Snowpiercer is back for season 2, with a bang, a few crashes, some frostbite and a bottle of Mr Wilford’s favorite Scotch. With the addition of supply train Big Alice to the Tail at the end of season 1, Snowpiercer is now 1034 cars long. The class wars continue, with a new twist- Mr Wilford has brought a class of elite tech geniuses with him who use scientific innovations to raise their possibilities above even the 1st class of Snowpiercer.
The crisis forces Snowpiercer to continue under martial law, but Andre still depends on and delegates to his council of advisors and department heads, so a democratic process is developing on its own, even without formal meetings. Thanks to Melanie’s tolerance of Snowpiercer’s trainwide black market and the Tailies’ development of independent governance, the train has always been more democratic than it appeared at first glance, especially economically, which means it already has a foundation to build from.
Snowpiercer’s population puts those skills to use now as they approach the need to become a unified population while facing a common enemy, in addition to coping with post war resource shortages and infrastructure damage. But will their numbers and sheer determination be enough to outwit Mr Wilford’s ambition and improved technology?
The season picks up moments after season 1 ended, with Melanie (Jennifer Connelly) outside the two trains and her long lost daughter, Alex (Rowan Blanchard), confronting Snowpiercer’s leaders in the Tail. But first, the customary animated bookend: frozen and abandoned, Chicago looms in the distance while Snowpiercer and Big Alice are at a standstill on the tracks. As he did in the season 1 opener, Layton (Daveed Diggs) has the voiceover:
“On the eve of our 19th revolution, the great Mr Wilford came out of the cold. It was the time of two Engines, the Tail no longer the Tail, but a Borderland. A time of great gamesmanship and great trainsmanship. Of revolutions interrupted and fresh track on new terrain. Hope was our only seedling, in a war of Big Alice, 40 cars long vs Snowpiercer, 994 cars strong.”
Melanie is on the ground, where she fell when the trains stopped. She’s recovered from the fall and tries to raise Javi (Roberto Urbina) and Ben (Iddo Goldberg) on the radio. When they fail to answer, she tells the dead air that she’s switching to backup radio and heading for The Connector. Then she runs. It’s cold out there and the time before she gets hypothermia is running out.
Over in the Tail, Alex threatens to leave Snowpiercer to die if Mr Wilford’s demands aren’t met. Layton promises that his people will “Never give up and never surrender!”
Sorry, wrong iconic leader and show. If only Snowpiercer had an Omega 13. I’m a little worried that Big Alice might have one- that’s just the kind of thing a guy like Sean Bean, in whatever guise he’s wearing this week, comes up with.
Layton actually says, “Tell Mr Wilford the people of Snowpiercer will never surrender.”
Alex proves she’s her mother’s daughter by coolly asking who Layton is. He says he’s the current owner of this train, lady, and he’ll be suing for damages on the back door she kicked in. Ruth (Alison Wright) breaks it up before Layton and Alex can get into what would surely be an awesome an insult match and reminds both that we’re all peaceful, mature adults who want to live and get the temperature back above freezing sometime today, right, Alex? Melanie would want them to work together, so just what are Mr Wilford’s demands?
Turns out Wilford (Sean Bean) hasn’t been to the grocery store lately. He mostly wants fresh foods, plus a classic novel, some morphine and a bottle of his favorite old world scotch. When you’re Wilford, you can be certain someone has set something aside for you, even though you’ve been dead for seven years. Best illustration of wealthy male privilege I’ve seen since January 6, 2021.
Alex announces that the people of Snowpiercer have 12 minutes to complete this challenge. After that, the train will be too cold to start up again. The train’s hardwired communication lines and the subtrain are down, so they’ll need to send runners all the way up train to get the items on the list, which include a 6 pack of Railman’s Ale, a copy of the classic novel Rebecca, 1 bunch carrots, one cucumber, 6 eggs and a live hen.
Ben makes it back to the engine after sending Mel outside alone and asks if Javi is in communication with her. Javi gives him the broader picture- he can’t communicate with the rest of the train at all, because Wilford has complete control. Ben switches to backup radio, certain that Mel will be thinking the same thing.
As we already know, that’s the first thing she did. This is the benefit of having a well-trained, expert crew who’ve worked together for a long time. They begin to think like one person, which just can’t be replaced in a crisis. Javi is good, but he’s not at the level of Mel and Ben yet.
Ben tells Melanie that it’s -118 degrees, so she needs to get back inside. She’s made it to The Connector, but agrees with Ben that she can’t disconnect the trains. Snowpiercer ran down her batteries trying to outrun Big Alice, so there’s not enough juice left to start the train.
Melanie admits that Ben was right. She fell for Wilford’s ploy and shouldn’t have tried to outrun him. Ben and Javi are thrilled to hear her straight out admit she was wrong.
Melanie has a new plan. She’s going to sever the uplink connection, restoring Snowpiercer’s control of the helm and life support systems. She has a sticky charge she can use to blow the link.
But then she has another thought.
Ben and Javi grow concerned that she’s reaching hypothermia. Melanie doesn’t answer when they ask about her suit temperature. She takes out an ax and chops at the physical uplink.
Melanie is the most macho person on either train and both trains better not ever forget it.
It’s about -10 degrees in the Tail and dropping. Everyone takes precautions to protect their exposed skin. Little Winnie (Emma Oliver), train baby, tells Lights (Miranda Edwards) that, “Something’s happening.” Lights tries to reassure her that this is what it feels like when the train stops, which Winnie hasn’t ever experienced before. But what Winnie hears is Melanie’s chopping.
Runners collect almost everything on the list, including a crate of 1st class china, but there’s no morphine available. They ran out yesterday while treating the 170 wounded from the civil war. Ruth is VERY CONCERNED that Mr Wilford is the one who’s in pain and those greedy soldiers have stolen his morphine. 😢
Audrey (Lena Hall) keeps a bottle of Wilford’s scotch in a safe under the bar. She’s stops Andre and tells him, “This is just the beginning, Andre. He’s going to take everything we just fought for.” He has to run, but promises to have that conversation later.
Melanie and Ben continue to think as one person- Ben has the sane part of the brain, as always, and urges her to come back inside before she freezes to death. Melanie has the side of the brain that doesn’t believe in putting limits on a good cause. She continues working until she severs the link, even though she has the beginnings of frostbite and is on the edge of losing consciousness.
Oh, but wait- she’s not quite done yet. She’s crawls back under the train a little further, to place the sticky charge (bomb) directly on the connection between the two trains. Ben does his usual slow panic with a side of trying to talk sense into his adrenaline junkie.
The Snowpiercer crew gather the items on the list at the back end of the Tail. A giant man, who we’ll learn later is called Icy Bob (Andre Tricoteux), escorts Alex back in. Icy Bob has scars criss crossing his head that look like his entire face and scalp are made up of skin grafts.
Very Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. Maybe Tina Turner will be on the next train we meet in the snowpocalypse.
Alex accepts their offerings, including the substitution of homemade aspirin for morphine, thanks them for their cooperation, and leaves. Her large minions close the door behind her. The train starts moving.
Melanie is still under the train. She finishes planting her bomb, then scoots out between the wheels before the train speeds up too much.
I wrote that calmly, but I was screaming at the TV as it happened. We’re only a few minutes in and the suspense is killing me.
She lays on the ground recovering for a minute, while Ben frantically tells her to get on the moving train before it speeds up. A few snowflakes fall on her face mask. She whispers to Ben that “It’s snowing.” He tells her that “It’s too cold to snow anymore.” Afraid that she’s reached the hallucination stage, he yells at her even louder to get on the train.
Now that Ben has given her something to prove, Melanie snaps back into action. She pulls out a sample vial and fills it with snow. Then she does her best hobo and hops onto the end of Big Alice.
She jumped onto an actual entrance, so she gets an official Big Alice welcome. An outer door closes behind her and a voice on intercom tells her to strip for disinfection. As she takes off her clothes, her skin on her left shoulder peels away where her suit punctured and the cold air got in. That shoulder has frostbite. As soon as she’s naked, a decon shower starts- water mixed with some kind of disinfectant?
When she’s done, she’s given plain coveralls to wear. A Brakeman named Sykes (Chelsea Harris) and a Hospitality worker, Kevin (Tom Lipinski), meet her at the door. Kevin tases her “for leaving us to die.” Then she heads upstairs to Wilford’s suite.
Layton asks if anyone is still living in the Tail. It turns out that about half of the Tailies are still there. Some of the residents didn’t want to leave, as long as they have adequate living conditions. Layton explains that technically, it’s no longer the Tail. It’s now a borderland, with a border that needs to be protected and controlled at all times. Pike (Steven Ogg) notes that the place they’ve been trying to escape for seven years is finally worth something.
The Tail is now the suburbs. Or possibly the No Man’s Land.
Layton works his way toward the front of the train. As he goes, he agrees with Roche (Mike O’Malley) that they should build additional barricades/checkpoints in case the Tail is breached. Ruth tells Layton he shouldn’t assume they’re at war. Plus, rumors are starting to spread. Snowpiercer needs to hear from him. Till (Mickey Sumner) says the hardlines are back up, so he has her call a council meeting in the Night Car immediately.
Wilford’s car is dark when Melanie enters, so that he can bring up the lights slowly in lieu of making a grand entrance. After he gives his pit bull a chance to eat her, obviously. But the dog, Jupiter, remembers Melanie and greets her fondly.
However, Melanie is impressed by the dimmer switches. Supporting the largest possible population on Snowpiercer meant doing away with a certain number of luxuries, even in 1st class. That tells you something about the philosophy on Big Alice. Then again, Wilford just asked for fresh eggs, carrots and a cucumber, three of the easiest, most space efficient foods to produce. So that also tells us something about the state of the food supply and priorities on Wilford’s smaller train.
Wilford commences bragging immediately, but if things were really that great, would he even need Snowpiercer? Then again, a man like him needs to show off for the largest possible audience, or he doesn’t feel real.
They each try to get the other to talk. Melanie reveals very little- basically that she’s still the main engineer and knows the train and its route very, very well. I doubt any of that is new, useful information. Wilford guesses that Ben is her second-in-command and the engineer who is running the train while she’s on Big Alice. He says flattering things about the other man. He really wants to know if Ben’s the one currently driving Snowpiercer, which makes me wonder again if Ben is his mole on Snowpiercer. Or maybe Wilford is jealous because Ben was his rival for Mel’s affections.
They talk as if it’s only been a revolution or two, instead of 7 years and 19 revolutions since Snowpiercer left. Melanie guesses that Wilford took a shortcut across the Rocky Mountain test track to catch up. He starts making threats to disconnect the two trains, impressing upon her how bad that would be for Snowpiercer. Melanie doesn’t argue.
She tells him that actually, his ghost ran Snowpiercer until not long ago, but recently they had a war and democracy won out over his tyranny. The new leader is a Tailie. She doesn’t explain what that is.
Instead, she tells him that she’s done talking. And there’s nothing he can do to hurt her anymore. Not really.
She thinks that because she thinks Alex is dead.
Alex walks in the door.
Melanie takes a step toward her. Jupiter stops being friendly.
Melanie stands there with her mouth hanging open, practically speechless. Alex isn’t impressed with her mother. Wilford says that life’s big moments are often underwhelming. Melanie tells Alex not to believe Wilford’s lies. She didn’t leave her behind. She sent people to get her and her grandparents, but they never came back.
Wilford adds that stealing the future from him, in the form of Snowpiercer, was more important than saving Alex.
No ego in that statement. 😜
Gonna guess, given that grocery list and the state of Icy Bob’s head, that Real Mr Wilford has made a few difficult decisions of his own over the last 7 years. Only I’m willing to bet that he didn’t lose sleep over any of them, whereas Mel has practically eaten herself alive.
Alex moves on to giving her report about the state of Snowpiercer. She didn’t see any jackboots and the society is in a shambles. Wilford is excited to see the food and to find out that Agsec is still in good working order. When he hears that there’s no morphine, he surmises that the war was painful. Alex tells him that Layton is in charge, along with Lead Brakeman Roche and “the blonde from hospitality”. He doesn’t note Ruth’s name, but he does mention Audrey’s name with grattitude when he sees the scotch. When Kevin comes in, Alex tells him to take Melanie to the brig.
That almost sounded like Wilford knew about the war already and chose this chaotic moment to attack.
At the meeting in the Nightcar, Ben reports that Melanie gave them back full engineering control, but Big Alice is like an anchor that controls their speed. The supply train is meant for a crew of about 60 but can hold up to 200. Ben reminds them that there’s no way to know how Wilford had Big Alice retrofitted over the last 7 years and Melanie, Snowpiercer’s chief engineer, is their prisoner.
Ruth, Till and many of the passengers are exhausted, tired of war and don’t want to attack. Ruth suggests a cooling off period.
Miss Audrey: “Mr Wilford doesn’t just want control of his train. He wants control of all of you, body and soul.”
Many in the crowd agree that Wilford can’t be trusted. Layton assures them that Snowpiercer is still in charge, not the parasite that’s latched onto her tail. As the crowd disperses, Layton tells the council that they won’t start official negotiations with Alice until Melanie is returned. Roche tells the group that their priority is to keep Snowpiercer calm, fed and united.
Layton confers with Till and Roche on quickly and quietly sending a strike team to Big Alice without Ruth’s knowledge. Till is against it, since they don’t know what they’ll find on the other side of the door or what Wilford might do to Melanie in retaliation. Layton argues that Melanie is the reason they need to act quickly. Right now, Wilford holds all the cards. They need to strike first and change that dynamic.
Z-Wreck (Kwasi Thomas) and Strong Boy (Kurt Ostlund) corner Zarah (Sheila Vand) up on the balcony, harassing her because she turned Josie in to Melanie last season. Ruth notices and tips off Layton. He runs up stairs to rescue Zarah. They explain that Zarah gave up Josie because she’s pregnant and needed to protect their unborn child.
The two Tailies don’t care about protecting children, but Ruth is transformed when she hears the news. All of her warrior goddess energy is now dedicated to protecting that baby. She sends Z-Wreck and Strong Boy packing. They complain as they go that Layton has now become part of the oppressive elite and accuse him of favoritism, as if they didn’t survive most of the war in the drawers where they’d been placed because he saved them from execution after their failed Tailie uprising. They had no problem with his favoritism when he was still technically a Tailie.
Why don’t they find some former oppressor Firstie to harass? Maybe because he’d have an armed bodyguard and wouldn’t be such an easy target, even though he’d be much more guilty of harming them than Zarah, who was coerced and had already lost one of her lovers to the train’s conspiracies.
Ruth takes charge of the situation. She tells them, “A pregnancy on Snowpiercer. It’s hope… Oh my goodness. This changes everything.” She promises to find Zarah somewhere safe to live uptrain, since she’s clearly becoming a target of the downtrain riffraff.
Ruth has a new cause- a First Lady to manage and create a public image for, a nursery to decorate. Can you imagine how a well-crafted PR program could use this pregnancy to bring the entire train together? A New Baby and A New Beginning, on Snowpiercer.
Layton will hate it. Zarah will go along with it because it keeps her alive. Snowpiercer brings out the opportunism in almost everyone.
And now, Ruth reminds Layton, he needs to address the train as a whole. When they get to the Hospitality suite, she tells him that she’s on the side of Snowpiercer and the passengers, just like him. Then she once again proves her perceptiveness and value as an advisor: “Speak your truth. That’s how they seem to trust you.”
I know Melanie appreciated Ruth and tried to show her that, but she controlled the train with such an iron fist that no one else had a chance to shine. Layton knows how to delegate, so we’re seeing other characters rise to the occasion and it’s glorious.
Layton’s speech: Citzens of Snowpiercer- It took us 7 long years to cast off Wilford’s class system, and now the man is back and latched onto the Tail. We know he’s willing to stop us cold but Brakemen and the Rebel Army have control of the new border. Ruth Wardell and Hospitality will lead diplomatic initiatives. Snowpiercer will use all means necessary to defend the liberties we’ve won. but, with everything we have sacrificed, it is my great regret and my reluctant duty to put our democratic experiment on hold and to extend martial law until further notice.”
The train is not happy about the extension of martial law. Jakes is upset that they aren’t writing their constitution. Till steps in to calm him down. Ben understands that Layton doesn’t have a choice.
Alex visits Melanie in the brig and asks what it’s like outside. Melanie says it’s cold and horrifying, because everything is dead. Alex says that nematodes will survive the cold.
The new world order will evolve from extremely cold hardy nematodes. Even in our world, “Four out of every five animals on Earth is a nematode.” Nematodes are roundworms, which vary in size from microscopic to 30 feet long.
Alex asks if Melanie is frostbit. Melanie says she is, a little. Alex doesn’t do anything to help her. Instead, she continues the conversation, saying she remembers less about the old world all the time, but the train is their world now. They can control this environment.
Melanie asks what happened to her parents. Alex explains that her grandparents decided they’d rather die at home, so they refused to leave with the men Melanie sent for them. They told Alex to go, but she didn’t want to leave without them. Melanie tells Alex that she sent her to her grandparents to keep her from Wilford. Alex replies that Wilford saved her after Melanie abandoned her. Melanie says that’s not why he saved her.
This sounds like Wilford could be Alex’s biological father, but maybe Alex still doesn’t know it. It’s written so that it can also be interpreted as Melanie saying Wilford took Alex hostage so he could use her to manipulate Melanie, which is definitely true.
Alex pulls out the vial of melted snow from Melanie’s suit and asks about it. Mel says she was feeling sentimental because she hadn’t been outside in so long. Alex can tell she’s lying again and walks out, even angrier than before.
This time Mel’s lie is understandable. Alex is Wilford’s spy. Mel has to be careful about the scientific and political information she shares. A warming Earth is vital information. Or Wilford could be experimenting with cloud seeding, the tech that created the frozen Earth, in which case Mel shouldn’t let him know what she knows.
Ruth shows Andre and Zarah to an empty 1st class residential car she’s reassigned to them. Andre is against living in such luxurious accommodations, but Zarah wants to do whatever’s best for the baby. Ruth says that “Pregnancy comes with privilege on Snowpiercer.”
She also reminds Layton that he’s president now and will need an administrative base of operations. He can use the entire downstairs of the car to run his government, instead of camping out in the dining car. And there are separate bedrooms upstairs. The couple who used to live there were in their 80s and took cyanide the morning the Tailies began the revolution, so this works out great for everyone by bringing a little happiness back to the former 1st Class. Ruth leaves them with their new security chips.
Maybe LJ and Oz can move in as their nanny and bodyguard, too. 😘
Someone carved an ominous message into the wall of Melanie’s cell: “If you blow the math, you’ll take a bath. -Randy”
And a couple more:
“40 days, 40 nights, 40 cars”
“work, honor, horror”
The 40,40,40 equates Alice with an ark, just as Mel equates Snowpiercer with an ark. That would suggest Randy’s bath means getting tossed out of the train for making mistakes, something even Mel didn’t do.
Wonder if Randy’s still alive to explain what he meant.
Sykes the security guard puts a bag on Mel’s head and brings her to the infirmary, or maybe it’s the human experimentation ward. It’s staffed by a pair of cagey mad scientists, the Drs Headwood (Sakina Jaffrey and Damian Young), who are both thrilled to see Melanie and immediately suspicious of her. They put “goop” on her frostbit shoulder, explaining that their synthetic tissue gel is soothing to the touch and heals so well it doesn’t even leave a scar.
Strange, then, that we just saw a guy whose head is covered with scars. Guess Icy Bob’s healthcare plan doesn’t cover goop.
They also have her breathe in a healing gas, since they heard she got a nip of cold air in her lungs. They explain that they’ve made several breakthroughs while treating the crew. Their retrofitted lab has cages of experimental animals.
I get the sense that the breakthroughs made in the lab aren’t for the benefit of the crew. The crew are research subjects and the doctors are creating products that Wilford expects to eventually sell. But who does he expect will be his market? The wealthy class of Snowpiercer? Is Wilford still stuck in a different age, trying to extend and expand his dominance through wealth and technology, when the population conditions required to support those systems no longer exist?
The Rebel Army is strengthening the border defenses when there’s a knock on the back door. Pike answers. The other side wants to trade fresh food for marijuana. Pike was born to make this deal. He gathers up an apple, an orange and a potato from people nearby and trades them for a QP of Amazing Alice, which has to be one of the best deals in history. Pike promises everyone a cut of the take, but tells them to keep their mouths shut for now and shuffles off with his stash.
LJ (Annalise Basso) and Oz (Sam Otto) pay a visit to the Tail so that she can check out the place like a tourist, which many people are doing in all sections of the train that are newly open to them, not just LJ. But obviously when a teenage girl does anything, it’s evil and selfish. While there, The Last Australian (Aaron Glenane) harasses them, so LJ taunts him that Mr Wilford is coming.
Women are still getting judged more harshly than men on this train and by the writers. They just went through a war in which they all brutally killed each other, especially Layton. Till is still proudly wearing her bloody shirt. What Zarah and LJ may or may not have been coerced into doing before that pales in comparison. And Josie chose to take brave but outrageous risks. Then, in the interrogation room with Mel, she made more choices. Zarah didn’t kill her.
Sykes brings Melanie back to Wilford’s car, where he’s soaking in the tub. The table is set for two with Snowpiercer’s fine china. Dinner awaits. Melanie peeks at the entree.
After staring at it for a long time, I’ve decided that it’s probably pit bull head and neck. It’s likely Wilford’s dog, Jupiter, a warning that he doesn’t care about anyone enough to keep them around if they are the slightest bit disloyal. Jupiter didn’t defend Wilford against Melanie at first sight, then she did defend Alex. When that happened, she wasn’t his dog anymore, so she became worthless to him.
Layton is ready for his attack on Big Alice, but isn’t sure when the other train will open the back door so they can storm the barricades. As he’s discussing the situation with Roche, they smell Pike smoking weed. Layton realizes he can use the Big Alice guards’ desire to trade. He rounds up a mango and knocks on the door. Meanwhile, a grizzled, one-eyed Tailie veteran (Barry Nerling) tells Till that she’s not combat hardened enough and needs to get her head in the game.
Pike knocks on the door and offers the Big Alice crew the mango. Kevin agrees, but says Wilfred had better not ever find out. They open the door. Pike shoves a spear through the opening and into the chest of the guy who opens the door. Then Snowpiercer’s crew finishes opening the door, spearing several more Big Alice crew members and taking Kevin hostage. They take the first car, forming a human wall with their shields and shooting crossbows at the Big Alice crew, in a show of force.
At the other end of the train, Sykes serves Wilford and Melanie, then tastes Wilford’s food to make sure it’s not poisoned. She nods that it’s edible and moves aside. Wilford reminds Melanie that he kidnapped a brewpub owner so they could have decent ale on Snowpiercer. She says she’s not revealing who their brewer is.
But let’s go back to Sykes as food taster- she would only need to do that if there’d already been an attempt on Wilford’s life. Guess things aren’t any happier on Big Alice than they were on Snowpiercer. And Wilford is king, able to order or coerce his crew to risk their lives for him at every meal. What could he pay Sykes to make it worth the risk?
Sykes answers the call from the engine letting them know the door to Snowpiercer has been breached. Wilford tells her to send in Bob. She asks which Bob, Icy or Oiler? Because even on a train with 40 people, there will still be multiple Bobs.
Icy Bob it is. The big, scarred guy who came to Snowpiercer earlier with Alex shows up and opens up wall vents, letting in the outdoor air. Everyone runs for the warmth of Snowpiercer before they develop frostbite or are frozen to death. Icy Bob is unaffected by the deadly cold. He clears Big Alice in about a minute and closes the door behind them.
Ruth is waiting to confront Layton. He explains his reasoning, which she accepts when she sees that the hostage is Kevin. It’s sort of flattering to have your counterpart be considered important enough to be taken as the sole hostage, yeah?
But listen to the chilling words Kevin says to Ruth: “This is a big mistake. Wilford doesn’t care if you die. If Agsec dies. He can restart everything.”
Why does he need Snowpiercer so badly then? What have the scientists been up to on Big Alice?
Wilford is also melting down. Sykes informs him that the hostage is Kevin, which of course doesn’t matter to him. He thinks they took Kevin as leverage to use in an exchange for Mel. I suspect they took him for intel and will figure out what he’s missed most on Big Alice, then ply him with that until he can’t stop talking. Ale? Sushi? Chocolate cake?
Mel also has an excited look on her face. She understands Layton’s thinking. She tells Wilford that Snowpiercer’s crew is new at this. Wilford slams his fist on the table and screams that she stole his train and used his name.
Wilford: “I built the world. It’s the only one left and it’s mine. I run it! You, you were fixing tractors on Daddy’s farm. I lifted you out of pig sh-t at 17. I shared everything. I gave you everything. The solution.”
Melanie: “There’s no solution, until we can go back out there!”
Wilford: “This is the world! A rolling steel artery on a dead marble. Come on. You come with me.”
He drags Melanie into the very front of the engine, where Alex is at the helm. He’s just unwittingly given her the best gift he ever could have given her. It might be the biggest mistake of his life. Not only is Alex alive, she’s someone Melanie can be proud of. She’s someone Melanie can live and fight until the true end of the world for. Melanie has been taking all of these big risks, in part, because she didn’t have much left to live for. Now, she’ll burn down half the world to save the other half for Alex, even if Alex hates her.
Melanie: “You’re an engineer.”
Wilford orders his engineer to bring the trains to a full stop, then reverse. On Snowpiercer, Javi and Ben realize that he’s preparing to disconnect the trains.
Wilford: “I’m taking her back, Mel. If you can’t get this Layton to surrender my train, Alex will disconnect and we’ll take a short spin in reverse. When we return, they’ll all be dead, and your job for the next several years will be to compost every last one of them.”
The people of Snowpiercer, led by Pike, pound on the door to Big Alice, begging them to start up again.
Wilford orders Alex to disconnect from Snowpiercer and slowly back Big Alice away. Alex is slow to respond. Mel takes advantage, telling her daughter that if she follows Wilford’s orders, thousands of people and a whole world will die. She says Alex won’t want that on her conscience.
Alex hears her mother out, but then pushes the buttons to disconnect the trains anyway.
Except, remember the sticky charge from the beginning of the episode? When those connectors move into place, it explodes. Apparently Wilford overbuilt the connectors such that Melanie knew she could fuse them together with the bomb. Now the two trains are one train, forever.
Melanie explains that she pointed out when they were building the train that if something went wrong, Wilford would never be able to manually disconnect the grappling arms. Alex is finally impressed with her mom. Both Alex and Melanie tell Wilford that they have to get moving or they’ll all freeze to death soon. Wilford is still frozen with anger and disbelief. It’s simply not possible that a pig farmer’s daughter has outsmarted him again.
When he doesn’t respond, Alex moves to restart the engine anyway. Wilford tells her to wait for his order. After a moment, he signals for her to start moving and she restarts the engine. He leaves to contemplate his losses and, undoubtedly, his revenge,
Over on Snowpiercer, Kevin is ridiculously grateful that Wilford didn’t spitefully murder the thousands of people, plants and animals on the train. He speaks about Wilford as if he is a God. The Snowpiercer crew realize how far they’ve come in their attitudes about Wilford and how much power it seems that Wilford now has over them. Layton says, “It’s gonna be a long, cold war.”
Wilford just tried to kill almost everyone left alive in the world because they wouldn’t immediately bow to his authority. That shouldn’t be forgotten or forgiven.
He really, realy thinks that he should be in complete control of the entire world. It makes you wonder how intentional the original accident was. Is he still periodically reseeding the sky to keep it cold? There are some strong hints that he’s engaged in genetic engineering and eugenics to create humans who fit his particular specifications. It seems certain that he got rid of anyone on Big Alice who he decided was a useless eater, unable to do the type and amount of work that Wilfred found necessary. No indolent children or Tailies on that train.
Wilford doesn’t seem to be quite the playboy idiot Melanie made him out to be, but she’s also clearly way smarter than him. He likes hard working, genius scientists who will let him take credit for their work and not complain, ever.
Alison Wright/ Ruth Wardell is the MVP of this episode. Sure, Wilford makes his entrance, but for now, he’s largely the billionaire blowhard we expected. Meanwhile, Ruth is pulling off a diplomatic coup over on Snowpiercer, running circles around everyone else. I can’t wait to see her and Zarah team up.
Miss Audrey comes along with Zarah- those three as a team could be unstoppable. I have the sense that Melanie might have played Ruth and Audrey off of each other so that they wouldn’t team up against her. They can all cooperate now. Jinju ought to fit in here somewhere, too, though she was MIA this episode.
I had forgotten how much I ship everyone with everyone else on this show. Has there ever been another cast with so much combined chemistry and charisma? And now we add Sean Bean to the mix. Obviously we’re all wondering if he’s Alex’s father and how he’ll react to Ruth the first time he sees her.
Miss Audrey certainly acted like an old flame with that bottle of scotch and Mr Wilford sounded awfully interested in Ben. Did he sleep with ALL of his interns, from every department, then hire them and send them large Christmas bonuses every year to keep them on the string? Look at the way Ruth is still waiting for him to notice her again, when it seemed like he didn’t even remember her name.
It might be a good thing that Nolan Grey didn’t live to experience Ruth’s divided loyalties. Then again, people will resort to dueling on this train eventually, I can just feel it, and who better to inspire the first duel than Ruth? (Not dueling with pistols, obvs. Maybe cockroach races. Pike is so going to open a casino adjacent to the Nightcar.)
Not that Ruth will actually want Wilford for long. She’s been lied to by everyone but Layton and is beginning to see that. She prizes the basic values of family and stability he and Zarah represent with the baby on the way. Plus he’s showing her more respect as a person than anyone else has with the way he listens to her opinions and takes them to heart. With Layton in charge, Hospitality matters and so does Ruth, as chief diplomat and protocol expert. The department is no longer just a front for Melanie as dictator. Ruth will be a Layton convert within a few episodes.
But I need to see Ruth interrogate Kevin, with the full force of her enthusiasm and all of the techniques available to her.
Faces I recognized in the Nightcar circle when Layton made decisions/possible governing council members: Layton, Ruth, Roche, Till, Miss Audrey, Ben, Rajiv Sharma from 1st Class, 3rd Class Tunnelman Jakes Carter.
After he warns Till that she’s not tough enough for this fight, one-eyed Tailie veteran loses his other eye. His dead body falls on top of her. Not sure this will help.
Thanks to use of the suspension drug/kronole, Strong Boy still speaks Chinese but understands English. Snowpiercer (the train) has the suspension drug that is an addictive, super strong painkiller, puts you in long term suspended animation and gives you weird dreams and talents, but you wake up half dead. Last season, Melanie, Jinju and Klimpt were doing human experiments to overcome the issues with waking up long term sleepers, but were at an impasse.
Big Alice doesn’t seem to have painkillers- they needed morphine, but took aspirin- but they have the goop, which is soothing to the tissue as it quickly regenerates. It works so well there’s not even a scar left behind. But we also saw Icy Bob, who’s covered in skin grafts and scars, but doesn’t seem to feel pain. Have they taken their suspension drug research in a different direction? Did they find a way for it to heal skin and even act as a growing medium for clones, from cells to potentially organs or entire organisms? Was Bob an early experiment and they’re unable to make him look any better?
Are the suspension drug and goop combined the answer to putting passengers in suspended animation while they wait out the long winter? But who would trust the trains’ politics to stay stable while they slept?
I’m not sure Layton needed to attack Big Alice. Things don’t seem all that great over there, as Melanie and Audrey would predict. I suspect all they needed to do was slowly lure the Big Alice crew to defect using promises of material goods and democracy.
Hopefully their chance of luring the Big Alice crew to switch sides haven’t been ruined by the attack. The other crew was angry about being left behind, but they could forgive that, since Mel is the main culprit. If they can see this as an attack on Wilford and move on, they can quickly escape Wilford’s oppressive regime. Which means the show will go in the other direction- Wilford will likely be able to use it to convince the crew that Snowpiercer’s gone feral, with cannibalistic Tailies who need to be put down after overthrowing the rightful government.
Images courtesy of TNT.