Long theory ahead!
I'd say that this entire era, since the Most Beautiful Moment in Life (HYYH) until You Never Walk Alone, carries the overall theme of letting go and moving on.
Death in storytelling is often a way to express the act of letting go, of something, or of someone.
But this is a theory post and we want specifics; we want to know what every scene means, and every detail. So let's start at the beginning.
The Most Beautiful Moment in Life
As a theorist, I was pleased to see the many references back to the previous era in this music video, and it feel like it rounded off the HYYH era in a beautiful way.
The music video opens up with a reference back to the early time.
V's youth has frozen up and left is only the memories of the time when he used to be with his friends and they used to always be around the train tracks.
Back during 'Run', the friends all boarded a train together. They went on a journey through life together, but they have gotten off at different stops, and V finds himself at an abandoned place, searching for the train so he can board it again.
(Note also the butterfly on V's jeans)
Throughout the music videos, the short film and the tour trailer, V has seemed desperate to escape, and has acted as if he was caught in cage, or in a dream.
Bad things have happened to him and he is desperate to wake up from this bad dream. And how do we wake ourselves from bad dreams? We die inside the dream. If we die, we usually wake up. So V lays down on the tracks, wishing to end the bad dream and return to good times.
This scene immediately makes me think of Inception, which I've paralleled to this mv and to the HYYH in a previous theory.
But what's also worth noting is that the name of the train station is clearly visible.
They could have filmed anywhere on the platform, if they just wanted a train platform, or they could have put up their own signs (like they did with the public transport routes in the concept photos).
Yet they chose to shoot where the name of the station is clearly visible: 일영 (iryeong).
It's a train station in Gyeonggi Province, which is no longer in service. The tracks are now only used occasionally for freight trains. The station hasn't been manned for years.
V finds himself at an abandoned train station with no one around. He seems lost, and follows the tracks, reminiscing of old days. It's almost as if he is searching for the train, so he can board it, and be with his friends again.
They used to have fun in the train, and party, as they do later, in the Omelas hotel (which is also inside the train, btw).
The train isn't the only reference back to the HYYH era.
V and RM excluded
Outside the Omelas motel a car is parked. The car reminds me of the car they drive around in 'I Need U'.
Back then, only RM and V weren't inside the car. In 'Spring Day' too they're singled out.
RM and V sit outside the laundromat, while everyone else is inside.
RM also doesn't approach Jungkook in the train carriage and he doesn't approach Suga and J-Hope outside the motel either. It's as if he knows that they can't acknowledge him or won't see him. He knows he doesn't belong with them.
V is equally singled out. He is the only one who isn't running up the stairs. He also appears late when they are running down the hallway.
In the slow motion scene where they're in the shot throwing things at RM, V doesn't appear to be there either.
In the behind the scenes footage we see that V was there, but that he was lying down on the bed and didn't appear in the shot. Was this on purpose? The cameramen and director would have known that he wouldn't come out on camera like that.
The scene inside the motel appears to be a happy moment. But V doesn't look happy when he is around the others. Except when he is with RM outside the laundromat (and we will get to the why if that in a bit)
The further back in the train that we get, the further back in time we go. We visit past memories.
When RM enters the Omelas motel and the others throw things at him, he wears a silver crown. He is wearing the same clothes as before he walked through the door, except for the crown, which magically appears. Because this is a memory in the past, and he was the main character in that memory.
This seems to be my cue to look at two other references that the music video clearly use, and that you might have seen theories refer to already.
The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas
A short story by Ursula LeGuin of this title is where the name Omelas comes from. In the story, people arrive to the utopian town of Omelas by train. In Omelas everyone is equal and everyone is happy because it's everything you would like it to be.
There is only one dark secret in Omelas: in order for everyone to live happily one child has to be locked up in a dark room and be mistreated.
The people of Omelas know this, but chose to ignore it. For the most part.
Sometimes after learning about the child, some people leave.
"Each one goes alone."
Like RM walks away alone, and Jungkook too. All the BTS members take the walk alone and look sad when they're on their own; remembering the child who has to suffer for their happiness.
"Alone on a Snowpiercer."
- Rap Monster in 'Spring Day' -
'Snowpiercer' is a Korean produced film from 2013 with heavy connections to this mv and to the twist in Omelas, which we just talked about.
The film is set in post-apocalyptic times onboard a train, which carries earth's last survivors. The train has to continue to advance through the harsh and snowy landscape. If it stops, everyone onboard will die because of the extreme cold outside.
The train is driven on the fear of dying when, and if, it stops. It has been running for so long that some parts of the engine need to be run manually. But the engine room is so tight that only children under the age of 4 can fit inside.
See the reference back to Omelas? In order for everyone to continue living, a child has to suffer and work until death.
But the references don't stop here. Every carriage is more luxurious than the previous; a garden; a walk-through aquarium; swimming pool; saunas. You name it, up front, there's a carriage for it.
Every door opens to something new and fantastic. Much in the same way as the train RM and Jungkook are on.
On BTS's train, we have Jungkook, and RM, in different compartments. But where in 'Snowpiercer' it's all about going forward, in 'Spring Day' they go backwards.
RM is at the front of the train, and he goes back - back through his memories.
Jimin holds a pair of shoes but he is wearing shoes himself, so whose shoes are they? None of them are barefooted.
J-Hope wears red shoes. Suga wears black converse. Jin wears black shoes. Jungkook mostly wears black converse. V wears grey converse. Jimin wears grey shoes.
That leaves RM. RM wears light coloured shoes. And yes those shoes Jimin has, do appear to belong to RM.
But what does it mean that Jimin has Rap Monster's shoes? Most likely, it means that RM is dead.
When we first encounter RM, the colour of his lips are faded and his eyes are bright and almost distant. The way he acts as he raps also makes it seem like he isn't real.
His carriage is filled with luggage, but no one to whom it belongs. Is it the luggage of his own past? Because when Jungkook runs through that section of the train later, there is no luggage, as if Rap Monster has taken it with him.
When RM walks through the train, he looks at a Jungkook, but he doesn't approach him. He knows that he won't be seen.
He keeps going further back in the train; back into memories, back to a time when he was alive, and to a time a time when everyone else was too.
Mountain of Clothes
This mountain of clothes Suga sits on is a reference to an art installation by artist Christian Boltanski, called: "Personnes".
In the middle is a great mountain of clothes and around the installation room more clothes are laid out. A red claw then goes around and picks up clothes from the hall to add it to the mountain of clothes. The claw signifies the hand of god, while the clothes signify people.
The French title "Personnes" is a play on words, which can both mean people, and can also mean no one. That is precisely the theme of the installation piece.
"There are both tens of thousands of people, but at the same time, there is no one."
At the end of the day, it's empty clothes. But those clothes represent people who are no longer there. In the exact same way they do in 'Spring Day'.
It's an almost dreamlike sequence. The lighting as Suga begins his rap reminds me of the lighting in the Japanese 'I Need U' mv where Jin is sitting on the bed with lily flowers in his hand and light shines down over him. A scene which had fans speculating if Jin was dead.
They're sitting amongst the piles of dirty clothes, worn by no one, although they all represent someone. Does this mean, that god has picked them up and placed them in the pile? That they have lived their life and now they no longer exist?
V looks sad an uninterested inside the motel. But outside the laundromat, with RM, he looks especially happy.
Inside the motel, he is dead, but everyone else is alive, and V doesn't truly belong and since no one interacts with him, so he feels out of place.
V does the camera thing, like Jin, to capture the moment and try to remember what it was like. How the memory unfolded.
He finds himself in the same awkward position that Jin has found himself since the early HYYH days (singled out, and probably dead).
At the bottom of the stairs, Jin tries to capture the moment and remember what it was like, but he can't remember if they were going up or down, and he doesn't belong in the scene. He isn't a part of it.
Jin and V also both take of their sweaters, which again connects them. They are in a similar position.
But it's not just them, is it?
Jimin is also on his own. And inside the motel he is with Jin (getting his ear pierced), which suggest that if both V and Jin are dead at this point, Jimin must be too, because otherwise they wouldn't be able to interact.
Jimin sits by the sea, looking at the water alone. In the previous mvs, he was in the bathtub and appeared to be drowning.
(This is also where I'm going to reference my sad theory from the trailer about the Sewol tragedy which I won't repeat here, because I don't have tissues on hand and I don't want moist eyes again.)
Out of all the members, Jungkook was the last to have a death-related scene, in their previous storylines. In the 'I Need U' mv, Jungkook runs into some very mean people who beat him up. But they leave him alive. It's only later, at the end that he appears to be run over.
Perhaps that is precisely why he stands out.
Because he is the last one.
Inside the laundromat, only 3 machines are running. There is barely anything in any of the machines. An outfit in each. So why are all seven members there?
V and Rap Monster are sitting together outside in the cold. Jimin sits awkwardly on top of the laundromat, with the shoes next to him and Jin too looks out of place.
Only Jungkook, Suga and J-Hope, who are sleeping in the seats, look like they're actually waiting for their laundry machines to finish.
Suga has been connected with death by fire. While J-Hope has had the pill overdoses in the mvs. Following the HYYH story, they ought to be dead as well. But this scene in the laundromat is in the past, so perhaps this is before they die.
In 'I Need U', Suga set fire to a motel room. While J-Hope also seems to be taking pills in the bathroom of a motel room. This is why they are both outside the Omelas motel when Rap Monster passes by earlier in this mv.
Outside the Omelas motel seems to be where Suga's and J-Hope's stories end. And the Omelas motel is further ahead on the train than the laundromat; the laundromat is further back in time, so they're still alive. And so is Jungkook.
Left and Right
The two versions of the albums were labelled left and right this time around. They could have been called pink and blue version, but that's not the case.
Is it yet another hint from sneaky BigHint?
Let's look at 'Spring Day', which follows the left side album concept.
Looking at this screen captures from the music video of all the characters when they are alone, do you notice anything out of the ordinary?
Jungkook is the only one who looks to the right. Everyone else look to the left.
He is alone on the snowpiercer. Everyone else has left Omelas after finding out about the child who has to suffer for them to live and enjoy life.
Who is the child alone in the room in Omelas and in the engine of the snowpiercer?
I believe it is all of them. Themselves and their dear friends, and none of them can just accept that and continue to stay in happy Omelas.
We have seen the suffering they have gone through in previous music videos. Finally, in this music video, they're leaving that suffering behind.
Finally, Jungkook is looking to the left, like all his friends. He realises that it is time to stop. With J-Hope's help, he has realised that this isn't the right path. He has left his life behind and decides to get off this train.
People do not leave Omelas by train, that is how they arrive.
This is how they leave:
"Night falls; the traveler must pass down the streets, between the houses with yellow-lit windows, and on into the darkness of the fields. Each one alone, they go west or north, towards the mountains."
This passage from the end of the short story about Omelas reminds me so much of Jungkook running along the train and outside too.
Night has fallen and everything is dark as Jungkook escapes Omelas.
The mountain is Suga's mountain of clothes, because only after Jungkook's escape do they all sit together on the mountain.
All of them have left Omelas
Jungkook was the last one to go.
They have waited for him in the last carriage. Jungkook looks to the left and sees them all join him.
Smiling, he runs down the hallway of his youth. The hallway they ran down when they were younger, in 'Run'.
This is as far back as they go. The only thing that comes before the hallway, is when they first boarded the train together.
And that is precisely what greets them at the end of the hallway. The train passes them by.
Jungkook looks dazed. He had expected the train to stop, but it doesn't. And onboard he sees himself, his second self. A younger and earlier version of himself.
They see each other, the young and old Jungkook. They both know that Jungkook has missed the train. They all know it.
The train goes into a tunnel. There is no getting on it.
Jungkook closes his eyes and looks down. Rap Monster does the same. They were the last two to leave the train and Omelas.
It is difficult for them to accept that the journey is over and that now their train ride will come to a stop.
Jungkook sits alone in the motel room. He is remembering the happy memory from earlier, when they were all together.
For those of you who don't know it, 'Goblin' is a very popular Korean drama in which the main character can make the goblin (a handsome man) appear by wishing he was there and then blowing out a flame, like a candle or matchstick.
Jungkook remembers the others and wishes for them to be there, and they appear. They're wearing the same clothes as in Jungkook's memory. But because Jungkook isn't happy without them there, even when he conjures them from memory, they aren't happy together. They don't smile.
It's time to move on but Jungkook, the youngest and last to leave, is holding on. He is afraid of of missing the train.
Missing the train reminds me of this very short scene from 'Run', where a train passes behind Jin and he looks to the side.
It seemed to be symbolism that Jin wasn't with the others because he lost the timing to board the train. He stood alone.
In 'Spring Day', Jungkook is not alone.
You Never Walk Alone
They're all together, finally.
Prompted by Jungkook leaving the train, they wake up from a long distant dream, on the last carriage on the train, knowing that it's time to leave the train and stop this journey.
At the end of they walk out of the train and towards the tree. The train has reached the end of the tracks. It has reached its final destination.
The Darkness fades away as they all sit on top of the mountain of clothes, after they have all left Omelas.
And about them, those who leave Omelas, the story says:
"The place they go towards is a place even less imaginable to most of us than the city of happiness. I cannot describe it at all. It is possible that it does not exist. But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas."
Jimin seems to know where he is going. Jimin leads them out of the train, much like he used to always lead them back in the HYYH era, both leading Rap Monster into the train carriage, and waving them all along as they run away.
As usual it is Jimin who is waving them towards better times, and urging them along.
There is snow all around and they're wearing shorts despite the cold weather. They don't feel the cold.
Despite the snow, it is lovely outside. Spring is on it's way.
At the end of 'Snowpiercer', the train comes to a stop, exactly as BTS's train comes to a stop at the end of the music video.
Out of the train, and into the snow walks a woman and a child.
They're wrapped in furs, but they have bare legs, not used to the cold. It was said that there was no possibility of life outside of the train. That the train was the only way to go forward. But as the child and woman stand there in the snow, they don't freeze, they don't die. Ahead, in the distance, they see a polar bear. Life. Although they were told no life was possible.
"No Darkness, no season can last forever."
- Spring Day -
The last image we see, isn't all of them standing in front of the tree. The last image we see is the lone tree with the shoes hanging from a branch, and no one in front of it. Flower petals are falling.
They've hung the shoes up. They have accepted death. A symbolic death of their youth.
It is time to move on to different times. Better times.
Spring is here.
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