Sisyphus: Episode 6
No one can be trusted in this world where the past, present, and future all scramble together, and everyone uses time to their own advantage. However, amid the betrayals and lies, our genius engineer finds the one person who he can trust. No matter what anyone else tells him, he will hold onto her fiercely, and in return, she will stay by his side, ready to battle the entire world if necessary.
EPISODE 6 RECAP
Nineteen years ago, August 6, 2001. Tae-sool woke up in his lab from a phone call by his older brother and groggily yelled at him for not waking him up sooner. Tae-san pointed out that he called him multiple times, and besides, he’s working, too.
They made plans to drink beers afterwards, and Tae-sool got up from the couch, mumbling about being screwed for his big meeting. He checked on his latest experiment, but alas, it failed and caused a blackout throughout the entire city.
The lights in the train station where Tae-san worked flickered off as well, and suddenly, a scantily clad man lied on the tracks with a suitcase—a time traveler. Tae-san jumped down to warn the man about the approaching train, but gave pause when he found a picture of him and Tae-sool in the man’s possession.
On the back were dates about Tae-sool’s future accidents, and Tae-san shook the man for an explanation. (Wait, is that Kim Byung-chul?) The man’s eyes shot open, and Tae-san fell back in surprise as the man disappeared. However, when he looked back up, the man was walking away, and the incoming train allowed him to escape.
In the present, Seo-hae wakes up from a nightmare and sees Tae-sool watching over her. He tells her that the guards left, so they escape through the back door. Unbeknownst to them, someone monitors their every move from afar.
Meanwhile, Mr. Park sits in his office and sighs while looking at a photo on his desk. He heads to the bank and transfers 3 million won (approximately $2,700) to a person named Kim Jin-hee. As he shuffles through his many IDs, Bingbing pops up behind him and asks what he is doing.
Mr. Park hides his slip and scolds her for leaving the store unattended. When she continues snooping around, Mr. Park threatens to cut her pay, which finally gets her to back down.
Later that evening, Seo-hae arrives at Chairman Kim’s estate dressed in a fancy dress. She asks Tae-sool where she should hide her gun, and he berates her for even having it on her person. He hands her an invitation and instructs her to act like a foreign investor. He reminds her again to avoid confrontations since their only goal is to locate Tae-san.
Before she heads inside, he gently places a communication device in her ear, and Seo-hae is acutely aware of his close proximity. Tae-sool, on the other hand, seems unfazed and plays around with the gadget until Seo-hae tells him to stop. Heh.
He also hands her an EMP, explaining how it disrupts all electronic equipment in the area, and gives her an encouraging smile and fist bump. Seo-hae braces herself as she enters the house, and Tae-sool sneaks into the nearby woods.
The Control Bureau pulls up to the gates as well and receives permission to enter. Officer Hwang tells his men to shoot Seo-hae on sight, and Hyun-gi looks more than ready to follow those orders.
As Tae-sool predicted, Seo-hae gets in without much trouble, but her mere presence catches the attention of all the male attendees, including Seung-bok’s. Through the earpiece, she asks Tae-sool why everyone is partying, and he explains how they are here to celebrate his death.
Proving Tae-sool’s statement, the chairman takes the stage for an important announcement and introduces Seung-bok as the new CEO. Seung-bok gives a quick speech and promises to lead the company with trust and stability. While the crowd applauds their new CEO, Tae-sool scoffs at their excitement.
From the second-floor window, Tae-sool spots Seo-hae and tells her that they should visit the amusement park next. She is surprised by his suggestion since he hates going there, and he chuckles, realizing that she heard his story. They tell each other to stay safe and return to their mission.
Among the party staff, the Control Bureau infiltrates as servers while Hyun-gi and his team prepare their weapons outside. As Seo-hae weaves through the crowd, Seung-bok steps into her path and offers her a drink. He finds her familiar, but Seo-hae says that they have not met before.
Seung-bok lets her in on a secret and tells her that he shook over a hundred hands yet no one here can be trusted. He calls himself a disposable card like his friend Tae-sool and asks if Seo-hae knows him. Since she is the only stranger here, he clinks glasses with her, but as he looks into her eyes, he says, “Tae-sool, let’s meet in hell.”
He starts grilling Seo-hae about her background, but she spots Tae-san in the distance and excuses herself. She notifies Tae-sool of her discovery, but the Control Bureau jammed all forms of communication. All Tae-sool can hear is static, and he hides in a room to avoid security.
While he tries to contact Seo-hae, Tae-sool finds himself in the upstairs study (oh no). On the chairman’s desk, he sees a photo of him and Seo-hae right before the party and can barely believe his eyes when he discovers a contract with Sigma. Right then, the chairman walks in, and Tae-sool grabs him, demanding answers.
Seo-hae chases after Tae-san, but he notices her following him and pulls her into a back room. To her shock, he knows who she is, and he warns her to get away from his brother. Meanwhile, Seung-bok looks for Seo-hae and screams at the guards to find her.
Tae-sool flourishes the contract, asking when they partnered with Sigma, and Chairman Kim tells him that they have been an investor from the very beginning. When Tae-sool lets go of him in disbelief, the chairman checks his phone and reads a message warning him about the Control Bureau.
With the tables turned, the chairman chastises Tae-sool for missing company meetings, but Tae-sool threatens to reveal the truth. Chairman Kim asks if he means Sigma or the time machine, and Tae-sool realizes that the chairman knows everything.
Chairman Kim warns to stay low unless he wants to end up like his brother, and Tae-sool grabs the old man’s shoulders in anger. He vows to kill the chairman, but Seo-jin appears and injects Tae-sool with a sedative. Once he falls to the ground, she gives permission to their partners to continue their operation.
Tae-san gives Seo-hae one last warning and orders her to leave Tae-sool alone otherwise he will kill her. He believes her presence is putting his brother in danger, and Seo-hae looks confused by his accusation. She tries to follow after him, but the Control Bureau stops her.
They attack her in the middle of the party, but Seo-hae easily flips them over and escapes. After locking the gate behind her, she steps outside, and the lights suddenly turn on. As she looks around, a bullet hits her leg, and she falls to the ground.
With no answer from Tae-sool, Seo-hae detonates the EMP. The blackout makes Hyun-gi lose sight of her, but before Seo-hae can leave, the power returns. The Control Bureau surrounds her, and Hyun-gi steps in front of her with his gun drawn. She recognizes him as the time traveler and finally remembers his warning.
As Seo-hae stares down at the barrel of his gun, headlights flash at them, and a fancy sports car drives into the middle of the Control Bureau. The door swings open, and Sun smiles up at Seo-hae. She jumps in, and he speeds out of the area, leaving the Control Bureau scrambling after them.
Once they escape, Sun asks if she remembers him, but Seo-hae only cares about Tae-sool and his safety. She tells Sun to go back, but her voice trails off as she faints from her injury.
Memories of Tae-sool and Seo-hae’s adventures flash on screen, and Tae-sool jolts awake in a hospital bed. Seung-bok and Seo-jin rush to his side, asking about his condition, and they tell him that he was in a coma after the conference in Busan. Remembering Seo-hae, Tae-sool doesn’t believe their story, but Seo-jin tells him that today is the nineteenth—four days after the conference.
Tae-sool grabs Seung-bok’s phone and looks all over the room to check the date. However, no matter where he looks, the date remains the same. He still refuses to believe them and accuses them of siding with Sigma.
He pushes past the guards and escapes into the hospital hall where he steals a nurse’s charts. The date still says the nineteenth, and the guards apprehend Tae-sool. Seo-jin sedates him, and Tae-sool loses consciousness.
The news reports on Tae-sool’s miraculous recovery, and his fans stand outside the hospital to show their support. While Tae-sool goes through more tests, Seung-bok and Seo-jin blame themselves for not helping their friend sooner.
Seo-jin explains the test results to Tae-sool, claiming how frontal lobe damage can cause confabulation and delusions. He looks annoyed with her diagnosis but does not object. Tae-sool returns to his house with Seung-bok who makes him a smoothie and hands him tranquilizers. Tae-sool does as he’s told, but he still cannot accept their version of reality.
Tae-sool tells Seung-bok about everything that happened including the time machine and the killers. Seung-bok asks if this is The Terminator, and Tae-sool recognizes the look of skepticism on his friend’s face.
Staring into Seung-bok’s eyes, Tae-sool asks him to swear on their friendship and tell him the truth. Seung-bok says that he isn’t lying but wishes that he were. As he leaves, Seung-bok informs Tae-sool of the pill’s side effects, and Tae-sool clutches his head in pain.
Looking over his shoulder, Tae-sool sees Tae-san reflected in the glass and comments on how it has been a while since they met like this. Tae-san appears in the chair next to him and says that he is always by his side. Tae-sool throws a medicine bottle at the wall and yells at his brother to be quiet. For the entire day, he sits around the house, recalling various memories of Seo-hae, and blood trickles from his nose.
Seo-jin visits her parents’ house and tells her mom to watch her health. The chairman invites her to his study, and she gives him an update on Tae-sool. She tells him that he’s taking a lot of medication, and the scene changes to Tae-sool’s house where she gives him more pills.
Seo-jin mentions the conversation Tae-sool had with Seung-bok and calls it a made-up tale from his subconscious. She shows him a transcript of his story and asks if it comes from guilt, anxiety, or pressure. Her words rile him up, and Tae-sool gasps for air.
Her demeanor turns frosty, and Seo-jin asks if this is all a defense mechanism. Tae-sools looks up at her in fear, and she points out a gap in his story: where’s the key?
Returning to the chairman’s study, Seo-jin told him that Tae-sool won’t recover after this “treatment,” and assured her dad that Seung-bok will not question their methods. He told her that they needed the key to get the medicine for her mom, and Seo-jin nodded, understanding their goal.
After knocking Tae-sool out at the party, Seo-jin fabricated the whole scenario and changed the date to fit her story. Back in the present, she asks about the key and barely bats an eye as Tae-sool falls to the floor unable to breath.
As Tae-sool loses consciousness, the scene changes to the brokers’ hideout, and they shoot Tae-sool in the head. With a jerk, Tae-sool shifts to the Control Bureau’s prison where Officer Choi shoots him in the head as well.
Tae-sool wakes up on his living room floor and finds Seo-hae standing by the window in front of an image of the galaxy. She directs his attention towards the moon and the clock, and equations start filling his head. He figures out the actual date and smiles since this means Seo-hae was real.
She starts counting down, and once she reaches zero, a cup falls, waking up Tae-sool. He is back in the present timeline and walks over to the broken shards where he finds the wedding photo and EMP. On the back is a note from Seo-hae telling him that she is against marriage, too, and he chuckles.
Tae-sool lowers the blinds, and Seo-jin senses something wrong and calls for the guards. She tries to reason with him, but he tells her to stop and detonates the EMP. As soon as the power cuts out, Tae-sool escapes through the back, and Seo-jin sends her men to find him.
Seung-bok drives up to the house, offering to call the police, but Seo-jin stops him. He wants to know what is going on, but she tells him to do as he is told if he wants to become the CEO. She asks if he has any more questions, and Seung-bok stays quiet.
While Hyun-gi seethes over the surveillance video of Seo-hae, Officer Hwang joins him and shows him a file about today’s mission: it was predicted to fail. Hyun-gi wants to know why he was sent to kill her then, and Officer Hwang asks if knowing the future would have stopped him from trying.
He gives Hyun-gi a piece of advice and tells him to stop trying so hard. He says that they cannot change the future, but Hyun-gi vows to capture Seo-hae no matter what. As Officer Hwang leaves, he tells Hyun-gi that he will succeed as long as he waits and follows orders.
The police as well as two hooded figures working with Seo-jin search the alleys for Tae-sool, leaving him very little room to escape. He finds a discarded phone in the garbage and hooks it up to a junction box. After getting it to work, he calls Seo-hae, and she picks up, sounding bored.
She says that he seems fine according to the news, and he tells her that the media is bad. He says that she is the only person he can trust and asks her to save him. He gives her his location, but Seo-hae says that she’s busy.
Tae-sool yells at her for not coming, but Seo-hae tells him to get down. He ducks as instructed, and the hooded figure behind him crumples to the floor. Looking around, Tae-sool notices all his pursuers lying unconscious and escapes to the upper levels.
While he catches his breath, Seo-hae walks towards him with a gun in her hand. He asks if she wasn’t busy, and she tells him that she had no choice since he can only trust her. They smile at each other, and the camera zooms out.
A wall of screens displays the scene of Tae-sool and Seo-hae on the bridge, and the man from the train station sighs over the romantic moment. He asks his guest if he agrees, and Tae-san glares at him while tied to a chair.
Either the odd-numbered episodes lower my expectations which increases my enjoyment of the next one, or the even-numbered episodes are simply better because I found episode six much more interesting than five. The story is revealing its antagonists and answering more questions about this world which is a much-needed development that, in all honesty, I wish came sooner. We learn that time traveling isn’t as well-kept a secret as Tae-sool once thought, and the people around him might be more devious than he ever imagined. All this time, the truth was right under his nose, yet he was too foolish and self-confident to realize the machinations underfoot. Everyone he trusted turned out to be keeping secrets from him—even his brother—and Tae-sool finds himself alone and genuinely scared. This sense of betrayal from all his other relationships contrasts against the budding trust he has built with Seo-hae. She has been the only truthful one in his life, and Tae-sool realizes this fact when he calls her for help. Though I don’t necessarily feel any palpable romantic chemistry between the two actors, I am enjoying their relationship and mutual growth. They share a lot of similarities and understand each other in a way that transcends time. He respects her and acknowledges her strength which are different from his, and she does the same for him. Though Tae-sool stuck to his beliefs about Seo-hae being real, the scene where he realized the truth about Seo-jin’s lies reveals the small seeds of doubt that he harbored. A part of him thought that he might actually be delusional, so when he gets concrete confirmation that he did meet Seo-hae, the relief on his face is so evident. Just as Tae-sool is Seo-hae’s ray of hope for a better future, she has become his ray of hope as well.
For some reason, a lot of people want Tae-sool dead, and apparently, they have tried… multiple times. While we have seen the Control Bureau shoot Tae-sool (though today’s scene was different from the one in episode two), the incident with the brokers was new. Either Tae-sool was going through some drug-induced hallucinations, or he tapped into his past (possibly future?) memories. One theory posited by fans is a time loop, which falls in line with the Sisyphus motif. At first, I thought Seo-hae was the one in the loop because of her cryptic diary entry, but now I’m wondering if future Seo-hae somehow passed it along to her younger self while in the present. That would explain why Seo-hae has a diary entry in the first place as well as the whole “I’m already dead when you read this” part. This means Tae-sool is the one experiencing a time loop and could possibly explain how he keeps waking up after getting shot. On the other hand, there could be other time-related explanations to all the crazy things happening right now, and maybe Sisyphus is simply referring to the mantra surrounding time travel: the future cannot be changed.
At first, I assumed Seung-bok was an antagonist, but it turns out that the chairman and Seo-jin were the real present-timeline villains. Seung-bok (or Eddy Kim as everyone else calls him) is simply a selfish and spineless sheep who complains about his precarious situation but does nothing to change it. He knows something is shady with his not-girlfriend, but he will stay quiet as long as he becomes CEO. As for the chairman and his daughter, their motivation is to keep her mom alive, and they are willing to even murder people for it. Since they need Tae-sool’s key, they stage an elaborate show to make him lower his guard, and for the most part, I found the entire sequence of Tae-sool questioning his sanity and reality an engaging way to raise the possibility of an unreliable narrator. Could Tae-sool really have made Seo-hae up as a coping mechanism? Is Tae-sool also time traveling, but unaware of this fact? For a moment, I wondered if maybe something bigger was happening behind the scene, but alas, the big reveal was just Seo-jin changing some clocks. This turn of events was a bit predictable, but I still found it odd how the show chose to make Seo-jin almost a cartoonish villain when she started asking about the key. If she went out of her way to maintain this ruse, then I would have assumed that she would try to make him open up and talk about the key. I guess she felt pressed for time and decided force was the only way. Then again, she acts “friendly” when he wakes up as if he didn’t just pass out on the floor while she—his doctor—did absolutely nothing about it. Does she really think so little of the man who invented time travel? Seriously, Tae-sool is a genius, but sometimes, the antagonists act as if they are dealing with a toddler who can’t even escape a box let alone his own house.
Besides the present-timeline people, another mysterious person enters the foray. Though his casting hasn’t been officially posted, people have already recognized Kim Byung-chul’s voice from episode two, and though it was only a glimpse, it’s clearly him in the opening and closing scenes of this episode. The date from the beginning seems important, especially since Officer Hwang mentioned in the previous episode that the Control Bureau was formed in 2002 after they discovered the first signs of time traveling. Since mystery man appeared near the end of 2001, there’s a possibility that he could be one of the first time travelers. This would also answer my questions about why the time travelers don’t go further back when a nuclear war happens in 2021—maybe they can’t. The show hasn’t revealed much about how time traveling works besides the fact that it is dangerous, so there might be more limitations to this whole business. The only thing we know for certain is that mystery man—who may or may not be Sigma—is the one at Tae-sool and Seo-hae’s wedding giving him the ultimatum, and currently, he is monitoring the two with Tae-san as his prisoner. While Seo-hae believes she can change the future, right now it feels like the leads are caged prey with mystery man enjoying this cat-and-mouse game.