A solid episode focused on character development.
Although not overly intense, this episode of Trolley Season 1 Episode 3 does a smart job of building up its set of characters. Hye-joo’s (Jung Yi-joo) haunting past is slowly becoming clearer, Joong-do’s (Park Hee-soon) conscience is more evident than his political ambitions, and Soo-bin’s (Jung Soo-bin) enigmatic qualities have been amplified. Add that to the introduction of a new family seemingly tied to the one we’re already familiar with, and things look to be taking a very enjoyable shape.
Trolley Season 1 Episode 3 recap
As Yoon-seo learns about the ‘Trolley Problem’ at school, pondering what action she’d take in the situation, we re-watch the frenzy Seung-kyu’s death caused. Notably, news of the medical student’s death has now filtered through to Joong-do, though it did so once the media had already begun their coverage. Meanwhile, Hye-joo solemnly reflects on the fact Soo-bin is effectively being permitted to stay in the house so she can be used as a political tool for the upcoming election.
After Yeo-jin’s persistent dizziness is revealed, we watch Soo-bin nervously conceal a phone when Hye-joo drops by to give the pregnant girl her lunch, as well as a couple of books. Positively, the estranged partner of Ji-hoon does here express her willingness to get drug tested, hoping to win the trust of those residing in the house she is staying in.
While Hye-joo shows Soo-bin how she conserves books, evidently content the late Ji-hoon had told his partner about her work, Woo-jae gets his team ready to draft Joong-do’s statement on Seung-kyu’s suicide. Following that, we watch the reactions of the assemblyman (subtle guilt), Jin-seok (worry), and Soon-hong (opportunism) pertaining to the medical student’s fatal actions. The latter’s use of journalists and parental grief to position himself politically is particularly striking, though.
Moving on from her ominous question on whether people can be conserved in the same way as books, Soo-bin allows Hye-joo to quickly fix her lip balm lid. Then, the two talk about the conservator’s history with her job, one which has its beginnings back when she volunteered in the book repair department of a library while working at a welfare centre. “The more I conserved damaged books, the more fascinating it got,” Hye-joo explains, as a flashback plays showing her younger-self attentively learning the trade. Yet despite the presence of a fairly nice atmosphere when the conservator is detailing how she opened her studio once refining her skills through things like online learning, a sympathy-laden tenseness remains.
As Joong-do’s aids deal with constant calls from people wondering when they will get word from the assemblyman about Seung-kyu’s death (the politician has remained in his room, unmoving), Hye-joo treats Soo-bin to a new phone, as well as some food at Yeo-Jin’s restaurant. Kindly, the idea of Yeo-jin being Hye-joo’s “saviour” during her pregnancy hardships are reinforced here.
Leaving Soo-bin alone with Yeo-jin, who gives the youngster a lesson on what family truly is, Hye-soo visits Gwi-soon. It’s not exactly a pleasant meeting, however, with the elder emotionally thankful her wishes of Seung-kyu killing himself came true, and the book conservator clearly affected when herself and Joong-do become recipients of gratitude for the student’s suicide. To make matters worse, Hye-soo ends up overwhelmed by Gwi-soon’s gifting of sesame oil, partly thanks to the namedrop of her hometown of Youngsan.
While Soo-bin cynically tells Yeo-jin it “must be nice having such a righteous family”, given people are hailing Joong-do as a “hero of justice,” Hye-joo calms herself down. Elsewhere, Joong-do departs his office to attend a debate, has his statement on Seung-kyu’s suicide released, but remains silent when told about the location of the medical student’s wake. Additionally, Soon-hong and Jin-seok get a chance to taunt each other over their respective party’s political controversies.
Despite Joong-do’s aids being noticeably relieved at Seung-kyu’s suicide resulting in the public praising the assemblyman for what he did (bringing up the late student’s criminal case on television), this positivity isn’t everywhere. Yoon-seo has to be subjected to her classmates excitedly declaring her father “amazing,” in addition to discussions on how they’d love other types of wrongdoers dead. One student in particular is visceral with her words, wanting adulterers specifically to suffer the same fate as Seung-kyu.
Along with the subtle reveal that the media are returning to discussions on Soon-hong’s involvement in illegal land speculation, we are introduced to two new characters. There’s Seung-hee, a woman returning to Korea (more specifically, Youngsan) following a three-year absence, and there’s Ki-young, her brother. The two meet at the airport thanks to the latter, and subsequently travel to meet their mother back in their hometown. In this scene, Seung-hee’s fractured relationship with her parent is made clear, punctuated by a sarcastic comment about her not being “out shopping for land today.”
Next, Hye-joo tells Yeo-jin that she plans to attend Seung-kyu’s wake, admitting she is bothered by the suicide her husband is getting praised for helping cause. Though her close friend tries to dissuade her, reminding the book conservator that Joong-do won’t be present at the event due to the fact it’ll look like him “taking responsibility,” so she shouldn’t go either. “Think of what the bereaved family might say to you,” Yeo-jin adds. This, in turn, makes Hye-joo think back to a funeral she was scolded for attending back in her youth, as well as her troubled history in Youngsan.
After Joong-do is egged by the parents of Seung-kyu, who loudly label the assemblyman a “murderer,” and question his humanity given he didn’t attend the late student’s wake, the politician looks shaken. Though he does manage to re-adjust, performing well in his debate on paternity leave to the pleasure of the engaged audience. Meanwhile, Soo-bin looks teary at the sight of a man heading out with another woman, so decides to see Hye-joo at her studio.
As Joong-do cancels the rest of his schedule, Soo-bin chats with Hye-joo. At first, it’s nice, with the youngster seemingly encouraged by the lack of educational background needed to become a book conservator. But Hye-joo ends up crushed by the revelation that Ji-hoon had told his partner she wasn’t his birth mother, to the point she tasks Soo-bin with an impromptu errand to afford herself time alone. Concurrently, Seung-hee is faced with a brittle reaction when returning home to her mother, who believes her daughter “abandoned” her.
Next, Joong-do turns up to see his wife, proclaiming his current situation “too hard,” before tearfully adding: “someone died because of me.” Naturally, Hye-joo tries to comfort her husband, but he’s distraught, unable to be convinced he isn’t to blame for Seung-kyu’s death. “They (the student’s parents) lost their son because of me. I know exactly how that feels. It’s all my fault,” the assemblyman painstakingly says.
Following this, Hye-joo narrates a flashback demonstrating her unflinching trust in Joong-do that began back when he showed his “kind heart toward this world that we lived in.” This scene highlights how the assemblyman took care of his elders selflessly in his youth, as well as how the now married couple came to grow close through their mutual endeavours.
Back in the present, Hye-joo is empathetically embracing Joong-do, recalling the funeral she remains haunted by to this day, where her young-self was blamed by none other than Seung-hee’s mother for the death of her child. Concurrently, Woo-jae gets Soo-bin to admit that Ji-hoon may not be the father of her unborn baby. With this abrupt revelation, the episode comes to an end, punctuated by the tears of Joong-do.
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