Episode Review- The Real Ghostbusters: Last Train to Oblivion
Bit of a simple story in this one, but still a good one (apart from a few nitpicks of mine). Though the simplicity makes it seem really short.
It’s nearly midnight at Grand Central Station, and the train from Trenton, New Jersey is just pulling in. But when the clock strikes midnight on the dot, the train tracks begin to spark and soon bend upwards. This ends up signaling the appearance of a ghost dressed in traditional train engineer clothing. The ghost quickly scares away all the bystanders at the station before entering one of the trains, making his way up to the control car. There, he takes a few moments to examine the control console before letting out a loud howl of what I guess was supposed to be frustration. Because if this was the ghost of an old-time train engineer, then the modern-style trains are probably are very confusing and alien to him.
It then cuts over to the Firehouse, where we see Peter has decided to stay up late to set up and play with a model train set. It seems that Peter is really into trains, which is an interest that seemed to come out of nowhere. Egon, who I guess was coming downstairs to get a midnight snack, pauses for a moment to comment on Peter’s train obsession, because Peter was even mimicking train noises as he played with his trains. Though Peter seems to be ignoring him, so Egon shrugs and continues onto the kitchen. Slimer then shows up, wanting to play with Peter’s train as well, but Peter slaps his hand away from the controls. So Slimer decides to, I guess, turn himself into a tunnel for the train to go through. Which results in him eating the toy train. Naturally, Peter is ticked about this. But before he can do anything to Slimer in retaliation, the phone rings and Peter has to go answer it. I’m guessing Janine finally was allowed to get a night off. That’s great! The woman deserves a break every now and then.
The phone call turns out to be about the disturbance down at Grand Cental Station, so the Ghostbusters suit up and head out. Upon arriving at the train station, they’re greeted by a security guard. Who actually asks them if they’re the Ghostbusters. (No, it’s some other group of guys carrying Proton Packs and driving around in the Ecto-1.) The security guard tells them about the ghost he’d seen and speculates it might be the ghost of Casey Jones. The Ghostbusters then make their way into the station, with Peter talking to Winston about how Casey Jones was a train engineer who was involved in the most famous train wreck in railroad history. (Yeah, I’ll talk more about that at the end of this review.) Here, Peter gets distracted by the sight of an actual working steam locomotive that was sitting out in the open for some reason, so he has to run over to check it out, with Winston following after him.
Meanwhile, Egon and Ray are looking around the train station. They come across Casey Jones in a cafeteria-like area of the train station. At the moment, Casey Jones is busy looking at a cup of coffee and an iced tea, as if trying to decide which he’d rather have. The episode explains through Egon’s dialogue that Casey Jones must have a sore throat or something and is needing to lubricate his throat. Which does make sense, since after Casey Jones downs the cup of coffee, he actually starts speaking. Up until that point, all he did was make that horrible wailing noise. For a while, Egon and Ray continue trying to track down Casey Jones. But every time they have him in their sights, Casey Jones manages to get the better of them, either burying them in a pile of train tickets or dropping suitcases full of clothes on them.
Eventually, Casey Jones makes it outside, just in time to see Peter and Winston standing near the steam locomotive that Peter had been playing around in. He apparently overhears Peter telling Winston how much he loved trains as a boy, and had even taken up Engineering as a college major for two years, until he figured out it had nothing to do with trains. This, combined with the fact that Peter is now wearing an engineer hat he found inside the steam locomotive, leads to Casey Jones abducting Peter, taking him into the steam locomotive and shackling him next to the locomotive’s boiler. Casey Jones instructs Peter to keep the fire burning in the boiler. At first, Peter refuses, mentioning union rules and whatnot. But he quickly relents when Casey Jones virtually threatens him by crushing a sheet of metal in his hand. So, as Peter starts shoveling coal into the boiler, the train starts to move. And despite Winston’s best efforts, he cannot reach Peter in time before the train picks up speed and moves out of sight.
Here, we get a prolonged sequence with Egon, Ray and Winston trying to follow the train Casey Jones is manning, in an effort to get Peter back. They try all manner of things to get onto the train. Such as jumping onto the train as it goes under an overpass (this fails because Ray miscalculated the number of cars on the train) and trying to block the train by parking the Ecto-1 on the tracks (they have to abort this plan pretty quickly for obvious reasons). At one point, they have to steer the Ecto-1 directly onto the tracks in order to avoid driving into the Delaware River, which obviously results in everyone inside the Ecto-1 experiencing a rather bumpy ride. Eventually, Ray comes up with a plan to use the track ramp to launch the Ecto-1 directly onto the roof of the train. This plan ends up working, but even then, they’re not in the clear. Because Casey Jones apparently sensed their presence and went out to face them, demanding they get off the train. But that leads to more filler scenes. Because they briefly shake Casey Jones when the train entered a tunnel, because Casey Jones was ‘standing up’ at the time and was momentarily too solid to pass through the wall. There’s a weird joke when Ray states he saw something amazing but then says ‘forget it, you missed it’ when the train exits the tunnel. Then the train goes through a second tunnel, and when it comes back out again, the Ghostbusters are inexplicitly inside the train. It’s a bizarre moment, but I guess you have to get a little gimmicky when you’re dealing with a train going through a dark tunnel.
Eventually, Ray, Egon and Winston make it to the front of the train, where Casey Jones (who had managed to catch up after the tunnel mishap) is in the process of instructing Peter to throw the last piece of coal into the boiler. Ray instructs Peter to not move (and Peter literally freezes in place), and the Ghostbusters effortlessly are able to capture Casey Jones inside a Ghost Trap. However, it seems there’s still an issue that must be addressed. Up ahead, there is an Amtrak passenger train heading right towards them, with a collision course imminent.
So the Ghostbusters scramble to try and think of a way to prevent the two trains from crashing. Ray tries to pull the brake in the steam engine, but it snaps off in his hand. Briefly, Ray and Egon consider simply jumping off the steam engine before the two trains collide, but Peter points out that he’s still shackled in place and there wouldn’t be time to free him. Winston also adds that jumping out won’t prevent the people in the incoming passenger train from getting hurt. He then announces that the ghost they caught really must have been Casey Jones, citing the ghost’s history of causing train wrecks. But this statement gives Peter a revelation. Acting quickly, he takes the Ghost Trap and releases Casey Jones. Upon being freed, Casey Jones flies out of the steam locomotive and heads right for a nearby track switch. Upon pulling the track switch, the steam locomotive is diverted to a second track, thereby preventing the collision from happening. Once the two trains miss each other, the steam locomotive slows to a stop, and Peter is instantly released from his shackles.
As the Ghostbusters climb out, Peter explains that he’d figured out that Casey Jones had been trying to correct the mistake he’d made in his life. Since he’d caused a train crash while he was alive, his ghost had been trying to prevent a train wreck in an effort to seek redemption. Although, Egon points out that Peter’s plan had been a risky gamble. Still, it seems that Casey Jones had achieved what he had been trying to do, and he waves goodbye to the Ghostbusters as he fades from sight, signifying the fact that his soul is now at peace.
Okay, I’m all for stories involving ghosts who are simply trying to cross over. But for some reason, I have a slight issue with this episode. While I do sympathize with Casey Jones’ plight, it still seems like a jerk move for him to have done all this. Yeah, his spirit wanted to prevent a train wreck so he could cross over. But does it still count when he deliberately creates a situation where a train wreck could happen? That aside, there’s the fact that this episode suggests that the train wreck that killed Casey Jones also killed a bunch of other people. Particularly when Peter states that Casey Jones’ ghost had wanted to save lives, not take them. The main issue with this is that it contradicts the actual story involving Casey Jones. Yeah, Casey Jones was an actual person. The factual Casey Jones died when the passenger train he was manning collided with a stalled freight train in Mississippi. However, he did successfully manage to prevent a disastrous crash by skillfully slowing the engine, which saved the lives of the train’s passengers at the cost of his own. In other words, the only person who died in that crash was Casey Jones himself. So, if Casey Jones died saving the lives of the other passengers, what exactly was he seeking redemption for?
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