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Snowpiercer: Now Is The Time

With the season finale of Snowpiercer right around the corner, we’ve been given the first taste of the revolution already. The world is crumbling around Melanie Cavill while Layton’s continues to get ever so brighter, things are starting to do a 180 for the two leaders of the train but it’s still unclear which one or if either of them is going to come out on top.

Episode eight of Snowpiercer, titled “These Are His Revolutions” takes the barely kept calmness that’s hanging on by a thread and severs it completely. Everything descends into chaos. While first-class rebels against Melanie once they learned that Mr. Wilford is in fact dead, Layton rallies the tail, and third-class sets everything in motion by infiltrating as many places that they can. The moment is now and they cannot turn back, they don’t have the time.

As the tallies move up the train to start the revolution, Ruth struggles with the reveal that there is no Mr. Wilford and she’s been being played by Melanie. It hurts her so deeply that she’s willing to take sides with Folgers family and believes that Melanie needs to be executed. It seems like an extreme step to take but the uncertainty and scariness of having to change everything about the way life on Snowpiercer runs are too strong in too many of the first and second class passengers. They’re too afraid of change to make good choices. Meanwhile, with Bess Till by his side, Layton takes the lead and presses all the way up to the night car. His logical thinking, strategic planning and gathered observations while playing train detective help him give third and the tallies some kind of advantage. He knows the train now, he can place people in the spots they need to be to help further the revolution.

While arming themselves with any and all weapons, the tallies and third-class spread themselves throughout the train and pick up anyone who wants to join the fight. The idea of being able to have the train run by the lower class and not the snobs upfront who never have to lift a finger gains traction and gives courage to anyone who needs it. But as usual, there can’t be hope without some kind of setbacks. It’s still unclear whose side exactly LJ is on but she’s pivotal to the start of the higher class rebel of Melanie. Layton lets her in on the Wilfrod secret knowing that she will take it straight back to her parents and her parents encourage Commander Grey to use force in the name of keeping order on the train. Even though the order went out the door a long time ago.

The closer Snowpiercer gets to its finale, the more it shines a light on the crumbling system that is class structure. Melanie worked hard to keep the class sections of the train separate. She helped push the narrative that certain people were less than others because of where they ended up on the train when boarding or what section was stamped on their ticket. Mr. Wilford may be dead and Melanie may have killed him but he can’t be blamed for the uphold of violent classism that plagues the train. That’s all Melanie’s doing. Especially now that it’s been revealed that Mr. Wilford was left trackside years ago, back when Snowpiercer first started its endless journey. Melanie has had seven years to make life better for everyone on the train, but she decided not to. And now everyone is going to pay for it.

My favorite thing about the episode, besides the bloody battle in the middle of the night car, was the last-minute reveal that Pike has been taken out of the drawers. While third class and the tallies fight for their life, Pike is given chocolate cake in the dining car and shows what is probably his true colors. He is not on Layton’s side, the other man moves too slowly and too delicately for Pike. He is more than willing to help Commander Grey take Layton down and put a stop to the uprising. It doesn’t matter that he was once stuck in the tail, he’s in a better position now. He could be playing with Grey and first-class, after all, it’s been a long time since he’s eaten anything of substance and food is food no matter who’s giving it to you. But if Pike has indeed switched sides then he becomes another generalized white person that has folded under pressure. He reaffirms the fear that all oppressed people have; that ultimately it’s every man for himself and unity is just a fairytale.

Snowpiercer airs on Sunday nights on TNT


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Snowpiercer: When White People Are Incharge, Can There Ever Really Be Justice?

Last night Snowpiercer hit its halfway mark in the first season and episode five might be it’s most “normal” one yet. As LJ’s murder trial is held in first-class with some newly added changes, Josie scrambles to find Layton who is having the worst dreams while stuck in the Drawers and the class structure of the entire train crumbles almost to its breaking point. Episode five, titled “Justice Never Boarded” might be a tame one compared to its predecessors but the subtle violence it displays is loud and chaotic.

To start, Melanie Cavill is in over her head. That much has been clear to the audience since about the second episode but it’s only now becoming clear to her. With the wrongfully drawered Nikki dead, the third class is ready to shed blood. They know that the murder trial of LJ is mostly for show, she’s a first-class brat and will without a doubt be cleared of the charges against her. After sending a message to first, by way of cockroaches on a platter, Miss Audrey and Melanie come to an agreement; new names will be drawn to decide who sits on the jury and third-class will for the first time ever be allowed to have one of those three seats. This is, in a sense, betrayal to first-class because Melanie is supposed to be on their side. Mrs. Folgers particularly feels like Melanie is encouraging the rest of the train to have their uprising and take down those in their way. And she’s not going to stand for it.

Meanwhile, Josie who has gotten word that Layton is missing takes another chance and sneaks out of the tail and sanitations to find him. Her journey leads her to Terrance who is intrigued by the fact that Melanie drawered Layton instead of letting him return the tail. He also isn’t about to pass up the opportunity to go up train and steal some things. So he helps Josie get to The Drawers, and he leaves her there to figure out which of the 400 individual prisons is holding Layton. While she scrambles to find him, she discovers the horrors that some of the Drawers truly hold. But she doesn’t have time to digest the new information because the trial is nearly over. With some unexpected help from Till, Josie is able to rouse Layton and sneak him to third class. She leaves him in the care of Zarah and returns to sanitations just as the jury decides LJ’s fate.

The trial, which if everyone is being honest is more for show than anything, at first seems like for the first time ever true justice is going to be served. Until Melanie makes a rash decision and decides that Mr. Wilford is going to spare LJ because she’s so young and Erik obviously had influenced her to participate in the murders. It’s a bold move and is the first domino to fall in what promises be a very long chain and could result in the uprising actually happening. She gave third-class her word that this trial would be fair and different, then snatched the victory of it actually being fair away from them within seconds. In her desperation to hold order, Melanie has instead cracked it in two, and the fall out promises to be pretty great.

Once again Snowpiercer touches on a subject that other shows jump through hoops to avoid. It hasn’t escaped me that first, second and third glass is overwhelmingly white. Of course, there’s the occasional person of color here and there and a couple of Black people sprinkled about, but there are far more of them in the tail than anywhere else. And that isn’t by accident. The reason class structure goes so smoothly is because it’s the wealthy white people who are in charge of the train. Mr. Wilford keeps it running, sure, but after “Justice Never Boarded” it’s very clear who is actually in charge. And it’s not Melanie. When Mrs. Folgers felt even a slight hint of her daughter being threatened she started crafting a plot to overthrow Melanie because forget about fairness and everyone having the right to survive. To her, the only thing that matters is LJ getting away with murder. White women are always willing to do anything to protect their children, no matter how horrible their children are.

The episode also emphasizes the fact that Melanie may seem like she wants what’s best for the train but in reality, she’s just making it up as she goes along, much like everyone else. It’s through her that we are smacked in the face with the realization that much like recent events in the real world right now, those on top will cling to normalcy no matter how toxic and hurtful it is to others. Snowpiercer is the farthest thing from normal, but first, second and some of third are willing to do any and everything to hold on to practices from before the freeze. Even though creating a new kind of living, one where everyone was on the same level of class and treated equally would enhance the quality of life. The idea of not being above someone terrifies people who always have considered themselves superior.

Episode five frustrated me, thoroughly and for the entire sixty minutes, but it’s definitely another notch higher on the quality scale. There’s not much that makes my blood boil more than white woman tears, and LJ spent the whole episode using hers to her advantage. Behind closed doors, she’s the evil murderer that Layton, Melanie, and honestly her parents know her to be. But in front of everyone else, she uses the stereotype of the naive child to make sure that she gets away with everything she does. It’s upsetting but very realistic of how many white women today are. I’m also curious to see if Layton ends up addicted to Kronel since he’s been in the drawers and his gums seemed to already be turning black. If he does, I’d like to see Snowpiercer take a closer look at the fact that drugs are being forced on prisoners without their knowledge. Which happens far too often in the real world.

Much like last week, I am still extremely pleased with Snowpiercer and continue to look forward to its weekly episodes. I don’t see it losing steam any time soon and that makes me glad I decided to give it a chance.

Snowpiercer airs Sundays on TNT


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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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black girl blogs · reviews · tv reviews

Snowpiercer: Fight Night

As Snowpiercer rolls into its third episode, we learn more about how life on the train functions. Along with the things people are willing to trade to be able to make their way to first class. There may be only three thousand people left in the world, but humans cannot deny their ingrained teachings of classism and capitalism.

After failing to communicate with the tail Layton is under intense supervision by not only Roche but Bess Till and Melanie. Forced to focus on the murder case, he and Till track the source of the popular train drug Kronol back to Dr. Kilmpt. He needed supplies for upkeep on the prisoners in the drawers, so he made due. After all, Mr. Wilford didn’t think of everything; so those closest to him have to fix his shortcomings. While frustrated with all the shady dealings going on right under her nose, Melanie has bigger problems. Repairs to the car that suffered heavy damage are taking too long and using up too much power and heat, she entertains the idea that most of the upper train passengers agree with: cut the tallie car lose and they will be able to survive on even longer. She’s not that desperate yet.

It might only be the third episode but the murderer is revealed to us and twists the hands of the plot even more. The killer is someone from first-class, which means he is almost untouchable to Layton. He has to go about this carefully if he wants to not only catch him but pass information back to the tail. It’s a dangerous path Layton is about to go down, though it can’t be much worse than being stuck on a never-stopping train that’s overrun with capitalism, racism, and class structure.

If there’s anything Snowpiercer does right it’s the way it focuses on classism. There is nothing more apparent than the fact that the train is heading for class warfare, and it may not start with the tallies but in first class. Rich people will do anything to keep their status, from suggesting that the hundreds of people in the tail be left behind to having their bodyguards commit murder. Second and third class passengers will do just about anything to be upgraded, including trading drugs, winning vicious fights, and being secret informants to Mr. Wilford. And passengers who are comfortable in the luxury of first-class aren’t unaware of the tensions growing down the train, but they also aren’t really ready to do anything about it. It’s compelling to watch them squirm one moment and then be distracted by something like Fight Night the next.

Another point I really enjoy with the show so far is the extensive look we’re given into life on the train. There are groups inside of groups, allies that cross-class sections and subplots that are hopefully given more attention later. For instance, how did the janitors come to be one of the most feared/respected groups on the train? Why is it third class seems like barely a step up from the tallies? I’m also very curious to see who outside of the tail is the first to switch sides and be a true ally to Layton. Some could say that it’s Zarah, after all the information she provided him in episode three, but I still think she can be fully trusted. I’d like to see Bess Till or even Roche make the choice to join Layton’s cause.

I’m not into the romance plot of Layton and Zarah but that’s honestly a personal thing. I’m rarely if ever into romantic plots. I will say that it would be nice for Layton to not only kiss on white women but that’s a casting choice discussion. I don’t have many gripes with the show as a whole though there are definitely small details that can be improved on with a simple conscious decision and more diversity behind the scenes.

Three episodes in and I’m still completely invested in Snowpiercer. It doesn’t shy away from the fact that humans are flawed and can be incredibly cruel to each other. Violence isn’t always physical, and even though there’s plenty of it in the show; it’s the little acts and mentalities of the passengers that truly stand out. Things like Roche eating his lunch in front of Andre and only offering him a piece of the apple as an afterthought. It’s the first-class passengers suggesting cutting the tallie car from the train and letting them die with smiles on their faces. The Braechmen withholding medicine and supplies from lower levels for sexual favors. It’s Melanie dangling rewards and prizes in the face of anyone she needs something from. So many little acts of violence that are festering and growing and will hopefully lead to some kind of revolution.

Snowpiercer airs Sundays on TNT


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Snowpiercer: Welcome To The Night Car

There will always be classism, racism, and capitalism, even on a train where the three thousand people on board are the only living souls left. Human beings apparently cannot help themselves, we see as much in the news today. Snowpiercer has decided not to shy away from this, but to shine a light on it. Even when the world has ended and humanity is fighting to survive, there will always be those that have to maintain some kind of status above others.

Because of where on the timeline TNT’s Snowpiercer falls, it cannot keep its entire focus on the revolution and liberation of the tallies. It has to weave those details throughout the episodes and on the underside of a murder mystery. Not because the murder mystery is a better plot but because one, we’ve already seen that part of the timeline and know how it ends. And two, the show would get discouraging and boring very quickly if we had to watch failed attempt after failed attempt of the taillies revolting. It’s more interesting to follow Andre as he comes to discover that nothing is as simple as it originally seemed.

While still searching for Sean Wise murderer, Andre spends a day following leads with Bess Till. First, they visit the Night Car where the beautiful Miss Audrey not only serenades the passengers but also offers them a bit of therapy. The Night Car isn’t just booze, dancing, and entertainment; it’s a safe space for the survivors to go and heal. It’s here where we see a tiny bit of the relationship Layton and Zarah used to have. Once upon a time, they were in love and they did, after all, board the train together. Zarah may have moved up in class sections but feelings don’t just disappear. During their time in their night car therapy, Zarah lets Layton know he isn’t being told everything about the murder he’s investigating. There’s more to it and knowing those details are what’s going to keep Layton’s revolution alive.

As Layton and Bess Till work to find the killer, Melanie has her own set of problems to deal with. When the noise of the train on the tracks causes multiple avalanches the car holding the cows is breached, all the cows and the butchers who were in the car are frozen to death within seconds. Effectively making cows as a species extinct and cutting off several resources they provided for the whole train. Not to mention something is wrong neurologically with Nikki, the woman who was sentenced to the Drawers unlawfully. If she isn’t able to recover, then word will get out that Mr. Wilford doesn’t have everything uncontrol like Melanie wants the passengers to believe. However, not one to be shaken easily, Melanie has temporary solutions to her ever growing problems. And she doesn’t forget to threaten Andre after he breaks out of his cell while she’s at it.

“Prepare To Brace” is only the second episode of Snowpiercer but it’s established what I hope to be favorite characters, favorite moments, and some foreshadowing that if executed correctly could earn a big satisfying payoff. The Night Car section of the train is the most entertaining yet. Lena Hall, usually found on Broadway, only partially sang but the moment was enough to assure that her scenes and songs will be some of the best of the season. It’s in its characters that Snowpiercer finds it’s footing, the forced partnership between Layton and Bess Till also promises to be a future highlight. Both were part of law enforcement before the world ended so they fall into rhythm with each other naturally as they track down the missing limbs, but it’s still too early to tell if Till will switch sides and support the revolution.

After an explosive premiere, Snowpiercer returned for its second episode with even more fast-paced action and nerve-rattling drama than its opener. In its first hour Snowpiercer managed to not only pay homage to its predecessor, but it also set the stage for the story it is going to tell. The connections to the movie and the graphic novel needed to be found but after only one episode of groundwork, it’s clear Snowpiercer made the right choice in shedding the strings that pit it against the content before it. This part of the trains’ journey is a paradise for us context junkies who are always looking for an expansion of something great. Which this show is.

Snowpiercer airs Sundays on TNT

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