‘Trolley’ Episodes 3 And 4: Recap And Ending, Explained – Was Kim Hye-Joo’s Past Revealed Finally?

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The second episode of “Trolley” ended with Assemblyman Nam Joong Do utilizing the story of Gwi-Soon’s granddaughter to create awareness for a bigger issue: digital sexual violence. He announced the name of the offender, Ji Seung Kyu, which set off a series of unfortunate events and led to Seung Kyu committing suicide after naming Nam Joong Do the murderer.

Spoilers Ahead


Episode 3: Recap And Ending Explained – Is Nam Joong-Do Really Responsible For Seung-Kyu’s Suicide?

Episode 3 begins with an explanation of the title of the drama, “Trolley.” Known as the “Trolley Dilemma,” the phrase defines an experiment that is conducted to test the thought processes of different individuals regarding ethics. This experiment gives the onlookers the choice of saving either five individuals in danger of being hit by an oncoming trolley or just one individual from being hit by that same trolley by simply diverting the trolley to another track by pushing a lever. The trolley cannot be stopped because of the damaged brakes. This essentially connects the entire storyline of the drama till now, as Nam Joong-Do was at a standstill where he had to choose between committing himself to absolve the crimes of his late son or diverting attention and penalizing the crimes of a guilty man. Due to the support from his family as well as Gwi-Soon, Nam Joong-Do found the courage to go forward with the story and absolved himself by apologizing. 

Now returning to the “Trolley Dilemma,” this phrase was being taught as a lesson to Yeon-Seo and her classmates in her school, which is when the effects of this dilemma took place parallelly in Nam Joong-Do’s world. The news of Ji Seung-Kyu committing suicide after being outed as a digital sexual violence offender hit social media and news outlets like a storm. This made the office of Nam Joong-Do especially busy due to the reporters calling from all over for an official statement. As the news was delivered by Jang Woo-Jae to Joong-Do, it started weighing down on Joong-Do’s conscience. However, as the audience tended toward a positive outlook on this incident, he was forced not to attend the wake of the medical student Seung-Kyu. The public, as well as Gwi-Soon and Yeon-Seo’s classmates, were practically thrilled when they heard that Seung-Kyu had committed suicide; they praised Nam Joong-Do for his actions and termed the incident as “the trash taking itself out.” This polarizing view of the worth of human life and also not being able to attend the wake weighed very heavily on Joong-Do’s kind-hearted soul, as he did not calculate this outcome. As he deliberated on his statement, his Chairman, Ms. Woo, politely defended him and put Assemblyman Kang in his place when he tried to come for Joong-Do’s throat due to the recent scandals. She reminded him of his scandals, assured him of their party’s solidarity, and said that she supported Joong-Do wholeheartedly in just a few words. She sent Kang back to his own office, puzzled and speechless, to deliberate on his recent scandal.

Hye-Joo, meanwhile, before the incident occurred, had tried socializing with Kim Soo-Bin. While Hye-Joo hesitated to bring up the drug test that Joong-Do wanted Soo-Bin to take because Ji-Hoon had been found with drugs and he was suspicious of Soo-Bin being a user as well, Soo-Bin agreed to it to put their minds at ease. Hye-Joo took her to her Book Conservation Shop, where she showed her how she conserved the book and did not fix it. Hye-Joo also took herself down memory lane while she demonstrated the art of book conservation to Soo-Bin. She narrated her days in the library while she worked at the welfare center. The library had a section where they conserved the old and dilapidated books and brought their old shine back by carefully working on them. Hye-Joo mentioned her interest in the art and was taught by a fellow librarian; she fell in love with the craft as time progressed and found herself immersed in it, which prompted her to open up a Book Conservation Center of her own after quitting her job at the Welfare Center. She helped Soo-Bin get a new phone, believing her story of the lost phone, and took her to Sonmat Noodles, run by Yeo-Jin. She left Soo-Bin at Yeo-Jin’s, and she went to visit Gwi-Soon; while visiting her, the unthinkable happened, and Hye-Joo witnessed the turn of events at Gwi-Soon’s store. Seung-Kyu’s death had just hit the news, and Gwi-Soon was simply elated and thanked Hye-Joo and Joong-Do for their actions. The irony of her situation was not lost on her, as Hye-Joo’s history repeated itself, only this time, she was being thanked for death instead of being cast out. She quickly thanked Gwi-Soon for her gift and left the store to rush back to her sanctuary of books. Soo-Bin took herself to the hospital and also asked for a drug test while she was there. However, she seemed to be a little anxious after noticing a boy while returning from the hospital, which prompted her to quickly return to the Book Center, where she knew Hye-Joo would be present. She had a little discussion with Hye-Joo about Ji-Hoon, which decidedly put an upset Hye-Joo in a worse mood. She asked Soo-Bin to leave as she tried to collect her thoughts and reflect, as she thought Ji-Hoon never accepted her as his mother.

Nam Joong-Do was assaulted with eggs, and the mourning parents of Seung-Kyu blamed him for pushing their son to such extreme measures. They also accused him of being inhumane and a murderer, as he did not pay a visit to the wake. Joong-Do calmly went about his day after paying his respects to the grieving family from afar as he attended the debate on parental leave and won over the crowd with his powerful words. He then dismissed Woo-Jae and Mr. Park, his driver, after asking Woo-Jae to clear out his schedule for the rest of the day as he took some time off to ponder over his decisions. He reached out to his wife, Hye-Joo, with a heavy heart and an equally guilty conscience as the incident shed light on their past, where Hye-Joo met the kind Joon-Do before he ran for office. The flashback narrates a beautiful love story, and “Trolley” Episode 3 introduces three new characters who are directly or indirectly related to Hye-Joo’s past. Seung-Hee, her husband Ki-Young, and Seung-Hee’s mother are revealed as the new characters, while Seung-Hee’s mother is revealed as the person accusing Hye-Joo of being the killer of her son in her flashback at the store. Hye-Joo’s reasons for staying out of the spotlight soon begin to unravel as the pages of the past reveal her history. Meanwhile, a plot twist reveals itself as Woo-Jae questions Soo-Bin about the baby’s real father.


Episode 4: Recap And Ending Explained – Was Kim Hye-Joo’s Past Revealed Finally?

As Hye-Joo consoles her distraught husband, Woo-Jae confronts Soo-Bin about her story of dating Ji-Hoon. Woo-Jae then returns back to the office to reassure the staff about Joong-Do’s time off. As they discuss Joong-Do’s upcoming schedule for the general election as well as the bill that Joong-Do has decided to pass, Woo-Jae remembers his decision to follow his lead as he worried he would visit the dead kid’s wake; instead, Joong-Do went on to find respite and peace in his wife’s arms. Hye-Joo helped Joong-Do overcome a bit of his guilt and focus on the present, while Woo-Jae remembered his altercation with Soo-Bin, where Woo-Jae had switched off the dash cam and Soo-Bin had dropped her lip balm in her rush. Nam Joong-Do and Hye-Joo share a special moment when Hye-Joo thanks Joong-Do for keeping his promise to her and not involving her in politics, except for the moment it becomes too much for him to bear. Her flashback also reveals that Ms. Woo had favored Nam Joong-Do from the very beginning and had wanted him to be a part of the Daehan Party. 

Meanwhile, Yeo-Jin’s health degrades as she fails to hide her disdain for Soo-Bin, although she does cook up a healthy meal for Soo-Bin on Hye-Joo’s insistence. Soo-Bin experiences the onset of her pregnancy morning sickness due to the food. Hye-Joo and Joong-Do enjoy their last moments of peace together as they walk back home while holding each other’s hand. Hye-Joo inquires about Soo-Bin and Yoon-Seo as she and Joong-Do walk in. Hye-Joo walks upstairs to check on Soo-Bin and also delivers some tea to make her situation better. Soo-Bin hands her the results from the drug test, which turned out to be negative. Hye-Joo tries to soothe the situation between her husband and Soo-Bin as she speaks for Soo-Bin to make Joong-Do give her a chance. Yoon-Seo rushes upstairs after she mistakes Soo-Bin’s retching in the bathroom for her mother’s. Yoon-Seo has a fight with both her mother and father, while Hye-Joo smooths things over yet again, although this time, they share a very touching moment with each other.

Hye-Joo’s past begins to catch up to her as Joong-Do plans to investigate Youngsan and Assemblyman Kang’s sister-in-law. Lee Yoo-Shin’s purchase of land had come under suspicion and was the reason for Assemblyman Kang’s recent scandal, which Ms. Woo had politely reminded him of in “Trolley” Episode 3. Lee Yoo-Shin was introduced as Jin Seung-Hee’s mother and Choi Ki-Young’s mother-in-law. “Trolley” Episode 4 draws parallels between the two couples: Ki-Young and his wife, Seung-Hee, who had left him at her mother’s place to go abroad for three years, and Joong-Do and his wife, Hye-Joo. Joong-Do and Hye-Joo were portrayed as close as Ki-Young and Seung-Hee were portrayed distant. Yoo-Shin walked all over Ki-Young and treated him almost like her personal servant, as he hadn’t come from a well-to-do family before marrying Seung-Hee, during the time Seung-Hee was away. 

As Seung-Hee returned, Ki-Young informed her how claustrophobic and unhappy he felt in this house with her mother, who had been living almost in the past mourning for her son. Seung-Hee had left her mother to escape from the house as she was unable to move past the unfortunate incident of her son’s death. Her son’s death was directly related to Hye-Joo’s past, which had caused her to run away from Youngson. The fourth episode of “Trolley” also draws parallels between the two mothers, Hye-Joo and Yoo-Shin, as Hye-Joo tried to remember her son Ji-Hoon fondly in her memories while Yoo-Shin forgot to look after her other child, Seung-Hee, causing her to be distant with her mother. As Joong-Do’s staff looked for a way to approach Ki-Young for an interview on the real estate and also the way Yoo-Shin treated him, Yoo-Shin made sure the citizens around were tight-lipped about the purchase as well as their situation, as Kang had ruled over that community as a leader for many years now. It was difficult for Kim Bit-Na, who was sent to get an interview with Ki-Young to get a reading on the real estate situation, and instead, she found out about the tumultuous relationship the son-in-law and mother-in-law shared. 

Nam Joong-Do, after finding out how Ki-Young had waited for his wife to return from abroad and had lived almost as a widower out of respect and love, had all but given up approaching Ki-Young as he compared Ki-Young’s dedication to his own. Ki-Young, not being able to handle the mistreatment any longer, contacted them first. Seung-Hee, on the other hand, frustrated with her mother, imagined hurting her in the worst way possible by simply breaking the glass encased certificate belonging to her deceased brother, Seung-Ho, that her mother had stored and cleaned every day. Frustrated, she simply locked herself in her room as the news led her to Hye-Joo, who was then revealed as Kim Jae-Eun. With a new twist in events, Seung-Hee contacted Hye-Joo to remind her of her past and to torment her just as Seung-Hee was tormented by the ghosts of the past. Similarly, Ki-Young discovered Hye-Joo’s new identity while waiting for Joong-Do in a cafe, as it was revealed that Ki-Young, Seung-Hee, and Hye-Joo were classmates. Seung-Hee was Hye-Joo’s best friend before an unfortunate turn of events estranged them, and Hye-Joo was accused of being the murderer of Seung-Hee’s brother.

Meanwhile, Joong-Do refused to choose between his profession and his wife, as he had always respected the promise he made to her to keep her out of the media while he dealt with politics on his own. Even after being reproached by his electoral board chief, Woon-Kyu, Joong-Do refused to bring Hye-Joo under the spotlight and instead promised to work extra hard to make up for her absence. Woo-Jae and Joong-Do share a drink as Joong-Do faces a choice between his career and his wife, which Joong-Do remains silent on but proves to Woo-Jae by choosing both in action. He rushed to meet his wife as she walked back home while he was on his way to an official dinner. This incident actually caused a misunderstanding between Hye-Joo as she spotted the missing lip balm of Soo-Bin, which had accidentally slipped out of her bag during her altercation with Woo-Jae. She tried asking Joong-Do about it later at night; however, he took it as her being interested, and a bit of funny, wholesome banter took place to ease the situation. 

“Trolley” Episode 4 ends with Assemblyman Kang shooting down the bill to be proposed by Joong-Do and backed by the Daehan Party. Kang is cornered by Yoo-Shin’s purchase of the land that has been recently announced for development by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport of South Korea. This purchase filled the pockets of the family but was interpreted as a scandal by the media and deemed unethical. To get out of the situation, Kang personally attacked Joong-Do with the recent death of Ji-Hoon and his use of meth, which is a drug banned in South Korea. The episode ends at a standstill as Kang walks out, and the bill remains suspended until there is a representative from Kang’s party who stands in to vote for the bill. Meanwhile, Seung-Hee tracks Hye-Joo down and pays her a visit to bring back her memories of the past she ran from, bringing the phrase “you can run but you cannot hide from your past” to light.


Final Thoughts

The 3rd and 4th episodes of “Trolley” connect the past Hye-Joo ran from to her present with Joong-Do. Joong-Do is depicted as a kind politician who simply wants to fulfill his dream of building a better world, while Hye-Joo is depicted as a calm and kind person who helps people in need and looks after her family as well as her acquaintances. Hye-Joo’s decision to remain out of the spotlight and away from politics never posed a hindrance to Joong-Do; however, the sudden death of their son Ji-Hoon, set off a domino effect and ruined the peace in the family. Hye-Joo’s past catches up with her as Seung-Hee and Ki-Young are introduced in the third installment. As the other two installments had previously established the mysterious yet kind personality that Hye-Joo had, there could be a huge misunderstanding surrounding the death of Seung-Ho and that Hye-Joo could be wrongly accused of murder. Either her personality had become kinder due to her guilty conscience, or there could be a bigger misunderstanding and scheme at play. Hye-Joo can be given the benefit of the doubt, and the entire scheme at play could be revealed in the following episodes. The next episodes of “Trolley” await a whole new challenge for the already disturbed family of Nams.


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Alokananda Sen
Alokananda Sen
Alokananda Sen holds a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. She has a keen interest in graphic designing, reading, and photography. Her insatiable appetite for cinema and pop culture enticed her to work as a content writer. She is currently pursuing a Post Graduate Diploma focused in Animation & VFX to explore a new dimension in her career.

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