When I first saw an actor of John Cho’s stature in the second season of Apple TV’s The Afterparty, I sensed the makers were up to something. Not that Cho’s casting was surprising, as the South Korean-born veteran actor has been in films and shows of many genres, but taking someone like Cho in a show like The Afterparty is a risky move as the audience is bound to think that the killer has to be the character that is being played by the most popular face. However, as the season went on, Cho’s character, Ulysses, proved to be the strangest among the bunch and, essentially, the least likely to be the actual murderer. But in the end, it was Ulysses who turned out to be the one who did it.
Cho, who broke out with the Harold and Kumar franchise decades ago, got back to his comedic roots with this show, which was fascinating to watch. The actor plays Ulysses with a combination of charm, humor, and intrigue, and both his performance and the episode focused on him turn out to be the best in The Afterparty. In this article, we are going to delve into Ulysses’ psyche, the reason behind the crime he committed, and do an overall analysis of this fascinating character.
Who Was Ulysses?
Before we get into all that, let us just do a little refresher on this season of The Afterparty. Just like the last season, this one also revolved around a murder. The victim in question was tech-businessman Edgar Minnows, who was last seen in the after-party after his wedding to Grace before being found dead the next morning next to his screaming bride. Ulysses was the uncle of Grace and her sister Zoé and the brother of Feng. The two brothers couldn’t be more different than chalk and cheese. But there was no bad blood between them; in fact, Feng loved Ulysses so much.
In a true genre mashup where the romance-drama of South Korea, the hyper-erotic dance drama of the late eighties and nineties, and moody westerns come together, we get to know about Ulysses’ life. The man always wanted to do only one thing: dance his heart out in front of the world. But after a miserable trip with the US military, Ulysses ended up broken and traumatized. His loving elder brother took him in, gave him shelter, and did everything so that Ulysses could stand on his own two feet. There was another person in the family who shared the same passion for dance as Ulysses. That person happened to be Feng’s wife, Vivian. Zoé was a child back then, and Grace wasn’t even born. When Vivian started to help Ulysses find his dancing mojo at the insistence of Feng, sparks flew between the two. A doomed romance was bound to happen, and it did. But Vivian pulled herself out of it for the sake of her husband and daughter. Ulysses stayed on because he couldn’t leave the family. Years went by, Grace was born, and Ulysses became the fun uncle to the kids, but his heart never healed. And one fine day, Feng found out about the affair and banished his brother from his family.
Why Did Ulysses Kill Edgar?
Unlike last season, the perpetrator this season actually had no beef with the victim. In fact, it was quite the opposite, as Ulysses quite liked Edgar. It was Edgar who brought him back to surprise Grace at the wedding, after all. The two shared a great rapport, and Ulysses was quite happy with his niece getting married to the millionaire businessman.
It was not Edgar who Ulysses wanted to kill; it was his brother Feng. He concocted a plan thanks to his vast knowledge about the poisonous flower “Devil’s Trumpet,” which would have killed Feng if he had drunk whiskey from the glass that was given to him by Ulysses. But in a manner of unfortunate coincidence, Edgar Minnows and his pet lizard drank from that glass, which killed both of them. To prove himself not guilty, Ulysses did hatch the plan of planting the idea of a fake paternity in the story he shared with Aniq and Danner, but that was clearly not enough for him to get away with it.
Was Ulysses A Villain?
There is one very interesting aspect of this whole matter that some of you might not have noticed. Despite having a passionate affair with Ulysses, Vivian ended up choosing to stay in her marriage with Feng. But it was not because Feng was her husband. It was because Feng was a genuinely good man, and deep down, Vivian never stopped loving him. For Ulysses, though, it was hard to digest the fact that the love of his life would pick a man who was nothing compared to him, even though Feng was his own brother. The hatred Ulysses had for Feng probably stemmed from the point where Feng felt betrayed and asked his brother to go away. What Feng did was completely justified, though, if I may add.
It’s not that Ulysses didn’t try to get over it and move on with his life. He traveled the world, did so many things, and met so many people, and for a man like him, it was natural to have multiple lovers. But he could never forget Vivian, no matter how hard he tried. She was the one that got away. However, Ulysses probably wouldn’t have come back if Edgar hadn’t tried to bring him back for the surprise. But when he did come back, the urge to rekindle the spark with Vivian drove him mad. Sadly, Vivian refused him again and picked Feng over Ulysses. What I believe is that this completely broke Ulysses, and he did the unfortunate thing of plotting the murder of his own brother, which eventually ended up killing poor Edgar Minnows.
Was Ulysses a villain? Yes, but not in the conventional sense. He did plan to kill his brother, but he didn’t come forward and confess his crime even after Edgar’s death. That is something a villain would do. But by his own admission, all he did was for love. In fact, he only confessed when Vivian tried to drink from the poisonous glass arm, and he obviously had to stop her from doing that. Ulysses was not a villain; he was just a man who loved and lost. And he couldn’t accept that and ended up doing something that would ruin his life further.