A neatly delivered finale that ties up every loose end.
This recap of the Netflix K-Drama series Trolley season 1, episode 16, “Choice,” contains spoilers, including an open discussion of the ending of Trolley Season 1.
After a dramatic Episode 15, the finale of Trolley takes a more subdued turn. Full of reflection, accountability, and reconciliation, it’s a neatly wrapped hour of closure, one which nicely packages some hope into the lives of people who once seemed at a dead-end too.
Trolley Season 1 Episode 16 Recap
Joong-do is Exposed, Woo-jae Gets Desperate
Picking up where we left off, Hye-joo decides to expose the truth for the sake of not hiding anymore, putting her fear to one side knowing victims like herself and Yeo-jin deserve a fair, sincere chance at justice. That, and the book conservator wants to teach Yoon-seo a moral lesson; misdemeanors aren’t necessarily just a “stain,” and the student should be “honest with herself.” Meanwhile, Soon-hong vows to sell his illegally acquired property, then “give back any profit to society.”
After being shown the main ensemble’s stunned reactions to the major news regarding Joong-do’s sexual assault, we move forward. Here, Yoon-seo questions Yeo-jin about what her father allegedly did, upset there was a press conference held instead of a police report submitted. This subsequently draws the ire of Hye-joo, who tells her daughter she’s already explained things, but the student is soon mostly concerned with needing to drop out of school. After all, there’s already a barrage of antagonistic texts coming through from her classmates.
As Hye-joo comforts Yeo-jin about her courage, Woo-jae tells Joong-do that he can’t hand himself in. Instead, the former journalist proposes they fabricate a story, making it sound like the victim’s restaurant sale was part of her “financial need,” and that she “held a grudge” when the assemblyman wouldn’t help her out, which then drove her to falsely accuse him of assault. Additionally, Woo-jae wishes to claim Hye-joo was “mentally unstable,” which they’ll say is why she believed Yeo-jin. Joong-do is hesitant to go along with this, yet his chief advisor insists they “deny at all costs.”
Continuing, Woo-jae soon becomes enraged, repeating the need for Joong-do not to turn himself in, and exclaiming the assemblyman can’t “throw it all away,” or betray “all” the former journalist has done for him. Still, the National Assembly member no longer seems to believe he can repent just by making the world better, and is completely unresponsive.
Seung-hee Finds out the Truth
When Soo-bin attempts to stop the bitter Yeong-seon from lying about Yeo-jin (the former employee claims the restauranteur made false claims because she was rejected by Joong-do), the youngster ends up overwhelmed, interrogated by the media about her identity, and relation to Hye-joo. Concurrently, Ki-young lets Yoo-sin know her property will be sold, causing the elder to beg her in-law to try and “make a deal” with Joong-do. This, it’s explained, would be her forgetting about Hye-joo as long as she can keep her land.
Blinded by desperation, Yoo-sin exposes the fact she lied about Hye-joo in front of Seung-hee. “No matter what happens, my child becomes anyone else,” the elder suddenly says to her daughter when confronted. Then, when passionately responding to claims she ruined Hye-joo’s life, Yoo-sin collapses, resulting in her being hospitalized again.
Joong-do Takes Drastic Measures
While Seung-hee is comforted by Ki-young over her regret in not believing Hye-joo, Joong-do steals Woo-jae’s car for a drive, distraught from hearing his wife say he hadn’t atoned properly because he “left Yeo-jin out” of his plans to make the world better. In time, the former journalist shares what’s happened with the book conservator, who emotionally heads out to find the assemblyman.
At Sokcho, Hye-joo finds her husband treading aimlessly into the deep water, unfazed at the idea this might signal the end of his life. Fortunately, the assemblyman comes to his senses when hearing his wife plead with him, but it doesn’t prevent a real dressing down from occurring when he’s back on dry land. “If you die like this, don’t you know it’ll hurt everyone,” Hye-joo says painfully, asking if Joong-do wants to be remembered “as a coward.”
“Live in shame and be punished,” Hye-joo continues, disregarding the idea her broken-down husband had reached his limit with guilt. Later, Joong-do does acknowledge his hubris, realizing he shouldn’t have decided how he got to be forgiven for his wrongdoing or believed he could “atone” by changing the world politically. Thus, the assemblyman apologizes once more (to Hye-joo, Yeo-jin, and voters) before publicly admitting to his wrongdoing.
In a flashback, we’re shown Woo-jae had purposefully allowed Ji-hoon to drown purely because the troubled youth wanted to use stolen drugs to get himself arrested, then exploit that to “make sure” Joong-do’s political career ceased to exist. Plus, the former journalist had erased the footage of Joong-do being quizzed about his affair too. Following this revelatory scene, we return to the present, where Woo-jae looks utterly hopeless at what’s transpiring with Joong-do in front of his eyes.
During a press conference, Jin-seok apologizes for Joong-do’s sex crime and confirms he has been expelled from the Daehan Party, as well as the National Assembly. Succeeding this, it’s set out that Chairwoman Woo had actually been the person who assisted Hye-joo in setting up her public revealing of her husband’s crimes. Meanwhile, a broken-hearted Gwi-soon eggs the house of Joong-do.
Trolley Season 1 Ending Explained
Soo-bin Gets Justice, Hye-joo Gains Closure
When taunted by Jung-dae, Soo-bin tells her ex that the child she aborted was his, not Ji-hoon’s. “I got an abortion because I want nothing to do with you,” the youngster continues, prior to telling ‘JD’ she will “make him pay.” It’s a vow followed up on too, given Soo-bin heads to the police to report Jung-dae’s shady stolen credit card meth dealing, in addition to Hyeong-tae’s solicitations of prostitution.
Outside, Soo-bin gifts Hye-joo some pictures of Ji-hoon, and explains he regretted “acting out” over his father’s wrongdoings as he didn’t wish to ruin his own life or hurt the book conservator further. That, and the youngster swears to her ally that her son wouldn’t have had the drugs he was found dead with for personal use.
After deciding to let Ki-young get a head-start on their new life in Japan, Seung-hee pays Hye-joo a visit, wanting herself and Yoo-sin to be sued for their actions. “I’m sorry for everything,” she says, willing to accept any retaliation from the book conservator. Yet it seems Hye-joo isn’t necessarily interested in going down that route, given a wry smile comes just from being referred to by her changed name, not Jae-eun.
Five months later, Hye-joo presents the imprisoned Joong-do with divorce papers ahead of his trial. “Whatever they decide, I won’t appeal,” the former assemblyman sorrowfully states. Meanwhile, protests are beginning over Namgoong Sol’s Law potentially being discarded, due to the fact a university professor had taken their life when accused of “repeatedly molesting a grad student.”
As Soo-bin celebrates Jung-dae being caught by the police, Yoon-seo starts to realize Hye-joo’s valor when hearing she was the reason Da-som was confident enough to expose her dad’s affair. “She faced the inconvenient truth and decided not to hide it,” the student smilingly says of the book conservator. As such, Yoon-seo subsequently defends herself from school bullies, proclaiming that if they’re going to discuss her parents, they should include her “brave” mother in the conversation too.
While Yoon-seo reconciles with her mother, Yeo-jin sees hope for a brighter future, and Joong-do stutteringly picks up an old journal, which had in fact been repaired by his wife. Then, after a glance at a polaroid image showing Hye-joo, Soo-bin, Yeo-jin, and Yoon-seo all alongside each other, the series ends with the book conservator contently getting to work on a blank white canvas, clearly marking her fresh start in life.
You can stream Trolley season 1, episode 16 exclusively on Netflix. What did you think of the Trolley Season 1 ending? Comment below.