Sisyphus: Episode 15
The battle between Sigma and our leads comes to a head with both sides claiming to be in control. However, with time and knowledge on his side, our villain has the upper hand. Though our heroes believe the future can be changed, our villain hopes to prove that fate is fixed and his win will be inevitable once again.
EPISODE 15 RECAP
Tae-sool scours the building for Sigma, and over the phone, both sides act nonchalant and in control. While Sigma expresses his excitement over seeing the bomb explode tomorrow, Tae-sool tells him to stop getting ahead of himself. He mocks Sigma for failing as an artist, and the latter scoffs at his deriding comment.
When Sigma blames him again for the world ending, Tae-sool calls him out for never taking responsibility for his actions. He says that this is why no one likes him, and Sigma yells at him to shut up. He lists all the people who ignored him and tells Tae-sool that not a single soul asked about his well-being.
Flashing back to the day Seo-hae shot him, present Sigma took the taxi to the police station and told the officer in charge of his case what happened. However, the officer ignored his injuries, and instead, present Sigma became the perpetrator again when the taxi driver barged inside and accused him of not paying his fare.
As everyone in the station pointed their fingers at him, present Sigma ran away and wondered to himself why this was happening to him. After giving it some thought, he realized that the world was simply unfair, and to rectify it all, he went back to his studio to commit suicide.
After taping up his windows, present Sigma told the painting of Tae-sool that he will not die by his hands and hung himself. While he dangled from the ceiling, the city exploded and shook the building, causing him to fall.
Present Sigma turned on the television and watched as the news reported the nuclear attack. He turned towards his window just as the bomb fell, and in an ironic twist of fate, present Sigma lived because he shut himself inside to die.
He survived the first couple of months by eating everything and anything in his studio, and once he ran out of paper to eat, he stepped outside. Walking through the ash-covered city, present Sigma stared at the destruction and darkness all around him and smiled.
Sigma tells Tae-sool that he learned something important in that moment: the people who should die were all of them and not him. Hearing his tale, Tae-sool calls him a lunatic and fires him from his company before hanging up the call.
Tae-sool hacks into an HR computer to search for Sigma, but no results pop up. He wonders what he got wrong and thinks back to all the clues he gathered about his enemy. Imagining the office bustling with people, Tae-sool looks for a possible suspect and sees the janitor in the background.
As the scene shifts back to nighttime, a janitor picks up garbage, and Tae-sool chases after him. Though he loses him at the elevators, Tae-sool follows him to the basement and ends up outside the janitorial room.
Tae-sool barges in with his gun at the ready but only finds a boiling pot on the heater. While he takes in his surroundings, the lights turn off, and Tae-sool runs outside to confront Sigma. He calls him over the phone and shoots at a figure in the distance.
The two of them play hide-and-seek, and Sigma brags about winning again. He promises to take care of Tae-san since he needs him to start this chain of events for next time as well. Tae-sool demands to know what Sigma truly wants, so he replies, “I want to see you fall.”
As Sigma’s whispers get louder, Tae-sool shoots in his direction, but his attacks don’t even slow him down. Standing right next to Tae-sool, Sigma tells him that only darkness remains for him, and Tae-sool’s eyes dart around the room, frantically searching for him. Behind him, Sigma’s lackeys breath down his neck, and Tae-sool realizes his predicament.
In voiceover, Sigma explains how people repeat the same mistakes thousands of times, and regret is the reason why the uploader exists. The scene switches to various characters, and we see Seo-hae locked in the bunker, Mr. Park driving the van despite his condition, Seung-bok working on the uploader, and Seo-hae’s family sitting together in their living room.
Tae-sool wakes up in a church, and Sigma joins him in, asking if this was part of his plan. He says that it is, and Sigma smiles at him mockingly since millions of people are about to die. He tells Tae-sool that a single missile caused the war, but in the midst of all the destruction, this church was left unscathed.
Sigma says that he built the uploader in this church, and in the basement, Seung-bok and his team finish constructing the machine. He finds Seo-jin staring at the uploader and asks if she is okay. He wonders if she reconsidered his offer to escape, but she tells him that she cannot leave.
Seo-jin returns the ring to him, and Seung-bok accuses her of staying behind because of Tae-sool. She scoffs at him for mentioning Tae-sool even now, but Seung-bok grabs her arm, pointing out that he did everything she asked.
She pushes him away and tells him that it was never for her. He always wanted to beat Tae-sool which is why he built the uploader and wants her, too. He slaps her in response, and Seo-jin stares him in the eyes and calls him a loser.
Remembering the time Seo-hae told him about her home, Sun arrives at the Han River and finds the bunker. He bangs on the door, and Seo-hae gives him the passcode to open it. With his help, Seo-hae escapes, but their location gets transmitted to the Control Bureau as well as Hyun-gi.
While they run away in a Control Bureau vehicle, Sun ignores Seo-hae’s request and tells her that their flight leaves in a couple of hours. She yells at him to pull over and asks to know who made him do this. He says that Sigma told him about her death and refuses to let her throw her life away.
Grabbing his hand, Seo-hae tells him that Tae-sool cannot win alone, and Sun angrily asks if she is not scared of dying. She confesses to feeling afraid, but more than dying, she is afraid of living in world where all her loved ones are dead. She tells him to believe in her and gives him a parting hug.
Sun watches her leave, and coming to a decision, he calls his family to apologize. He turns his car around to block Seo-hae’s path and offers to give her a ride. As he smiles at her, his eyes grow wide, and Sun shields Seo-hae as bullets rain down on them.
Seo-hae whispers Sun’s name as he falls, and behind him, Hyun-gi aims his gun at them. She runs up to him before he can reload and kicks away his weapon. Overpowering him, she tosses Hyun-gi to the ground and points her own gun at him.
Hyun-gi yells at her to kill him just like she shot his mom, but Seo-hae can’t bring herself to do it. Giving him another chance, she tells him what really happened that day and how his mom’s final moment was peaceful.
Running to Sun’s side, Seo-hae cradles him in her arms. She tells him that he will not die, but he knows that she is lying. Handing her the watch, he closes his eyes for the last time. While Seo-hae gently places Sun on the road, Hyun-gi looks over at them and grabs his head in disbelief.
Hyun-gi returns to the Control Bureau, and Officer Hwang waits for him in his office. Having expected Hyun-gi’s arrival, Officer Hwang shares about his past and tells him that he joined the bureau in exchange for his family’s safety. Ironically, though, his family hates him now for seemingly abandoning them.
Uninterested in his backstory, Hyun-gi asks about his mom, and Officer Hwang reveals the truth. He says that he merely followed instructions and pulls out a file. It contains a record of Officer Hwang’s death by Hyun-gi, and the officer tells him that fate and command share the same Chinese character because fate cannot be disobeyed.
He orders Hyun-gi to shoot him, but the latter recalls Seo-hae’s earlier choice and follows her example. He says that he will not repeat history, and Officer Hwang reaches for his own gun. Hyun-gi shoots it out of his hand and tells his ex-boss that children no longer live after their parents die. Dropping his weapon, Hyun-gi leaves the Control Bureau.
2035. Seo-hae and her dad shoot their way through the crowd to reach the uploader, but during the crossfire, Dad gets hit. With the guards quickly surrounding them, Dad pulls out a bomb as a last resort. He tells Seo-hae to run for the machine, but a voice tells them to stop.
Sigma ambles towards them and recognizes Seo-hae. When he introduces himself, she aims her gun at him, and Sigma chuckles at her hastiness. He asks why she wants to ride the uploader, and she vows to stop the war by saving Tae-sool and killing him. He laughs uncontrollably at her declaration and orders his guards to lower their guns.
Though Sigma allows Seo-hae to ride the uploader, he tells Dad to stay because of his injury. Seo-hae protests, but Dad agrees to the condition. With everything settled, Sigma says goodbye to Seo-hae and tells her to meet him again at the church.
We return to the opening scene from episode one where Dad orders Seo-hae to avoid Tae-sool, but this time, we see her ride the uploader. Before she leaves, Dad tells her to forget about the war, but Seo-hae turns to her dad and assures him that they will succeed.
In the church, Sigma asks why Tae-sool hid the girl, and Tae-sool tells him that he saw a future where he shoots him. Sigma snickers at his so-called vision and orders him to finish the code. Taking a look at the computer they prepared for him, Tae-sool notes the capacity and realizes that Sigma shot the missile from the future.
Tae-sool jokes about briefly considering to finish the code for him, but now, he definitely will not. Sigma advises him to get it done before Seo-hae gets here, but Tae-sool tells him that she will not come. Unfortunately for Tae-sool, Seo-hae is already in their vicinity, and putting another wrench in Tae-sool’s plans, Sigma informs him of Sun’s death.
Seo-hae shoots down a guard as she approaches the church, and inside, Sigma’s lackeys get ready to fight. However, when the doors open, no one is there.
Sigma points to the unaccounted-for hooded figure in the corner, and Seo-hae steps out from her hiding spot. She takes down the guards before they can retaliate and aims her gun at Sigma who takes Tae-sool as a hostage.
He smiles at Seo-hae for walking to her own death in order to save a man and dares her to shoot. When she hesitates, Sigma tells her that she will not pull the trigger because of love, and he credits himself for making their love story happen in the first place.
Flashing back to Busan, the assassin shot Tae-sool’s ear on Sigma’s command, and all those times the Control Bureau missed their shot was on purpose. Even the bridge incident was orchestrated by Sigma to make them fall in love.
Sigma brags to Tae-sool that he planned everything from the beginning and was under his nose this entire time. The person who sent the police to investigate his present self, the janitor mopping the floor in the back, even the car driver who gave Tae-sool the clue was all Sigma.
Up until this point, Tae-sool was following the crumbs he left behind, and now, they have reached the climax. The rest of the guards storm the church, and Seo-hae puts down her gun. With everything wrapping up as he intended, Sigma lets Tae-sool go and gloats to the defeated lovers, “I won again.”
Sigma’s reveal at the end of the episode felt like the evildoer’s time to shine as the show reflects on why all the previous complaints were actually carefully formulated choices and served a greater purpose. I was a bit shocked to see Sigma in the middle of things (e.g., shooting Seo-hae on the bridge and driving Tae-sool when he was captured), and admittedly, it was fun to see him enjoy himself at the expense of our heroes. Though it was hardly a surprise, the Control Bureau isn’t as incompetent as they seemed. Rather, they demonstrated why bureaucracies sometimes fail and strip individuals of their freedom in order to maintain order and maximize efficiency à la Weber’s “iron cage.” They are essentially trapped in Sigma’s little game just like our leads, but unlike Tae-sool and Seo-hae, they accept their fate like an irrefutable command.
On paper, a lot of the show’s core themes sound interesting, and even the Control Bureau (which I deem as one of the show’s weakest links) had potential to be engaging. Unfortunately, even the latest reveal felt too little, too late. While Sigma’s grand speech shed light on the extent of his meddling, it didn’t really answer any new questions. We always knew that Sigma was toying with the leads, but the show never told us how it was all possible. Sigma may come from the future, but technically, everything that is happening to time traveler Sigma is also a first for him. I’m guessing Sigma is in a loop as well and leaving behind the files to himself (just like Seo-hae’s diary but clearly better kept). Maybe the show will answer this question in the last episode, but this leads me to my other concern: there are still so many questions and loose ends for the show to wrap up. At this point, I doubt the creators will be able to tie everything together in a satisfactory ending without rushing the show, so either they will focus on the leads at the expense of the other supporting roles or they will take a scattershot approach and try to tackle too many things in the final hour.
Though this is a minor quibble, I didn’t find the show’s explanation of Sigma’s survival very convincing. The creators clearly wanted to highlight the irony of his situation, but alas, I kept thinking about the tape and how it wouldn’t provide enough protection from a nuclear fallout. In addition, I don’t understand how everything around Sigma’s studio can turn to ash except his place. He does live in a half-basement, but judging from the level of destruction around him, he must have been close to the blast. While the image of Sigma grinning because of the silence was haunting, it is also another example that shows where the creators’ priorities lie. They seem to emphasize the fiction in science-fiction and care more about their metaphors and imageries. In general, the show is a much better watch when you focus on the broader picture rather than the fine details.
While Sigma took center stage this episode, the other main plotlines were about Sun and Hyun-gi. For the most part, Sun was a wasted character that served his purpose to move along the story, and despite having more screen time, he was essentially Seo-hae’s “Bong-sun” (there to save the heroes and then die). His death seemed unnecessary since Seo-hae was going to the church anyways, and as a result, it felt like a gimmick to make the audience cry. As for Hyun-gi, his storyline went from interesting to terrible, and his scene with Seo-hae was basically a repeat of what happened before—she kicks his butt, spares his life, and tells him about his mom. In the end, everyone besides the leads was a plot device, and it makes me wish that the show had a smaller cast of characters because a lot of the supporting roles could have been combined or written out altogether.