Written by Lee Je-in & Jeon Chan-ho
Directed by Jin Hyeok
‘Don’t try to understand it, just try to feel it,’ explains a character in Christopher Nolan’s recent time travel thriller Tenet. It’s a rule that’s clearly coming more and more into play the longer Sisyphus: The Myth goes on, and nowhere is that rule more apparent than in its eleventh episode.
There’s another brilliant escalation of incident and story this week, particularly in the closing moments of the twelfth episode that lays bare the motivations and backstory of Sigma and with it more of Kim Byung-chul’s increasingly enjoyable performance as he becomes an even more formidable and seemingly unbeatable adversary for our heroes.
The most popular theory doing the rounds was that Sigma was in fact an older version of Sun, but given that the series has laid down the rule that its cast is playing older versions of their characters if and when the need arises, such as with Jung Hye-in in old age make-up as an elder version of Kim Seo-jin, it stands to reason that Sigma is his own entity.
That reveal comes in a flashback heavy sequence during the closing moments of the second of this batch of episodes and is a superb piece of storytelling that adds depth and complexities to a villain whose motivations aren’t just borne out of a psychotic need to destroy the world, but one which has been laid down by abuse and bullying from others and where even the possibility of friendship with a young Tae-sul backfires with devastation and violence.
The main emotional backbone to these two episodes is once again coming from the developing relationship between Seo-hae and Tae-sul. There are cute moments galore throughout, but the main bulk of the drama they have to go through involves a trip into their own pasts as Tae-sul goes through a time travel mission of his own to save his new protector and friend and must deal with his own childhood and tragic history.
In some respects, the series is seemingly starting to posit philosophical themes of nature vs nurture and whether we are predestined to do the things that we are set to do in our futures with little to no choice. Of course, these are themes of so many sci-fi stories, particularly those with a time travel bent and it once again reiterates just how well the series is playing with these ideas that we’ve seen a million times before. Credit is due that it can do these things in a way that does feel fresh and exciting.
In throwing as many ideas and plot lines into the mix, there is a danger that credibility or any sense of verisimilitude will disappear, but at this stage it’s better to just go with the flow as opposed to expecting everything to fit into place like a jigsaw puzzle, even though the series is for all intents and purposes a giant jigsaw of action scenes and competing timelines.
Why it’s best to just feel it than understand it is because I don’t think it makes any particular sense or has any real logic coming into play when it comes to Tae-sul going through time as if he’s plugging into The Matrix.
While it may not make total conceptual sense, what does work is the emotional undercurrent and if you’re willing to go with it than to attempt to understand it then it ends up being the most emotionally satisfying episode of the entire series so far with tears, regret and moments of genuine heartache and romance coming to the fore.
Both Cho Seung-woo and Park Shin-hye are incredible throughout, sharing that long awaited first kiss but under devastating circumstances and having to deal with a love confirmed, but with potential loss and grief just around the corner as the injection Tae-sul must give himself and Sae-tul turns into one that leaves him with nothing more but to play the sacrificial card to ensure that she lives.
It’s a brilliant moment in a double bill of episodes that are filled to the brim with wonder, romance, playfulness and in the end even more dollops of suspense.
Does it many any real sense? Well, probably not, but truthfully, I don’t think I care about rules and logic here. The characters, the romance and the action are in full swing and with only two blocks of episodes to go, there is a real sense of unbeatable odds coming into play that leaves one wondering how the writers are going to be able to resolve it.
The key to the final success of the series will be in how satisfying that ending will be, but as it stands right now, the actors and the writers have managed to craft something here that is working wonders for that credit is due for just how great it’s increasingly been getting these last couple of weeks.