An interesting installment that slowly progresses things with methodical plot building.
We recap the Netflix K-Drama Alchemy of Souls season 1, episode 15, which contains spoilers.
Alchemy of Souls season 1, episode 15 recap
We begin with a trip to the past, where Heo Yeom is talking to his master, who he wishes to have go outside after 100 days of meditation. However, it becomes clear that the man has passed away, or at least it appears like that until we find out that the mage had actually soul shifted into the body of a young orphan. This was meant to be a test of Hwansu, but Heo Yeom had messed it up by hastily burning the initial soul host, meaning that a small boy had to become Lee Cheol.
Afterwards, we return to the present, where Master Lee is confessing that he is a soul shifter to the royal family. Claiming to be able to see others of his kind, the teacher seems quietly confident that he will get to the bottom of the issue surrounding the ice stone. Meanwhile, So-i protects Seo Yul by informing her an assassin that nobody else knows her face. Though we do also see that her willingness to lie gets Kim from Sari Village into trouble, as a scene plays out which shows his interaction with the future Bu-yeon prior to his death. Still, So-i is sneaky in stealing the man’s money following the murder, showing that although she isn’t overly excited by what’s happening, she can certainly hold her own.
Next, Mu-deok narrowly avoids a chance meeting with So-i, before she talks with Cho-yeon about the Jinyowon resident’s purchase of scalper tickets for the Seochun magic show she wishes to attend with Dang-gu (even if she does lie about going with her mother). Then, we see Park Jin arrive, believing that he has caught the maid post-murder. Initially unconvinced that Mu-deok isn’t the perpetrator, Songrim’s leader continues to hold suspicions about her potentially being somewhat involved when hearing that the people killed were all interested in the whereabouts of “a female swindler from Sari Village,” who he believes could be the now fleeing woman. Outside, Naksu wonders what kind of life her host body could have lived before she inherited it, and who So-i could be.
As So-i ends up shouted at for her cockiness regarding the identity she is set to steal, the future Bu-yeon bites back with smugness over the fact she will soon technically be high in rank. Following that, she asks someone about the whereabouts of Mu-deok, only to find herself shocked at the idea her friend is working as a maid, as well as the fact she can apparently see. Later on, once another death has occurred due to someone learning the identity of So-i, the swindler wonders if Mu-deok was always able to see, and states that she should pay her a visit. Meanwhile, Maidservant Kim is in disbelief over the idea that the maid she has become reasonably close with has committed murder (or solicited it with the help of a mage), although appears shocked when Park Jin brings up the idea of Mu-deok having something serious to hide.
While Mu-deok and Ju-wol look at two more dead bodies during the start of the former’s quest to discover who So-i is, we cut back to the palace. There, the king trusts Master Lee to look for soul shifters, with the eternal mage happy to seek them out by instilling a fear of getting caught into them. It’s a modest tactic, but the teacher does have a gift exciting enough to stun the queen to give too, Gwigu the dog. After being sent to bring the animal inside in exchange for a reward, Jang Uk finds himself contemplating running away, but acknowledges he is not strong enough to protect his master yet, so is unable to do anything aside from follow orders, and wonder what Master Lee wishes to do.
As we find out, the Queen had ordered Cheonbugwan to intervene in the matter, given that there are more than 10 soul shifters in the palace, so she tries to stall for time by standing against the introduction of the “wily beast” into the building. However, Master Lee is on hand to reassure the royals that the dog can only make people aware of these monsters by barking, so it appears as though it will be allowed in. Elsewhere, Gwigu finds itself energetically flagging soul shifters to Jang Uk outside, causing the King to anxiously order his guests to catch it.
Again, when Master Lee attempts to explain the purpose of his gift, the Queen objects, masquerading her own fears under the guise of protecting her husband. Claiming that it’s an attempt at humiliation, Ha-sun appeals to the King to stop the searches for soul shifters from happening, while Jin Mu orders his men to kill Gwigu before it can enter the palace, taunting Jang Uk in the process.
Continuing, Jin Mu fails in his task to remove the “insolent men from Songrim” from the palace, leading to tensions between two areas of Daeho heating up. When things calm down, and Jang Uk’s outside confrontation is also halted, the King talks with Master Lee calmly, though is warned of the risk of “greater conflict” should the ice stone be revealed to the world. Adding that someone is making the Soul Ejectors again, the royal seems startled, instantly wishing to know who is in possession of the ice stone. He is told a simple fact, that it probably lies with those who sent Naksu to the palace, and “turned a Songrim mage into a soul shifter.”
Following the subtle reveal to the King that another man has been born with the energy of the King’s Star, we cut to a brief look at Jang Uk as Master Lee narrates that the energy of the seven stars surrounding the young master will not be visible yet. “A power strong enough to defy the laws of nature and bring chaos to the world has returned once again,” the experienced mage explains, acknowledging that someone powerful enough to stop the world becoming imbalanced should too have also appeared. Then, Master Lee leaves, taking Gwigu with him alongside confidence that he has seen what was needed.
While Seo Yul wonders how much Master Lee knows about Mu-deok, in addition to what Jang Uk will do should he find out about Naksu, the young master shows his naivety when stating his disappointment in the fact that Gwigu wasn’t allowed to at least bite someone. As such, the idea of preventing a fight between Songrim and the royal family is explained to him, before Master Lee is called upon by the Crown Prince. Elsewhere, an angry Jin Mu warns a soul shifter that she will become petrified should the Queen be put in danger, labelling her a “useless imbecile” because of her lack of forward planning for the meeting that almost exposed the monster’s identity. But he still has something to cling onto, vocalising that it will be the end of Songrim should people find out that the King’s Star was created by sorcery.
In the meeting with the Crown Prince, Lee Cheol is told of the rumour that Naksu is alive after shifting souls, drawing some understated concern from both Jang Uk and Seo Yul. Concurrently, Mu-deok asks a curious Maidservant Kim for a favour, but is told to run away to avoid the young master becoming embroiled in controversy. However, the Songrim maid continues to press for help, knowing that she needs to find the real assassin so her name can be cleared. The plan includes a testimony from Lady Jin that would help prove that Mu-deok was not in the room at the time of the inn murders, so the maid asks to be taken to Jinyowon.
Afterwards, Mu-deok bumps into So-i outside the house, causing the latter to contemplate the lack of recognition from the woman she believes to still be her friend. There is a brief moment of humanity from the swindler in this scene too, as she wishes to swap umbrellas with a child when recognising that it’s the same design as the one given to her by Seo Yul. Meanwhile, the detailed discussion on Naksu continues at the Crown Prince’s place, where allusions to Master Lee’s full awareness to the situation involving the former assassin and Jang Uk are made clear.
In the wake of scenes showing that rumours of Lady Heo and Jang Uk’s affection are spreading when she treats his wound, we see that Dang-gu has already fallen for the idea that the two could get engaged. Seo Yul, on the other hand, has more important things on his mind, wanting to take Mu-deok to Seoho Fortress as soon as possible due to his fear over her soul shifting identity being exposed. Elsewhere, Master Lee asks the Crown Prince if he may be given Naksu’s sword.
Next, Mu-deok uses Ho-gyeong as bait so that Cho-yeon will agree to help clear the maid’s name. Something else comes up during the former assassin’s visit to Jinyowon too, as she ponders who the young girl in the house portrait could be when waiting for her frenemy to arrive back, dizzied by what she believes to be the incense stick. However, Mu-deok does overstep the mark when trying on the cloth used to protect a blind person’s eyes, causing an emerging Ho-gyeong to slap her in rage after she appeared to harbour faint hope that her daughter had been discovered.
In the secret room, Woo-tak, who we find out is not the biological father of Bu-yeon, helps with the implantation of a worm into So-i that will allow blood of the Jin family to run through her. There’s an additional caveat as well, that should sorcery not be used to keep the being alive, it will begin to eat the swindler from the inside. So, if she tries to flee, she will simply be eaten. Concurrently, Maidservant Kim explains the history of Bu-yeon to Mu-deok, causing her to reflect that she might have felt something earlier because of her body’s original blindness.
Whisked away to Songrim, Jang Uk finds himself locked up and left waiting for Park Jin. Mu-deok has suffered a similar fate of being taken in too, given that the two are now seemingly deemed as suspicious. Hearing the news, Seo Yul asks to see the dead bodies that have caused this interrogation, spotting that they are the thugs he fought with a while back. Here, it becomes apparent that the genius mage may also have his doubts about the murders.
Soon, Cho-yeon testifies to prove Mu-deok’s innocence, exposing her presence at the inn for the sake of justice. Sang-ho also jumps into proceedings, believing that So-i could be the culprit due to the words of Chwiseonru’s owner, while Seo Yul backs up the theory by informing Park Jin that he too saw a girl argue with the now deceased thugs. However, Songrim’s leader believed that the maid was innocent anyway, stating that he locked her and Jang Uk up to ask about something else.
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What follows is a sinister attempt at trying to find out Mu-deok’s secret, with Park Jin lying about the former assassin committing murder (for Naksu, he changes the tactic slightly to say that he has been informed of her secret) to try and evoke a reaction, while also claiming that if the imprisoned duo’s statements do not match, Jang Uk will remain in the secret room, and his maid will die. Fortunately, both are aware of what’s happening, so manage to say the same thing, subsequently guaranteeing their release.
After a deflated Park Jin lets them go, the two reunite outside, knowing that they have confessed their feelings for each other through an unintentional mediator. And, even if Mu-deok tries to quell the situation by asking her pupil to value his life in future, he wishes to keep risking things for love, wanting her to stick to her confession instead. Then, with a quiet stare, the episode ends.
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