Alice (2020) Episode 3 *Spoilers*
This is my favourite thing on K telly right now. It has the potential to be a great show, one of the year's best. Will it be another Life on Mars? It's too early to say. I certainly hope so because good sci-fi is always hard to do but this one seems to have a better decent script guiding it. Let's hope and pray that it can be sustained right to the end.
My favourite sci-fi... the best ones are thoughtful and inevitably philosophical. Whatever the tech and the context, preoccupations with the human condition are front and centre.
It's clear that Yoon Tae-yi's re-appearance in his life knocks Jin-gyeom off his general equanimity. As he wrestles with not just with her uncanny resemblance to his long deceased mother, spars with his birth father and grapples with the unfathomable possibility of time travel, his confusion about this new reality is exacerbated by inexplicable murders. Last week we had a future self travelling back to the past to kill someone who had wronged and embittered them. This week a mother kills her past self for not doing enough to protect her daughter and makes a failed bid to be a substitute. It goes beyond irony and paradoxes. She punishes and kills her past self for being inadequate as a mother in the belief that she, the future self, can do better because of hindsight and foreknowledge. Seems extreme. However, future Mum has brought something potentially life-threatening with her to the past. It does beg the question as to whether it is a result of the time travel or the collision of past and present or some new pestilence hitch-hiked from the past.
Of course there are consequences and the lesson seems to be... "just because you can doesn't mean you should." It's one of those things one learns as a child from the adults around us as a caution about leaping into places where even angels fear to tread. A cautionary advice against hubris and the breaking of fundamental moral principles. It's often been used against genetic modification of foods. It's a warning against playing God. It's the age old question of whether humans can really control nature without it coming back to bite them.
I don't want to be a wet blanket. Time travel sounds like fun. As someone who enjoys learning history, I've fantasized about going back to certain key moments in the past like in the drama to witness of events unfolding. But I've watched my Doctor Who and my Star Trek so I know that it is a bad thing to change the past no matter how well-intentioned. One doesn't know what happens to the thing called the space-time continuum.
I gather from the first episode that people have been time travelling for a bit with relative success. So why the anomalies of the last few episodes? I imagine that the show will provide the answers to that. Hot Dad aka Min-hyuk attributes it to a particular psychological profile. It may well be that. Or there could be much more to it.
For a project/ endeavour the Alice crew are a noisy lot bringing a lot of attention to themselves. Take the big gunfight in the library for instance. Some of it was having to clean up after somebody else's mess but maybe they're counting on the fact that no one finds the entire idea of time travel possible in 2020. I suppose they're setting up these confrontations between father and son in anticipation of some kind of reunion. Since this is still a K drama, I'm not expecting an Oedipus Rex scenario.
With the time card now in Tae-yi's hands, I wonder if Jin-gyeom has created a time loop in the manner of the "hasta la vista baby" Terminator franchise. The quote at the start of the episode, "There is no coincidence in fate. A man makes fate itself before he meets it" sounds similar to Kyle Reese's "The future is not set. There is no fate but what we make for ourselves."