Bulgasal: Immortal Souls: Episodes 3-4 Open Thread
Our sorrowful tale continues as our immortal hero searches for the woman who stole his soul and destroyed his life. As our hero is discovering, though, fate looks very different in the present day. Those who he thought he knew as friends and enemies in the past take on new and different roles in their most recent reincarnations.
EPISODES 3-4 WEECAP
I’m glad I’m not the only one that enjoyed Bulgasal’s opening week — and yay, I liked the drama even more this week as it settles into the present-day storyline and returns to our hero and his quest. All the backstory we got in the premiere week comes in handy. Indeed, it’s necessary as our hero meets and re-meets the characters of the past, and finds himself in an unexpected position when it comes to the ex-bulgasal woman he’s been waiting to exact his revenge on.
But first, we learn a little more about Sang-eon and her little sister and how they’ve lived on the run from the monsters ever since the night their family was murdered. Sang-eon is at a huge disadvantage, though, because not only is she missing all the memories of the past (that her twin had), but she also can’t seem to remember the final guiding words of her sister before her death. It’s a great little catch in the story, that her whole mission to stay alive and slay the bulgasal relies on only fragments of memories. Sang-eon remembers the phrase, “a sword to kill the bulgasal,” and has been searching through artifacts for the right sword, but never gets any closer.
Speaking of getting closer (literally), Hwal is finally able to locate Sang-eon thanks to them both being at the apartment where her family was slaughtered 15 years ago. (Yeah, it’s improbable that the murder scene would look exactly the same 15 years later, but we’ll let that one slide).
Sang-eon’s story seems to be one of all these minor trips and hiccups that keep her in danger. For instance, at the apartment, she accidentally leaves behind a hair tie, and that’s comes in handy for Hwal.
When he finds her at her remote laundry facility job, though, she’s already being hunted by one of the reincarnated monsters who’s been following her scent for years. Props to Sang-eon for being super brave in the face of circumstances she’s not even close to understanding, and these monster chase scenes are nail-biting! Lucky for Sang-eon, this time Hwal is there to step in and save her life.
As all of this is unfolding, we get a lot more context than we had in our first week, and a whole score of flashbacks that more fully cement what is at stake for Hwal. The story’s logic is pretty cool: the monsters that existed back at the dawn of Joseon are now reincarnated as humans, but they’re all insane psychopaths that still kill humans. And as for Hwal, he’s been keeping busy doing what he says is the only thing he knows how to do: kill monsters.
Those monsters are after Sang-eon’s soul, which is actually his old soul, and the monsters can smell it and that’s how they hunt her — but interestingly, Hwal can’t (since it was his) — hence the disadvantage he’s at. We also learn that he has indeed kept his promise to his father, and hasn’t fed on human blood in all these centuries. Instead, he’s provided animal blood (by the shaman who’s reincarnated and helps him) to stay alive.
In a great Hwal moment (and there are many), he says that he’s still chasing after the woman that stole his soul for one reason: atonement. And though a little heavy-handed with the frequent flashbacks, we see Hwal really mourning for the life he once had — his wife, his children, his father, and the way they were all pulled into his fate. Similarly, we get this deep dark quest feeling as we follow Hwal along, and it only adds to the epicness.
With all of that under our belts, we’re in for a fantastic reveal. Hwal saves Sang-eon at the laundry facility, and she’s been simultaneously trying to get in touch with her little sister who turns up at the scene. Whammo! It’s MIN SI-HO (Gong Seung-yeon)… but it’s also his wife from the past. Si-ho gets the creeps, Hwal just stands there in shock and agony and longing, and the girls soon run away. I probably should have seen this coming with the way they were being kind of cagey about Si-ho, but I literally gasped at this reveal. So fun!
Hwal is turned upside down by this: not because he didn’t expect to run into her reincarnation, and more because he can’t believe the twist of fate. His wife is now the sister of his sworn enemy. Hwal remembers (and then remembers again) the fated words of the shaman: “As long as the retribution continues they will be intertwined with you either as enemies or as friends.”
This whole concept of intertwining fates and characters popping up in different roles in the present day is so fun and satisfying to watch play out. Among the monsters and other baddies, we also meet General Dan again — he’s now DETECTIVE KWON, and it looks like he’s now positioned as Hwal’s enemy, instead of his savior and defender. It’s all so emotional!
We also meet a new character NAM DO-YOON (Kim Woo-seok from Up10tion) – although honestly, I’m reluctant to call him a “new” character because he’s likely (maybe?) to also an important reincarnation going based on the logic of the show so far. But for now, gets saved but also locked up by Hwal, and later taken by Detective Kwon.
After so many cool character moments and important intersections, things get even more wild as Episode 4 progresses. Si-ho is pregnant and thus the pressure on Sang-eon to protect her little sister and the future baby from the bulgasal increases tenfold; she’s desperate for the “sword” and trying to remember and get the woman that took them in as kids to share some sort of clue with her.
Simultaneously, Hwal is well aware of all the monsters after Sang-eon’s soul and winds up protecting her in order to keep the soul safe. Things escalate fast when a new character appears on the scene: the true bulgasal that killed Sang-eon’s family: he’s a rando character played by Lee Joon and he’s terrifying (omg, I love Lee Joon).
So much action and plot movement as the episode ends! The Lee Joon bulgasal is chasing Sang-eon and he has a sword she expects is the one she’s been searching for. She’s saved just in time by Hwal, and oh boy I love these two characters finally onscreen together some more – it’s as violent and desperate as most of the encounters in this show, but lots of character ground is covered.
By the time the Lee Joon bulgasal gets himself together and locates Hwal and Sang-eon, she’s on the run, and Hwal is ready to fight him. This doesn’t go well, since his strength can’t match the bulgasal who’s been feeding on human blood. Interestingly, the Lee Joon bulgasal has a huge scar on this chest and his fate is also entangled with our crew (as is the sword, which seems to have a huge affect on him when handled by Hwal).
The bulgasal’s bloodlust puts Sang-eon on her deathbed, and it’s super nail-biting. But this near-death moment also serves to trigger her repressed memories: she finally remembers what her sister told her. The only way to kill the bulgasal was with another bulgasal, and that a man with a scar on his right hand (Hwal) was in fact “the sword to kill the bulgasal.”
It’s absolutely bloody and chaotic, but ends on an awesome and chilling moment. Despite the terror that Sang-eon feels, and the rage that Hwal feels, it seems like their fate really is tied together. And though they were enemies in the past, it seems clear they’ll have to be allies now over their common enemy. At any rate, Sang-eon has found her sword, and we’ll have to see what that truly means.
Just like last week, I’m wishing there were more episodes at the ready! The drama is such a fun balance of blood feuds and fantasy, horror and high adrenaline, and my favorite bit, which is how all the characters are intertwined in the different timelines.
And we can’t ignore the little bit of humor we saw this week — Sang-eon in her crazy laundry garb dropping rugs on repeat. It was nice to see the drama take the opportunity for a chuckle and show its sense of humor. It certainly didn’t have time for that last week.