Sisyphus: Episode 2
Our genius engineer discovers a secret that defies all conventional wisdom and shakes his world. As he tries to figure out what happened to his dead brother, his search leads to more questions than answers. While certain forces attempt to stop him at all cost, not everyone wants to see him die. Breaking the law and kicking some butts, our mysterious woman won’t stop until she finds our hero and keeps him safe.
EPISODE 2 RECAP
Tae-sool tenses up as he opens the mysterious suitcase, but inside, he only finds an odd assortment of objects. A key grabs his attention, and Tae-sool wonders why it feels so familiar. Continuing his search, he notices the camera and reads his brother’s name written on the bottom. So this really is Tae-san?
Back when Tae-sool was working in his first lab, he teased his older brother for struggling with his old camera. While Tae-san told him about the beauties of film, Tae-sool tinkered with his latest project and jumped in joy when it finally worked. Tae-san cheered for his little brother’s success, and Tae-sool promised to buy him a new camera.
Among the outdated items is a flip phone, so Tae-sool returns to his car to charge it. As soon as it powers on, he notices the hundred missed calls from an unknown number, who happens to call again. Tae-sool answers the phone, and the man on the other end asks for Tae-san.
He introduces himself as Mr. PARK (Sung Dong-il) and talks about strange things like faulty downloads and the Control Bureau. Tae-sool pretends to know what’s going on, and Mr. Park mentions meeting in person to retrieve the key.
He offers to pick him up, but Tae-sool lies about staying with an acquaintance. His last comment gives him away, and Mr. Park asks about the number on his shoulder. Tae-sool realizes his mistake, and Mr. Park chuckles as he hangs up.
On the drive back, Tae-sool sighs when Seung-bok calls him, assuming another lecture about attending meetings, but his friend just tells him to hurry back home. When Tae-sool arrives, he finds police vehicles parked outside and detectives crawling around the house.
The home security alarm went off, and the head detective believes a robbery occurred since the place is a mess. Tae-sool tells him that it’s an organized mess, and to prove his point, he even remembers how he arranged his cans. Pfft.
Scanning the room, Tae-sool realizes that something was changed and points out the artwork that is hanging right-side up. A secretary takes down the picture, and written in red on the wall is a foreboding message: “Don’t look for your brother or you will die.”
The threat spooks Seung-bok, so he increases security and cancels all of Tae-sool’s meetings. He asks if Tae-sool did something weird recently, but Tae-sool keeps quiet about the field and suitcase. Once everyone leaves, he goes around the house trying the key in all his locks, but nothing works.
Giving up on the key, Tae-sool moves on to the camera and discovers a roll of film. With Bong-sun’s help, they build a darkroom, and the photos turn out to be creepy, stalker-ish snapshots… that occur in the future. Bong-sun asks if that’s Tae-san in one of the pictures, but then he goes slack-jawed at a photo of Tae-sool’s wedding.
Tae-sool is equally shocked by the picture especially since he doesn’t recognize the woman who looks exactly like Seo-hae. The scene changes to Tae-sool’s wedding, and Seo-hae falls to the ground from a gunshot wound. A man points a gun at them and asks Tae-sool to choose between the girl or the world. Before he answers, the man pulls the trigger, and Seo-hae jolts awake.
Her nose bleeds again, but Seo-hae ignores it as she stares out at the sunlight streaming through the window. She goes to the roof and marvels at the plants and families laughing outside. It reminds her of Dad, and the lush greens and clean air of this place contrast with her desolate world.
Sun’s boss installs a security camera at the restaurant when a strange man enters and introduces himself as immigration officer HWANG HYUN-SEUNG (Choi Jung-woo). The boss denies hiring any illegal immigrants, but Officer Hwang’s righthand man, Officer Choi Yeon-shik, plays a recording of Sun’s emergency call from last night.
Officer Hwang asks if he made contact since all individuals must be quarantined, but Sun’s boss isn’t easily fooled. He wants to know where they are really from, but Officer Hwang replies, “The important question isn’t where.” He orders Officer Choi to tidy up, and his men close the door as they surround their prey.
Sun (whose full name is Choi Jae-sun) talks over the phone about money again and promises to send his family some as soon as he gets his paycheck. As he returns to his apartment with more bananas, his landlord stops him on the stairs and scolds him for inviting a woman to his place.
Surprised to see Seo-hae roaming around, he runs to the roof where she’s waiting for him. She needs to get to Busan since Tae-sool is in danger, but Sun won’t let her leave without filling out his lottery ticket. He threatens to report her if she fails to uphold her end of the bargain and accidentally tears her sleeve when she tries to leave.
Seo-hae chokes him in response, but she starts flickering again, becoming partly transparent. Sun drops to his knees in fear and begs the “ghost” lady to spare him. He tells his sob story to earn some sympathy points, and Seo-hae relents, giving him one winning number. She offers to fill in the rest after they reach Busan and demands new clothes.
Sun finds a restaurant uniform for her, but Seo-hae prefers his clothes over the tight-fitting dress. When he refuses, she fills out another number, so Sun strips down to his boxers. After she gets dressed, he realizes that the scary ghost lady is pretty and awkwardly averts his gaze.
Sun calls the restaurant to notify his boss about his absence, but unfortunately, the Control Bureau already took care of him. While Seo-hae waits for Sun, she hears cars pull up and spots Officer Hwang outside the building.
As they approach the apartment, Officer Choi orders the others to attach their silencers so they don’t attract attention… which would make more sense if they weren’t waving around guns in broad daylight. Anyhow, the men break down the door and charge into the room, only to find Sun cowering on the bed.
They twirl around when the door clicks, and Seo-hae doesn’t even blink an eye at the intruders. She advises them to avoid guns in close quarters and launches into a flurry of attacks. She takes down the men one by one, throwing them to the ceiling and breaking through walls.
With the rest of the Control Bureau waiting outside, Seo-hae hurls one of their own out the door and uses a stolen gun to keep them at bay. Pushing Sun forward, she directs him to the roof, and luckily, all their enemies are terrible shots.
Sun believes they will spare his life if he surrenders, but Seo-hae knows better than that and chucks him to the next building as their enemies continue shooting at them. They jump across the connecting roofs, but reach a dead end.
Officer Hwang emerges from the doorway and applauds Seo-hae for her flagrant violation of the law. He draws his gun as the rest of his men join him and threatens to kill her. Seo-hae tells him that she won’t die today and pushes Sun off the roof.
The officers rush to the edge and look down at Seo-hae safely sitting in a garbage truck. She gives them the finger, and Officer Hwang stops their pursuit since she’ll die on her own anyways. Officer Choi informs him of a recording they found and plays the message she left for Tae-sool.
Tae-sool stops by the columbarium to retrieve his brother’s ashes, much to the horror of a nearby mourning family. He brings the ashes to a lab, and as he waits for the results, Seung-bok and Seo-jin barge into the room. Seun-bok can’t believe he’s doing a DNA test, and Tae-sool corrects him since it’s actually a paternity test. Heh.
The results come out as not a match, but Tae-sool shows no reaction to the news. Instead, he teases the two for dating, but once he leaves, his expression darkens. At the same time, his friends exchange shifty glances, and in the back, a very suspicious looking janitor mops the floor.
In the car, Bong-sun asks about the possibility of a man falling from the sky and wonders how those people broke into Tae-sool’s house when it’s built like a safe. His comment reminds Tae-sool of his old lab, and he orders Bong-sun to take him there.
When they arrive at the abandoned building, Tae-sool goes in alone, but the door is already unlocked and the safe is gone. He looks around the place and notices a bulletin board with newspaper clippings of various people, including himself.
Tae-san suddenly appears in the room, and Tae-sool forgoes his pills in order to talk with him. He screams at him for answers, but the flip phone rings, interrupting their conversation. It’s Mr. Park again, but this time, he addresses Tae-sool.
He tells him that he has the safe but needs the key since forcing it open will destroy the contents. Tae-sool wonders how he knows his brother and asks why Tae-san is alive. Mr. Park simply says that he never died and refuses to answer any more questions.
However, since they are partners now, he needs him alive and tells him to look out the window for the Control Bureau. Tae-sool sees the vans driving up to the lab and remembers the name from his conversation with the copilot. Mr. Park warns him not to get caught and gives him one last advice: run.
Tae-sool breaks the flip phone and quickly gets to work, grabbing things from around the room. He creates a makeshift trap that connects to the door and hides as far away as possible. Unaware of the danger, the Control Bureau officers open the door, which triggers an explosion that sends them flying.
Though in pain, Tae-sool escapes through the window as Bong-sun brings the car around to him. As he hops in, he tells his bodyguard to escape, but Bong-sun’s head lolls forward. Officer Hwang reveals himself from the backseat and the other men surround the car with their guns raised.
They transport Tae-sool to their base, and Officer Choi points his gun at their guest to keep him from poking around too much. Though they’re part of the Immigration Office, Tae-sool wonders who exactly they are chasing with such fervor and eyes his surroundings with distrust.
He spies the shadows from the locked cells as the officers escort him to a white-walled room with just one chair. With neither signal nor pills to ease him through this ordeal, Tae-sool asks Officer Hwang where they are and why they captured him.
After checking to make sure Tae-sool hasn’t been exposed, Officer Hwang shows him a picture of Seo-hae and asks if he met her. Though he recognizes her from the wedding photo, he tells him that he doesn’t know her.
The officer continues, asking about the suitcase, but Tae-sool doesn’t answer. Officer Hwang explains to Tae-sool that they already made special exceptions for him and asks for his compliance before they are forced to take action. He informs him about an upcoming “Me Too” article and threatens to expose his drug addiction which would remove him from his position as CEO.
Officer Hwang says that everyone starts off like Tae-sool, but in the end, they all comply and ask for death, instead… even Tae-san. His last comment finally gets a reaction out of Tae-sool, and the officers restrain him from attacking their leader. Officer Hwang bids him farewell until next time, and Officer Choi points his gun at Tae-sool’s head and shoots.
Tae-sool wakes up in his bed, and Bong-sun runs into the room, shouting his name. Ignoring his bodyguard’s concerns, Tae-sool checks on the suitcase and sighs in relief when everything is still there. Though still unsure of the Control Bureau and this entire situation, Tae-sool refuses to sit still and leaves to attend the conference in Busan.
At the train station, Sun spends all his money on two tickets for the regular train while Bong-sun waits in the same line and buys two executive seats for the express. Meanwhile, Seo-hae cleans her wound in the restroom, and on the upper floor, Tae-sool looks at the photo of Tae-san in the exact same area.
Tae-sool asks Bong-sun if he thinks he is crazy, too, and tells him that he just misses his brother. Bong-sun worries about the trip since the Control Bureau might be the intruders as well, but Tae-sool thinks that they aren’t the same. As they head towards the platform, Bong-sun finds it odd that Tae-sool isn’t taking a plane, and Tae-sool smacks him for even entertaining the thought.
While Seo-hae waits for their train, Sun comments on how life is not fair. He points out the time difference between the regular and express train which acts as a metaphor for their lives. When he looks over, he notices the blood on her shirt, but Seo-hae doesn’t want to talk about it and hides it with her jacket.
Changing subjects, Sun mentions the Control Bureau and reminds Seo-hae of his breadwinner status. He asks why she’s so intent on finding Tae-sool, mentioning the possibility of an affair, but he shuts up when she shoots him a withering look.
Since she refuses to answer his questions, Sun gets up to use the restroom and leaves his jacket behind. After watching him go, Seo-hae takes the lottery ticket out and fills in the rest of the numbers. Before he comes back, she takes the train tickets and heads out.
Tae-sool walks to his seat with Bong-sun and across the tracks is Seo-hae. As if drawn to each other, the two of them turn their heads at the same time and lock eyes for a brief moment. However, before either side can register what they saw, a train passes between them, blocking their view. Once it leaves, only Seo-hae is standing there, and she stares at the empty platform before finding her seat.
Returning from the restroom, Sun spots his abandoned jacket and runs around the station looking for Seo-hae. Losing track of time, he sees the train depart and chases after it to no avail. He grimaces while watching the train leave, and Seo-hae rides away without him.
As a good rule of thumb for this show, I refuse to trust anyone. There are the more obvious shady characters like the Control Bureau and Tae-sool’s “friends” (not to mention that random janitor), but I wouldn’t cross off Bong-sun or even Sun from that list, either. While the two Suns have not done anything noticeably suspicious, Bong-sun’s rather calm response to the absurd situations comes across as unusual, and Sun’s final reaction seemed more aggravated than need be if he was only accompanying her for the lottery ticket. Though it was less apparent in the first episode, the second made it clear that no one should be trusted. The shifty glances and cryptic phrases weren’t the most subtle, but the big mystery isn’t necessarily about who is behind all this but what. Tae-sool hasn’t even figured out the time travelling aspect of this whole puzzle, and for now, the biggest questions aren’t about who these people are but what they’re doing and why they’re after the Han brothers. Besides the conspiracy surrounding Tae-san, Tae-sool’s position as CEO might be in jeopardy as well, but how exactly that storyline will play into the larger narrative is yet to be seen. Hopefully as the show progresses and the plot thickens, the characters will become more ambiguous as well and the tension will rise.
Surprisingly, one of the aspects that I enjoy the most in this show is its humor—and hopefully, I’m laughing with it and not at it for the majority of the time. There are some unmistakable funny moments that the creators put in for a laugh such as when Tae-sool dumped the fake-brother ashes into a bag, pretending his actions were completely normal to the horrified family nearby. There are also other moments that I’m pretty sure are meant to be funny but am not completely sure because of the tone of the scene. For example, during the interrogation at the Control Bureau base, Officer Choi repeats his superior’s words and gets reprimanded for it. In what was supposed to be a serious moment, the show cracks a joke, making one of the villains try to act cool (Officer Hwang’s cheesy words must have impressed him back at the restaurant), and it made me chuckle since the Control Bureau is already so over-the-top and ridiculous. Scenes like these make it seem like the show doesn’t take itself too seriously, and in a slightly unexpected twist, there’s a sense of levity despite all the intrigue.
While I was expecting a thrilling and mysterious show, Sisyphus is also a bit campy, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I don’t think the sequences are as slick as the production portrays it to be, and the scenarios come across as a tad over-exaggerated. For the most part, the Control Bureau was quite silly, but I found their scenes entertaining rather than off-putting once I adjusted my expectations. They are oddly incompetent, and sometimes, their words don’t match their actions. They wave around their guns like toys, but maybe this contrast is what makes them (or will make them) terrifying. Even if they act like cartoon villains, they have no qualms over killing people and will do it without batting an eye. The only problem is that they’ve been really bad at their job so far. Unless there’s some secret technique that the show hasn’t revealed, I’m surprised the whole time traveling secret and Control Bureau haven’t become common knowledge to the public. They don’t do a good job hiding their presence, and in a place like Korea, they should have been caught on camera and exposed to the world multiple times already.
Though I can overlook all the missed bullets and unnecessary posturing, I do hope the Control Bureau will have a more menacing presence in future episodes. Both Tae-sool and Seo-hae have bested them at least once, and though Tae-sool was eventually captured, he did a lot of damage to, what I assume is, an elite force in charge of capturing illegal time immigrants with a few broken parts in an abandoned lab. Granted, there are probably other villains hiding in the shadows, and the Control Bureau may be the tip of the iceberg. My only quibble is that the current villains don’t add tension to the story because they don’t feel like a legitimate threat. The show wants its viewers to worry about Tae-sool’s safety, but so far, he’s survived a plane crash and an explosion. If anything, I worry about the Control Bureau getting killed by our mad genius scientist and the superhuman future soldier whose protecting him.