The Infinity Train runs on trauma and the process of healing from it. In the first season, the story was about a girl learning to manage her parents’ divorce. The second season explored identity and feeling like you don’t have a place in the world. But what happens when you choose to run from your pain? Can you ever find your way back?
Infinity Train’s “Book Three: Cult of the Conductor” debuted on HBO Max this week, revealing the first five episodes of the 10-episode season. The focus has shifted to the Apex, a group of kids who’ve rejected the train’s intended purpose of helping folks recover from their trauma. Instead of doing things to bring their numbers down, their goal is to get their numbers up. They’ve also developed a deep hatred of the train’s native inhabitants, which they call Nulls, and we learn they’re not afraid of torturing and killing them to suit their needs.
This all comes from their shared belief system. The Apex have built a cult-like devotion around the “True Conductor”—aka Amelia Hughes, the woman who was in control of the train in season one. In their eyes, One-One is an imposter, even though we know he’s the real conductor of the train. What’s interesting about this storyline is the Apex have built a quasi-religion around this woman but don’t know anything about her—other than the fact that she has a bunch of numbers on her body. They don’t even know she’s a woman. It shows how belief systems can get away from you and take on a life of their own.
The Apex are led by Grace (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) and Simon (Kyle McCarley), two teenagers who’ve been on the Infinity Train long enough to rack up numbers in the millions. Grace is strong and confident with a compassionate heart—when she’s not annihilating Nulls for the fun of it. And Simon, well, he’s got an inferiority complex that stems from abandonment issues. They were first introduced in season two as antagonists (much like Mirror Tulip in season one), but it’s great to see their stories fleshed out. It enhances the show’s dedication to avoiding “black-and-white” views of morality, believing that everybody has the capacity for good.
Grace and Simon get separated from the Apex and come across Hazel and her gorilla companion Tuba (Diane Delano). Hazel is performed by newcomer Isabella Abiera, who is quite adorable. It’s rare to find kid actors who are really good at being kids, but Abiera nails it. Grace discovers something strange about their new friend: Hazel has a number, but it’s not glowing. Grace and Simon are convinced that it’s the work of One-One and decide to bring Hazel to the Apex headquarters to get it worked out. There’s only one problem: Tuba’s a Null.
Our new group journeys through a variety of train cars as they make their way back to the Apex. Grace bonds with Hazel, growing to understand her relationship with Tuba and it gets to the point where her number is affected, but she doesn’t push Hazel away because of it. What’s great about Grace’s story is how she doesn’t get angry at the new role this girl is playing in her life, because she knows Hazel’s needs are more important than hers. It plays into the season’s themes of motherhood and family, though it remains to be seen whether Grace will slip back into her old habits.
Simon is another issue entirely. He’s built a life for himself through the Apex that he doesn’t want to see challenged. Hazel and Tuba try to connect with him, but he stubbornly sticks to his belief that Nulls are not to be trusted. This comes from a past experience that’s revealed in one of the early episodes, though it’s still unclear how (or whether) it connects to his life before the train. Simon is really where we see beliefs clashing with reality, only to choose beliefs—Grace might be confronting the lies she’s comforted herself with all these years, but Simon refuses to do the same.
The fifth episode, “The Color Clock Car,” ends on a few stunning revelations that will definitely drive the rest of the season—and to be honest, it’s worth watching for those alone. Infinity Train started out strong and it continues to grow, giving us characters who have spent years being afraid of the unknown. Now that their worldview is being challenged, it’s up to them to decide whether they’ll return to the lies that give them comfort... or wake up to the harsh but necessary light of day.
Infinity Train Book 3 is currently available on HBO Max. The remaining episodes will debut over the next two weeks, with three episodes coming out on August 20 and the final two being released on August 27.
Random Musings on the Train Cars
- The Musical Car—Gotta love a whole car dedicated to non-stop singing and dancing! They’re putting on a performance of Empathy Goes, which sounds like such a perfect musical for folks needing a good life lesson on connecting with others. Kind of ironic, considering what the Apex do to it.
- The Jungle Car—Looks like a beautiful place to get lost in, but other than the rainbow patterns that appear on all the rocks, trees, and grass when you step on them, it’s pretty generic.
- The Debutante Ball Car—This might be one of my favorite train cars the series has done so far. Why yes, I’d love to make my way through a car by wearing a beautiful dress, learning a cool dance, and getting introduced to the court by a talking chandelier. Who wouldn’t? Well, I guess Simon.
- Le Chat Chalet Car—A bear wearing sunglasses and a robe makes pancakes. Yes.
- The Color Clock Car—The first puzzle train of Book 3. It’s a decent-enough puzzle, and the train car’s guide is hilariously incompetent, but there have been better puzzles in the series so far. Let’s not forget the one where Mirror Tulip and Jesse had to kick a toad.
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