Directed by Kim Moon-Kyo and written by Ryu Bo-Ri, “Trolley” is a political drama that revolves around two main characters, Nam Joong-Do and his wife Kim Hye-Joo, and their relationships with their acquaintances. Hye-Joo seems to be hiding a big secret, which is why she hides from fame and also does not reveal Joong-Do’s job role. However, she is forced to come into public view after a series of scandals follow Joong-Do’s political career. The drama is especially intriguing to watch due to its storyline and the way it sheds light on politics and relates it to the realities of various nations.
Episode 1: Recap And Ending Explained – Did Nam Ji-Hoon Die?
“Trolley” Episode 1 begins quite mysteriously with a woman named Kim Hye-Joo reporting her missing daughter, Nam Yoon-Seo. Hye-Joo looks visibly worried and is very disturbed by the situation. The police seem to be handling the situation formally and are interrogating Hye-Joo to get a clearer picture about Yoon-Seo. As she is asked about the fight she mentioned she had before Yoon-Seo left, Hye-Joo recalls her seemingly ordinary day. The camera pans out to a time 13 hours ago as Hye-Joo tends to her Book Conservation shop and chats with a customer who had come to fix a book. The customer shares stories about her son with Hye-Joo and asks about her family as well. At first, Hye-Joo seems a bit tight-lipped while talking about her family, and as she talks about her children. Her face hides the pain she feels while talking about them. After bidding her customer adieu, she left the shop to attend a mother’s group brunch with her friend Ji-Soo. During the conversations, she denied any involvement in Yoon-Seo’s education and also insisted that she never goes out of her way to make sure Yoon-Seo is the topper of her school. It was all Yoon-Seo herself, which does shine a spotlight on Yoon-Seo’s capabilities and shows how bright she is, but also ignites suspicions about why Hye-Joo does not help or does not want any favors for her daughter, and about her insistence on making sure Yoon-Seo achieves whatever she does by her own capabilities and does not accept any favors from others. Her husband is Nam Joong-Do, who is a respected assemblyman, yet Hye-Joo introduces him as someone with a regular job when asked about his profession. She then leaves the group to continue with her day. Ji-Soo, on the other hand, seems to be aware of Hye-Joo’s situation and simply shakes her head at her for not accepting any favors. As she continues with her day, visiting certain places, Hye Joo stumbles across a kid staring at a food store, and out of goodwill, she offers the kid some lunch. She makes a light conversation with Hyun Yeo-Jin, the sister of Hye-Joo after she sends the kid home with some food. Her childhood is revealed after another staff member of the dumpling shop asks about her dialect. Hye-Joo reveals that she is from North Chungcheong, although she seems upset while revealing it, which is why Yeo-Jin interrupts the conversation to protect her. Hye-Joo leaves to finish her duties while Yeo-Jin explains her situation to the other staff. She reveals that Hye-Joo had a rough childhood, and even though she seems to be making a lot of money, she donates most of it to charity. This gives an insight into the kindness, and goodwill Hye-Joo harbors for others who share a similar past.
Hye-Joo makes her way to buy some oil, and on the way, she takes a route that takes her past her old workplace, where she used to work as a contract social worker for a Senior Citizen Welfare Center. She offers her help to move the rice bags, but the staff does not let her do it, and here, the drama reveals that her husband is a district Assemblyman for Sinyang-Gu; he belongs to the Daehan Party, and the social workers are aware of it although the rest of her acquaintances are not. The drama, after setting up the storyline for Hye-Joo and making her ways seem mysterious while also revealing her kind personality along the way, finally introduces the viewers to her mysterious husband, Nam Joong-Do. As he gives a speech for his press release, he seems to be quite revered by his staff as well as the reporters present there. His staff discusses the lack of involvement of his wife in the electoral campaigns as Joong-Do struggles to ensure his way up to finally run for office. However, in the end, as Hye-Joo didn’t want to be involved in politics, and as Joong-Do went out of his way to ensure her protection, he was declared the best husband. The story then follows Joong-Do as he finishes up his meetings and also manages to secure his position. In the conversation, he has with Ms. Woo (Daehan Party Chairwoman) and Assemblyman Kang (who is from the opposite party running for office), Joong-Do displays his wit as well as his shrewd capability of handling both of the powerful politicians by not giving away his pride, being respectful, yet being able to show that he is the right pick for the position. If anything, with his calm and collected way of talking as well as his little chats with his wife, Joong-Do is painted as a shrewd politician and a caring husband. He also insists on going out of his way to chat with the citizens so that they can have the assurance of the assemblyman and also have hope that somebody is actively working and listening to their problems.
Hye-joo continues with her day as she visits the mill to pick up her oil; however, she realizes that the shop is empty, and a passerby informs her about the shopkeeper, Jo Gwi-Soon, who was at the funeral as her granddaughter had committed suicide due to digital sexual violence. As Hye-Joo pays a visit to the funeral home to show her respect, this incident marks the beginning of everything going haywire in the otherwise calm and scandal-free lives of Assemblyman Nam Joong-Do and his wife, Kim Hye-Joo. Jo Gwi-Soon expresses her gratitude to her, and she sends Hye-Joo home before it is too late. Hye-Joo arrives home and sits down to wash the ribs she had bought to cook for Ji-Hoon, and Yeon-Seo returns home and immediately charges at her mother with her lost opportunity to be a co-author of a thesis by an SNU professor. They have a fight because Hye-Joo doesn’t want to endanger Joong-Do’s political career, which can be soiled by any scandal at any time, which is why Hye-Joo expects both of her children to stay out of trouble. After the fight, Yeon-Seo locks herself in her room, upset at Hye-Joo. While Hye-Joo discusses the problems with Yeo-Jin, Joong-Do comes home early. Their interaction with each other points to a lovey-dovey couple who clearly respect each other and have a lot of affection for each other. There seems to be no problem in their married life, and the problem starts only after Joong-Do is called away to attend a funeral at night, and Hye-Joo falls asleep for a few minutes only to wake up with a start as she remembers to drain the ribs she got for Ji-Hoon. She steps on Joong-Do’s badge before rushing to finish up the work. This badge could very well be a metaphor for Joong-Do’s career, which was to be stepped on in the near future and riddled with scandal as the days passed by. As she finishes up the ribs, she walks toward Yeon-Seo’s room only to find it empty. A worried Hye-Joo and Yeo-Jin rush out in vain to find out Yeon-Seo’s whereabouts. They call up several of her friends and familiar acquaintances to inquire after her, only to return empty-handed. Hye-Joo makes up her mind to take up the help of the police station and report the incident, which is where the flashback of her entire day ends. Joong-Do rushes into the police station, and his worry for his daughter and his worried wife makes him concede to his wife’s insistence on asking for a favor from the Chief of the Police Department. As soon as it is revealed that he is an Assemblyman, the attitudes of the police change, and they immediately assign a few more officers to the case. As the searches continued, however, the only person who was missing and was found dead was their son Ji-Hoon.
This twist in the plot so soon was really unexpected as the drama unfolded to reveal the volatile relationship Ji-Hoon shared with his parents. His habits had landed him in prison, and his body was found by the riverside and identified by his parents. Hye-Joo seems to be in shock as she recalls her happy memories with an innocent kid like Ji-Hoon, who had changed suddenly after he grew up. Their relationship before he went to prison is unclear; however, the quarrels Hye-Joo had with Ji-Hoon seem to have affected the family a lot. After Ji-Hoon was released as a convict, Hye-Joo tried to keep his imprisonment under wraps along with his living situation as she rented a studio apartment for him. The tension was strong between the mother and son as Ji-Hoon provoked Hye-Joo into losing her temper and uttering harsh words that she otherwise would never speak of. Hye-Joo’s pain was visible after she had that fight with Ji-Hoon, and Ji-Hoon was hurt as well. Communication seemed to be absent between the two. At present, as they hold a funeral for Ji-Hoon, the funeral becomes a turning point as the people who pay a visit seem to let their masks slip off and talk behind Joong-Do’s back. This incident reveals the thoughts and schemes that would otherwise profit the assemblymen running against Joong-Do and also the people who want to bring him down before he becomes untouchable. This incident allowed other parties and people to exploit Joong-Do’s weakness; although the schemes cooked up in plain sight were shut down by Ms. Woo, she could not help him much with schemes being cooked up later. Hye-Joo and Joong-Do comfort each other, and Hye-Joo later wavers while signing the documents of her son’s death, and as she returns home, a girl comes up to her and says she is pregnant with Ji-Hoon’s child. The expression on Hye-Joo’s face at that time was one resembling that of a person grasping at straws for almost any hope she could get. The girl at that time seemed to resemble a guiding light for Hye-Joo as she was in the process of accepting her son’s death.
Episode 2: Recap And Ending Explained – Does Nam Joong-Do Get Himself Out Of The Scandals?
Hye-Joo, in the second episode of “Trolley,” invites the girl into her home as she gives her a chance to explain herself, and meanwhile, this could be passed off as inviting an enemy in because everything seems to go wrong. The media, meanwhile, jumps on the news that Ji-Hoon was found with a packet of meth in his pocket during the investigation, which serves as a scandal and a plan to bring down Joong-Do as he gets attacked by the media. Hye-Joo sits the girl, Kim Soo-Bin, down to hear her explanations. Soo-Bin shows her all of her proof that she is carrying Ji-Hoon’s baby and that she knows him very well because they are dating. Hye-Joo tries to contact Joong-Do but is not able to reach him. At that time, Joong-Do has to sit down with his staff to find a way out as the situation is working out for the benefit of the People’s Party and the nation. Assemblyman Kang seems positively delighted with the way the situation turned out, as people on social media call Ji-Hoon a junkie. In a tumultuous position, Joong-Do tries to damage control as much as he can and even shares a drink with his colleagues to turn the situation around. Yeo-Jin interrogates Soo-Bin because she doesn’t trust her and because Hye-Joo’s bleeding heart would not let her properly interrogate Soo-Bin. Hye-Joo has a talk with Joong-Do about Soo-Bin after he returns a little drunk, resulting in Joong-Do not believing Soo-Bin and Hye-Joo ending up pacifying the situation as it aggravates Soo-Bin, and she threatens Joong-Do with abortion and talks to the media. He only gives her a chance after Hye-Joo pleads with him, and being the loving husband he is, he concedes once again to trusting Soo-Bin. The situation, however, escalates further when Yoon-Seo turns up, as she does not believe in Soo-Bin and is hurt by the entire situation. The family’s volatile relationship with Ji-Hoon is revealed further as Yoon-Seo has an outburst where she blames Ji-Hoon for the situation their family is in. His outlandish behavior has been a problem for the entire family time and time again, as it proved to be an obstacle to Joong-Do’s accession and broke Hye-Joo’s heart every time. Yoon-Seo disliked her brother for his antics, and it seemed like the recent years have poisoned their relationship further. The situation subsides once Jang Woo-Jae, Joong-Do’s assistant, steps in and gives a talk to Soo-Bin, as well as calming down the entire family before stepping out for a smoke. Yeo-Jin steps out with him and her feelings suggest the admiration she has for Woo-Jae.
Hye-Joo leads Soo-Bin to Ji-Hoon’s room and leaves her to settle in. The entire situation feels off as Soo-Bin reveals her lost phone. She had earlier told Hye-Joo and Joong-Do that she had lost her phone, which had the chats and pictures she had with Ji-Hoon. Joong-Do’s suspicions seem to be proven right as she takes out her “lost” phone and leads the viewers to wonder how much of her words are true. Although it is undeniable that she is indeed pregnant and seems to be physically involved with Ji-Hoon. As the night progresses, Yoon-Seo’s birth seems to have a lot of circumstances surrounding it, which the drama will later reveal. Yeo-Jin discarded the cigarette that Woo-Jae offered her when they had stepped out for a smoke as if she were discarding her feelings for him along with the cigarette as well. There seems to be a light at the end of the prevalent darkness, which Joong-Do grasps in the morning when the reporters hound him and his family for news and Hye-Joo’s identity as Joong-Do’s wife is revealed to the world. Gwi-Soon identifies Hye-Joo and creates a scene in front of the reporter as she stumbles upon them, spreading malicious news about Joong-Do. She reveals how the couple had originally visited her and paid their respects at her granddaughter’s funeral before any of this occurred. The reporters could not write the situation off as damage control, as the staff of Joong-Do proved. Joong-Do delivered an apology and also later used the platform to educate the audience and help Gwi-Soon receive justice for her granddaughter, who had been a victim of digital sexual violence. Later on, Joong-Do reveals to Hye-Joo his regrets about using this news as damage control to get himself out of the pit, and she comforts him. “Trolley” Episode 2 ends with the suicide of Ji Seung-Kyu after he receives malicious comments and as the police reopen his case to arrest him after public demand. It begins a series of pitfalls that Joong-Do simply can’t escape from.
“Trolley,” the Kdrama, seems to be a series that lifts up the veil and shows us the real face of the political parties and the scandals surrounding them. It depicts a harsh reality, where even if a person does good deeds and lives humbly, one single mistake can ruin their entire image and turn the public against them. The first episode of “Trolley” sets up the characters of the main cast, Joong-Do and Hye-Joo, and their relationships with their families and acquaintances. It is a build-up to set the plot, while the second episode of “Trolley” focuses more on the storyline and how Joong-Do is hitting rock bottom in his political career. Although Joong-Do is striving to be a better politician and to make sure that the world is a better place, other politicians do not favor the change that he is trying to bring about. There seems to be an entire army of people who want to bring Joong-Do down and do away with his political career for their own benefit. The drama, however, does not reveal many characteristics of Soo-Bin. It instead surrounds her with coincidences, as Joong-Do tries to take a DNA sample left by Soo-Bin on a bottle to the hospital but instead misses his chance as the reporters coincidentally surround him before he can do anything. Yeon-Seo’s birth also seems to be a mystery and also seems to be directly related to Ji-Hoon’s cold behavior with his mother and father. As the drama takes on a rather darker tone and seemingly progresses toward dealing with heavier topics like suicide and digital sexual violence, which are very prevalent in society. It also sheds light on how politicians use these topics, as well as others like pro-life and pro-choice, to secure vote banks. It talks about how people exploit the weak in order to become affluent politicians.