I started watching Alchemy of Souls this week after reading about it on Dramabeans. The poster looked interesting and the premise intrigued me, so I read all of the recaps. And, subsequently, started watching the drama… and then binging it all in a few days. Honestly, no regrets.
Actually, that’s not true. My only regret is now the torturous wait until Sat/Sun when the next episodes are due to drop.
To be honest, I didn’t really care that it was a Hong sisters drama – they’re credited for writing some of the highest rated and most popular dramas to grace our generation (Descendants of the Sun, Goblin/Guardian: The Great & Lonely God, Mr. Sunshine — wait, that’s Kim Eun-Sook. Uh… ah: The Greatest Love, Master’s Sun, Hotel del Luna)…
Welp, that’s how much I knew about their works. And now that I know their filmography a little better, I can totally see their fantasy-with-elements-of-horror style all over Alchemy of Souls. I enjoyed Master’s Sun and Hotel del Luna, even if I had to watch half of it hidden behind a pillow, and so far, I’ve enjoyed Alchemy of Souls so much that I need to write about it.
Warning: reading more contains spoilers for Alchemy of Souls up to ep 14. I’m also not writing a recap, I just need to fangirl.
This post is mostly just to say: the end of ep 13? When Seo Yul stepped forward? With the perfectly timed OST playing in the background? The way I screamed oh my gosh!!
Despite having read all the recaps ahead of time, apparently I have short term memory loss because I completely forgot what was going to happen, and Yul walking out literally came as the biggest shock ever. Literally this was the catalyst that made me decide I had to write about it lol.
It shouldn’t have surprised me – drama was already hinting of Yul wanting to “bring someone back” with him, but I must say the Hong sisters wove in this thread perfectly amidst the backdrop of Jang Wook’s 10 battles. I’d become so invested in him catching a golden fish, in the budding frenemyship between Wook and the Crown Prince, in excitement of the soul shifters in the palace development… that I’d also forgotten that he still had a single battle left.
They set it up so well with the arrogant classmate being the supposed last challenger that my mind never went in the direction of Yul. Even when he said he wanted to take someone back with him, I wasn’t sure how that could happen since I doubt Jang Wook would ever give permission, nor would Mu-deok willingly leave Jang Wook’s side.
Well played, drama, well played.
I usually don’t like love triangles, but we’ve got a love dodecahedron going on in this drama lol. Surprisingly, I don’t actually mind the complicated relationships because of how multifaceted the characters are, and no one really acts out poorly out of jealousy (petty, yes – we love a little petty – but nothing that makes me want to pull my hair out, although Jin Cho-yeon locking Mu-deok in Jinyowon was not cool).
Their actions are all understandable and, if anything, there always seems to be an overarching theme of loyalty instead of just romantic love. Crown Prince, while interested in Mu-deok, doesn’t seem to have a desire to actually steal her, even respecting her wishes to not serve him, and never acts poorly towards Wook despite sensing their intimacy. (Speaking of which, I love this Crown Prince. I was worried that he’d be a jerk at first, but he ended up being such a wonderful character… he might actually be my favourite.)
Yul – thus far – has not tried to take back his first love (his subtle hints and non-confessions do break my heart sometimes though), but seems primarily concerned about his friend and Nak-su potentially going down the wrong path if she runs wild. Even after winning the 10th battle against Jang Wook, he didn’t demand Mu-deok to actually serve him (yet?). I hope he won’t be forced to play a noble idiot, especially given his insane intellect and ability to read people.
The adults love triangle though? My word, those scenes are giving. me. life!! My hubs watched some of it with me and one of their scenes came up. I think he broke my eardrums with how hard he laughed. Not sure if the neighbours on the next street over heard him though, he’s gotta try a bit harder for that.
I mean, I was cry-laughing too, but yo, if your partner has a loud laugh–well, I’d say here’s fair warning but you’ve probably already watched it if you’re reading this. RIP :’)
And the budding bromance… man, the three musketeers helping Mu-deok on her exam, the jade egg meeting on the bridge… This drama is funny, it’s exciting, it’s swoon-worthy, the pacing is tight, the cast are pretty… there’s actually not a single thing I don’t like about the story so far.
Here’s hoping that it doesn’t all suddenly go downhill now that I’ve become invested.
Apparently this is a drama that will be split into 2 parts and Jung So-min may not be reprising her role in Part 2. They’ve been quite tight-lipped to avoid spoiling Part 1, but according to some comments, Go Yoon-jung (Nak-su’s original body) will be in Part 2.
I. Am. Very. Excited.
To be honest, I’m not digging the romantic chemistry between Jung So-min and Lee Jae-wook. I think Lee Jae-wook is selling it better than Jung So-min, but she is coming across rather expressionless. In fact, I’m not loving her chemistry with any of her three leading men, though I like her character’s back story with Yul the most.
It might be due to her age – Jung So-min is in her 30’s while all the other main cast are in their early-mid 20’s. Whatever the reason, I wouldn’t mind Go Yoon-jung back. She looked epic as Nak-su, and I was enthralled with all of her scenes. I mean, come on, just look at her:
We stan a strong, fearsome female warrior.
Jung So-min’s face is very suited for Jin Bu-yeon but I don’t really think she’s nailing Nak-su’s fierceness. I get that there’s supposed to be a juxtaposition between a shadow assassin living inside a “weak” vessel and there’s comedy in that, but between the lack of chemistry with her leads and the fact that she can’t pull off an evil glare, I have to say I feel like she’s a bit of a weaker link in this drama.
She sold it better for me in the initial episodes but as the episodes progressed, eh… I don’t know. If it’s supposed to show Nak-su’s slowly changing, it’s not quite hitting the mark for me. The few scenes she had as Bu-yeon though? Gosh, I had goosebumps. I hope to see her as Bu-yeon more, now that the eldest Jin daughter is coming to the forefront of the storyline.
That said, I appreciate her lack of romantic chemistry with the leads since it kind of allows all the other relationships to shine. (Though, I think she had better chemistry with them all in the earlier episodes for some reason. Maybe it’s the order in which they filmed for the drama, or maybe something happened I don’t know.)
Maybe I’m making excuses for Jung So-min’s fish kiss in ep 14, but I like that romance is not the key driving factor in this series. The loyalty, duty, friendships, familial bonds are what really making me fall for this drama – plus the fact that every character is intelligent enough to remain loyal or go rogue.
People make decisions based on what they know and deduce, based on their fears and desires, and they give themselves and others the grace to be wrong. The grey areas in which everyone lives are what makes it so interesting to watch, and the fun antics they all get up to are what make it enjoyable. We don’t have puppets and plot device characters in this show, and I’m loving it so far.