Trolley season 1, episode 2 recap – how does Joong-do respond to his son’s death?

By Nathan Sartain
Published: December 21, 2022 (Last updated: February 7, 2023)
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Punctuated with a tense ending, this chapter offers heightened stakes and tumultuous drama.

We recap the Netflix K-Drama series Trolley season 1, episode 2, which contains spoilers.

Episode one of Trolley was right to call itself a prelude because this instalment really upped the stakes. With numerous threads now being sewn, there’s a multitude of directions this drama can take, with the best part being that none of them seems uninteresting. In the immediate future, though, what comes of Seung-kyu’s accusations towards Joong-do (Park Hee-soon) will be most intriguing.

Trolley season 1, episode 2 recap

As Soo-bin sits down with Hye-joo, nervously confirming her approximately five-week pregnancy, relationship with Ji-hoon, and funeral attendance (she does also wish to visit her late partner’s columbarium at some point), a surprising request is made. Due to not having parents, the young mother-to-be wants to live with the book repairer’s family. Hye-joo is naturally startled by such a blunt question, to the point she spills the juice she is pouring for Soo-bin, anxiously waiting for her husband to get in touch so they can talk about the situation. Elsewhere, Soon-hong bemoans Joong-do’s incompetency in raising his deceased son, smug that the assemblyman wasn’t able to stop Ji-hoon’s narcotics case from making the news.

With calls for Joong-do to step down rife, thanks to both Ji-hoon’s meth possession and the assemblyman’s own alleged abuse of power when upgrading the search for Yoon-seo to a missing persons case, his aids look lost, wondering how they can fix things. Meanwhile, Yeo-jin talks with Soo-bin, expressing her doubts that the pregnant girl was in a relationship with Ji-hoon because there are no pictures of the two together. Here, it’s also revealed the 22-year-old is a dropout, completely estranged from her family, and is undecided about even having her baby.

Next, Joong-do hears his late son’s blood tests showed no signs of illegal drug use but did flag up “at a level of acute alcohol intoxication.” It’s disappointing news, though the assemblyman is far more concerned with the fact the police’s Narcotics team were able to discover a connection to Ji-hoon’s burner phone due to a confession. This, Joong-do hears, meant his son was caught on camera at the entrance of a restroom on the bank of the Han River.

While Hye-joo tries to assure Yoon-seo over the phone, Joong-do does everything he can to distract himself from grief. From meetings celebrating the progress of the public redevelopment plan to drinking with old friends, the assemblyman packs his schedule, evidently unwilling to head home until absolutely necessary.

When he does return, Joong-do ends up in a debate with his wife over whether Soo-bin should be allowed to stay in their house. The assemblyman is stern with his no, yet the book repairer is firm in her stance too, recalling the similarities between the young girl and herself (“no parents, no money, and nowhere to go”) when she first arrived in Seoul. “And I was just her age when I had Yoon-seo,” Hye-joo adds, understanding the fear the 22-year-old must have. Still, Joong-do shows his scepticism over whether Ji-hoon is the father of Soo-bin’s child, which triggers Hye-joo into tersely asking how her husband can be sure Yoon-seo is his daughter, with the answer to that being trust.

Clearly offended by the tone Joong-do takes when confronting her, Soo-bin makes a tenuous threat to go through with an abortion, then blab to the news about having a child with an assemblyman’s son and being kicked out of their house. At that point, an angered Yoon-seo arrives home, venting her frustrations at her late brother’s partner, who she labels a “crazy bitch.” However, despite voluntarily accepting the insulting remarks initially, Soo-bin does make a point of vehemently denying that she got Ji-hoon into drugs.

At the argument’s fever pitch, Yoon-seo admits she wanted her brother dead for the hurt he repeatedly caused the family, but didn’t actually believe he would pass. Following that, she brands Soo-bin as pregnant with a “scumbag’s kid,” bringing an intense close to the spiteful exchange. In the aftermath, Woo-jae calmly asks the pregnant 22-year-old if she has any ulterior motives, which we presume she doesn’t, considering she is subsequently allowed to stay in Ji-hoon’s room for the time being. Later, Soo-bin confirms everything she did with her late partner was consensual, and the camera eerily lingers on a mobile phone belonging to the woman who claimed to have lost hers earlier.

Next, we get a sharp introduction to the character of Woo-jae. An astute man, he lives life by the book to avoid “holding back” his assemblyman superior and has enough tact to already be thinking of ways to use Soo-bin’s situation to Joong-do’s political advantage (if the 22-year-old keeps the baby, it can help with the pro-life vote, for example). Meanwhile, Hye-joo is assured the negative press on her family will “blow over,” though she does also get upsettingly asked to get Soo-bin tested for drugs at a hospital so the stranger can be properly vetted given the youngster’s link to the misguided Ji-hoon.

After witnessing everyone’s raw, quietened responses to the draining day that was, we move to the next one. Here, Hye-joo ends up getting involved when reporters question Joong-do’s alleged police favours, breaking down in a frenzy while explaining how it was her who asked for more detectives to help on the case. As such, the assemblyman is forced to quickly de-escalate proceedings, send his wife away, and promise a formal response later on.

Interrupting the news, Gwi-soon loudly shows her dissatisfaction at having her granddaughter’s suicide lumped in with the controversy surrounding Ji-hoon’s death. “Don’t talk about Assemblyman Nam like that,” the elder shouts, explaining that Joong-do paid respects at the university student’s funeral before anything related to his son’s death had so much as surfaced. Adding that Hye-joo also attended the memorial, Gwi-soon emotionally questions how the reporter can call herself human when daring to “say something so atrocious about parents who have lost their precious child.” Elsewhere, Joong-do watches the footage of what transpired during this confrontation.

On television, Joong-do apologises for the actions committed during the “toughest night” of his life, admitting both that his late son possessed drugs, and that he became an “emotional parent” when upping the stakes of the search for his daughter. Yet he doesn’t leave his appearance at a sorry, and subsequently delivers an impassioned speech on the “prevalence of digital sexual violence.” Noting the tragic case of Gwi-soon’s granddaughter, the assemblyman is blunt when discussing the usually loose punishments for crimes of this ilk (only 3% of people are arrested), and appears resolute in his promise to reform the legislation on digital sexual violence, so perpetrators can be “properly punished,” as well as the underprivileged helped.

As Jin-seok notes Joong-do’s “impressive” talents, given what the assemblyman did on television caused public opinion to shift in their party’s favour, we see that the husband and wife are tenderly discussing the funeral of Gwi-soon’s granddaughter they both coincidentally attended. Nevertheless, Joong-do is upset that he made use of the “series of two amazing coincidences,” even if his wife is kind with her trust in his underlying sincerity. “Before I knew you as an assemblyman, I knew you as my husband that I trusted, loved and married,” Hye-joo states. Then, the two embrace.

Ending Explained

The next day, police head out to arrest Ji Seung-kyu, the man responsible for the suicide of Gwi-soon’s granddaughter. Yet just as quickly as the detectives show the medical student’s father their arrest warrant, the perpetrator has committed suicide, jumping from his window in broad daylight. In Seung-kyu’s room, a computer screen shows hateful forum comments he had been reading, his phone displays a barrage of death-threat-bearing notifications, and on his desk rests a post-it note accusing Joong-do of being a murderer. As the camera lingers on this ominous message, and Hye-joo’s narration on the definition of an accident ceases, the episode ends.

What did you think of the K-Drama Trolley season 1, episode 2? Comment below.

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