Sisyphus: Episode 14
Only a few days remain before the end of the world, and our genius engineer makes a choice that might alter the course of history. However, his decision comes at a cost, but if it means saving the love of his life, then he is willing to pay the price even if it means making her cry in the process.
EPISODE 14 RECAP
Tae-sool pleads with Seo-hae to drop her gun, but she pushes him away and shoots present Sigma. This, in turn, causes Mr. Park to shoot her, and present Sigma uses the distraction to run out of the room. Meanwhile, Sigma and his partners wonder what happened since their feed was cut.
Bleeding from his shoulder, present Sigma dashes onto the street, and Seo-hae chases after him. She aims her dad’s gun at him, but he jumps in front of a taxi and escapes. Tae-sool follows after them as well, but by the time he arrives, both of them have disappeared.
Mr. Park wonders why Tae-sool came back alone and asks if he can find Seo-hae. He tells her that they turned off their GPS and calls her number to no avail. As the brokers leave disappointed, Tae-sool receives a call, but it’s from Sigma.
He thanks Tae-sool for saving him, but Tae-sool growls at him for causing this mess. Sigma points out that he did nothing today, and everything that happened right now is a result of their choices. Regardless, he considers Tae-sool his savior, so he promises to watch over Tae-san.
Tae-sool vows to catch him, but Sigma pays no heed to his threat. Instead, he warns Tae-sool to stop digging into his past because if he continues, then he will kill everyone special to them. With a smile, Sigma reminds Tae-sool that he will find him, not the other way around.
Tae-sool chucks his phone to the ground, but something catches his eye. He discovers the hidden camera inside the studio, and it slowly dawns on him that Sigma must have been watching him this entire time.
Sigma joins the table after his call and tells Officer Hwang to carry on with their plans. He proposes a toast to their futures, and they raise their glasses. After the party, Seung-bok brings snacks to his research team and thinks back to his conversation with Sigma.
During their private chat, Sigma told Seung-bok that history-makers do not always know how special they are in the beginning. He used Edison as the classic example, and explained how he lost to Tesla constantly yet everyone only remembers Edison now. Like the famed inventor, Sigma believed Seung-bok could be the same.
Remembering Tae-sool’s warnings, Seung-bok pointed out that building the uploader meant starting a war, but Sigma denied it. He claimed that the uploader saved lives like Seo-jin’s mom, and turned his icy stare towards her. To Seung-bok’s disbelief, Seo-jin pleaded with him to build the uploader, and Sigma smiled, knowing that he won.
While Sigma tries to get ahold of Tae-sool’s coding, Seung-bok meets with his researchers and informs them of their change in plans. He needs them to build the machine first and hands them a blueprint for the new uploader.
Tae-sool drives around the city looking for Seo-hae and leaves her a message. He tells her to stay put and promises to find her no matter what.
Wandering the streets alone, Seo-hae hugs her dad’s gun and stares at the photo of them. During their bunker days, Dad used to take pictures of her and record her height on the wall. Though she complained about his picture-taking then, the memory of her dad brings Seo-hae to tears.
With only a few days left until the war, Sun packs up his bags to leave the country and calls Seo-hae to tell her about his departure. When he hears her crying, he changes plans and jumps in his car to find her. While the others look for Seo-hae, she rides the train, lost in thought.
Tae-sool’s fruitless search leads him to a bridge, and he steps out of his car to clear his mind. He stares at the container Bong-sun gave him and finds a white powder inside. When he touches it, he winces in pain and sees a memory of his and Seo-hae’s wedding.
He remembers what she told him about having dreams of her future and realizes that he experienced the same phenomenon. As Tae-sool deduced, Bong-sun found his grave, which means the powder is his ashes. Despite the risks, Tae-sool forges ahead and starts to flicker as more memories flood his mind.
Returning home, Tae-sool hooks the camera from Sigma’s studio to his computer and discovers that the footage was sent to the headquarters of Quantum and Time.
Mr. Park monitors his old house and pulls out a gun when he sees himself beating his wife again. Before he gets out, Bingbing arrives to stop him. While they bicker, the wife comes out, and Mr. Park is too distracted by her to notice his present self walking towards the van.
His present self hits the windshield and accuses Mr. Park of having an affair with his wife. While Bingbing cries at her boss to do something, he drives away from his present self and bumps into a parked car. With nowhere else to run, Mr. Park starts to vanish as his present self draws closer to him.
As his present self prepares for his final swing, his wife jumps in and grabs her husband. Enraged by her meddling, he raises his hand to hit her, but Bingbing shoots the ground first. She screams at him to leave the woman alone, and the wife drags present Mr. Park away.
Seo-hae ends up at the bunker and walks inside its familiar walls. She pictures her younger self drawing and is propelled back to the past when she first made this place her home.
Dad taught her how to shoot, and over the years, little Seo-hae grew into a capable teenage who could even best her dad in combat. Though much of her youth was filled with training, Seo-hae also remembers the time they celebrated the holidays and decorated the bunker with lights.
As Seo-hae looks around the place, she notices that something is wrong and takes out her gun. She hears someone approaching from behind and whips around, only to find Tae-sool standing there. She asks how he knew about the bunker, and he tells her that he built it
Tae-sool returns her old gun to her and asks for a few minutes to talk. He shows her the storage room and reveals the refrigerators filled with antibiotics. He also got them weapons, but more importantly, he stocked the bunker with plenty of food, particularly all her favorites.
The last stop on their tour is the levers, and Tae-sools explains how the bunker doors will close and open even if the buttons break. Seo-hae asks if he really made all this, and Tae-sool tells her that it was the least he could do for her.
Since his time is up, Tae-sool leaves, but Seo-hae runs up to him and hugs him. They lie on the bed together and stare into each other’s eyes until Tae-sool gets up. He has Seo-hae teach him how to shoot, and she gives him a quick lesson from how to hold a gun to basic maintenance.
He asks how long she stayed inside the bunker, and she tells him that it was for nine years. In the beginning, she wondered about her friends and the outside world, but after a while, time became a blur. She smiles, hiding the pain behind her words, but Tae-sool holds her back and hugs her.
Tae-sool asks if she wants to live in here with him and explains how the world would be safe as well. Seo-hae pulls away from his arms and faces him to explain why she cannot stay here: living in the bunker was like a nightmare that never ended.
She tells Tae-sool that she came to the past in hopes of changing that future and believed he could do it. He wonders what happens if they fail, and Seo-hae assures him that they will try again. She says that as long as they do not give up, they will eventually win.
Seo-hae caresses Tae-sool’s face, telling him not to run away, and he agrees to keep fighting. As he smiles at her, he suddenly flickers, and Seo-hae demands to know what he did. He pushes her behind him and breaks the control panel to close the doors.
Locked inside the bunker, Seo-hae watches Tae-sool flicker again, and he tells her that he saw the future. He knows that he cannot run, but in order to win, he needs her to stay behind. She begs him to open the door, but he apologizes to her and walks out.
The Control Bureau locates Tae-sool in his car, but no matter where they look, they cannot find Seo-hae. Officer Hwang informs Sigma of the unprecedented situation, and for once, he seems slightly flustered. Right then, he receives a call from Tae-sool who tells him that he is in charge now, and Sigma chuckles to himself, wondering how he will win again this time.
Still searching for Seo-hae, Sun drops by his old workplace and checks the alley where they first met. He only finds garbage there, but things turn from bad to worse when the Control Bureau shows up. Though Sun tries to flee, Officer Hwang threatens to bring his family back to Korea, so Sun turns himself over.
They drag Sun to Sigma, and as soon as the younger man learns his name, he drops to his knees. Sigma tells him that he will not hurt him and explains to Sun that he is just trying to make some money. When his nice guy tactic fails, Sigma takes a different route and mentions Seo-hae.
He knows that Sun stayed in the country because of her and says that he likes her, too. However, if things continue, then she will die in the end, but Sigma offers an alternative. He hands Sun two plane tickets and claims that all he has to do is find Seo-hae.
Sun does not fall for his ploy, so Sigma shows his true colors and threatens to kill him and his family if he refuses. He gives him one more chance to reconsider, and Sun accepts his deal as long as he promises to let Seo-hae live.
Sigma instructs Officer Hwang to make Seo-hae come to them instead of chasing her. As for Tae-sool, he will catch him personally since he knows where he will be.
With only a day left until the war, the time traveling politicians all leave the country under the pretenses of work, and Seung-bok prepares a bunker for Seo-jin and her mom. He offers to help her in any way he can and begs her to let him stay by her side. She refuses his advances, but Seung-bok takes out the ring and tells her that he can wait forever.
The brokers also prepare for the end of the world when Tae-sool walks into their store. Meanwhile, Mr. Park is still recovering from his last visit to his present self and tries to step out despite his condition. Bingbing holds him back, having figured out that he kills himself today, and Mr. Park asks who she really is.
As their fight gets heated, the other brokers interrupt them since they have a guest. Tae-sool enters the room and tosses a bag at Mr. Park’s feet in exchange for a gun to kill Sigma. Mr. Park laughs at his offer since money is useless, but when they open the bag, they find fifty years’ worth of antibiotics.
It is enough to get him a gun, and his earlier lesson pays off as he checks the weapon for any defects. He ignores Mr. Park’s mocking advice and repeats the quote about the future already being here. He whispers something in his ear, and Mr. Park’s face turns grim.
Tae-sool arrives at his old company building and tells all the workers to go home. They give him strange looks, not budging from their spots, so Tae-sool pulls out his gun and shoots. That gets everyone’s attention, and they all evacuate immediately.
Sigma finally answers Tae-sool’s call and welcomes him. Tae-sool asks where he is, and Sigma smiles at the question since Tae-sool should know already if he is really in charge. Tae-sool says that he is fine with that answer and marches forward with the gun in his hand.
The short scenes of Seo-hae and her dad in the future were bittersweet, capturing the harsh reality of a post-apocalyptic world in quieter, more character-driven moments. Dad is split between his two desires—to teach Seo-hae how to survive and to shield her from suffering—and we see his attempts to create a semblance of normalcy for his daughter whether that be Christmas parties or recording her height on the wall. I wished the show spent more time on their relationship and Seo-hae’s childhood in the bunker because it sheds so much light on her character as well as her dad. It explains the dichotomy that exists in Seo-hae and meshes the two sides of her so well. She can be both the fangirl who loves plushies and the badass warrior who never misses a shot because of her dad’s parenting. He teaches her how to fight, but at the same time, he tries his best to preserve her youth so she grows up to be a caring person rather than a heartless killing machine.
We learn in the episode that Tae-sool built the bunker, and in a way, it also served as a metaphor for his relationship with Seo-hae. He created a state-of-the-art facility filled with all the amenities her family will need, and his choice of food and goods reflects what he knows about Seo-hae. While it is a sweet gesture, there is something ironic about the whole scene because, in the end, Seo-hae tells him that living in the bunker was a nightmare. No matter how well Tae-sool builds the place with her needs in mind, he does not understand what life was like for Seo-hae growing up. He fails to recognize the emotional toil she went through trapped in that bunker with no hope for a better future, and thus, he traps her in there again with his own two hands because he thinks this will save her. He claims that his actions are for her sake, but Tae-sool strips Seo-hae of her agency and makes her feel helpless as a result. Tae-sool believes he is doing the right thing for her—and maybe he is—but Seo-hae does not see it that way because, to her, Tae-sool is her hope and future. Just as he does not want her to sacrifice her life for him, she does not want him to die for her sake.
Though the war is only a day away, I’m not that excited about the upcoming battle between Tae-sool and Sigma. I’m assuming Tae-sool has some plan up his sleeve, especially now that he knows the future, but since the show revealed so little of his thoughts, I don’t understand why he is so confident all of a sudden. The main problem Tae-sool has is not technically defeating Sigma, but defeating him while also protecting Seo-hae. Keeping her inside the bunker might save her from a physical death, but it does not answer the question of the time paradox. If Tae-sool was not able to shoot present Sigma because of his fear of losing Seo-hae, what makes this time different? Hopefully, the final week will provide some much-needed answers, but as I’ve said multiple times before (and as many of you have pointed out as well), the show should have answered a lot more questions by now.
Whenever the show focused on the secondary and tertiary characters this episode, my interest dropped considerably which is a shame since the actors are great and I love a well-developed supporting role. The brokers have become one-note, and their motivations are either paper-thin or nonexistent. If Bingbing really is Mr. Park’s daughter or somehow related to his backstory, I wish they revealed it sooner because it would have made his character more complex and possibly explained why he wants his family with him again after abusing them for years. Besides the brokers, Seo-jin and Seung-bok’s storyline has dissolved into mediocrity, and I couldn’t care less about what happens to either of them. The show turned Seung-bok into a sniveling ex-boyfriend who is fueled by jealousy, and his declaration of “love” to Seo-jin was puzzling and problematic. All in all, everything that has to do with Sigma tends to fall flat, and his manipulation of Seung-bok and Sun was banal at best. The use of red to show his evilness is cool in certain scenes, but as with many things with the show, the creators overdo it, and consequently, the impact lessens. With only two more episodes left, I don’t expect a spectacular ending that will resolve all the show’s problems, but hopefully, the creators will at least be able to pull off a decent closure for its characters and answer some of the time paradox questions in a meaningful way.