Tumbling Down The Rabbit Hole
A Prophetic Opener
When it comes to sci-fi and time travel there are some excellent additions out there. From The King: Eternal Monarch to Back to the Future, this genre of sci-fi has been explored numerous times. However, it always seems to come up with something new and interesting.
SBS’s latest sci-fi drama Alice looks to follow suit. With an enthralling, engaging opening episode, this foundation setter leaves the door wide open for the drama to follow.
While it’s far too early to be making assessments over whether this will be one of the best Korean dramas of the year, the compelling world-building and ideas are enough to keep you sticking around for the long-haul.
Any advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. As these words are written on a typewriter, we suddenly cut across to find three drones whizzing through the air and arriving at an advanced lab full of wondrous items.
We begin episode 1 of Alice in the year 2050 as we learn that “our Alice” was successful in traveling through time. This opened up the possibility of more people traveling back to live their best lives.
Only, all of that came crashing down when a book containing a tragic ending changed people’s perceptions. That book? “The Book of prophecy.”
In order to keep their time traveling going, two ominous figures arrive in 1992 with the intention of capturing the book. Therein starts our journey.
As we cut to a house, a mysterious figure dressed in military gear jumps over the gate and starts walking toward a house.
Inside, Dr Jang Dong Shik immediately suspects something afoul and gives his daughter an important piece of paper. Telling her to keep hold of it, he hides her under the desk.
This man is clearly one of the time travelers and Jang quickly draws a gun.
Unfortunately the assassin is too quick for him and this little girl is forced to watch her Father killed in front of her. As the man grabs the book, he phones his contact and looks to leave. Only, he hears the girl under the table.
Thankfully, our two time travelers we saw before arrive. They’re Min-Hyeok and Tae-Yi. They grab the book but realize they’re not alone.
As the assassin grabs the little girl (tellingly with a tattoo of M on his neck), Tae-Yi saves the girl’s life.
In the wake of this, she sticks around long enough for the police to arrive. In the girl’s hand is that important page from the book which she refuses to drop.
With their mission complete, the duo prepare to head back to their current time. Despite strict instructions not to open the book, Tae-Yi does just that and reads excerpts referring to a tragedy that began when a baby entered the world.
Only, this may be referring to Tae-Yi given she’s actually pregnant. However, they don’t get long to talk about their options as police chase them through the winding streets. Dropping Tae-Yi off at Seoul station, Min-Hyeok promises to get rid of the assailants.
Only, Tae-Yi isn’t coming back. She adopts a new identity – Sun-Young – and decides to raise her child there in 1992.
We then skip forward to 1997. Tae-Yi is living as Sung-Yong and she’s definitely adjusted well to her new identity. Only, her child Jin-Gyeom has some serious psychological issues. This, she suspects, could be a result of the radiation from the wormhole. He’s got behavioral problems but he’s incredibly intelligent too.
In 2004, things aren’t much better. Jin-Gyeom acts indifferently toward his Mother being rushed into hospital. In 2010 however, things take a turn for the shocking.
Jin-Gyeom is in high school and seemingly throws a student off the rooftop. When detectives arrive, a student named Do-Yeon confirms that Jin-Gyeom was up there with the girl.
While Jin-Gyeom is detained, Sung-Yong tries desperately to find witnesses. It turns out an eyewitness from across the way saw that Jin-Gyeom was trying to stop the girl from jumping. Despite this allowing Jin-Gyeom to be released, students graffiti “murderer” across the front of their house.
At school the next day, Do-Yeon greets Jin-Gyeom and apologises for suspecting him. Sung-Eun was being harassed by a group of bullies at school and it turns out they took her suicide note out of her backpack.
With their phone in hand, he drops it off to Do-Yeon and tells her to head to the station to help clear his name.
Back home, Jin-Gyeom gets her Mother a birthday card and cake.While she heads out to pick up supplies, her life looks to come crashing down around her as one of those drones from the future arrives and starts tailing her.
As we cut to Jin-Gyeom, he returns home and finds her murdered and bleeding out. She tells him it’s her fault and gives him some instructions. If he sees her again, he needs to act like he doesn’t know her.
With his Mother’s death hanging over him, Jin-Gyeom enters the police academy determined to make a difference. That difference comes in the form of a hostage situation playing out which Jin-Gyeom effortlessly diffuses. He politely declines the Captain’s dinner plans and instead heads off to see Do-Yeon- who’s now working as a reporter.
This catches us up to 2020 as Jin-Gyeom is brought back to the station. He has to help with a missing child case for a girl called Eun-Soo. Only, her Mother happens to be in the security footage. But… that’s impossible given her Mother is actually in Europe.
Midway through questioning Eun-Soo’s Mother, they suddenly get word that Eun-Soo is back. She just wandered back inside the house but claims to have been with her Mother.
As Jin-Gyeom heads outside, he notices that same familiar drone from before flying overhead. Only, he’s not the only one who’s spotted it either. As he stares across the way, he finds his Mother staring up.
Time suddenly freezes and he finds himself face to face with his Mum. As he calls out for her, the episode comes to a close.
The Episode Review
With the foundations set and some early season prophecies to chew over, it seems like Jin-Gyeom may be that child referred to in the passages from the book.
The woman giving birth outside her time seems to be hinting at Tae-Yi too. It’s certainly an intriguing idea and the whole Alice In Wonderland motif may be hinting toward this poor little girl who had to watch her Father be murdered in front of her.
I wouldn’t be surprised if she ends up being Tae-Yi when she grows up and finds herself traveling forward through time to join this Alice group.
Despite that though, the constant jumps through time keep things moving at a rapid pace and understanding these different time periods may serve to be a crucial key going forward.
All of this comes back to that book though and with no real clue over who the assassins are, it looks like there may be two rival time traveling companies in the future.
Thankfully this story line is kept suitably vague to keep things intriguing and it’ll be interesting to see where the show goes next.
So far so good though, Alice is tumbling down the rabbit hole and we’ll have to wait and see how deep this goes.