“I’m going to live by that person’s side. Wherever that may be, the only world that matters to me is the world where that person exists.”
-Seo Do-won, Train
(W/N: Since the parallel worlds in this series are almost identical including character names, for the sake of this review, I’ll use “World A” for the first world introduced where the bodies were dumped and “World B” for the world where the victims were killed.)
In a true OCN fashion, Train premiered with episodes promising a thrilling ride filled with interesting characters with a murder case to solve but this time, it involves traveling to another dimension. The series actually felt like “just another crime thriller” for a while until our main guy, Seo Do-won (Yoon Si-yoon) from World A, discovered a passage to another world in Mukyeong Station through cursed train 8210.
From there, they methodically build-up the suspense through strategically placed foreshadowing. Hints that I took and tried to figure out early on. I would like to brag about suspecting Detective Oh Min-sook (Lee Hang-na) the moment she asked about Inspector Han Seo-kyung (Kyung Soo-jin) but well, I actually suspected everyone even Do-won from World B and his subordinate Woo Jae-hyeok (Jo Wan-ki). So I don’t think I could count that as a point to my non-existent whodunit expertise. Despite my wrong guesses, it’s actually one of the things I enjoyed while watching Train. It kept me on my toes. They seem to reveal and drop plot twists whenever things are going smoothly with our main characters.
I thought the revelation on who the serial killer was would be the peak of this series but no, it’s just another puzzle piece. The great reveal happened in the last two episodes where we figured out that Detective Oh wasn’t just a simple accomplice. She has been traveling from one world to another to try and save her son Suk Min-jun (Choi Seung-yoon) but ended up with the same fate anyway. This revelation made more sense for me rather than ending the series with another psycho-killer and his traumatic past.
It’s a shame though that Do-won succumbed to the taunting of Oh Mi-sook in the end and decided to be a noble idiot. Good thing, Seo-kyung was courageous enough to use the passage and save her man from being a homeless man jumping from one world to another. And yes, it wasn’t explicitly said and her lace dress was a bit out-of-character but I do believe, she’s the Seo-kyung from World B since she talked about changing their fate and used their own cute way of saying hi-hello to each other. Other than that, I think the whole series was wrapped up nicely.
As for performances, Yoon Si-yoon and Kyung Soo-jin made sure to maximize nuances in their acting to differentiate their characters from their counterparts from other worlds. Yoon Si-yoon’s looks were softer when playing Do-won from World A and he would turn into an edgier vengeful cop when playing Do-won from World B.
Soo-jin, for her part, made an effort to act the tough and very independent Inspector Han Seo-kyung. It was the opposite image of how she portrayed Prosecutor Han Seo-kyung, who despite her tragic past grew up with a much more optimistic view of the world. I actually ended up liking Seo-kyung’s character more than Do-won’s. Because who wouldn’t? She managed not to get kidnapped or used as a bait by the villains. She fought them head-on until the end. I would forgive the stabbing scene since the characters were given faux-peace so they let their guards down for a while but in the end, it was she who found a way to bring some sense to Do-won and his so-called “sacrifice.”
There’s this idea linked to the parallel universe theory that always fascinates me: that in the parallel universe one would probably choose the other option; that our what-ifs are actually the reality in those dimensions. Train anchored its storytelling to this idea. The series isn’t just really about serial killers and traveling cops. My greatest take-away from this series is that every choice we made, no matter how minuscule it may seem, has its own consequences. We don’t have a way to know if our choices are the best options because we don’t have a fantasy train to take us to other dimensions. But we do have moral compasses that we can choose to ignore or to hear out every time we doubt which path to take.
It doesn’t hurt that Train brought with it a thrilling episode each week with shocking twists and turns here and there. Train could comfortably take a seat among other good (and underrated to be honest) OCN dramas.
-My hatred for this mother-son duo peaked when they tried to kill Detective Kang Joon-young (Baek Jae-woo). Fortunately, he survived!!!
-This OST only made sense after episode 12
-This scene from episode 10 felt somehow similar to that scene in Your Name but darker (literally and figuratively)
-I love romance but I like it that they kept the romance here to a minimum. Because it’s sometimes really frustrating to watch a confession scene in the middle of chasing bad guys.
-I searched the ghost train mentioned in one of the episodes and I couldn’t find any reliable source regarding that European folklore!!!
Image credit: OCN