Do you know how it is to feel completely lost? When, for whatever reason, you have no idea where you are or where you are going with your life? Everyone is bound to feel like that at some point. But what would happen if, suddenly, a train appeared? Not just any train, but an infinite train, with each car being its own bizarre pocket universe, from which once you enter, you cannot get out until you solve a problem that is eating at you, represented by a number in your hand? Well, that is Infinity Train.
Infinity Train is an anthology series that tells the stories of different passengers aboard the said train. In my opinion, it sounds like the perfect pitch on paper; the plot literally revolves around the character development in a limitless setting. And not only is it good on paper, but the final result is even better than it sounds. However, just because something could be or even is good, according to some subjective and personal criteria, it doesn’t mean that you will necessarily connect with it. I have encountered more works than I can count that, based on my experience, I should’ve liked, but sadly realized there was nothing for me in them.
That’s fortunately not the case with Infinity Train. It continues to amaze me how with only 100 minutes per season, I connect more with these characters than I do with most things I watch. Even in a setting so whimsical and ungrounded, I connect with ease because the characters and their problems are so human. Tulip’s struggle with the divorce of her parents during the first season, or Ryan and Min-Gi dealing with the pressure of what they want to do with their lives and what others want for them in the fourth; the show is never afraid to make you feel. In fact, it wants you and succeeds, as much as it does making you laugh and enjoy all the worlds and random characters that exist in it. But I think that the character with who I connect the most is the protagonist of the second season, Lake.
Lake is not a passenger. She’s a denizen created by it, as many others were, in order to help the passengers, so that they can solve their issues and leave. Even worse, she’s supposed to be a reflection meant to do nothing more than imitate what her prime (That would be the people they reflect: us) did. But she escapes, and while being chased by the Mirror Police, who want to kill her for that, her journey begins.
After 13 years of living in just one car and existing to fulfill another person, she starts by exploring the train. Never staying too long in the same car, partly because she’s being persecuted but also because she hasn’t figured out what to do yet. That’s her life: wandering endlessly without a clear direction. At least, until she meets with two individuals; Jessie, a boy with a golden heart who can sadly be easily influenced, thanks to his people-pleaser nature; and Alan Dracula, another denizen that appears to them as a normal deer, but is later revealed to be much more than that.
Even though she is adamant about engaging in any communication with Jessie and only wants to be with Alan Dracula, they agree to travel together so that Lake can help him get off the train as soon as possible, and she can stay with Alan. After some episodes, their relationship develops, getting closer and becoming more open with each other. This is when everything changes, with a throwaway line that comes out of Jessie; what if Lake leaves too? Something that she never considered for the sheer impossibility that it represents. What if she did everything that a denizen is not even supposed to be able to do? Denizens are not designed for that; they don’t have a number. But Lake doesn’t feel a part of the train. She doesn’t belong there with them. So she will leave.
Her story is intrinsically a search for identity. That story resonated and felt especially true for a lot of non-binary people like me. From realizing that you don’t really fit within the boundaries that you were led to believe you should fit in to not even knowing what name you want to be addressed with.
In fact, the first time I watched Infinity Train, sometime around 2020, when there were still only two seasons, I didn’t know why it clicked so much with me. I wasn’t yet aware that I was non-binary. Of course, now I’m able to see that there were signs ever since I was a kid, and even though by that time I had already started questioning my identity, there was still some time left until I was fully aware and in acceptance of it. If anything, that first time I watched it pushed me further in my journey. I didn’t know who to talk to about it, and I tended to brush it aside because, in the face of a lot of existing problems, I didn’t want to deal with even more. But I saw someone that felt like me, that was confused and struggled with a lot of the same things that I did. And same as Lake, instead of brushing it aside, I kept thinking and working about it.
Eventually, Jessie’s number reached 0, and a door appeared for him to come back to his normal life. They hold hands. Lake is prepared for a new life. He crosses, but the train doesn’t let her go; she doesn’t have a number. She can never get out and gets caught by one of the Mirror Police. The police are accordingly depicted as a fascists force, with the only purpose of reinforcing the pre-established norms, even against the harmless wishes of the people that they themselves belong to, and thus, they represent everything that Lake is fighting to not be a part of. She is repeatedly told that even if she could get out of the train, she can’t be a part of the world the way she wants to be. Everything she ever did and will ever do will only be what the train designed her for and nothing else. Fortunately, she’s able to get rid of him and decides that if she doesn’t have a number, then she’ll get one.
She reaches the tape car and finds herself in a room full of unconscious people where robots are analyzing memories to know what number is best to give the passengers. She tries to undergo the same process that functions with some advanced laser. Finally, about to finally get what she wants, about to get the validation she needs about who she knows she is, the laser just goes through her as if she wasn’t even there. As if she didn’t even exist. She stands in anguish, with her eyes starting to tear up, and begins to scream, asking what she needs to do. But nobody reacts. In an act of pure anger, pain, and frustration, she grabs one of the robots by the head and screams ‘’I am a person. I deserve a number’’, as she breaks the robot’s head with her bare hands.
She’s stopped by the conductor and creator of the train and starts begging him to help her. Amid the discussion, when the conductor was trying to demonstrate that she needs to stay because she did a good job helping Jessie, they discover that he’s still on the train. They wake him up and realize that he did indeed get off the train, but he knew he couldn’t leave Lake behind, so another door appeared for him. Then a paradox is created; in order for him to leave, he has to do so with Lake, who cannot do it. They outsmart the conductor by convincing him that Lake does have a number by reflecting Jessie’s onto herself. She couldn’t and shouldn’t play by the rules of the system that negates her own identity, so she played by her own rules and was able to get out. She was able to be where she wanted to be and be the way she wanted to be.
I finally accepted that I was non-binary in early 2021 and told no more than a select group of people. But still, I was afraid. What if I was faking it? And if I wasn’t, what would the repercussions be if I openly came out? I’d have to face the effects it’d have on every aspect of my life. Knowing the number of changes and challenges that it would bring was terrifying. And I’m still scared of a lot of things. Sometimes, just thinking about the possibility of being perceived as anything other than how I identify myself worries me. But it’s also freeing. I’m glad I realized that side of me. A lot of the changes are helping me to feel more like myself, and I can’t help but get happy when people address me with my correct pronouns or when I think about my future, feeling even more comfortable with myself.
I cannot express how much it helped me to see Lake’s journey. How much it touches me when I see her scream in frustration at a world that refuses to accept her. How determined she is, that even after being told again and again that she will never get what she wants and will never be who she says she is, she still fights. How she cries with tears of happiness when realizing that she finally did it, she is where she needs to be, and feels more herself than ever before. I will always come back to Infinity Train, and especially to that second season, that means so much to me. I will be grateful to the creative team that made it. I will laugh and cry, and at the end of the last episode, I will be happy. Because Lake can finally be herself, and so can I.