(This review was originally posted on Jan. 20, 2020. Naturally, there are spoilers)
Even though Infinity Train was originally presented as a one-off mini-series, the show runners had a secret up their sleeves. The show was actually an anthology where each season would focus on a new character.
As someone who found themselves mildly disappointed with the first season after the amazingly intriguing pilot – I adored the second season.
I thought Infinity Train: Book 2 beat the first season by a long shot. The first season felt rushed in the end – trying to jam so many concepts including how the titular train works that it didn’t really feel satisfying to me. I thought the reason for the numbers existing was kind of lame.
It just seemed like there needed to be something more. And that is where Season 2, also known as “Cracked Reflection” exceeded my expectations.
This season focuses on a boy named Jesse during his journey. He’s goofy, friendly, athletic and the world’s biggest doormat. He’s on the train because he didn’t argue against a bunch of neighborhood bullies who were coercing his little brother do a very dangerous stunt – that resulted in him breaking his arm.
But this season also shows us another character’s arc. MT’s arc. You remember her. She’s Tulip’s reflection. Together the two work together to get Jesse’s number to 0 and find a way to free MT from the confines of the train.
I didn’t originally expect to see her, but I was not upset. I was ecstatic to meet her again.
Jesse and MT play incredibly well against each other. Their relationship pretty much begins because they both want to befriend the shape-shifting deer Alan Dracula – which MT believes is a ludicrous name – but band together anyway.
Jesse’s light-hearted and amiable nature contrasts well with MT’s gruffer and cynical nature. It allows them both to learn from and teach each other. They’re equals in nearly every way. Contrast that to Tulip, who had not one but two comedic sidekicks. Sure she had King Atticus who said serious things – but most of his characterization was juxtaposing that to his doggy-nature.
Jesse and MT grow directly because of each other and less due to the situations they’re put in. It makes the scenes at the end of the season where they are separated (and then reunited) feel satisfying and extremely earned.
And even though MT is going to be built out of chrome and never human, she’s not only able to be free, but she’s able to have a friend as well.
I can’t say a lot about Alan Dracula. He’s a deer that can turn his body into anything and has many random powers. He is obsessed with grass and can’t speak. It’s hinted he’s important, but more in context of the train rather than for the characters.
A Whole New World
In this season, we not only get to discover more train cars but also more about how the train functions and the world surrounding the train. In the first season, I had assumed the train’s denizens weren’t allowed to go from car to car – but as it turns out, under One-One this practice is encouraged.
Because that’s what they’re there for.
Also, it’s not clear whether One-One originally did this – but we also get to see that all passengers now have a video to watch upon waking up in the train, which explains the numbers and how to get home. That makes things a whole lot easier for passengers I presume.
But it couldn’t have been very long since One-One reclaimed his spot because there are still a bunch of young children aboard the train with no idea of what their numbers mean. As a matter of fact, there are many passengers aboard the train with no clue what their numbers really mean. Many of them think they actually have to get the number higher – all thanks to that bitch, Amelia.
The group, known as the Apex, are led by two older teens or young adults who worship the Conductor. The leaders, Grace and Simon, have very high numbers that wrap around their wrists and are beginning to climb up their arms.
They attempt to recruit Jesse but have no love for MT who they call “a Null.” To them the trains inhabitants don’t matter – the Train is theirs to rule and therefore they should take whatever they want and do whatever it takes to survive. (The latter is understandable since there do are things on the train that can and will kill you. Which is troubling on a train that’s supposed to help people cope with psychological trauma to say the least.)
It’s a damn cult
Although they don’t show up until the latter half of the season, the Apex leaders are very worthy adversaries. Jesse is exactly the type of person cults prey upon. If he hadn’t met M.T., he would have fallen into the group without a second thought. Heck, he almost does anyway.
It’s a dark situation for such a show to be discussing – and I’m glad they’ll play a more prominent role next season. It’ll show just how bad things got under Amelia’s reign. She probably didn’t even mean for the cult to become as big of a thing as it did – and I imagine when she finds out, she’ll probably feel remorseful. I imagine Grace and Simon don’t even know that the Conductor they know is actually just a human, somebody as lost, confused and scared as they once were and likely still are.
They’re fairly cruel towards all the train’s denizens, who they call Nulls, and consider them to be non-living, non-sapient beings, so they don’t care what happens to them. But Grace and Simon even seem cruel to the kids under their care. They talk about one member who seemingly died during an attempt to get to another car without much emotion or regret.
And that’s only making their situation worse. It’s frightening how large the group is and how they idolize the Conductor so much, and believe Amelia to be the true leader of the train – and consider One-One to be an usurper that they tattooed red lines on their faces to mimic the features.
Kids’ shows can have a little graphic murder…as a treat
I love watching all the ways shows targeted towards kids try to get stuff past the censors or determine how far they go. Legend of Korra had an explicit murder-suicide and asphyxiated a woman on screen; Avatar: The Last Airbender heavily implied two of their teenage characters were having sex , and Gravity Falls attempted just about everything.
And Season Two of Infinity Train has a character commit murder by train on camera. And pretty graphically at that. Of course, neither one involved was technically human -with MT killing one of the Flecs by pushing his body against the wheels of the train. Doesn’t change what she did.
We all know those silvery globs of liquid were meant to be blood. We saw her face and we heard his screams. I was shocked and couldn’t believe they had done that. It didn’t surprise me that Owen and the showrunners put this in – but it surprised me by how long it lasted and how much they showed.
If Avatar: The Last Airbender was made today, they would have made Jet’s death a lot clearer and a lot more graphic. And I like how it makes sense within the context of the narrative. MT had to do it. She didn’t have a choice.
I don’t know whether they’re ever going to deal with the emotional fallout from her murdering a man – but it was either him or her, and she had way too much going for her. Though the Apex crew were definitely the main antagonists – the Mirror Police were also a constant threat throughout the season due to MT going rogue.
Near Perfect Pacing
This season just kept going. Each episode ended in a place that satisfactorily concluded the episode’s plot but kept me interested in the season’s overarching story. Both characters’ arcs are clear from the beginning, but there are still many twists and turns.
It’s more action oriented than the first season and has a lot more tension for the viewers. I don’t ever recall being afraid for Tulip’s life or safety – I was more concerned about whether she was going to make it home. But here, the stakes are raised. I’m afraid for their lives and whether Jesse was ever going to make it home.
It’s unique, it’s creative, it’s emotional and…gratifying. There are few shows that can create such a powerful dynamic between two characters in such a short time and cause you to care so much about them.
Jesse and MT get more characterization and have more chemistry in ten episodes then some shows have over multiple seasons. I do wish they had added some more meaning to the name she picked out for herself, rather than just going with what was in front of her -and I get part of it had to do with her reflection in the lake and due to her being coded as non-binary. Apparently nouns are the go-to names for non-binary when they rename themselves. But that’s a minor nitpick. I referred to her as MT throughout the story for clarity’s sake. But I loved this season.
I was a bit nervous that an anthology wouldn’t work well for this show. But this season has consistently surprised me with its character development, mystery and lore.
In a show that I didn’t expect a second season from, and in which I would normally expect more episodes wouldn’t work, I was delightfully surprised. And I found myself eagerly waiting for the episodes nightly.
And that’s the scoop.
Creator/Executive Producer: Owen Dennis
Producer: Keith Mack.
Directors: Jill Daniels (art), Madeline Queripel (supervising
Story By: Owen Dennis, Alex Horab, Lindsay Katai, Justin Michael, Madeline Queripel and Cole Sanchez
Voice Actors: Ashley Johnson, Jeremy Crutchley, Owen Dennis, Ernie Hudson, Kate Mulgrew, Robbie Daymond, Bradley Whitford, Ben Mendelsohn
If you liked this review read: “Twelve Forever,” needs to mature a little more (Part 1)