Guys I finished the first episode basically in one second (yes that’s a lie, it took me more like two hours) and I will start by saying: YES. Yes yes yes. Yes, give me this show. Yes, I am excited. Yes I am terrified. Yes, I am going to write nonsense and pretend it’s a review. Yes, it is full of spoilers. Yes, you should read it. Yes, you should leave comments if you want us to do more.
We’ve decided to go full-lotto (or should I say “lollo” 😂) on this* and potentially we’ll each take different episodes, so you will never know whether you’ll get a smart, thorough and insightful review, or a flailing list of non-sequiturs basically obsessed with Jo Seung-woo’s home-workspace.
*As long as it stays good. We reserve the right to jump ship.
Definitely not Descendants of the Sun
Sisyphus jumps right into a dark, dystopian future where ragged groups of people wait in what I assume is a time-travel terminal. They’re tagged and loaded and everyone goes with a suitcase—which we later find out is a Big Deal. They are also big suitcases.
We meet Park Shin-hye first, as Kang Seo-hae. Her dad sends her off after making her promise to go live happily, eat all the food, pretend to be mute if anyone talks to her, and stay away from Han Tae-sul. Why??!!? What kind of an instruction is this? And what does he have to do with Seo-hae’s mother??
Oh forget this, paragraphs are hard. Bullet points it is.
She lands! And for some reason chased by scary looking people in goggles at a train depot. She escapes them while lugging around a 30kg suitcase like it’s a purse.
They seem to be tracking her with Geiger counters? Is she radioactive?
This is all incredibly cinematic. And probably wildly expensive 😱 But also WOW. And not at all low-key lols like LUCA’s opening week was. (Not a diss to LUCA! Just an observation.)
Han Tae-sul (Jo Seung-woo) is on a plane home and suddenly something crashes into it causing the engine to fail. He is a badass genius so he saves it…
And knocks himself out for a month, during which time he was declared braindead? Lol
But he’s not dead
Though he is definitely disturbed—there was this goosebumpy moment on the plane where he’s talking to his brother, and his bro is all like, yo, y u not looking at me? And Tae-sul replies, “Because you’re dead.” DAMN.
DAMN DAMN DAMN
Then he saves the plane. Did I already say that?
Anyway, fast forward: he’s forced to get therapy because he’s been pretty much slowly falling apart since his brother’s death. We will come back to hyung, though. In a separate list.
But why is he getting therapy from ex-girlfriend?
Still, it sort of works for five minutes, because he actually cracks and tells her real things.
Meanwhile, Seo-hae finds a cute puppy boy (who is fleecing his boss) and makes him feed her. She’s intense and scary and good with a knife, but all she wants is bananas and jjajangmyun.
And she knows the lotto lollo numbers before they are called, which makes puppy boy extra interested in her, but also he does seem like a genuinely sweet kid.
I felt like I had seen this scene before….that’s Jeon Ji-hyun on the right, in Legend of the Blue Sea, PD Jin Hyuk’s last drama.
Okay fine he has a name: Sun (or is that Jae-sun/Jason? Idk), played by rookie Chae Jung-hyup (last seen in Stove League).
Then Han Tae-sul comes on TV and Seo-hae is 😱
But then…is she flickering? She’s flickering in and out like a hologram (and the power goes out!). Is she not real? IS THIS ALL LIKE VR TIME TRAVEL? WHAT DOES THIS MEAN
Since she passed out (quite unpleasantly—nosebleed and all), Pup takes her home and she wakes up the next day frantic for her suitcase, which she opens in front of him (is that okay??)
It’s got a diary inside (hers? Her mother’s?) and two canisters of blue future stuff.
She needs to speak to Tae-sul and tells Pup to call him. That’s pretty much like saying “I need to talk to Bill Gates immediately” but she doesn’t know that so it is hilarious that she leaves this serious life-and-death message in response to the customer care department’s recorded message (recorded by Tae-sul).
Her message isn’t at all funny though: people are after him and if they catch him, he will die. “Trust no one.”
Back in Tae-sul-land:
The copilot of the plane he saved turns up suddenly one night all bloody end embattled. WHY WHO IS CHASING HIM ALSO WHY and hands him a flash drive containing the blackbox video. He tells him it weren’t no bird as wot hit the plane. It was…a suitcase? sdkfjs@3/rkl32
This video is freaking me the heck out WHAT WHAT WHY IS THERE A BODY WHY THE EFF IS THERE A BODY WHY DIDN’T ANYONE WARN ME
It’s…his brother? What in tarnation is happening. Wait, this goes on the hyung list.
PS can we take a moment to appreciate this magnificent home-office deal. I want his workstation so much.
Tae-sul is way on task now, and goes on a hunt for the misbegotten baggage.
We catch up with the copilot about to get in his car, which we can see has been tampered with. It’s eerily voiced over by Seo-hae’s message of doom. Oh no. Oh no, oh damn. Yep, he’s gone. And it seems like he knew he was going. Dark.
Just as Seo-hae’s message finishes: “…and you must never open the suitcase. If you open it, it’s all over.”
…Tae-sul finds it. Remembering how his brother told him his passwords were always Tae-sul’s birthday (10th of July, 1982, in case you wondered), he tries it…and it works. He opens it…
And that’s it. And I’m absolutely petrified. This whole episode has this increasing sense of unease that really crescendos here at the end, and even if I turn out to be wrong later, I am 1000% in.
It’s so early, but there’s so much to speculate on. The biggest bun in the basket is the question of Tae-sul’s hyung, Tae-san.
And this is where it gets odd and intriguing, because of what Tae-san tells him at the Quantum and Time (hereon Q&T) party: that he saw “them” and they were holding A SUITCASE, which definitely means something dark and scary.
How/what does he know about the Suitcase People. Is he one of them? When he says “it’s not just us” that could mean either it’s not just them, 2021 humans, but also there are futurers among them, OR it could mean, they aren’t the only ones who came back, others did too. At this point, it could be either.
ESPECIALLY if the body that hit the plane really is Tae-san’s. I’m wondering if people who travel back just randomly pop out wherever, without any particular rhyme or reason. You can choose the time but not a precise geolocation?
So what does that mean if that is Tae-san’s body? Where did it come from and why did it come with a suitcase? Is it possible they are unconnected? (No.)
Did Tae-san (and therefore Tae-sul) originate from the future?
Is the body they attributed to him really his? (Obviously not.) Remember it was unrecognisable? Was he actually alive all this time? Where? Or rather, when? (“The question isn’t where, it’s when” *shouts at LT* 😱)
And what he said indicates that he already told Tae-sul about his research/speculations before, so Tae-sul definitely knows things about them even if he never believed it (before).
And that’s really it. I actually had more coherent speculations but then I went away for several hours and now I have forgotten them. HOWEVER: I loved the entire episode. It was great. I do not believe it was confirmation bias. It was genuinely, objectively really superb, and I am so interested in the depth and trajectory of Tae-sul’s character. He’s this really painful mix of dry humour, nerdiness, and high, high stakes, and that makes him compelling as a character from the moment he appears on screen. Part of that is definitely Jo Seung-woo and his ability to basically be anything and then bring more. As for whether the show is ultimately worthy, well, we’ll have to wait and see. This episode definitely had a lot less Seo-hae, but I’m willing to be patient (for now), since we’re also still waiting for our two protagonists to meet.
It’s a little bit harrowing watching their paths slowly converge, so to take my mind off it, here is one more list to finish things off.
When we first meet Tae-sul and he is ever-so-slightly scruffy and definitely cheeky and I am like OH ARE WE REALLY GETTING THIS VERSION. (Yes yes, I have that God’s Gift review literally sitting here…the only reason it’s not up yet is because I must pore through my screencaps and have to choose and I hate choosing.)
I wish they’d keep him a bit scruffy though? Come on, his outer appearance has to match his inner turmoil more, Show.
Also how he made the front cover of Eorbes as the big cheese of Quantum and Time. Damn, he good. Not everyone makes the front cover of Eorbes. Only the bestest, quantumiest, and timiest.
Tae-sul’s “will” that he makes his pal and business partner Seung-bok (Tae In-ho) record while he’s 2.5 minutes away from imminent death and trying to fix a nosediving plane, and the confession about stealing away his girlfriend for a weekend when they were back in college HAHAHA
His response to the first-grader’s fan letter: I cannot lie, I laughed over the shortened telomeres and “find someone with healthier cells” for a very, very, VERY long time. Nothing gets me like a good, nerdy joke. Oh Tae-sul, if you turn people down like that, you can turn me down any day of the week! Every day of the week! 😂😂😂
(Telomeres are filaments that hang off the end of your chromosomes inside your cells—one of the theories of the causes of ageing is that it’s due to shortening telomeres, since they shorten with age—as with most things though, correlation does not equal causation—but also, I last looked at this stuff, like, 15 years ago, so if something’s changed since, somebody do update me!)
Also when he stood in that field and I suddenly, finally realised: he had been calculating and plotting the trajectory of the suitcase. And he did it WITH HIS BRAIN.
fetch me my smelling salts