Sisyphus: Episode 4
Now that our genius engineer has discovered the truth behind these strange events, there is no going back. With his life in danger, his protector has a lot cut out for her as they continue running from their pursuers who have time and knowledge on their side. Fortunately, our future warrior has a few tricks hidden away and isn’t afraid to do anything.
EPISODE 4 RECAP
While scouring the wasteland of the future, Seo-hae discovers a BTS poster and gingerly rolls it up to stash with her other supplies. She listens to “Spring Day” on her phone and walks through the empty and overgrown streets of Myeongdong—the famous shopping area in Seoul.
On her search, she finds a dead body and rummages through its wallet, throwing the paper money into the air and pocketing the coins. She comes across various remnants of the past and marks down an old ice cream stand on her map. When she uncovers a broken claw machine with its plushies still intact, she shoots the glass and hangs her prizes on her bag.
Seo-hae looks over the devastated city, the once bustling district now filled with untamed flora and crumbling buildings. Resuming her search, she explores a convenience store, but someone else beat her to it. She informs her dad of the failed quest, and they agree to meet up and look for batteries together.
As she gets ready to leave, a car pulls up to the store, and Seo-hae hides behind a display case with her gun at the ready. She tenses as one of the armed men inches towards her, but thankfully, he never looks down. After putting up a poster, they drive away, and Seo-hae reads the advertisement about the uploader.
Back in the present, Sun-jae approaches the unconscious time traveler while Mr. Park asks Seo-hae about her number. She tells him that she’s around 250,000, and Mr. Park chuckles since they’re all from the 10,000s. He explains to Tae-sool how the success of the download is a mere ten percent, but even then, half of those travelers get caught by the Control Bureau.
Given the odds, Mr. Park assumes that something went wrong with Tae-san’s trip, and Tae-sool starts feeling sick. Bingbing reminds them through the earpiece to keep Tae-sool from throwing up in the van, but her warning came too late as Tae-sool hurls all over Mr. Park’s shoe.
Tae-sool asks to see the body up close, and Mr. Park agrees under the condition that he hand over the keys afterwards. As Sun-jae prepares to jab a needle into the unconscious man’s neck, Tae-sool stops him with a few questions about the whole situation.
Though exasperated, Sun-jae explains how travelers come in their undergarments to increase the chances of success, but since they can’t start over with nothing, they bring along a suitcase, too. Tae-sool wonders what happens if a future person meets their present self, and Sun-jae calls it a time paradox. In such a case, the two entities mix until one of them completely disappears.
After Tae-sool learns that Sun-jae has his phone, he commands it to send his location to Seung-bok, and the Control Bureau intercepts the message. Before the brokers can react, Tae-sool thrusts the needle into Sun-jae’s thigh and retrieves his phone.
While the others are distracted, Seo-hae escapes the warehouse, and Mr. Park orders Sun-ho to chase after Tae-sool first. However, their plans change when the Control Bureau arrives, and the brokers take the suitcase before fleeing the scene.
Tae-sool makes his escape as well, but the time traveler suddenly wakes up and grabs his leg. He claims to know where Tae-san is, so Tae-sool drags the traveler with him. Cursing Seo-hae for leaving him behind, Tae-sool manages to leave the building but doesn’t get very far from the Control Bureau.
With both his exits blocked off, Tae-sool has nowhere to run until Seo-hae rams her way in and tackles Officer Choi. She holds back the Control Bureau as Tae-sool carries the traveler to a nearby electric car and breaks open the window.
While he hijacks the car, Seo-hae fights with the Control Bureau who have enough sense to hide their guns in public this time. Tae-sool honks the horn, yelling at Seo-hae to get in the car, but the Control Bureau apprehends her. She screams at Tae-sool to leave, so he does exactly that. Pfft.
After throwing Seo-hae into their van, Officer Choi asks about Tae-sool, but she refuses to answer. He grabs her face, but when that doesn’t work, he slaps her and pulls out his gun. He threatens to kill her if she doesn’t talk, but Seo-hae tells him that she isn’t dying today.
He presses the gun to her head to test her theory, but Seo-hae’s eyes grow wide as she looks out the window. A car slams into the van, knocking out the Control Bureau, but Seo-hae braced herself for the impact and remains conscious.
Tae-sool opens the door and the first thing he does is berate her for not getting in the car sooner. She snaps back at him for actually leaving, and he points out that she ran away first. She calls them even, and he pulls her out of the wreckage.
The time traveler’s present self, police officer JUNG HYUN-GI (Go Yoon), scolds his ailing mom for eating ramyun again instead of her strict diet. When she refuses to eat the food he prepared, Hyun-gi kicks away the table and storms out of the house since he’s on duty tonight.
While resting at a convenience store, Hyun-gi complains about his mom to his partner, but the other officer tells him to appreciate her while she’s still alive. They get a call about a robbery and head towards the store to check it out. When they arrive, the flustered victim tells them that the robber ran down the alley, so Hyun-gi investigates while his partner takes down statements.
As Hyun-gi walks down the dark alley, a water bottle hits his foot, and he jumps back when he spots the robber sitting on the ground. He notices the robber’s missing arm, so he handcuffs him to a pole while reading his rights.
Hyun-gi informs his partner that he caught the suspect, but behind him, the man’s missing arm materializes. With his free hand, he lunges at Hyun-gi and pins him against the wall by the neck. When Hyun-gi doesn’t respond, his partner wonders if something happened, but the Control Bureau floods the scene and barricades the alley.
After taking control of the area, the Control Bureau informs the officer that they will be taking Hyun-gi. They easily arrest the robber, and once they know Hyun-gi has been exposed, they place a bag over his head.
Officer Hwang meets with Seung-bok and the chairman as an agent from the National Intelligence Service here to help find Tae-sool. Seung-bok tells him about the message he received earlier, but Officer Hwang is dubious about the sender.
Seung-bok offers to show him the message then, but when he goes through his phone, no such text exists. Officer Hwang acts as if Seung-bok made up the whole thing and takes his leave. Once outside, he calls his men to keep tracking Tae-sool’s phone.
Tae-sool slams his phone down—presumably unable to contact Seung-bok—and future Hyun-gi wakes up in the back seat. He asks for the date, and Tae-sool tells him that it’s August 19th to which Seo-hae promptly adds the year as well.
Hyun-gi gives Tae-sool an address, but instead of information about Tae-san, he asks for a ride to a different place. Tae-sool pulls the car over, reminding Hyun-gi about their promise, but Hyun-gi yells at him to hurry up. Gritting his teeth, Tae-sool agrees to take him there first, and Hyun-gi looks at a crumpled photo of his mom.
While they drive, Tae-sool asks Seo-hae if she’s really a time traveler and asks about the downloader. He recognizes it as the code he made almost twenty years ago, so she tells him about the corresponding “uploader” in the future. She doesn’t understand the mechanics, but Tae-sool figures it out just from her sparse details since it resembles his quantum teleporter.
He doesn’t understand how humans can time travel, though, because the physics should be impossible, but Seo-hae tells him that the uploader will be invented in a year or so. He asks why people use it when the chances of success are so slim and guesses that the Control Bureau’s machines must be radiation detectors. He squirms away from the time travelers, and Seo-hae rolls her eyes at him.
Since Tae-san got into the accident while time traveling, Tae-sool realizes that his brother must be alive right now. He decides to warn him about his death and stop him from time traveling in the first place, but Seo-hae looks unconvinced of his new plan.
Tae-sool asks about the wedding photo, but Seo-hae knows nothing about it as well. He tells her that she isn’t his type, and Seo-hae fires back that he isn’t her type, either. He rambles on about his stance against marriage, and just in case, he asks if he is her father. Seo-hae glares at him and tells him to get lost.
The brokers safely arrive at their hideout, and Mr. Park breaks open Hyun-gi’s suitcase. The only things inside are ramyun, and Mr. Park chucks the noodles at the wall while seething over the pathetic find.
Meanwhile, the group carries Hyun-gi to his house where he uses the spare key to enter. He calls for his mom, and she opens the door to greet him. She can only make out fuzzy shapes because of her bad eyesight and asks what took him so long. Wiping away his tears, Hyun-gi apologizes for being late.
He cooks ramyun for his mom, and after she makes sure that he’s really fine with her eating, she happily slurps the noodles. She tells him that when they were poor, she only ate ramyun, and now it’s her favorite food. As he watches her eat, he holds back his tears, so she doesn’t hear him cry.
Seo-hae turns to Tae-sool and tells him that they time travel because of regret. It’s an emotion everyone around Tae-sool seems to have as Seung-bok finally signs the document to dismiss their current CEO and Seo-jin looks at a photo of her and Tae-sool.
While Hyun-gi tucks his mom to bed, Seo-hae explains to Tae-sool how people still wish they did things differently even if they know the future can’t be changed. Hyun-gi apologizes to his mom for mistreating her, but she tells him that it’s okay. He says that he missed her, and she reaches out to touch him once last time. Mom takes her final breath, and Hyun-gi caresses her face as he calls out for her.
Tae-sool asks Seo-hae about her regret, and she tells him that a lot of people are out to kill him—particularly, Sigma. She shows him their insignia and explains how Busan was only the start. He wants to know why they are targeting him, so Seo-hae tells him that he created the uploader. Her duty is to protect him and stop him from building it, too.
Their conversation ends when Hyun-gi joins them, and he upholds his end of the bargain. Before he gives Tae-sool the information, he makes him promise to avoid the second-floor study and warns Seo-hae to stay inside since there will be a sniper. He tells her that it was his first mission as an officer of the Control Bureau and apologizes for all the terrible things he will do to her.
Tae-sool recognizes the address as the chairman’s estate, but before he can register everything, the Control Bureau breaks open the door. They storm the now-empty living room, and a smoke grenade rolls between their feet.
The invaders fire blindly into the room, but Seo-hae simply slinks within their ranks and takes them down under the cover of the smoke. They shoot towards the bedroom, and Hyun-gi covers his mom as bullets riddle his back.
The Control Bureau uses a fan to clear the air, and Seo-hae takes cover in the kitchen with Tae-sool. She sees him opening up coke bottles, and he holds up a canister of butane gas, giving her a quick science lesson. He releases the gas into the bottles, and then flips them over, sending the impromptu rockets right into their enemies’ heads.
Once all the Control Bureau men fall down, Hyun-gi stumbles towards the others and hands them his car keys. With his dying breath, he tells Seo-hae to forgive him no matter what since it’s the only way to win.
Tae-sool and Seo-hae jump through the side window and drive past the Control Bureau. It takes them a while to realize that their targets fled, but after a quick scan of the neighborhood CCTVs, the Control Bureau sends their drones after the car.
As the chase continues, Tae-sool chucks his phone at the drone, but the Control Bureau isn’t that pathetic. They easily dodge it and start firing. Officer Hwang sends in two more drones and orders his team to corner them.
Seo-hae tells Tae-sool to drive faster, but he yells back at her that it won’t go faster. With drones coming in from either side, Tae-sool thinks fast and turns the car. One drone slams into the side—destroying itself—and the other flies through the window and hits a pole.
It’s too early to celebrate since there are still two more drones after them, so Tae-sool drives the car down some stairs to escape. Seo-hae argues that running away won’t stop this and instructs him to turn the car around. Despite her outrageous demand, he follows through, and Seo-hae aims her gun at the drones.
While Tae-sool drives in reverse, Seo-hae knocks down another drone with the car door. He praises her quick thinking, and she commends him on his driving. They look around for the final drone, and Tae-sool spots it right outside his window. The drone pilot takes aim, but Seo-hae beats him to it as she pushes Tae-sool out of the way and shoots.
Officer Hwang continues with their backup plan, and on an unfinished bridge, Hyun-gi’s old partner sets up a blockade with a few other officers. While they grumble over the ridiculous assignment, a tiny red car comes speeding towards the bridge chased by multiple vans.
As Tae-sool reaches the end, he hits the breaks, and the Control Bureau has them surrounded. He orders Seo-hae to take off her jacket and boots since those will make her sink, and she balks at his suggestion to jump into the river.
However, they have no other option, so Seo-hae tosses aside the items and gets ready to run. Tae-sool stops her from rushing ahead without a plan and does some quick calculations to determine their fall. In the end, it all boils down to one thing, and he tells her to hold onto his hand.
Officer Hwang orders his men not to shoot as they approach the car, but before they reach their targets, Tae-sool grabs Seo-hae and runs. As they jump over the edge, someone shoots Seo-hae in the arm, and she lets go of Tae-sool’s hand.
Seo-hae sinks in the river, and her diary floats out of her backpack. In voiceover, Seo-hae narrates the first entry, which is from herself. She knows that she’ll be dead by the time she reads this, and tells herself to not freak out over what she sees. Their task is to save Tae-sool in order to stop the war, and they’re the only ones who can do it.
As Seo-hae loses consciousness, she remembers her dad’s warnings to never meet Tae-sool. She slowly closes her eyes, and from above, Tae-sool swims towards her and reaches out to grab her hand.
While the same issues still plague the show, I found this episode to be the strongest yet. Now that people have finally answered some of Tae-sool’s questions, the plot is moving forward in earnest, and the show can get past the initial stages of setup and introductions. We’re finally told Seo-hae’s main objective (to save Tae-sool in order to stop the war) and given hints to her importance as well. From the diary entry, it seems the theories about a time loop may be true, and Seo-hae, for some reason, is in a unique position to save Tae-sool. It also explains why she doesn’t care about her own safety as much and seems to avoid capture no matter the situation (e.g., the train scene in episode one). She knows that death can’t stop her, and though it’s unclear how many times Seo-hae has gone through this loop, it seems safe to assume that this isn’t her first time at least.
The show has focused on Tae-sool so far, but since the big secret has been revealed, hopefully we’ll get more insight into Seo-hae as well. From what we’ve seen, I get the impression that she has changed a lot, too, since all this time traveling business. In the future, she seems more hesitant and afraid to act when in danger. She doesn’t rush into things and shoot first like she does in the present-timeline. Instead, she seems fearful and tentative. Something must have happened to make Seo-hae the way she is now, and from her talk with Tae-sool, it feels like she has a personal motivation in this mission that pushes her to risk her life over and over again to save him. Though it wasn’t narrated, at the end of the page in her diary, Seo-hae tells herself to protect the person she loves. It could be about her mom as mentioned in the first episode, but there’s also the possibility that Seo-hae is talking about Tae-sool. They may be linked to each other, which might also explain why Seo-hae is the only one who can change the future. Since we know Tae-sool invents the uploader, maybe he built it for Seo-hae. It makes no sense for Tae-sool to make it for Tae-san because his goal is to stop his brother from time traveling, so there must be another reason. I doubt Tae-sool is the type to create something simply because he can despite knowing the negative consequences, so some other regret must have made him want to risk everything and turn back the clock. Consequently, the show pulls a reversal, and it’s no longer Tae-sool who holds the key to this big mystery but Seo-hae.
For the most part, the show is entertaining even though the action scenes are mostly pizazz without much substance. They lack a certain tension, but the introduction of Sigma and Hyun-gi seems promising. Sigma will, hopefully, pose a bigger threat than the Control Bureau, and as a result, provide the show its missing suspense. While the Control Bureau can be fun with the right perspective, it does get tiring to watch them fail so spectacularly every single time. More than Sigma, I really enjoyed Hyun-gi and the possibilities he might bring to the Control Bureau plotline. For the first time, we see the human emotions behind time travel and the costs. The actual nuts and bolts of Hyun-gi’s story is nothing special, but it’s a universal feeling most people have surrounding regret. Once something is gone, we miss it and think back to all the stuff we would do differently if given another chance. Even though Hyun-gi knew he couldn’t change the future, he still risked the journey in order to say goodbye to his mom. He came specifically on the day that she dies to see her one last time and play his part in Seo-hae’s escape. In a sense, there’s a feeling of nihilism to their approach to time travel, and again, it reminds me of Sisyphus and his fate. They might cheat death a few times, but in the end, they can’t escape the inevitable forever.
I’m assuming Hyun-gi’s warnings about the terrible things he will do is related to his mom’s death. Since he will join the Control Bureau, he might believe Seo-hae was responsible for her death and want revenge. Giving Hyun-gi this motivation makes the Control Bureau feel more dangerous since they are no longer nameless faces but a man with a vendetta. However, if this turns out to be true, it makes me wonder why future Hyun-gi came back in the first place. If he never came back to the present, then he wouldn’t have met Tae-sool and brought them to his house. As a result, Seo-hae would be no way related to his mom’s death, and maybe Hyun-gi wouldn’t be motivated to do all those terrible things. On the other hand, maybe the future really is set in stone. Despite the consequences, Hyun-gi chose to repeat history if that meant seeing his mom one last time, or maybe his final warning was correct and he chose to come back because this “route” was the only way Seo-hae could win.