When I realized Infinity Train would not always be about Tulip and One-One, that it would be a multi-cour anthology, I thought “Well shit, this is even better.” What started as a girl dealing with the trauma of her parents divorce (very relatable) and ended in restoring One-One’s place as the true conductor, expanded into more stories of kids who found themselves on the train with similar life traumas, and how they overcame them.
The Apex was introduced in the last season when MT and Jesse stumbled upon them in their travels. This season focuses on their leader, Grace, and her second-in-command, Simon. Initially we’re treated to the inner workings of The Apex, and how they see Amelia as the “true conductor” and One-One as the “false conductor”. Their goal is to ransack, pillage, and kill the denizens of the train cars in order to keep their numbers high, never offering them a portal home. Separated from their base, the two journey back home only to end up taking on a young girl named Hazel and her denizen-friend Tuba. Grace promises to bring Hazel back to The Apex while Simon plots how to ditch Tuba along the way.
I don’t think this or last season will still beat Tulip’s story in the first. But the move to HBO Max definitely allowed the creative team to get a little more subtle about the characters and the story, really cementing Simon’s role as the angry white male by the end of the episode, to which I am sure will be lampshaded among social justice circles on Tumblr until the end of time. Grace, for her part, began the season as the leader of Mallrats, and ended as the leader of The Sandlot. Her pre-train backstory was probably one of the most curious, in that she was from a rich family afforded every privilege, but she could never be held accountable for her own actions because her parents protected her, even though they did not spend much time with her. Simon’s on the other hand was not iterated over in finer details, but he too wound up on the train at a young age and then in the care of “The Cat”, whom he referred to as “Samantha”. The Cat is the only character we’ve seen all three seasons, and I’m going to assume she continues to play an expanding role in the next season. But where she has been a capitalist and trickster previously, here she seemed very apt to just sit this one out until trouble found her.
The real kicker at the end, after Simon attempts to leave Grace for dead and take over The Apex for himself, is that not only does he become that which he hated The Cat for, he basically just becomes the false conductor of a different train, which makes his rather gruesome death qualify that first time we saw one of those things attack Tulip. Thus far, this show has not really qualified a concept of death among children on a train full of whimsical cars. Either the move away from Cartoon Network helped drive this home, or the intention all along was to suggest that when you die in the game, you die for real. But also, what happens when those things explode after consuming life force?
Among western animation, Infinity Train continues not to disappoint. It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s thought-provoking, and it’s dark. It’s bookended by synthwave-style music, and its visual style is amazing. Sadly, we may never see anymore of it, because once again, we’re qualifying animation against children and adults, and HBO isn’t sure if they want to continue. Bullshit. How many “adult animation” shows have become successful over the last decade? The issue isn’t so much the medium, it’s that the show began on Adult Swim, and even though Adult Swim’s primary demo is 18-34 year old single male stoners, they pretend that demo is too immature for anything thought-provoking. Mayhaps, but now that we’re off cable television and on streaming services, I think we can safely assume most parents are not putting HBO Max on for their kids with Disney+ out there.
Hopefully a fourth season gets made. I really just want to see more of The Cat. Maybe even a return of Tulip. But I really want to just see more of this world unfold. It’s like a Dungeons and Dragons campaign at this point, and I don’t want to stop the carnival.