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Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 15-16

It’s tough being an assassin accused of the one murder you didn’t commit. Our heroine sets out to prove her own innocence, whilst dodging those who know a little too much about her past. Meanwhile, Songrim’s paying a visit to the palace, and their intentions are anything but polite — soul-shifters beware!

 

EPISODES 15-16 WEECAP

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 15-16

This week’s flashback teaches a valuable lesson: if, after achieving Hwansu, you opt to flex your spiritual muscles by ejecting your soul from your body, you should probably inform your apprentice. Master Lee learned this the hard way when Yeom, after discovering him seemingly dead mid-meditation, had him cremated. Luckily, his free-floating soul found its way into the body of a dead child. He returned home in miniature form, unimpressed — and thus began a long career for Yeom of being bopped on the head by a man seemingly decades his junior.

In the present, So-yi and Mu’s lackey-of-all-trades, YEOM SOO (Cha Yong-hak), embark on small killing spree. With So-yi’s debut as Bu-yeon drawing close, they’ve been tasked with dispatching anyone who recognizes her. It’s like a buddy comedy, except they hate each other, and instead of wacky hijinks, there’s a growing trail of corpses. So-yi regrets the death of Mu-deok’s ex-handler — she hadn’t intended to hurt anyone from Sari Village — but she’s neither noble nor stupid enough to intervene.

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 15-16

Last episode, Mu-deok discovered the body. Prior to this, she met someone else at the inn: a shamefaced Cho-yeon, buying tickets from a scalper for her date with Dang-gu. Mortified at being caught at such a lowbrow venue, she begs Mu-deok to keep it under wraps. She learns never to kid a kidder: Mu-deok insists that she’s nowhere near as good a liar as Cho-yeon herself.

Mu-deok heads upstairs — where, yes, she is caught in a compromisingly corpse-adjacent position by Jin. At first, it’s nothing a bit of smooth talking won’t fix; after all, the murderer was a skilled swordsman, and Mu-deok is, of course, a hapless maid who has never killed anyone in her life, ever. However, Jin’s suspicions are rekindled when he discovers a second body: someone he learns picked a fight with a con artist from Sari Village. When he turns to demand an explanation, Mu-deok’s already fled the scene. She knows better than to expect justice from Songrim.

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 15-16

Remembering that a woman called So-yi was searching for her at Chwiseonru, Mu-deok pays Ju-wol a visit. She learns that two guards witnessed the woman in question — neither of whom showed up for work today.

Sure enough, Mu’s murderous duo have cornered the witnesses. As they pause to snarl at one another, it’s clear that So-yi is looking forward to flaunting her swanky new social status as the Jin heir. Still, she’s not just here to posture: while Soo’s distracted, she learns from one guard that Mu-deok works for the Jang household. Not that the information wins the guy any mercy; despite his pleas, So-yi turns her back, while Soo advances, sword raised. Mu-deok and Ju-wol arrive in time to see the carnage — but not the culprits.

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 15-16 Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 15-16

In the wake of the bombshell he dropped at the palace, Master Lee gives a brief 101 on how to spot soul-shifters. What gives them away is fear of discovery. On that note, he has a gift for the king, in the form of a very familiar dog… Gwigu. But it’s Wook who’s instructed to play fetch: Master Lee promises a reward if he can bring the gift safely back.

As Wook departs, Master Lee explains Gwigu’s ability to sense soul-shifters, causing “Queen” Ha-sun to level him a look of such blazing disgust it’s a wonder he doesn’t disintegrate on the spot. Songrim is usurping Cheonbugwan! she protests. It’s a plot to humiliate the monarchy! You have to hand it to her; there aren’t many excuses at the bottom of this particular barrel, but she scrapes it with avidity.

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 15-16 Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 15-16

As news travels, Cheonbugwan’s entire soul-shifter contingent comes alive with consternation. Wook is ambushed by their reinforcements. It’s one against ten, with a dog in the way, but his sink-or-swim training has paid off: he can hack and slash with the best of them.

Mu enters the throne room, angrily decrying Songrim. In a power move so fierce one can only marvel, Master Lee sends spikes of ice spearing towards his throat, all without looking his way.

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 15-16

However, before all hell can properly break loose, King Soon demands that everyone stand down — Cheonbugwan and Songrim both. As a parting blow, Master Lee warns that the ice stone is back in play. Not to fear, though: an individual, born under the King’s Star, will soon be coming into their immense power — power sufficient to settle the chaos.

Nevertheless, it is an embittered would-be savior who greets him as they exit the throne room. Wook bled his own blood for nothing, and now Master Lee’s crooning over the dog! Reward, shmeward!

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 15-16 Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 15-16

Still, they got what they came for: Ha-sun’s fear confirms her soul-shifter status. Pressing further could trigger a war. But, not all the royals are as spineless as the king. Won, who throughout the previous encounter had the look of a man questioning his every allegiance, is determined to speak with them — about Naksu.

This proves contentious. When Won mocks the common people’s adoption of “Naksu in Blue” as a symbol of protection, Wook is scathing. Tempers flare, and only Yun-ok’s arrival prevents an all-out brawl over whether the monarchy is failing Daeho’s populace. As Yun-ok tends — all too tenderly — to Wook’s wounds, Master Lee ushers Won into a private tête-à-tête. He requests Naksu’s sword.

The assassin in question is still deeply indignant at being accused of someone else’s murder. Sneaking into the Jang household, she corners Do-joo.

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 15-16

It’s a fraught discussion: although Do-joo believes her innocent, she senses Mu-deok has a secret that could prove catastrophic for Wook. Nonetheless, despite Jin’s warnings, she’s willing to be gently bullied into helping Mu-deok access Jinyowon.

Upon leaving, Mu-deok stumbles into a seemingly blind woman — So-yi. The two face each other in the rain, with nary a hint of recognition on Mu-deok’s part. So-yi leaves, puzzled, but satisfied that murder is unnecessary in this instance.

At Jinyowon, Mu-deok tries to wheedle a fidgety Cho-yeon into being her alibi. It’s the same old conundrum: yes, Cho-yeon would like to save Mu-deok’s life, but has Mu-deok considered that her mother might be annoyed if she does? Before this debate can play out, Ho-gyeong returns unexpectedly, and Cho-yeon shoves Mu-deok into Bu-yeon’s room. Here, Mu-deok becomes overwhelmingly dizzy…

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 15-16 Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 15-16

… and wakes to find she has wrapped Bu-yeon’s blindfold around her eyes. Livid with grief, Ho-gyeong slaps her.

Elsewhere, we finally get an answer to last week’s most disturbing mystery: what exactly was Woo-tak doing when he extracted a weird red worm from Cho-yeon’s neck? Well, it’s appropriately horrifying. So-yi needs Jin blood to open the family vault. Absorbing the worm is agonizing, and potentially fatal to boot — if Mu doesn’t continually suppress it with his sorcery, it’ll devour her alive.

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 15-16

Dang-gu softly encourages Cho-yeon to face the music and testify for Mu-deok. Jin does what he does best: dutifully hears her out, and then goes and does exactly what he wants — which, in this case, is to enact his very own Prisoner’s Dilemma on the sly.

Wook and Mu-deok are held in separate cells. Both of them are ordered to tell him what they’ve been hiding. If their statements don’t match, Mu-deok will die.

It’s a neat plan. However, it fails to account for our heroes’ messy, overwhelming, downright mortifying devotion to one another — plus, their talent for talking their way out of a bind. Both show Jin their jade charms. For the first time aloud, without obfuscation, they both admit their feelings. Wook likes Mu-deok. And Mu-deok likes Wook. If you discount all the soul-shifting, the murder and the perilous promise of destiny, it really is as simple as that.

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 15-16

Afterwards, the same delightful couple’s telepathy that helped them survive leads them to reunite at their favorite bridge. Of course, the downside to being alive and well in these particular circumstances is that there’s no escape from facing their feelings. But, hey, as Mu-deok puts it — and then immediately regrets doing so — Songrim wouldn’t punish a maid for loving her master to death.

Wook smirks. His confession wasn’t nearly so passionate. Clearly he should up his game. Mu-deok bristles and, as per her usual defense mechanism, gets morbid about it. If given a choice between love and his own life, she commands Wook to choose the latter. But, the sincerity of Wook’s reply floors her. If he doesn’t mind dying, may he continue loving her?

It’s testament to how well he knows her that he doesn’t push — just scolds her for glaring. Shouldn’t someone in love smile sweetly? The sneer he receives suggests that Mu-deok has never felt an emotion she didn’t immediately need to sulk about, so… perhaps not. Still, she has her own insecurities. How is she meant to continue loving Wook if Do-joo keeps trying to marry him off?

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 15-16 Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 15-16

Then, proving that she abides by the ancient assassin code of “I licked it, therefore it’s mine,” she — well — licks her finger and dabs him on the chin. Now, it’s Wook’s turn to bluster. Premarital licking is, after all, a step up from passionate hugs. Why rush into commitment? Strong words, coming from the man who nearly dies for her once a week — but, then, there’s no hiding the fact that they’re both already committed.

Speaking of love, things are about to get hairy for Daeho’s cutest couple. It starts, as with many of their problems, with a conflict between Songrim and Jinyowon — this time, over custody of Gwigu. Negotiations deteriorate as Gwigu spots Cho-yeon… and, sensing sorcery, leaps for her. Ho-gyeong sends out a burst of magic, killing the poor critter in a single blow. Alas, poor dog!

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 15-16

It’s an awkward moment for Woo-tak, who fears the after-effects of his blood worm have been detected. Lucky for him, Cho-yeon is frightened enough to confess that she did use sorcery: a charm intended to attract her true love. Ho-gyeong, in a fit of rage, goes in for a second slap in as many episodes — only for Dang-gu to reel Cho-yeon into a protective hug.

There’s no hiding their connection now. Unfortunately, between Jin, who has had it up to here with young love, and Ho-gyeong, who harbors hopes for Cho-yeon to marry Won, there’s no chance of an alliance. The unhappy pair are ordered to separate. But to no one’s surprise more than their own, they cannot bring themselves to obey. Hand in defiant hand, the two huddle close as their guardians tell them not to bother coming back home.

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 15-16

Of course, sticking together in a moment of impulse is one thing, but finding shelter genteel enough for Cho-yeon’s finicky tastes is quite another. Help comes in the form of a long-suffering Do-joo, who finds herself at the mercy of two very needy children in love.

Wook, meanwhile, receives a double-edged gift from Master Lee: Naksu’s sword. It comes with a message. If anyone tries to use it, he must kill them. Otherwise, he will also die. The implication is clear — Master Lee always knew about Mu-deok’s identity, and there’ll be consequences should Naksu reappear.

Naturally, Wook hands the sword to Mu-deok without hesitation. Their own vow supersedes all. She takes the opportunity to remind him of the wording: when she returns to full strength, they’ll no longer be master and pupil. He’ll no longer have reason to protect her. She’ll no longer have reason to go easy on him.

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 15-16

Wook, ever skeptical of this particular contract, proposes an additional clause. When she regains her energy, she must draw her sword on him. If she kills him, so be it. But, if she withdraws — well, then, he’ll make her that promise she was asking for. Commitment or death! It’s so hopelessly, flawlessly them.

Elsewhere, Do-joo questions Jin’s vehemence in opposing the wayward couple she’s inadvertently adopted. All credit to Jin; he doesn’t immediately bring up Wook’s undesirable love connection. Still, he does poke the issue, asking whether she’d be so tolerant in his situation. Do-joo’s response is one she’ll most likely regret with time: Wook can love whomever he likes! Who cares if they aren’t beautiful, or if there’s an age gap? Jin, stricken, pictures Master Lee — which is a bit rich, because, let’s be real, that guy’s a catch. Do-joo, misunderstanding, thinks Jin’s being shy about their own two-year difference. Maybe this’ll all be resolved by the time they’re a hundred and fifty.

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 15-16 Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 15-16

Wook, as Dang-gu’s friend, has been sucked into the vortex of disaster that is his love life. Cho-yeon, whose friends are elsewhere, instead has… Mu-deok. Both lovers confide that they regret abandoning their cushy homes. Most people in this situation would eat their feelings; Cho-yeon takes solace in critiquing every dish that passes her lips. Mu-deok grits her teeth and fakes a smile: it’s a hard life when you can’t just kill people on a whim. Nonetheless, she gains some info on the Jins — their priestesses specialize in the divine, and can even trap people’s souls.

Wook and Yul treat Dang-gu to a consolatory drink, whilst fondly reminiscing about being kicked out of the house. Wook’s an old hand at this. For Yul, it happened just once. Dang-gu, as a squishy-faced toddler, broke a gold inkstone. Yul, in all his tiny dignity, wanted to confess to the incident, but let the others twist his arm into lying. It offended his baby morals so deeply that he fell sick, unable to sleep or eat. Now, on the way back, Wook notices the dark shadows under Yul’s eyes. It hits him: Yul’s been feigning ignorance about Naksu.

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 15-16 Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 15-16

The next day, Mu-deok and Wook agree to investigate Shaman Choi, whom Eunuch Kim name-dropped prior to petrification. Wook sets off for Gaema Village to meet a shaman contact of Ju-wol’s. It turns out he’s not the only one chasing leads: Won’s here to search for Kim in one of his regular haunts. He too suspects Ha-sun. Warily, they resolve to share information — even as you can almost hear both cursing the universe for causing their paths to align.

Meanwhile, Do-joo issues the lovers an ultimatum. Their families are willing to take them back — provided they sign a contract promising to never see one another again. For all that their fears, for all the immense wealth and privilege they’re jeopardizing, for all that Cho-yeon arguably has the emotional fortitude of string cheese… they can’t do it. Well, Dang-gu can’t. Cho-yeon’s — undecided. She grabs her contract from the trash, before hastily roping Mu-deok into a quick trip to Jinyowon to smuggle out some of her belongings.

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 15-16

Wook and Won’s amateur sleuthing strikes gold. Ju-wol’s contact describes how, two decades ago, Shaman Choi was notorious for her hexes. Cornered by Cheonbugwan’s authorities, she threw herself into a fire before she could be arrested for sorcery. Shaman Choi had a brother rumored to have married into one of Daeho’s noble houses; the show isn’t shy about immediately cutting to Woo-tak.

He stands at Jinyowon, before the woman who claims to be his daughter. Ho-gyeong surges forward, amazed to find the scar on “Bu-yeon’s” forearm and the birthmark on her neck. One test remains: the vault.

Mu-deok and Cho-yeon, back from their nighttime jaunt, catch sight of So-yi, hand poised before the door. As the Jin family waits on tenterhooks and Mu-deok feels the prickle of a headache, the vines begin to recede.

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 15-16 Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 15-16

Wook senses he’s being followed. Splitting off from Won, he corners his pursuer, sword aloft.

Even as she embraces So-yi, Ho-gyeong glances over to meet the eyes of Mu-deok — who looks back, perplexed. And across the city, Wook stares into the hooded face of his father.

As we gear up for a short break, it’s the perfect double-whammy cliffhanger. Family, and the way it relates to identity, lurks behind every corner of Alchemy of Souls, but now — much like a fake long-lost daughter returned — it’s almost out in the open.

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 15-16 Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 15-16

I love what they’ve done with Jang Gang up till now: he’s been so very present in his absence, a conspicuous lack. For Do-joo, he’s a healed wound that I daresay still aches a little. For Jin, he’s the friend he failed: the would-be savior who I suspect is destined to disappoint. And for Wook — well, we’ve hardly begun to peel back the lid on that. He’s done so well up till now at carving a space for himself that has nothing to do with his father — but he still carries his sword. Wook is still, to some extent, defining himself against the man who abandoned him.

Mu-deok, like Wook, associates family with loss. It’s clear from last week’s memorial that she hasn’t been able to properly mourn her father, even if her feelings on revenge are unclear — and her feelings about her past, even murkier. I can’t stop thinking about that short scene where she holds Naksu’s sword, remembering how she used to be terrifying. Wondering if she could stand to be the same again. It seems to me as if she’s caught between missing who she was, and mourning the person she could have become. At the end of it, Mu-deok doesn’t know who she’s meant to be now. How will she deal with a grieving mother who both is and isn’t hers? With someone else’s loss? We’ll find out soon — two weeks can’t go by quickly enough!

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 15-16

 
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Mixed feeling for this week. At least we get some answers. But they revealed it in super late stage with 4 episodes left out.

This week my top performer was Master Lee 😍. So cool and doesn't bat an eyelid for JinMu's threat. It shows some glimps here that if you can reach Hwansu, you won't be running rampantly and can preserve youthness. I bet this is different from Hwanhon using Soul Ejector method. I was suprised too as Gwigu not attacking Cho Yeon's father (I assumed he was another soul shifter), but then he was Choi's brother. Poor Gwigu for dying early.

Another storyline that answering many predictions before: a powerful priestess can locked a masterful mage. Meaning, Mudeok was choosing Naksu and not vice versa. That's also explained why Naksu said her sword feels do not belong to her anymore. I guess Mudeok/ BuYeon power helps her unsheath the sword again for saving Wook next week. But, what would be the price towards her and Jang Wook then?

Since Master Kang will go berserk next episode, I am still in high hope for better ending. Please do not hurt uri Seo Yul 🤞 (the part that they shown his Lantern of Life such a great idea for warning). I get a feeling that Jang Wook didn't recognize Jang Gang, but when he learn about the King's Star... how this drama will flip the story there to make it entertaining until finale. Another 2 weeks worth of waiting? Absolutely 🥰. See you in 2 weeks, @alathe

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I like Master Lee as well. But I can’t say I liked seeing him so easily win against Jin Mu. It just seem like poor writing to me. Jin Mu have been the show’s primary antagonist/villain. If Master Lee can so easily defeat him in a direct confrontation…why are we even worrying about him to begin with?

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Jin Mu is a lackey to Shaman Choi. She is the main antagonist. This is why they mentioned a powerful priestess can lock a mage.

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Plus Master Lee is 100+ years old, so obviously he should be powerful than Jin Mu, otherwise there is no use of introducing him as Yeom's master.

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Yes, Master Lee can easily defeat Jin Mu. But with his age comes also wisdom - not just power. He is purposedly holding back because 1) Killing Jin Mu would only cause a fight between the monarchy and Songrim, and 2) he knows that Jin Mu is under orders from someone else. They will not be able to get to the bottom of the problem if he gets too trigger-happy. What Master Lee wants most of all is balance and peace to Daeho. Odd but I've been comparing AoS to ATLA more often lately. And it seems like Master Lee, along with Park Jin, is - in a way - this show's General Iroh. ☺️

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I wonder if Naksu/Cho Yeong could have maintained her mage powers since the Mu-deok body was originally a powerful mage's, but Bu-yeon purposely suppressed it. OG Mu-deok and even Bu-yeon were mostly seen as helpless, but she turns out to be more powerful than ever imagine. I had expected her to be maybe Yul-levels of accomplishment in her pre-teen years, but she was already at her mother's level.

Poor Gwigu. That cute dog died twice.

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I don't think Gwigu is dead. Master Lee transferred it to the banner to later transfer it into another vessel/dog.

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I think that Bu-yeon had a lot to do with Naksu -- she went out of her way to force Naksu into her body. Hmm, maybe even taking her soul . . . I didn't think about that. It's also how she prevented Jang Uk from getting bounced into that other guy's body. I still am curious as to what her plans are and how Naksu will regain her body, if it was burned.

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Me to Alchemy of Souls after they amped up everything leading to the Mudeok reveal last week only to bring it all crashing down 😒😒😒. Like, for real😒😒. Again? This bait and switch thing is…I don’t know, but it is tiring and getting to the other side of pleasant.

Rotfl of the week : Master Heo spanked in the head by less than 10 year old Master Lee.
Tsk tsk tsk moment: Park Jin being so dumb to not know Kim Do-joo was referencing him. Even in Hemp Master Lee's absence, I don’t think Park Jin would win a wooing contest between them both- with Park wooing physically and Master Lee on Skype😂.

The palace sequence was a delight 🤤. Master Lee’s technique about instilling fear was so well executed. The power demonstration between Lee and Jin Mu is the perfect icing on the cake to ink the entire sequence. Someone finally gets to remind Jin Mu of his place. How could he even think of one-upping Lee?

If there’s something that struck me with the love arc of Dang-gu and Cho-yeon, it’s the fact that they recognize, and acknowledged, and talk about the impact their decision will have on their lives going forward. They counted both their gains, and their losses. A good number of movies paint an idealistic future for characters who toe such decisions but here, and that love conquers it all so no regrets. But AoS acknowledged the truth that love conquers it all and there might still be a momentary lingering regret, a moment of truth. And this regret doesn’t in any way dampen the the they have for each other. I like it.

So Ho-gyeong finally meets her fake daughter. I really feel for her. You can really tell that she loves her daughter, and lives for her. I can only imagine a fraction of the hurt she’ll experience when everything breaks and she realize that the people she willingly blindly trusted duped her hook line and sink-her.
Her husband is a Choi. Now that explains it all. They’ve been on Ho-gyeong’s case for 20 solid years. What a meticulous planning. So he actually birthed this two children and still grew a blood thread in Cho-yeon, and poked it out later. Damn! Dark! All sympathy was lost for him last week and with this week, no sympathy redemption for him of any sort. Even your own loins. Not allowed at all. Not allowed.

It’s established that Hwansu is the safest mode to soul shift, and the ice stone is the one that upsets the balance of the world. No wonder we do not hear of Lee fearing being petrified, or gwiju scenting him out as a soul shifter. I was definitely sure it was Hwansu he’s being using since he couldn’t have made such a sentence last week with the most complete confidence. Those mages who employ the ice stone are the epitome of power hungry people who cut corners when they can rightly get to their destination without having to. I hope we haven’t seen the last of Lee. I’d want him to give Jang Gang some knocks on the head with his staff for creating this chaos.

The ending of episode 16 better not end just like...

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...that. Something has to really go down. While it’s possible to say that So-i opened the door herself, with Mu-deok in the proximity, I wouldn’t doubt it if the door responded to Bu-yeon’s presence and not So-i’s touch.
At least Cho-yeon has seen the mark. Perhaps one day, the chats will lead them to having the right conversation. And with Jang Gang back, I pray they finally steer the talks towards Buyeon. I guess he recognizes Bu-yeon from any distance.

And talking about Buyeon. Even if they had gone to a mage to unlock Naksu, or Jang Uk attained to all the progress he’s made by an earlier episode and attempts to be her lake Gyeongchangdo, her powers wouldn’t surface. The only thing that can counter Bu-yeon’s entrapping is Lake Gyeongchangdo itself, or she decides to take the back seat in all its entirety. I’m sure it’ll be a little bit of work for Hemp Master Lee to bypass Bu-yeon’s security checks. Bu-yeon is powerful, high level powerful. Stronger than Jin Ho-gyeong, comparable if not at par with Master Seo and Lady Jin Seolran.
All this while I thought the body was a weak one, never did I think it could be that Bu-yeon trapped her energy instead.

And now to the rant.
Episode 16, and nothing of any sorts moving Naksu Buyeon forward. All we got was expositions that went on and on in circles (except for Cho-yeon’s input), circles they’ve been spinning for how many previews now? That scene in the preview where she unsheathed her sword had better happen in episode 17 because if it happens in episode 18 or at the tail end of 17 ,then I’ll be at the end of restraint.

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"That scene in the preview where she unsheathed her sword had better happen in episode 17 because if it happens in episode 18 or at the tail end of 17 ,then I’ll be at the end of restraint."

Sadly, I'm almost positive it'll happen in ep 18 - if not later. Many netizens have noticed that the production has been "fishing" viewers w/ these previews where scenes show up ten episodes later...or not all. (Still waiting on that date scene between Wook & MD where he pokes her in the cheek.)

Not gonna lie, it's a good way to bait (& infuriate) viewers and entices me to continue watching despite the plot plateauing at this point...at least for MD/Naksu...

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It's not just AoS. My Liberation Notes and It's Beautiful Now did the exact same thing but in better execution than AoS.

It might work if the plot is actually moving so when the teased sequence drops, you won't feel the vacuum because you're occupied.
What AoS is doing is exactly what happens in previews of kdramas from as long as close to 10 years of my watching - make it look like the good guys will become aware of the bad guy amongst them and then someway somehow, a coffee will spill into the laptop and damage the motherboard. And this bait and switch goes on for weeks. It's tiring. Just tease once and be over with it.

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It would be hilarious (to me anyway) if the cheek-poke never shows up at all.

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Yes, I noticed this one too...imagine Naksu is not unsheath the sword at ep 17 but much later episode 🙃

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This reminds me of the drama chat about previews. Some people don't watch them. I do to get a taste of what to look forward to, and it really annoys when previews are misleading. I would like to know who exactly makes the previews behind the sciences and the reasoning why. I wonder if koreans have podcasts about behind the scenes stuff in producing dramas. Podcasts are huge in the US nowadays.

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I’m don’t watch the previews.😁 I can’t stand being misled for no narrative reason, and there’s usually enough to get me to watch the next episode without the additional tease. Epilogues, on the other hand, I’m all for - I wish AoS had epilogues.

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I'm also fairly sure it will happen on episode 18,like all the great cliffhangers happen till now,like they show Sunday a preview actually containing clips from both the upcoming week...I'd be quite happy if it happenes on ep. 17 so we can saw episode 18 without having to wait yet another long week...Maybe that's why i even hope the episodes are like early on longer as clearly their narattive is too long for just 1hour...

This time even didn't show a scene that i was expecting in episode 16 :(

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Big questions.

What happened to Dang-gu’s hair😉?

Young Yul looks so cute with the stoic expression. More adorable is that his Pinocchio has been on from an early age☺️🤗. I do see him fainting from lying, whether or not Dang-gu rewrote the scenes in his head.

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"So he actually birthed this two children and still grew a blood thread in Cho-yeon, and poked it out later."

--> Actually, the husband told So-i that BY is not his daughter, but someone else's. Now that opens to more questions regarding why Ho-gyeong is so biased for and particularly obsessed over BY's existence.

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Heightened foul play mode activated. And yes, more questions. I guess her husband was done away with so he could step into the picture. It seems like the Choi family found a way to link to Jinyowon due to the affair Ho-gyeong's father had with Jin Mu's mother. It would become so easy for him to perhaps kill Ho-gyeong's first husband, and surely approach Ho-gyeong under the guise of comfort.

Even if he didn't birth Bu-yeon, he had a poker face instead of a conflicted face when the harvested the thread from Cho-yeon. Where the hell is the father feeling?

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He already thinks Bu-yeon is dead. If i were him, I would want to sit back and let my biological daughter, Cho-yeon, inherit the Jin family. Easier to manipulate than having to work with Jin Mu. You just know that guy will be a backstabber.

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I doubt he truly works for Jin Mu but more along his older sister.

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It makes no sense to me that an ultra-snob like Ho Gyeong could end up married to the brother of a hex-dealing shaman from a poor village, but … I might watch that story 🤔

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If he was the brother of one of the most powerful shamans out there I doubt the family was either poor or looked down upon. You seem to forget in this world having supernatural powers gives you prestige. From what we've seen so far there's nothing to suggest Shaman Choi isn't a very powerful and influential individual and she must have been respected before she "died" in the fire.

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Yeah, I guess that’s it

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I actually have this theory that she might not know his liniage mostly because of her snobish ways,it's been said early episodes that Choi Family was a known villain that used the Ice Stone's powers 200 years back to have power in that great War but was stopped by Master Seo Gyeong and so it fell into ruin and most likely stripped of it's magic or Shaman Choi being a child of a survivor that got away without them knowing so still having some powers(who knows how their powers are chosen)...Also why Shaman Choi wants revenge aside from her being hunted back then for black magic,to say so...
So i doubt Shaman CHoi was respected per se but more likely was asked to do those rituals like on black market.

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In the AoS world, would Cho Yeon’s father perhaps consider Jang Gang Bu Yeon’s father because Bu Yeon only lived as a result of his JG’s sorcery with the ice stone? It seemed as though, by the point Ho Gyeong went to beg Jang Gang for help, she’d had a stillbirth (😔). However, given how Ho Gyeong treats and seems to have little feeling towards her current husband, she was probably married to a completely different man originally…

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the bait and switch is so annoying lol the drama teases us with high stakes, but EVERY TIME the leads can get away with just a few bruises and 100% of their plan acheived. I don't want them to die, but I wish they could at least give me some reason to stay on the verge of my seat while watching. by now, I know that something ridiculous will save uk and mudeok from the problem they're facing. when jin threatened them I knew they were going to be saved by the jade thing, something they should have lost a few episodes ago. they NEVER lose.

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@jerrykuvira: I am pretty sure Wootak said he wasn’t Buyeon’s father. Did I imagine that?

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I didn't get that sentence at all.
When So-i called him father, all he said was it made his screen crawl.
If truly, Buyeon is not his daughter, and with the reveal that he's Shaman Choi's brother, I see more extra reasons why he would become extra disillusioned, angry and more negative with Ho-gyeong, for tasking him with finding Bu-yeon - she's not his own. Now he's extended his hate to Cho-yeon 🤦🏽.

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@jerryKuvira: I know you didn’t but it was said.

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@jerrykuvira: I found the specifics: Ep 15 at 53.13 “I am not the father of Jin Bu-yeon”.

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I have checked it out. I totally missed it.

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He doesn't hate his daughter but his greed is far greater than anything else,even using his own blood to achieve or support his older sister,would did be called piety as well?
Don't know if his character was like this from the get go and they planned together to get himself into Ho-gyeong family or he became like this because of Ho-gyeong's treatment(extended to Cho-yeon being always the second) all this time.
If so it will be very poignant for Ho-gyeong i might say

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I was surprised and intrigued at how Dang-gu and Cho-yeon were not super-blinded by love to not recognize that they would be giving up family and security. And I was surprised that they even admitted to each other that they had a moment of regret. As immature as Cho-yeon is, I sort of have hope for this couple. And Dang-gu has been in love with her and known her for years to know her faults and accept them.

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I’ve been wondering whether Dang Gu has been in love for that long, or whether it was only after he smelled the perfume from her letter to Jang Uk, and fell under its spell.

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He's been in love with her for long. However, Jin Ho-gyeong has never thought of him as a candidate for marriage primarily because of his responsibility and future as Songrim's successor.

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It makes their love more profound, and down to the earth. Such a realistic portrayal of a love parents have not given thier signature on.

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Yeah their story isn't very realistic to be honest. I get that he fancied her for a long time but she was supposedly in love with Janguk (or was she?) but gave him up after it was obvious he didn't want her, then she suddenly switched to Danggu after he expressed interest. I get she might like Danggu but to think she would give up everything she has for him? Yeah right. What if she changes her mind about him as fast as she did about Janguk? If Yul suddenly came up to her and said he liked her she's probably then switch to him (not sure if they're related or something, but lets imagine they're not, I'm sure you get my point).
This whole Dang-gu and Cho-yeon as Romeo and Juliet just doesn't fly with me. I take their story as more of a fun sideline filler, I don't take it seriously.

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Master Lee - you (& your younger self) rock! Can MD & Wook just carry you in their pockets to have you around whenever they get into trouble? You’re way more useful than jade eggs.

While the drama is still fun, the recent plot stagnation & decline in screen time for MD (aside from watching her do housework) leaves me with not much to comment on other than behind-the-scenes questions that keeps scurrying around in my brain: Why break down Part 1 to 20 eps & Part 2 to 10 eps when they could’ve easily done a 16 to 14 split which would’ve made the pacing so much better this season? In fact, is a second part really even that necessary?!

I adore each & every character and could watch their lives play out on a daily basis, & I understand the writers have spent yearsss developing them & love them more than the fans do, but as a professional writer, you have to know when to let your characters & story go, no? I’m even more surprised that the Exec.Producers green lit the second part last year in what is a really risky venture into a new genre, & they did so without even knowing what the audience reaction was going to be like. (Luckily for them, we’re digging it, but it’s nowhere near the sensation that they were hoping for & I’m not sure how much profit they’re even going profit at the end of both productions. Perhaps Part 2 will only be released in online streaming sites like YC2?)

There was so much care & attention placed on the editing & pacing in eps 1-4, probably b/c those were the eps they were showing around to advertisers & used for promotion, but my goodness, the editing really starts to fall apart after ep 8. (In ep 14 when Master Lee & Park Jin were speaking outdoors about Jin Gang overlooking the bridge/town, you can tell that was a broken off scene from one of the earlier episodes that they just inserted into ep 14 for god knows what reason...not enough footage to fill up the episode?) Guess they really did desperately need the break next week from airing to work on fitting the pieces together better...

Part of me wonders if JSM saw the gradual decline & screen time for her character towards the end of Part 1 & was smart enough to be like “nope, no thanks” to part 2 and jumped sails…which good for her & her career. (The writers made her character react much too stiffly to Wook’s blunt confessions, which albeit being consistent w/ her character, was even a bit much for me. JSM is someone who could create chemistry with a bullfrog…or even Trump…so how about putting her skills to use in this show, Writer-nim?)

To clarify though, I still love this show & think it’s the best drama out there during the summer, & the humor is right up my alley. I’m only being so critical because I do hold it so dear. It’s more of the behind-the-scenes production world & decisions that confound me….they should’ve made an original Netflix documentary over that instead of Part 2…would’ve saved them a lot of money.

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I’m very disappointed in the lack of development for Mu Deok and, yes, allllll that housework 🤦🏼‍♀️

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I don't think JSM decided to jump ship. Alchemy of Souls is definitely a step up from some of her recent dramas: Monthly Magazine Home and Soul Mechanic. This is her best year since 2017. She was pulled into Alchemy of Souls right after Monthly Magazine Home when the original actress didn't work out. It was supposed to be JSM's break time, but she took on this drama. She's doing a movie too. And Alchemy of Soul is more physically demanding than your usual drama.

I dislike Kdramas getting into the planned multi-season stuff. Probably the netflix influence. Viewers resent the actor change and actors are put into the awkward position of being stuck with a role longer than they would like (and even feeling an obligation to the viewers) and having to turn down interesting roles.

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I agree. their industry is just not used to this type of commitment too. I think if korean productions want to do multiple seasons, they should plan the whole thing bcs actors will always line up different projects and to find a way to make everybody available again, at the same time, will be a task. yumi cells did the right way. contract actors for a longer period, film everything (even extra stuff if you decide to change things when editing), and then split into season. doing how they're doing now won't work that well unless actors and their agencies start to accept multi-year contracts for the same series - and I don't see it happening.

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Yes, multiple seasons are not the business practice in Korea. Actors get dozens of script offers at a time. It is the agency's job to sift through them to see how it fits in the actor's "other" schedules: CFs, prior commitments, events, etc. The work, the type of work, and payment are all considerations considering a movie shoot is 2-4 months while a TV series could be 6 to 8 months (depending on location/overseas shoots). Some movie actors prefer to movies shoots (and two checks) over one series. An idol-actress like Yoona has been working non-stop since 2018.

In the US, a traditional TV series signs main actors for a 5 year commitment if the network picks up the show and renews it. So actors know up front the multi-season time commitment. Korea production companies are being pushed by platforms and sometimes fans to create a second season of a popular show.

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JSM definitely just signed up for one season as that's the standard practice in Korea. Shows don't really have multiple seasons here.
But I also don't think she's the main character aka the focus of the story - I think that's Janguk, he's obviously the promised savior, Harry Potter, Jon Snow, what not.
Sure Naksu is important and interesting in terms of helping Janguk find his potential and become all powerful, but really it's not about her, it's about Jin trying to usurp the throne and control the kingdom through the ice stone and soul shifting, and Janguk being the promised savior who will stop him and return order to the kingdom. It all started with his weird unplanned birth and then everything that happened later plot-wise basically revolved around him.
That's why I think sidelining Naksu as Mudeok isn't really surprising at all. Frankly until Naksu gets her powers back she's really useless in terms of the overall plot. Aside as acting as a romantic interest for Janguk and helping him train and become powerful (thus moving the story forward).

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I don't really agree that Naksu isn't just as much of a main character as Uk. The whole drama is a fantasy romance, or at least that's how it was advertised. And you really need two people to pull that off (with the possible exception of CP Won and his hair as a pairing, which I would also watch, tbh).

I am also not as sure that she's been sidelined. We're just seeing our two leads go about gathering more information in the ways that are available to them right now. Uk gets invited to the palace and goes off to find a shaman to question, but Cho Yeong as Mudeok isn't really able to do that. But she did a fair bit of investigating of her own, and when she does actually have to fulfill her duties, she keeps her eyes open, asks careful questions, and gets quite a lot of important info that way. She can't fight right now, but she's doing a great job of using her unobtrusiveness (and maybe Jin Choyeon's desperate need for a friend) to her advantage.

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I think it might mainly be because the writers might end up "season 1" named so with Naksu having her body revived...That is the whole dillema,that Bo Youn is still alive(is she truly even human anymore considering he was saved twice with the ice stone,didn't she kinda fuse some of her power with her already) so i see the writers will try to end it on a show twist with the ice stone reviving her body and her going back into it aka the original Naksu actress Go Yoon-Jung taking front stage.

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He returned home in miniature form, unimpressed — and thus began a long career for Yeom of being bopped on the head by a man seemingly decades his junior.

This @alathe ...is gold. Thank you for giving the laughable situation a better LOL x ROTFL wording.

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Right up there with, "...Cho-yeon arguably has the emotional strength of string cheese". So many chuckles in yet another wonderful re-cap @alathe.

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“Who are you and why are you following me?”

Hands up if you said out loud, “(l)Ook, I am your father” 🙋🏼‍♀️

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*raises hand* 😂

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100% me! LOL
the reference was right there, waiting to be said

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Hum... no revelation are really stunning. Why they showed us Uk's father in the teaser and before in the episode... it wasn't a surprise at all.

Naksu's body being BuYeon is teased for a long time now, I need action. Why was she at the Jang's House and not with Uk in Songrim? What was the point to pass the exam if it's to be the maid of the only young female mage we know and who acts a rich brat and does nothing intersting. Why the cute Dang-gu loves her?

The main love story doesn't work at all. I think it's both JSM and LJW who can't make it. In the BTS, they don't look really having fun with each other. I wonder if the difference of age is too big for JSM. LJW seems the kind who likes to act "hard to catch".

The situation "I know that you know" is becoming a little bit tiring too. Why can they speak? Master Lee knows, Yul knows... they could all work together instead to talk in metaphor/enigms.

I like the Prince. He sees his parents as they're really are. He searches the truth even if it's not good for his family. He's funny unintentionally.

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JSM seems to be the most comfortable with the prince (Shin Seungho) from what I've seen of the cast on the Swoon.

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Yes. LJW is comfortable with Min Hyuk and other guys.

@kurama You are partially right. It is just the age gap and not LJW seems the kind who likes to act "hard to catch".

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I think it is. During a game on Netflix Korea, she described the 3 guys and for LJW she said : he would say "I wont talk to you". It's for humor, I know it. But in Extraordinary You, LJW complained because Kim Hye-Woon wasn't cute with him. When she did, he acted "disgusted", again it was humor, but KYW answered : It's why I don't with you.

I think he's very playful but it could be harder for female lead to connect with him like JSM did with Shin Seunh-Ho.

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I am just gonna say, I have yet to see an interview with the 4 of them where I don't feel that uncomfortable vibe in the air and it mostly comes from LJW and SSH. Minhyun seems quite sweet and calm but the other two are passive aggressive towards Somin.

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@hanabi I don't think they have a bad relationship at all. I'm just saying the playfulness of LJW can make the FL having difficulties to approach him. His costars were older than him too.

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I don’t think Mu-deok is working in Songrim anymore. At least there is no scenes that indicate that she is still working there anymore. Can’t say I’m surprised they forgot to make up a reasonable explanation for this.

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She said she feels safer away from Park Jin in Songrim right now.

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I'm not sure a "servant" can really just decide to not show up for work in this kind of time and place. Mu-deok is basically a slave (definitely part of the underclass). The show have mentioned many times that Uk bought her and that he own her. It was never really explained how a low class person like her could even chose to apply to work a Songrim, but once she got in….it made even less sense that she could just up and decide to not show up anymore. The show is wildly inconsistent and vague with these elements of the story.

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Mudeok breaks the rules all the time. She broke the rules to get into Songrim and she's breaking the rules to stay out. She's exactly where she wants to be. Not to mention that Yul helped as well, keeping her away from the murder investigation happening in Songrim when Sangho wanted her there.

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Yeah, but she's not Uk's maid. She's Yul's maid. He let her being with Uk but working in Uk's family is little too much for a maid who needs to be discreet. She could just follow Yul. It would be safer.

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I actually forgot about that. Haha. So far I don’t think the show have made it super clear what it means that Yul is the “owner” of Mu-deok. I guess it make sense that the show would try to skirt over these things as much as possible so as not to make the “owners” look super bad. Since it’s basically a form of slavery as far as I can tell.

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Perhaps Park Jin is still so gobsmacked by the two confessions he gleaned that he allowed her Mudoek leave with Jang Uk?

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I was expecting this sad backstory for Master Lee, and then they revealed what really happened! No wonder he's always snapping at his Master Heo.

The Buyeon/Naksu connection is super interesting. I REALLY want the real answer on how it works and I wonder if Jang Gang has the answer. That's about all he's good for in my opinion at this point. I also had the thought that even if Buyeon's soul isn't there, just her blood could be causing Naksu's issues. It seems based on what Choyeon said the magic of her family is innate or literally in their blood. And Choyeon's father used her blood to help So-yi open the door.

I also think it's interesting that now that Naksu has her sword, as she said, it doesn't feel like it's hers anymore. The reason she lived her life like she did was all a lie. And I think she's just now realizing what becoming Naksu again means. It's not just power, it's all the baggage (and enemies) that comes along with it. She's still got a lot to figure out once she gets her powers back besides who to kill.

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Oh, I forgot! Cho yeon's dad said Buyeon isn't his kid! We got another birth secret!

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There was a scene of Kim Do-joo and Mudeok/Cho Yeong in front of Naksu's sword and Kim Do-joo reacted to the sword like it was bad luck since you know, it belonged Naksu. Mudeok took that reaction to heart. You're right that about realizing what becoming Naksu means. Before the soul-shift, she would have been proud to be feared and her catchphrase was that her name derived by her ability to make heads drop. But is that something worthy? And what if it makes the people who have been good to her (like Kim Do-joo) fear her?

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This raises another question around the kind of justice that would meet Naksu if she were to ‘return’ - if she’s a victim of forces and manipulations much greater than her, will she be held responsible for the deaths of all those soul-switched people/mages? It sounded like all the mages she killed were a combination of the bodies of the powerful mages, and the souls of victimised civilians/mages. She still killed people, of course, but it won’t be easy to square the mess of her actions and intentions with the wider context of the Dangu and Jin Mu’s machinations.

So far, Naksu’s personality seems the kind that would happily return to being Naksu just to kill Jin Mu (and the Dangu) for revenge. If she ends up dying after that, she’d accept her fate. However, it’s become more complicated because of her feelings for Uk and his devotion to her.

In the end, Naksu may not have a choice, depending on what Bu Yeon decides to do. With BY seeing the deception being played out on her mother, BY may take over her own body again, and then the question will be - what happens to Naksu? Can they continue to live as two souls in one body?

Perhaps, to maintain the peace and balance in Daeho, we will need Uk, Bu Yeon and Naksu to join forces with all the other ‘good guys’ to defeat the army of soul-switched mages that the Dangu and Jin Mu have assembled. (That’s if Master Lee can’t defeat them all on his own!😅)

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This reminds me of a scene in Episode 5 that kinda threw me for a loop about Naksu's assassin past.

When Master Lee came upon Jang Uk and Mudoek on their first night in Danhyanggok, Master Lee had thanked Gwigu while he stood over Mudoek's bed, saying: "I would not have recognized her without your help since her soul has no malice."

And when he stopped himself from killing Mudoek in her sleep, he observed that "A great soul has shifted into this body."

I'm assuming that the blue wavy aura he saw was Buyeon's energy since Mudoek was asleep, but the "great soul" that shifted into the body would have had to be Naksu's soul, wouldn't it?

Those two statements together seem to indicate that she can be forgiven for her kills due to extenuating circumstances . . . ?

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I think Naksu is the great soul as well.

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Ahhhhh, I just assumed he was talking about Bu Yeon’s soul and hadn’t paid enough attention!! Good spot!

I hope Master Lee will be around to advocate for Naksu, in that case. I fear Park Jin would not be so forgiving with his very black and white view of the world.

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Yes, he's referring to Naksu's soul. And while her previous self was violent and murderous, she gets a pass for justifiable homicide I think. She was on a vengeance trip, after all, not a random killing spree. I have never thought Naksu was a pure evil - she's got issues, but she's got reasons.
This whole thing with her hanging out in Bu-yeon/Mu-deok's body, that's interesting. I'm sure Master Lee is aware of the soul shifter, and I think he has figured out at least half of the equation, but I'm not sure even he understands how the two beings are intertwined (BY/MD and Naksu). Hell, Naksu herself doesn't even understand it yet, she is just afraid of running wild because she senses the conflict between her soul and the previous occupant of the body.

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I hope with the return of Jang Gang we get more answers about what happened the night that Cho Yeong's whole family died. I still feel like we don't know that much about those circumstances. There is a lot of talk of Uk being born under the king's star, but was there ever any premonition about Cho Yeong's potential? Did someone ever sense this "great soul" previously? Does she have anything to do with why her family was murdered? I have no idea, I'm just curious. She was obviously really talented and worked hard and reached a high level at an early age. But I wonder if Jin Mu knew something else about her when he offered a poor little girl a chance at revenge.

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She saw her constellation chart as a child, but she's never said anything about what it meant. So I'm thinking she doesn't know. I hope Jang Gang knows what's up.

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@bunnylita
Naksu's father Cho Chung showed little Naksu (née Cho Yeong) her star chart and then went on his rampage and was killed by the Four Families mages that same day, at least based on her costume. It might even have been her birthday - she was wearing a red party dress. There must be something in her stars that was revealed when he showed them.

Was he soul-shifted at the time? That seems incompatible with his behavior as a loving father, but would allow whoever was soul-shifted with him (Jin Mu?) to mess around with Wook's constellation plate and to check out or just accidentally note Cho Yeong's stars.

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@alathe: Thanks for yet another charming weecap: Just wanted to say I loved this clause “Dang-gu, as a squishy-faced toddler” as there is a squishy-faced toddler in my life who is a bundle of joy and then some. I adopted this game of poking his edible squishy cheeks with the tip of my nose when I cuddle him and it reduces him to a fit of adorable giggles followed by “auntie Em, do it AGAIN!”. I learnt this from my favourite KDrama sweetheart of 2022,
Kang Seojoon played by Son Woohyun in To My Star 2.

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Adult Danggu is just as squishy and adorable 😂

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@ayrulent: He sure is. I like Danggu so much and share your view!😂

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Thanks @alathe! I subscribe to the view that odd numbered episodes are starting to lack pace and are more filler than substance. Notwithstanding, I'm still really enjoying this drama and it's reveals are debunking my theories, yet are still coherent, which I love.
Loved Mu Deok and Wook on the bridge of longing. That bridge will need to be made a national monument. 😀
Master Lee, I was sure he was lying re the soul shifting, delighted he wasn't.
Did I mishear Cho Yeons father saying he was not Bu Yeons biological father? Will need to go back and replay. That plus Shamen Choi's brother being married to Jin matriarch, brilliant!
The Prince and Wook again, best frenemies. I love this pair!
Loved the pace of the second episode. Two weeks to wait is forever!

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I heard Choyeon's father say that too!

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Where did I miss the statement? All he said was 'It makes my skin crawl'. I thought that was because he knows she's fake.

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Earlier in the same scene he says Buyeon's father is someone else.

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@jerrykuvira: It was before that!

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Oh! Wow! I either missed that completely or used the FF button at the wrong place😁.

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This was another scene. He mentioned it when Jin Mu said, Woo tak will take So i to Jinoyowon. She was surprised that a father will take in a fake daughter to which he replied that Bu Yeon isn't his daughter. When he inserted the worm he said that belongs to his beloved daughter Cho yeon. I'm guessing there is some sorcery involved in Bu yeon's birth.

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About 15.5 mins before the end of episode 15. I just rechecked!

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The drama still has many interesting aspects to uncover so it maintains my attention. But it really needs better pacing and no romance. I liked Uk and Mu Deok bickering. Those scenes had better chemistry than both of them trying to be romantic.

I feel there has been a change of plans for Choi and JM. They originally planned for So i to enter Jinoyowon as Bu Yeon and then bring Jin Ho gyeong to soul shift with Shaman Choi. Now that Songrim is suspicious of the queen, she is intending to soul shift into So i instead. I'm sure we'll still be here by the next episode regarding Bu Yeon. Jin ho gyeong has failed to recognize her daughter several times. That cliff hanger wouldn't progress Bu yeons story... Sigh.

I'm hopeful for JG upping the momentum though. But there's only 4 more episodes for JSM so I really don't know what they are planning.

Also how I wished the shaman Choi was the mother from the first episode. From the previews I thought it was going to be her. That could also bring her animosity with JG full circle. But she isn't.

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That cliffhanger better does. I noticed the look Ho-gyeong casted on Mudeok when she turned to face the door and saw Mudeok standing there holding her head. It has to mean something.
But I'll guess that it didn't.

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I’m totally gonna need a diagram at the end to tell me who all went through whose body and where they actually ended up 🤪

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I wonder whether they will change plans. Is it better to use Ho Gyeong’s body or So I’s body? As long as Ho Gyeong’s alive, she is the better one to switch with as she’s the leader of Jinyowon, and her taking the side against Songrim will be more politically useful. The plan still seems to be to undermine Songrim without all the soul-shifting being revealed, so Ho Gyeong makes more sense (I think). If they use So I’s body, they’ll need to kill Ho Gyeong and make it look like she died by some unsuspicious means.

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I suspect that they really want Ho Gyeong's body. The body you are in does have an impact on how much magical power you have and how it is expressed.
They have placed so much importance on the Jin family's blood and now this ep tells us a bit more about the Jin family "divine" powers and ability to trap mages.
Shaman Choi definitely wants that and hence Ho Gyeong. So-I only has a transplant of that blood, which may not have worked anyway. She is just a stepping stone ...
What if their plan had once included getting to little Bu Yeon's body and her uber powers? Maybe that was partly why she called down the lightning in that boat, trying to get away and convince Jin Mu she was dead? The questions of body autonomy and consent are actually a really interesting layer of this drama...

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This is such a good point! The body itself matters, as does the power running through the blood.

I totally agree - body autonomy, consent, as well as identity would all be interesting to explore in the context of this world!!

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Shaman Choi/Queen Seo seems to be have some centuries-old vendetta. I forgot which episode, but she said something along the lines that Songrim was responsible for the Choi Clan's demise, and I am not sure but I think I heard they wielded the ice stone, so we could interpret that her family was the main harbingers of the soul-shifting chaos two hundred years ago.

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I feel like the romance between our leads really took a backseat these two weeks, which is a shame. Also, agree with you on the pacing of the show. It seems to vary a lot

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The screenies this week would be close to incomplete if the ice holds/contortions/teeny weeny prison were excluded. I thought we'd get the staff bop in the head screenie as well😅.

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Disclaimer: this is a Yul biased space and will contain the '😍 🐦 ♥️ ✨ 🍃💕 ' that I usually do every week. I can't help it, I have the maddest crush on him and even more after seeing him and all his 'tiny dignity' - as @alathe so eloquently put it - in the cute little flashback. More of the three tiny musketeers please!!

YUL YOU POOR THING just cut your losses and leave for the fortress place now (I know you're never going to though 😔). Things are already messy and only going to get more chaotic in Daeho and my dude already looks K.O'd at just the beginning of the storm to come. Worse would be if So-i gets her annoying hands on him (can we Cliff of Doom her off already please). And I'm guessing he's guessed that Mudeok/Naksu and Wook's relationship runs a little deeper than master/pupil but he doesn't even know about the jade eggs or the commitment to marriage (basically) yet either. I mean that whole, if you don't kill me then we can be together thing is just an elaborate 'till death do us part' basically right?

I've already aired my thoughts about pacing (which I wasn't alone in yay!) and they still stand this week but I guess it is what it is. My wishlist for the penultimate week is that Naksu's secret final comes out in the open, we get more cool magic scenes and they don't kill my boy Yul off 🙏 . Or any of the 'F4', but considering this is the Hong Sisters that might be too greedy of an ask 😟

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Nothing must happen to my Yul. My dearest second lead syndrome (romance or not, romance and all) since Han Ji-pyeong.

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prayer circle for our boy Yul 🙏 🕯

tvN will be hearing from us if they do anything to him!!1

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@lapislazulii: ohhh, tiny Yura! So adorable!

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with the same hair cut too, sooooo cutee!!

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I'm so with you on the SLS with Yul. I was never really one for the strong, silent archetype, but he's sure making me rethink my biases. (lol)

Sadly, this week's episodes — specifically the "prisoner dilemma" sequence and the "tiny trio" flashback — are reminding me once again that Yul will have a truly miserable life if he and Naksu were to end up together. His "I cannot lie" nature would sentence him to sleepless nights and nary a moment of peace if he were to be with someone who has led a "survive by any means" life. And she wouldn't be Naksu anymore if she stopped using clever ways to get things done.

I'm so dreading seeing Yul's lantern get snuffed out; I feel like the show wouldn't go to the trouble of showing us an actual room and hanging all those lanterns if it wasn't going to be used in a pivotal moment. And showing us that room for the first time while talking about the queen instead of Yul feels like a head fake.

But even if he were to die, I don't think I'd want him to become a soul shifter to survive. And I don't think he'd want that for himself either. ::sighs::

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That's a very astute observation about how his principles etc. would mean a very unhappy life with Naksu if that were ever to happen! And also a good pick up about the lanterns too, I really hope it wasn't a fake out re: the Queen 😭 But yes 100% agree with you that I hope he doesn't become a soul shifter, he defs wouldn't want it either I don't think.

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That "tiny dignity" line seriously had me rolling!
But in all seriousness, Yul is so my favourite (always wanting to do the right thing, dedicated to his studies and work, hating to lie but willing to do it for his friends even though its torture, awwwww so cute!)
I think Yul definitely knows nearly how deep Naksu and Uk's feelings are becoming, he is quite observant. Although he did think to himself that he doesn't know what Uk will do when he finds out Mudeok is Naksu... he is not aware of Uk's information and worries that he will behave rashly as Uk is wont to do. I think sometimes Yul can be deceived exactly because he is so honest himself.

I am actually really intrigued to see how Yul's family is set up. We have gotten some fascinating little hints about how their Fortress is important and we know the actual Queen is his aunt (who the bad guys have had to keep alive because of her lantern... super cool twist, someone they can't easily get rid of like everyone else.) I hope to see more about the Seo family and how they are wrapped up in all this (we have only the barest hints of their importance in history). And when the CP finds out what has been done to his actual mother, wow. At least I'm pretty sure the original queen is his actual mother or what if not??

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happy that jang gang is finally back. I know he will have a lot to solve but part of me is even wishing we could get some fun with master lee and park jin lowkey being jealous of him being back bcs of ms kim.

the crown prince keeps being my favorite character. he's interesting bcs he's still a bit unpredictable. I would love to watch him and the lady doctor start to like each other. way more then uk and mudeok

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@jsourgod: I could watch Master Lee related awesomeness for ever and a day. Im Chulsoo does such a finely calibrated performance. I love it!

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@alathe this is one of the most engaging recaps I've read in a long time! Your narrative voice is distinct and it's clear that you are enjoying the drama, which makes the recap more fun.

Some of my fav snippets:
"Jin does what he does best: dutifully hears her out, and then goes and does exactly what he wants." This! Am I the only who genuinely hates him? He never cares for anyone else's opinion.
"It’s the same old conundrum: yes, Cho-yeon would like to save Mu-deok’s life, but has Mu-deok considered that her mother might be annoyed if she does?" This would honestly work as a character description for Choyeon.
"Mu-deok grits her teeth and fakes a smile: it’s a hard life when you can’t just kill people on a whim." I felt that for Mudeok 😂
"Jin, stricken, pictures Master Lee — which is a bit rich, because, let’s be real, that guy’s a catch." Master Lee >>>>>> Jin
Although my ship has a 99.9% chance of sinking, it's true that it would take the alternative ship another 100 years finish building so I guess it's ok?

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Park Jin gets on my nerves every week without fail. He's so stuck in his ways, and will not budge an inch. I do love his scenes with Maidservant Kim though.

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I can never get tired of him being a first class Dolt, same with thier clap-backs. Never will I get tired.

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She's too good for him in my opinion but it doesn't matter since his skull is thicker than concrete 😂

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I do sometimes wonder if we were to fast forward twenty years, would future Yul be like present-day Park Jin?

The unwavering dedication to duty, the inability to lie to people, and the drive to do what's right even if it will break his heart — these descriptions all fit Yul, but they also perfectly describe Park Jin.

Like in that scene in Episode 7 where Maidservant Kim asked him if he would have locked the doors of Jinyowon if she had been the one trapped inside.

MK: Even if it means I might die in there?

PJ: Do not put me in a difficult spot over something that has not even happened.

MK: I am not even actually locked inside. Does it hurt for you to lie and tell me that you will never seal the door?

PJ: I cannot lie to you.

PJ: If I ever have to seal the door, it would shatter my heart to pieces.

I love his scenes with her because that's where we get to see what makes him tick.

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To your question? A capital yet heartbreaking yes. Future Yul will be like present Park Jin.

If something ever makes Park Jin or Seo Yul break thier unwavering dedication to duty and thier drive to do what is right, then that thing has to mean so much to them. Not only will it have to be something they love, it has to be something they love more than life, and duty.
Even though Park Jin said he'd lock Do-joo in Jinyowon if need be, at the back of my mind I feel that at the end of the day, with all the conflicted emotions he'll experience, he won't bring himself to do it. It is a shaky faith, but I kind of have that faith in him with respect to Kim Do-joo alone.

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Or . . . perhaps Park Jin would still lock Maidservant Kim in, but he'd locked himself in there with her.

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@kdramacurious Yes, I see him doing that.
Another thing I'll see Park Jin do if he doesn't lock her in is that he resigns from the life of a mage... forever, never to return. Personal banishment.

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I genuinely like Park Jin. He's the only one moving the Naksu plot. His ways might be stubborn, but the information he's been getting from sources have been twisted. His doggedness at sniffing things out is impeccable. And let's give it to him, all his hunches have been right. They might be half proven now, but they are right.

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My dislike of him mainly stems from how he mistreated Wook. I was actually looking forward to him finding out about Naksu, but the writers won't let him as the jade eggs were supposedly enough for him to back off...plot progression has been on pause for a while now but I like the characters and world enough to go with it.

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Yeah! He did Wook pretty bad. And I blame that on Jang Gang. He gave a standing order and Park Jin as the honorable man he is followed through with it. Even Jinyowon offered to unlock his energy only after Uk is married into the Jin family as Jang Gang will not have too much say in the matter anymore since Uk will fall under thier family tree, and Jinyowon is matrilineally lead.

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Park Jin attempting to live 20 years in the past is the true theme of this show.

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Now picturing Park Jin as a basset hound. He is dogged, and his methods to learn more about MD/Naksu show he's smarter than I previously gave him credit for when it comes to nosing out threats. His romantic blind spot seems to extend beyond his own haplessness in love, though - he was as surprised by Dang-gu + Cho-yeon as he was by Wook + MD. (And how awesome was the all-pink costume theme when Kim Do-joo is acting as a surrogate mom and love counselor to DG and CY? Rose-colored glasses ON for these three. Meanwhile Master Lee still has the pink scarf and Park Jin is off by himself in blue.) The willful misunderstanding of the beloved's feelings is a trope that's beginning to be wearisome in this show but at the same time Park Jin is such a mope that I actually want Master Lee to kick over his motorcycle and steal his girlfriend.

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Park Jin is such a mope that I actually want Master Lee to kick over his motorcycle and steal his girlfriend

What the 😅😅😅.

If he had his romantic blindspot corrected, Park Jin will be the second perfect gentleman. Seo Yul is first 😁.

I equally beamed with joy when I realized all Kim Do-joo gave them was a test if thier love. May all the lovestruck individuals in AoS who are not allowed to be find a dear Kim Do-joo in thier lives. That includes you, Park Jin.

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Yes to the all-pink costuming! When Danggu and Choyeon latched onto Kim Dojoo I thought to myself that all the squishies had assembled. I would want this to trio to stay together permanently if not for poor Mudeok having to cater to Choyeon's whims.

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He's getting a lot of same information that Uk and Mudeuk are actually. And I think what's keeping them all from communicating is how he's treated Uk and how he's such a stickler for the "rules."

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...And way too loyal to Jang Gang. And also knows everything Jang Gang knows with regards to Uk's birth and whatever comes out of it.
Earlier episodes we saw that he resisted Jang Gang for making the order but he calmed and saw reasons when Gang explained the beginning and the end. After such a bombshell drop, I do expect him to be a stickler for rules whenever Uk is concerned. He can't help but be worried. Even when he trashes Uk, we know it is giving him a lot of pain and conflict. And he still cares.

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I get your points but I think for me the fact that never lets his conflictedness slip in front of Wook makes him seem inhumane in those scenes. I know afterwards he's all regrets but the fact is he had multiple confronations with his almost-son Wook and each time he basically destroyed Wook's self-worth in front of an audience. Maybe it's the actor's delivery - way too stern or maybe it's the writing - not developing their father/son relationship enough in the aftermath of all those conflicts.

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I get why he acts the way he does. And he still gets on my nerves. I especially hate how he treats Uk. I think that's a sign of a well written character as frustrating as I find him.

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I love him. I think the drama does a good job showing us why he acts the way he does with Uk. and I love how dumb he's regarding love lol

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It's precisely Park Jin's obliviousness to love and relationships that makes it all the more believable (to me) that he's the way he is with Jang Uk. He believes in the "I need to be cruel to be kind" mold of parenting.

And we do see a bit of softness in Park Jin when he and Jang Uk met by chance right after Mudeok escaped the mirror. Uk talked about escaping his illusions, and Park Jin told Uk that the only thing he ever wanted was for Uk to be safe.

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I was starting to question Park Jin's role in the story and abilities, but the last few episodes demonstrated his prowess and authority as leader of Songrim when he acted upon his suspicions against Jin Mu and Cheonbugwan. I think his character is like a bull: he really gives his all when doing something, but stubborn as hell 😁

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I also like Park Jin. I think I would find him annoying if all we ever saw was his staunch commitment to leading Songrim and protecting Daeho as best he can, in all his unbendingness. But we also get to see him as a conflicted father figure who doesn't really know what he's doing and is messing up a lot, but who really cares about his pseudo son and finds it painful to have to keep trampling on his dreams. And we get to see him as a man who has only ever been in love with two women in his life, and is dangerously close to striking out with both of them. But you can see the same qualities in his love life - he's careful and methodical and subtle to a fault and absolutely unwilling to bend the rules for anyone (at least theoretically). He's such a consistent character, and I think that's one of the things I like about him.

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@ayrulent: Indeed! 우리 알라트 is a wonderful writer! I wish I could read more by her every week! Btw, have you changed your handle or am I imagining it?😊

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You're right, I have :)

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Im Chul Soo always gets styled older, but he's only 37 (a couple years older than Jung Somin). He's really cute in Today's Webtoon.

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I like him in many different roles - he has always been a favorite "background guy" of mine. It is a testament to his flexibility as an actor that he fits so well into so many places.
That being said, I am still kind of struggling with him as the arch badass in this one - glad to see it, but still not sure I 100% buy it. I do hope Lee gets the girl, though - whether or not he has to kick over Jin's motorcycle. lol

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Like others, I'm a little frustrated at the slow plot advancement this late in the game, but I like seeing parents and children, real and fake, take center stage: the CP begins to doubt the Queen, to openly acknowledge how weak is father is, and to reevaluate his quasi-parent Jin Mu. The two Jin daughters have different fathers - who's the other? Master Lee? That tea wears off pretty fast, and Lady Jin is pissed off at him. Maidservant Kim and Park Jin struggle lovingly with 'their' wayward kids; it's touching how much kinder (and smarter) Maidservant Kim is with Cho-yeon than her own mother is. You can see her experience parenting a teenager coming into play, and then MD comparing demanding spoiled-child CY with demanding spoiled-child Wook is perfect. The climax of the episode was a terrific cliffhanger with the intercuts of the two leads facing their parents. Bu-yeon, and MD/Naksu along with her, sees her mother and conniving faux father; the Jin parents embrace a fake daughter and Lady Jin can't see the real one under their noses. She's more blind than BY. Jang Gang follows his son. The sorrowful look in his eyes mirrors Lady Jin's tears as she looks back toward MD/Naksu, who is standing in front of the Jin family crest. And finally, finally, Wook meets his father at the point of a sword - his father's sword.

So we really are going to have a "Luke Wook, I am your father" moment. 😂 Also, 'premarital licking' is yet another phrase I never thought to see in a drama recap. Brava once again, @alathe!

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maybe I didn't understand correctly, but I thought buyeon didn't have a father and it was created by pure magic (with the ice stone, by jang gang)? wasn't something like that said in previous episodes?

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Hmmm, thinking this through ... Lady Jin said that BY was in her womb for 13 months, which strongly implies that the fetus had died. There's no indication that she was originally conceived in any way other than the usual, but then again, there's no evidence that she wasn't conceived by magic. We don't know who was Lady Jin's husband/partner at the time. She begged Jang Kang to save her baby and the implication is that he performed the alchemy of souls to bring the baby back to life in utero, either by bringing her original soul back to her body or by using the ice stone to animate her, and allow her to be born alive. If she was conceived by magic (using the ice stone in the first place?) or was reanimated by it without her original soul, then she doesn't have a father at all. I don't recall any other instances yet of humans being created by magic alone, but I could have missed something. I suppose the writers