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Sisyphus: The Myth: Episodes 11-12 Review

Ahhhh this show. How can we be down to a mere 72 hours until the Apocalypse? 😱 Also, how can I gather all my scattered thoughts and pin them down to a coherent body, fixed in time? (Spoiler: not coherent, a LOT of words.)

First things first, though: that OST you’ve all been waiting for is heeeeere:

Okay, let’s start at the beginning, with A for AGNES:

  1. I KNEW IT, AGNES. Like, as soon as I saw her backlit silhouette, I got a little shiver down my spine and knew she would turn out to be Future Seo-jin. How crazy was that!!

  2. Also there’s something about her face now that always looks like she’s lying, even when she’s (potentially) not. But I’m still not 100% sure that the latest Agnes is to be trusted.

  3. Also, is her Agnes-ness in any way a reference to another time-travelling Agnes? Specifically of the Nielsen clan? (Probably not, and probably only I know what I am talking about. 😅)

  4. Is she still in love with Tae-sul? Who really broke up with whom? No, really, real question. We don’t actually know.

  5. It also doesn’t actually matter, actually.

And also actually, there’s no need to dwell any longer on Seo-jin. Not when we have Sigma and Seo-hae and all the other good stuff.

This week’s episodes feel very different from last week’s, not in a bad way—last week was full of action, big moments, big drama and the literal Apocalypse, the focus of this week shifts to the inward, both in terms of mood (introspective) and metaphysics, in the almost transcendental experience of their disembodied journeying through time. I don’t feel quite ready to put my thoughts to words on that yet, so let me circle back.

Oh let’s talk about circles! We’ve talked in our last few reviews about how assured the show is in knowing its story. I really really enjoy how as it has gone on, it has revealed quite a specific kind of ring structure in the way it handles its narrative rather than with a linearly progressing story. We started at the beginning, and at the end: points A and Z. And as the show goes on, we work towards the centre—B to Y, C to X, D to W, and so on. Here is a VERY BAD non-artist’s attempt to diagram how to understand the narrative structure of Sisyphus:

I tried to do this in Paint and it was worse. So here. Have this instead. 😂

And at the centre is the Apocalypse: the end of everything—and the beginning. And as in nuclear fission, the bomb at the heart of this show explodes when you forcibly separate two things that exist together (even if their existence together is impossible). Yes, I’m talking Tae-sul and Seo-hae 😭

But let’s talk about Sigma first, and I am NOT going to get ahead of myself:

  1. I was looking for Sigma to be someone we already knew, and the idea of him being Jae-sun (can I just call you Sun now??) was as alluring as it was appalling.

  2. But then I had a sudden thought, three minutes into Episode 11:

  3. What if Sigma was…Tae-sul? WHAT IF, OMG

  4. That would make a sick sort of sense and it TOTALLY BLEW MY MIND

  5. (This has happened before in a different show. If you know the show I am talking about, you will understand exactly what and who I mean.)

  6. Except it was also totally scuppered by the end of Episode 12. 😂

  7. But at least I had the experience of thinking that, if only for an hour.

Part of why I thought this could be the case comes from how Sigma interacts with Tae-sul. It’s not his manic glee (though that’s there), but it’s in the way every single one of his interactions, near or distant, are about pushing Tae-sul to choose between saving Seo-hae or saving the world, which we see most recently in the amusement park of last episode, and the orphanage this week.

When he puts a gun into Tae-sul’s hand and tells him, “Shoot me,” I can’t lie, I want him to. And while I understand why he doesn’t, I also don’t understand at all. (And given what we learn about him at the end of this week, just choosing to kill him seems even more callous and tragic.) And Sigma asks him: why shouldn’t the world end?

  1. And actually that’s a really great question, especially given how chillingly true his follow-up is: that if you were to give anyone on the street the choice to hit the red button on nukes, so many of them would. That is true. Like, without any data on it, I feel like it’s something we all know in our bones.

  1. And that’s dark. Like, people would press that button out of pure spite. And then they would regret it, like the Leopards Eating People’s Faces Party or Brexit.

  2. Sigma’s monologues are really great. Horrible, but incisive and with enough truth to them that you feel a bit gutted by it:

“You just pressed the nuclear button. I bet this was your train of thought: If you kill me, my buddies here will kill you. (…) You won’t be able to get the cure. So that girl will die too. You made a choice that will end the world just because of a girl. But don’t beat yourself up too much. That’s just how people are. Even if everyone were to die, they’d still put themselves, their families, and money first. (…) I gave everyone a chance, but not a single person chose to save the world. I’ll be honest with you. I really don’t care about the future. I mean, why would I? You folks call me despicable, but you’re the despicable ones.”
  1. So is Sigma really evil, or is he just a mirror of the selfish instincts we all carry? It’s an interesting thematic question to think about when you put it alongside what Agnes/Future Seo-jin says about the future being a mirror of the past.

  2. But he’s also backlit like a medieval Italian vampire, so I don’t know how seriously I can take him.