"We like pedaling in a bit of the ambiguity. We like having that there. We don't want everything explained all the time. We generally have a rough idea of what it is in our heads. But I like it when it's like 'No, you think about it. We had to think about it, now it's your turn.'"
How moral and effective is the Train? On the one hand, it's meant to help people work through their most crippling problems. On the other hand, the cars are full of hidden dangers that can easily hurt or kill someone, and it's still kidnapping people. Word of God freely admits that despite its good intentions, the train is highly questionable and awful in its methods.
Is MT a sympathetic figure driven by the desire to be recognised as a person, pushed beyond her limits by her insane situation and the vastly disproportionate response to her supposed "crime"? Or is she a self-obsessed sociopath who is willing to sacrifice anything, or anyone, to get what she wants? How much of her Character Development is driven by the fact that she is Tulip's polar opposite, something that the mirror world teaches Tulip?
MT reveals that reflections who lose their primes are either recycled to become reflections for someone else or join the Mirror Police, which naturally lead to a lot of speculation on Mace and Sieve. Some see their loss of Primes as a kind of Start of Darkness or Freudian Excuse. MT herself wonders if Mace, in a way, still reflects his dead Prime through his personality. She further accuses him of joining the force as a way to keep his identity, as recycled reflections have their memories wiped, an accusation that Mace angrily denies.
Was Grace right in forming the Apex? On one hand, thanks to her flawed ideology on how the train works, the group ends up causing a lot of trouble, damaging property and maiming the various denizens inhabiting the cars. But on the other hand, the train has a lot of hidden surprises and no manual to help combat it, and its members are young kids who can easily be injured, so having a reliable system of support like the Apex does a lot to guarantee their safety.
Just how much does Simon like Grace? Is it an actual crush or something more akin to codependency? He blushes a lot when around her, but the way he flips out about how Grace is behaving differently, stating that she's "not like she's supposed to be" points towards the latter. Or is it both?
Toon Ruins did a video arguing that at least a large part of Amelia's grief and suicidal tendencies after Alrich's death was due to her living in a time when women could only have the sort of life Amelia wanted with the aid of a supportive husband and with his death she feared it was the end of her freedom and happiness, not just the loss of a spouse. Owen Dennis retweeted it with a note saying that this was in fact what they were going for.
Grace as a character invokes this. She has some messed-up ideas of the world and has the mistaken belief that causing trouble is the best way to get attention to be noticed. This contributes to her forming the Apex and encouraging everyone to get their numbers up, refusing to believe otherwise until Amelia bluntly tells her, Simon, and Hazel the truth. A hallucination of Hazel claims that Grace is actually scared of everything and covers it up by being a bullying Know-Nothing Know-It-All. Grace also cries and agrees with this statement. It's unclear where she lies before her proper HeelFace Turn.
Speaking of which, would Grace's redemption be more different if she didn't bond with Hazel? What made Hazel so different than the other denizens/children of the Apex that made her bond?
Given the videotape is meant to show distorted memories as you perceive them, it's possible Alrick wasn't as virtuous as Amelia remembered him. Amelia chose to only remember the good times, rather than the bad, as Tulip was remembering spending time with her parents. We at least know that, according to Amelia when she suffers her Heel Realization, that Alrick wouldn't have liked the person she had become in her quest to restore him.
Was Alrick trying to make Amelia laugh when showing off the robot distorted or was it foreplay for some sex? After all, he was asking about a robot learning about human emotions, and Amelia interrupts by proposing to him.
Amelia's vendetta against Tulip is irrational, namely about how Tulip escaped her own videotape of memories. Was she venting her frustration about how Tulip was doing better at dealing with her problems, or fearing that Tulip would restore One-One? The hints toward the former was her shock that Tulip gave up her door and chance of going home in favor of saving Atticus.
There are the implications that rather than One-One being Tulip's Morality Chain, she was theirMorality Pet. Given they were the Real Conductor, and shown to be a little callous in Book 4, Tulip inspired them to become more compassionate and understand the problems that a train passenger has.
Why did Alan Dracula choose to save MT? He's shown that he has a deer mind, but is implied to be Smarter Than You Look on more than one occasion. Did he realize she was in danger?
We find out Alan Dracula was never in danger when he fell through the tree canopy. As soon as MT and Jesse find him, he easily climbs up and lets them bum a ride. Was it a Stealth Mentor moment to help Jesse get his number down, and MT some help?
Are the members of the family tree former passengers that never left the train? MT and Jesse nearly become trees due to their arguing and realize they have to fake being polite to stay alive. If so, the ones at the very bottom who started the feud seem happy together given their kiss, implying You Are Worth Hell.
Jesse agreeing to follow Grace to her hideout at the end of "The Lucky Cat Car". Was he being that naive to trust such a person after seeing what they had just done? Or, considering MT's Jerkass behavior when they first met, was it a reasonable gamble based on believing this new person similar? Could it have also been pure pragmatism? He points out that they don't really have a choice, unless they want to stay in the Lucky Cat Car for another month.
The writers themselvesadmit to engaging in this, not always being able to agree on the reasons why some characters do certain things. One of them points at One-One's decision to let MT leave the train at the end of Book 2 as a major example of this in the writer's room; was One-One actually sympathetic to MT's plight and looking for any good excuse to help her out or was he purely cold and calculating, only desiring a quick way to fix the train's problem and not caring at all about her situation?For what it's worth, the writer of the episode is firmly in the latter camp.
At the start of the book, how much does Grace really care about the children of the Apex? She displays an almost motherly side, making the children of the Apex feel special and cared for, but how much of that is for her own gain so she can have attention and power? She genuinely does seem to care for Hazel, but the waters are muddied considering that she was very clearly trying to manipulate Hazel at the start.
Simon's murder of Tuba could be because he really hates Nulls or because he believes he is "saving" Hazel from an "inevitable betrayal" that he has deluded himself will occur. Or, given that he thought Grace was underestimating him being able to kill her solo, was he trying to show off and impress her?
Speaking of which, was Grace mad at Simon for going against the plan to separate Hazel from Tuba, or for how callously he boasted killing Tuba in front of Hazel (thus breaking her trust in them)? Or was she mad because she had started to empathize with Hazel and now views killing denizens as a serious offense?
At the end of "The Hey Ho Whoa Car" was Simon crying over how Grace betrayed him by not telling him about Hazel's secret, or coming to terms with how he's made himself so untrustworthy to her? Either way, it's immediately clear in the next episode that he's lost hope in them fixing their friendship.
That same episode has Grace yell at Hazel and even call her a null when the latter asked if they were going to abandon her now. Was this because she accidentally let pent-up frustrations about taking care of the young girl slip or was she trying to convince Simon to not hurt her? She visibly regrets it immediately either way.
Amelia claims that she's only taking in Hazel because the latter said she can take care of herself, and wants to be with the woman who created her. Look at her face, however; she's surprised that Hazel said that she likes Amelia and considers her a good person. Maybe it was the realization that Hazel may not be Alrick, but is the closest thing to Alrick that she has seen, and that Amelia has been alone for 33 years. Perhaps it's realizing that Hazel is basically her daughter, and she needs someone who won't murder her.
Who is most at fault with Simon? Was it Grace for how she told him that she was an expert on the Train and contributed to the idea of wheeling denizens? Was it The Cat for abandoning Simon to the Ghom and thus having him meet up with Grace? Or was it mostly on Simon himself for being unable to change his viewpoint no matter how many chances he had?
At the end of the season, Simon is Cry Laughing when he tosses Grace off the train to be wheeled and the numbers cover his whole body. Was it guilt over the fact that he seemingly killed his best friend? Him Laughing Mad over the fact that his cruelty won over Grace's change of heart? Noticeably, he barely puts up a fight when the Ghom gets him, implying that he was Driven to Suicide and had long-crossed the Despair Event Horizon.
Why was the Docent unable to affect Kez the same way it affected Ryan and Min-Gi in "The Art Gallery Car"? Is it because she's not a passenger? As the Docent's powers are heavily implied to literally turn a person colder by making them act on their worst thoughts, is Kez simply too good a person to be influenced? Or does her Never My Fault-attitude reach so far into her subconscious she's unable to be brought down by her doubts like Min-Gi and Ryan? Or, and this is a way less charitable interpretation, was the Docent not able to turn Kez into her worst self because she is already her worst self?
Why did Ryan's exit disappear again? Was it really, as Ryan himself believes, because the train viewed him even considering leaving Min behind as him relapsing and decided he wasn't ready after all? Did the decision itself cause such emotional turmoil within Ryan that his number went up, automatically causing his exit to be taken away again? Or is it just a side-effect of how his and Min-Gis numbers keep resetting to 202 whenever their emotional growth doesnt happen at the same time?