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Snowpiercer: Two Trains Extravaganza

In back to back episodes serving as the season finale, Snowpiercer took the audience for its most intense ride yet. Mr. Wilford’s heavy handed take over was just the tip of the avalanche and over the course of two hours he tightens that grip until there is no other choice but for Layton & friends to be separated, literally. With unexpected team ups, the reopening of a closed car, new alliances formed and a desperate attempt to do the impossible; Snowpiercer has set the ultimate standard for itself. How do you get the advantage over a man who’s only real concern is himself?

To start, in “The Show Must Go On”, Wilford attempts to restore his personal order to Snowpiercer. Which means picking off Layton and those loyal to him one by one. Without Melanie’s protection, everyone is vulnerable to Wilford and his erratic decisions. Layton is dealt with immediately and is sent to work in the compost car of Big Alice, he’s reduced to a shit scraper while Wilford gloats at him from a tiny window in a steel door. Ruth is offered a place at Wilford’s side because he knows that’s the one thing she’s been craving since the very beginning and Till is given the option of becoming his advisor because he needs someone to tell him right from wrong. But Wilford forgets that not everyone is simply going to fall at his feet because he says so, especially not with the freeing change they experienced under Layton’s rule. Both women turn Wilford’s job offerings down and pay for it in different ways.

Meanwhile Zarah is kept under tight lock and key while being supervised by Kevin, with a baby in her stomach she has turned into Wilford’s number one priority. She’s got a privilege no one else does. The man even goes as far as separating the only two engineers the trains have, pulling Javi to Big Alice’s engine room and sticking Skyes in Snowpiercer’s to keep an eye on Ben. The resistance cannot plan another revolution if they’re unable to be together, or at least that’s what Wilford thinks.

During a special dinner party, consisting of those most loyal to Layton plus Alex, LJ and Oseweiller; Wilford is met with push back from Alex after having spent all day joking about leaving Melanie out in the cold to die. Upset by her rebellion against him, Wilford sends her to the brig as punishment for even slightly wavering from his side. And then he unleashes his evilness on Ruth by sending her to join Andre in the compost car. Everyone he once thought loyal to him, is slowly starting to disappoint. Even Miss Audrey, who has turned into an intoxicated mess, isn’t as useful as he’d hoped her to be.

Though separated, it is Javi who starts fanning the flames of the next revolution; the take down Wilford revolution. After hearing Melanie’s voice on the radio, confirming she’s still alive, Javi is able to send a message to Layton by way of toilet paper stuffed in a lipstick tube. It’s time to make a break for it, and Layton is ready.

If there’s anything episode nine gets absolutely correct, it’s the portrayal of Wilford as the typical bigoted white man. He is every powerful man in charge ever. The charm he once showcased loudly and proudly has begun to fade into the background, much like the way politicians become sinister only after they’ve been elected into office. His disdain for anyone’s emotions other than his own only help convey the universally known concept of white men: they believe themselves to be the only important beings in the world. Their feelings, opinions and believes are the only ones that matter in the diverse and wide world. Wilford is the textbook definition of white privilege.

In the second half of the season finale, aka episode ten “Into The White”, the chaos aboard the conjoined trains reaches its boiling point. Layton, with the enormous help of Ruth, carries out a “foul and murderous plot” to get up train to Javi and then even farther uptrain to Snowpiercer’s engine. LJ begins her grooming lessons to take Alex’s place by Wilford’s side, Till’s loyalty is put under the ultimate test and Josie’s newfound freeze resistant body is given a mission to prove she’s the perfect experiment.

After besting their door guard, Layton and Ruth find Alex in the brig and she tells them about the secret entrance into Wilford’s bedroom which is directly connected to the engine room. Now Team Layton, Alex sets a plan in motion with them: they have to make it to the meet up spot and pick up Melanie. While she pretends to renounce her mother, Layton and everyone on Snowpiercer; Javi, Ruth and Andre send word to Ben that Melanie is alive and he’ll have to do something about Skyes so they can get ready to pick her up. With that plan in motion and communications going, Andre and Ruth keep moving.

But Wilford can only be kept in the dark for so long, when the trajectory of the trains changes just so slightly he is raises the alarms. And no one can stop him from sicking Jupiter on Javi, hitting Alex and all around losing his composer. After all, he is so close to the kind of order he craves he can taste it.

He makes one crucial error however, in his attempt to be more feared than respected; his sudden turn against a emotionally confused Alex. Instead of punishing Alex for her feelings about being reunited with her mother, Wilford should have helped her through them. Especially since he wanted to use Alex as his biggest pawn, however Wilford is an unchecked white man, everyone else’s feelings are unimportant to him. And his shunning of Alex is the slight tilt needed to finally push her over to Layton’s side.

As Wilford catches on to the coup taking place, Miss Audrey attempts to get Zarah to see reason. Unashamed of defecting, Audrey has no problem threatening Zarah with the idea that if she won’t be Team Wilford willingly then they have doctors that can remove her from the equation of being pregnant, the baby will be fine but Zarah won’t be so lucky. The meeting is interrupted by Till who delivers a much deserved knock out punch to Audrey’s face. With her as their captive, Team Layton now has some kind of leverage.

And they’re going to need it because the plan, thought up by Alex, is one of the craziest ideas any of them could have. If Wilford won’t stop the trains for Melanie, then those that want to rescue her will detach a few cars of their own, take Snowpiercer’s engine and go get her themselves. They have no other choice. It’s risky, but it’s doable and without Melanie they have no real hope of winning against Wilford; they have no hope of surviving.

In his rush to stop Layton & friends, Wilford demands that the Headwoods send Josie out on top of the train to get the drop and take the engine back from the enemy. Though the Headwoods claim she isn’t ready for that big of a mission, Wilford insists and without delay Josie is suited up and sent out into the cold. While he and Layton face off on opposite sides of the aquarium car, Josie makes it clear where her loyalties still lie. Using her newfound strength, Josie manages to crack the glass roof of the car which causes the entire thing to split down the middle. Now armed with a small crew and ten cars all to themselves, Layton & Friends race off to pick up Melanie. Only to find the station empty, her supplies and rations gone, and a note to Alex from Melanie saying that she’s walked off into the cold to die at peace. However Melanie did manage to save her data and leave it for them, proving that she was right and the earth is warming back up. Life off train is possible. With this newfound information and hope, Layton, Ben, Alex, Till and Josie prepare themselves to return to Big Alice and take back their whole train.

In terms of season finales, it doesn’t get much better than Snowpiercer. Season one ended on the cliffhanger of Wilford’s return, season two ends with the anxious thought of what Melanie’s perceived death means and how they’re going to survive long enough to take Wilford down. The stakes are much high now than they were before. But it’s not just the plot that Snowpiercer manages to get right, the depth in which they develop their characters also places the show high above the bar. Particularly it’s development of its women.

Whether you’re mad at Miss Audrey for defecting or not, her development in season two was top tier. She’s gone from mother of the Nightcar, temptress and psychologist to the ultimate survivor. No matter what you think of her, Audrey is a survivor. She accesses every situation and then acts accordingly to how it’ll benefit her best. It’s a trait that without a doubt was taught to her by Wilford but she’s turned it into a skill that should be envied by others. This is the post apocalyptic world, the concept of loyalty is almost nonexistent. Audrey’s switch to Team Wilford makes sense, especially after learning that he forced her to self harm but it’s not the change in her teams that makes her so fascinating. It’s the little trauma responses she has while being on his side. On the outside she may have defected but with every passing episode, Audrey begins to look worse and worse which means on the inside she’s fading away. We can only wonder what kind of person she’ll be by the time we get to season three.

Another character development worth noting is that of Josie. Unlike Audrey, Josie has never wavered on where she stands. She is with Layton until the end, she believes in life off train or at least equality for all onboard. However, personally, Josie has changed a lot. After her near death experience, Josie had lost her light. Which can’t be blamed on her because frostbite that severe would put a dimmer in anyone. Simply breathing hurt, Josie was in pain every second she was conscious. But the new body that was given to her by the Headwoods excites Josie, she wants to see what she can do with it and what it means for the fight she’s been in for the last seven years. She is the new advanced version of Icy Bob, but she won’t be as easily controlled as he was. On the flip side, Zarah has developed in an unexpected way this season as well. She’s probably still my least favorite character but season two Zarah is much more tolerable than season one Zarah was. Perhaps we can chalk it up to the pregnancy giving her some sense and making her more mature, either way this season showed that Zarah has some kind of depth to her. Often this season she was the voice of reason that Layton needed to hear, she even managed to overcome the jealous she felt for Josie and seems to have found peace in the relationship between her and Andre. It’s a nice change.

Characters aside, Snowpiercer also shocked me a bit by finally beginning to nibble on the subject of race. For the first time, it’s mentioned that Wilford is nothing but a bigoted white man. After an entire season of him being an undercover racist, Layton is finally able to sort of call him out to his face. The moment isn’t nearly long enough and it doesn’t really hold any weight in the grand scale of things but it’s a good starting point. My biggest hope for season three is more of the characters addressing racism. Not just Andre by himself but the others as well, because it’s there and continuing to overlook it will only hold Snowpiercer back as a series.

The best part of the two hour finale were the unexpected team ups, Layton and Ruth being the number one. They’ve been at such odds with each other the entire season, it was a delight to see them work together. The brief team up between Layton and Alex as they travel to the radio station for Melanie was also enjoyable. It will be interesting to see how being around others without any of Wilford’s influence at all is going to shape Alex. I also hope that we haven’t seen the last of Melanie. While not my favorite character, the show has been relying heavily upon her and to snatch her away like this seems like a disservice. Even if we only see her in flashbacks from now on, Snowpiercer needs Melanie Cavill.

I have a lot of hopes for season three, mainly I would like more Layton and Till scenes as their friendship is one of my favorite things about the show. I also hope for some sort of three way relationship between Layton, Josie and Zarah. It’s the post apocalypse, there’s no reason that if they wanted it badly enough, the three of them couldn’t work something out. Others dreams and hopes are pretty minuscule, I’m simply overjoyed that the series will be returning for a third season. I’m geeked to return to write about it.

-Danyi

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Snowpiercer: You Have The Engine

With only two episodes left, Snowpiercer uses its eighth episode to lay the foundation for the battle of the season to finally come to a head. Layton’s broken promises to his people and unwillingness to fold under Wilford puts him in a tight spot while the passengers of Snowpiercer continue to divide themselves down the line. It’s either team Layton or team Wilford, there is no in between anymore and those that have been walking the line have no choice but to pick it a side.

For starters, everything is rapidly falling apart on Snowpiercer. The civil unrest among the passengers is peaking, Boki (the trains last Breachmen) has to wrestle with the fact Wilford is not the all mighty man he thought him to be, cars in second class are flooding, the division begins to affect Roche personally, and for every problem Layton finds a solution for; two more pop up to take its place. Not to mention the ever looming threat of Wilford is pressing down on those against him harder than before. It’s not looking good for anyone who isn’t ready to raise three fingers in dedication.

Mr. Wilford is the kind of man that makes the perfect villain. He’s handsome, charming and smart; but he is also cunning, sneaky and holds several narcissistic traits very close to himself. He’s dangerous, because he’s willing to do whatever to get what he wants. Wilford is willing to use, abuse and lose whoever if it means at the end of the day he’ll come out on top. This much has been proved with his treatment of Kevin, Audrey and Alex especially. The only person that matters to him, is himself. Which is why his self sabotage of Snowpiercer’s engine isn’t surprising. Without Melanie aboard to match him mentally, Wilford is ahead of everyone whether they know it or not. Only she can fix technical, engine problems that are sourced back to him, only Melanie can undo any kind of physical damage he does to the train. And she’s not there, so who else can Layton, Ben and Javi call upon for help? Wilford is literally the only option. But that means letting him in to the one place they’ve been so desperately trying to keep him out of. Approving Wilford to come all the way to the front of the train, to the engine, is the biggest risk Layton has taken yet. And since about the four episode of this season, every risk Andre has taken has pretty much blown up in his face.

As Layton deals with Wilford, others on the train find themselves trying to soothe the rising tensions. Or at least they start deciding whose side their on. This is incredibly tough for Roche and his family. For seven long years Roche has been the head of security, his family has been comfortable under Melanie’s pretend to be Wilford reign. Now, he fully supports Layton and the push for equality throughout the entire train. But his support is costing his family their peace. When Roche sends their daughter up train for safety, it’s not long after that their car is visited by Wilford’s people demanding to know where their loyalties lie. Anne, Roche’s wife, worries that if they don’t pick a side soon, when the time comes it’ll be too late. If Roche supports Layton a little too much, Wilford might not overlook it later.

Meanwhile, over on Big Alice things are the polar opposite of its sister train. The eerie calmness of the atmosphere, as they wait for Wilford to reclaim what he believes to be his, is only ever ruffled by Audrey. She’s defected, fully returned to Wilford’s side and is glad to see him take back Snowpiercer so easily. Which is why she pays Josie a visit after the woman wakes up to find her face nearly fully restored to the way it was before the severe frost bite. Josie is still loyal to Snowpiercer and Andre; but the reconstruction of her face and Audrey’s betrayal start her wondering why exactly she was offered treatment on Big Alice. After all, Wilford is constantly playing games, there’s no reason to not think Josie isn’t a player in one now too. Especially after she discovers her new skin can with stand the cold the same way Icy Bob does. Wilford’s always got a plan for everything, he’s got one for Josie too. He’s got places for everyone.

Turns out, Anne was correct. Taking too long to show where your loyalties lie was a mistake. The moment Wilford is able to fix the engine and keep everyone from dying, the tides shift for good. Wilford has won, he’s beaten Layton in the race for who leads the train. The game is over and punishments must be dealt out. Starting with Layton being taken prisoner on Big Alice and the entire Roche family being slipped into drawers. The time of change is done, things will be going back to the way they were. And if anyone doesn’t like it, the real Wilford is there for them to take it up with. Not that any of them would now.

The best thing about “The Eternal Engineer” is the masterclass of acting that the men of the show give. Between Layton, Boki, Ben, and Roche, we were given a range of emotions that perfectly emphasized the stress of what’s happening aboard these connected trains. Boki’s grief, not only for his fellow Breachmen but also his shattered image of Wilford, is gut wrenching. It’s not often someone as strong and solid as Boki has to grapple with the fact they are the last of their kind. Piling on top of that Boki’s blinders have been snatched completely off and he now knows that Wilford doesn’t care about him. It’s a tough episode for him, there’s a lot he’s has to come to terms with in a place that doesn’t really allow time for self reflection. In a more silent approach, Ben’s downward spiral isn’t as noticeable in the chaos of everything around him. But it’s there in facial expressions and jerky anxiety filled movements which is why by the time Wilford takes the engine, Ben’s defeat is palpable.

However it’s Layton and Roche that have the best performances of the episode, to me. Roche’s indecisiveness very much represents the audience. Many want to believe in Layton, want him to lead the train and make real change but it also can’t be denied that under Wilford everything ran smoother. It might not have been great for everyone, mostly the Tail, but it was comfortable for over half of the train. And if there’s one thing most people aren’t willing to give up or compromise on, it’s their comfort. Roche never really loss his comfort, he was too high up for Layton’s revolution to have any negative affects on his life. So his support of the man was easy. Now though, his support has landed him and his family in drawers. Which asks the question of was backing Andre the right choice to make? And Andre, well everything went to shit for him a long time ago. But it’s in episode seven that he can no longer hold onto to the leadership role that was slipping from his grasp anyway. In the last five minutes of the episode, Andre’s entire world comes crashing down. Wilford taking the engine means jail for Layton, it means being separated from Zarah and possibly never getting to see their child being born, it means the Tail will lose the little bit of protection they had. It means Andre has failed and his breakdown is imminent. If he’s even allowed to have one.

Everything that’s transpired in season two has been leading up to the moments we’ve begun to witness. Wilford’s plan has always been to take back Snowpiercer, and now he has. He’s also left Melanie out in the cold to die, he’s killed two birds with one stone in less than two hours. He’s won. So the two hour season finale has already promised to be the most wild experience of the show yet, it has no choice but to be. Snowpiercer has come a long way since season one, the set ups and pay offs have been worth it so far. There’s a lot to wrap up in the last two episodes, and even more ground work to be laid out for season three but all the evidence points towards Snowpiercer showing up and showing out. I’m confident it won’t disappoint.

Snowpiercer airs Monday nights on TNT

-Danyi

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Snowpiercer: Chaos Reigns

After spending some quality time with Melanie and watching her battle not only stationary cold but her mind as well, we rejoin the passengers of Snowpiercer and find ourselves at the eve of budding chaos. As Till circles in on her Breachmen killer and Tailley maimer, Layton loses about 80% of his support from third class and Ruth comes faces to face with the consequences of her pre revolution actions. Not to mention over on Big Alice, Miss Audrey dances a fine line with Wilford after choosing to stay with him instead of return to Snowpiercer.

It was only a matter of time before tensions rose pass the point of no return. It’s been a stressful time for the passengers since the revolution and Wilford’s return. Day after day there’s some kind of unrest, and day after day Layton, Roche, Ruth and Till scramble to hold onto to any kind of peaceful order. The death of eight Breachmen at the same time, in the name of what looks like revenge no less, is definitely not sending the message of unity that the train needs. Till is doing her best to handle it though, she knows that she’s close to catching her suspect; all she has to do is look a little closer at those around her but it’s hard to do when everything is descending into chaos. It’s not until she leaves a heavily grieving Breachmen Boki with Pastor Logan and searches out the only antique seller on the train do the last pieces of the puzzle fall into place for her.

Till’s uphill battle this season has highlighted one of the most interesting parts of Snowpiercer on the show, the other passengers on the train. There are just under three thousand people aboard, we stick with our main characters of course but that doesn’t mean that the other passengers aren’t just as fascinating. In her search for the murderer, Till has to find the origin of a vintage Wilford button and she is led to the last antique seller on the frozen planet. Who shares a small, almost overstuffed car with her grandson. Turns out, she has know Wilford personally since he was a child, she was his neighbor. And she easily places the button Till has to a jacket that a fancy first class lady traded a fur hat for. Though this leads to an arrest, a fight between Boki and The Last Australian shifts Till’s focus back to the last person she would suspect to have an evil hand in the situation: Pastor Logan.

While Till fights an enemy that’s too close for comfort, Layton let’s his emotions and loyalty to the Tail get the best of him. In his morning address to the train Layton means to unite third and the tail as both think they other is out to get them, but his speech is flawed and puts too much blame on Wilford. Most of the people aboard Snowpiercer aren’t ready yet to fully let go of Wilford as their savior. Instead of taking responsibility for not coming through on anything he’s promised and being transparent in a way that would appeal to everyone, Layton pushes the already iffy passengers into picking a side; his or Wilford’s. And whether he realizes it or not, there are far more people boarding the idea that they need Wilford to return to Snowpiercer’s engine rooms than those that believe Layton has brought good change.

Layton’s been off his game for nearly the entire season. Or maybe he’s losing a battle he never wanted to be part of in the first place. Either way, his decisions of late leave much to be desired. He’s losing his footing more and more as the episodes pass, it doesn’t seem like Layton is the leader those in the Tail thought he was. But it’s not like Layton ever stood up and declared himself to be such, he just happened to be able to rally the people like no other. His presence in the Tail was large and it’s not small beyond it either, but outside of the Tail there are complexities that catch Layton up every chances they can. However, those closest to him haven’t lost faith in him just yet. It’s especially surprising how loyal Roche has become to him, though at the end of the episode we learn this could change at any moment. Zarah, who admittedly can’t do much besides trying to keep people calm, is trying to be the rock Layton needs. Yet her words of encouragement don’t light fires in Andre the way Josie’s used to. And Ruth, well, she and Layton has struggled with trusting each other the entire season. But her loyalty is given the ultimate test when a group of rage filled third class people attempt to take Pike’s arm via the freeze. Layton being who he is, offers up his own arm as a replacement. This is extra upsetting to Ruth who just had a startlingly realization when she comes face to face with small Winnie and the girl is absolutely terrified of her. After being reminded that she is the one who took Winnie’s mother’s arm, Ruth is left with the sickening guilt of the trauma her actions can cause. And it’s that guilt that gives her the courage to shout down the third class passengers and save Layton’s arm. The chaos of it all.

While everyone falls into panic on Snowpiercer, over on Big Alice things are still as calm as they’ve ever been. At least on the surface. While pleased that Audrey decided to stay, Wilford still doesn’t fully trust her. After seven years, he knows that she isn’t as loyal to him as she once was and after finding the screwdriver meant to help her rig the com lines, he’s even less happy with her. So he decides to put her to the test, as he does with everyone on his side. Miss Audrey’s powers of persuasion are the stuff of legends, so Wilford does what any sensible evil con man would; he puts her skill to work. Turns out, Kevin isn’t dead. The slitting of his wrists in the bath with Wilford wasn’t a forced suicide, but a forced breaking of Kevin’s mind. And now that Wilford has Audrey back, he wants her to fix Kevin. Because he knows that if she’s really returned to him, Audrey will be able to persuade any to do the same.

Miss Audrey aces Wilford’s test for her, successfully rewriting Kevin’s brain to worship Wilford. In doing so, she solidifies her place at Wilford’s side and proves herself dedicated to him taking over Snowpiercer. Making it seem as if Miss Audrey has become a full blown traitor. However, as much as it’s being pushed that Audrey is now on Wilford’s side, it’s hard to imagine that after all the pain and trauma he caused her that she would return to him this quickly and this easily. The hope is that Miss Audrey is playing the long game, still loyal to Layton and Snowpiercer but understanding that no one other than can get this close to Wilford. We want Audrey to be playing Wilford like an instrument, however I was very wrong about Pastor Logan being good for Till so Audrey actually switching sides could be the case. After all, it’s very hard to women to truly leave their abusers; especially when forced back in close proximity to them.

The seventh episode of season two both concludes an arc started at the beginning of the season and sets up for the finale three episodes. Till catches her rat, proving that Wilford has had people on the inside since the beginning. But the damage is already done, the people of Snowpiercer do not want to hear about how Wilford has been playing them all along. They just want to feel safe and that’s the last thing Team Layton is doing, if anything since Andre took over the train things have gotten less safe and more violent. Though it may not be directly Layton’s fault, the blame still falls on his shoulders. The perks of being a leader.

If there’s anything I love about Snowpiercer it’s the way everyone has to eventually meet the consequences of their actions. Whether the actions are good or bad, everything comes back to a full circle eventually. Ruth took Winnie’s mother’s arm back in the beginning of the first season, last night she had to face the fact she sees herself above certain people but is just as barbaric as they are. In her grief, Till put on blinders and zeroed in on being a good detective. It made her desperately search for someone who was standing right there the entire time, but she could only see him once the blinders she’s been clinging to were ripped away. Andre is being dragged for filth at every turn for not coming through on the promises he made to push the revolution through. Every action, no matter how big or small eventually comes back for its consequences, and we get to see them and sit with them just like the passengers on Snowpiercer do. And I think that’s beautiful, and what makes this show so compelling.

Snowpiercer airs on Monday nights on TNT.

-Danyi

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Snowpiercer: One Woman Show

While the passengers of both Snowpiercer and Big Alice fight themselves and each other to stay alive, thousands of miles away from the trains Melanie fights her own battle of survival. And in comparison, she might be having a tougher time than the lowest of the low tail resident. Between the always ready to kill cold, wild hallucinations, the constantly fight to not lose body heat and the pressure of proving her theories correct, Melanie has her work cut out for her. And she also has some answers to the many questions that circle around her and Mr. Wilford. Out in the freeze, there’s nothing to stop her mind from going over every little detail of the relationship between them. Whether she likes it or not.

If there’s anything to admire about Melanie as a character, it’s her resilience. When she puts her mind to something, there is nothing other than death that will stop her. She ran Snowpiercer as Wilford for seven years with next to no problems, she started the seed in Andre’s mind that leading the train would mean making hard decisions, she’s literally risking losing everything she worked for in the small hope that life can restart off the train, and she’s standing up the most feared man of the apocalypse. Wilford himself said it, Melanie is the glue that holds everything together. He’s ready to un-stick her now though, she’s done her job a little too well for Wilford and gotten the best of him one too many times. If he has to take her out through a taunts, jabs and jousting by hallucinations; he’s all the more for it.

While struggling to survive, both physically and mentally, Melanie relives the moments that got her to where she is now. Including the many conversations she had with Wilford in the time leading up to when she stole Snowpiercer from him. Before he returned, it was thought that Wilford and Melanie were of the same mind, cut from the same cloth. Both geniuses who simply wanted to make sure humanity didn’t end. Now we know that to be not quite true, Melanie has always been for the cause of preserving life. Whereas Wilford was more about making sure of his own survival and his own comfort, everything else came secondary. This much is clear when, he cuts the passenger list of scientists down to make room for more personal security. And he doesn’t even bat an eye when he threatens to take Melanie’s family off the list as well after she confronts him. Snowpiercer is his train, his creation, what he says goes. Or at least it did back then, in the days before the freeze.

Between her hallucinations, hunger pains, and dreams, Melanie’s month at the station is the personification of hell having frozen over. While the cold bears down and her memories stroll through the past, the unsettling presence of the dead scientists around her haunts her present. She’s starving, and her hallucination version of Andre isn’t going to judge her for taking a small bite of another human. They had to do it in the tail all the time. Melanie’s not quite there yet though, and decides to try her luck at building a mouse trap. If there’s anything that would have survived, it’s rats.

And whether it’s by chance, fate or just pure dumb luck, Melanie’s trap does catch a mouse. And that mouse leads her to the inside of one of the walls of the station, where a geothermal vent has created the perfect living conditions for the rodents to live, procreate and survive. Now Melanie has food with actual substance, things for a moment are looking up.

Of course though, this is Snowpiercer and even though Melanie isn’t on the train, nothing can ever go right for very long. It is the post apocalypse after all. So the very next day, after having finally gotten to really eat, the tower Melanie’s been using to make contact with Ben’s balloons comes falling down. Which in turn causes Melanie to lose the data she’s been collecting, her digital map and her way of letting the passengers of Snowpiercer know she’s still alive. It all happens in about five minutes and the frustration that has been building in Melanie’s core finally bubbles over. And we’re able to relive the night that Snowpiercer launched, the night Melanie chose humanity over herself and over her own daughter.

As I said in the beginning, Melanie is resilient. She’s a fighter and after a whole month of hell, she’s finally reached the day that Snowpiercer is supposed to pick her up. Only when she radios to them, she gets no reply. Either Snowpiercer isn’t coming back or something terrible has happened aboard and no one on her side is able to respond to her. Both options are the worst case scenario. But when Melanie suddenly feels the floor of the station rumble, she darts outside ready to jump back on board. The train has indeed returned, though at the speed it’s going the return seems to be just a mockery one. They have no intention of slowing down and as Melanie fights the deep snow to try to keep up, she’s met with the sight of Alex screaming for her and trying to call out to her from the back of Big Alice. Something has definitely gone wrong on board, but it doesn’t matter because the train continues on and Melanie is left behind to freeze.

This Melanie centered, off train episode is one of the best Snowpiercer has put out since its first season. While this show is set in the future, because we spend so much time on the train itself, it’s hard to remember what the world outside looks like. Life is still going on Snowpiercer, it’s still happening. So to be outside with Melanie, where everything has died and gone still, is a bit jarring. In the back of our minds we know, outside of Snowpiercer is an ice age, but it doesn’t really register until watching Melanie spend a month in a radio station. Which is important to reground and re-stabilize the narrative on the train. It is hell on Snowpiercer but it’s a better hell than the one that’s waiting for everyone outside. And that makes the fight over who is going to lead the train all the more important.

My favorite thing about “Many Miles From Snowpiercer” are the hallucinations that join Melanie. I found it very interesting that out of all the people Melanie’s brain could produce to keep her company, it picked Wilford, Alex and Layton. The first two aren’t very surprising but Layton is. I expected her to think of Ruth, or even Miss Audrey. Having Layton to the one to appear, the one to give her the idea of catching rats, is a development I’d like to see go further. I’m a big fan of whatever the relationship between Andre and Melanie is, whatever it could grow to be. They could easily run Snowpiercer together and be beyond powerful as a unit while they do it, but they also have the potential to become bitter enemies. To me, Layton and Melanie are better fitted for the term “different sides of the same coin” than she and Wilford are. He has always been cruel, he just hid it behind handsome smiles and dazzlingly charm. Melanie may be a lot of things, but she’s never been cruel just for the sake of. She did have her moments in the first season but nothing compared to half of what Wilford has done in the first half of this second one. Whereas Layton mirrors Melanie’s need for the survival of the human race. He might have a tunnel focus on making sure it’s the tail that survives but the core value is still the same. Melanie and Andre want others to live and have lives, which is why I hope that they’re able to build something closer to a partnership than a rivalry.

Now that Snowpiercer has crossed the halfway checkpoint, the last few episodes of the second season are expected to turn even wilder. Melanie has to get back on the train, or die trying. Layton and Wilford have danced around each other long enough and the inevitable collision is rapidly approaching. And fingers crossed that, after seeing her mother get left behind, Alex is radicalized into taking action against the man that “saved” her. Snowpiercer just had a revolution, but with the way things are going it seems like the next one is closer than anyone realizes.

Snowpiercer airs Monday nights on TNT

-Danyi

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black girl blogs · reviews · tv reviews

Snowpiercer: Sound The Alarm

It would be almost unbecoming if, after a wonderful hosted night on Snowpiercer, Wilford didn’t return the favor. In his own charming and cruel way of course. Last night on Snowpiercer’s halfway point in the season, the audience was treated to dinner with Wilford and Audrey, Josie’s activities on Big Alice, the possible solution to Till’s spiraling emotional state, a Pike and Layton team up and another shift in the slate of allies and enemies. Life is never dull post apocalypse.

To start, the kind of hold Miss Audrey has over Mr. Wilford may not be the kind that it needs to be. Last week it was portrayed like Audrey could mold Wilford into anything she wanted, like she had a spell over him and he was puddy in her hands. However this week, on his own playing field, Wilford gave a little push back against that idea. He was still charming, polite and completely attentive to Miss Audrey; but he’s not an idiot. In fact, the one true thing about Mr. Wilford that is known is that he’s a genius. An evil one, but a genius nonetheless. He has a plan, his main objective is taking back Snowpiercer. He wants Miss Audrey by his side but it’s not exactly a deal breaker if he doesn’t have her. Which is why he keeps things from her, for all the love and obsession Wilford claims to have for her, he doesn’t trust her and inviting Miss Audrey to dinner was simply a surface level decoy. His people are already on Snowpiercer and are set to make the biggest amount of trouble they have yet. All the while Wilford and Audrey dance around each other in the engine room of Big Alice. He’s been telling any and everyone that no one is prepared for what’s coming next, and it’s looking like he’s going to be right.

Just like Mr. Wilford has his own plan, so does Miss Audrey. She’s a part of Layton’s inner circle, the people he’s entrusting to help him keep Snowpiercer a Wilford free zone. She’s probably the most important person in the circle besides Andre himself, her closeness to Wilford is the upper hand that Snowpiercer needs. She even goes as far as risking Wilford’s wrath by attempting to quickly switch wires in his communication box so that Ben and Javi can hear everything said. Miss Audrey is the perfect person to be their middle man. Until suddenly she isn’t. At the end of their evening, right when Audrey is about to cross back over the train border, the alarms on Snowpiercer begin to sound. Something is very wrong and despite knowing that it’s Wilford who caused it, when faced with the decision of going back to Snowpiercer or staying on Big Alice, Miss Audrey chooses to stay. A conclusion that will likely get her branded as a traitor, or having flown the coup on those who are her friends. At this point, it’s hard to see why Audrey picked staying with Wilford over returning to Snowpiercer to see what’s going on. It’s also hard to see her flipping the script that quickly, but rash decisions usually have harsh consequences and Miss Audrey deciding to stay with the man that abused her for years does not bode well for anyone, no matter what kind of hold she thinks she has on him.

In other spaces on Big Alice, Josie is being treated for her severe frostbite and trying to learn everything she can about the things that happen on this train. Lucky for her, Mr. and Mrs. Headwood are always told whenever Wilford is going to make a move and when one of his men comes to tell them that something is going to happen on Snowpiercer that same night, Josie rushes to get word to Layton. They have a connect to pass messages now, Big Alice’s last Australian, and Josie isn’t about to let her people get attacked with no warning. However, the status of those on Snowpiercer really should be the last thing Josie is worried about. Her entire body is covered in frostbite, she’s being fully dipped in the gel that the doctors smoothed over Melanie’s frozen shoulder, they’re taking tissue from her whole body for tests constantly and the pain is never ending. She may never recover one hundred percent from this, which is obvious in the way the Headwoods never answer that question when she asks it. They can fix her, in a sense, but she’ll most likely never be the Josie we met in S1 again.

Josie isn’t completely alone though. Icy Bob is also constantly in the Med Lab being tested and poked and prodded. He knows exactly what Josie is going through, he even helps her calm down from a panic attack caused by the consistent pain. He may not be an ally exactly, but he also hasn’t yet snitched on her for sending secret messages and not taking her anesthesia pills so she could listen in while the doctors took deep tissue from her. They have a mutual understanding almost, and it would be interesting to see if Josie can flip Icy Bob to Snowpiercer’s side before it’s all said and done. He would be a great addiction and a much needed power boost. That is if he’s not already completely brainwashed by his alliance to Mr. Wilford.

Over on the train that really matters, it’s chaos. And this chaos has been brewing for a while. There’s too many rumblings and rumors gaining ground and traction. It’s been two weeks since Lights fingers were cut off and Till’s tunnel vision on the Breachmen is causing her to lose sight of everything else. Even Layton has started to side eye Till and her erratic behavior, so he gives her a day off. He probably could have done more by simply sitting and talking with her but Andre has his own issues going on, so it’s understandable that he doesn’t have time for Till’s declining mental health. But Pastor Logan does and after stopping Till from starting a disrespectful fight in the Market car, he takes her to a boxing cage and beats her up. Literally. Which is apparently what Till needed because she comes out of the cage looking more refreshed than we’ve seen her since before the revolution. Till needs someone in her corner, a person who can clear her head without sex. And it seems like that person is being found in the Pastor. The possibility of their growing friendship could easily be one of the most interesting aspects on the train, as long as he doesn’t end up dead because of association.

In an almost ironic parallel, Layton is spiraling just as much as Till is. To the point where even Zarah has made points that should have come from Andre but he is hesitant to say. Being a leader is not what Layton was meant to do, as tough as that is to acknowledge. His heart is too soft, his goals too caring and his need to shed as little blood as possible just might get him killed if he isn’t careful. Or at least, that’s the running rumor on the train. Layton wants peace, but 50% of Snowpiercer wants Wilford and to them the only thing standing between them and the original creator returning is Andre Layton. He has an even bigger target on his back now, and fewer friends than he realizes. However, if there’s one thing Layton doesn’t play about, it’s the two women he loves. No matter who audiences ship Layton with, he clearly loves both Josie and Zarah, just in different ways. So when Terrance threatens Josie’s safety, over trades no less, Layton is sent into a quiet rage. One that hints at just how terrifying of a leader he could be if he would allow himself to. In a very quick, clean and Mr. Wilford like way, Layton sets up to have Terrance taken out. He even gets LJ, Osweiller and the guards of the car, who work for Terrance, to take a walk and pretend they don’t know what’s happening up in the man’s quarters. When he wants to be, Andre can be scary, he can be a killer or a leader or even the mob boss who sends others to do his dirty work. But only when it comes to Josie and Zarah, which doesn’t make a lot of scene. What keeps Layton from unleashing that side of him upon Wilford? Upon those who only oppose his leadership of the train because he’s from the tail, and they are probably racist; why doesn’t he fill the job description the way it was meant to filled? Most likely because he doesn’t want to turn into Wilford, or even Melanie really, but the longer he tries to keep the peace by being peaceful, the harder it’s going to hurt when everyone turns on him, including his inner circle.

However the most interesting thing about Layton this episode was not the way he handled Terrance, it was the display of the friendship he and Pike have. Often, back in S1, it seemed like Pike was out to get Layton. He doesn’t agree with his soft approach to things, he knows Layton doesn’t really have it in him to lead the train. But despite all that, Pike is also very loyal to Layton. And Layton to him. They are two tail brothers, and being a tailly matters more than anything when it comes to standing up against those outside of the tail. It doesn’t help that Terrance decided he was going to try and intimidate Pike into being one of his men. So it wasn’t very surprising that Pike stuffed his head full of cement from a glue gun on Layton’s orders. What is surprising though is the way killing Terrance made Pike emotional. We don’t know much about Pike at all, other than he can at times be a pain in Layton’s ass. But last night we did learn that Layton is the reason Pike wasn’t killed for cannibalism, which makes his willingness to kill for him all the more clear. When it comes down to it, Pike is actually pretty high on the list of people Layton can turn to and trust to get the job done.

The most surprising development of the episode comes in the form of Ruth finally picking a side. As the alarms blare on the entire train and Audrey stands on the Big Alice side hesitant to return, Ruth finally lays down her loyalties. And it’s not with Wilford, it’s with Snowpiercer. When Wilford attempts to get Ruth to cross the border over onto Big Alice, she declines. It’s a bit shocking, seeing as how she’s spend most of this season being overjoyed at his returning and quietly fighting her own battle for Layton’s trust. But in the moment, when it really matters, it’s clear where Ruth stands. She’s on Snowpiercer’s side, on Layton’s side. Which only makes Miss Audrey’s choice to stay on Big Alice all the more confusing. If anything their position should be switched and it should be Ruth choosing Big Alice, the fact that it’s Audrey adds another layer of mystery and future conflicts. No one is going to be happy about Miss Audrey not coming back, but hopefully everyone will have an extra nice word for Ruth. She deserves the praise.

Something sinister is happening aboard Snowpiercer but no one other than Wilford knows the true extend of it. Not even Alex has been privy to certain conversations, and she’s starting to realize it. But it may be too late, especially with how easily Wilford’s men were able to take out every Breachman except for Boki. We’d been under the impression that Snowpiercer had the advantage over Big Alice, but now we see that’s absolutely not the case. We’ve underestimated Mr. Wilford and it looks like we’re all going to pay for it.

We’ve reached the middle of the season, usually the point where shows slow down, but with Snowpiercer there is no pumping the breaks now. And it’s a better show for it .

Snowpiercer airs Monday nights on TNt

-Danyi

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