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?