Infinity Train Review: Book 4 – Duet (Part 1: Episodes 1–5)

Back in the spring of 2021, I recorded my thoughts on season 4 of Infinity Train up to about episode six. A month after Book 4 came out, the Adventure Time special “Together Again” premiered, and I only (somewhat) recently managed to upload Part 1 of that review. I’ve got no idea when I’ll finish discussing the latter half of Book 4, so like I did with “Together Again,” I’m splitting the video in twain. Before we get to that, though, I do briefly want to cover events that occurred since then. Creative folks in the animation industry have had

a bunch of crap dumped on them across the whole slew of corporations. One such event among those was the Discovery and Warner merger; Zaslav, the dumbfuck CEO (redundant, I know), proceeded to tear shit apart in a feeble and rubish attempt to cut costs. Infinity Train and a bunch of other shows got pulled from HBO Max and can no longer be streamed, the creative teams behind these shows were not told it was happening, and, because of the merger, they couldn’t even contact anyone to find out what was going on. Cartoon Network was actually telling the execs

not to do this because it’s fucking awful. It appears the reason for the bullshittery is to avoid paying royalties to the shows’ creators – which, even ignoring

the cruelty aspect, that’s just financially illiterate! While the primary way to watch Infinity Train is no more, episodes can still be purchased at the sites listed on-screen, although that list might become outdated with time. On a brighter note, Owen Dennis has moved on to working with CBS, and his contract includes a clause that if a continuation of Infinity Train ever happens to get greenlit somewhere somehow, then he would

be allowed to resume working on it. That being said, even if we get super lucky and some network secures the rights to order more seasons, the production won’t be done any time soon. You can hold on to a shred of hope, but don’t hold your breathe, cause you might be holding it for years. Okay, so let’s finally get to my thoughts (from nearly 2 years ago) on episodes 1–5 of the 4th (and hopefully not the last) season of Infinity Train. Some of you may be thinking: What the funge, you dillweed? You still haven’t finished those

episodic reviews for Book 2 and Book 3, and yet, here you are, releasing a video on Book 4? Well… yeah, I am. Rest assured, I will be finishing what’s left of my episodic Infinity Train reviews. It will take some time before that happens, but I am completely confident that eventually, I will cover the episodes I haven’t discussed yet. But right now, I want to talk about Book 4, which is titled Duet, and may potentially be the final season of Infinity Train. The show has been canceled, and while the creator Owen Dennis has been relentlessly pursuing

the means to continue the show, it’s really up to whether enough people watch Infinity Train and make a buzz about it. I really hope the show gets the support it needs to continue running. Alright, choo choo, onto the review! I liked Book 4. Overall, I very much enjoyed my time with it. But in comparison to the other seasons, Duet is probably my least favorite book. If I had to make a list of which seasons I preferred, it would probably go something like Book 2, 3, 1, then 4, for me personally. Based on some of the

online answers from the creators of Infinity Train, Book 4 was sort of like a palate cleanser for the crew after the much darker material explored in Book 3, and it very much comes across that way. Duet is ultimately a feel-good season where the stakes and turmoil seemed significantly lower than before, even if chaos and death are still around every corner on the train. That somewhat more mellow prequel break back into the 80’s… to the last time the Infinity Train was working “as intended” so to say… that was a pleasant and fun experience, but it simply

did not resonate with me quite as much as the other seasons did. Which makes it kinda funny because the opening episode to Book 4, titled “The Twin Tapes,” was my favorite opening episode out of any book (thus far, I hope). I can see how for some viewers, the opening and ending shots of “The Twin Tapes” being framed from the perspective of the Conductor and Amelia in the Tape Room may have seemed like a bait and switch – because while Amelia does become the new Conductor in the background events of Book 4, that was not the

focus of the season at all, and it barely tied into Min and Ryan’s collective arc. The brief glimpses leading up to Amelia’s eventual coup were super intriguing, and I have to admit that at times, they did steal the show from Ryan and Min-Gi, because how can you not want to know more about Amelia and the Conductor around the time that Amelia supposedly split them into the two constituent parts that we now refer to as One-One? [One: But, even if the odds are highly improbable, given enough time, yes, anything.] Well, that was gonna be Book 5

apparently! The creative staff tried to pitch that as a movie, but their attempts were rejected. So y’know, if that frustrates you… make a productive ruckus and voice your desire for Infinity Train to be renewed, because everybody should want more time with Amelia. By the way, it was amusing to find out the origin story of the uniform we saw Amelia wearing in Book 3, although Amelia added a shield belt and dropped the boots. Simon of course had a modified or hacked version of these boots, which in Book 4 we find out used to be forced on

to every passenger – and they uncomfortably reminded me of those dumb prison boots from the Face/Off movie. Interestingly enough, Amelia was wearing these boots when we see her at the end of “The Twin Tapes,” despite lacking the uniform. I’m getting carried away by this tangent, but I really like Amelia as a character (if you can’t tell), and she really did temporarily steal the show for me a few times in Book 4. And on the topic of wanting more Amelia, besides the planned Book 5 running concurrent to the events in Book 4, at some point in

the 8 originally intended seasons of Infinity Train, the creators were planning to revisit Hazel and Amelia after they parted ways from Grace in Book 3. I gotta stan my girl Amelia – I desperately desire to see more of her adventures – so please HBO Max, renew Infinity Train for its full run. Please! Alright, so with my pleas into the void for more Infinity Train out of the way, let’s divert the tracks back toward the review. One-One (or One before Amelia) has always been completely hands off with passengers who are not in their immediate vicinity, and

while the framing of the “Twin Tapes” may have suggested that Amelia’s presence might change that, I myself did not expect the two of them to play a large role in this season. I didn’t even have expectations for them to show up again beyond the first episode, honestly, so it did not bother me at all that they had very minor roles in Book 4. One and Amelia were more of a mood-setter for Ryan and Min-Gi’s journey – I felt they served an aesthetic purpose more-so than anything else. On the topic of expectations, there was a lot

of yearning out there for Min-Gi and Ryan to be in a romantic relationship. I skipped watching the trailer for season 4 because I wanted to go in with as little outside knowledge as possible, but I was still aware that many people wanted them to hook up before Book 4 came out. After my first watch of the opening episode, though, I was convinced the story was not going to address that one way or the other – which turned out to be true. The first episode established Min and Ryan as childhood friends who met through their families,

and they grew up with a collective dream until their inability to communicate effectively drove them apart. I thought the first episode did not pack romantic subtext into the issues their relationship had – they clearly had to mend their fractured friendship on a platonic level first. Like, there’s no reason they can’t end up together eventually if that’s your headcanon – Ryan could very well be bisexual; nothing prevents Min and Ryan from hooking up in their collective Chicken Choice Judy future, but exploring such a dynamic was obviously was not the focus of Book 4. There’s stuff you

can definitely interpret as gay subtext, like when Ryan is roasting Min. [Ryan: Maybe this time you can actually play with me.] [a spicy lil man: So, uh, Kez forgot to ask. You need anything special for your set?] [Ryan: Just permission to shred with my main man Min and his mini-synth. *incredible noises*] I have no qualms with such readings. That being said, I have behaved in a manner similar to Ryan myself toward friends I had absolutely zero interest of ever going to town on. Even if you do think Ryan was purposefully low-key flirting there, Ryan also

flirts with Samantha in a scene that I found wonderfully funny. [Ryan: For someone so beautiful, I’m sure we can arrange… something? Hm?] [Samantha: I respect the moxie, but I’ve already got plenty.] So, I don’t think there’s any smoking gun hard evidence in Book 4 of Ryan and Min-Gi being into each other beyond being lifelong best friends. They do feel somewhat in the ballpark of another ‘Schrödinger’s gay’ situation, though, where there’s enough deniability where you could go either way with it, because of stuff like the fact that they are the first ever train-mates, the whole shirt

scene – which I assume Adventure Time fans will want me to compare to Princess Bubblegum and Marceline. [Ryan: Never done a show without it. Shrunk in the wash.] And then to top it off, the impact of having characters literally join each other’s color palettes at the end of the season – that’s pretty intense, after all. For me personally, the lack of specifying Ryan and Min’s relationship status did not bother me, because whether Ryan and Min like each other romantically or sexually was not essential to resolving their relationship issues, so in turn, I did not form

a cathexis around that topic. I really loved the bond between Min-Gi and Ryan – I love their struggles to be open with one another and I loved all the tender moments of yearning that the two have for each other, because ultimately, the two of them do want to reach out to the other and stay connected despite all the things that appear to be driving them apart. The split-screen montage in the opening episode was superb – just absolutely phenomenal – and probably contributed a great deal as to why “The Twin Tapes” is my favorite first episode

of any season. All the visuals collectively painted such a wonderful picture of two friends drifting apart while wanting to stay in each other’s lives – it was beautiful. Now, I mentioned earlier how I felt this season had lower stakes than any season before, and, well, as much as I loved the relationship between Ryan and Min-Gi, I couldn’t help feel like with some luck, they may have been capable of resolving their issues without ever getting on the Infinity Train in the first place. Like, if Min and Ryan ended up stuck on this regular train for a

couple hours and ended up just honestly talking about their lives and feelings, I think their collective journey through the Infinity Train could have been bypassed, because many of the hazards on the train cars kinda kept them from engaging with the respective resentment they had to work through, even if the two of them were learning small lessons along the way. If they got stuck on this regular train, they would either be forced to sit in silence or talk it out – and I think it’s very possible Min and Ryan could have reached some epiphanies in a

few hours rather than the days it took them to escape the Infinity Train. This is a case where I have to question the efficacy of the Infinity Train’s passenger selection system, which I’m sure is a bunch of baloney based on random chance. But, whether it was justified or not, Ryan and Min-Gi did end up hostage on the interdimensional “therapy or die” train, and the two were able to meet Kez as a result… and I loved Mama Kez oh-so much! What a fun supporting character whose comedy relief always seemed to hit the spot for me. [I

was trying to see if your breathe would, like, fog up my face or whatever. I’m Kez.] She even got her own little character arc that would surely be worthy of an exit door, if denizens were allowed to have numbers or were granted exit doors (which I’ve always wondered whether we’d ever revisit after Book 2). But anyway, Kez kept things fun in the early train cars that I overall did not much care for. “The Iceberg Car,” which is definitely not that car’s real name, had the moral of meeting in the middle, and that was way too

on the nose for me. [Cause you didn’t figure it out, so much as like fight over it until it randomly fell into place.] I also disliked how the eon oscillator changed time yet was causing an evolution-esque alteration for the parka denizens? But for Pig Baby, all it did was age him up, even though Cow Creamer at one point states: [Cow Creamer: We sped up my pride-sized pigly’s evolución!] Evolution occurs to populations over time – it does not apply to individuals, so the same individual denizens “going through their evolution” doesn’t even make sense conceptually, unless the

parka denizens change forms at different ages in a manner that is superficially evocative of what the general populace may picture as evolutionary change, but then those denizens and Cow Creamer would still have to be ignorant about what evolution actually is despite throwing the word around themselves. [Parka denizen: We’ve got a different trip in mind now, though!] [One where we come over there, reprogram the eon oscillator to control YOUR evolution,] It’s a chore to try try to explain away this awkwardness away and I’m already bored of it, so I’m just gonna go ahead and call this

train car a weird mess at the idea level, and the humorous quips and explanations from Kez single-handedly saved “The Iceberg Car” as an episode for me. [Kez: Cause, like, honestly, in my opinion, sometimes, numbers are a part of the problem.] Some people may take issue with the following statement, but I also did not care much for “The Old West Car” outside of the antics with Kez and Samantha (which were just fantastic). [Samantha: But I’m afraid I haven’t seen anyone matching that description, round these parts.] “The Old West Car” felt cartoony in this particular way that

I think will really appeal to some people, but, it just didn’t quite click for me. The moral of trying to look at the world how other people might at least worked for me way more than the moral of the previous car, but I still left the episode wishing that I got more entertainment from the cowboy bugs than I did. Also, I thought Judge Morpho totally died after getting zapped, and it feels weird to say this, but the joke worked way better for me when I thought Morpho was dead after getting electrocuted. “The Pig Baby Car”

had its lesson of occasionally needing to slow down incorporated decently enough, and I liked how Min-Gi got the wrong idea about their numbers from it, and making fun of post-war American food is evergreen because the history of that is legitimately full of culinary horrors. [Min: Chicken liver anchovy toast? Wax beans o’brien? Tomato frost?] I did not find Pig Baby or Cow Creamer humorous at all, though. That probably just comes down to personal taste in comedy, but, yeah, neither of these two characters did anything for me – so my overall experience was lukewarm at best. None

of Kez’ enemies really worked for me as entertaining side characters, although the spaceman bouncer came the closest. [Parka denizen: Oh yeah, and apparently this guy lost his job as a bouncer because of you!] [What’s he supposed to do now, huh!? He’s got mouths to feed!!] “The Astro Queue Car” was actually the first train car from this season with a gimmick that I really dug. [Kez: This is, like, a baby puzzle. I solved this when I was baby.] And while I think we could all see what lesson Min-Gi was going to learn from a mile away,

it still felt well-earned. [Kez: Min, listen to me. Min, Min, Min, Min, Min, listen to me, Min, listen to me.] We got this. *smooch*] I have some minor nitpicks with how Ryan nearly killing himself was storyboarded, but I really like what the sequence represents. Aside from Min-Gi (and Kez) being there for Ryan, we have a repeat case of Ryan getting in trouble due to rushing ahead, which is a reminder that habits are hard to break. This sequence also has Ryan stumbling because, for once, he decided to look back, which I found pretty fascinating. One of

the reasons Ryan keeps getting stood up by Min-Gi, an event that occurs again in the episode following this one, is because Ryan is too focused on what’s in front of him. [Ryan: I’m telling you right now; this was always the plan.] I interpreted the scene of Ryan biffing it after looking back as indicative that Ryan often does not have much luck when he’s not running on pure momentum. Ryan struggles to balance looking back while going full steam ahead, and thus most of the time Ryan ends up not looking back at all, when instead Ryan should

maybe just slow down when in a precarious situation. I really liked the allegory here and how it metaphorically ties into events both in the past and present, and future, and how it further highlights that learning lessons and utilizing what you learned from lessons are not the same thing. Alright, this marks the point where the Book 4 review gets sliced in two. I will return to talk about episodes 6–10, but I have no idea when. I’ve been chipping away at the “Together Again” review, but it’s being going slow. Resuming work on the older and longer projects

has been extra tough lately – I keep stalling out. I’m gonna be bouncing around random shorter projects when progress on the lengthier videos grinds to a halt. When it comes to Infinity Train, I might even go back and review episodes that I haven’t done yet, before I return to finish Book 4. Okay, I think that’s it… I’ll see ya when I see ya.

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