Trolley Season 1 Episode 5 Recap – why is Hye-joo called a murderer?

By Nathan Sartain
Published: January 3, 2023 (Last updated: February 3, 2024)
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Complete with another tantalizing cliffhanger, this episode of Trolley continues to heat things up.

We recap the Netflix K-Drama series Trolley Season 1 Episode 5, which contains spoilers.

Although every episode of Trolley ends with some form of hook for the viewer, today’s might have been the season’s finest so far. Seeing Joong-do (Park Hee-soon) alongside Seung-hee (Ryu Hyun-kyung) and Ki-young (Ki Tae-young) was a great twist and brings with it excitement regarding how the politician will end up embroiled in this game. Add to that the almost omnipresent Soo-bin (Jung Soo-bin), who will undoubtedly cause more issues herself soon, and things are really heating up here.

Trolley Season 1 Episode 5 recap

We begin with a flashback to 20 years ago, which shows us the first time Hye-joo’s life was “turned upside down” within a day. It was when the panicked student (then known as Kim Jae-eun) had fled from an initially helpful police officer who noticed blood on her clothes, an act linked to her subsequent name change.

In the present, Seung-hee asks the flustered Hye-joo how she is, and belatedly congratulates her on her marriage to an assemblyman. There’s a tense air present, one made more awkward when the book conservator lies about the appearing Soo-bin, unconvincingly labelling the confused youngster “just a kid I know.” Subsequently, Hye-joo nervously asks to talk with Seung-hee another time. So the two swap numbers, the latter vows to call, and an uneasy embrace is shared. “I missed you, my friend,” Seung-hee eerily adds prior to her exit.

As Hye-joo cancels her plans to visit Ji-hoon’s columbarium alongside Soo-bin, wanting to rest to quell her “uneasy” feeling, Joong-do talks with Ki-young. It’s not quite the meeting the assemblyman was hoping for, however, as the driving range owner requests the politician halt what he’s doing, stating his mother-in-law has committed no offence. Additionally, Ki-young seems struck by Joong-do’s claim that his wife has “fond memories” of Youngsan.

After Joong-do hears Seung-kyu’s mother swallowed pills (fortunately, her condition didn’t become life-threatening), he worries about why she did so. Woo-jae explains it could be because of heartbreak or because of the “hateful” online comments about the deceased medical student but asks the assemblyman not to blame himself.

Joong-do can’t abstain from thinking about Ji-hoon though, reflecting on how his son must’ve also received hate in comment sections and how he did what most parents wouldn’t when asking for his now late child to be “punished strictly by the law.”

Still, Woo-jae brings forward some logic, reminding the politician that public sentiment now disallows room for criminals to be understood. “What I mean by that is, you have to keep your pity, or any form of personal sentiments toward Ji-hoon or Seung-kyu’s mother, at home,” he adds, wanting Joong-do to professionally focus on the upcoming election, and only express the aforementioned emotions around Hye-joo.

While Joong-do wonders what cause of death would be most favourable for a parent losing their child, Ki-young ponders on what he was told regarding Hye-joo’s alleged fond memories of Youngsan, recalling how his wife had in fact said the conservator “ran away from her crimes.” Elsewhere, Seung-hee scrolls through the “happy” pictures of her foe, then messages her.

Panicked, Hye-joo immediately reads these texts, which contain comments on how Joong-do “killed someone as well,” in addition to questions on whether the assemblyman knows of her past. Following that, Seung-hee calls, wanting to talk further face-to-face with the conservator in Youngsan.

Despite being guilt-tripped into going land shopping with Yoo-shin, who had needlessly labelled her “heartless,” Seung-hee remains positive when Ki-young arrives home, telling him “things will get better soon.” Concurrently, Soo-bin takes porridge to Hye-joo’s room, only to end up chastised for touching the anxious conservator’s phone without consent.

Ignoring the advice he received, Joong-do visits Seung-kyu’s mother in the hospital. Here, the medical student’s father physically abuses the assemblyman, exclaiming that the politician killed his son, and handwaving any sincerity as an “act” before security intervenes. In the background, Woo-jae discreetly records the one-sided altercation. Meanwhile, Soo-bin searches for her lip balm at Hye-joo’s studio, yet finds herself curiously fixated on the sesame oil from Youngsan.

After watching the silent night-time reflections of Hye-joo, Joong-do, Ki-young and Seung-hee, we move to the following morning. There, the conservator is easily startled, dropping vegetable juice when greeted by her husband. In the same vein, Seung-hee appears antsy alongside her strict mother.

Continuing, Hye-joo soon shouts at Soo-bin again, this time for going into her studio without permission. But the youngster bites back this time, apologising with a noticeable reference to how she is “just a kid” the conservator knows and pointing out she only went snooping around because the promise to have her lip balm found wasn’t kept. Then, Soo-bin asks if the sesame oil should be put back, or thrown away. In the end, it’s given to Yeo-jin, who in time explains her business model of free food for the underprivileged to the pregnant youngster when she eats at her restaurant. As a nugget, we see Soo-bin in this scene scoff at a comment made that Joong-do must take after his mother.

At her studio, Hye-joo smashes a bottle of red paint, causing her to recall the time 20 years ago when she was nervously washing blood off her hands. Elsewhere, Joong-do is adamant he will attempt to get his amendment to the sex crime bill put through before the end of his term, even if his aids believe it would be difficult unless a “major case that brings about a great public uproar” was to occur.

In the midst of a call to Yeo-jin about the sesame oil, Hye-joo hears that the wife of Ko Ji-seop (Daehan Party) drove off after fatally running someone over, compounding her already growing anxieties. This ties into Joong-do’s office gossip, where people are discussing how “one mistake by their family” could end a politician’s career, and are claiming the assemblyman is “lucky” to have his untroublesome wife.

Next, Hye-joo is interrupted in her browsing on the Daehan Party controversies by a call from Seung-hee, who gets the conservator to confirm she will be travelling to Youngsan. Concurrently, Joong-do discovers Gwi-soon cleans his campaign building in an act centred around her gratitude to the politician for bringing Seung-kyu to her idea of justice. As an aside, it’s revealed here that the medical student actually did upload the revenge porn prior to his suicide (unbeknownst to Gwi-soon thanks to the case’s closure, fortunately), and the assemblyman personally appointed a specialist to remove it from the internet.

Arriving in Youngsan, Hye-joo immediately thinks back to her past with Seung-ho. It’s a painful one, especially considering it turns out Seung-hee’s brother had assaulted the conservator when she rejected his romantic advances, and that this was then desperately covered up by Yoo-shin, who promised the underprivileged student a scholarship at Gyeongji University in exchange for her silence.

Ending Explained

Remaining in the flashback, we see Hye-joo was upset that she had to take this offer, given it meant her poverty was exploited. Though this is incomparable to the pain she faced when greeted by Seung-ho at his gate, where he called her a “pathetic orphan” and claimed she shouldn’t be mistaken into thinking he genuinely liked her. Thus, Hye-joo decided to tell the police about her assailer, the final piece of motivation for her doing so being the celebration banner erected for Seung-ho’s acceptance into Seoul National University as a law student.

Continuing, this police statement was what led Seung-ho to suicide, which in turn allowed both Yoo-shin and Seung-hee to label Hye-joo a murderer. “I never thought I would come back,” the conservator says of Youngsan back in the present, before she exits the car to meet with her tormentor. However, when Hye-joo arrives at the destination, she doesn’t just see Seung-hee, but Joong-do and Ki-young too, bringing an end to the episode in a shocking manner.

What did you think of the K-Drama Trolley Season 1 Episode 5? Comment below.

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