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Sisyphus: The Myth: Episode 3 Review

What I like most about this show is the atmosphere it creates, with its pervasive sense of unease that runs through the whole episode, no matter what is happening. It adds a lot to the soft worldbuilding approach of the show, so rather than getting info-dumps interspersed within blocks of plot movement, you actually get a story that eddies and flows naturally, and slowly reveals how the world of Sisyphus works.

This episode also lost some of the lighter, more comedic touches from last week in favour of a lot of running around (not necessarily to its detriment…though that remains to be seen). However, while this hour had a lot of movement, I think it was more lateral than forward. It’s not bad, because we need to find our feet in the world and its rules, but it does mean that having got to the end of the episode, I’m not really sure that there is a lot to say about it—it’s too early, there’s still a lot left to be revealed in the setup, and for that, we must defer to the four-episode rule.

Here are my bullets, hopefully better aimed than our vitreous friend’s (you will understand this, uh…twelve points down?):

  1. I forgot why we were in Busan, but points to the show (and helpful taxi driver) for marketing it as a very desirable holiday destination! I’m coming, Busan! Wait for me! I’ll find you when the weather is nice…in 2043!

  2. Tae-sul/Jo Seung-woo bounding on stage: he has such an extraordinary level of stage charisma, you can see why he’s more of a fixture in live stage productions than he is on the screen. His easy showmanship, the way the energy of the audience is so responsive to him. That’s a master you’re watching, even if he’s playing to a primed audience.

  1. But just before that I really, excessively loved that little moment where he takes a second to high-five/clasp hands with that one ajusshi on his way down to the stage. I always wonder how much of the details of performing your character is scripted, and how much is spontaneous. We know Jo Seung-woo puts a lot of thought into how his characters behave as a whole person.

  2. Does the sugar-cube’s travel through space preface and foreshadow Tae-sul’s invention/discovery of how to travel through spacetime? Yeah, I mean, of course. The sugar-teleporter was a miniature version of the transporter Seo-hae used, which you can also see in the opening credits…

  1. OH CAN WE TALK ABOUT THESE. The opening credits are really so WOW. The first time, I didn’t pay much attention, but by Episode 2, I was watching it shot by shot, and it’s so interesting. I’d wondered whether “Sisyphus” actually was a classical reference (therefore holding meaning for the content of the show), or if it was sort of randomly plucked because it sounds grand. Look at the shot above, though.

  2. Both the opening and closing shots of the credits have this imagery, and now we’re left to read into it in terms of what it means in the show. Or rather, see how it plays out.

  3. But my favourite shot is this one:

  1. Look at it! It’s like the marriage and clash of these elements that would never naturally meet: the hyper-modern (future) represented by the wall of flashing monitors, the ground carpeted with thick cables, snaking around this utterly incongruous throne which looks like it came straight out of Narnia (The Silver Chair, to be exact). That is art like I like it.

  2. Aaahh, hyung Tae-san turning up as expected! (We know he took those future-photos.) I really want them to actually meet properly and share info. This is one of the mind-bending fun (?) things about time travel: they die at the beginning. It’s sort of a little bit better than dying at the end? No? Okay it’s not. But also that’s sort of what tells you that you’re in a loop and that the point isn’t merely to change the past or future, but to break the loop somehow. Or at least, tie it off/jump tracks to a timeline that doesn’t cross back on itself.

  1. But what an oof moment when Tae-sul goes for his pills and ends up cracking on stage, in front of all of those people. It felt so personal, so private and low-key devastating. Seung-bok really shows a strength of friendship here which is valuable in the moment, even if it doesn’t last.

  2. Like in the way his first concern when Tae-sul shows up and pretty much steals his literal limelight for the keynote is about him exposing himself to danger because of the death threats. I think it’s evident that he cleans up behind Tae-sul a lot, but his love for his friend hasn’t soured, even when he’s mad at him.

  3. So obviously it’s going to hurt us all later when he turns coat.

  1. I see all the speculation about Seung-bok going to the dark side…yes, all the setup is there and they’re already sticking him with their hooks, but I am still going to appreciate that his first instinct when Tae-sul was shot was to go to him despite the danger.

  2. What you do in that first moment of crisis says a lot about where your heart is, and as of now, Seung-bok is still a good egg, even though Psychiatrist Girlfriend Seo-jin (Jung Hye-in) was very much on the side of forget-Tae-sul-and-run.

  3. I respect the instinct to save your own life—it’s probably the most deeply-wired human instinct we have—but…I’m still a little disappointed that you’d leave your friend for dead, just like that, Seo-jin. Who really dumped whom, hm?