to send people from Songrim to fix the broken basin, Park Jin leaves with Jang Uk and Mu-deok, smug about their success in avoiding punishment with the help of some dramatic acting to appease the Crown Prince. We do also see the royal’s own suspicions too, as he exhibits a lack of belief over the honey biscuit “excuse,” as well as just how Chisu could have been used to break the basin when the young master has not reached that yet. “I wonder how this broke,” he adds, flaring up wonder in Jin Mu’s own mind too. Then, the Crown Prince notices the assistant gwanju’s sword, appearing rather doubtful about its appearance.
Outside, Park Jin praises Mu-deok’s acting skills, confessing that he believes Jang Uk too. With Songrim aware that Cheonbugwan must have the ice stone, we cut back to the secret room, which shows Eunuch Kim talking about how the body containing the soul of Naksu drained his energy, how he did not see the ceiling open, and that there was no other mage present. However, despite his concerns that the young master is unlikely to be hiding the skill of Chisu, Jin Mu’s attention turns towards the gloating Eunuch’s happiness over possessing the power of Hwansu. Frustrated by his arrogance, the soul shifter is once more killed, returning the ice stone to its owner.
Hearing that Park Jin wants to destroy the ice stone due to its powers in returning soul shifters to life, Jang Uk is deflated, but is still rather content at his punishment of staying at home for a while, and avoiding Jin Mu. When Songrim’s leader departs, the young master is quick to tell his maid that they need to get to the in-demand item first, hearing back that the Danju must be in the palace. Meanwhile, the Queen informs the assistant gwanju that Court Lady Han will take the place of the Eunuch, so he should relay messages through her.
However, the royal is also annoyed at the underestimation of Jang Uk, pinning it as the reason Songrim will begin to suspect her. Jin Mu disagrees with this sentiment, though, pointing to the fact that the young master has changed, and was not always like this. Then, when the Queen states that it must be because of who he is associating with, Cheonbugwan’s leader begins to reflect on the person that has made the once arrogant man find his way.
As Jang Uk deduces the closeness between Mu-deok and Seo Yul, we see Park Jin vocalise his worry in Jin Mu wanting to hurt the young master. Here, he sends out Dang-gu and Seo Yul as part of the labour team heading to Cheonbugwan so tabs can be kept on the assistant gwanju, somewhat securing temporary safety. Later on, the genius mage asks whether the soul shifter really did come back to life, as well as how Jang Uk reacted to that. Seo Yul subsequently finds out that his friend disagreed with the destroying of the ice stone, sparking a feeling of potential understanding in terms of just what he may know about Mu-deok.
Wanting to refrain from being left alone with Jang Uk in case she devours his energy, Mu-deok rejects the idea of a trip, even going as far as saying to kill her if needed as her consuming him to death would be “unbearable.” Touched, the young master takes this as a reply to his love confession, vowing to find the ice stone so that the worries his master has can disappear. Meanwhile, the Crown Prince continues to weigh up the potential truths of the situation back in Cheonbugwan.
Wishing to forgo fishing so that he can diligently train, Jang Uk partially opens up about his probation to Master Lee, but leaves some of the details to be revealed by Park Jin. With that in mind, the young master is soon convinced to take the teacher up on his offer to fish together, when it turns out that he will be taught how to catch a golden fish that grows with Lake Gyeongcheondaeho’s energy, and can be caught only when chisu is mastered. As we find out the following day, the real reason for such an expedition is for Jang Uk to be able to learn the skill of controlling water for himself.
Following on from seeing Dang-gu’s awareness of Cheonbugwan’s constant use of blind women, which turns into an explanation to Park Jin, the leader of Songrim discusses the potential for hidden soul shifters with Ho-gyeong in an attempt to have Jinyowon’s relics used to find them. Yet Ho-gyeong does not care to help, believing that clear evidence will have to be found first to avoid resentment. Noticing a change in attitude towards Songrim, Park Jin confronts Jinyowon’s leader, only to be told to leave. Concurrently, Dang-gu delivers a gift to Cho-yeon, allowing for the two to enjoy a sweet moment together until they realise their respective areas have fought.
In the secret room, So-i is prepared for her task to become Bu-yeon, physically scarred so that she can be a convincing stand-in. After that, we see the original mark on Mu-deok’s arm, before we see that she is being tasked with helping Maidservant Kim prepare for Naksu’s memorial service. Elsewhere, Master Lee and Jang Uk eat together, with the former passing on his wish for the mage to be patient with his learning. The young master then asks why Lee has helped him so much, misunderstanding that it may because of his liking towards Maidservant Kim. What follows is then a rather tender back-and-forth about love, which eventually gives way to a chat about the history of Naksu, and culminates in a notification in regards to the memorial service.
Next, Dang-gu refuses to withdraw from Cheonbugwan until he believes the basin is perfect, frustrating Jin Mu. In the background, So-i listens intently while noticing her one-time saviour Seo Yul, eavesdropping on the fact that he is the first person in Jeongjingak to master Chisu. She is told to stay away from him due to his prestigious background, though So-i feels confident that she will soon be good enough when she is the leader of Jinyowon.
Subtly thanking Maidservant Kim for the service put on for Naksu, the woman now living as Mu-deok cries in remembrance for her father. Behind her Seo Yul, who himself is upset at the fate that has become reality for his former love, watches on, unable to step up and tell her what he knows and how he feels. Later on, the genius mage tells Jang Uk that he will be returning to Seoho Fortress soon now that he has mastered Chisu, and wishes to take someone currently not revealed to his friend with him. However, it’s obvious that this is Mu-deok.
Returning to Songrim, anticipating his final fight now that he has mastered Chisu, we see that the opponent awaiting Jang Uk is not Cha-beom, nor is the prize a golden toad. Instead, the victor claims Mu-deok, resulting in Seo Yul stepping forward to compete. With that revelation, the episode ends.
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