Owen Dennis’ Infinity Train strummed a few powerful notes during its four-season run. Its final ride may not be its darkest, but Book 4, or Season 4, “Duet,” is unique in that it centers on two passengers coming on the train together with the same number. It’s also the first season set in the past, as the characters existed in 1980s Canada. Their task is simple: sort out their issues and leave the train as a pair or die. Min-Gi (Jonny Young) and Ryan’s (Sekai Murashige) interlocking journey of music and friendship rediscovered, paired with Kez’s (Minty Lewis) arc traveling through cars to her roommate, Morgan (Margaret Cho) pushes the train’s journey onto a different track built around communicating and finding happiness, ending the train’s ride on a solid note.
The first episode highlights Min-Gi and Ryan’s entire relationship up until they reach the car. They have slightly different backgrounds; Ryan has several brothers and sisters, and often feels lonely at home, while Min is an only child whose parents have his life planned out. They bond through music and their shared dream of forming a band and traveling the world. They diverge when Min gets cold feet after Ryan says they’re going on post-high school tour, ditching his friend onstage. He follows his parents’ path to go to university while working at a Humpty Dumpty-themed diner, though he and Ryan had dreamed of becoming rock stars. Meanwhile, Ryan tries touring his hometown at small venues / parties with little success. This montage of their time apart uses a split-screen, showing both miserably moving forward alone, considering making up, and then flows seamlessly into the moment when Ryan shows up at the diner to invite Min on tour again.
This introduction works wonders in presenting how fractured their relationship became because they failed to communicate. Min fails to see how his backhanded comment about Ryan’s band name, Chicken Choice Judy, causes Ryan to lose confidence. Meanwhile, Ryan – consistently trying to push Min on tour – does not see that Min is not ready to just drop everything he has and go on tour. Ryan also does not recognize that Min is having a panic attack. Seeing their struggles apart side by side literally shows how uncomfortable they are trying to live apart while thinking about their futures – and not being able to find the words to make up. That failure to communicate continues when the pair enters the train.
They fight through and after the first car, making Kez think they’re “mortal enemies.” Min and Ryan both say they are best friends and would not even admit they were fighting; “Just talking.” They then tell Kez they’re fine without even looking at each other. Min and Ryan once again fail to address why they would land on the train in the first place, even after they spent months apart caused by the lingering rift.
Even as they lower their number, Ryan and Min continue to fight. In “The Pig Baby Car,” their number drops after Ryan listens to Min to bake brownies, and Min jokes about him being a brownie expert. The pair notices their number dropped after sharing a laugh. Min then interprets their number dropping because Ryan learned something, and he must change, not Min, causing their number to return to the starting point. They came so close. The number obviously dropped because the pair learned and understood together. Instead, it skyrocketed back to its original point because Min returned to his original smugness and started belittling Ryan’s maturity.
They realize this in the next car when Min’s smug prodding of Ryan gets them nowhere, and he can not even find the words to apologize. They finally start in the party car, when Min admits he’s insecure about a future touring with Ryan, asking what two “Asian guys from BC” are going to do and if he can think of “anybody who looks like us” doing that. Then Ryan mentions the band YMO (Yellow Magic Orchestra) and “Behind the Mask,” and says that they just have to do it before they play in the bathroom. Their number drops because Min opens to Ryan and Ryan moves at his friend’s speed.
Then they lose progress in the next car, a creepy, seemingly empty art museum. A mysterious monster that chills Min and Ryan forces them into an argument, saying the quiet, angry parts out loud. Min talks about how he cannot live like Ryan, while Ryan says he refuses to become like Min. They are finally expressing their pent-up feelings towards each other but not in a healthy way. This moment serves as more of a release of months of frustration rather than trying to fully understand one another.
Eventually, Ryan finds the car’s exit by using Min’s advice about an album: “You told me I can not appreciate the song without taking in the rest of the album.” Ryan remembers Min’s earnest advice and jumps in. Unfortunately, he accidentally leaves Min behind again. It’s an agonizing look at their relationship: even at a moment when they’re listening to each other, they still can not come to an agreement. Min is left behind to nearly get killed by the monster, while Ryan promises to stay and help him out. That grants Ryan an early chance to leave the train altogether – alone. He considers it and stays right as Min leaves the car in tears, saying Ryan left him. The scene here has stark comparisons to the original concert moment: Ryan is pushing himself to leave the car and does so by accident without really knowing what would come next, and Min is concerned about himself and his future. Both weigh on the now fraught nature of the pair’s friendship.
They then hash their differences out in a giant maze leading towards Kez’s home. Min finally admits he does not trust Ryan and Ryan acknowledges how Min’s parents care about him, whereas Ryan’s only notice him when he does “something.” And that frustrates Min because he’s jealous that Ryan’s life is starting while he’s working at a Humpty Dumpty-themed diner. They finally work through their tangled-up resentments toward one another and say why they feel upset and are holding onto resentment toward each other, partially stemming from their different upbringings.
In that regard, Kez the talking, floating call bell is the perfect denizen (or inhabitant of the train) to accompany Min and Ryan. Previous denizens – namely, Atticus (Ernie Hudson) and Alan Dracula – served as static characters to provide laughs and help their passengers grow. Kez is in a lot of trouble because she just keeps going forward without apologizing for the mistakes she makes in every car, from turning the Parka Trio into various creatures by accident to defiling the bug west car’s laws and then destroying cow creamer and Pig Baby’s butter. . Kez never communicates and goes forward, like Ryan, and never apologizes for her mistakes, like Min.
In the end, all Kez needed to do to shore up her issues is apologize, admit she made mistakes, and promise to fix them, and she and her roommate Morgan accept it as a start. Just like Ryan and Min, who finally get their exit. Min realizes that he’s ready to go on tour with Ryan and finally apologizes. Ryan gets his real exit because he acknowledges that he rushed Min and himself in the process.
In the grand scheme, Book 4 understandably feels like an odd conclusion to the series. Dennis certainly did not intend to end the show at this point. Still, “Duet” stands out amongst the previous seasons for going in a different direction while still feeling like Infinity Train. No, it has few moments like Tuba’s death or Simon’s descent in the previous books, but it still has the Art Car and for what it’s worth, handles an emotional journey of two friends remembering their love for each other well. Hopefully, Dennis and his team get the chance to wrap up Infinity Train the way they intended by finishing Amelia’s story. As is, the show went out making a different type of tune, and a hummable one at that.