Alchemy of Souls season 2, episode 1 recap – what happens to Bu-yeon?

By Nathan Sartain
Published: December 11, 2022 (Last updated: last month)
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A strong opener to season two neatly lays the groundwork for what is to come.

We recap the Netflix K-Drama series Alchemy of Souls season 2, episode 1, which contains spoilers.

While Alchemy of Souls season 2 doesn’t begin with a tremendous deal of intensity, it thrives in laying the exciting groundwork for future installments. Jang Uk (Lee Jae-wook) has taken an intriguing new turn, the addition of Jin Bu-yeon (Jung So-min) is proving worthwhile, and teases of future complications bring about plenty of reason to keep tuning in. Going forward, it’s clear the ante will be quickly upped, especially given there are already only nine episodes remaining. Let’s recap Alchemy of Souls season 2, episode 1.

Alchemy of Souls season 2, episode 1 recap

As alcohol deliverymen discuss the beauty of a woman wrongly presumed to be Jin Cho-yeon, simultaneously worried about how Jinyowon must be “teeming with ghosts” due to the fact the area has banned visitors for the last three years, they leave some nuggets of information. One discusses how Naksu’s “petrified body was ground to a powder,” which was used to make charms to ward off soul shifters, while another informs his colleague that her body resides at the bottom of Lake Gyeongcheondaeho. Then we see the return of Jang Uk, a mage who has developed into someone capable of skilfully fending off monsters without breaking a sweat. He adeptly deals with the latest threat facing Jinyowon, before heading off to quietly reflect on the Naksu he loved, discarding a charm gifted to him just so he can take a chance that it’d mean he has better odds of meeting her if she ever returns.

After Dang-gu (who is now Songrim’s leader) fails to catch up with a fleeing soul shifter, he is forced to head to Jinyowon to find it. There, he requests entry, ignoring the warnings that nobody will be allowed inside in favor of ensuring he can speak with Lady Jin first. However, all Cho-yeon does is remind her former partner that her mother no longer permits outsiders to set foot in the gates of Jinyowon, and imperatively requests he keeps feeling guilt for failing to save her deceased father three years ago. “I hope you never forget it,” Lady Jin adds about the fatal situation, leaving an upset Dang-gu isolated.

Fortunately, Jang Uk manages to enter Jinyowon without prevention, meaning someone is on hand to catch the hiding soul shifter. Ho-gyeong is alright with this situation, given Bu-yeon has a barrier around her room to stop her from being easily found, but the leader’s trust in the monster hunter appears slightly misguided. For Jang Uk ends up finding his way to Bu-yeon once the soul shifter is disposed of, causing the two to have a private meeting which hints at a potential future partnership between the two. “I cannot reveal who I am due to a certain reason. But once you find out who I am, you will definitely want to take me out of here,” the Jinyowon priestess says, teasing the man in front of her, who now knows she can see the energy of the world.

While Lady Jin worries about Jang Uk bumping into Bu-yeon, the monster hunter refuses to help the enigmatic locked-up priestess escape her annex. He believes such a deed would only strain relations between himself and Jinyowon further, and he isn’t willing to let that happen because of someone he only just met. Jang Uk is still interested in why such an “incredible” priestess is bound to isolation, though, so asks what crime Bu-yeon must have committed. “I am guilty of existing in this world when I should not. I am someone who died a long time ago,” is the striking response. As we later see, this candidness triggers a change of heart in Jang Uk, who states he is guilty of the same crime and helps lay out a way for Bu-yeon to escape when the time is right. Additionally, Lady Jin is still kept out of the loop, meaning she is none the wiser about what happened in her sister’s room.

At Songrim, Dang-gu hears from Heo Yeom that Jang Uk is being used to kill the constantly appearing soul shifters because he was “reborn with the power of the ice stone.” “You should not distance yourself from him,” the elder then states, prompting Songrim’s leader to open up on how he is confused over how to act around his friend now things have changed. Elsewhere, Jang Uk drinks to help withstand the demands of the “unsightly” wraiths that surround him over his use of the sky’s energy.

As it’s established that Lady Heo hasn’t given up on Jang Uk, and that she brings him medicine she has concocted despite the lack of reciprocated action shown to her, Maidservant Kim struggles to put a stop to Park Jin’s constant kimchi making. Yet the mood turns serious for a brief moment before the pair cook together, with Do-joo expressing her concern over Jang Uk’s health, as well as her relief that he was spared three years ago thanks to the selflessness of Songrim’s former leader. Meanwhile, a date is set for Bu-yeon to get married so she can create offspring capable of leading Jinyowon with divine powers, but she is still forbidden from leaving her room. As an aside, Dang-gu is told of a wedding taking place at Jinyowon and overthinks everything, believing it must be his beloved Lady Jin getting hitched.

Next, Seo Yul is seen to be returning to Daeho, no longer wanting to stay away from the place he used to call home. Concurrently, Cheonbugwan are denied the chance to give Jang Uk the money owed for catching another soul shifter, and the Crown Prince feels aggrieved for having to continuously pay the mage hunting all these monsters. Master Lee Cheol tells Go Won he should be coughing up happily though, given part of this agreement sees the heir to the throne take credit and be celebrated for being born under the King’s star, while Jang Uk remains feared by the public. “He brought that upon himself,” the Crown Prince bluntly replies, investing in the popular theory that the man using the sword of Naksu is “dark and ominous.”

During the Crown Prince’s visit to Jeongjingak, the place vacated by everyone except Jang Uk, whose energy has left the place cold and dark, the royal sits with his enemy. “You are truly all alone,” Go Won says when grabbing a drink, pointing out the misfortunes which have seen the sidelined mage left in the situation he finds himself suffering through. But Jang Uk is in a playful mood, happy to lie about wraiths being in the duo’s presence, and highlight the fact he has no qualms being rewarded for atoning for his sins. Plus, Jang Uk acknowledges he is too strong to be considered a “splinter” by the Crown Prince, who remains annoyed by his adversary’s “mocking” actions. Elsewhere, Lady Jin becomes aware that Bu-yeon has escaped her room.

Continuing, we see Bu-yeon has exited Jinyowon in a bid to find her future husband, and has arrived at his temporary residence to find out more about who this may be. She is told it’ll be Seo Yul, and is given the lowdown on the men everyone wants to marry in Daeho. These are the Crown Prince, Dang-gu, Seo Yul, and Jang Uk, yet the latter comes with a warning sign due to his “past as painful as a stab to the heart.” For now though, Bu-yeon doesn’t get to do anything else, and has to flee while being branded a thief for offering something from Jinyowon in exchange for the chance to meet with Seo Yul.

When Seo Yul arrives at Daeho, Bu-yeon is waiting, but she doesn’t get a chance to see him properly because of her need to stay away from those wishing to put her back into isolation. Here, we see So-yi is lingering too, keeping an eye on her longstanding crush from afar.

As Bu-yeon acknowledges her need to speak with Seo Yul before she gets caught, wanting to consider her options ahead of potential permanent isolation, she spots Jang Uk, recalling him being called the “strongest man in the world.” So she subsequently decides to sit down and speak with him, revealing her identity as the eldest daughter of Jinyowon, in addition to her mother’s wish for her to secretly bring in a husband to her room so an heir can be birthed. Shockingly, Bu-yeon then hatches an idea to find a partner who suits her instead of wedding someone picked out, and asks Jang Uk to be the one to marry her. The feared mage considers the priestess to be out of her mind with such a request, but listens to her rationale. Bu-yeon explains she wants to marry Jang Uk because he is “strong enough” to go against Ho-gyeong, and has enough bad blood with Jinyowon to potentially see her kicked out as opposed to kept locked inside. Still, the proposal is rebuffed.

Later, Jang Uk momentarily protects Bu-yeon from being caught so he can confirm her identity. He seems to warm to the idea of marrying someone who can see his energy, so suggests that if he needs help, he will look for her. However, he doesn’t rush into anything, meaning Bu-yeon’s urgent, desperate request for an imminent wedding so she can be taken away from Jinyowon falls on deaf ears. Then, the isolated priestess is found by those seeking her out.

After apologising to Dang-gu for leaving Jeongjingak first when his friends were struggling, admitting he knew Mu-deok was Naksu, Seo Yul visits Park Jin. Following that, Jang Uk arrives, greeted by a warm smile from his returning friend. Together, the three lifelong comrades subsequently struggle through the “feast” prepared by Park Jin, but Seo Yul finds a way to give himself an out, leaving the other two to finish off the poorly prepared meal. Elsewhere, Lady Jin asks for Dang-gu to be told it is her getting married, simply because he doesn’t know Bu-yeon.

When Jang Uk is told by Park Jin exactly who Bu-yeon is, and the “divine powers” she had that would’ve seen her grow incredibly strong, he wonders if such a person could extract the ice stone from within him. “You are only alive thanks to that stone,” he is told, but the sidelined mage seems to embrace the idea of death if it would mean such an overwhelming source of power would be gone from inside him and destroyed. “I should have died there and then,” Jang Uk adds, expressing his desire to have passed away three years ago as a human, later handwaving talks of his “wounded heart” in favour of discussing lifting the weight off his shoulders to “finally” be at peace.

Ending Explained

Now dressed for her wedding, Bu-yeon holds onto slim hope and waits for Jang Uk to rescue her. If he doesn’t, the eldest daughter of Jinyowon will be marrying Yun-o of the Seo family. A man branded as someone who will do well due to his need for Ho-gyeong and co.’s help.

Tearily, Bu-yeon drops the petal symbolizing her hope in the water, no longer believing she will be saved now she is well on the way to her wedding destination. However, something shocking happens when the pink leaf hits the river, and Jinyowon’s eldest daughter finds herself swept up into the air. When we see her next, she has been transported to a place where Jang Uk is waiting, and his agreement that Bu-yeon might be of use brings about a warm embrace. So, with the two looking set to begin their relationship, the episode ends.

What did you think of Alchemy of Souls season 2, episode 1? Comment below.

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