This is Your Conductor Speaking: Infinity Train – “The Musical Car” + “The Jungle Car”

Hello all! Welcome back to my weekly reviews of Infinity Train. Last week we finished up Book 2 with ‘The Tape Car’ and ‘The Number Car’. This week we get started on the third season – officially known as Book 3: Cult of the Conductor.

‘The Musical Car’, Season 3, Episode 1 (Premiere Date: August 13, 2020)

Synopsis – The episode begins with the Apex, led by Grace and Simon (as introduced in Book 2), trashing a musical theater car. Returning to their Mall Car headquarters, the group spends a few minutes sorting through their spoils but are too amped up. Still energized, Grace proposes that they raid another car. This turns out to be the Unfinished Car from way back in Book 1. Following their usual M.O., Grace, Simon, and co. proceed to ransack the place. Before they can react, however, the car appears to be scanned by something and then immediately begins to disengage from the surrounding cars. Most of the Apex members flee, but Simon gets caught under some debris. Grace manages to free him, but not before the car speeds away toward a new destination. Using Grace’s harpoon pack, the duo are able to launch themselves out and onto the bridge between two cars. Simon checks a locator device and discovers that they are now forty-seven cars away from the Apex’s HQ. Preparing for the long haul, Grace and Simon begin their journey home.

My Thoughts – This is most definitely a table-setting episode, and frankly that is probably the best option for starting off a season like this. Due to its central protagonists, this season has a much more difficult tightrope to walk character-wise than the previous two seasons. Not only do Grace and Simon’s astronomically high numbers indicate that they have done many unsavory things, but we saw it firsthand last season. They’ve shown a callous disregard and even outright hostility toward the Train’s Denizens, which is difficult to swallow given that Lake’s arc last season demonstrated that the Denizens are intelligent, living beings in their own right. Having such detestable people be our main Passengers for this season is enough to give one pause. How is the show going to handle this? Is it going to try and redeem them right away?

The episode ends up taking a good approach to these thorny questions. It gives Grace and Simon more depth, showing us some of their quirks – like Grace’s dancing and lip trills and Simon’s love of fantasy novels and model battles – without trying to soften their edges or misdeeds. It also gives us hints as to their relationship dynamic. It is clear that they both care for each other, but there are many moments where Simon appears almost desperate to please Grace in a way that she doesn’t seem to reciprocate. This indicates that their relationship may not be as healthy as it first appears, a potential source of conflict down the line.

From a plot perspective, the episode does what it needs to in order to get the ball rolling. For Grace and Simon to make any sort of character progress, they are going to need to be separated from the younger kids who look up to them and encourage their actions. That is precisely what happens, with the duo now on their own for the foreseeable future. They are also going to have to face challenges to their ‘One-One is the false conductor’ ideology, which is set up nicely with the Train’s intervention in the Unfinished Car raid. Will Grace and Simon make it back to Apex HQ, and what kinds of roadblocks will they encounter along the way? We’ll have to wait and see!

Episode MVP – Grace. She demonstrates a strong ability to think under pressure and she manages to save Simon on at least two occasions.

My Totally Arbitrary Car Ranking Musical Car (B+), Unfinished Car (B), Mall Car (B)

My Totally Arbitrary Episode Ranking – A very solid B.

Cast Additions – Kirby Howell-Baptiste and Kyle McCarley return as Grace and Simon respectively. Apex member Lucy is voiced by Jenna Davis (M3GAN). The Comedy Mask is voiced by prolific voice actor Keith Ferguson (DuckTales reboot, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, Wander Over Yonder), while the remaining Musical Car denizens appear to also be voiced by Kyle McCarley. The business turtle Kevin is voiced by writer Justin Michael, as in ‘The Unfinished Car’, while the Mail Lady is voiced by Kirby Howell-Baptiste this time around rather than Ashley Johnson.

Trivia/Stray Observations

  • “I was ten! My mom thought they were practical.”
  • “One of these days I’ll make crushed velvet work for me.”
  • “I’m still on the foreword.” “You wrote the foreword.” “I know. Isn’t it great?”
  • “Oh, yes, Chief, just making the ol’ desayuno for the family. Slow cooked lettuce with a side of turtle juice. It’s like regular juice but for turtles.”
  • “Yep, now I’m just reassuring my kid, Kevin Jr., not to worry and telling him it will be okay.”
  • “Well, now they’re breaking into my home and taking my novelty apron and second favorite hat!”
  • “It’s against turtle law! Which is like regular law, but for turtles!”
  • “I owe you one.” “Dude, you owe me a million.”
  • I like the more ominous version of the jingle that plays over the title this time around.
  • When Grace gave Jesse the harpoon pack back in ‘The Mall Car’, she told him to be careful where he aims it or he’ll end up like Lucy. Here we actually meet Lucy, and she has a very obvious eyepatch. I think we can tell what went wrong.
  • Is this our first indication that the mail turtle and the businessman turtle (Kevin) are a couple?
  • Looks like a bunch of corgis were hanging out in the Unfinished Car. Diplomatic ties between the corgis and turtles must still be going strong.
  • One of the storefronts in the Unfinished Car is labeled ‘Hu-Mon’. Wonder what they sell there.
  • Just how much range do those harpoon packs have?
  • Apex members Lindsay and Alex are named for writers Lindsay Katai and Alex Horab respectively.
  • The musical that the Denizens of the Musical Car were acting out, Empathy Goes (named after the musical Anything Goes), lists Jesse Cossay as its writer. Did Jesse write it in the real world and it somehow made its way onto the Train? It’s a question we’ll likely never get the answer to.
  • The song that the Musical Car Denizens were singing was ‘When I Look at You, I See Me,” which Jesse previously sang in ‘The Family Tree Car’.
  • The arch above the stage in the Musical Car has a carving of Marcel from ‘The Map Car’.
  • The writers have described Book 3 as a tragedy. Notably, the only survivor left in the Musical Car after the Apex raid is the Tragedy Mask.

‘The Jungle Car’, Season 3, Episode 2 (Premiere Date: August 13, 2020)

Synopsis – Grace and Simon, on their way back to Apex HQ, make their way through a car containing a vast jungle of blue and purple trees. Eventually they become aware of what appears to be a massive Denizen knocking over trees and making a low rumbling sound. They attempt to catch it, but end up knocked out. When they wake up, they find themselves in a clearing and are confronted by a dour blue talking gorilla named Tuba (who has two tubas on her back, making the rumbling noise heard earlier) and a young girl named Hazel. Simon attempts to convince Hazel to join the Apex – which she has never heard of before – but ends up antagonizing Tuba. Grace ends up taking a softer approach, convincing Hazel to come back to Apex HQ with them. Unfortunately for Grace and Simon, they are forced to bring Tuba along as well as she is too protective of Hazel. The Apex duo plans to get rid of Tuba at some point along the way, although exactly how they are going to do that is unclear even to them.

My Thoughts – From a visual and sound design perspective, the Jungle Car has to be one of my absolute favorites. The cool blue, green, and purple tones and highly detailed background of the jungle alone give the car an incredibly distinct vibe, but the fact that everything glows when you touch it kicks the visuals up another notch. Add to that the ringing sound that accompanies the glow, the rapid whistling of the strange lizard creature, the rumbling echoes of Tuba’s tubas, and the predictably great soundtrack from Chrome Canyon and you have perhaps one of the most atmospheric episodes of the show up to this point. (Which is saying a lot.)

This episode continues the character work we saw in the season premiere. Grace and Simon clearly have a good rapport, and it was interesting seeing them just hanging out as friends for a while outside of the environment of the Apex. But at the same time it is difficult to overlook the differences in their personalities and how they clash. We can see this right from the get go based on their reactions to being stranded. Grace is more laid back and flexible about the whole thing, while Simon gets increasingly agitated about the lack of proper procedures and does not appear amused by Grace’s attempts at humor. Similarly, when trying to convince Hazel to join them Simon proves to be significantly more standoffish and impatient than Grace, not only failing to convince Hazel on his own but also incurring the wrath of Tuba. It seems like only a matter of time before these differences are going to lead Grace and Simon to conflict with each other, but how big and resolvable said conflict would be is up in the air at this point.

We also meet the final two members of our core cast for the time being – Hazel and Tuba. Both prove to be great additions that provide ample opportunities for more interesting character dynamics and plotlines. Hazel is naïve and impressionable, which makes her ideal for manipulation by Simon and Grace. At the same time, her strong connection to Tuba complicates their plans to integrate her into the Apex. Tuba herself meanwhile provides a skeptical eye toward Grace and Simon’s intentions, keeping them on their toes at least for the time being. On the plot side of things, Hazel’s unusual number gives the characters an intriguing mystery to solve, giving the story a bit more momentum than just ‘Grace and Simon trying to find their way home.’

Episode MVP – Tuba. Her unique character design and sardonic personality make a great first impression.

My Totally Arbitrary Car Ranking Jungle Car (A)

My Totally Arbitrary Episode Ranking – A strong B+.

Cast Additions – We have two new characters in this episode. Hazel is voiced by child actress Isabella Abiera, while Tuba is voiced by veteran character actress Diane Delano (Northern Exposure, Popular, Batman: The Brave and the Bold).

Trivia/Stray Observations

  • “So what do we have, besides pessimism?”
  • “Three toothbrushes?” “One for the teeth, two for the sneaks.” “I don’t even get one?”
  • “But Simon presence remains aloof and dorky.”
  • “See anything?” “Yeah, the tops of other trees.”
  • “As punishment for being sneaky, the trespassers are given as food to the mighty Tuba!”
  • “I will be over here…eating a pineapple.”
  • “Wait…am I a kid?!?” “Mhm.”
  • “We’ve gotta bring the couch!” “That is a rock.”
  • Interestingly, the Jungle Car is intended to be the location that Tulip is in on the Book 1 poster. Somehow I never put two and two together there.
  • This is one of the few episodes that fades to white instead of black. If there is any significance to this, I have no idea.
  • Is Simon right that One-One is intentionally hiding Hazel from his scans, or is there a different reason Hazel’s number doesn’t glow? We’ll have to see.
  • I know that I gush about the show’s music a lot, but this episode introduces yet another song I love – Grace and Simon’s Theme. Here is a pretty great remix:

That’s it for this week! We’ve got the ball rolling on Book 3, and next week we are off to ‘The Debutante Ball Car’ and ‘Le Chat Chalet Car’.

Please share any thoughts about these episodes below. Make sure to spoiler tag any references to future events in the series in case anybody is stumbling across the show for the first time, and follow all of the Avocado’s rules and guidelines.

Thanks for reading!