“Even if there’s no future, just come and find me.”
When I was asked whether JTBC’s 10th-anniversary special drama was any good, I told them they could give it a try for themselves because I wasn’t sure how exactly what to feel in the premiere week. Everything looks good – the cast is great, the plot seems promising. The first week’s episode, I have to admit, didn’t do the trick for me. I’m genuinely interested in the plot but the pace of its storytelling, somehow, didn’t reel me in. I even almost drop it. But the theme is mainly the reason why I stayed. I love time travels or anything that involves distorting or disturbing the space-time continuum. I’m no science or physics Brainiac but I love it when writers explore this theory. And I got excited for this show because I got the dystopian novel-esque type of world-building. And as the story progressed, it slowly built the right pace I personally prefer. It also didn’t hurt that they reveal each element of the main plot in a way that one will crave for more secrets to be exposed.
It also would have been amiss for me not to watch Cho Seung-woo and Park Shin-hye in such refreshing roles. Han Tae-sul and Kang Seo-hae are both so different from these actors’ previous roles. I really appreciate them getting away from their ‘iconic’ roles in the past. Han Tae-sul is emotive with a bit of impulsiveness that sometimes frustrates me yet makes things interesting for the story. Despite Tae-sul being more expressive than any of Cho Seung-woo’s past characters, he still put some delicate nuances that made Tae-sul a bit more real despite the unbelievable world set-up he’s in.
We saw a different side of Park Shin-hye here as well. Kang Seo-hae is the type of character who would hang up on the male lead’s phone call because she’s busy shooting down his kidnappers. Park Shin-hye, as expected, delivers when the scene requires raw emotions but it’s her action sequences that I enjoyed watching. It’s just a shame though that they had to kill both of their characters in the last few minutes of the finale. They could have ended it with Sigma’s death but they really had to do a Romeo-and-Juliet-esque tragic ending.
Speaking of Sigma, things got more exciting for me upon the introduction of Sigma (Kim Byung-chul). Having a face to the villain certainly made it more interesting for me rather than our main characters trying to fight the course of time and some faceless monster.
Kim Byung-chul did a great job portraying this almost-psychotic-mostly-egotistic-antagonist. His background story was reminiscent of stories of villains from hero movies; showing how society itself drove someone to be so spiteful that he would want to destroy the world. Credits should also be given to young actor Lee Joo-won, who played the role of Seo Won-ju in the past. His scene from episode 12 still gives me creep whenever I remember it.
The other supporting cast, on the other hand, had their shining moments in the series as well. Sung Dong-il is brilliant in whatever role he’s in. Be it an endearing aboji or a no-nonsense leader of futuristic smugglers/brokers (and yes, I’m calling them that haha). One of my favorite moments in the finale is the revelation of Park Hyeong-do’s daughter. It was a good resolution to this not-so-evil broker from the future. I just wished though that they kind of use him better in this drama in terms of his dynamic with the main characters. Like, how powerful it could have been to watch the trio of Cho Seung-woo, Park Shin-hye, and Sung Dong-il fighting the Control Bureau troops and Sigma. That would be badassery on another level. But in reality, the connection of these three characters is weak. And it’s not the lack of chemistry to blame but the lack of quality screen time for them to form an actual compelling bond.
At least, I’ve got Choi Jae-sun (Chae Jong-hyeop) and Seo-hae. And yes, I heaved a huge sigh of relief after seeing him alive in the finale. Actually, I like the relationship of Seo-hae to everyone around her. The only thing about the “future scenes” I like is Seo-hae’s memories with her dad, Kang Dong-gi (Kim Jong-tae). The rest of the snippets from the future felt fillers instead of an important puzzle piece.
Overall, it was a nice try on the genre. A break from the usual type of action-centered K-dramas we’ve watched in the past. However, some of its experimentation fell flat. Maybe it’s because of personal preference or maybe not. But I realized that there’s a reason why tried and tested formulae are there. Because despite being overly used, they would always deliver. Sisyphus: The Myth tried to do away with the usual formula in an attempt to stand out. It’s a risk and I’m certain they know that from the start. There are really good parts – scenes that put me at the edge of my seat and crave for more – but most of it – storytelling, character developments – are all over the place. But still, I think I should give them credit for trying to break out of the mold and prove that K-dramas can be more than just romance or chasing murderers.
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