Sisyphus: Episode 13
With the days dwindling down until the end of the world, our heroes change the future bit by bit in hopes of rewriting history. While they might have failed in the past, they believe this time will be different. However, their foe disagrees since no matter what they do, the outcome will never change: the world will be destroyed.
EPISODE 13 RECAP
Sigma calls Tae-sool’s phone and is delighted to hear his old buddy say his name. He was starting to feel a bit sad about being forgotten since they were quite close, but Tae-sool mocks him for misremembering their relationship: they were not friends; Sigma followed him around.
No longer hiding their connection to Sigma, the Control Bureau fires a warning shot at the window, and Officer Hwang gives their boss an overview of today’s predetermined plans. Armed with the knowledge of what will transpire, Sigma walks into the building with his finger puppet and tells Tae-sool to hide.
Tae-sool turns to Seo-hae for today’s predicted outcome, but she does not know, either. For now, they need to escape, so they wait by the door for Sigma. As Seo-hae aims her gun at their target, Sigma stops moving, and on cue, the Control Bureau shoots at them.
Hiding inside the classroom, Seo-hae scolds Tae-sool for not remembering Sigma earlier, and he reminds her that this was a very long time ago. They huddle together and run through the hallway as the Control Bureau destroys everything in sight. They take cover in the record room, and though they get away from the snipers, they inadvertently corner themselves.
Following after them, Sigma chuckles at Tae-sool for still seeing everyone else as extras and advises him to be nicer since someone important might be in the crowd… like an evil bastard bent on destroying the world. As the Control Bureau joins their boss, Sigma tells them to follow the plan like before.
Trapped inside the room, Seo-hae gets ready to fight her way out, but as more time passes, she realizes that something is off. She exchanges looks with Tae-sool, and they both come to the conclusion that the Control Bureau is following a script since they will not change the future.
While they brainstorm solutions, Tae-sool pins Seo-hae to the wall and tells her that he always wanted to try this. She tenses up as he leans closer, but he is merely teasing her and reaches for the wall, instead.
He etches the date and time behind her and explains an experiment Stephen Hawking performed where he sent out invitations to the future. In the same vein of thought, Tae-sool believes someone in the future will see his message and come to save them. As soon as he finishes, they hear a gunshot outside, and the snipers get taken out one by one.
Once the Control Bureau and Sigma retreat, Tae-sool and Seo-hae step out into the hallway and hear a voice coming from a walkie talkie. They follow the instructions to come outside, and a familiar car drives up to them.
Future Bong-sun greets his old boss, and Tae-sool hugs his bodyguard in relief. He smiles at the sight of Bong-sun but his joy turns to concern as his old friend falls into his arms.
Going back to the future when Bong-sun met Seo-hae, the bodyguard takes his guests to his hideout and asks why she saved Tae-sool in Busan. She tells him about the letter as well as the time loops, and admits to finding it in her grave. He wonders why the war happened again if what she says is true, and she promises to succeed this time.
The next morning, Bong-sun drives them to the tunnel entrance and gives them instructions to the uploader. He tells them that Sigma controls the city, which means the convenience store gang is also working for him.
Dad asks why he is helping them, and Bong-sun says that she saved Tae-sool. As he sends them off, Seo-hae wonders why he is not coming, and Bong-sun points out that he already failed to protect Tae-sool the first time.
Seo-hae and her dad follow the tracks, and along the way, they notice the people living there. Dad explains to Seo-hae that a lot of people found shelter underground during the war, and as they go deeper inside, they find a mountain of bones—the remains of the people who died.
They sit down to rest, sharing what little water they have, and Dad tells her a story about the past. When her mom wanted to have a child, he was against it, but after Seo-hae was born, his world changed.
He finally realized what true happiness was, but Dad feels guilty for not making her happy, too. He blames himself for everything, and once again, he begs Seo-hae to stay away from Tae-sool.
Despite Bong-sun’s help, the convenience store gang finds them, so Seo-hae and her dad flee the tunnel. They reach the entrance from the outside, but a handful of guards block the door. Not long after, the gang arrives as well, and both sides start shooting indiscriminately.
Splitting up, Seo-hae takes cover in a building, but a guard shoots a rocket in her direction and blows it up. The explosion knocks her off her feet, and in the chaos, a burning man swings his weapon at her. A stray bullet hits him, and Seo-hae regains her composure in time to escape.
Seo-hae makes it across the street, away from the main fight, and takes down the rest of the guards in the area. As she cautiously scans her surroundings, the wall next to her explodes and sends her flying. Gritting through the pain, Seo-hae pulls herself up and meets up with her dad in the middle. While he covers her back, she takes down all the enemies in front.
Once the guards are all down, Dad kicks over a burning trash can and causes a car to blow up. The explosion knocks the rest of the gang out, and Seo-hae aims her gun at them. Before she pulls the trigger, she notices her enemy’s face for the first time and looks around at the carnage. The young boy raises his hands to surrender, and Seo-hae shouts at them to leave.
Seo-hae and her dad enter the building, but instead of a decrepit bunker, they find an extravagant pool party filled with people dancing and laughing. Their dirty clothes and weapons stick out against the pristine and bare bodies around them, and Seo-hae looks sickened by their opulence.
Among the crowd are a few familiar faces—Control Bureau cronies—as well as a particular voice that floats above the rest: Sigma. He brags about making Tae-sool cry, and Seo-hae overhears him and bristles.
She marches towards Sigma, and the guards who block her path quickly find themselves thrown into the pool. Sweeping back her hair, Seo-hae glares at Sigma, and he stares back, recognizing her. As more guards arrive, Dad shoots the lights and drags her away before another fight breaks out.
In the present, future Bong-sun tells Tae-sool that he does not have much time left. He explains how he found the message at the school and came to help Tae-sool, but even so, he advises his old boss to stop fighting. He saw their graves in the future, but Tae-sool tells him that he will not die this time.
Bong-sun asks if he really wants to win even if it means he dies and hands him a metal container to use as a last resort. Looking out at the city, Bong-sun calls it pretty and says goodbye to Tae-sool before vanishing in front of his eyes.
Sun talks with his sister over the phone, and she gives him a list of items to buy before joining them in the US. She knows that he stayed behind for Seo-hae, but from her point of view, it looks like an unrequited crush. She tells him that he is only being a bother to her and urges him to hurry up since there are rumors of a war happening in Korea soon.
Elsewhere, Seung-bok monitors his research team’s latest development with the uploader, but the experiment fails. He scolds the researchers for their lack of progress when Tae-sool made this by himself when he was fifteen, and from the back, Tae-sool speaks out and tells Seung-bok to build it himself.
Seung-bok walks over to him, asking why he is here, but the others whisper behind his back since no one is there. When Seung-bok twirls around, Tae-sool disappears, and the others’ murmurs grow louder.
Seo-jin meets Seung-bok at a restaurant, and he is already tipsy when she arrives. He reminisces about the time he first met Tae-sool and says that the best thing he did in his life was believe in his friend when everyone was jealous of his accomplishments.
Still holding onto her ring, Seung-bok mentions how she almost married Tae-sool and tells her that he wants to quit. Looking at the defeated man in front of her, Seo-jin asks if he wants to beat Tae-sool and offers to show him the truth. However, if he chooses to come, then there is no turning back.
While Seo-hae writes down letters to her future self, Tae-sool remembers Bong-sun and looks at the container he gave him. A call from Seo-hae’s dad breaks him out of his trance, and he learns about Sigma’s pseudonym and artwork.
Present Sigma is a struggling artist who regularly pays visits to the police station. This time he is charged for writing malicious comments online about Tae-sool, and the officer tells him to write an apology letter if he wishes to avoid jail time.
Following the officer’s instructions, present Sigma writes an apology to Tae-sool and repents for his actions. He claims that he did it out of jealousy and calls himself petty. As he narrates the letter, present Sigma notices the hostile stares directed at him and silently tells the onlookers to stop. He ends the letter with one final apology for being born at all.
In contrast to his present self, Sigma is now the one receiving apologies instead of giving them as Officer Hwang takes responsibility for their earlier failure. Sigma brushes it aside since the ending always remains the same no matter the journey, and instead, he asks if the package will arrive soon. He rubs his hands in excitement and tells Officer Hwang a story about his past.
During his low point, Sigma thought killing himself would solve everything, but even in death, his options were limited by money. Though he planned to die, he wished just one person would have stopped him.
The scene changes back to present Sigma buying items to commit suicide, and despite knowing his intentions, the store owners ignore him. Remembering that day, Sigma says that the world might have survived if at least one person helped.
Bingbing tells Mr. Park that nothing has come in the past two days, but as soon as she says it, the downloader beeps. Oddly enough, the location is their store, and the lights flicker as a suitcase appears in the middle of the room. Disregarding the others’ worries, Mr. Park pries it open, and everyone reels back and covers their faces when they see the package.
Returning to his studio, present Sigma looks at the macabre portraits hanging on his walls and tells his painting of Tae-sool to stop staring at him like that. He places the rope around his neck and apologizes to no one in particular as he stands up.
Before he hangs himself, his phone rings, and present Sigma learns about his first sold painting. He holds back his tears, overcome with emotions, but when he hears Tae-sool’s name, he freezes. Right then, someone knocks on his door, and present Sigma finds Tae-sool and Seo-hae standing outside.
They push him to the floor with a gun aimed at his head, and present Sigma assumes this is about the online comments. He apologizes profusely for his actions, but Tae-sool has no idea about the charges.
They explain to present Sigma that they have no other choice, but as Seo-hae gets ready to shoot, she remembers something from another time loop and nearly faints. She tells Tae-sool that something is wrong, and he takes the gun from her to do the deed himself.
Seo-jin takes Seung-bok to the hospital and tells him that there is a gathering of individuals who control the country. He doesn’t believe her at first but as they make their way into the Control Bureau headquarters, his disbelief turns into shock. Everywhere he looks, Seung-bok recognizes the high-ranking politicians, and at the center of all this power is Sigma.
Sitting in the most ornate chair, Sigma slams a can of fish on the table and tells his partners that they will get the best view of the missiles this time since they were all behind bars when it first happened. Turning his attention to their new guest, Sigma gives Seung-bok a warm welcome and lets him join the party since they recently lost a member—Mr. Park.
While out to deliver the package, Mr. Park tells Bingbing that people call all politicians thieves. While she waits for the rest of his comment, he says that there is no twist: they are thieves, quite literally. He claims that all the top politicians are time travelers who came with him as part of the advance team, which means they are all inmates.
Back at the party, Sigma orders the show to begin, and they watch Tae-sool in present-time. Seo-jin stops Seung-bok from getting up, and Sigma laughs as he sees his present self cower before Tae-sool. Treating all of this as a joke, Sigma calls Tae-sool right before he shoots and cackles over the phone.
Sigma asks how Tae-sool found him since he didn’t hear the first time, and Tae-sool tells him that he bought his painting, though it wasn’t because he liked it. In fact, he had some art critics look at his work and reads the scathing reviews to him.
Tae-sool asks what will happen if he shoots, but Sigma tells him that he cannot pull the trigger. Tae-sool threatens to test his statement, but Sigma stops him by mentioning his brother. He tells him that Tae-san’s body still exists somewhere, but his guards are with him as they speak.
Seeing Tae-sool hesitate, Sigma pushes him further, pointing out that killing him will make Seo-hae disappear. He tells him to take his time and at least say a proper goodbye to the girl.
Though she can’t hear their conversation, Seo-hae realizes that something is wrong and begs Tae-sool to stop listening. However, Sigma’s words have reached him first, and Tae-sool backs away. He asks Seo-hae to leave for today, but Mr. Park and Bingbing enter the room.
The brokers toss the package to Seo-hae, and she drops it as soon as she opens it. Her dad’s gun and hand fall to the floor, and Seo-hae kneels down to pick up the photo of them. Shaking, she grabs her dad’s gun and whips around to shoot present Sigma.
Tae-sool steps in between them and pleads with her to reconsider. She orders him to move and screams at present Sigma to explain what happened to her dad. Watching everything from the sidelines, Mr. Park warns them that they are playing into Sigma’s hand and aims his gun at Seo-hae. Tae-sool pulls out his gun as well, but Seo-hae yells at him to step aside.
Sigma sighs at the ridiculous scene since it only confirms his suspicions about humanity. He tells the group that everyone only cares about their own family even when the whole world is at stake, and the members agree with him. While the others applaud, Seung-book looks appalled by everything.
Unbuttoning his shirt, Sigma reveals a scar on his shoulder and wonders if it was today. Unaware of their little audience, Tae-sool begs Seo-hae to stop and presses his palm against her gun. With tears in her eyes, Seo-hae pushes Tae-sool to the side and shoots.
Now that the leads have figured out Sigma’s identity, they decide to meet his present self and stop everything from happening in the first place. The entire last sequence was dedicated to this dilemma, but the show took a strange turn near the end. Tae-sool and Seo-hae went to Sigma’s studio to kill him, but then Tae-sool backs out of the plan because of Sigma’s threats, which wasn’t very convincing. If Tae-sool kills present-day Sigma, then Tae-san would have never been captured and tortured. Theoretically, killing Sigma should save his brother automatically since his guards should not exist either, and thus, it makes his threat null. The other and more likely reason Tae-sool didn’t shoot was because he feared Seo-hae’s disappearance. However, I have my qualms about this threat as well.
Tae-sool already knew Seo-hae would most likely disappear if they succeeded, so I don’t understand why he acted so shocked when Sigma told him that Seo-hae would be gone forever if he died. The show constantly makes Tae-sool choose between the world or the girl, and this isn’t the first time Tae-sool has thought about the consequences of stopping the war. His struggle, in itself, has potential to be compelling, but the timing of it is strange and makes the writing come across as weak. If Tae-sool was so afraid of losing Seo-hae, why did he go to the studio in the first place? The show portrays him as a brilliant scientist who creates intricate plans, but in this scenario, Tae-sool felt uncharacteristically helpless and flustered. With so little time left on the clock, it doesn’t make sense for Tae-sool to suddenly leave the studio and tell Seo-hae that they have more chances after today because that’s patently false. Again, the show puts its characters in precarious situations, but it all feels contrived. Rather than allow tension to naturally occur and build it up, the show twists its plot and forces its characters into corners.
On the same token, the show doesn’t present a compelling reason for Tae-sool and Seo-hae to find present Sigma and kill him. Her mission was always to protect him and stop him from building the uploader. In the very beginning, Seo-hae suggests to Tae-sool that he hide, but he refused in order to find his brother. Now that the Tae-san plotline was wrapped up for the most part, it would make more sense for Tae-sool and Seo-hae to return to her first plan rather than suddenly go on the offensive. Granted, getting rid of Sigma before he has a chance to cause mayhem sounds like a good plan, but if they survive past d-day, then they have undeniably changed the future and bought themselves more time. This would also mean that the other time travelers know the future is not predetermined, and maybe they could actually convince some of them to help take down Sigma. For the most part, everyone listens to Sigma because he has something they want, but if the war never happens, then he should have no power over them (except Seo-jin, but I don’t understand why she doesn’t create the cure and help her mom directly).
Overall, the introduction of present Sigma brings up a lot of questions, and in some ways, parallels Tae-sool’s story. People are trying to kill him for something he does in the future, and in a twist of fate, maybe Tae-sool and Seo-hae’s attempt to kill him was the final straw that pushed him over the edge. There is potential for some interesting storytelling with Sigma, but so far, the show hasn’t done a good job fleshing out its characters, especially the villains. I still don’t know why Sigma is so powerful and controls everything in the future. Nothing really makes sense with him, and it gets cumbersome to wait for the show to answer even the most basic questions. There are definitely elements that work for the show, and I can see the appeal for fans even if I disagree. The acting is good, and if you have an emotional connection with the characters, I can see how the plot might be compelling rather than meandering. Unfortunately for me, my interest wanes with each passing episode, and even the pretty sets and actors can only cover for so much.