Monday, September 14, 2020

SF8: Baby, It's Over Outside

At first I had strong Arthur C. Clarke's vibes - with the world coming to an end and humanity not being able to stop it. But then it got weird.

The whole episode has nearly the buckle construction - starts from the vastness of cosmos and zooms in on the tiny blue dot (to borrow Carl Sagan's words) and even more and more until we're in Korea. It ends in a similar, albeit non identical way - the camera glides over the city surface and moves into the sky and then stops.

The news anchor is giving the information - in less than 3 weeks, the Earth will be destroyed by a bog meteorite that's on the collision course with our planet. Therefore NASA devised a plan to just blow up the interstellar menace. However, this is no Armageddon movie, here, the mission fails.

There was a short but very well played scene when the anchor asks how many Korean scientists participates in the NASA project. The question is actually very believable and real. Every country asks about such stuff whenever a cross-national event takes place. The sadness in her voice, when learning that the number of Korean scientists is 0, is palpable. And then the expert, not fearing the repercussions, because, well, the end of the world, adds a snide comment saying it's all because the society doesn't invest and appreciate scientists and engineers.

And then we follow our main character, a freshly made police officer, who ponders why he studied hard for 4 years at the police academy just to succeed a mere month before the doomsday. And upcoming annihilation causes people to fall into inertia. Some don't come to work, and even Namwu wonders what's the point in catching the criminals. And yet - he does exactly that.

He arrests a young girl whom he thought to be from the list of wanted criminals. Turns out, she isn't and his quest begins. We learn that the upcoming end of the world has prompted people who claim to have superhuman abilities to come out. Hyehwa is set to meet her mentor, Teacher Yang, who also has some abilities - that is she can guess other people's abilities.

And turns out, our Namwu has the superhuman ability - he travels back in time whenever he dies. This is like dreaming - we wake up just before we die in the dream. His faint recognitions make sense now, because he has already seen it and witnessed it. So Teacher Yang has seemingly infallible plan - when the Earth is about to be blown up to smithereens, he will travel back 4 years in time and he will warn NASA about the potential destruction. There's only one problem - he won't have the memory of living through the last hours of Earth.

Teacher Yang thinks that being in love will help him remember so she urges both Namwu and Hyehwa to get intimate. And as Namwu confesses he fell for her - the girl stops everything. And this, ladies and gents, is the biggest twist on every disaster movie there is! She says she can't because even staring at the hideous face of the holocaust that awaits the planet she can't pretend. The love can't be forced upon. He has a foggy memory of meeting her in the previous time, but she doesn't. And that's how the world ends. Also metaphorically - because if the person we love doesn't love us back, it's the end of the world for us.

It was melancholic musings on questions: how would you spend your last days on Earth? Is it better to witness it or to go before? The episode ends with our characters back in 2016, oblivious to what has just happened. It's like an infernal loop - we may only guess how many times Namwu actually went back to 2016 as he doesn't remember his life before. We may even ask who is he? Will he make a different choice the next time the world is gong to be illuminated by the sparkles of destruction? Will he stay at home instead of going to work? Will he arrest Hyehwa? Or will he meet her early enough (and we know they live at the same goshiwon) for her to fall for him and thus imprinting the memories of the annihilation?

The editing and transitions are wonderful here. It shows how thoughtful the whole episode really was - from the plan to the directing. Also, the actors did a great job here!

And the English title's word play on that famous song, mm.