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Alchemy of Souls 2: Episodes 5-6

After last episode’s heart-stopping kiss, our leads are growing closer. Still, now that our hero can no longer ignore his feelings, it’s hard for him to distinguish between his old lost love and his new wife — a problem only somewhat compounded by the fact that they’re the same person. Meanwhile, our heroine is in turmoil… how can her husband see her for who she truly is when she isn’t altogether sure herself?

 

EPISODES 5-6 WEECAP

Alchemy of Souls 2: Episodes 5-6 Alchemy of Souls 2: Episodes 5-6

That night, Yul finally confronts his savior — and possible killer — So-yi. The blood parasite is feasting on his waning magic; he can’t hold out forever. So-yi, in a fit of desperation, slices a deep welt into her arm, pleading with him to give it back. But it’s too late. The worm has burrowed deep into his energy’s core. Elsewhere, on a bridge free from Jinyowon’s confines, Cho-yeon accepts Dang-gu’s courting gift. After all they’ve been through, diamonds, however sparkly, and a kiss on the cheek, however sweet, won’t fix everything — but it’s a start.

Speaking of new beginnings, things are getting steamy between our leads! We left them partway through a heated kiss — after which, Wook doesn’t draw away. Not yet. First, he assures Bu-yeon he isn’t dreaming. Of course, being Wook, he promptly pours cold water on the whole thing. He recognizes her perfectly: she’s the one who woke him from a pleasant nap! It was only pleasant, Bu-yeon snaps, because her warmth kept the wraiths at bay. Wook, mollified, insists she stay. At a distance. Here: he’ll draw a line down the bed! Said line dissolves in record time: one moment, Bu-yeon is tentatively reaching out to pat him; the next, they’re fast asleep and cuddling. Gotta say, Wook as the little spoon? A masterstroke of characterization.

Alchemy of Souls 2: Episodes 5-6 Alchemy of Souls 2: Episodes 5-6

When Bu-yeon wakes, it’s to an empty bed — and to non sequitur flashes of memory she refuses to recognize as hers. Soon, Wook seeks her out. He figures since yesterday’s assassination attempt, the time for coyness is over; their mission is to commit PDA in front of queen and court. Look at me, he orders, as if you love me to death. (What’s that? Oh, just the sound of my heart SPLINTERING!) Also, halfway through, he needs her to find an excuse to leave. Something subtle. He trusts her discretion. This is the story of how Bu-yeon flees the encounter screaming “BEE!” at the top of her lungs. However, it’s also how Wook learns the queen is desperate for a newer, fresher body. If Wook won’t give her the soul-swapping makeover of her dreams, she’s willing to forge a new ice stone — condemning all of Daeho to drought in the process.

The couple leave, but not before shattering Won’s entire worldview. No, not because he’s finally worked out who Wook’s wife is. It’s because Wook used his powers to warm his turtle’s water! Won is in agony. Could this be — wonder of wonders — a show of friendship? If he hated him, surely he’d hate his turtle too! Meanwhile, Wook departs, content at having aided a passing turtle, and blissfully ignorant of its royal connections. Later, Bu-yeon, fresh from the high of trading soppy grins before the queen, laces Wook’s hand with hers. It’s a deliberate echo from another lifetime — and a nasty mistake. Wook recoils as if stung. Sardonically, he lashes out. Why not go further and embrace him — be a substitute for her? Is that what she’s offering?

Alchemy of Souls 2: Episodes 5-6

It’s a deeply discombobulated Wook who takes refuge in the Forest of Brooding — only to encounter Master Lee. Alas, it’s no social visit; there’s new trouble brewing in Daeho. Cursed bird statues have been strewn about the city’s water supply, causing drought. Master Lee fears they originate from a fire bird that Jinyowon was originally built to imprison. He needs Wook to confirm that it’s safely contained in the vault. Wook grimaces — he’s had his fill of magical intrigue. However, opportunity soon knocks: Ho-gyeong has invited the pair back to Jinyowon. Bu-yeon swallows her pride, assembles the perfect pout, and steels herself to request Wook’s company. But Wook, misunderstanding, snaps that he wants no part in Master Lee’s scheme. It’s only when Do-joo — who has spent practically an entire episode refereeing Wook’s marital missteps — berates him for his callousness that he realizes his mistake.

It’s not just Wook on Do-joo’s mind: dropping in on Jin, she finds he’s worked himself up into an anxious frenzy over the prospect of Do-joo and Master Lee reconnecting. Endeared, she insists that Jin let her look after him. In the end, both have so much fun doting and being doted on that Do-joo stays till after dark — whereupon a surprise visit from Dang-gu and his mages causes both to startle like guilty teenagers. Mustering his courage, Jin decides that now is the moment. Why don’t they stay together forever? As the strains of tearful applause from the Songrim eavesdroppers echo across the backyard, the two pledge to marry.

Alchemy of Souls 2: Episodes 5-6

Elsewhere, Wook demonstrates once again why I adore him: he will always rise to the occasion. Just as a dejected Bu-yeon prepares to endure a solitary trip home, she feels her husband’s hand at her shoulder. Without missing a beat, Wook announces that Ho-gyeong must provide the happy couple with a bedchamber.

Of course, the overnight stay is just an excuse to break into Jinyowon. Still, never has a nighttime heist felt quite so much like a romantic stroll. As they pass through the gardens Bu-yeon was once forbidden from wandering, she reminisces about how she used to imagine herself at the top of a tall tree. Powerless and alone, she had longed for someone to rescue her — until Wook did. You can practically feel Wook’s heart skip a beat. Half terrified, half wondering, he takes her hand — and laces their fingers together.

Alchemy of Souls 2: Episodes 5-6 Alchemy of Souls 2: Episodes 5-6

He can’t bring himself to believe it. As for Bu-yeon — she needs him to see her, not Naksu. Either way, when there’s a rustle from the bushes, her first instinct is to reach for him; his is to shield her in his arms. Embarrassingly, the lurking danger proves to be — Yul. Turns out, Ho-gyeong has developed quite a taste for holding people captive; So-yi, who came to trade information, has been imprisoned. Wook offers to distract Ho-gyeong by doing precisely what Master Lee wanted. He requests entrance to Jinyowon. It’s a tall ask, considering Wook has broken every Jinyowon relic he’s laid eyes on. Nonetheless, Ho-gyeong is willing to show him the Jin family’s deadliest secret: a fire bird egg, whose birth will be the harbinger of a terrible drought.

Meanwhile, Yul sweeps a blood-streaked So-yi into his arms, bundling her to safety. When she wakes, it is to give him the information she tried to leverage against Ho-gyeong. Jin Bu-yeon’s body contains the soul of Naksu. Yul freezes. When Bu-yeon approaches, all he can do is blink away tears — and hug her, knowing that she has no recollection of why his heart is breaking.

Alchemy of Souls 2: Episodes 5-6

The next time Master Lee interrupts Wook’s forest brooding, it is to be told in no uncertain terms that Wook wants nothing to do with this fire bird business. As for being the King’s Star? Forget it. Three years ago, he wished to tear down the palace, consequences be damned. That’s when Jin finally told Wook the truth of his royal heritage. That the love of his life became an assassin because of him. Now, after three years of despair, Wook tells Master Lee what he’s decided to do: nothing whatsoever. Still, Master Lee has an ace up his sleeve. Wasn’t it Wook’s own master who told him it is better to die than to do nothing?

Besides, Wook’s enemies are about to force the issue. Mu suggests that the king “reward” Wook for killing “Naksu”… with a far-away post as General of the North Fortress. Won isn’t even slightly fooled. He regrets having anything to do with Mu. Still, he can’t bring himself to cast him aside — not with Mu threatening to reveal that he killed Mu-deok for Won’s sake. The only thing he can do is vent to his good friend, the Turtle Shaman! He even has an answer to her husband woes. To wit: cheat on him and move in with Won! (Okay, so no one ever said he had good ideas.)

Alchemy of Souls 2: Episodes 5-6

Buoyed up by Bu-yeon-inspired optimism, Won visits Wook — who’s been researching the fire bird. Won is elated. Finally, someone’s on board with thwarting Mu! It’ll be just like old times, where Wook plays the hero, and Won stands in the background making skeptical expressions! After all — he was nice to Won’s turtle! Alas, Wook’s unimpressed. In a stunning display of heartlessness, he informs Won that he was not, in fact, nice to his turtle on purpose. But, Won won’t back down. He too flings Mu-deok’s motto back at Wook.

Later, Bu-yeon confides in Wook that she’s haunted by that tall tree. She wants to climb it again. For his part, Wook looks like he’s seen a ghost — especially when Bu-yeon also echoes Mu-deok’s mantra. She promises Wook that she’ll use her powers to protect him. Still, if there’s one thing she’s learned from her vent session with Won, it’s that if she wants to find herself, she requires a room of her own. Maybe then, Wook can find her too. Calmly, she reaches out to hug him. When he hugs back, it’s every bit the way they used to hug: serious, no-holds-barred, his-hand-cradling-her-head — how I’ve missed this!

Alchemy of Souls 2: Episodes 5-6 Alchemy of Souls 2: Episodes 5-6

But there’s another complication only Master Lee knows. Should Bu-yeon truly find herself — should her divine powers return, and Naksu’s memories with them — then she will die.

Elsewhere, Yul agonizes over his options. So-yi is simple: she must be sent somewhere safe. Naksu? That’s harder. He loves her — and So-yi knows it. She can endure that, as long as Jinyowon will heal him. Ho-gyeong thinks it’s possible; she’ll strike a deal provided Naksu remains alive. But we’re talking about a man who once struggled to lie about an ink stone. Now? With a flare of power, he burns the bird whistle in his hand. It is time, he decides, for him to die — and with him, Naksu.

Oblivious, Bu-yeon plots a trip to Danhyanggok, where perhaps the tree will provide answers. Yul agrees to take her — proving unexpectedly problematic for Wook. He is absolutely in no way jealous. It’s just that Yul is his friend! He can’t be Bu-yeon’s friend too! That’s — uh, impossible! For reasons! She can’t be friends with his friend; that’d make them friends too. How can someone who hugs him and puts him to bed be just a friend? Once this staggering display of logic sinks in, the two just… stare at each other. There’s not much you can follow that up with. (Well, besides, “marry me.” But, they’ve done that already.)

Alchemy of Souls 2: Episodes 5-6 Alchemy of Souls 2: Episodes 5-6

As for So-yi — she refuses to flee Daeho until Yul’s safe. Unfortunately, she’s ambushed by Mu’s men. She’s always been stoic in the face of danger. It’s only when they reach for Yul’s umbrella that she screams. Moments later, Yul comes bursting in to her defense, sword blazing with magic — that swiftly sputters out. The worm has devoured too much of him. So-yi regains consciousness in time to stab his attacker, but she’s flung against the wall, hard. Summoning impossible reserves of strength, Yul rushes in to shield her. It’s too late. As she fades away in his arms, she recalls how Yul once made her world seem clean and bright.

Yul rises — and stumbles. He’s sweating, shaking, and surrounded. But as Mu’s men prepare to strike, they are blasted away by a wave of force. Out of the chaos strides Wook, catching Yul before he falls. Yul meets his eyes, breathes out an apology — and collapses. As Wook straightens, cold-eyed, his lips curl into a snarl. Not a single person, he says, will walk out of here alive.

Alchemy of Souls 2: Episodes 5-6

Okay, I’ll admit it: normally, I love this show so much that I struggle to criticize it, but I’m mad that they killed off So-yi. What a waste! I loved that she was the mirror image of Naksu: a formidable woman with rather malleable morality, but a whole lot of style. Both were manipulated by Jin Mu; both lost a little of themselves in the process; both fought to redefine themselves after. (Needless to say, I still love this show so much.) As for Yul? I’ll believe he’s gone when I see it. They didn’t foreshadow that worm-cure for nothing. Still, watching him studiously prepare to die, letters and all, was painful beyond words.

As for our leads — I love that they realize Bu-yeon needs to learn who she is, independent of Naksu. I love that this season focuses on our heroes’ identities. The wider plot is engaging, but it often slips from focus — it’s more about Wook’s process of choosing to engage with it at all. It’s also — to borrow this show’s favorite metaphor — about the bridges between Bu-yeon, Mu-deok, and Naksu. Every episode highlights what our heroine shares with past iterations of herself: the stubborn, chicken-loving, fast-talking, dramatic commonalities that illustrate who she is at heart. Wook, too, is struggling to bridge the gap between who he used to be, what he’s destined to become, and what grief has turned him into. One thing’s for certain: the two will meet in the middle, because they have always helped each other find clarity. It is such a love story, and I cannot wait to watch it progress.

Alchemy of Souls 2: Episodes 5-6

 
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Park Jin and Kim Do-joo’s conversation has me all kinds of worried. I hope it ends up being a fake out and no one has to get sealed inside a dangerous room or drowns while someone else is being rescued. It would absolutely break my heart if they get split up now. And surely some people will live to see the end of this story, right? I would much rather Dang-gu’s hint at a niece or nephew be the more accurate foreshadow.

I didn’t realize that Cho Yeong regaining her memories would open a gap between her soul and body again. (It’s possible that Master Lee said this and I just didn’t catch it.) I guess I imagined that if she were the only one in the body, and it had adapted to the point of looking like her original face, that she wouldn’t be in conflict with it anymore. But since she’s regaining Bu-yeon’s powers, does that mean she’ll be able to keep herself from running wild just like in Part 1? For a while at least?

Jang Uk talks a big game to Prince Won about not having a single person in the world he wants to save, but it really is so desperately far from the truth. Even if Cho Yeong were not in the picture, it’s not like he’d let anything happen to Kim Do-joo, who he admitted is like his mother to him, and rightly so. And when he found out that Yul was in trouble, he went into all-powerful avenger mode pretty dang fast. As it is, Cho Yeong definitely is in the picture, and once again his facial expressions as he blurts things out in front of her were one of my favorite parts. Please, someone, at the end of this whole thing, make a cut that is just Jang Uk’s micro expressions in one long quick line. It would be the best thing ever.

I know this show is going to break my heart, probably in many and complex ways, but I would really prefer it didn’t then grind each piece into a fine powder and burn it. I need someone to live on and be happy despite the people they’ve lost. Come on, Show. Only four episodes left. We can do this.

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Their conversation is an actual callback to S1: remember the Mirror of Longing episode where Lady Jin threatened to seal the room to Jinyowon once the hour is up -- regardless of whether Jang Uk or Mudeok got out?

Deeply perturbed by her callousness towards her Young Master, Maid Kim threw that same dilemma scenario at dolt Park Jin who said he would do that (if only to save the world and fulfil his duty blah blah blah), thus earning her gasp of outrage, ire, and hurt feelings.

2) I would say narratively: Jang Uk is the emotional descendant of KDJ and Seo Yul is the emotional descendant of Park Jin.
The former pair leads by the heart; the latter pair by their head (everything is black and white to them).

3)

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Yes, I remember their earlier conversation about getting sealed in a room when Park Jin thought they were going to have to seal Jinyowon with Uk inside. But their bringing it up again to remind all of us about it is what has me worried.

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Oh no. You're right! Actually I wouldn't put it past the writers they foreshadowed quite a bit of that in S1/S2.

Also, we see parallels of both BY & JU being incarcerated respectively in the secret locked chambers (of Songrim & Jinyowon)

Master Lee also recently let on that Jinyowon was originally built by the two lovers (Master Seo & Jin Seol-ran) to "imprison" the Fire Bird.

Coupled with my new theory that the Ice Stone and Fire Bird are not just relics but persons (our OTP), it kind of paves the road down that same dark corridor into the secret chamber of S1: Ep17-18.

You lock the door behind you and face the monster. You either kill it and save everyone, or die trying. But we all know how that ended :)

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One ending I can see is that both BY/Naksu and Uk are joined in a Jin relic like the mirror to live together forever in their own fantasy world.

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@welh: then they can't make babies and rear 3 kids in that cozy hut at Danghyangok as Uk has wanted *sob*

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I’m a bit mad that they haven’t finished the amnesia arc even though we’re only 4 episodes way from the finale. Confused Uk and pouty Buyeon are cute but show needs to stop dumbing everyone down and pretend that Naksu is anyone but Buyeon.

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Agree. I can't deal with this cutesy thing anymore. I did not sign up for this pouty person. It's making it very difficult for me to get on board what's going on between them in S2. I want them to love each other truly as the two person who originally fell in love with each other.

The best thing so far is for JBY to say she needs a room of her own that she can decorate with her own traits so that Uk can find her. I take this to mean that she has now taken on some of Naksu's memories and characteristics and is leading Uk to recognize her as Naksu and not as fake JBY. Also - she was never ever JBY in this reincarnation so we should never think of her as such. All actions stem from her being latently Naksu to begin with. But even I, from Uk's viewpoint. can't accept her as such. Still feels like cheating and a letdown having to be forced to fall for such a pouty woman. She will eventually display all of Naksu but we really dont have enough episodes for that to happen and for us to accept it organically. That they've persisted up to 6 episodes of this amnesia trop out of 10 - is quite disappointing.

I do hope they can close this out properly. I think that all the hardwon fans of S1 are now disappointed even if wont to admit so. In any case, still praying the series ends well as I love it to death.

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Yesterday I was walking and thinking to myself:

IF, IF the Hong Sisters would just give our OTP the happy ending they deserve and long for all their lives, I pledge to defend their scriptwriting honor for the next 5 years. Come rain, ice or hailstone.

Even IF every drama they do between now and 2027 tanks or is a stinking lemon, I will still defend them. Because our OTP lives.

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Haha. Understood. All I longed for also was a happy ending after S1. And I do hope we get it. This will be the New Year's gift to us. As we don't know yet what will happen in the last 4 episodes, forgive me for being disappointed in the first 6 of S2. I understood what they were doing...but it kinda just dragged on and the dialogues were not as epic as in S1. S1 I watched over and over. I never tired of it. Even when I knew what was going to happen...I still found everything funny and interesting and scary or swoon-worthy. As for S2 - I can't bring myself to watch any episode twice from sheer disappointment. But yes - agree with you. I will forgive the HS a little for my disappointment in S2 so long as they give us a happy ending. Also - I'm glad so many people are loving S2 still because I love AOS as a whole and I think it's really worthy of all our admiration and time spent making these comments (which I have never ever done before).

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@Mirana: "and time spent making these comments (which I have never ever done before)."

SAME HERE! I think the last time I did that was many years ago whilst writing our Lit Honors thesis in college. (gosh, that sounded like a lifetime ago).

We gals were rabid fans of this one Jap drama series and ended up writing such long emails to one another analyzing and gushing over every detail of plot, character and theme -- truth be told, it was longer than our own Lit thesis.
#geeking

Fingers crossed! I don't think HS has ever killed any OTP off before in some full-on tragic ending. So I hope our OTP will be safe and happy. I don't care if they have to catch fish and chop wood at a hut in Danghyanggok.

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I'm glad I'm not the only one with AoS randomly on my mind, it's been a while since a show had that affect. Also, I'm 100% there with you on that pledge

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Come and sit right next to me lol. It's like an app running in the background of my mind

Assorted random thoughts include:
"Explain to me: wassup with the chicken and pheasant idiom?"
"Why are there so many bird references in this series?"
"Since the Ice Stone can take many different forms, can Uk simply piss it out to save Naksu again?"

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Honestly it feels like the Hong Sisters thought they had another 20 episodes to work with. There is so much to wrap up in four episodes and I don’t trust them to land it

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I'm afraid you may be right. Tsk. I thought at the end of S1 that AOS was a masterpiece and had the makings of a classic that I will gladly watch over and over going forward - if they did S2 properly and gave a happy ending too. The first 5 S2 episodes have been a bad letdown. Episode 6 is bit on form but as you've said - there might not be enough time to make up for wasting the first 5.

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I’m also quickly tiring of this pouty doe-eyed alternate-universe Yeong. Yes she is cute and lovely, but can anyone blame Uk for not recognizing her as his past love? Maybe he would, if she started exhibiting some (any!) similar traits to Mudeok/Naksu. 6 episodes in and all I’ve seen is her saying/doing things that even I would chalk up as some borrowed residual memories from the ying and yang jade.

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It's almost always a moral & philosophical dilemma when a dead love returns (whether by cloning l simulacrum l reincarnation l magic). We will always be left asking ourselves: who was/is it that we really love(d)?

But once we see S1 & S2 as one continuous story, we will stop making that comparison. Instead we can perhaps interpret ( JSM & GYJ) as a bundle package; an emotional continuum of that one complex universe we call Naksu. That too, is the alchemy of souls as they change from one to another, from a base metal to pure gold.

And to be fair, there are recognizable Naksu traits /soul essence that seep through and hold true regardless of the mortal coil it is hosted in:

(a) Her giseya & fighting spirit
(b) Her unpredictable & quirky mind
(c) Her resourceful and unorthodox solutions
(d) Her quick wit and ability to improvise
(e) Her loyal and protective nature

Also, while I understand we all LURVE the badass shadow assassin Naksu, let's not forget she was there only all of the FIRST 10 mins of S1 pilot. For the rest of the 20-parter series, what we saw, rooted for, and fell in love with was her trapped inside the short and frail body of a blind maidservant Mudeok. She lost all her powers and was frankly making the best lemonade she could out of a very lemony situation. We did NOT get an assassin for 20 eps, we got the servant-girl.

How is that any different from what is happening now in S2? She got into another body that is even more petite, can't do martial arts to save her life, but needs to work with the cards she is dealt -- in this case, divine powers. She is still our Naksu. IF you can still love her, that's true love.

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I agree we didn’t get the assassin Naksu in S1 that much, and while I highly anticipated that in season two and was a little bummed that we didn’t get it, I’m grudgingly accepting it now. But the amnesia arc is going a little long no?
Also I miss Jung So-min’s Naksu rolling her eyes, her back handed compliments, her street smarts.

The joke about Go Yoon-jung’s Naksu and Yul being friends cause they both are a little dumb made no sense to me? I feel like Naksu was smart and that was part of her inherent personality. I know it’s a joke and she has amnesia and was locked up for three years but I dunno man I just miss her sarcastic quips. But I will say S2 Naksu & Jang Uk romance is more believable to me.
S1 Naksu held back a lot, that I only got on board with their romance near the end.

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I think the biggest difference for me is S1 Naksu was bit of a manipulator and a con artist whereas S2 Naksu is earnest. A great example I think is when S1 & S2 Naksu meet Prince Won.

S1 Naksu faked her compliments and raised the pride and ego of Prince Won for her own purposes

S2 Naksu was earnest about Eunuch Won being a good person and her compliments were real, she didn’t manipulate him to buy the turtle.

And well to be honest I have more of a thing for amoral characters so I guess that’s just personal preference.

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True. I think that Naksu in S1 was always thinking on her feet, always quick to think of ways to get out of situations, which made her such a interesting character and which made the scenes in S1 surprising and compelling. While this S2 Naksu is still empty and sort of just learning to "think". A big letdown for me who loved S1 Naksu precisely because she was smart and in the end "loving". Agree that it took a while for me to believe she was also in love but when I did - I couldn't let go of what I thought they had.

This S2 JBY/Naksu may be earnest because she sees "energy". That's her sole power right now. So she conveys what she sees with her power. Not because she thought of or deduced from acts seen/words heard. This is why to me this Naksu is empty. And also appears that what her attraction to Uk is superficial. I dont even know what she must like in him now except he's handsome and he saved her. And while I agree that what she has with Uk in S2 is "ideal", like courtship, how relationships would start from zero.....the problem is, none of us started from zero in this AOS S2. We all had "that" relationship and "that Mudeok/Naksu" as point of reference. So I cannot get over being disappointed and dissatisfied from the first 6 episodes. I want an acknowledgment of MD/Naksu, I want Uk to have closure if closure it must be from that same person. OR they should never have continued with this Naksu iteration and just gave us a new person altogether.

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LJW & JSM had great chemistry & camaraderie as Master-Servant, as Soul Mates, as Partners in Crime, as Master-Pupil. And that is truckloads more than many other screen couples can ever hope to muster up in a lifetime. In fact, I would venture to say the chemistry was near-phenomenal (for me).

S2 doesn't have the long runway of 20eps to "stew that goose" like the slow burn romance of S1. They need to seriously short-fuse this plot trajectory for both action & character development like Microwave cooking (not because the first 6 episodes were poorly written; in fact I thought they were already fast-tracked and v well done)

But they need to burn the candle on both ends now, because we have soooo much ground to cover and soooo little time left!

After this system crash, I think we fervently wish this BY2.0 can recover at least 70% of her memory (along with the feistiness, snark, wit, and giseya). I will be content.

If S2 were a full 16-ep series, I would demand the full Monty system restoration LOL.

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Hence, the real problem in BY/Naksu's characterization: how does a soul (Naksu) have memories when memories are stored in a person's brain (body of BY)?
Who is in control? Whose personality is dominant and why? BY 2.0 displays more of a boy-crushing high schooler than a mage assassin.

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While the romance is romancing, I think this is my biggest problem with Naksu 3.0/BY 2.0/adult Cho Yeong 1.0 — being this love-struck puppy seems to be the trait that overshadows all her other traits (as at ep 6) that she supposedly shares with Naksu/Mudeok. At this point, other than her high level of resourcefulness, and trailing her ‘master’ like a puppy (cough), trying to see the Naksu/Mudeok in this version of Yeong is like trying to appreciate a badly executed Pinterest DIY project —the elements are there, but only if you squint hard enough.

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I agree. What happened to the badass Naksu that I fall in love at the first episode? The Naksu faced down Park Jin and 20 other mages fearlessly alone? I hope Naksu is not stayed as wallflower and only face down woman's pettiness from other women.

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I think you will get your wish in the next ep, but yes they need to hurry cos we ain't got time. (unless the running time stretches to 1hr30mins/ep from now).

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The only kind of world I ever knew
was filled with filth and darkness.
I saw him when I was swindling people
by pretending to be blind.
And for the first time ever …
the world seemed
clear and bright.
That is just how I feel.

This drama basically has no true evil character but Jin Wu. On the other hand, Soyi learned how to love simply knowing Yul when she was being the worst self: Yul is her only light in her life, no doubt she love him, as well want him to live so much.

However, Yul is the complete opposite of Wook. Yul is very determine, have a very clear moral sense, and once he think that is wrong, it is pretty difficult to persuade him that is right. Soyi, however, may have completely changed his life: his world view may have been completely shattered, because he sees good in such a swindler. Will he finally let himself to kill Naksu the assassin? It will be a question to him.

On the other hand, I said there is no true evil by Jin Wu, because a lot of the others are simply act with their own motivation, and decide to be good or evil base on themselves, or other's influence, some being affected by Wu, some by others (and in Season 1, Naksu changed because of Wook's love to her, for example). Now in Season 2, Boyeon is a clean slate without any influence of good or evil, although Naksu's memory may be recovered and she may become assassin again, but I guess Master Lee may give her a chance to choose, so as Wook, who has Ice Stone and may have the ability to give her a new body to stay.

And now Daeho (The Kingdom of Great Lake) is pushed to the edge, now everything is in Wook's hand. Having 3 persons telling him the same thing (You should die if you don't do anything), it is up to him to stop the shadow evil continue to spread across, although he may have to make some who close to him (Jin, for example) to be his enemy.

"You are responsible to the evil if you do nothing," after all.

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“How can someone who hugs me and puts me to bed be ‘just friends’ with me?!?” Good grief, you two, get a room. One with some soundproofing.

The turtle stuff is a little silly and dragged out, but it’s good to see Wook’s and the CP’s relationship mediated by a reptile other than Jin Mu.

Wook finally wears a lighter color after he visits the soul-shifters’ grave and allows himself to mourn Mu-deok - and Wook in the silver robe with the dark outer robe is the hottest Wook ever. He’s still dark on the outside but inside he’s letting some light in. And him looming up over BY/Cho Yeong’s shoulder as they confront Lady Jin is iconic. He'll always back her up, and he's completely fooling himself that it's only for his own reasons.

BY/Cho Yeong may be a lightweight so far compared to Mu-deok, but she is not just sitting around waiting for Wook to notice her. We not only get to see her out and about, enjoying her freedom and making friends, but we get the fun of seeing Wook taken by surprise at how much she’s been up to that he didn’t see or know about - especially when that includes getting all of his friends and family on her side when he’s not paying attention. His underestimation of her and its rapid, flummoxing correction is a perfect reflection of the Part 1 dynamic. The real whoever-she-is shines through, no matter the situation. It seems a little weird that she would confide in a man she’s only met a few times about not sleeping with her husband, though, even if she does think he’s just a friendly eunuch.

I’m not surprised but am nonetheless irritated that the Hong sisters have broken (again) one of the fundamental rules of world-building, which is that everything you need to know, everything that can exercise power and influence, should be established early even if it’s unobtrusive or misleading. Inventing brand-new magical devices with as-yet-unknown properties this late in the game, especially the firebird now billed as the most powerful thing in Jinyowon, is cheating. Master Lee giving forth new rules on the fly is also cheating - as well as foreshadowing a tragic ending. Oh well, “making sh*t up” is their specialty. I’m still enthralled, still watching and rewatching every scene, still deeply pessimistic but also hopelessly hopeful. This is just such crack.

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Also, @alathe, thank you! I'm not the only beanie who's been obsessively hitting ⌘R since this morning for this recap. I love that you love this show so much. It's a helluva ride and having you as the tour guide makes it even more fun.

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I shrieked with laughter at this, @elinor: "The turtle stuff is a little silly and dragged out, but it’s good to see Wook’s and the CP’s relationship mediated by a reptile other than Jin Mu." Thank you for my biggest laugh of the day.

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Oh I love the turtle bromance! (and it advances themes & plot too!)

1) @LordCorbol: we cannot unsee what we have already seen. And knowing that turtle head is an euphemism for the male genitals just made that scene so much funnier:

"Why did you take care of my turtle?" (CP Won)
"Because it is yours." ( JU, with a very sultry come-hither smile)

2) In S1, shaman Bong eyed them slyly and said: "You two are piping hot. Are you lovers?" Now in S2, Uk is warming the waters for his cold turtle LOL

3) Theme of hope: This one is unexpected, yet it makes sense once it has landed.

CP told JU: "You taking care of my turtle gave me the HOPE to come and see you, that in spite of everything you did not despise and hate me." [This word "hope" later gave Uk pause]

When CP confided in BY that he is too far gone in his pretense to turn back (i.e. beyond hope), she comforted him: "The very fact that you took care and saved this turtle tells me otherwise. You are definitely not HOPELESS."

The source of hope & sense of hope are tied to the turtle & caring for it, in both cases [and we all know this "turtle" is a codename for Naksu/ Mudeok/ BuYeon narratively].

This will eventually be the key to unlock the hope for this story arc. Because what we are about to witness (what with the unleashing of the Fire Bird) may well be the equivalent of opening Pandora's Box.

And we all know the one thing nestling at the bottom of the Pandora's box that the gods has gifted mankind is hope, for they say without hope the world will despair at the unleashing of all these plagues.

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I actually think Cho Yeong/BY confiding about her husband to a total stranger makes a lot of sense. She can't really talk about the situation to anyone else - she's made friends but not really confidants, as they all know Jang Uk and that would be an incredibly embarrassing situation for her. But a total stranger? That's perfect. As someone who's heard about a lot of problems by sitting next to people on planes, I think this is a pretty widespread solution.

I agree that the fire bird did not have the most elegant introduction, but it also does not particularly phase me. I think I like the contrast between it and the ice stone too much to mind. And, if I get to the end of this series and think to myself, "it really would have been better if they introduced the trance bells when that eunuch soul-shifter threatened the shaman queen, and the firebird when they mentioned the drought the first time," that means I have nothing else to complain about and I will be so so thrilled.

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Yes I agree.
Plus, it is also a great callback to their dynamics in S1 -- he called her "Filthy Mu Deok" because of her splashing chamber pot water at him.

But thereafter, she symbolically and emotionally became his "verbal outhouse" in his words as he offloaded his petty grievances to her -- sometimes things he could not even admit to anyone else.

Now in S2, it nicely mirrors that dynamics again :)

BY not only confides her martial woes to CP ("go have an affair!" LOL), he in turn confides in her his insecurities of the imposter syndrome ("I am a crow who stuck feathers in, pretending to be a peacock.")

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A Song On Ice & Fire: aka "Fire Bird & Ice Stone"

1. At first I was a bit thrown off they introduced the Fire Bird at mid-story arc on Ep5. But it made a lot of thematic and narrative sense as well.

2. I earlier commented that the rain ritual / drought plot beat will open up a few narrative possibilities:

(a) another ice stone drops on us, triggering a frenzy of power grab and wars;

(b) A wild card that is basically Kryptonite to the ice stone drops on us and zeroize everything thus bringing balance to the Force again. Chaos ceases.

(c) The Fire bird works so well here cos it is basically the medieval equivalent of DARPA (weaponizing weather) in order to replicate the same meteorological crisis of 200 years back -- on their timetable and schedule.

(d) In some parts of the world, a firebird is synonymous with the phoenix -- who builds a funeral pyre burns itself up and is reborn. This is the theme of death and resurrection -- so central to AoS and our OTP.

It therefore also possibly signposts us to the repeat dynamics of 200 years before (almost like a resurrection of Master Seo/Jin Seol-ran in our OTP, thought I sure hope they get a happy ending!!!)

(e) Plot Twist #1: If Jang Uk realises BY is Naksu, and he needs to save her (again) from being ejected from the body he may be tempted to use/get the Ice Stone.

IF he cannot extract it from himself to save her (and die in the process) he may well be the one to unleash the Fire Bird, plunge the whole world into chaos, just to procure an Ice Stone to save his true love.

(f) Plot Twist #2: The villains fail to utilize the Fire Bird, instead they found a way to forcibly extract it from Jang Uk's body. But Uk may prove to be safer than the Bank Vault of England -- after all the most secure place to deposit the Ice Stone may not be in a place, but in a person.

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"Inventing brand-new magical devices with as-yet-unknown properties this late in the game, especially the firebird now billed as the most powerful thing in Jinyowon, is cheating. Master Lee giving forth new rules on the fly is also cheating"

And we all thought the bells were the most powerful thing!
(I'm still burned from the last random magical device)

Special mentions include:
- the gold fish
- gimu (random mouse doppelgänger)
- blood worm (which saved Yul how?)
- incense mind reader (we've yet to see this in action...)
- yin-yang beads (true love beads which glow when another random mage is holding it e.g. Prince Won)
- the ice stone rain bubble (still don't get that one)
- volcano bird things
- Naksu/ Bu-yeon's body (still don't get this either, but rolling with it)

But as you say @elinor, despite my scepticism, I'm still on the bandwagon. :D

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4 more:
Mirror of Longing
Gwigu (Sapsali)
Gold Thread GPS tracker
A lantern that won't extinguish

random side note:

We all thought Jang Uk is so awesome when he crushed that Jinyown relic GPS tracker in S2E3 to rescue BY2.0.

But I later realized this is actually another great callback to S1E2!

Back then, in order to save Naksu1.0 from being "tracked" down or ID by Gwigu as a soul shifter, he also smashed the pottery vessel of the Jinyowon heirloom.

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Oh yeah!
Lol at all the random magic junk. What was even the point of the Mirror of Longing?! :D

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The Mirror of Longing serves at least three purposes:
1. Despite each of them taking credit for breaking the mirror, he and Mu-deok cannot escape until they both put their hands on it - one from each side. It shows they can accomplish together what neither has the strength to do alone. (Also, piggyback ride!)
2. By challenging him to think about illusions vs. reality, it allows Wook to come to terms with not being the son of Jang Gang, to be at peace (for the moment) with not knowing who his 'real' father is, and to gain immunity to others' illusions about him so he can pursue his own goals.
3. It shows each of the other men (Yul, CP) who are interested in MD an illusion particular to his memory of or desire for her and gives everyone a hard-to-deny hint about their feelings - and it also gives Yul a further clue that this is Naksu in another body.

I didn't have much problem at first with the magic bric-a-brac in Jinyowon, but the Golden Fish was preposterous and the quality of magical household goods has declined in Part 2.

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agree with @elinor:
Over time, the Mirror of Longing story beat actually grew on me despite my initial lukewarm feeling towards it. It managed to advance (i) plot (ii) characterization (iii) theme -- all at one shot.

It also did 2 other things:

(a) this crisis precipitates the first love confession of Uk to Mu-deok (yes, even before the "recruitment flyer" love letter beat).

It is noteworthy that he throws a cloth over the mirror, therefore there is no reflection of illusions. Everything he utters is the truth.

(b) Signpost to viewers that Mu-deok is possibly Jin Bu-Yeon, because for the first time we see the Jinyowon door open at her touch. We also hear all the relics cry out: "The Ice Stone! The Blind Girl!" when the mirror is cracking up. Further proof that they recognize her energy signature as Jin Bu-Yeon

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I don't want Yul to die. I think what Ho-gyeong said by birds eat worms is that the fire bird will somehow heal Yul but it is also dangerous as it mag cause drought.
I hate the queen and can't sympathize with her in the slightest especially in the scene where she tells Cho-yeon she wants to enjoy the spring hinting at swapping her body with Cho-yeon's.
And please could anyone throw Jin Mu in a lake or bottomless well along with the annoying physician whose only role in the drama is to get on my nerves.

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If my memory is right, according to tvN's description, Yul has only been seriously wound, so I guess he is not dead yet.

And, haha, I guess Jin Mu's only role in this drama is to get on our nerves. If so, he is doing it well ...

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yes he is doing it too well that I hope he is the one to drown or be locked in a dangerous room

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Maybe his soul is being switched and being controlled by his own ring (probably owned by Wook) until becoming stone, how so?

I guess he deserve this fate (he did said that this is the reason he don't switch soul with others).

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He didn't want to shift his soul because the stone they use to shift souls is cursed and soul shifters can be controlled just like what happened with Naksu.

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We really SHOULD restart the Beanie unscientific straw poll again, on best ways to off Jin Mu by the end of Ep 10 (great way to rant and detox too)

I need him quartered by rampaging soul-shifters OR forced to eat his own bitter medicine by running wild as the shaman bells jingle.

The Queen has also just spiked her creep quotient when she sidled her hand to cop a feel of the youthful maiden Cho-Yeon. (someone call the police!!)

She needs to be deprived of facial serum and moisturizer for the rest of her bitter vain life and repent.

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"And please could anyone throw Jin Mu in a lake or bottomless well . . . . " That's better than my constant "Someone stick a sword in this SOB!"

When you start yelling at your TV/monitor, it's then that you know the drama has you by your turtle head.
(See empressgirl, above).

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"And please could anyone throw Jin Mu in a lake or bottomless well"

---Just not the Lake Gyeongcheongdaeho, please.
we don't want to contaminate and poison the entire populace of Daeho with his vile corpse lol

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Yes agree with you let's dump his body outside Daeho along with the queen and the annoying physician

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On Fowl Play & Birds:
Did anyone else notice this Series is full of avian references?

1) CP compared the other woman of JU as a "peacock" (Naksu);
2) Naksu & Seo Yul are linked to the homing pigeons and pet birds they rear and call in the wild;
3) JU told BY not to behave like a chicken that is 2nd best to the pheasant;
4) The caged birds of Jinyowon that react wildly to the presence of the Ice Stone girl (a young blind Bu-Yeon & later Mu-deok);
5) Naksu comparing herself to a bird egg perched on a tall tree;
6) Maid Kim calling the lady love of JU a "sophisticated egret", while Mudeok mutters she may well hatch to be a "vicious eagle". Later Kim directly called Naksu a "bird of prey" that stabbed Uk fatally before dying
7) and NOW, the Fire bird

Just about every single reference above is to Naksu/BY in one way or another

so WHO exactly is this "bird" that will eat up the Blood Worm?

Is the Fire Bird egg waiting to hatched perhaps a classic misdirection by the writers?

Could this mythical "Fire Bird" (phoenix) possibly be Naksu-BY? Would she dry up the earth and precipitate another Ice Stone?

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I was initially surprised that we hit the end of the 6th episode and Bu-yeon/Naksu and Jang Uk are both still largely in the dark about her true identity. But then I realized that the focus of this mini-season is the love story--not the complex mythology or political machinations of the various families--and I can't complain about that.

In fact, it took me about halfway through Part I until I was truly hooked on this drama, and that's because the overarching plot was, imo, unnecessarily complex and muddled. As much as I loved getting a full 20 episodes worth of these characters (and alathe's recaps!), there were times when I couldn't help but think that with some tighter editing, the love story, which is what kept me tuning in, would be front and center. And in Part II, it is. So I'm not in any hurry for Naksu to regain her memory completely, especially now that we know doing so might kill her (again)--more on this later.

Highlights of Eps 5&6:

--No!!!! Not So-ri! I was shipping her with Yul so hard. And I'm not sure why her death was necessary; terrible wounds from which she recovered would have done the trick just as well. I loved the way she came out and told Yul everything without hesitation, and her line about him making everything seem clean and bright was as sweet a confession as any other on this show.

--Jang Uk's jealous tantrums over Yul and his silly, circular logic (You can't be friends with my friend because you're not my friend!) reminded me of him begging Mu-Deok, his master, not to cheat on him, his student, rather than just coming out and saying that he liked her and didn't want her to like any other guy. This is the Wook I loved in Part I--so confident in his masculine wiles and yet so unaware of the fact that he's obviously in love.

--I loved Bu-yeon/Naksu's speech about finding a room of her own that she could fill with her own, unique traits. Without Naksu's full memories, she is a unique individual at this point. So, I'm not over-thinking the fact that this is a story of two people who are already in love falling in love for the first time.

--As for Yul, I'm still not sure why he decided to kill himself. I understand the basic self-sacrificial morality behind his desire to kill Naksu and prevent a repeat of three years ago. But I really struggled with his decision to pull off this murder/suicide without telling Jang Uk the truth about Bu -yeon's identity. Or, should I say, I don't understand how he could decide making Jang Uk go through the loss of his soulmate twice, not to mention compounding that with the loss of his best friend, was the right thing to do. Even with his well-established martyr tendencies, it seemed wildly out of character for Yul to decide unilaterally to kill Jang Uk's wife and true love without ever telling him of his plans or her true identity.

--Master Lee continues to perplex/irritate me. First, he's having himself a little giggle over the irony of...

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Bu-yeon destroying her own stone grave, then he's muttering to himself that there's no reason to force these two together (as if he didn't spend the last three years completely ignoring her existence and apparently suffering no qualms about keeping Jang Uk in the dark), and finally, he's mumbling something about how Naksu can't remember fully who she is because then the body will reject the soul. WTF? Where did that come from? Besides the fact that this is a complete re-write of the rules just established a couple of episodes ago, why would it exist in such a quick, easy-to-overlook scene of Master Lee talking to himself? The whole thing was odd and disconcerting.

I know everyone has different definitions of what constitutes and unhappy or sad ending, but according to my own, the Hong sisters have never written a truly tragic ending. Unsatisfying and open-ended, sure (see "Korean Odyssey"). But nothing of the sort that would make me seriously fear that Jang Uk and Naksu won't ultimately end up together and in love in some fashion or another. But I didn't appreciate how Master Lee's words contradicted what we thought we knew, not to mention the fact that there was no point in him resurrecting her if she was only going to die again within a few years.

--Finally, the CP is ridiculous, but the turtle gag makes me happy. The only thing that confuses me is whether or not Won knew that Jin Mu was going to use and then murder Mu-Deok the way he did at the end of Part I. I know Won conspired with Mu to prevent Jang Uk from vying for the throne, but Won was also in love with Mu-Deok, so I didn't think he was complicit in her death. But maybe I was wrong about that?

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Yeah I was bummed about So-ri’s death too. And I found it a tad confronting with all the violence thrown at her during these episodes when she is just a regular human and not a mage

Kinda confused about Prince Won’s complicity too. Was he aware about the bells or did he find out later. Anyway he seems to definitely regret siding with Jin Mu, so yeah hoping he’ll join the good guys again. I like his character, tho the Hong Sister aren’t doing much for his character this season. While I don’t like it, I feel like he might die at the end

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I feel like they'll keep him alive, since him dying opens up further the question of whether Wook would be able to ascend to the throne (raising the confusing "can he really be the king's son if Jang Gang's sperm made him?")

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True, this all so confusing, that I’m just going with the flow at this point

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I think that the thoughts of Yul stabbing Naksu are from the blood worm. Didn't he say before that it gave him nightmares? He is in quite a bit of danger of Jin Mu controlling him right now.

The rules for Naksu do feel like they are shifting around a bit. But in the most recent iteration, Master Lee seems to be clarifying the order of things. First she must get Buyeon's powers back, then Naksu's memories, and in that order, the body will reject the soul (and Naksu will die). I don't know if that's just blanket foreshadowing for the Hong Sisters, or if they truly do mean to split hairs over this. Because it seems that she is getting Naksu's memories back before she has gotten Buyeon's powers back (aside from simply sensing energy, which she has always been able to do). Perhaps the order is important? It does seem wasteful to bring her back only to let her die again.

I want a happy ending where our leads finally get to be together (alive) forever. But in the case that that does not happen, I could see them dying and existing as energy (ice stone + fire bird in a yin yang configuration) to protect Daeho. The Words of the Heart poem makes me think a little along those lines:

“You cannot grasp water, but it is inside the soil
You cannot touch fire, but it is inside the tree
You cannot hold the wind, but it is resting on the rock
If you let them be, they will exist everywhere.
The faint, blue light makes me sigh
My white breath turned into snow and tears
I could not let them drop, and hid them
Despite knowing that they will fill up once again,
I am a fool who dares not shed a single tear."

The drama keeps repeating similarities between Jang Uk/Naksu (however you want to call her) and the original pair that saved Daeho before. Apparently Seol Ran had "faint blue light" as well. And Uk is also someone who said he could not cry/mourn the loss of his lover. So them I look at the line about "if you leave them be, they will exist everywhere." The real Buyeon told Naksu this at the end of part 1 as well--the ice stone is sort of everywhere. I could see Naksu and Jang Uk dying and becoming some kind of mythical forces that sustain Daeho.

(But what I really want is a simple happy ending, with everyone very much alive!)

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Re: "The only thing that confuses me is whether or not Won knew that Jin Mu was going to use and then murder Mu-Deok the way he did at the end of Part I."

Yes and no.

He was told that Mu-deok is really the soul-shifter Naksu and this very damning and incriminating intel can be used to screw Jang Uk over.

He consented to Jin Mu's nefarious plans to leverage on this fact, but he did not know how far this would go or that she would be driven mad, turn into a killing machine, stab her lover to death, and then petrify.

At the end of the day, we can only choose our action but not its consequences. We can only bear the consequences (some undisclosed or unintended), no matter what price it extracts from us later. And CP is finding this a very high price to pay indeed.

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But there’s another complication only Master Lee knows. Should Bu-yeon truly find herself — should her divine powers return, and Naksu’s memories with them — then she will die.

Am I the only one who wanted to throw something at the screen at this point? We've basically reached the point where a new 'rule' like this is introduced each episode - for shock and awe - and then immediately disproved in the next. Next week we might find out that 'dying' just means she'll turn into a giant fire bird or something 🙄.

Also why is Master Lee the only one who knows this? Why is everyone still keeping secrets? Because it worked out so well last time? And don't even get me started on Yul's murder-suicide plan - that is not how you redress not doing anything the first time round 😭.

I enjoy the characters and the funny scenes so much but if I pause to think even a little bit, the writing really falls apart.

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Master Lee says so much random cryptic stuff, I just tune him out now. They're making him a little too godlike now instead of quirky.

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Yeah I’m getting annoyed by him now

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Right there with you on tuning him out!

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I don't think it is new rule, be another way of describing the same rule. In Episode 2, Master Lee said Naksu's memory must be erased so that the soul and the body can be aligned. Remember Hong Sisters has planned to have 2 actresses to play the same role (Naksu/Mudeok/Boyeon), and this season is done even before it begins to air. As a result, I think everything is there all along. I even think Master Lee has not fully utter the whole nature of this "package" even now.

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I even believe Buyeon's soul is not fully erased as Master Lee said last week (and I point that out in my comment last week as well). There must be more, as a result. It doesn't mean the rule is broken, but he try to describe the rule in different way.

What is the definition that the rule is broken? I think Episode 13 of Guardian: The Lonely and Great God is an example, as Kim Shin should die when the sword is pulled, he did not, just to force a happy ending.

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I mean it depends on how you define 'new rule'. If a rule keeps getting new addendums, clauses, exceptions, etc. in practically every episode then I'd say it's basically a new rule at that point.

For instance, at this point they can say anything about Naksu's soul-shifting and put it under the 'Jin Bu-yeon's body is special' umbrella rule. That to me is playing very fast and loose with the in-drama universe 🤷‍♀️.

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He is like the unctuous life insurance agent who sold us a package deal, and then conveniently didn't tell us the T&C or the fine fine print on pg5.

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Lol, apt analogy!

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Yes, master Lee is just there to complicate things and introduce new rules if you ask me. He's being added (at least temporarily) to my annoying list with the crown prince and Jin Mu.

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I had to pause the show and take a minute to recover at that new information from Master Lee, just to process and then definitely there with you on the urge to throw something once what he said actually sunk in...

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At this point Master Lee needs to be petrified or his memories erased. After all he is also a shifted soul!!

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They are really going with the hand motif from the poster huh
Well I ain’t complaining one bit, keep holding hands you adorable sweeties (my current hand fetish is not correlated at all 😁)
Also @Elinor thanks for the Twitter link when Lee Jae-wook sheaths his sword , I’ve been replaying it way too many times to count!

Is Yul respectful to everyone single woman? I mean in a battle will he be like my honour cannot let me fight you or something? Like suuuure he totally can kill Naksu. Anyway I’m glad he got more screen time is season and will cry buckets and throw things if he dies. Yes, as an adult I’m not ashamed of throwing a tantrum

Also Hong Sisters stop bringing back the Prince Won & Jang Uk bromance. You burned me once already! Stop teasing me!

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Ohhh where was the link shared please?

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I can’t seem to paste the link but it is at @Elinor Fanwall. It is the second post and in the comment section :)

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Whoa! How is that soo sexy??? REPEAT!!!

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Thank you for letting me relive the episode through your words!

Ahhh they sunk my So-i and Yul ship.

I think current Bu-yeon/Naksu 2.0 is really Mu-deokie from neck down and Naksu, neck-up, so Wook feels like the hands look familiar.

I was getting teary finally seeing our Kim Do-joo get proprosed to. She waited a long time. I'm wary of their upcoming nuptials though. A wedding seems like the perfect time for evildoers to eff something up between now and then. I'm getting Park-Jin-is-going-to-die vibes, especially when he has managed to make a good-tasting soup, and now it seems like there is some hope of Yul being saved (the Jin clan has the cure). Please don't do this to Kim Do-joo! She has worked so hard raising Wook and has been working hard to make sure the guys (Wook and Dong-gu) don't eff up their romances.

Someone should do a supercut of Wook's entrances. Like how many times has he entered with dramatic hero music? However, this time I'm extra thankful for it when he went to save Yul. Wook thinks there is nothing more to protect now that Naksu is gone, but there are his friends and family.

I love the callbacks. The Hong sisters really excel at giving each character and relationship their own language and way of communicating. I loved how Won reminded Wook about Naksu's philosophy and the drama's theme of acting with vigor.

I may be getting a little lost here...is Yul's plan really to kill Naksu? But the Naksu of 3 years ago was a shapeshifter in danger of going wild and did go wild and kill people. Does he not know that the current Bu-yeon was fished out and restored under the aegis of Jinyowon and Master Lee. It wasn't some soul ejector stuff.

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Omo I would totally love a YouTube vid of all the epic Jang Uk entrances lol

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For real. I can't keep track of how many times I've replayed his entry at the end of ep 6 😂

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I feel like they should go meta at least once since he's dramatic-entering so much. Where Wook starts having yet another dramatic entrance, only for something to cut in and be like "hey, MY turn now!"

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I think there was an unintentional fake out entrance when Soyi was dying — finally there’s Wook, oopss no it’s just Yul mustering his last bit of energy. Then when Wook finally showed up i thought it was Flash or Superman coming through 😆

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I think current Bu-yeon/Naksu 2.0 is really Mu-deokie from neck down and Naksu, neck-up, so Wook feels like the hands look familiar.

I think Master Lee said her body is Bu-yeon's (Mu-deok's) body and only the face morphed to match Naksu's (Cho Yeong's), so the hands would be the same. There were also a couple of references to current BY/Cho Yeong being smaller and daintier than Naksu was and that being part of the reason people don't make the connection - never mind that the two actresses have similar builds.

Yul is being driven mad by the bloodworm.

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maybe its my biasness but I've just been ffwd through most park jin scenes cuz I just really despise him for doing almost nothing but shit on Jang Uk throughout Part 1.

Aside from that, I've been thoroughly enjoying part 2 so far! I LOVE what they did with Naksu/Bu-Yeon/Cho Yeong and Youn-jung is slaying at the switch within her dual role (serious and light & fluffy) it was something i was not expecting at all as i thought she was gonna be serious all the way.

What i'm really afraid of is that we are left with 4 episodes and I fear that shit will hit the fan real soon and I dont know if my heart can take it. I was already suffering when i watched Yul on the verge of death (with my riot gear at the corner, ever ready to invade TVN if they do off him) but it was so good to see him fight again instead of watching him pine for his one sided love.

at this point in time I dont know what to expect anymore. I have a feeling that its not gonna be a happy ending, more to a bittersweet or sad ending cuz at this rate (seeing past 2022 dramas) anything is possible

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I am SO mad at park jin; I was rolling my eyes at the whole flashback where he was being so mean to Uk

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OHMYGOD RIGHT??!?!

im assuming that was after Uk got resurrected (sorry theres SO much going on that I struggle to keep up) so he must have been so overwhelmed by what just happened and mf chose that moment to drop the bombshell of his birth secret on him!??!?!?

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Park Jin's harshness at that moment felt very familiar to me since he did the same in Part 1 when he felt Uk needed to be stopped "for his own good". He is quite good at cutting words that just tear Uk's heart out...
And he knew that Uk was frantically on the verge of declaring war so he went right for the jugular. Ouch. Not nice but in character for sure... Somehow most of the time the comedic Park Jin and the ruthless leader Park Jin sides of the spectrum mostly manage to hang together for me.... mostly

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I second that.

Therefore in so many ways and for so many reasons, I am glad that we got this redemptive incarnation of Park Jin in S2. PJ is consistently written as a character across both seasons.

(i) In S1, he was such a frustration --thwarting the mage ambitions of Jang Uk and crushing his dreams.

But that is just PJ fulfilling his loyalty and duty (a key theme of AoS):

(a) LOYALTY to Jang Gang to honor the forcibly extracted promise to seal his energy gate, which he did not understand then;

(b) DUTY to protect Daeho from chaos, Songrim from dishonor, and Uk from harm. This dude is practically holding the fort by the skin of his teeth just waiting 20 years for that prodigal-hobo father to come home.

Once he stepped down as Songrim's leader and Jang Gang has died -- he was totally released from that loyalty/duty burden because he has discharged and honored them in the best way he could.

THEN Park Jin truly steps into the freedom to become the loving affectionate father figure he has always wanted to be for Uk. His parenting style in S2 is gentle, kind, patient, but firm.

I am so glad our abandoned and lonely Uk has PJ & KDJ for his father & mother figures.

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Yup Park Jin S1 and S2 has some very different vibes that’s why i was super annoyed when he went all masterchef in the beginning of S2. But i prefer this new version and warmed up to him in ep3.

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"(with my riot gear at the corner, ever ready to invade TVN if they do off him)" - I LOL. Oh that made my day.

Predictions! (beanies please feel free to add on or refute):

1) Ok, I really don't think they will kill him off (at least not in the next episode).

2) But he would probably be almost mortally wounded, and probably with a ticking time-bomb /golden window on saving him.

3) That could be the inciting incident for Jang Uk to demand the antidote from Jin Mu; OR for the new plot development of the "bird" that has to be released to "eat the worm." (more on that in another thread. This "bird" business is opening a new can of worms)

4) Seo Yul dies: That could be the inciting incident for Jang Uk to storm the citadel at Cheongbuwan. Tensions escalate and a potential rebellion threatens to erupt. The v/o did assert that IF Seo Yul dies, Songrim and the royal family may go to war?

5) Seo Yul doesn't die. He heroically storms Jinyowon (as predicted by some Beanies) and makes good use of his blood worm to break & enter to destroy the Fire Bird / or get it to devour his worm / or _____ fill in the blank (however preposterous).

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I loved SoYi’s arc and i’m a little sad that she died. On the other hand, Yul’s just confused me. I get him wanting to do the right thing, but what’s that got to do with letting a parasite give you a slow, painful death?? As for the prince, he’s just disappointing. From someone who had so much flair and smarts in S1, he’s just letting himself be used & emotionally blackmailed like that?

It’s so frustrating how slowly they’re moving the major plotlines - do we have enough time to wrap up everything in 4 episodes Show?? (Ok, technically it’s 6 with their long runtime..but still)

Buyeon & Wook is still as awesome as ever ofc. Also, I’m so happy Show made a point of mentioning how Wook is really like a son to Do Joo cos i was gonna give that woman the best Mom Award for 2022. She really is full of love and loyalty and is such a stand-out character in AoS.

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I loved those scenes between Wook and Maid Kim as well. They have such a lovely mother/son rapport. The actress is also wonderful, and absolutely stunning.

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I agree! My favorite moment of all was when she very pointedly told the lady Dr. that it’s not necessary for her to ask abt Wook anymore cos BuYeon is his fiancee.. and then this week she scolded him for not taking care of BY.

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On maternal nagging & couples counselling:

Can someone more familiar with Korean language and culture kindly explain that entire allusion by Maid Kim about "not being a dog that chooses to chase the chicken over the pheasant"?

I am sure that idiom means something more, but it truly went well over my head.

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My research indicates that the idiom is used when someone can't pursue his/her goal because of an unbreakable obstacle.

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@welh: thanks, and how does that apply in the context of that dialogue?

Maid Kim was doing some marital counselling (for his communication missteps), then this whole analogy came in

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I think it was actually two separate sayings

1. Like a dog on a wild goose chase = chasing something that’s pointless
2. The chicken/pheasant thing which i can’t find the meaning

But basically i think the context is that Wook is not taking care of Buyeon as he should a wife, and BY is upset about it. Maid Kim wants him to move on from the past.

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I think @parkchuna is correct that it's conflating two different sayings. For chicken instead of pheasant, I found a number of online references to this Korean saying that basically refer to settling for what you can get rather than nothing at all. https://aminoapps.com/c/korean--school/page/blog/hangugeo-sogdam-korean-proverb-01/06Wa_dg1ckujEVo2LQeqWwjBgN170jPDQRg

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Oh thanks for everyone's contributions!

Haha, ok I understand it now -- we have a similar saying in Chinese too ("If you can't get the fish, you make do with the shrimps.")

Oh oh oh, but that bodes well for their relationship yes? Cos Uk told BY to stop behaving like the chicken, and he will stop being a dog

I think he didn't want her to constantly self-denigrate and think he is grudgingly picking her as the second-best choice of a wife (chicken) because he couldn't have his first dead wife (pheasant) back.

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Just to say how much I love LJW's eye acting. How he manages to convey surprise, fear, longing, suspicion, affection and more in milliseconds is killing me every time...

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He's definitely gifted when it comes to expressing a range of emotions with his eyes. I noticed this a lot in "Extraordinary You" and it made his character so endearing even when what was on the page wasn't particularly interesting. As I said last week, it's challenging to play a stoic, closed-off character without being robotic or relying on stony expressions. But LJW did a great job in these early episodes of showing that Wook is emotionally closed off and in pain but under the surface, still a warm and loving person.

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I first noticed this in WWW, in the scene when Da Hae was helping him rehearse. It’s at min 1:38

https://youtu.be/y6yU5YYuZ70

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Good call! In fact, this whole vid is a testament to superior eye acting. What. A. Star.

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Indeed he is a King’s Star. The first time i watched that scene, he just blew me away and I replayed it countless times.

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This is one of my favourite scenes from WWW!

Did you also notice the *beat* before he suddenly folds her into his arms in this embrace?

LJW has such a distinctive and protective way of cradling the girl's head and pulling her into himself (same with Mud-deok, and now Bu-Yeon too).

Love. Love. Love.

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Unlike season 1 Naksu, this iteration has no goals beyond protecting the male lead. It's a tried, but in my opinion, no longer true trope. Although I'm okay with where this show is heading, I mourn what the show could've been if we had Naksu from season 1 instead of a completely different character with the same name.

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Agree. This would be in keeping with what MuDeok told JuWol when discussing marriage - that she has changed her fate and now will be protecting those she loves. But this would be meaningful had this JBY known who she is or has regained her memories as Naksu. I really don't like this "new character" at all although it's nice to see her develop a more loving side but want it added to what she was in the beginning.

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It's also an inversion of relational dynamics from S1: even the dialogue echoes what Uk used to say to Naksu.

He once told his master: I will get stronger and stronger, so that I can protect you, get the ice stone for you so you won't run wild.

Here, BY echoes him almost word for word (except she now has to get the ice stone out of him. But she doesn't yet know why).

I feel there is a lot of emotional payoff in S2 that we were denied in S1 (nothing wrong with it, it's a slow burn romance and S1 expanded a lot of bandwidth on the world-building and establishing backstory, rules of the universe etc. But with that out of the way in S2, we can focus on the OTP and the endgame)

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Exactly that - inversion of relational dynamics and dialogue. But because they're not the same characters as yet, it all feels quite empty. I longed for everything happening in S2 for Uk and Naksu but not for Uk and this still empty JBY. Every word, every feeling, every hug, every kiss in S1 was hard won and yes, slow burn, and deservedly earned. I'd take the pace of this S2 had it been the same characters exactly. But now - I can't take the girl flinging herself at Uk nor Uk reciprocating because - it's just not the same two person. Anyway, we have 4 more episodes for these two to recognize and love each other fully. Hope we get it.

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I think this pair is cute, but it still doesn't 100% feel like the same couple as before. I'm a little concerned that we've finished 6/10 and have yet to see the fierce side of Naksu come out. I like seeing what she would have been like without all the trauma from Jin Mu's abuse. But I could see original Naksu in Mudeok, and I feel like it's high time that bled into Buyeon-Naksu. I want to see her grab a sort and instinctively protect Jang Uk, for example. I think another test of how well all of her character aspects come together will be the moment she sees the scar she left on Jang Uk's body, and remembers what happened. If it all matches up, it will be satisfying.

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grab a *sword*

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I am afraid that would be mismatched expectations, we won't be getting back the Naksu move for move, blow by blow, from S1. That narrative door has closed on us, and we must mourn its passing and move on.

BUT what we do have now is a fresh beginning and a person no less authentic to the pristine original true soul essence of Cho Yeong -- this is who she would be, had she not been enrolled as a child soldier and raised as an assassin only to be used and abused and left to die by these horrible vermin.

She has to work with the lot that landed on her, the cards she got dealt with -- just like Naksu rolled with the punches in S1 and decided to improvise as the brown-nosing servant girl with a provincial accent.

In S2, her lot is divine priestess powers and the ability to see energy. I must say I was impressed that Park Jin gave her the Songrim Spirit Plaque because her powers are acknowledged to be as high as the Jeonggigak mages. He even lauded her as reminiscent of her most illustrious ancestor -- the founder Jin Seol-ran.

I love your last point! Seeing the fatal stab-wound would be the moment of emotional reckoning. I want to see her crumble and wail (then I wanna see her get REALLY MAD) and our dynamic duo can go and kill some baddies

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I do agree that nothing that has happened so far in S2 has approached a fraction of the emotional high-stakes and intensity of S1.

My personal wish list:
1) Definitely recovering the last memories of her stabbing Uk (Uk himself said he had so many unanswered questions he buried in her stone cairn, he wants to know what she was thinking in her last moments. So do we, Show)

2) Seeing the fatal stab scar on his chest

3) She needs to risk her life for him, and him for her (they put themselves on the line so so many times for each other in S1, we need to see that again in S2)

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I feel like the first iteration of the relationship was just way more intense in part 1 since the two go through life and death together. They were not only lovers, but master-and-students, partners, and each other's ride-or-die. Their trust in each other was tested and reaffirmed regularly. They know the ugly and best parts about each other. In a way, it felt more like a marriage.

Coming off of that, this iteration feels a little more tame and bland. Still very cute and also very romantic... what would have been if they had met in slightly more normal circumstances - where they banter-fight in that meet-cute way and feel attracted to each other. It feels more like a courtship.

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Yeah, and not forgetting in S1 they were bound by triple covenants. Hence the intense high stakes.
(i) The covenant of Master-Servant: she isn't merely a hire in his household. He redeemed her by paying her debt and bought her off the brothel. He owned her for life.
(ii) Master-Pupil: he vowed to serve her all his life as Master. This is a "till death us do part" scenario where you are obliged to go through hell and highwater for the sake of loyalty and duty.
(iii) Their marriage/love pledge: to death (and now, beyond the grave).

This act is very hard to top.

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Understand all. Just that for me - had this been a fresh start or even a new person altogether, and with more episodes to build the relationship, it would be acceptable. However, just as Uk was never impressed with Yun Ok's beauty, I doubt he would ever fall in love with this iteration of Naksu (though I'm sure she'd show more sassiness and smarts and resourcefulness and all had there been more episodes). As it is - she's this stereotypical beautiful girl with some power and all pouty. That's just not the type of girl Uk would have fallen for this is why I can't get on this storyline now except for me to think there is a latent tug in the heart and familiarity to Uk because in reality she IS Naksu. Without this - we could go on and on and Uk's normal response to her, flinging herself at him and all, would be like his cold reception to Yun Ok. So, I get that where they are now in S2 is the ideal relationship if we didnt have S1 at all. But I think we all know how and who he fell in love with in S1 so I'm just rather dissatisfied with where S2 is going. I would have been happy to end with S1 then as I can go on dreaming in my head of this love and loyalty borne out of all their sacrifices and transcends death or whatever.

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Yes, there's been no moment so far in part 2 that’s even as intense as the post-poisoning embrace at the end of P1 E2. The lightness of their present courtship is a weird contrast since they couldn’t have met in darker, less normal circumstances - they’ve both DIED, after all. Like @rlg07, I’ve been waiting for her to grab Naksu's sword again. That’s bound to trigger all kinds of memories, including the traumatic moment she woke up from the bell-trance and realized she’d stabbed him and subsequent ‘holding hands as if they were a ring.’ And I’ve been wondering if she’s also going to see his scars. We’ve seen very little skin in general, though, as appropriate to this muffled-up costume drama, so it’s more likely to be while she’s examining or treating his wounds from some fight, as Mu-deok used to do, rather than in a bedroom scene.

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Yes to the above comments. I get it that this personality is a part of the real Naksu (as if she had never been damaged by Jin Mu's actions), but in some ways I felt more of a continuation between Naksu 1.0 and Mudeok than between Naksu 1.0 and Naksu-Buyeon (which is weird, since they are played by literally the same person?) Yes, I know, memory loss. But I want more of her feisty character back. I feel like they started making more progress in ep 6, but there just isn't a lot of time left. We need her to remember herself and their entire complicated relationship--otherwise, they may as well have killed off Naksu for real, and then had Uk form a brand new relationship with a new person.

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Jang-Uk and Bu-yeon are soo cute and I love their moments on the screen. But I'm getting frustrated. I don't know what clue to trust anymore. I feel like Master Lee is just misleading us OR he's just plain wrong. Also, why did we spend so much screen time on So-yi and Yul? I can't help but be disappointed that it's the 6th episode already and only our male leads, Uk and Yul, have received limelight. Our Bu-yeon is adorable but theres so much more to her. *bigsigh* I'm trying so hard to have faith in this.

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the plot literally didnt move us much despite uk and choyeong getting bulk of the screentime. atleast soyi and seo yul were a catalyst for next episodes climax, or i hope it does. this show keeps going back and forth with its pacing smh

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Poor Yul. He still doesn't get the pine snack that he likes so much.

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And AoS took away the one person that'll sell the whole of Daeho if that is what it takes for him to have a bit of his pine (or is it pollen) snacks.

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love that comment. They really burn with passion and extinguish themselves doing it.

P.S. It's pine pollen biscuit snack :)

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OKAY, he really needs to get his pine pollen biscuit. EVEN if this would be his last meal before he expires. I insist.

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Reading this recap tonight and I was suddenly overcome with the fear that the foreshadowing of Park Jin, that he promised to kill Uk himself if Uk lets loose of the ice stone to bring chaos. I have the fear that Naksu will be rejected from Bu-yeon's body and that will set Uk off out of control. Then Park Jin will end it, partly for the sake of the world and partly so that Uk will not have to endure another round of living when he should not exist. I hope I am wrong. But this is the second time Park Jin made that statement, so I am worried.

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Plot Twist #1: If Jang Uk realises BY is Naksu, and he needs to save her (again) from being ejected from the body he may be tempted to use/get the Ice Stone.

IF he cannot extract it from himself to save her (and die in the process) he may well be the one to unleash the Fire Bird, plunge the whole world into chaos, just to procure an Ice Stone to save his true love.

Plot Twist #2: The villains fail to utilize the Fire Bird, instead they found a way to forcibly extract it from Jang Uk's body. But Uk may prove to be safer than the Bank Vault of England -- after all the most secure place to deposit the Ice Stone may not be in a place, but in a person.

Plot Twist #3: everything was within the calculations of Master Lee all along. His prophecy: "A star will rise, a stone will drop" was fulfilled when Uk sacrificed all his energy to the Ice Stone. It precipitated in the King's Star rising over them that night, while the Ice Stone dropped into Uk.

Master Lee enigmatically teased Uk in the Dark Forest, that maybe " Master Seo left the Ice Stone...for you." (this may not be a joke after all).

In the fullness of time (and that timetable is determined by the birth & hatching of the Fire Bird) in their era, Master Lee will reveal the key to extract the Ice Stone from Uk to stop Chaos.

He was using Uk as the safest vault he can ever find. For whoever has the Ice Stone embedded in them is invincible. It cannot be heisted or broken into the way Jinyowon can be (which is why that citadel of relics has been the source of much coveting and political intrigue in both seasons).

So for that reason, don't worry, Park Jin's threat is a totally empty threat. No one can kill Jang Uk now, literally no human (except Master Lee).

Since in this Daeho universe only two humans alive have actually attained Hwansu -- the highest level of Mage powers: Master Lee & Jang Uk.

The person we need to worry about (in case he turns rogue on our OTP for "the greater good") is Master Lee.

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Can we all just take a moment to marvel that it took us 20 episodes to find out Maid Kim's first name? I did not think I'd be that excited about a first name.

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Lol even with my Korean and the English subtitles, I thought her name was Do-joo, not her title. All this time I was thinking why on earth the Hong Sisters would give her a name that sounds like "flight", "to flee" in Korean.

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No harm has better come upon Yul. AoS has put him through enough already. They should just find another conduit for Light and Shadow's showdown if they're going to kill him off in the end.
I'm preparing to blow a fuse to my satisfaction of what I think is happening happens next week.
I really don't know what ticking time bomb plan that Yul has going on in his head. I just want him to be fine and the Jinyowon worm out if his body. He can channel his pain through something else that isn't greater pain. 'You're Seoho's heir for crying out loud, you should be prioritizing your health.'

AoS 1 had me having mixed feelings of sympathy and anger at her. This week, I'm left in awe at my Heroine of the Week - So-i. It's a rarity to see a regular human go toe to toe against a mage in Daeho. However, this regular human went toe to toe against not one but two powerful and also prominent mages of Daeho, Jinyowon's leader and Cheonbugwan's leader and his finests. She wasn't just a fly that was buzzing their ears, whatever she said, did, and knows seems to drive a huge wedge in thier plans that they necessitated her silence.
Proving to be a hard case to crack, she is a hard nut to crack. And till the end, she didn't crack. I hope that ending is a fakeout and they both make it out alive. But if she doesn't, she is worthy of honor, and going out in a heroic manner, dying in the hands of mage, in, as, and at the centre of a mage scuffle, and in her own way, defended the one person who made the world bright and clear before her eyes.
If somehow they both survive, I hope AoS does them justice and pair up this match made in wherever beautiful.

So it is now known that Park Jin can cook good food, all he needs is to not heart in whatever he's cooking. Absentminded cooking is the key. BTW Congratulations Park Jin. You don't cease to amaze me week in week out. I guess 3 years did a good number on Jin.
Park Jin threatening Jang Uk with everything he's got. If anything prior didn't calm him down, that conversation surely did. It was really hurting to watch this faux father and son have a conversation that ends in a resolution that threatens everything you both share. Now Uk couldn't push his investigations further, and Park Jin puts his life on the line to stop Uk if ever Uk's findings sends him haywire. He didn't just use his life as a means to placate the Unanimous Assembly, he already/also used it to give Uk an ultimatum that might spell his very own death.

Can Uk get out of his devotion for his master and love of his life? It's unhealthy and worthy of concern. The fact that CP Won pointed out the error of his thinking has me with mixed feelings. CP Won is guilty of something but someone had to knock sense into his head.

So he finally got a good night's sleep. Depend on each other and it'll maximize the positive things around.

'None of you are leaving here alive'. How thrilled I was to hear that line from Uk.

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AoS is not going to send me down another path of SLS, so all the aching and longing for Bu-yeon doesn't faze me at all, nor do I take it as a pinch of salt. Even using Yul's theme song(nice move by the way) isn't doing anything to me, and by extension CP Won. I can't believe they're repeating the same pattern of part 1 in part 2. Bu-yeon already has her eyes set on Uk, that's enough to make me not bother to root for, or care about any other entanglement with respect to Bu-yeon. I just want to enjoy a story without any triangle drama.

And I'm already shipping Yul with So-i, except Hong sisters snatched her away in quick succession.

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"I just want to enjoy a story without any triangle drama."

But in psychotherapy, the "repetition compulsion" can also be interpreted as a way for characters to work out and work through their unresolved traumas and issues.

In many ways I do feel S2 is a redemptive arc for many characters to revisit their previous choices and to choose anew so that they can move past or be reconciled to themselves and others (Seo Yul, here's lookin' at ya!)

So it isn't so much for us the viewers, but more for the characters to exorcise their own inner demons.

2) The second variation of love triangles that got played out unexpectedly in S2 was a nice surprise (for plot and thematic reasons).

(a) Jin Mu using the fake Naksu as the "third party" to separate Jang Uk and Jin Bu-Yeon;

(b) Bu-Yeon accusing Jang Uk at the Soul-shifter Graveyard that he is putting her between him "and that dead person." (the third party who is also YOU lol).

Very well played :)

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Oh Yul and So-i. I didn't cry when Uk and Mudeok died, but So-i wrung a couple of tears out of me. I loved her character and somehow looked forward to her helping Bu-Yeon/Naksu figure out who she is :( I'm so sad to see her go.

Now I wish for a drama with So-i and Yul as the leads! So-i can carry all the weight acting-wise, but I must say Minhyun improved a lot and did such a wonderful job in these last 2 eps. (Pls don't die, pls don't die, pls don't die)

As for Uk, why the heck did Jin blame him for everything? As if Ukie chose to be born under the circumstances his father/s selfishly created, as if Jin Mu's ambition and manipulation, and his foretold fate were his fault?! Ugh.

And also, ew at the Queen. Cho Yeon recoiling from her touch and covering herself was pretty much my reaction as well.

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I don't think Park Jin was trying to blame him, but I think he was trying to warn Wook that anything he does against the royal family would be viewed as a serious attempt to take over the throne rather than an act of vengeance against those who had killed Naksu. He may inadvertently cause a rebellion. Everyone in Songrim and all his associates could be rounded up as dangerous rebels. The citizens of Daeho could be split between Team Current King (at least we can be sure he's human!) and Team New King (we need someone young and strong like Jang Wook!) and could war among themselves.

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I think you are onto something in terms of predicting the ending. Once again, the ice stones will wreak havoc on the world, and all the characters will die noble and tragic deaths. The drama will end with soaring music as the camera scans over the desolation and dead and then it will come to rest on two women, standing resolute, each holding an ice stone in their hands: its the Hong Sisters!

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The final scene will be Master Lee having another storytelling session with cute kids on the lakeshore in which he points out the King’s Star and the Blue Flower Star that shine over Daeho, alludes to their sad tale of heroic sacrifice and eternal love, and hints that someday those stars will come down to earth again. Then cut to the Hong sisters looking smug and holding ice stones or yin and yang jades or Starbucks cups or whatever.

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@elinor Ugh, I hate it when they do that in Chinese xianxia dramas (and then we see a flashback of the leads at happier times)! I really hope Alchemy of Souls avoids that fate!

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You know, @elinor, while I was just joking about the Hong Sisters cameo, the ending you propose (absent the Hong sisters) is pretty likely. Other possibilities I was thinking:
1. The Hong Sisters, primarily to satisfy @jerrykuvira, let the second male lead, Yul, have the girl in this one. Maybe Naksu will be ejected from her body and literally enter Yul's body, replacing the intestinal parasite and intertwining their souls? Hard to get more romantic than that!

2.Fitting with a visual theme of this part of the show, we see the disembodied hands of the nobly dead Jang-Uk conveying the ice stones back to heaven where they belong.

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@hacja I've stopped shipping them both since ep 14 in part 1 so the Hong sisters can pair Bu-yeon with Uk as they so desire. I just don't like the Hong sisters throwing baits here and there. I'm not inclined to biting and I equally don't like it.

And now, Hong sisters has most likely killed off the one lady who I began shipping him with. That's what I'm currently pissed with.

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Oh. You're absolutely right @ar, I stand corrected. I had to rewatch the scene between Jin and Uk because I was half asleep when I saw it (blame it on holiday fatigue). Still, what a heartbreaking way to break it to Uk :(

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I notice Jin always served the worst news to Uk in the Secret Locked Chamber of Songrim:

(a) S1: when he dropped the bombshell that Jang Gang was not his real father, AND his mother had a clandestine affair and they all hid it to spare him the shame;

(b) S2: when he dropped the bombshell that the late King was his real father; AND your lover, your lover's dad, and your biological dad ALL died to either cover your birth secret or were collateral damage of some sort.
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Also, I just noticed the parallels between Lady Jin & Park Jin in their respective treatment of Bu-Yeon & Jang Uk.

Both parental figures (in the name of love & protection) strive to incarcerate their son/daughter in some dark secret room or curtail their path of destiny. Thankfully, Park Jin retired and mellowed out nicely.

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