I cut a show a lot of slack during its first season. Snowpiercer has a lot of flaws but it passed the most important test - I want to see the next season. In the two-episode season finale aired this week, some issues (but not all) are resolved. And a new challenge emerges that changes everything.
In the first episode of the finale “The Train Demanded Blood” Layton’s revolt plays out.
Did anyone think Melanie Cavill was actually going to be executed? As I noted last time, Jinju is Team Melanie so she hatches a plan to save her. Javi doesn’t strike me as someone who would take that kind of risk without some prodding.
Layton is willing to carry on the fight until he finds out about his and Zarah’s unborn child. So he was ready to sacrifice Tailies but his own flesh and blood.
After her rescue, Melanie goes John McClane crawling through ductwork to reach Layton with a plan for taking the train. The Jackboots are conveniently concentrated in a few train cars so separating those cars and reconnecting the train will eliminate that threat. It turns out that LJ Folger’s parents are also in one of those cars seeking a photo op to establish themselves as the new leaders of the train. Unfortunately there are also captured Tailies and third class rebels in one of those cars as well. Layton has to knowingly condemn them to a frozen death is the price of victory.
Melanie knew Layton would have to make that choice (she was held captive in that car and knew exactly where it was) and wanted to give him a taste of the choices he may have to make running the train.
In “994 Cars Long” the train is dealing with the aftermath of Layton’s revolt as a new threat emerges.
Layton wants to establish a democratic form of governance for the train but he needs to re-establish order first. Tailies and some third class passengers are looting and otherwise causing mischief aboard the train. Despite his betrayal, Pike is allowed to run free and has installed himself in the Folgers’ first class suite much to the dismay of LJ.
Meanwhile, the radio transmissions that started being heard in the first part of the finale are revealed to be coming from a second engine named Big Alice that clamps onto the rear of Snowpiercer, stops the train, and cuts through the rear hatch. A teenage girl appears and in Wilford’s name demands that Snowpiercer surrender before the train freezes in less than half an hour. She identifies herself as Alexandra Cavill, Melanie’s presumed dead daughter. (Fortunately Melanie had taken time earlier in the episode to add some depth to her backstory with Alexandra, who we didn’t even know about until a few episodes ago, so that Alexandra’s appearance at the end of the episode has some meaning.)
Thus the first reason ends with a major crisis and the apparent return of Wilford and Melanie’s daughter from the dead. The next season will definitely be different from this one and I want to see where it goes.
So what were your thoughts about this season of Snowpiercer? I shared some of mine below.
- Layton is still processing Josie’s death and understandably lays a lot of blame on Zarah. But after finding out she’s pregnant with his child, he seems to have set aside a lot of his anger towards her and they can even smile and laugh together. I get that the show is trying to say their relationship is complicated but they’re being ham-fisted about it.
- The show has done better with Melanie, who is depicted as an antagonist (if not a villain) at first but then framed as a complicated anti-hero. It helps that she has a simple motivation - preserving what’s left of the human race - that drives her decisions. But I think the character works more due to Jennifer Connelly than the writing.
- Till and Jinju finally break up. Each of them is placing duty to the train first but they have different ideas about what their duty is.
- I noted before that Ruth is a Wilford zealot. With the death of Commander Grey* she is even more opposed to Layton and Melanie. She will undoubtedly side with Evil Ned Stark during the upcoming power struggle. Also, never forget that “teal is the color of diplomacy.”
- Big Alice is a supply train. Was there a plan for resupplying Snowpiercer? If so, why hadn’t it been used before like after the loss of the cattle car? If not, why is there even a supply train?
- LJ and Osweiller are an odd couple. LJ is about the same age as Alexandra Cavill (and there are few teenage girls on the train) so I wonder if they’ll meet and how they’ll interact.
- *The people in the seven separated cars are presumed dead but since there was another engine rolling around maybe they were picked up before the cars froze. Maybe we haven’t seen the last of Nolan Grey or LJ’s parents.