K-Drama: Alchemy of Souls Ep 15-16 Review

This intro was written after watching ep 15… My unabashed gushing occurs after watching ep 16, which, due to spoilers, comes after clicking read more.

Alrighty… first things first: Jung So-min is confirmed to not be appearing in Part 2. I already made it clear how I’d feel about her being replaced by Go Yoon-jung but, I guess now that it’s been confirmed and I’ve watched a lot more of their behind the scenes/interviews, I really can’t wait for her to be out of this show.

It’s painfully obvious that she avoids LJW. I’m not sure if something happened, but the impression I get is that he’s trying his best, and she’s avoiding him for the most part. She looks far more interested in Hwang Min-hyung (the actor for Seo Yul) and it shows on screen.

This is making it difficult for me to root for the drama’s supposed OTP, and I absolutely hate it when the OTP lack chemistry because it gives me unnecessary second-lead syndrome. From a character perspective, Yul’s random longing for his first love doesn’t really make sense to me, and Nak-su has already made it clear that her heart is now elsewhere, supposedly.

Unfortunately, Jung So-min isn’t really selling the not-interested-in-Yul to me very convincingly, and she’s selling the in-love-with-Jang-Wook even less so. Now, I want to be sensitive to LJW potentially having wronged her, but I can’t help but feel it’s unprofessional for a veteran actress like her to publicly display such obvious bias against him.

It’s so awkward. He tries really hard to appease her and she just tries to ignore him most of the time. I can’t figure out if it’s arrogance or discomfort. However, there’s an interview in which they’re tasked with seeing how well they know one another, and LJW was able to answer almost everything about JSM, while JSM knew next to nothing about her co-star.

They weren’t difficult questions: what’s LJW’s birthday? What’s his IG photo? His fan club name might have been a difficult one, but even after a bunch of hints she scarcely managed to guess one correct answer. It comes across as incredibly unprofessional. If you’re going to be the main female lead, surely you’d do at least the bare minimum of research on your co-star. I felt so bad for LJW; it was really off-putting to watch.

I’ll try to keep an open mind for the remainder of this series but I’m worried that it’ll just turn crap for me now that I feel bias against her, which is a gigantic shame because I used to really like her as an actress and was previously quite enjoying the show. Either way, I’m ready to see what Go Yoon-jung can bring to the table.

We are almost at the end game of Part 1, which I think was supposed to be a complete series in its own right, but the story seems to be losing its oomph. So much is happening and yet it feels like nothing is happening all at the same time. Or, perhaps it’s just how little excitement I feel from Jung So-min these days.

Not sure if it’s the directing or otherwise, but her range of expressions is becoming increasingly limited compared to the earlier episodes. Gah, this is not intended to be a JSM-bashing post. That was not the intention. Anyways, spoilers ahead should you choose to read more!

The above intro was written after only watching ep 15. However, I have a lot more to say now because, well, ep 16 absolutely knocked me off my feet. This show is fast becoming one of my top 10. If not, my top 5. If it continues the way it does, maybe even my top 3. I’m blown away.

Not gonna lie, when I finished watching ep 15, I was a little disappointed. I wasn’t sure what they were setting up and I wasn’t sure I liked the way that the story was going. I didn’t love the everyone-who-knew-So-yi-had-to-die arc, but I was glad she chose not to rat out Yul and Mu-deok. I was again disappointed with the lack of romantic chemistry between Jang Wook and Mu-deok.

Now that we’re this side of ep 16, I take allll of that back.

Including what I said about JSM, I guess. It looks like the idea was for Mu-deok to still be cold and harsh towards Jang Wook because she still needs to consider what would happen once her powers return. Plus, her position, at least to others, was that of a maid rather than a potential suitor for Jang Wook.

Indeed, if Wook got married, then what would happen to Mu-deok? Plus there are literally lines that are, “Why are you glaring at me?” written in there, so JSM had to play that part. I think JSM’s portrayal of Mu-deok was much better in ep 16, and I could buy the chemistry between the actors. Perhaps it also helped that she didn’t really have any scenes with Yul in this episode.

In terms of the story, ohhh mannnn oh man oh man OH MAN! I screamed so many times. All the set up that I thought was boring or didn’t make sense in ep 15 were all brought together perfectly in the next high-stakes challenge of today’s episode.

There were so many lines that blew my mind today, that had all been cleverly set up and hinted at in previous episodes that I thought the writers wouldn’t tie up but they did:

A high priestess of the Jin family being able to bind souls and powers.

Coupled with a previous reveal that Bu-yeon’s powers would have reached high priestess level were she alive, and the fact that even as a child her powers were on par with her mother’s… no wonder Mu-deok trapped Nak-su into her own body when Nak-su initially tried to go into the body of another.

No wonder Jang Wook saw Mu-deok when Gil-gu tried to soul shift into his body and the shift failed. No wonder Nak-su’s powers are locked and yet all the other soul shifters seemed to be able to still use their powers after soul shifting. No wonder Mu-deok’s body doesn’t have the blue mark. No wonder Master Lee sensed Nak-su’s powerful soul and didn’t sense danger. And given how powerful Mu-deok is, even though her body felt weak, no wonder she never ran wild.

There’s so much more as well. Now so many previous scenes make sense. Ugh, it was a beautiful reveal, even if the conversation between Cho-yeon and Mu-deok felt a bit random at the time.

Shaman Choi plans to soul shift into So-yi’s body and kill the Queen.

Oh man, I was thinking… you know what? I don’t know what I was thinking. I guess I thought the baddies were just going to get So-yi in there and control her… but this… this is masterful thinking. It’s multiple birds in one stone for the bad guys. I love the level of intelligence.

Songrim and everyone is already suspecting the “queen” after ep 15, so it totally makes sense to get rid of her. I was wondering how they were going to do that and if there was a body that made sense for Shaman Choi to enter into. Now I recall Jin Mu talking about having one of their people on the inside in Jinyowon.

I naively thought they were just going to control So-yi’s body with the blood worm… but this just makes so much perfect sense. The writers totally hinted at it. It is genius. I — am speechless.

I really thought it was just going to be a dumb control of So-yi via blood worm and was wondering why they were taking their sweet time getting her into Jinyowon. I thought they were being slow and stupid, and confused at why the set up was taking so long.

I also didn’t understand why everyone was so intent on finding out about who was going around murdering random people, why Mu-deok and the boys, why even Songrim was getting involved with something so seemingly insignificant. I wasn’t too excited about it, but now I cannot wait.

The setup is paying off perfectly for me. It hit so damn hard. Now the stakes are raised 1000x. The good guys need to get to So-yi and save the queen before it’s too late. And Eunuch Kim’s line about Shaman Choi is starting to pay off as well.

Bu-yeon is beginning to be revealed to the characters.

We’ve seen puzzle pieces being fit together – Cho-yeon noticing the scar on Bu-yeon’s arm, Mu-deok meeting Bu-yeon’s mother multiple times at this point with her mother giving her meaningful looks of curiosity, confusion, hope, fear, anxiety all mixed into one. Nak-su is beginning to learn more about her host body. Maybe she is even starting to suspect she’s Bu-yeon.

Now, one person knows it for sure: So-yi.

I wonder if So-yi will use this information to protect Mu-deok if her soul does end up getting swapped into the body of the queen. We know that So-yi will probably look out for her own survival first wherever possible, but we have also seen her try to protect Yul and Mu-deok by not revealing them both as people who somewhat know her identity.

It probably worked out best for her because, had she revealed that Yul had seen her before, she probably would have been killed for being an unsuitable candidate. After all, they can’t possibly get rid of Yul. We saw that she would have given up Mu-deok, had Mu-deok recognised her in ep 15, so… I’m curious about what she’ll do next.

Once her soul gets shifted, they’ll remove the blood worm, then hopefully she’ll be able to use her status as “queen” to find Mu-deok and tell her the truth about her birth, return her blindfold with the Jin family crest, and something will happen where Bu-yeon will be able to shift their souls back into their original bodies.

Soul shifting… Bu-yeon is literally the antidote/cure to soul shifting if she has the power to bind souls.

Shaman Choi’s brother is (probably) Cho-yeon’s dad.

Ohhhh man. I’ve seen people speculating that Cho-yeon’s dad might be a soul shifter, but after Gwigu made no growly noises at him, I figured they were wrong, but his intentions were still unclear to me.

Never in a million years did I suspect that he could have been Shaman Choi’s freaking brother are you kidding me?!?! Wow. I screamed so loudly I hurt my hub’s eardrums. I literally had to pause the episode to process this information.

Now, Cho-yeon’s dad being Shaman Choi’s brother is not 100% certain, but it seems to be what the show is telling us. And he’s not Bu-yeon’s dad. No wonder he is so vengeful against his wife and Songrim. Gosh, I almost feel sorry for him – having his sister taken down by Jang Gang, then having to spend years searching for your wife’s long lost daughter that she had with another man, all the while watching your own daughter treated like she’s second-rate and not being able to do anything about it…

But, of course, he is doing something about it.

All his motivations now make so much sense, and I almost feel bad for the guy. I applaud you, writers. Man. My head is still spinning.

The hooded beggar following Jang Wook is Jang Gang.

What a way to end ep 16. We already saw Jang Gang wandering around as a beggar in the streets of Daeho, but I’m pretty sure he was wearing a different outfit, so when we first saw a beggar following Jang Wook and Go Won, I considered it could have been the shaman that Jang Wook was looking for.

Then I considered that it could have been someone that worked with Eunuch Kim when he snuck out of the palace. It turned out to be a dramatic meeting between long “lost” father and son, interwoven between the meeting of eyes between the Jin family long “lost” daughter and mum. With the Jin family crest glowing behind Bu-yeon.


My hubs said I owe the writers an apology for not trusting them with ep 15. Hong sisters, I apologise. You guys are blowing my mind in the best ways right now. I hope this incredible writing continues. As such, I wait with eager anticipation at what happens next.

The only part that shocked me in a bad way was when Gwigu died. Gwigu died too easily. And how did Gwigu suddenly appear in his ethereal form when he never did in the palace? Anyways, I’ll just take this one as is because I’m so impressed with the story otherwise. Though… is he really dead? The dog’s body is dead… but… hm. We never did see Master Lee bury him, did we?

Oh man… I’m calling it now: Gwigu is not really dead. I’m sure Master Lee has some power to bring Gwigu back. Gwigu was the most obvious way to tell who was a soul shifter, so I can’t imagine that such an important character would be killed off so easily.

I’m also thoroughly enjoying the hilarious hijinks of the adult love triangle, the frenemy bromance between Jang Wook and Go Won, and the friendship between the boys. So many things were revealed in this episode, I feel like I need to re-watch it to catch everything.

If ep 15 felt like so much happened yet nothing happened, ep 16 felt like so much happened and– yeah, that’s it. It felt like literally everything happened: Jang Wook now knows that Master Lee knows. Jang Wook now knows that Yul knows. Crown Prince is still as smart as ever. We finally meet the real queen in Shaman Choi’s body. Jang Gang is back!!!

Whatever displeasure I felt from ep 15 is completely gone. Even my hubs, who watched with me, complimented the writing and wanted to go back to watch the episodes he missed since I watched them without him.

Ugh. I knew it’d be another torturous wait until next Saturday, but I’m also so impressed with all the reveals this week I wouldn’t mind just re-watching everything with Jacky in the mean time to see how much more sense everything makes. Gosh, this week’s episodes have blown me away.

I am so freaking excited for the rest of the show. Writers, don’t let me down now!!

Muchos love,


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