And now for some real answers! This episode, Seo-hae and Tae-sul get to know each other beyond the superficial running-for-their-lives + adversarial banmal stage (yep, this is the one that stuck in my head, kind of like the first answer you write on the test paper). Unfortunately, I’m still not quite where I’d anticipated with this drama during those heady days when we saw the first teasers. I’m watching it more with my brain than my heart, and Sisyphus doesn’t really hold up to that kind of scrutiny. I think that’s down to one main problem, which I’ll talk about at the end of this review. But we finally got some good, meaty interactions between our leads. The best thing about this episode is the growing trust between Tae-sul and Seo-hae, and that’s what I’ve been waiting for.
Jo Seung-woo, I know you (or maybe the director) are trying to be polite, but… that’s not where you press for CPR 😂
Going to ex-girlfriend Seo-jin’s office is probably smart, though I don’t know why she’d have medical supplies in her psychiatry clinic. Him trusting her made me suuuuper nervous… although perhaps not a misplaced trust after all, given her actions in this episode. Seo-jin is actually kinda growing on me. (Anyone else recognize Jung Hye-in as the younger version of Young-shin’s bio mom in Healer?)
So I was right, there was a nuclear war! (Yes, I know, I get no prizes for “guessing” this extremely obvious thing)
It warms my heart that Tae-sul is suddenly on a mission to feed Seo-hae up properly. With junk food and vitamins.
Okay, leaving aside that these two are blurting out all their TOP SECRET secrets in the middle of a random convenience store, this conversation between them is the first scene that actually got me in an emotional place. It’s their unstoppable force meets immovable object moment: she’s not willing to compromise her mission to stop the war, and he’s unable to let another chance with his brother slip away, no matter the cost. It felt very real. Seo-hae tossing that giant wad of cash with a flat, “We use this as kindling,” was a great moment, and Park Shin-hye really sold it.
Her observation (memory?) that everyone around her, living their oblivious and happy lives, looked so dumb, hit with all the resonances of someone viewing the world through grief and trauma, unable to process the naive happiness of others as anything but a betrayal. Yet it’s so human for Tae-sul to cling to the hope he’s suddenly found in the midst of his own grief, and to be unwilling to trade the chance to have his brother back for an abstract future he doesn’t quite believe in.
And I love how that circles around, in the middle of that intersection, to them coming back together in a moment where he acknowledges that he does need her, and she agrees to make the one allowance that he can’t budge on. He goes from his facade of “I’m more comfortable alone” to admitting that he knows exactly how hard it is to be alone. That he was doing to her exactly what Tae-san did to him by expecting Tae-sul to live a careless life while Tae-san did all the sacrificing, by telling her to take his money and forget about the looming future. I love seeing Tae-sul drop that low-key genius billionaire playboy philanthropist persona he carries like a shield, at least in front of Seo-hae. (Yes, I’m sorry, I don’t know why these Marvel references keep popping up in my reviews either. I blame WandaVision)
It was hard to watch Hyun-gi (Go Yoon), after that heartbreaking introduction to him in Episode 4, be deceived and manipulated by the Control Bureau. Salt ’n’ Pepper, how dare you lie about his mother’s death and then use it to bend him to your designs in front of her ashes. And it’s interesting how much the dead walk among the living in this show, but unsurprising, since as Saya said last week, in these stories everyone dies at the beginning.
I’m glad we’re getting more of Seo-hae’s life in the future, finally. Especially the scene with her dad in the burned-out shell of a jjimjjilbang, and the bittersweet mirror to that when she goes to one with Tae-sul, and orders Dad’s favorite food.
This drama is so obviously written by a man, though
(Let’s just leave it at that)
Jo Seung-woo is giving Tae-sul an off-the-wall charm that I don’t think the character really has on paper—it’s his line deliveries in particular moments, like this one above, or when he matter-of-factly tells Seo-hae that the crosswalk light is red, that really draw the disparate Quirky Genius traits the writer has given him into a single human being. His way of embodying both the silly and the serious sides of this character is one of the main things keeping me engaged. And of course, give Jo Seung-woo an inch and he’ll take a mile, in the good sense.
Ah, he was the one who got her that diary! Cute.