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Snowpiercer: Class Structure Was Made For White Women

We’re four episodes into Snowpiercer and as the murder mystery winds down, the series sets up for the next round of problems it’s going to try and tackle. While we know that LJ’s bodyguard Erik does the physical killing, we learn that it’s not his choice to kill but the woman he’s sworn to protect. The idea alone is pretty horrible but it’s the underlying systematic implications that truly shine in this episode. It’s constantly reminded to us that there are only three thousand people on this train, and we’re continually shown that no matter how small the number of people is, there are certain ones who will do anything to be above everyone else.

Our episode picks up seconds where the last one left off, Layton has given a description of Erik to Melanie and the manhunt begins. Bes Till and Osweiller chase him throughout the third class of the train, which on paper doesn’t seem like it’d be too hard. However, Erik isn’t going down without a fight and not only manages to evade them for the majority of the episode, but he also takes Jinju (Till’s lover and the head of agriculture) as a hostage. Meanwhile, Layton convinces Melanie to wake up the whole first class and let him rattle them a bit. He’s a tallie, they are very afraid of him even though they try to deny it. Melanie agrees, seeing as how things are dangerously close to getting out of control, and has Ruth bring all of first-class to the dining room. Which she does, except for the help, which includes the bodyguards. The Folgers family, realizing that all the evidence is pointing to LJ’s bodyguard, are reluctant to let Layton search their rooms. But after Melanie calls their bluff they are quick to comply and answer all questions asked of them. No one wants to anger Mr. Wilford or Melanie, by extension.

While Layton asks LJ seemingly meaningless questions, down train Josie tries to do what both Pike and Layton failed at; get word to the few allies the tail has. She joins the sanitation crew because one of the men who usually goes is too sick to work, so Josie takes his place. Once at her station, she’s given a pair of pajamas so she can fit in and hurried through the door when no one is looking. Apparently, passing information just needed a woman’s touch because Josie does manage to reach their ally and convince her that the tail still needs her. She may only work in the food processing but she can still be a lot of help. It’s going to take many peoples’ help throughout different class levels for the tail to have a successful uprising. On her way back to sanitations Josie passes Miles, he doesn’t see her and she can’t call out his name because he isn’t by himself. Despite the moment being brief it’s still heart aching to watch Josie have to let her train son pass by without saying anything.

After a short standoff, Erik knows he won’t be making it out of the situation alive so he goes down fighting. As he’s chopped to pieces by the train police, the call is made to Melanie to let her know he’s been handled. It may have been Erik’s hands that did the killing but it’s LJ’s mind that wanted it and made him do it. When Layton reveals this, LJ tries to attack him. She’s subdued and arrested, the case is finally solved. But as Layton and Melanie celebrate with drinks he learns that everything he was promised by Melanie and the idea of him going back to the tail is not at all possible. He’s seen too much and knows Melanie’s secret so she has him put in the drawers, implying that he will be taken out only when needed.

The biggest “reveal” of episode four wasn’t that LJ was behind the killings and it wasn’t that Layton’s fate was a prisoner of the drawers, it was the confirmation that even after the world ends white women feel they have to be above somebody, anybody. They need class structure because, without it, they feel powerless. Mrs. Folgers holds her nose above everyone, Melanie included, because it’s the only comfort she has now that the world has ended. She wasn’t willing to let her families rooms be searched until Melanie called Mr. Wilford, she wasn’t going to talk about LJ and Erik’s relationship until her husband insisted they had no other choice, she was distraught about her daughters arrest more than she was about the fact she ordered her bodyguard to kill people. The class structure is all she (and first-class) has and it seems like she’s willing to do anything to keep it.

Episode four might possibly be my favorite so far, not only because it aired on my birthday (happy birthday to me) but also because it’s pushing the narratives that so many thought it would throw away. Many assumed that because Layton was a detective before the freeze that Snowpiercer would a cop loving show. It is nothing of the sort. The class struggle, racism, and power structures are still the main focal point of the show and though we know the ultimate outcome, it’s still giving us new perspectives and fascinating stories that provide insight to the bigger picture. I’m slightly concerned that Layton might be sidelined for an episode or two since he’s been put in the drawers, but Snowpiercer is still hitting the marks that it was projected to miss. Which to me makes it a pretty great show.

Snowpiercer airs on Sundays on TNT


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