Train: Episode 12 (Final)
Just when our hero thinks it’s over, he discovers that there’s much more to the murder case he’s been swapping worlds to solve. He still doesn’t fully understand the consequences of being in a world where he doesn’t belong, and just his presence is enough to create dangerous ripples in reality. If he doesn’t find a way to stop it, he could lose everything he loves.
EPISODE 12 RECAP
As Section Chief Oh goes to her old rented home to meet with Doctor Seok, Do-won hurries to Mukyeoung Station in World A, desperate to catch the train back to World B. He arrives right at 9:35 p.m., just as Train 8210 pulls into the station. Joon-young sits alone in a room somewhere, tied up –– Seo-kyung had left him to watch Doctor Seok, but Doctor Seok had seen him and knocked him unconscious.
Section Chief Oh enters the house and sees a vision of Doctor Seok as a child. She follows him to Doctor Seok, who’s sitting in front of a meal as if it’s the most normal thing in the world. She asks about the audio file of his most recent murder, so he pulls it up on his phone and plays it again. He says he’s taking his time to decide what to do with it, and tells her to eat.
He takes a few bites, then asks in a small voice why she gave birth to him. Section Chief Oh says, “Because I’m your mother,” and when he asks why she abandoned him, again she replies, “Because I’m your mother.” Doctor Seok asks, “Then why don’t you stop me? You have never been my mother, even for a moment.”
A flashback to another murder, another audio recording sent to Section Chief Oh, and another call where Doctor Seok asks his question of if she’ll keep being a cop, or if she’ll be his mother just for a moment. Doctor Seok grows more and more distraught as he asks why she never arrested him. He sobs that if she was truly his mother she would have stopped him. He asks how long she’s going to let him be a monster, but Section Chief Oh just says that she has to protect him.
They’re interrupted by the sounds of Joon-young escaping, and Doctor Seok follows him out and hits him with a metal pipe. Joon-young sees Section Chief Oh and calls out to her, but Doctor Seok keeps hitting Joon-young while asking if she’s going to just stand there and watch. She finally screams at him to stop, then takes the pipe from him and viciously slams Joon-young in the head. Oh my god.
Doctor Seok gives her a sick smile and steps towards her as if he’s going to hug her, but instead he grabs Section Chief Oh by the throat and starts to choke her. She doesn’t struggle, even when he wraps the necklace around her throat and whispers, “The only thing you gave me was this disease.”
A shot rings out and Doctor Seok falls to the ground… ohthankgoodness, it’s Seo-kyung. She runs to Section Chief Oh, then checks on Joon-young, and while her back is turned, Section Chief Oh picks up her gun and takes aim at Seo-kyung. She answers Seo-kyung’s “Why?” the same way she answered Do-won — that sometimes you must continue even when you know it’s the wrong path.
Seo-kyung tells Section Chief Oh that her son is going to kill her, and from where he’s sitting on the ground, Doctor Seok starts to laugh. He asks Section Chief Oh if she’s really going this far to protect him, and we see several flashes of him in other worlds, always dying of suicide in a jail cell. (Okay, I get it now — this explains the scene in the previous episode where we saw Section Chief Oh finding Doctor Seok after hanging himself. That happened in a third reality… and there have been even more. Wait, so is Section Chief Oh even from this world?)
Section Chief Oh sobs, “I couldn’t lose you again. I didn’t stop you even to the end.” It seems like she’s about to shoot Seo-kyung, but her phone rings with a call from Do-won. While Section Chief Oh is distracted by surprise, Seo-kyung quickly disarms her, but Section Chief Oh shoves her off and picks up her gun again, so Seo-kyung escapes around the side of the house.
Turning to her son again, Section Chief Oh says, “You should live. Do whatever it takes to live. I turned you into a monster, so I will end my life.” She goes after Seo-kyung, and Doctor Seok gets to his feet and reaches to pick up Seo-kyung’s dropped gun, only to have someone point a gun at him.
Seo-kyung tries to ambush Section Chief Oh again, but again Section Chief Oh pushes her off and takes aim, vowing to protect her son as long as she’s alive. But a voice calls out, “Me too! I will risk everything to protect her. As long as I’m alive, if you hurt her the slightest bit, your son will die.” Section Chief Oh looks up, and Do-won is standing there, holding his weapon at Doctor Seok’s head.
Suddenly they’re surrounded by cops, who disarm Section Chief Oh and cuff her and Doctor Seok. Do-won goes to Seo-kyung, and she falls into his arms saying she thought she’d never see him again. He hugs her back and reassures her that it’s all over now.
In a last desperate move, Section Chief Oh confesses to all the murders on the spot and claims that Doctor Seok is innocent. He looks at her and says serenely, “I finally understand who my last target should have been.” We see flashes of the other Doctor Seoks from other worlds, all in jail, saying these exact words to her just before killing themselves.
Doctor Seok suddenly grabs a gun from one of the cops and finishes, “The one person who could make you miserable.” Section Chief Oh realizes what he’s about to do and screams as Doctor Seok puts the gun to his own head and pulls the trigger.
After Doctor Seok’s body is taken away, Do-won tells Section Chief Oh that he can’t hold her responsible for Seo-kyung’s death in his world, but that the things she did here will have her rotting in jail until she dies. He holds up Doctor Seok’s phone and the necklace and says it’s enough evidence to make sure her son is known as a murderer.
But Section Chief Oh just laughs crazily, then snarls, “You will also end up regretting this. You will spew blood, hunched over in pain, and wish for your life to end. You will forever regret that you crossed the boundary.”
The next morning, Seo-kyung sighs that their twelve-year ordeal is finally over. She tells Do-won that nobody would have known the truth if he hadn’t come to this world, and asks what he’ll do now. He says he’s going to live by “that person’s” side, because the only world he cares about is the one where she is.
He turns to go, but Seo-kyung calls after him, “Are you really okay with it? I don’t remember what you remember, and we lived in two different worlds. I’m okay with it. Thank you for coming to meet me.” Do-won realizes that she knows she’s the one he’s there for, as Seo-kyung says almost the same words that his Seo-kyung said in her last message to him: “I’m relieved to have met you.”
She asks how he feels, and he recalls that his Seo-kyung had hoped he would tell her the truth (about his feelings) when they saw each other again, only he’d never gotten the chance. He doesn’t make that same mistake again… “From where should we start over? Both in my world and in this one, there hasn’t been a single moment that I haven’t loved you. From where should we start over? My name is Seo Do-won.”
Later, Jung-min wonders why Section Chief Oh did horrible things to protect Doctor Seok, even if she is his mother, and Do-won says that after the first time she couldn’t get out of it. He notices the uniform insignia that Jung-min is carrying, and she explains that it’s from a skeleton that was found in a car in the river. She admits that it’s strange that an officer apparently disappeared, yet they never heard anything about it.
Do-won has learned from Seo-kyung that it was Jung-min who caused Train 8210 to run one last time, allowing him to return. She says she did it for herself, not him, and that seeing him (a version of the Do-won she loved) doing well is enough for her. Do-won thanks her and leaves, and Jung-min’s smile turns a little sad.
Do-won is walking through the Mukyeoung Police Station lobby when he spots a photograph of Section Chief Oh on the wall. It’s from a promotion she received in 2012, and Do-won notices something strange — in the photo, Section Chief Oh has a large scar on her left hand, yet when Section Chief Oh was cuffed a few nights ago, she had no scar.
Oh no… she IS from a different world! Do-won calls Jung-min and tells her to compare the the DNA of skeleton found in the river to the Section Chief Oh they just arrested.
Seo-kyung arrives home after work, but she senses something off as soon as she walks into her apartment. She’s attacked by someone in all black, who growls, “You shouldn’t have taken the ledger,” before stabbing her in the stomach, in the exact same place that Seo-kyung from World A was shot.
Still at the station, Do-won’s head begins to ring, and he realizes with horror what it means. He rushes to Seo-kyung’s apartment and finds her in the exact same position he found World A’s Seo-kyung, and he screams in an eery re-enactment of the night that Seo-kyung died.
Thankfully Seo-kyung isn’t dead, and Do-won gets her to the hospital in time. As soon as she’s safe, he heads to the prison to talk to Section Chief Oh, who smirks that she’s been waiting for him to realize he’s lost and come to her. Do-won demands to know who she is, saying that he knows she killed this world’s Section Chief Oh.
She tells him, “I’m an outsider who crossed the boundary in order to recover what I lost, and a failure who failed to escape my fate. Like you.” She notices his shock to hear that he’s not the only traveler, and says that the people who cross the boundaries are those who have nothing to lose by not going back to their worlds, who are trying to avoid a gruesome fate.
She asks him, “What do you think happened to all those people? In a despair, even deeper and darker, they flail in vain. Because they realized much too late that their fate repeats as it did in their previous worlds. That is the price of crossing the boundary.”
Shaking with rage, Do-won says that she and her son caused all of this misery, but Section Chief Oh says that it’s his presence here that’s disrupting the world. He’s the one causing people to meet who shouldn’t have met, uncovering truths that should have remained hidden, and creating paths where they shouldn’t exist.
She spits that she tried to stop it, and we see that in her original world, she’d arrested Min-joon the day that she’d confronted him with the pill bottle he’d left in Seo-kyung’s house. That decision had led to his suicide in jail, so she’d tried again in different worlds, only to lose him the same way each time.
She tells Do-won that he’ll suffer the same fate, losing the person he loves over and over again. She says that he disrupted this world by coming here, and that “Han Seo-kyung will die as long as you stay in this world.”
Desperate to leave the world and save Seo-kyung, Do-won goes to the railroad car repair building, only to find that Train 8210 has already been scrapped. He sinks to his knees in despair, thinking of Section Chief Oh’s last words to him: “That train is cursed. You’re stuck in the infinite loop of fate.” But we see a hammer smashing the glass covering the train’s number, and in World A, the old clock’s glass breaks.
Seo-kyung wakes up alone in the hospital and tries to call Do-won, but his phone is off. He’s at the station, where he runs into Joon-young and learns that they arrested Seo-kyung’s attacker. He won’t talk, but they think he was hired by one of the VIPs on Lee Jin-sung’s ledger that Do-won turned in as evidence.
This just confirms Do-won’s fears that Seo-kyung nearly died because of his presence in this world. When Jae-hyuk arrives on crutches after being burned in the fire, Do-won feels even more guilty, and he has to turn away to hide his frightened tears. Later, while sitting alone, he imagines Alt Do-won telling him, “You saved no one. In the end, you won’t be able to protect anyone. You shouldn’t have come here.”
He returns to the hospital, and Seo-kyung smiles when she wakes up and sees him. She tells him that after her dad died, she used to dream of waking up to find someone by her side. Do-won makes himself return her smile and asks her to tell him all of her dreams, and everything she’s ever wanted to do.
He calls her “Seo-kyung-ah” for the first time (he’s always called her by her title), and promises never to let her get hurt again. Internally he adds, “I promise that I will live for you until the day I die.”
A little time passes, and Seo-kyung recovers. While walking her home one night, Do-won shows her the bus stop where they first met on that rainy night twelve years ago. He says that he stopped to give her his umbrella, and that he thinks Alt Do-won didn’t do the same, and that that moment became the turning point of both worlds.
They continue to Seo-kyung’s place, then Do-won grabs her in a long hug, surprising her. When Seo-kyung gets home, she thinks about what he said about this world’s Do-won not giving her an umbrella. She remembers that night, and how Doctor Seok had said that she didn’t go straight home or she’d have been killed along with her father.
Do-won goes to the track where Train 8210 used to run, thinking, “I’m sorry, Seo-kyung. We never should have met. But meeting you was the only good thing that happened in my life, so I don’t regret it. Even if I go back in time and repeat everything again, I’d still want to meet you.” He pulls out his pistol and cocks it… oh no.
Seo-kyung can’t, thinking about that rainy night years ago. She gets up and finds a keepsake box, and inside is a green umbrella that Alt Do-won gave to her. They did meet that night, and by giving her the spare umbrella so that she could go to the bookstore instead of straight home, Alt Do-won had saved her life.
Do-won has his gun pointed at his head, ready to leave this world and keep Seo-kyung safe in whatever way he still can. Seo-kyung tries to call him, and the ringing phone makes him pause just long enough that he hears the train’s warning bells. To his shock, Train 8210 speeds towards him.
On a different day, Seo-kyung visits Section Chief Oh in prison. She’s aged and her Huntington’s has advanced, causing her to rely on a wheelchair and her hand to tremble nonstop. She lists several dates — November 5th, August 12th, April 9th, and May 11th — and says that those are the days that her son died.
Seo-kyung says that means there are other worlds, and asks how Section Chief Oh traveled between them. Section Chief Oh only repeats the dates, deep in the grip of her dementia. She tells Seo-kyung, “If you see him, you will die. You can never stop it.” Seo-kyung retorts, “No, that’s not my fate. Meeting him however many times and living. That is our fate.”
In the city, two cops chase someone on foot, but he turns a corner and gets away. The cops meet up with Jae-hyuk, and hey wait, that’s Jin-woo and Joon-young, working together! They complain that the guy they were chasing was too fast, and in a minute they’re joined by… a bespectacled Section Chief Seo Do-won? Jae-hyuk asks DW if he knows the guy they were trying to catch, because he looked eerily like him.
Across the street, our Do-won keeps an eye on their location, then continues on his way when it’s clear. As he’s crossing a busy street, he suddenly stops short at the sight of Seo-kyung, who looks like she’s been waiting for him.
He tries to pass her, but she says, “Has it ever crossed your mind? That perhaps, somewhere else, we all live a different life with different relationships in another world?” Looking resolute, Do-won repeats the words she said to him when they first met in World B: “I’m sure of one thing. Wherever and however we met, we wouldn’t be on good terms.”
He tries to pass her again, but she grabs his wrist and stops him. She says, “Everything is messed up right now, but my name is Han Seo-kyung. Let’s start over from there.” Fighting back tears, Do-won stares at her for a long time… then he smiles.
Well, lots to unpack! That ending certainly leaves a lot up to interpretation, but I can come to a satisfying conclusion on my own that mostly makes sense. Apparently we’ve been wrong all along in assuming that Alt Do-won didn’t give Seo-kyung an umbrella that night just because he didn’t give her his yellow one, but he’d had a spare, and had given her that one. In doing so, he’d unwittingly saved her life — she was able to go to the bookstore like she’d planned, instead of going back home and being killed along with her father.
There’s a lot left unexplained after Do-won saw the train again (which I believe was rescued from scrapping in another world by someone — maybe another Do-won — so that it could keep running), but most of it’s been left up to our imaginations. I’m fine with that, so long as Seo-kyung and Do-won ended up together somehow. I was assuming that the way to resolve things was for Do-won to reunite all the split worlds, but once again, my assumptions about this show were wrong. He couldn’t stay in World B, where he had gotten deeply involved in events and caused the worlds to try and line up, nor could he return to World A where Seo-kyung was dead. So he found another world to live in while just laying low and not getting involved. Seo-kyung followed Do-won to that world, and because presumably there’s another Seo-kyung in that world also living a normal life, hopefully she and Do-won can just find new identities and be together.
I understand now what it was that Doctor Seok wanted, and why Section Chief Oh never gave it to him. He wanted her to stop him, but she kept choosing to be a mother and protect him by hiding his crimes. Her reasoning was that, in every other world (except World A, where he was in a coma), she had arrested him and it always led to him committing suicide in prison. She came to this world and instead of arresting him, she enabled him, believing she was prolonging her son’s life by keeping him out of jail. But because Do-won came to this world and caused the realities to try and line up, Doctor Seok ended up dying by his own hand anyway.
I think the acting in Train was really top-notch all around, particularly Yoon Shi-yoon’s amazingly heartbreaking expressions. Even Kyung Su-jin made the most of a character that should have been much more dynamic, and would have been boring in other hands. But I would be remiss if I didn’t particularly mention what a fantastic job Choi Seung-yoon did in his role as Doctor Seok. I recognized him from Memorist (he was great as young Jae-gyu!) and Crash Landing on You (he was the kind NIS agent towards the end), and he’s had a steady career and has been in some well-known shows since his debut in 2014. He’s really only had small character roles, but his Doctor Seok really blew me away — he was so creepy and unsettling, and I just can’t imagine anyone else doing the role such justice. I really hope that this gives his career a boost and lands him some more meaty roles. He’s certainly got the looks, and it wouldn’t be the first time a villain role catapulted an actor to stardom (looks at Shin Sung-rok and Namgoong Min), because I think he’s more than capable of playing larger — or even leading — roles.
There are so many things in Train that were never explained, such as how the train was able to move between worlds, how Section Chief Oh learned about the other worlds and how she traveled from one to another, or how the train started moving again (on a non-rainy night!) so that Do-won and Seo-kyung were able to travel to a whole new world. Even smaller questions like how Do-won and Alt Do-won got to the hospital when they each landed unconscious in World A, or why the car crash that disabled Sung-wook happened in World A but not World B, weren’t addressed. But the story was otherwise so tight, with many elements coming together several episodes after being mentioned, that I have to think those omissions were due to time constraints rather than negligence on the part of the writer. The “hows” weren’t as important as the motivations and emotions that drove the characters to do what they did, and the show portrayed those brilliantly. Train has been a truly excellent show in every way, and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.