I like Infinity Train, I might have mentioned that some where in my season 1 reviews, or book 2, maybe the 3rd one, or casual mention on my Twitter. It’s been no secret that this is a series that I personally enjoy so it was bittersweet to confront a potential premature finale. Apparently HBO Max has something against shows that people. You know they’re doing so much better with something as shamelessly pandering like Generation. This show dies but you’re still uncertain if you want to renew an Ellen DeGeneres show about… furniture designers?
Infinity Train has ended it’s amazing ride of a show… if fans don’t try to get it renewed or revived through current or alternative channels I mean who knows. Family Guy? Community? Arrested Development? I don’t want to spread a narrative of false hope, but never say never. At the very least I hope creators from the show continue to create engaging and thoughtful works such as this in the future.
Let’s not beat around the bush any longer let’s specifically address the final season book 4. It wasn’t meant to be the final season and after coming off of Season 3 there was a tempered expectation that Book 4 would reach new heights but this show has been impressive so far. So was this season the great send-off that the show rightfully deserves….well…. no.
Book 4: What Do We Have Here?
Here’s the deal, this is the worst season definitively, but don’t let that fool you this isn’t too drastic that I wouldn’t package in to my overall conclusion that Infinity Train is a great show. Before getting into it, for clarity season 1-3 all range from 8-9/10 range while this latest season I would say is a 6.5-7/10 range. It’s not a complete failure, it still has a lot of good qualities but it’s underwhelming and maybe even worse forgettable.
Let’s start with the positives shall we. The voice performances were terrific as usual, character tv actress Margo Martindale does a minor role which after BoJack is a treat, as well as some amazing voice performances all around. My other major compliment is that the cart ideas are still fantastic. They’re still bursting with creativity and have unique challenges or concepts to them. The train is infinite but the fact that they are still pulling exotic and interesting settings that are on par with the season 1 train cars is impressive. Finally, I like Kez. I really enjoyed her spastic vibrant personality and it was amusing to see the often tertiary companion be the cause of a running gag of bringing on more trouble. Like the train is probably stressful enough but Kez just adds so much chaos with her history with the denizens of the train. That’s kind of it.
As for so critiques, Ryan and Min or passable protagonist attempts. From the initial teaser they were “clearly gay for non-canon/canon shipping purposes”. After watching the series I now know that they are “gay for non-canon/canon (?) shipping purposes”. It kind of sucks when everything you got out of a character was what you got from their initial impression and really nothing more. Obviously this season couldn’t be too derivative of last season that it was sort of boxed in to having to swing in the other direction and therefore be somewhat predictable.
I think to further distinguish from Season 3, they attempted to try something more understated. Ryan and Min are arguably the most naturally written characters in that they don’t seem to know how to outwardly express their opinions and don’t follow a natural story structure. They’re a really grounded portrayal of just two dudes who don’t want to confront their problems. I mean they act how I would suspect average people be like except that they don’t really grow or change much by the end of it.
The issue might be that Kez might be the functional protagonist. Ryan and Min don’t really push the plot forward and the finale episode deals more with Kez completing her arc than the two main characters who I guess just decided to stop being made. In the art gallery car Kez literally screams for no reason to get Ryan in Min to act because they don’t know how to start action themselves. Which in fairness part of their conflict stems from stubbornness, projecting blame, and lack of communication.
I mean the show usually uses the numbers of symbolic growth throughout the series. So it’s very evident that Min and Ryan both spend 98% of the season set on 202 as their collective number. What a missed opportunity to have their numbers deviate from one another, how would they react when one’s going up and the other goes down. I understand that there is some fairness in saying that since both are failing to communicate that they both can’t make progress towards a resolve but that’s not a very unsatisfying excuse. If anything it just felt like they wanted to cut down on keeping track of what number is on their hand. Which I’ve always been one to give this show praise for it’s attention to detail…….so despite the guys having maybe 3 or 4 different numbers throughout the series this season might possibly have the most continuity errors than the top 3 seasons combined.
It’s also weird how Ryan and Min probably have maybe the highest start number when their problems are so trivial and borderline non-existent. Tulip was the highest start number out of any protagonist and even that was 115. Every other protagonist had some traumatic experiences the were needing to overcome and Ryan and Min needed to talk no jutsu each other. Even their conclusion just seems like for the sake of story. You would think they would have to reach some sort of compromise or deeper understanding. No, Min learns that working minimum wage and letting your parents guide your future is boring I guess, and Ryan learned that maybe I can be a tad pushy and could try to be more considerate sometime.
The last bit to add is that this is the first season where the 10 episode season length felt a little cramped. The season especially lacking in a midpoint that alters that direction of the series. The first couple seasons had major moments that happened around 5-8 that went on to impact how the protagonist went about this change for the rest of the series. This time it really did feel like they needed a couple more episodes to really grasp and ironically communicate their themes and messaging.
Closing the Loop
So this marks the end of the line, it was enjoyable ride and the end bittersweet. I remember when I was disappointed when it seemed like the were never going to proceed with turning the pilot into a series. I remember when I was disappointed that it was going to be a mini-series and one that didn’t have much of a larger picture to the mysteries after the pilot. 4 Seasons is nothing to sneeze at and it earned everyone of them. If for some reason you haven’t watched the series yet, the only reason it is a tough sell is that it’s HBO Max exclusive so International streaming and alternative ways to view get a little difficult to find.
Infinity Train will always go down as a series with quirky but creative whimsically abstract ideas blending with a dystopia sci-fi elements. It was a bright spot in American animation that brought mature themes, sincere messages, and some of the best character writing that brought a diverse cast of passengers to life.