Trolley Season 1 Review – A politically charged, sizzling drama with slightly blasé execution

Season 1

Episode Guide

Episode 1 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 2 -|Review Score – 4/5
Episode 3 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 4 -|Review Score – 4/5
Episode 5 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 6 -|Review Score – 4/5
Episode 7 -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 8 -|Review Score – 3/5
Episode 9 -|Review Score – 4/5
Episode 10 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 11 -|Review Score – 4/5
Episode 12 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 13 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 14 -|Review Score – 3/5
Episode 15 -|Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 16 -|Review Score – 3/5


The trolley problem is a fascinating thought experiment in ethics, depicting a fictional scenario where you have the choice to allow a train to kill multiple people or intervene and pull a lever, diverting that carriage to only kill one. Korean thriller Trolley takes this idea and pastes it into the world of politically charged drama, with a series of ethical questions standing in the way of our characters having a happy ending.

On paper, the series has a fascinating moral edge to it and to begin with, the show really leans into the mystery and drama around this. The middle portion of episodes do tend to sag and lose their way a bit, before everything is pulled back for a relatively satisfying but slightly contrived ending.

The story centers on Hye-joo, a woman with a dark past who is doing everything she can to live her best life. She works at a Book Restoration shop and largely stays out of the politics her Assemblyman husband, Joong-do, is wrapped up in. When her son Ji-hoon is found dead with drugs in his pocket, and Ji-hoon’s girlfriend, Soo-bin, rocks up at her house claiming to be carrying Ji-hoon’s child, what ensues is a fascinating moral dilemma for Hye-joo to overcome.

This choice is made all the more difficult by Seung-hee, the sister to a deceased man called Seung-ho, whom Hye-joo is blamed for the death of. The circumstances around this are slowly unveiled over time, while Joong-do’s politics filter into Hye-joo’s life when he attempts to pass a new Bill that could change the way the entire country looks at certain crimes.

The aforementioned trolley problem comes in several different forms across the 16 episodes. The first comes from Joong-do himself, who has the choice over whether to put his wife in harm’s way in order to save multiple people further down the line, or keep her shielded but potentially cause more misery for the general public the future.

Toward the latter half of the series, Hye-joo is then put in the spotlight and ends up with a similar sort of choice, although hers involve several wildcards that look set to cause absolute havoc on her life.

When Trolley focuses on this central plot and the mystery around Ji-hoon, it really is unstoppable. The acting is great all round and the story sizzles with intrigue and tension. Unfortunately, the drama also has a tendency to meander off into subplots that don’t really do all that much to advance the story.

Soo-bin has several different encounters across the season that don’t make a whole lot of sense until you understand what’s happening by the end of the finale, while Hye-joo’s friend Yeo-jin has a lot of scenes involving Joong-do’s assistant, Woo-jae, that feel dragged out and overplayed.

An ending can make or break a drama and unfortunately, Trolley does stumble at the end. While it’s satisfying for some characters, a coupe of the supporting players and subplots feel rushed or, at their worst, don’t even get an ending.

With all that being said, Trolley is a really good drama but it loses sight of greatness. All the elements are certainly here for a cracking political drama, but in the end this one feels a bit blasé in its execution.

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  • Verdict - 7.5/10

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