The third episode of TNT’s Snowpiercer did a better job of keeping me from thinking about the premise too much. Which is good because the show has some interesting things going on that I want to see play out.
Snowpiercer is tackling ideas that Battlestar Galactica also hit upon. What choices and sacrifices do you (or are you willing to) make for survival? I had wondered before if Melanie Cavill had considered forcibly removing the Tailies from the train. Now it’s been explicitly presented to her as an option to help with the resource situation.
The show is done in a way to make us sympathetic to the Tailies but from a different point of view there is a utilitarian argument for eliminating them. The Tailies are stowaways who forced their way onto the train. Meanwhile the first class passengers financed the construction of the train. The second and third class passengers provide the human capital to keep the train running (and the first class passengers happy). The Tailies consume resources without providing much value. Some of them do get taken forward to do work but most Tailies spend all their time in the tail of the train. Getting rid of the Tailies and their drain on resources makes sense from that perspective. (This argument is part of a larger discussion about the train’s socio-economic situation that the show will probably be getting into more.)
But so far Melanie is not willing to become Helena Cain (might as well keep the Battlestar Galactica comparison going). She’s not ready to commit that kind of callous murder… yet. But the option has been put on the table and when the Tailie revolt we know is coming happens she may revisit her options. There will be growing clamor from passengers for Mr. Wilford to permanently end the Tailie problem.
Speaking of Mr. Wilford, we learn a little more about him. It looks like there is (or at least was) a Wilford. One character mentions meeting him. More importantly, we see Melanie splicing together audio clips from what sounded like board meetings and such from before the train launched to create a speech to be broadcast before fight night. And Mr. Wilford sounds like a man who understood that winter is coming so I’m sure we’ll see just what happened to him.
- Melanie is a portrait of privilege. We don’t know what her life was like before the train but now she has at least as many perks as the first class passengers. Her day job as Head of Hospitality also means she spends a lot of time in the first class bubble. Layton is probably the only Tailie that she’s had a real conversation with since Melanie sends Ruth to the tail to be the voice of the train.
- Just in case someone hadn’t picked up on the class divisions on the train, a character points out that Snowpiercer is like a skyscraper on its side. The front of the train is the penthouse so you could say the Tailies are in the sub-basement.
- The Tailies now have a door key implant. The revolt is one step closer.