In episode 10, we reach the end of Snowpiercer’s season 1 revolution. The train hasn’t completed a full revolution across the Earth’s surface this season, but maybe we’ll make it the rest of the way in S2. S1 began with Snowpiercer somewhere between Alaska and Vancouver, BC, CA, then followed the train down through South America. It ends as the train approaches its own Mile Zero in Chicago. The train slows down and marks this moment on every revolution, because it’s where the passengers lives were saved but at the same time many, many other lives were lost.
It’s also where Melanie pirated the train from Mr Wilford more than 7 years ago. This is their first time passing through Chicago when everyone on the train knows it. As First and Second are mired in post revolution chaos, Third and the Tail enjoy the freedom to slow down and explore the entire train, rather than just struggle to survive. But a few Wilford diehards haven’t given up hope that their demi-god is alive and out there somewhere.
Melanie’s voiceover is in the form of her last AM broadcast as the Voice of the Train. She’s dressed in her denim jacket and regular pants, rather than her teal hospitality uniform. It’s the end of an era.
“Attention all passengers: The temperature outside is -121.9° C. As we approach Chicago, mile zero of our cycle of life, be prepared to brace. We’re all haunted by our choices. The personal choices we all made when we boarded this train. And the collective choices that brought us to that day. Choices made over decades, even when we knew climate change was real. And finally, my own choice to pirate this ark and lie to you all, which has brought us to where we are now. May we all move forward with greater awareness of the choices that we make. And today, that train chooses change. I hereby relinquish governance of Snowpiercer to the rebel forces. These are our revolutions, 994 cars long.”
She relinquishes her seat to Layton. She just publicly accepted responsibility for her failings, as a person and as a leader. She also reminded everyone else on board Snowpiercer that they create their society collectively and always have. She didn’t create the last 7 years alone and no one should fool themselves that she could have.
It doesn’t matter how many times I watch that speech, Jennifer Connelly gives me chills by the end of it, every time. She so understated, but infused with raw power. Melanie is energized by this turn of events, not cowed. It’s a new day, and she’s alive to see it. It’s not over yet.
She just named herself a pirate for everyone on board to hear. They would be wise to remember that pirates aren’t known for their hospitality. The hospitality uniform was a costume for her, meant to hide what she was really up to.
Now she watches Layton with calculating eyes as he sits down in front of the mic.
Layton: “Citizens of Snowpiercer: My name is Andre Layton.”
Layton keeps it deceptively simple. He reminds the passengers that this is now a democracy in which they all share the responsibilities by calling them citizens instead of passengers. He tells them his name first, though they all surely know it. In that way, he begins his relationship as leader of the citizens of Snowpiercer with honesty and minimal barriers between himself and the people. He hasn’t given himself a title, not even new Voice of the Train or leader of the rebel forces. And he looks straight into the camera as he speaks, not hiding anything from his listeners and viewing them with clear eyes.
Up in the engine, Javi and Bennett assess the extensive damage the war has done to the train as Mel stares out the windshield. There are 37 battery cars offline. It will take approximately 12 hours for the train to recharge to full capacity.
Mel tells Bennett that she needs to run an errand before she locks herself in the engine full time. He asks if she wants his help. She says he already has helped, but this is something she’s put off for too long and has to do alone.
Layton sits with Miles and gives him the beginning of a serious talk, saying their family paid a heavy price during the fighting. When he starts listing their friends who survived, Miles quickly guesses that Josie is gone- she’s obviously not there to share this talk. Layton tells Miles how much Josie loved him and all of them while Miles sobs and they hug. It’s a heartbreaking scene, given how much Miles has lost in his short life and how much he loved his Tail Mom. It seems like he’s still surrounded by lots of love, but he’s in desperate need of stability.
Next up, Layton attempts to address a ragtag group in the First Class Dining Car, composed of the regular Firsties, the rebel army, the brakemen, the Hospitality crew, tailie leaders, the leaders of the guilds and department heads and anyone else who could squeeze into the room. Virtually no one is happy with the disorder and looting that’s been going on since the decoupling incident ended the war. Layton has to shout at them at the top of his lungs just to get their attention.
He explains that his people are in complete control now. Anyone who lives in a First Class car begs to differ. Layton says that the brakemen and the rebel army will maintain order until a representative government can be elected and write a constitution. Various people point out in various ways that much of the current disorder, at least by their definition, is coming from the rebel army. The former rebels point out that there are some previous injustices that need to be addressed before they settle into their new routine as OneTrain.
Ruth is particularly unhappy. Layton tells her that they’re not taking off anymore arms or putting people in drawers. They need to learn to govern themselves. He encourages everyone to mark their passage through Chicago with their loved ones and consider this the start of a new way of life.
After Layton is finished, Ruth scolds Roche for going long with the rebels. He replies that the transition will go more smoothly if she gets the hospitality department on board. She tells him, “Utopian twaddle will never hold this train together.”
The Folgers’ car is now a party car, run by Pike and the janitors. LJ tries to make them leave, but they throw her out instead. Pike tells her that connections are the only thing that matter now, not personal wealth or class, and she doesn’t have any friends on the train. Translation: She doesn’t have anyone powerful to protect her anymore.
Pike literally tosses LJ out of her car and onto the hall floor while the janitors laugh.
Am I supposed to think she got what she deserved, as opposed to the opportunistic, lying, thieving, cheating, toxic drug dealers in her home who will betray anyone at any time, as long as it benefits them in the moment? Because I can guarantee you that they are guilty of far more murders than LJ.
Layton manipulated LJ into publicly admitting to crimes she committed as a minor child under the coercive influence of an adult serial killer. In no way should she have been allowed to accept responsibility for Erik’s crimes when there was no proof that she was the mastermind beyond trumped up evidence that benefitted the adults involved, including her parents. She should not have been tried as an adult or turned into the train’s scapegoat. But now no one official will bother to provide her with counseling, comfort or any protection, never mind the equivalent of a witness protection program.
Javi picks up unexplained music on one of the radio frequencies. Bennett says it’s probably coming from somewhere on the train- either a ham radio or a wireless signal. When he looks at the satellite image of their position, a second red dot can be seen off to the side. He quickly turns off the monitor, but tells Javi that they’ve lost the satellite feed. Javi urges him to get it back so they can locate the signal.
Melanie shows up in the Night Room. Miss Audrey notes that she’s been avoiding processing her losses through the Night Car experience for a long time. Now that her secrets have been revealed, it’s obvious why.
They go into the experience room. Audrey acknowledges that Melanie designed Snowpiercer and has done terrible things to keep it going. Melanie says that she has to live with the loss of 147 of the last souls on Earth. Audrey says that Melanie has come to the Night Car because there’s something that she can’t live with.
Then Audrey begins the meditative speech that helps put clients in a trance state, while the dream-like, immersive sensory experience begins. She guides Melanie into her memories of the old world, then back to her intimate knowledge of Snowpiercer. Melanie sees the dead jackboots laid out in a pile on the Night Car floor.
Audrey takes Melanie deeper into herself, until she sees the scene she’s been avoiding. Patsy Cline’s She’s Got You plays in the background as Melanie approaches a little girl who’s sitting at a table eating. The room is a sepia-toned, soft focus, ancient memory, like something from another century, though in reality it’s probably only 10 years old at most.
In the real world, Melanie tells Audrey, “I sacrificed my daughter for this train. I put my work first. Even at the end, I didn’t stop. I didn’t go to her. I was so certain that they’d be there. But then the train was leaving, and- and they weren’t. And I stayed with the train.”
Audrey asks Melanie to go deeper. “If Alex was here, what would you want to say to her?”
Melanie: “I miss you. I miss you. I need you. Put your hand on my cheek. [Melanie, Vision Alex and Audrey all put their hands on Melanie’s cheek in layers.] I am so sorry. I would give anything just to hold you again. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
Sobbing, Melanie continues to say she’s sorry while holding Vision Alex, as Audrey holds Melanie.
If you get a chance, listen to the song on it’s own for the lyrics. They are perfect for the scene. And then there’s the fact that Patsy Cline tragically died in a plane crash at the age of 30, leaving behind a young family, many friends, including Loretta Lynn, and her fans.
This is the beginning of Melanie’s story for S2, but it’s also the train’s story and our story. We’ve already been shown that Miles and LJ are abandoned children. Josie and Melanie both chose their work, which they hoped was making the world safer for their children, over spending time with their children while they were young, time that can’t be replaced in the life of a child. Andre and Suzanne turned their young children, Miles and Winnie, into soldiers.
LJ’s parents failed her in different but similar ways, when you get to the heart of it. If you had suggested that they pay more attention to her, they would have told you that someone needed to keep an eye on how the train was run in order to protect their daughter’s future interests.
But they used a serial killer as her nanny and allowed him to become her statutory rapist when she was barely past puberty. They didn nothing to help her develop the skills to ever deal with adulthood. They depended on the severely, criminally mentally ill hired help to raise their child, then blamed LJ for their mistakes when they were caught out.
In order to survive, LJ started pretending to be an adult long before she developed adult maturity on the inside. Because girls physically mature at a young age, people are generally happy to believe they’re also mature adults inside. They’re not, anymore than teenage boys are mature adults. Even now, LJ’s “maturity” is mostly teenage bravado.
This is an issue that society needs to face and reconcile at some point. Parents need to work, but in the US, we don’t currently have a childcare model that supports parents, children and adolescents through the process. As a result, many children feel like they’re forced to grow up too quickly and now they feel like they have to fight for their future as well. Snowpiercer is graphically illustrating that phenomenon.
Zarah shows Andre an ultrasound of their baby. He thinks it looks like a constellation, a romantic image- the baby as the universe. Andre thinks the baby is a girl but Zarah thinks it’s a boy. He tells her that it’s all about the baby now, so they should put aside their differences. Zarah asks how they’ll work out parenting, after their separation and his relationship with Josie. He says they won’t be the family they planned before Snowpiercer, but they’ll figure it out.
At least he seems happy about the pregnancy. Zarah hasn’t had anything against Andre for a while now. He’s the one who holds grudges.
Jinju shows Roche and Till through Ag Sec and complains about the effects the war and its aftermath have had on her department. Despite all of the damage, she’s now expected to feed everyone equal calories and she’s not happy about it. She doesn’t mention anything about adequate calories, but I’m going to assume that’s part of the deal. She’s meant to cut down on the waste in First and Second in order to provide a nutritionally adequate diet to Third and the Tail.
That would require some rethinking of how resources are allocated, since up until now so much of the train’s food production capacity has gone toward providing luxury items for First. Which means Jinju probably legitimately can’t make everything run smoothly immediately, but she could do some hand-waving to make it roughly equal.
The Firsties will survive a few bug bars, and she could rotate which section of the train gets which fresh foods. There’s always cafeteria specials: bug bar surprise, bug bar delight and bug bar slop, with unlimited bug bars as take out for late night snacks. Maybe the Firsties will turn them into a trendy delicacy.
The argument deteriorates into Jinju and Till discussing their personal issues, so Roche leaves them to it. Till is angry that Jinju knew that Melanie was Wilford all along and never told her. Jinju put the safety and stability of the train and its food supply above everything else in her life. She didn’t think the myth of Wilford did any harm.
Jinju asks if Till would really rather be alone. Till says she’s not alone, she has her fellow rebels and the responsibility she now feels toward the train. Jinju points out that they both feel the same way at last- the train comes first.
She kisses Till and reminds her that on Snowpiercer, when you break up, you tell each other, “See you around.” Till says it and walks out.
I refuse to believe that this is the end of the line for these two. They just need time to come to terms with their differences and secrets. Both kept secrets from the other, but both did their best to protect the other during the war. And both try to do the right thing when the chips are down. And they love each other, d–nit. 😭😭😭💔💔💔
Time for the next crushing breakup of the night. Ruth is still Head of Hospitality, despite everything else she’s lost. She sniffles a little as she touches up her makeup before her shift. When Melanie slips in the office door behind her, Ruth straightens her shoulders and gives her the what-for. Ruth sees the new regime as the continuation of anarchy rather than as democracy or a clean slate. She’s not going to let Melanie off easily for her continuing role in it.
Melanie tells Ruth, “Sometimes you have to lose something to find it again.”
Ruth: “You put 147 people out there to die. Many of them my friends. Including Nolan Grey. Well. Survival doesn’t need love, does it?”
Melanie: “That what I got so wrong. There’s nothing more important than love.”
Ruth shows her the door. It’s too little, too late, especially since Nolan Grey was expressly one of Melanie’s targets. Of course, Melanie was about to be executed herself, but Ruth feels completely justified in her own actions. Melanie tells Ruth, “See you around,” but Ruth rejects the gesture.
I don’t know what their relationship will be, but I’m pretty sure these two will continue to interact. And I’m also pretty sure that Melanie is better for Ruth than Nolan Grey.
Roche is also better for her.
Javi continues his attempts to locate the music signal. He’s determined that it’s coming from the Northwest, where Chicago probably is, but Bennett is dubious about the whole thing, saying there’s nothing out there. We’re shown a visual that confirms the train is pushing its way through vast, flat emptiness filled with nothing but snow drifts.
Some of those midwestern states are currently endless, flat corn and soybean fields, so driving through them now isn’t much different, just a change of color and temperature when it’s summer. 7 years of endless blizzards must have taken down or covered most of the structures already.
Melanie arrives in the engine, newly dressed in engineer’s overalls. Bennett compliments the look, by way of also noting that she’s finally officially an engineer. Javi plays the mysterious opera signal for her. Ben tries to play it down, again, but she recognizes the significance immediately. It means there could potentially be other survivors.
The receiver’s range is about 80 km, but the equipment that could pinpoint the location of the transmission isn’t working. Ben says they should slow down so they don’t speed right by it. Melanie decides to bring Layton to the engine to make the final decisions. Ben starts to argue, but Mel reminds him that’s how things work now.
Roche brings a couple of young smugglers to Layton. They confess to stealing lettuce for Pike to fence out of the Folgers’ car. The lock ups are already full of hooligan rebels, trying Roche’s patience. Layton is called to the engine, so he tells Till and Roche to figure it for now.
Up in the engine, Melanie tells Layton that it’s been 6 1/2 years since they received a signal from the outside. They wonder who it could be- military or an old bunker? They usually don’t bother to have the radio on, since there’s no one out there. Javi says the signal is getting stronger. Ben can’t fix the equipment in time, so he thinks they should slow down and try to get a visual.
Melanie explains Layton’s choices to him: they can slow down, but that will leave them in deficit, using emergency reserves just when they want to slow down to go through Chicago and mark Mile Zero. But if they speed past this signal and miss it, they’ll have to wait months, another full revolution, before they have the chance to hear it again.
Layton wants to slow down, based on the chance of finding other survivors. Melanie agrees and slows the train down.
Down at the Third Class lunch counter, Oz finishes a pint, then stumbles into LJ. She’s having a really bad day, so she responds as if she’s been attacked and punches him in the face, thus gaining his respect. When she sees him on the ground, she realizes her mistake and apologizes, explaining her situation. She ends with, “Everyone hates me.” He tells her that he knows who she is and everyone hates him, too. They decide they’re okay with each other and sit down together.
She continues her story, explaining that she has nothing left to trade except a hard boiled egg. Oz proves they are a match made in heaven by reaching into his jacket pocket and pulling out a salt shaker he stole from the mess hall. LJ asks how they get the shell off the egg. Oz looks at this poor, overprotected child in wonder and laughs. When she gets offended, he tells her she’s alright: “I’m a bad egg, too.” Then he knocks the egg against his forehead to crack the shell.
I don’t know if they’ll turn out to be an adorably mischievous Merry and Pippin who bring out the best in each other or a devilishly criminal Bonnie and Clyde who help each other become masters of the underworld, but I’m so glad these two found each other and excited to find out where they take each other in season 2. The giant backlit cross behind them suggests they’re going to save each other somehow. He’ll be her new muscle and she’ll be his new brains and together they’ll overthrow the janitors in 6 months, tops. Or get themselves executed. I have a feeling that LJ is a fast learner who pays attention to detail when it matters.
Back in the engine, the radio signal peaks, Bennett brings the satellite image back online and they make visual contact. It’s another train on a track running parallel to theirs. The new train looks like Snowpiercer, complete with giant W on the front. The passengers in the First Class Dining Car notice the new train as well and excitedly point it out to Ruth.
In the engine, Javi tells Layton that the other train is Big Alice, the prototype engine that was meant to be used as a supply train. Melanie is sure that it’s “Him” running the other train and prepares to take Snowpiercer up to full speed. Layton is still catching up with the idea that there’s a supply train, while Ben and Mel continue to argue over who’s on the other train and whether they can or should try to outrun it.
Ben says the spur Big Alice is on connects to their track, so that train will catch up to Snowpiercer. Ben thinks it could be anyone on board, but Melanie is certain it’s Him, not some other “band of merry ark pirates.” She tells Layton that the other train will try to board Snowpiercer.
Ruth is thrilled to see the other train and begins chanting, “It’s Him! It’s Him!” She finally tells the passengers that Mr Wilford is back and they should all stay calm!! She’s practically dancing from window to window, watching her dreams come true.
Maybe it’s a good thing Melanie got rid of Grey for her.
Layton decides to take a war party to the back end of the train to meet Wilford, should he attempt to board them. Melanie warns him that Wilford will divide the passengers along new lines. He promises that he can keep them united.
Ruth makes a little speech of her own, declaring that Wilford has returned to save them from the rebels. (Told you it was Return of the King!) She makes preparations to meet Wilford downtrain with a greeting party of her own.
Layton, Roche and Till clear the janitors and partiers out the Folgers’ car. Layton makes Pike join the war party against his will. Pike isn’t interested in a participatory democracy if it means he has to work for a living.
Melanie is determined to outrun Big Alice, even though maintaining their high speed is draining Snowpiercer’s power to dangerous levels. Big Alice slows down so that she can dock with the Tail. As they reach the switch, Big Alice bumps into Snowpiercer’s back end.
It’s not a friendly hello.
Layton gathers his regulars to meet Wilford and tells others to make a barricade. Once Big Alice is behind Snowpiercer, her front opens up to reveal scary jaws, then she pulls forward and clamps onto Snowpiercer’s back end. Winnie and some other kids are playing in the caboose when Big Alice latches on. The other train drills into Snowpiercer and connects cables to her main systems, taking control. Then someone starts cutting open a doorway between trains.
Layton and his fully armed war party reach the Tail just before Ruth. She parades in wearing her fur coat, leading a singing children’s choir and a full retinue of attendants. This seems like something out of Snowpiercer The Movie.
Roche and Layton scream at her to get the kids out of this dangerous situation. She counters that Hospitality leads the welcoming party, as per official Snowpiercer protocol. She follows up her words by pulling a gun on them.
I could not love her more than I do in this moment. Brava, Alison Wright.
Ruth: “I am a dignitary.”
Layton: “Yeah, I feel that.”
Ruth: “Nolan Grey would have been here in his full dress uniform and I would have been right beside him, because my uniform says Peace! Now this may be your democratic experiment, Mr Layton, but I am Head of Hospitality, and teal is the color of diplomacy.”
Layton wisely orders everyone to put their weapons down, then shows Ruth the respect she’s earned. He says that Ruth should stand up front with him, because she’s right- diplomacy first, with a show of force as backup. Ruth wants to be the first one to shake Wilford’s hand. Layton agrees that it has to be her and brings her up front. She hands over the gun.
I hope her memory of Wilford is more accurate than her memory of Grey. I doubt he would have bothered with his dress uniform. He didn’t even bother to wipe the blood off his head. Maybe he would have worn the dress uniform if she’d forced him into it. I’m afraid Wilford won’t even remember her.
Melanie and Bennett decide to go outside to cut off the link between trains. While they put on their suits, Ben argues that they need the supplies that Big Alice carries. He lists some of the things they need that the other train carries- bogie motors, bovine cultures, a full genetics lab. Melanie counters by reminding him that they could bring new diseases to Snowpiercer, the supplies could already be gone, and they don’t know what kind of people are on the train or what they’ll want in return for their supplies.
She asks him how long he’s kept the information about the second train from her. He says he saw it on the satellite this morning, but he knew if she was forewarned she’d run, so he made sure she didn’t see it. She’s angry that he made the decision alone and took away the option to evade the other train and Wilford, so she cuts the air supply on his suit. She’s going outside without him.
That seems like a counterproductive move which punishes her more than him, but she does like to get outside and do grunt work on her own occasionally. Maybe she just needs some space.
Melanie: “I will not put my faith in Wilford again, so I am going out there to free the helm. One way or another, you’re gonna keep this ark going when I’m gone.”
She says “when”, not “if” or “while”. Bennett begs her not to go alone, but she’s insistent, so he opens the door for her. Once she’s in the airlock, she gives him one last look through the window, to remind him that if she dies, it’s all his fault. She hopes he’s proud of himself. He really should just take himself over to sit in that corner for a few minutes and think about what he’s done.
But not for too long. He needs to run her train while she’s outside. Javi can’t be trusted alone with the engine for long and Miles is busy grieving his 2nd dead mom. Miles will be a better engineer than Javi in about 2 weeks, but he’s not there yet. He has Melanie’s photographic memory and nerves of steel. Javi is a creative thinker. They will balance each other.
Melanie climbs the ladder to the roof of the train. That’s right. Melanie is now going to walk on the roof of an icy, speeding train by herself. Bennett would have just slowed her down anyway and we all know it, including him.
Putting Melanie on the train roof is a required move to balance out that time she repeatedly stuck her head out underneath the frozen speeding train. Only this time, it’s dark outside and Melanie’s ANGRY. No one is going to take her train away.
Just before Melanie goes out onto the roof, Bennett says,
“As you wish.” “I’ll see you on the other side.”
He’s so in love with her. But he also knows that she’s capable of taking things too far out of single minded obsessiveness. It’s part of his job to put the brakes on her occasionally.
Melanie steps out, clips onto a safety track, gets her footing, then starts walking. After about 10 steps, she unclips and jumps to the next car. She makes the jump and continues the same process from car to car. After one jump, she slides off the top of the car, barely catching herself on a grate and hanging by her fingertips until she pulls herself up again.
While this is hella exciting, why does she need to do it? They aren’t at war anymore, so couldn’t she have just gone to whatever car she needed and climbed out of the end? They definitely didn’t need to have two of their three engineers taking this unnecessary risk.
We will enjoy this sequence for the work that was put into creating it, but shall not speak of the logic involved again. It’s generally best not to question the logic of Snowpiercer too deeply, but this one is a step too far and took me out of the scene.
Mel has just reached the last car when Big Alice suddenly puts on her brakes, almost as if they were watching her progress from the other train. She flies off the train, landing on the ground.
We will also ignore that the speed of the train shooting her off as it suddenly stopped should have killed her on impact with the ground.
The trains have entered Chicago, so they can see what’s left of the skyline from where they’ve stopped. No word on where they are relative to Mile Zero. Snowpiercer is doing a reset anyway. Big Alice will break through to the Tail in about 10 minutes.
Layton speaks to everyone who can hear him, reminding them that Wilford is only a man. Ruth inserts, “A great man.” Layton keeps talking, saying Wilford’s not really a God, or even an engineer, despite the religion that built up around him during the years he was missing. Snowpiercer belongs to her citizens, no matter who’s on the other train. It’s not Wilford’s train. Ruth: “I think you’ll find that it is.”
When the door between trains begins to open, the W on the front of Big Alice turns upside down and becomes an M, as if it now stands for Melanie instead of Wilford. That’s a good sign.
A second door opens and a young woman walks through a short passage, then up to the Tail to greet Snowpiercer’s citizens. Needless to say, she’s not who they were expecting. Layton asks who she is and tells her they need to get their train moving. Ruth greets her more politely and asks if Mr Wilford is with her.
Young Woman: “Mr Wilford has already seized control of your engine. You have about 13 minutes to agree to a peaceful surrender before the cold overcomes and you all freeze to death.”
Layton demands to see Wilford face to face. Ruth agrees with the sentiment, adding that Wilford will be welcomed aboard.
The young woman notices that Ruth is from Hospitality. Ruth introduces herself. The young woman asks if Melanie Cavill is still alive. Ruth says she is. Layton asks the girl who she is.
She steps through the doorway and aboard Snowpiercer, then says, “My name is Alexandra Cavill. Where is my mother?”
Melanie is currently outside in the snow, picking herself up from her fall. She seems uninjured. The Queen of Snowpiercer grabs her ax and heads for Big Alice so that she can free her train from its clutches.
The scene returns to the animation style that began episode 1.
Snowpiercer was animated while Melanie was throwing Wilford off the train and leaving him behind, saving the future Tailies to cover her pirating. Now the show returns to animation when Wilford returns to pirate the train back. Melanie is the one outside next to the track this time. Alexandra is serving as the distraction in the Tail, along with the threat to let Snowpiercer freeze. Where is Wilford?
It’ll be interesting to see how Melanie’s actual reconciliation with her daughter compares to her Night Car fantasy. I’m betting she won’t be able to open up her heart so easily with the real child she left behind, who’s mostly been raised by Melanie’s parents and her arch enemy instead of Melanie. Who knows what Alex has been told about her mother. It’s likely that Wilford lied about Alex’s mother, but there are a number of directions he could have taken. Melanie likely did a little smoothing of the rough edges of the story, too, but my bet is that her truth is closer to what actually happened.
The dramatic way Big Alice opened up a door into Snowpiercer and Melanie’s daughter stepped through, proving that Wilford is the savior they’ve been waiting for after all, shows that Wilford is every bit the showman Melanie made him out to be. By sending in Alexandra first, he gave the impression that he was able to save what Melanie couldn’t, including her own family, momentarily negating the entirety of what Melanie’s accomplished over years of hard work. He’ll continue the illusion by handing out prized commodities to everyone who’s important, even Melanie.
This whole takeover a PT Barnum, dominator, shock and awe move that doesn’t necessarily have much behind it. But I suspect that we didn’t see Wilford immediately because he’s in the back supervising whoever is remotely taking control of Snowpiercer’s systems. Then he’ll make his grand entrance, the return of the king, presumably with some sort of largesse to hand out to the peasants to win them over.
And then he’ll reveal that he saved at least some of the people on the abandoned cars. Maybe he towed all of the cars to safety before catching up to Snowpiercer. If so, all 147 people on those cars and the loved ones they left behind will turn against Layton and his new government. Pike and maybe the janitors will also become Wilford’s new best friends.
Alexandra is bait and a distraction, but she could be a bit of a peace offering for Melanie, too. She’s a double-edged sword for Melanie when it comes to letting Wilford back onto the train. Melanie can’t refuse him, since he’s kept her daughter safe for her all these years. He also probably kept her daughter from her all these years, but no one can prove that. Alexandra knows Melanie worked for Hospitality. Wilford probably didn’t tell her that her mother also designed the train.
Layton efficiently put out quite a few fires as leader of the train in this episode. Hopefully he’s started to win Ruth over. He hasn’t had time to establish himself as a leader and develop a loyal following among the all department heads in Second, so it could get dicey with Wilford’s return. Support from Roche, Dr Pelton, Ms Gillies, Melanie, Miss Audrey and Till should help, but having the support of Ruth, Jinju and more of First Class would be even better.
Melanie is publicly supporting him but also doing what she wants now that it’s a dire emergency. That leads me to believe that she still sees the train itself as hers to control when it’s a life or death decision, with Layton as the political leader she’ll guide toward the correct decisions about the train most of the time. Realistically, that probably makes sense right now. He’s showed good judgement as a political leader, but he’s not an engineer. As he learns more about the train, he and Ben can keep pushing her to share the decision making. Eventually, Miles will also be able to act as both engineer and political advisor.
It’s odd that Layton didn’t set up armed guards at all of Snowpiercer’s important points for the food supply chain first thing. You’d think Melanie or Jinju would have insisted on it. It’s unrealistic for Layton to be so dismissive of Jinju’s concerns. If he really doesn’t understand how difficult producing food is and that the food and fresh water supply and train maintenance have to come before everything else, even human rights, then he needs to get educated quickly.
The areas where Layton can improve on Melanie’s systems are: more equal distribution of resources; helping everyone on the train understand the importance of protecting those systems; and getting everyone to value the work that every worker does, at all levels, because it all keeps the train functioning and is part of the production process. He could also get a better police force going, with detectives to actually investigate crimes, and he could start a judicial system.
A fair society relies on due process to solve crimes and disputes as well as on elected leaders to create laws. If Lilah Sr. returns, Layton could buy her forgiveness by letting her help set up the judicial system. Despite the way she acts and is treated, I think she’s mostly bored and needs something meaty to occupy herself with. She can be the first Chief Justice of the Snowpiercer Supreme Court to soothe her ruffled feathers.
Did y’all see Ruth standing next to Roche in the First Class Dining car, then hanging on his arm in the Tail? My OTP lives. I expect a plague storyline around season 3 or 4 which will take Roche’s wife. Ruth will help him through his grief, then after a suitable mourning period, they’ll grow closer, and she’ll move in with him before 6 months are out. Can’t wait forever at our age, kids.
We don’t learn what happens to Winnie, who’s lost her entire family. She’s very young and children are precious on Snowpiercer, so it’s likely she’ll have families fighting to adopt her. All we know is that she’s still hanging around in the Tail and dressed in rags when Big Alice comes to visit.
We haven’t been told who Alexandra Cavill’s father is. Has Melanie told anyone? Are Wilford and Bennett in the running? Looking forward to a juicy paternity scandal next season. Or not. Odds are that Daddy’s dead, but you never know.
The timing of Wilford’s arrival is very suspicious. He just happened to decide to catch up with Snowpiercer on the revolution right after Melanie was overthrown and several cars were ditched? He probably watches Snowpiercer go by each time, but he could have rescued the detached cars and kept the passengers safe for another revolution. Guessing he has a spy on board Snowpiercer who’s been radioing the news to him every revolution. He’s been waiting for the right time to exploit Melanie’s weaknesses before he showed up.
This was an amazing finale, especially combined with episode 9. Episode 9 gave us the thrilling conclusion to the season long arc. Between the two episodes we were given a glimpse of almost everyone whose fate was uncertain after the war, to make sure they survived okay. Klimpt was just about the only one we didn’t see, but since he stayed safe in his lab/the Drawers, there’s no reason to believe he got hurt. I lost track of Astrid, too. Hopefully she’s okay.
This episode did a great job of showing the chaotic, sometimes mundane, aftermath of revolution, when a new normal has to be found but no one is quite sure how yet. It’s realistic for new tyrants and crime lords to attempt to take charge during the temporary power vacuum. Sometimes they succeed and democracy fails to become established, despite the best intentions of the initial revolutionaries. Sometimes it takes several successive revolutions before democracy can firmly take hold. The small country of Snowpiercer is just getting started.
I’m hoping that in the future, the train(s) will occasionally stop and send scavenging parties out, now that we’ve seen that it/they can stop and that the world isn’t as desolate as we were led to believe. Groups might have to find a bunker to hunker down in while they wait for the train to return after a revolution. Somebody should work on hacking into surviving databases.
Melanie likes control and thinking of the train as a fortress, but Ben and Layton are right to want more outside contact. It can be dangerous, but it can also bring them supplies and relief from monotony they desperately need, in addition to more news about how the world continues to change as time goes on.
Very excited for season 2. Season 1 just got better and better as it went on. But one thing I definitely don’t want in S2 is another war. I’d like Wilford to live up to his reputation as a trickster and be smarter than that. I’d also like for Wilford the character to become part of the ensemble rather than taking over the show.
I’ll leave you with the season 2 trailers.
Images courtesy of TNT.