Alchemy of Souls season 2, episode 5 recap – why does Jang Uk visit Jinyowon?

By Nathan Sartain
Published: December 25, 2022 (Last updated: March 13, 2024)
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A decent episode which slowly advances the plot, and adds some subtle wrinkles to the story.

We recap the Netflix K-Drama series Alchemy of Souls season 2, episode 5, which contains significant spoilers.

Although nothing overly noteworthy directly happens here, Alchemy of Souls season two, episode five still does enough to advance the plot interestingly. Jang Uk (Lee Jae-wook)  seems on the cusp of discovering that Bu-yeon (Ko Yoon-jung) is Naksu, So-i is getting desperate in her bid to save Seo Yul, and Park Jin is finally going to wed Maidservant Kim. Complete with Jin Mu’s ambitious scheming, things look to be getting near fever pitch as we head towards the second half of proceedings.

Alchemy of Souls season 2, episode 5 recap

As So-i nervously confesses that Seo Yul has a blood parasite inside him, wanting to take it back for herself, the genius mage reveals it’s eating away at the core of his energy. He’ll die once this energy runs out, a declaration which shocks the swindler, who is subsequently made to admit her ties to Jin Mu when quizzed on the medication she gives him. Still, Seo Yul isn’t too fussed about this so long as his blood parasite secret is safe, and is insistent he has only returned to “settle things one last time.”

After Dang-gu tenderly patches things up with Cho-yeon, who accepts the gift of diamonds and shows Songrim’s leader that she has kept hold of the charm that “helps two become lovers” for the past three years, we watch as Park Jin tries to convince Ho-gyeong of the protective relationship her daughter has with Jang Uk. Meanwhile, we see the kiss Bu-yeon received from her partner was no coincidence, in addition to the fact Uk allows the priestess to sleep with him when discovering she kept the wraiths that usually surround him away. Jang Uk does, however, ominously allude to the death he wishes to face when asked about the burdensome ice stone within him.

While Master Lee is brought up to speed on why Jeongjingak is empty, as well as the “fate” meeting between Jang Uk and Bu-yeon, the Jinyowon priestess awakes, realising she has gained another recollection. More memories soon follow thanks to the blue jade Bu-yeon holds, all of which show Naksu’s relationship with her Young Master. Elsewhere, Jang Uk assures Seo Yul he did nothing wrong by fleeing three years ago when the genius mage shares the guilt-riddled dream he occasionally has where either he stabs Naksu, or vice versa.

Next, Jang Uk goes looking for Bu-yeon, who is said to be missing and ill. Here, the monster hunter realises – through his own reflections and the words of Maidservant Kim – he doesn’t know much about his partner, or do things with her. So, when Uk finds Bu-yeon, he observes her market activities for a short period, before collecting her so they can leave for the palace, and so he can ask his betrothed to share her condition in future so she can be properly looked after.

As the Crown Prince denies himself a meeting with Bu-yeon due to his disinterest in seeing who Jang Uk replaced Mu-deok with, we watch the monster hunter “taunt” the Queen with his partner. At first, it’s by casually mentioning his ability to protect Jinyowon, then it’s by referencing how his power could technically make the royal’s wish to switch bodies come true. Naturally, the Queen jumps on this, and carelessly reveals her plan to have another ice stone summoned by drying out the land. This means Jang Uk is subsequently able to expose her scheme to use Naksu against him to claim Jinyowon, as he firmly rejects the desperate royal’s attempts to have him help her change appearance. Positively, the monster hunter also becomes defensive of Bu-yeon, perhaps signalling a change in their relationship.

During reflections on how Jin Mu is using him as a tool now, the Crown Prince determinedly heads to meet Jang Uk’s bride. Though the King’s heir hesitates when informed that his apparent enemy took care of his turtle’s water temperature, hoping it could mean the monster hunter doesn’t hate him. Concurrently, Bu-yeon belatedly thanks Jang Uk for removing her tracking thread, vows to never return home, and promises to stay by his side at a suitable distance.

However, again Bu-yeon’s physical affection bears too much of a resemblance to Naksu’s. Thus, Jang Uk gets frustrated, confronting his partner to the point he suggests she can be used simply as a “substitute” for his true love. “Feel free to re-enact another memory,” Uk says, somewhat uneasily claiming he won’t decline this time around. Still, the monster hunter’s discontent wavers when Bu-yeon explains she was just trying to comfort her husband, and see if he had “space” for her in his heart.

While Jang Uk awkwardly tries to apologise to Bu-yeon for his actions – he realises her similarity to Naksu is compelling, and Maidservant Kim had delivered home truths about mistreatment – we cut to Park Jin. Here, he sends Dang-gu to check for more dried up wells, concerned about the drought facing Daeho that’s seemingly born out of resentment. As a comedic aside, Songrim’s former leader becomes extremely envious when Master Lee’s affection for Maidservant Kim is brought up.

Continuing, Jang Uk reunites with Master Lee in the Dark Forest. It’s a warm meeting, one punctuated by both men’s smiles, though the atmosphere slightly changes when Lee Cheol discloses that he “saved” and took care of Bu-yeon. Elsewhere, Ho-gyeong apprehensively hears her eldest daughter’s powers are returning during an attempt to get her to part with Jang Uk. This triggers a motive change (even if it does appear cynical), and Jinyowon’s leader rescinds her offer of potential freedom to Bu-yeon in favour of extending a wedding approval-sized olive branch to Jang Uk, should he apologise to her.

Once Master Lee finishes explaining the well-draining fire bird copies that are popping up – there’s also a tidbit about Seo Gyeong and Seol-ran initially building Jinyowon to lock up this animal – Jang Uk rejects the request to check if the real thing is safe. Lee Cheol isn’t concerned by the monster hunter’s rebuttal, however, knowing his disinterest in getting involved with Jin family affairs is irrelevant when he’s “walking the same path of faith” alongside Bu-yeon.

After getting a coincidental practice run with Seo Yul, Bu-yeon clumsily manages to ask Jang Uk to visit Jinyowon alongside her. Yet the conversation is rife with misunderstanding (Uk believes this is part of the same request Master Lee made), so no agreement is arrived at. As such, Bu-yeon tearfully takes her leave, Seo Yul quietly watching in the background.

While Maidservant Kim shouts at Jang Uk for rejecting the chance to reconcile with Ho-gyeong, So-i finds herself locked in the annex for overstepping the mark. The swindler had asked for information on how to get rid of the blood parasite given by U-tak in exchange for the truth about Bu-yeon’s identity, but Jinyowon’s leader wanted none of it. Then, Ho-gyeong’s eldest daughter arrives, unexpectedly flanked by an apologetic Jang Uk.

When Seo Yul is informed So-i visited Ho-gyeong and could be in danger, as well as that Mu-deok was the real Bu-yeon (the genius mage is told he can use this as blackmail to “survive at all costs”), he goes to find the swindler. Meanwhile, Jin Mu tasks Yun-o with transporting the fire bird earthenware to the capital unnoticed. Additionally, Park Jin officially asks Maidservant Kim to marry him, a proposal swiftly, and emotionally, accepted.

Following his sudden request to have a room prepared for him and his partner, Jang Uk comes clean with Bu-yeon, and explains he needs her to open Jinyowon’s gates when it gets dark. Concurrently, the Crown Prince wishes to end his working relationship with Jin Mu when realising the Gwanju still covets the ice stone, and wants to go as far as taking the fire bird for himself. However, Cheonbugwan’s leader tenuously threatens the royal, knowing he’d have to tell Jang Uk the truth about Naksu’s demise to truly bring an end to their longstanding coalition.

Ending Explained

As a bloodied So-i devilishly laughs, wanting Ho-gyeong to ask others if they know Bu-yeon is really Naksu, Jang Uk walks alongside his partner. There, he finds himself startled by another one of the priestess’ thoughts – this time one about sitting atop of a large tree alone, waiting to be rescued – but this time it’s different. Jang Uk sees Bu-yeon is not in possession of her jade, meaning she has not borrowed a memory from Naksu. Stunned and seemingly confused, the monster hunter believes he is “going crazy” because of his partner, and brings an end to the episode by holding the hand of the priestess once more.

What did you think of Alchemy of Souls season 2, episode 5? Comment below.

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