Bulgasal: Immortal Souls: Episodes 5-6 Open Thread
After facing a common enemy, our hero’s blood feud has become even more complicated. His anger against our heroine remains as strong as ever, but now he must bargain with her if he’s going to get to the bottom of his cursed fate, and bring about the ending he’s long been planning for.
EPISODES 5-6 WEECAP
I am waaaaay too into this show, and I love the direction we took this week — with the fate and hate and tension and fear and yearning practically bursting from each scene. High drama! It was also especially great to have more of Lee Joon on screen finally. His performance this week left me slack-jawed. (Why is he so good at being a deranged villain in Rococo-esque suits and settings?)
Back to where to left off last week, though: Hwal and Sang-eon barely escape with their lives from the bulgasal encounter. After leaving the scene, and an unconscious Detective Kwon, Hwal heads back to home base, as it were, with Sang-eon. His somehow poetically dilapidated house acts as the safe house for everyone (despite it not being remotely secure, considering every few minutes someone else appears at the door).
While Sang-eon recovers, Hwal gazes at her with a glance that’s hard to decode — it looks a bit like desire, but then transforms into this rage that’s hard for him to control. This happens all throughout our episodes this week, actually. He both saves Sang-eon and almost slaughters her multiple times; he grabs her neck with murder in his eyes, and yet bandages her ankle which has been all but crushed from a monster. Theirs is an interesting story, for sure.
Much to my satisfaction, we revisit the murder of 15 years ago, and see how the whole scene played out. We’ve had so many bits and pieces of this, but this time, we get the whole thing. This includes the Lee Joon bulgasal brutally killing Sang-yeon, and even more importantly, the wisdom that she shares as she dies. The bulgasal chuckles that her soul was split in two, but that he’ll just kill both of them — however, Sang-yeon says that he won’t be able to kill her sister. She continues that “the dark hole won’t go away” and that her sister will “put everything back in its place.”
Dark hole references aside, this is making a lot more sense now. Sang-eon definitely seems to be a wild card in this centuries-long fate. Perhaps she’ll be changing the direction of that fate once and for all?
Hwal wrestles with the presence of this second bulgasal; he was always under the impression there was only one (and we get a flashback of General Dan telling him so). Even so, Hwal knows he has to figure out this bulgasal’s part in the story and kill him before he takes his own soul back and becomes mortal again.
The story doesn’t make us wait long, and I kind of like the aggressive way the Lee Joon bulgasal thrusts himself into the story. In fact, we learn he’s been around for a long time; he has hunted down all of Sang-yeon/Sang-eon’s past reincarnations and killed her. Now, he literally calls up Hwal for an opulent lunch and asks him to join forces.
Outside of the brilliant acting here from Lee Joon, this scene serves to drop a ton of important plot information, including his name (finally!): OK EUL-TAE. He first tries to convince Hwal that they’re on the same side and disrupt any belief Hwal might have in Sang-eon’s innocence. He repeats several times that they have a common enemy and that she is the true danger to them both.
But it’s also not as straightforward as it seems, because Eul-tae seems (pretends?) to be clueless about Hwal’s backstory, referencing a warrior that killed all the monsters 600 years ago, and a baby cursed from the womb — but at the same time, he seems to be verrrry pointed in his words.
Eul-tae explains that only bulgasal can destroy souls, and that they need to destroy Sang-eon’s. Eul-tae needs Hwal’s help because he has this “dark blood from a dark hole” thing that happens when he goes near her (and he blames Sang-yeon for whatever this phenomenon is). As a part of the bargain, if Hwal helps him kill Sang-eon’s soul, Eul-tae will tell Hwal the true genesis of the curse.
Complicating things even more, each of our characters has a motive that is bigger than survival. Sang-eon is willing to sacrifice hers to kill Eul-tae and keep her little sister safe. Hwal only wants to revenge himself against the bulgasal that killed his family, and take back his soul so that he can also die. And Eul-tae is seeking the destruction of Sang-eon’s soul to heal the wound he’s been ravaged by for a thousand years. It’s intense stuff, and the idea that their own death doesn’t mean anything to them only adds to that.
Finally, Hwal and Sang-eon seem to come to an agreement: Hwal will let Sang-eon live as human until he finds a way to kill Eul-tae (after this is achieved, he plans to continue his eternal dungeon plans for her). Right now, this is mutually beneficial, since both get what they want in the end, and their dangerous truce (if you can call it that) is a sight to behold. I can’t quite put my finger on how much Hwal actually believes Sang-eon’s innocence and lack of memory around the past. That creepy dream sequence he had caught me by surprise; I like our doe-eyed heroine as she is, and hope there’s not a hidden layer to her. However, at the end of our episodes, she sees that ancient painting of herself, and it does something to her.
In the middle of all this, we have more monsters attacking, Si-ho used as leverage, and the return of Detective Kwon. The latter basically forces himself into every scenario, and while he’s only got an inkling as to what is going on, I do rather like him, and how he adds another layer to our plot.
The most moving part about this show, of course, is all the echoes of past lives that our characters either remember with pain and longing (Hwal) or only feel strange echoes of familiarity (like when Detective Kwon first sees Si-ho in the present). Similarly, Si-ho senses something about Hwal, but always shrinks when he’s around, hiding behind her sister, who is taking the lead here in more ways than one.
Most of the emotion is with Hwal in these scenarios — it’s positively heartbreaking to see him greeting the man that was a beloved father in the past and that’s now after him; or, to watch him cope as his wife and his mortal enemy are living as sisters in his house. While I’m not sure how Hwal truly feels about Sang-eon, it does seem clear that he still reacts to Si-ho as he would his wife in the past: risking anything to keep her safe (which he failed at so many centuries ago).
Even better, these echoes of the past aren’t only about the characters’ relationships — they’re also tied to the action of the story, as we saw with the water monster and with the way it attacked General Dan/Detective Kwon’s arm. So good! I’m sure there’s a lot more of this headed our way, because even though we learned a lot of tactical information in this week’s episodes, there’s still a heck of a lot we don’t know.
Each character’s true identity still seems shrouded in mystery, as is the real genesis of this evil fate. And now that we know something different is going on in this final reincarnation with the twin sisters, I wonder what it means for the future. I’m not expecting a happy ending or anything — rather, I’m almost getting the feeling that where we started at the beginning of the drama wasn’t truly the beginning. Perhaps there’s more to tell there, too.