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Snowpiercer: The Long Game

For the third episode of Snowpiercer’s second season, the train loses speed for a bit to clear a curve but the passengers problems aboard are gaining more momentum. Melanie’s going on a suicide mission in the hopes it’ll create a better world for Alex. Layton struggles to be the revolutionary he promised his people while protecting the entire train from Wilford. Rounding out the episode, Bess Till attempts to threaten the Brakemen of Snowpiercer and Josie gets more done from her hospital bed than lowkey Layton has done since the battle ended. And while we don’t know much about the crew on Big Alice we know one important thing: they’re hungry. Starving people can be talked into anything.

To start off, Mr. Wilford is either a genius or he’s the best villain to exist in a long time. It seems to be a bit of both honestly. The episode opens with him giving his perspective of how things are going on the newly sealed together trains. To him, this is all apart of the plan especially now that Melanie is practically getting rid of herself. He won’t have to kill her or brainwash her daughter into doing it. Layton is pretty much a non-factor to him, a nobody that happened to outsmart Melanie but will never be ahead of him. It’s a win win situation all around for Wilford. And that’s only because he’s put the fear of God in the Big Alice passengers, maybe it’s more accurate to say he’s put the fear of himself in them. While Wilford eats luxury breakfasts of eggs and toast, only sharing with Alex, the passengers of Big Alice go without. To Wilford it’s for good reason, if he keeps them all at a certain point between death and life they’ll hang on his every word, follow his every command, die for him under the false narrative of honor and respect. To which they all do. Except for Alex.

Melanie’s daughter is still a bit of a mystery. In “A Great Odyssey”, Alex spends a majority of the episode trying to stamp down her growing soft spot for her mother. She’s been waiting seven years to basically tell her mother she was the worst and she hates her, but the more time they spend together the more Alex starts to see that maybe the woman who birthed her isn’t as bad as Wilford made her out to be. Maybe it’s Wilford that is the one in the wrong. However with her closeness to the man, it’s easy for him to notice the change of demeanor in his protégé. And he’s not having that, he can’t lose this game this early one. So makes a move by having Alex be the one to drive the trains through the mountains and around the curve without derailing them. He gave all that power to a teenager, and it cracked something inside of her. It pushed a wedge between her and Wilford that he either doesn’t realize or doesn’t care about. If things keep going the way they are, it may be Alex who solves our Mr. Wilford problem.

Enough about Big Alice though, it’s the passengers of Snowpiercer that really had major breakthroughs in episode three. Starting with Bess Till and Roche as they chase down whoever is responsible for maiming Lights. Taking the woman’s thumb and pinky which only left her the three fingers in the middle was a clear indication that whoever did it is on Wilford’s side. For the rest of Lights’ life she’ll only be able to raise her in praise of the trains true creators. And that disturbs Till, it makes her angry, so she vows to find whoever did this to Lights. She’s even already got a few hunches, including some of Snowpiercer’s own who could be acting on Wilford’s half. Passengers like the Breachmen. They’ve been true Wilford supporters for the seven long years the train has been circling the earth, and the dedication to him only grew after learning of Melanie’s deception. They didn’t even fight during the recent revolution, they just stayed in their quarters working out. They’re so sure that Wilford will come out of this the winner, they don’t need to fight. They’re content to wait.

Questioning the Breachmen is one thing but it’s the inner turmoil of Bess Till that most interesting. Since she broke up with her second class girlfriend, she’s been sleeping in the office where Roche has his meals. She isn’t willing to talk about her situation though, she just wants to track down the perpetrator. But just because she isn’t willingly to talk doesn’t mean there aren’t people who don’t understand her. In the last episode she met with one of the religious pastors named Logan, Till simply wanted to know if he knew anything about the assault but it seems she’s actually found some kind of friend, guide or at the very least a ear to listen. While he knows next to nothing about her, Pastor Logan wants to help Till through the storm that’s inside her. He can see the way she’s barely holding it together. If she lets him, the friendship will be one of the most interesting and unique we’ve seen yet.

As the chaos continues, Andre has a thousand problems of his own. The democracy he hoped for Snowpiercer is pretty much a thing of the past, no matter how much he believes that they can still build that kind of society after they finish dealing with Wilford. Josie is alive and that alone has sent him spiraling, he’s not more in a love triangle than he was in the first season. And on top of that, he’s got this weird observation game going on with Wilford himself. The two men are locked in a battle of wits almost, Wilford hadn’t expected Layton to be as smart as he is. It catches the man off guard when Layton shows up with the offer to supplement all of Big Alice’s diet. Meanwhile Layton isn’t realizing that every interaction he has with Wilford puts him further in danger. To Layton, Wilford is just a man. Which is a fair assessment but perhaps a blinded one. Wilford is just a man but he’s a man with more power than Layton has. And power is important, especially when it comes to the easily influenced passengers. There’s also the fact the two men haven’t actually met face to face, there’s always a great bit of distance between them. The longer they play this game with each other, the bigger of an explosion it’ll be when they are finally within an arms length of each other.

However the growing dislike between Layton and Wilford would be the best part of the show if it wasn’t for one thing. The way the show continues to avoid the topic of racism. It’s hard to believe that all of Wilford’s snips, quips and verbal punches toward Layton are just because he’s the one in charge. Many of the things Wilford says to Layton have underlying racist tones to them, but it’s never addressed. Not even by Andre himself, which makes it all the more frustrating. Even something as simple as Andre walking back from the makeshift border mumbling about Wilford being a racist asshole would have gone a long way in the grand scale of things. It’s almost like the show is afraid of racism, afraid to get it wrong or afraid to get it too right I’m not sure. But it’s becoming an elephant in the room to me. That’s not saying it won’t be added in later down the season line or in season three but for now, it seems like a gigantic neon light that everyone is ignoring.

The MVP of the episode however, is Josie. While I wasn’t her biggest fan in season one, Josie is the kind of woman character that the show needs. Till is great at what she does but she won’t go against Layton the way Josie will. Zarah won’t get in Layton’s ear and tell him when he’s fucking up, but Josie will. And Miss Audrey well, she’s drowning her own issues to the point she’s turning into a drunk. So she can have a pass. But the other women, in a sensed don’t compare to Josie. She’s strong in a way that the others aren’t. She’s determined in a way that not even Layton is. We haven’t seen much of her but in the short time she’s been awake Josie has managed to drag Layton for filth and declare her revenge upon Melanie. She’s going to get things done, even if she has to do them by herself. I’m really hoping that season three is going to have a Josie vs Melanie feel the way this season is building the Wilford vs Layton tension.

Now that we’re away from the premiere and settling into the story of the second season, Snowpiercer is turning up the dials. Every minute of the episodes feel so far like waiting for a long impending doom, Melanie getting off the train is bad enough but the dread that Wilford’s mere presence gives is almost bone chilling. Which is very impressive for a TV show about a train that travels the globe and never stops. I’m still endlessly excited to see where this show takes it characters and how it’s going to continue to explain itself.

Snowpiercer airs Monday nights on TNT


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