Thanks to a decent ending, the generally methodical chapter becomes memorable enough to bring excitement for the next installment.
This recap of the Netflix K-Drama Alchemy of Souls season 1, episode 17, contains spoilers.
We pick up where we left off, with Jang Uk confronting Jang Gang over his identity. Though all the young master discovers is that unsheathing his sword in Gaema Village would be dangerous, in addition to the fact that the Gwanju is well aware of just what his son holds in front of him. Shortly after, Jang Gang solemnly states that Do-hwa was the “biggest victim” in all of the events of the past, before he details that she was so beautiful, everyone in Daeho knew her. Then, the scraggly man questions Jang Uk, wondering why he is in a place where people practice sorcery despite it being forbidden.
Alchemy of Souls season 1, episode 17 recap
Naturally, the young master explains that he is here to find Shaman Choi, but he finds himself somewhat suspicious of Jang Gang’s knowledge of the infamous person. Bluntly asking the man opposite him if he was a Cheonbugwan mage who worked with his father, Jang Uk only hears that the Choi family was “destroyed” by Seo Gyeong, and that the young master’s curiosity for sorcery could lead him to lose everything. “Once that happens, it will be too late to go back,” the Gwanju says, wishing to prevent the rookie mage from making a permanent mistake. At that point, the two go their separate ways, with Jang Uk still unaware of his father’s identity.
Next, we return to So-i’s introduction as Bu-yeon. There, Mu-deok recognises the swindler from their previous interactions, while an almost relieved Ho-gyeong celebrates the return of her daughter alongside Cho-yeon. In the midst of this, both Jin Mu and So-i find themselves confused at the appearance of the Songrim servant. Elsewhere, Park Jin is shocked by the news of what is happening at Jinyowon, yet appears to believe that Bu-yeon may have actually been found.
As Mu-deok considers why her eyes may hurt whenever she goes to Jinyowon, Jang Uk arrives, ready for the two to spend some time together jokingly applying makeup. Following some more sweet moments which emphasises the affection to the two have towards each other, the young master mentions that the Crown Prince is also concerned about the behaviour of Jin Mu and the Queen. So, we head to the palace, where we see that the assistant gwanju has visited the royal to talk about the solo Gaema Village trip, and the King’s obsession with the King’s Star. Here, the Cheonbugwan villain explains that Seo Gyeong controlled the world, not saved it, by forbidding people from using the power of the ice stone. Adding that the sacred item has the ability to “bring eternity to finite things,” Jin Mu hopes to stop the ban on the alchemy of souls, creating a “new order” where specifically chosen people can use its power, presumably to gain eternal life.
After describing the return of Bu-yeon, which could lead to the rediscovery of the ice stone, Jin Mu appears to have somewhat convinced the Crown Prince that his idea is worth consideration. Elsewhere, Mu-deok talks with Jang Uk about the appearance of So-i, noting that she met the swindler now believed to be a Jinyowon priestess outside of the young master’s home, in addition to the fact that she carried with her an expensive umbrella that originally belonged to Seo Yul. Later on, Naksu confronts the genius mage over his careless gifting of the item away, with the whole group soon becoming aware that the person in possession of it is not, as is currently believed, Bu-yeon.
Once we have seen that So-i realises the truth behind the eye mask she owns which dons the crest of Jinyowon on it, as well as Bu-yeon’s overall qualities in sensing things, the swindler has a sudden realisation that the real lost daughter is Mu-deok. Worried for what could happen to her life once this is uncovered, she does not get a chance to dwell, as Cho-yeon arrives to comfort her pseudo-sister. Though it’s here that a chance to frame Mu-deok in a bad light is seized upon, as So-i lies by saying that she sensed a dark, unpleasant energy from the Songrim servant. Succeeding this, Woo-tak warns the trickster that she should be keeping a distance from his daughter, then tries to assure her that the real Bu-yeon is dead. Knowing this isn’t the case, So-i decides that she just needs to ensure nobody finds out who Mu-deok really is.
While surmising that they need to find concrete evidence which points towards So-i being a swindler, Jang Uk acknowledges that this scheme must be part of a wider plan Jin Mu has, one so powerful that it won’t even matter if Ho-gyeong discovers the truth. Concurrently, we see that the leader of Jinyowon does have her suspicions on the matter due to the difference in the ear shape between her daughter, and the person she is now faced with. Afterwards, Ho-gyeong grants Jin Mu his wish to look around the place she once forbid him from entering, apologising for her mistreatment of him in the past.
However, Jin Mu swiftly reveals his cunning side, attempting to rush Ho-gyeong into appointing Bu-yeon as her successor so that the groundwork can be laid for Cho-yeon to become the Crown Princess. It doesn’t quite work, but the assistant gwanju wastes no time in discussing how his half-sister’s power is not strong enough to allow for ice stone retrieval. Exposing that Jinyowon’s leader gave the protected item to Jang Gang, though claiming that he is not trying to accuse her of anything, Jin Mu expresses his desire to return the ice stone to its rightful place as a gift.
When Ho-gyeong mentions her doubts, the Cheonbugwan villain asks for them to be disposed of, so his half-sister can “be able to have it all.” In return, she must fight Songrim to gain “absolute power” of the ice stone, which would also cause the rivalled area to collapse. Meanwhile, the Crown Prince recalls his discussion with Jin Mu, appearing intrigued by the idea of eternal life, and Heo Yeom confirms that the soul shifter being housed in Songrim can now breathe. Yet Park Jin is still focused on the negative, deflated at the influence the assistant gwanju now has, as well as his lack of fear when it comes to being caught.
At Cheonbugwan, So-i is unveiled as the Danju of the secret investigation, and confirmed as the future leader of Jinyowon too. “I will use her to bring the ice stone out into the world,” the Queen says, prior to revealing that she will then shift her soul into the swindler’s body. Elsewhere, Park Jin is told that a meeting of the Unanimous Assembly had been called without Songrim being involved in discussions, causing scepticism all round the area. With the Royal Family also invited, we soon hear Ho-gyeong vent her frustrations at Songrim’s recent actions, wanting to put a stop to what they can do.
Shockingly, the ice stone is then shown to everyone, alongside claims that the item has been in Jinyowon all along. Mu-deok instantly realises that this was Jin Mu’s plan, to use his half-sister to bring the item into the world, while Jang Uk deduces that the Queen/Shaman Choi will soon have her soul shifted into the body of So-i. Concurrently, Jang Gang is seen to be roaming around again, while Master Lee says to Maidservant Kim that the gwanju will have to show himself with “all the fuss going around.” The wise mage has a letter to give Jang too, one that will seemingly ensure that whatever instructions are given get carried out.
Now that Songrim are accused of being fraudulent deceivers due to the existence of an ice stone not destroyed by Seo-gyeong, Park Jin’s area are stripped of the right to a say. As a result, it looks as though the item will stay in Jinyowon, though a petty squabble does break out when other members of the assembly begin to wish to keep the stone. Elsewhere, the body housing Master Kang’s soul is discovered by his mother, who awakes the monster enough for it to steal energy once more, and seemingly become living.
Next, Ho-gyeong intervenes in the fight, suggesting that Jinyowon are given the rights to gather the Unanimous Assembly from now on, and are able to take charge of discussions pertaining to the ice stone. However, Park Jin is instantly against this, banning the item from being removed from Songrim, while remaining adamant that it should be destroyed to avoid further conflict. The leader’s ways are so strong that he instructs his men to fight anyone who attempts to exit with the stone, causing Dang-gu to believe that a war could break out due to the tense situation. Then, as the King reflects on Master Lee being right in his proclamations, Jang Uk interrupts proceedings, informing everyone of Seo-gyeong’s true intentions that were left in Words of the Heart.
When Dang-gu and Cho-yeon are sent out to fetch the book of poetry that people believe is being used as a device to stall for time, Songrim’s heir shocks his lover by exposing that the criminal So-i is pretending to be Bu-yeon. Meanwhile, the swindler gets Ho-gyeong to agree to get rid of Mu-deok for safety reasons, though we see that Jinyowon’s leader has changed in how she acts towards the woman believed to be her long lost daughter. Additionally, Jang Uk, with the help of Seo Yul, informs the Crown Prince that the Queen is currently Shaman Choi, with the real royal alive in a different body. Swearing to find the actual Queen, and expose the identity of the soul shifter currently playing the royal, Jang Uk may need the help of the prince, but is determined to get to the bottom of the situation.
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As the King suggests that Mu-deok is killed, then brought back to life, to prove the power of the ice stone, the maid agrees to participate, believing that this is her chance to seize the item even if it comes with a risk of potentially permanent death. Concurrently, Jang Uk explains that Words of the Heart was a poem written to demonstrate the heartache of a man tempted into using sorcery to bring a lover back from the dead.
Shockingly, while Mu-deok is being choked to death by Ho-gyeong, the body replays the memories of her life as Bu-yeon, leading to a faint uttering of the words “mother.” In that moment, Jinyowon’s leader instantly stunts what she is doing, watching the tears fall from the eyes of her real daughter as darkness sets upon the area. With the camera focused on Jang Uk’s reaction to what he can hear, the episode ends.
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