Train: Episode 1
It’s finally here! Train, OCN’s latest supernatural thriller, has all the indications of being an exciting fantasy ride. Yoon Shi-yoon and Kyung Su-jin are paired up as old friends who find themselves entangled in a mystery involving secrets, murder, and family connections, and that’s before we even get into the paranormal aspects of the case.
EPISODE 1: The skeletons at the closed station
We open on a deserted stretch of train tracks leading into a dark tunnel. A cat is sitting on the tracks when the warning lights start to flash and the bells warn that a train is approaching. Suddenly, the train rushes by and the cat is swept away.
April 8, 2008
A high school girl arrives home during a rainstorm — her nametag says that she’s Han Seo-kyung. It’s dark and quiet in the house, and there’s no answer when she calls for her father. She steps in something wet — blood — which leads to her father’s dead body. Interestingly, the camera lingers on his broken watch, which stopped at 9:35 p.m.
At the same time, a boy about Seo-kyung’s age searches the streets for his dad. He approaches a group of people crowded around someone who’s been hit by a car, and when he gets close, the boy realizes that it’s his father.
He follows the EMTs into the ER, passing right by Seo-kyung and a policewoman. The cop calls out his name (Do-won), but he’s too distraught to respond. His father is pronounced dead on arrival, and Seo-kyung watches numbly as Do-won screams in grief.
Later, the woman who was with Seo-kyung at the hospital, SECTION CHIEF OH (Lee Hang-na) returns to the house to investigate Seo-kyung’s father’s murder. Fingerprints lead to a boiler repairman who was in the home earlier that day, but she recognizes him as Do-won’s father and tells her men that he’s not a suspect, because he’s dead, too.
Despite all the blood, the cause of death in Seo-kyung’s father’s case is asphyxiation… he was strangled, then hit on the head. The murder weapon was a necklace taken from a jewelry box in the house.
After his father’s body is cremated, Do-won is given a box containing the clothing he was wearing when he died. When Do-won picks up his father’s jacket, something falls out… a necklace he recognizes from a news article showing the possible murder weapon.
2020 — Present Day
On a rainy night, someone rolls a suitcase along a set of train tracks. Even in the deluge, blood can be seen trickling out of the bottom of the suitcase.
We join a grown-up HAN SEO-KYUNG (Kyung Su-jin), who works as a prosecutor now, as she talks to a woman who looks as though she’s been badly beaten. SEO DO-WON (Yoon Shi-yoon) bursts into her office and demands to know why his arrest warrant was rejected — he’s a detective working on the beaten woman’s case.
He’s got all the evidence needed to prove she was raped, but Seo-kyung says that the woman changed her statement and now claims that it was consensual. Do-won asks if she believes that, and although the victim is currently shaking and sobbing in her office, all Seo-kyung can tell him is that she says she doesn’t know where her wounds came from.
Do-won says that since the assault happened in the assailant’s car, he can prove it was rape with the black box footage. Seo-kyung argues that the rapist has probably gotten rid of the evidence, but Do-won retorts that sick people like him keep that kind of thing to watch over and over again.
He wants a search warrant for the car, but Seo-kyung says that the court would only deny it, and Do-won accuses her of not trying. Seo-kyung asks what he means by that, so he points out that her boss was a scholarship student of the rapist’s father’s company. She asks if he’s saying she’s caving to pressure, and he just snaps, “I hope not.”
Angry now, Seo-kyung tells Do-won that he’s in no position to accuse her of being a coward. Do-won removes her hand from his arm and says she might be right as he leaves. Hmmm, these two seem to have some painful history.
The rapist’s name is Park Tae-kyung, and he’s so arrogant that he visits the police station to “thank” the detectives for their hard work on his case (in other words, rub it in their faces that he’s getting off scott-free). Detective WOO JAE-HYUK (Jo Wan-ki) loses his temper and grabs Tae-kyung, asking why he ran if he was innocent.
Tae-kyung doesn’t even care that they know he’s lying when he says that running from the cops like in the movies was on his bucket list. After Jae-hyuk is taken from the room, Tae-kyung puts an energy drink on Do-won’s desk, but Do-won completely ignores him as he calmly studies Tae-kyung’s criminal record.
Do-won and his partner, KIM JIN-WOO (Kim Dong-young) are out patrolling when they see Park Tae-kyung come out of a hotel drunk and drive away in his car. Do-won takes off after him, and Tae-kyung starts swerving all over the road in an attempt to shake them off while Jin-woo holds onto the door for dear life, hee.
At one point Do-won makes Jin-woo get out of the car, then cuts a corner to pull right in front of Tae-kyung’s vehicle. There’s a huge crash and Do-won cuts his head open, but Tae-kyung just laughs drunkenly and takes off again. Now it’s a hit-and-run case, so Do-won calls it in as he continues the chase.
To avoid the additional cop cars, Tae-kyung drives down a dark alley and keeps going until he ends up on some old train tracks. Do-won is still right on his tail, and eventually Tae-kyung gets his car stuck in a deep rut between the tracks. Do-won pulls him out of the car, grabs the USB from the black box, and starts to handcuff him.
Tae-kyung is still bragging that nothing will happen to him when he suddenly starts screaming. Do-won looks, and OMG… Tae-kyung’s wheel stopped on a human skeleton. In his shock, Do-won lets go of Tae-kyung, who makes a run for it. He tries to climb a steep hill and accidentally unearths a tote bag, which opens and spills out a second skeleton. Holy crap, y’all.
By morning, the forensics team has found a total of four human skeletons at Mukyeong Station, all in duffel bags with identically smashed skulls. The station, which closed down five years ago, is assumed to be the dumping ground of a serial killer due to the lack of CCTV cameras.
Do-won is summoned to Section Chief Oh’s office, where she insists he take a leave of absence. Although he caught Tae-kyung and got his black box footage as proof of several rapes, the video also shows how Do-won drove his vehicle into Tae-kyung’s path in his attempt to catch him. Do-won argues that he didn’t break the law and followed procedure, but Section Chief Oh says that he could have died.
Do-won reluctantly tells Section Chief Oh that he’s getting counseling and taking his meds, and he insists that they need him since they’ve just discovered a serial murder case. Section Chief Oh caves on the condition that he provides a doctor’s note, and Do-won flashes her a cheeky grin.
Back at the abandoned train station, his old friend and forensics specialist, LEE JUNG-MIN (Shin So-yool) fusses at him for not seeing a doctor about the knock on his head. She says it will be difficult to identify the victims since they are all quite decomposed, but by their jewelry they all appear to be women.
A short way down the track, the body of a cat is unearthed. Jin-woo, who grew up by a railroad track, says it looks like the cat was hit by a train, except that there hasn’t been a train through there in five years. Do-won notices something else strange — a nearby culvert that’s filled with empty candy wrappers.
The bodies are taken to the National Forensic Service building, where Seo-kyung goes to investigate. The doctor tells her that all four skulls suffered the same blunt force trauma, but that the skeletons are so damaged, it’s clear that the killer continued beating them well after they were dead.
Seo-kyung gives the doctor the file on her father’s murder, which sounds very similar to these deaths and has still not been solved. The doctor agrees that the skull fractures look similar, but since she can’t determine the cause of death for the recovered bodies, she can’t say if it might be the same killer.
It’s Seo-kyung’s birthday, and she celebrates it with Section Chief Oh, who’s close with her and Do-won based on the photos of the three of them together. They set a place for Do-won, but Seo-kyung says that he won’t come this year, just like the past three years, because she makes him uncomfortable. Section Chief Oh knows that Seo-kyung is more upset by Do-won than she admits, but Seo-kyung says that Do-won has done more for her than even her dad could have.
When Seo-kyung gets home, Do-won is changing the lightbulb on her porch. She bristles at him being there, but he says that he lives just next door. He shows her the CCTV footage from the store that sells the candy whose wrappers he found at Mukyeong Station.
He’s recognized the man buying the candy as Lee Sung-wook, Seo-kyung’s former stepbrother, and although Seo-kyung hasn’t seen Sung-wook in years, she recognizes the mole on the back of his hand. She asks if this is about the Mukyeong Station case, but Do-won doesn’t want to discuss it until he’s sure.
On his way out, Do-won tosses back a half-assed, “Happy birthday.” Seo-kyung follows him outside and throws a bag at him, asking angrily if that’s all he has to say. She says that she put up with it when he returned after three years and acted like a stranger, and she asks him to tell her why he’s being like this.
It’s interesting that Do-won can’t look her in the eye when he says that he left because she said she liked him. Seo-kyung calls him a coward and tells him to take the bag of the things he left behind, but he says that she can throw them away since he left them anyway.
He gets in his car and drives away, but as soon as he’s around the corner, he slams on the brakes. Awww, he’s got a cake and candles on the seat next to him, and he punches the wheel in frustration.
He’s distracted by a call from Jung-min, who says they’ve pulled some partial fingerprints from the bags the bodies were found in. Unfortunately, they’re not enough to identify anyone without a suspect’s prints to compare them to.
At Mukyeong Station, a man stops by some train tracks to pull a candy from his pocket, discarding the wrapper. He sees the body of the dead cat and drops to throw dirt over it with his bare hands. A policeman tells him that he can’t be here, but he just continues covering the cat as he repeats, “Danger, mirror, traffic lights, stop… danger, mirror, traffic lights, stop…”
The man is LEE SUNG-WOOK (Cha Yeob), Seo-kyung’s former stepbrother. The police take him home, where his mother and Seo-kyung’s former stepmother, JO YOUNG-RAN (Yoon Bok-in) screams at the cops to just take him with them. Do-won has come to talk to Sung-wook, and witnessing the scene clues him in that Sung-wook has become mentally handicapped since he last saw him.
When everyone calms down, Do-won re-introduces himself to Young-ran. She remembers Do-won as the guy who took Seo-kyung to live with him after her father died. Do-won asks dryly who made her leave — her abusive stepmother, or the stepbrother who tried to violate her?
He learns that Sung-wook incurred a head injury when he was driving drunk and plowed into a telephone pole. He tells Young-ran about the bodies found at Mukyeong Station, and she laughs uproariously at the idea that a man with the intelligence of a child could murder four people. Her laughter cuts off sharply when Do-won growls, “I didn’t say he was a suspect.”
He talks to Sung-wook, who barely acknowledges him, though Do-won remembers beating the crap out of him when he assaulted Seo-kyung. Do-won gives Sung-wook a candy that he brought with him, then shows Sung-wook a photo of Mukyeong Station. He asks if Sung-wook has seen anyone there carrying a big bag, or digging with a shovel.
Instead of answering, Sung-wook starts playing with a train set and repeating, “Danger, mirror, traffic lights, stop. Danger, mirror, traffic lights, stop.” Do-won notices that he’s written those words and some other random-seeming ones (mom, pig, Bukgyrungru) all over his bedroom walls.
At the abandoned station, something flickers, and for a moment we can see the building in good shape, with people coming and going. Then another flicker, and it’s run-down and empty again. ~shiver~
Do-won returns to the police station, where he learns that Sung-wook was found burying a dead cat. After he’s gone, Young-ran hides something in a hole in her wall, then catches Sung-wook trying to leave the house.
Do-won tells Jung-min that he has a fingerprint (I assume, from the candy wrapper) for her to compare to the ones found on the duffel bags. She’s examining the victims’ clothes, and she’s found something strange — the blouse that one victim was wearing when she died is from a manufacturer that went out of business eight years ago, yet the tag shows that the blouse was made in 2019.
As Jung-min flips through some crime scene photos, Do-won notices something interesting in the backgrounds. There’s an old danger sign next to one body, a discarded mirror next to another, and defunct traffic lights by the third. He asks Jung-min to let him know when she gets the results on the fingerprints and takes off.
Seo-kyung sees that Jung-min is comparing Sung-wook’s fingerprints with the ones found at Mukyeong Station, so she tries to call Do-won, but he doesn’t answer. He’s at the scene, locating each of the items from the photos, which just happen to be the same as the words Sung-wook keeps repeating — danger, mirror, traffic lights — though he doesn’t see a stop sign to go with “stop.”
He takes a call from Jung-min, who confirms that Sung-wook’s fingerprints match the ones found on the duffel bags. He finds a stop sign, and it becomes clear that the words are reminders of where the bodies were stashed. He calls Jae-hyuk and tells him to look for anything connected with the word “Bukgyrungru,” certain that there’s a fifth victim and that the word “Bukgyrungru” on Sung-wook’s wall will lead them to it.
When he hangs up, he finds Seo-kyung standing behind him. She asks what he means about Bukgyrungru and a fifth victim, so he reluctantly explains everything to her. She believes that this means Sung-wook also killed her father, but Do-won mutters that Sung-wook had nothing to do with her dad’s death.
She argues that the cases are too similar to be coincidence, but Do-won points out that they don’t even know how the women were killed. He adds that Sung-wook isn’t the same as he was twelve years ago because of his accident.
But Seo-kyung isn’t listening anymore, instead she’s staring at something off to the side. She calls Do-won over, and he sees what she’s looking at — a flyer on the wall for Bukgyrungru Chinese food delivery.
They split up to look for a fifth body, unaware that Sung-wook has snuck away from his mother and is outside digging another hole. Do-won experiences a strange moment where he gets a sudden headache and hears a train, but it soon passes… only for Sung-wook to hit him in the head with his shovel and knock him unconscious.
Seo-kyung is inside the abandoned station, following more Bukgyrungru flyers to a plastic trash bin that catches her eye. She removes the lid, and oh no… there’s a duffel bag inside. Seo-kyung slowly unzips the bag to reveal the body of a young woman.
After knocking Do-won out, Sung-wook sees the glow from Seo-kyung’s flashlight and follows it to her.
The old clock on the tower grinds to life, and as the minute hand ticks to 9:35 p.m., the broken lights by the tracks begin to flash. Seo-kyung finds a discarded train ticket on the floor for February 14, 2020.
Do-won rouses on the track just as the mist parts, and a train that shouldn’t be there barrels down on him at full speed.
I have been so excited for this drama, you guys have no idea! I’m not the biggest fan of detective dramas, but everything else about Train is right up my alley — mystical happenings, tragic lost love, and Yoon Shi-yoon (who, believe it or not, I’ve never had the pleasure of recapping before!). Match him up with Kyung Soo-jin and I am SOLD. I love them both individually, and I can’t think of a more fitting pairing… there’s just something about their acting styles that feel so compatible to me. So I admit that I’m going into this drama with extremely high hopes, and a fear of being let down.
And thankfully, I’m glad to say, so far, so good. This first episode was a bit tame in the sense that we didn’t get to see any dimension-hopping yet, but I like the story that’s being set up. I appreciate how the show got right into the action with two deaths, introducing our leads’ childhood connection with the possibility of one father having murdered the other. Then we whiplashed right into adulthood and a rape case, which somehow escalated with the discovery of a serial killer, and yet I never felt confused — rather than being too fast, it all came across to me as just super exciting. I like it when a show assumes I’m capable of keeping up, yet doesn’t run off without me (~side-eyes Memorist so hard~), that’s complex enough to let me feel smart when I figure something out moments before the characters do, but at the same time relatively easy to follow. And just as an interesting aside, I appreciate how the show has several women in positions of authority, such as Section Chief Oh, Jung-min, and even the doctor at the forensics facility. So far I haven’t seen one toxic male boss.
I also like how we’ve been dropped down right in the middle of Do-won and Seo-kyung’s long-time relationship — I don’t mind the childhood connection trope when the connection is built into the plot well, and in Train, Do-won and Seo-kyung’s shared past is an integral part of their story. They’ve known each other for a very long time, long enough to even have some romantic complications. Do-won still has some issues we don’t know much about, such as why he’s taking medication and getting counseling, and why he apparently disappeared for three years after Seo-kyung confessed her feelings for him. This is all going to create a lot more interest in the relationship between Do-won and Seo-kyung, for me anyway, when everything goes sideways and the alternate timelines come into play, in a much more creative way than what we’re used to seeing in typical dramas.
So we got a lot of information on lots of different murders in this episode. Seo-kyung’s father was killed and Do-won has seen evidence that it may have been his own father. Also, the MO seems very similar to the more recent murders, which would appear to point to Sung-wook. Yet I’m not even convinced that SS is the serial killer, especially knowing that things are about to get a lot messier, reality-wise… he might just be an accomplice for all we know. In fact, a lot of things seem very mysterious — the fact that Seo-kyung’s father’s watch stopped at the exact same time of night that the clock tower at the station moved seems like a big clue, not to mention the gigantic train that appears to run through the closed station on a semi-regular basis. The clothing on the victim being from a bankrupt manufacturer, yet made only a year ago, is another strange irregularity. Then there’s Sung-wook, who’s supposedly got the intellect of a child yet might be traveling to other realities to commit or help commit murders… well, there’s a lot to unpack, and I don’t think we’ll have all of the puzzles pieces put together for quite some time.