Episode 1 – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 9 – | Review Score – 2/5
Episode 10 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 11 – | Review Score – 2/5
Episode 12 – | Review Score – 2/5
Episode 13 – | Review Score – 2/5
Episode 14 – | Review Score – 2/5
Episode 15 – | Review Score – 2/5
Episode 16 – | Review Score – 1.5/5
Any TV show or movie about time travel always has a tough time getting the ending right. From a simple Grandfather Paradox to an intricate web of nonlinear timelines, this minefield of writing fails are hard to navigate unscathed. There are a few that manage to step through to the other side, but for many they end up lying in a minefield of wasted potential. Sisyphus: The Myth doesn’t just blow itself up in this proverbial minefield, it runs full force into mine after mine, determined to blow as many as possible across its 16 episodes.
Before we dive into that though, Sisyphus: The Myth actually begins with a really solid premise and a fascinating, action-packed set of episodes to kick things off. Not only are these brilliantly shot, they also pave way for a fascinating story to follow. Unfortunately what begins as a simple plot hole soon grows into an unavoidable black hole, consuming every inch of this show and sucking out any redeeming features Sisyphus may have had.
At the center of all this carnage lies our main protagonist Tae-Sul. A genius engineer, this man prepares for a breakthrough with his new technology, aptly named the Uploader. He’s managed to move Matter from one place to another, which promises to change the world forever. Unfortunately, that change also brings with it a nuclear war that ravages the East, with North and South Korea trading nuclear warheads to devastating effect. The result of which leaves Korea a ravaged nuclear wasteland with few survivors.
In the year 2037, a young woman named Seo-Hae is tasked with a mission – stop this nuclear apocalypse from ever taking place. Using the same technology that Tae-Sul himself is developing in 2020, Seo-Hae is told to track down this man and save the world before it’s too late. What follows is a contrived journey that spends a good chunk of its time borrowing sci-fi concepts from other shows. Only, Sisyphus doesn’t have the wherewithal or the writing pizzazz to pull it off.
All of this is made worse by numerous contrivances and plot issues along the way, stemming from simple items like future-predicting diaries right the way through to big developments with the series’ big bad and the Control Bureau. For those who watched Alice last year, the Control Bureau are essentially the same sort of overarching organization, spending their time tracking down “illegals”; people who have jumped from the future back to the present.
It’s a neat idea in theory, but one that’s squandered with some poor editing, lots of drawn out segments and absolutely zero chemistry between the lead actors. In fact, the big kiss between the two leads here is one of the worst seen in any Korean drama. It’s that bad.
To be fair to Sisyphus, the show has an absolutely stunning cast, full of big names from the world of K-entertainment. There’s veteran actors from heavy-hitting shows like Sky Castle and Reply 1988, through to our two lead stars, Cho Seung-Woo (Stranger) and Park Shin-Hye (Memories Of The Alhambra).
The visuals here are great too, feeding into that whole idea of a post-apocalyptic future, with pockets of green clinging to the side of buildings. In fact, despite the mundanity accompanying some of these scenes, they’re arguably the best of the series thanks to how pretty and picturesque everything looks. It’s just a shame that the story doesn’t follow suit.
Much like the Greek legend of Sisyphus himself, Sisyphus: The Myth is laborious and hard work at times. If you can go into this one and switch off completely, you may find something to like. For everyone else – and particularly those who want more meat with their sci-fi – Sisyphus turns to ash after taking a bite out the proverbial steak. This is certainly one of the most disappointing shows of the year and one that perhaps, given the production woes involved with this, should have remained on the shelf.