Bulgasal: Immortal Souls: Episodes 7-8 Open Thread
Our bulgasal hero finds himself in a bit of a stalemate. In order to execute his plans, he must first figure out what’s going on with his new acquaintance — and get our heroine to remember the past life (and deeds) that she continues to vehemently deny. I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to believe her, what with the bucketload of twists and reveals this week.
EPISODES 7-8 WEECAP
I’ve got a few plot complaints to lodge this week, but that being said, they didn’t take away from my enjoyment of this unfolding story. For starters, I think I’m losing the threads a bit on why Hwal, Ok Eul-tae, and Sang-eon seem to be in this weird holding pattern. Hwal’s only path forward seems to be trying to jog Sang-eon’s memories, that’s where we spend most of the plot this week.
While all our other found family members redecorate the house, rejoice over rice cookers, and bond, Hwal is still at Sang-eon’s throat (sometimes quite literally). The two head out on a multi-day trip, and Hwal’s goal is to dig into Sang-eon’s most recent past life in the 1970s, and get some of her memories to come loose.
We learn that in this 1970s timeline, Sang-eon was known as Kim Hwa-yeon. She lived in a small village with her parents and little sister; they and their neighbors died in a huge and tragic fire, which Hwa-yeon escaped. Hwal is operating on the premise that Hwa-yeon set the fire to get Ok Eul-tae off of her tail, coldly sacrificing her family (and others) in the process. But here’s where we get one of our many twists this week.
Even though she remembers nothing, the pieces of the mystery are starting to come together for Sang-eon. She visits the woman, KIM GO-BEON (Lee Young-ran), whom she and Si-ho sought refuge with 15 years ago. They went there because Sang-yeon seemed to share a secret with her and sure enough, we get this revealed: Grandma Kim is actually Hwa-yeon’s little sister! *Chills!* She survived the fire that Hwa-yeon supposedly set. (More on this later.)
There’s another secret survivor of that fire, though, and that’s our shaman, whom we’ll call Aunt Lee. Her backstory in the current timeline is told: she was saved from a fire as a small girl by Hwal, who saw that she was taken care of at an orphanage. We learn that she was the neighbor of Hwa-yeon and yet another victim of the fire she supposedly set; this is also confirmed for us by Si-ho. And here’s my second squabble for this week’s action.
Si-ho has been pretty tangential up until this point. We know she’s precious to Hwal, and that her pregnancy might have more to it later on, but mostly we see her used as leverage, and interacting with Detective Kwon and Do-yoon (all of which is adorbs).
Now, though, we learn that she has the ability to look into peoples’ pasts, which she’s long shied away from doing. (Are they really just telling us this now, or was it hinted at before and I’m forgetting?) Regardless, she confirms Aunt Lee’s story, and also seems to re-activate the shaman-prophet button in Aunt Lee’s soul. Pretty soon she’s prophesying to everyone in the house about the death and destruction to come when “the person with no memories” finally recovers them.
This is all well and good — my issue is that Si-ho and Sang-eon have a heart to heart, during which Si-ho confides that she thinks she can not only see people’s pasts, but past lives. She even offers to do it for Sang-eon. Sang-eon refuses, as Hwal’s constant pressing (and the prophecy) have her terrified over what she may truly be — or become. The plot squabble is this: did Si-ho have this ability all along and the two never thought to use it during their 15 years on the run?! (I hope this is explained a bit better as we move forward.)
We also saw a lot more growth in Hwal and Sang-eon’s relationship this week — or perhaps softening is a better word? Hwal is as harsh as ever, with his angry, “we’re not leaving till you remember something!” and carrying her with annoyance like a sack of potatoes over his shoulder.
But for all of his pushing Sang-eon to remember what a demonic beast she was, she continues to protest and claim innocence. She cries over what her past incarnations have done; she even cares for Hwal in quiet moments (like covering him with a blanket while he’s sleeping; a sure drama sign of affection).
In contrast, Hwal wishes agony over her while she’s sleeping — and yet, his mouth says one thing and his actions seem to say another. Everyone might not agree, but I still feel some serious chemistry between these two, even in their most antagonistic moments. It’s getting harder to deny that these two might have a deeper (and romantic) story in the past.
Speaking of the past, while on their memory adventures, Hwal and Sang-eon come in contact with more monsters from the past. There’s the fire-starting monster, who we learn was actually responsible for Hwa-yeon’s fire, and was hunting her along with Dark Hole. In fact, there’s so much info dropped, and so many reveals around this fire and timeline that I’m kind of impressed how much detail this drama really has, and how interwoven everything is.
The dealings with the fire monster confirm the connection that Sang-eon shares with Ok Eul-tae; he see him writhing in agony when Sang-eon is attacked. All his agony and waiting are a bit strange; he can’t do anything to Sang-eon and continues to wait on Hwal to join forces. But, sadly, there’s another twist here — our puppy Do-yoon is actually working with Ok Eul-tae (nooooo!). Everything that took him to Hwal’s house was staged, and he’s acting as a double agent. He also hangs out with Ok Eul-tae and plays board games. Hah, this drama is so weird.
As we near the end of the week’s episodes, the pitch of everything seems to reach a crescendo — and it also gives me these Snow White vibes (the shiny red apple, Sang-eon’s hood) which I actually love because it confirms the Grimm’s fairy tale tone of this entire drama.
Hwal is as tortured as ever, as he’s just seen his past father reliving his cursed fate. Then, he has to deal with the fact that Detective Kwon is fearlessly following Ok Eul-tae and winds up hanging from a tree, thanks to Eul-tae’s right-hand woman (this woman is actually the dueoksini Hwal killed in the past — another awesome reveal and tie-in).
Hwal is poisoned and his neck is slit, but he’s determined to save Detective Kwon. The ever-enigmatic Ok Eul-tae turns up and actually saves the two from the dueoksini. And as if that tension wasn’t high enough, Sang-eon also joins the scene.
Sang-eon has just returned from a secret visit to Grandma Kim, where the rambling memories of Kim Hwa-yeon and the fire form into another great reveal. Grandma Kim says, “The man with the scar was after you because Dark Hole killed his family and made it look like you did.” OMG! This is basically the reveal we’ve been waiting for. Sang-eon doesn’t waste a second to announce this new gem of knowledge to everyone, and hot damn what a cliffhanger!
This ending scene is so good I forgave the show for the plot slippage and the monster-of-the-week feeling I was getting. We’re definitely going to move forward now with this knowledge, and I’m going to repeat myself and say: there’s definitely more history here and I can’t wait to travel even farther back into the past. I always wondered why the Sang-eon bulgasal took the dagger for little boy Hwal, but the puzzle pieces are starting to make more sense…
Finally, I’ll just say that this drama is not only oh-so-fun because of the epic, sweeping, super-angst it delivers, but because it also knows how to hang on to its best moments. I love a drama that knows what it does well, and appreciate when those moments are mined for all they’re worth (I’m looking at you, epic piggyback and cliffhanger scenes!). Suspending strong moments only increases the tsunami of emotion, and heck, that’s why I’m here.