It’s been quite a busy journey for our Jang Wook and Mu-deok as things escalated and ramped up for the two in the most recent episodes for ‘Alchemy of Souls.’ I decided to combine my review on episodes 7 and 8 with 9 and 10 to make things a little bit easier on myself and boy, am I glad I did. Episodes 7 and 8 were good and I won’t really be saying too much about it in this review as episodes 9 and 10 definitely stole my heart. Let me explain.
Things slow down a bit in episodes 9 after Jang Wook earns a spot into Songrim, giving him the opportunity to become a mage and learn the skills like his peers, Dang-gu and Seo Yul, have. The exciting new chapter in Jang Wook’s life also comes with a few new surprises, such as the inability to bring Mu-deok into Songrim since she’s now considered an outsider. This causes our two leads to be separated for the first time since they’ve met and the longing to be with each other to grow and I, for one, absolutely loved, loved, loved this yearning between Jang Wook and Mu-deok.
We’ve been so spoiled with so many interactions and moments between the two that the second they’re not on the screen together and are actually separated, things just get so painful to watch. I missed seeing Jang Wook and Mu-deok spend time together. I missed seeing them bicker and argue only to take care of each other a few minutes later because they care about each other at the end of the day. I missed seeing their love-hate-but-mostly-love relationship and everything else that came with it. With Jang Wook and Mu-deok’s separation, it made me realize just how great the drama has been in showcasing the development of Jang Wook and Mu-deok’s relationship since the beginning. We saw the two grow closer from young master and servant to ultimately master and pupil and save and protect each other multiple times over the course of the drama. We also witnessed Jang Wook and Mu-deok form a bond and connection that they assumed was bound by fate and masked with self-interest, but now inundated with other emotions that come into play.
Now that they were no longer be together, did they forget about each other? Will they forget about each other? Will Jang Wook come back for Mu-deok now that he’s gotten what he’s always wanted? Was he just using Mu-deok this entire time? What will happen to their relationship? It was easy for misunderstandings and confusion to build with the two characters being separated and they began to doubt everything that they had experienced together. And a part of me absolutely loved seeing them question the sincerity and honesty of their relationship because it only proved that everything they went through together meant something to them. What started off as a mission to help each other for their own self-interest and personal gains transformed into a relationship where they want to be with each other because they enjoy it. Because they miss each other. Because they have feelings for each other. And to see the two second guess everything because they were constantly told by other people that everything was fine and that they were enjoying life was relieving to see. It showed that Jang Wook and Mu-deok care about each other and their relationship.
It can be difficult sometimes to get the yearning and longing part between your main leads in a drama right, but I enjoyed every single part of it in ‘Alchemy of Souls.’ I felt the angst, I felt the pain, my heart was aching at the sight of Jang Wook in Songrim and Mu-deok waiting in the forest in hopes of seeing her pupil. My heart broke for her and it hurt even more when Seo Yul was constantly there for her. I’ll speak more on the love square later on in this post, but I just loved seeing Jang Wook and Mu-deok want to be with each other. Their efforts definitely did not go to waste as they couldn’t go long without seeing each other and it didn’t take long for them to meet again. It was relieving to see the two reunite again so shortly after being separated, but it was also relieving that their time away from each other was so telling of their feelings and wasn’t excruciating to watch. Again, I liked seeing the two miss each other.
Jang Wook and Mu-deok being separated taught them things about their feelings and emotions that they weren’t aware of before or was aware of and was in denial of, but it also opened the door for a love square… which I can definitely do without. Seo Yul is a good, nice guy and he has that childhood connection with Mu-deok (or Nak-su), but that’s just to the extent of their relationship. This separation from Jang Wook tested Mu-deok’s feelings even more and I think it only proved that it’s Jang Wook she wants to be with.
As for Jang Wook, it was quite clear that he’s always had eyes and feelings for Mu-deok (potentially before she did for him). His description of the woman he has a crush on perfectly matches Mu-deok and I’m glad that Mu-deok learned about this fact from Maidservant Kim. Jang Wook gets tangled into this relationship with Master Heo’s granddaughter, Heo Yun-ok, who has a crush on the new mage and while her little crush on Jang Wook is adorable, I’m also not the biggest fan of this sub-plot. It seems as if it was another distraction that the drama threw in there without really caring what purpose it served (if any). Jang Wook’s feelings towards Mu-deok are steady and strong and I don’t see his feelings wavering anytime soon (or at all) for anyone else. I just want to see more Jang Wook and Mu-deok moments together without bringing in external factors such as Seo Yul and Yun-ok. That was one of the drama’s greatest strengths and it felt as if we sort of went a few steps back in terms of this direction.
Thankfully, the separation between Mu-deok and Jang Wook didn’t last for long as they reunited again in episode 10. That was definitely a pleasant surprise and a decision that I liked. I thought the drama would drag out their separation for a little while longer so I was glad that it did the opposite and ended their separation time rather fast. They realized a few things along the way, broke a few rules to see each other again, and garnered their strength and courage so that they could continue to stay by each other’s side. Mu-deok ultimately fights and earns her way into becoming a servant in Songrim which will allow her to 1) be by Jang Wook for much longer and 2) still be his master (in secret, of course). The whole servant open recruitment competition did feel a bit silly and humorous, but it was still fun and entertaining to watch nonetheless. I liked that Mu-deok was determined to win and did whatever she could so that she could reunite with Jang Wook. I also liked that Seo Yul, Dang-gu, and our Crown Prince assisted her (even if it meant cheating lol).
Jang Wook does some cheating himself when he breaks some rules and sneaks out of Songrim to meet Mu-deok. I was sad upon thinking that they were going to barely miss each other, but they were able to catch up for a bit just as Jang Wook was riding away on the boat. It wasn’t a full-on conversation where the two sat down over some snacks, but it was also just enough so that the two could see each other again and receive the motivation that they needed to be together again. Short and brief. Nice and sweet.
It was relieving that episodes 9 and 10 slowed down a bit and primarily focused on Jang Wook’s entry into Songrim and Mu-deok’s attempts to go back to what her life was like before Jang Wook (which she found difficult because she realized just how much of her life had involved Jang Wook). However, just because things slowed down doesn’t mean that nothing else was going on. We learn that Jin-mu plans on tricking Jinyowon leader, Jin Ho-kyung, into believing that her daughter is still alive by bringing in a girl named So-yi to play that role. We are then introduced to another new character in the show. This does make things interesting and further supports the theory that Mu-deok might be the missing eldest daughter of the Jin family.
We also learn that Master Park only plans on keeping Jang Wook without any intentions of training him just so Jang Wook’s father will return. Jang Wook has such a complicated and interesting relationship with Master Park and it hurts to see Jang Wook be treated this way. He just genuinely wants to learn and become a mage and control his energy.. do other things that he’s seen others do for the longest time. At the same time, it’s not surprising if Jang Wook has a few other things up his sleeve. He’s quite the rebel and can cause chaos at times. He’s a rule breaker and a creative mind and he’s not afraid to follow his heart and do what it is he thinks is best for himself.
All in all, episodes 9 and 10 were favorable watches and I’m excited that the drama has slowed down the pace for just a tiny bit. I don’t anticipate that it will last long, but it does feel as if a new chapter has arrived for Jang Wook and Mu-deok. Whereas they were outsiders before, they have now officially entered as members of a group with rules, guidelines, restrictions, and levels. Things haven’t changed much between the two characters as they’re still master-pupil and young master-servant, but their feelings for each other are slowly becoming more apparent and it’s so heart-fluttering to see the two express their feelings to each other in their own ways. Mu-deok sends Jang Wook a “love letter” and Jang Wook confesses a few times to Mu-deok about how much he’s missed her. EEEEK! I get so giddy and excited just thinking about it and I’m fully loving their relationship development. The best part of it all is that we got to witness this development over the course of the drama and now we’re at a part where feelings are involved and goals might be getting a little blurry. Jang Wook and Mu-deok’s intentions at the beginning of their relationship was for themselves, but for how much longer will it remain that way or have things shifted already?