Season 2 episode 3 is another tense episode of Snowpiercer, as the characters prepare for Melanie’s solo trip to the research station. Wilford does everything he can to jeopardize her mission, short of outright sabotage, and seems like he might be holding that
Icy Bob card in reserve for later. Till continues to investigate Lights’ case while also keeping an eye on the overall mood of the train. When Josie and Layton talk, she shows her usual pragmatism.
During the episode, Snowpiercer leaves the worldwide loop of track she’s followed for the last 7 years. She gives up comfort and familiarity in order to pursue an even larger goal than season 1’s war for democracy- the recolonization of the Earth. But Wilford hopes the chance for a new homeland will give him an opportunity to get rid of his perceived enemies so he can take back complete control of both trains. His dream is to spend the apocalypse toying with the trains like a cat with a mouse until everyone is dead.
Wilford gets the opening voice over this week, starting from his tricked out suite in the engine then moving throughout the train as he goes about his morning. Prepare to brace:
“We all know how this ends, don’t we? Everybody dies. That shouldn’t be a surprise. So what’s an old, white man to do with a lifetime of knowledge, doomed to erasure, except wield it like a sword? Great men say balls to death. My crew respect that… [Begins morning announcements to Big Alice.] Good morning, dear family. Rise and shine. We are 2,468 days from departure, and 3 days since reconnection. For a special comrade, I have chosen Camille Saint-Saens’ “Royal March of the Lions”. We are lions, here to reclaim our Engine Eternal from a gibbering pack of hyenas. Our pride stalks, waits, each of you playing your part in a great odyssey. Some pay a higher cost than others, and none among us have paid more than Icy Bob. We should all make sacrifices like our Bob, honing our purpose to the ready. Let our Coldman unite us, the point of our spear, for the day we retake what’s mine… [End morning announcements.] Apocalypse isn’t so bad, really. If you can just muddle through, show a little ingenuity, people line up for tickets to the only show in town– aboard Snowpiercer. My train. All 1,034 cars long.”
Let’s Unpack This Mess
2,468 days equals about 6 years and 9 months, which would mean Alice left before Snowpiercer. I don’t think we currently know exactly how long it’s been since Snowpiercer departed, but in the pilot, it had been 6 years, 9 months and 26 days from departure. Zarah’s pregnancy isn’t showing yet, so since the start of the show it’s been somewhere between 2 weeks, allowing for a day per episode, and 4 months, allowing for minor time jump squishiness. (That’s a technical recapper term. 😉) Wilford messes with his crew in a variety of ways, and screwing around with their sense of time is one of them.
Wilford’s morning routine is as chilling as his speech- make the coffee, feed the dog human body parts, smoke a joint, escort Icy Bob to the Headwoods for tortuous medical experiments and laugh while watching his skin grafts freeze off in a cryo chamber.
The rest of the crew are shown going through their morning routine as well. Alex tells us later that everyone but Wilford, even her, has the same kind of small, stacked bunk covered only by a curtain, with an aisle down the center of the car. They eat in a mess hall style dining car. The crew has very limited personal space or belongings and zero privacy, while Wilford maintains a relatively wealthy lifestyle.
In contrast, Melanie’s cabin on Snowpiercer is smaller than Jinju’s 2nd class cabin and even the Thirdies in the Chains had more personal space than Big Alice’s crew. The only people on Snowpiercer who had no privacy or personal space beyond their shelf were the Tailies, who were stowaways. A major difference between the trains is that there is so much variation in types of living quarters on Snowpiercer, whereas everyone lives the same way on Alice. On Snowpiercer, the variations are due to a combination of the class system and the encouragement of individualization. Even while Melanie was in charge, if a group or individual wanted to claim an unused space and make it their own, they did and still do, faction rivalries notwithstanding.
On Alice, Wilford acts as a pseudo-communist dictator who imposes working class standards on everyone but himself. He says himself that people who are hungry/slash uncomfortable work harder and he makes it clear that he is the owner/king- everyone works for and is, in effect, owned by him. This is illustrated in the morning announcements by the celebration of Icy Bob’s utter devotion to Wilford and his goals. Icy Bob has given up his identity and his skin, possibly more, becoming Wilford’s Frankenstein monster to be used on demand, then painfully remade and improved, like any other piece of technology.
That is the distinction between Melanie and Wilford- Melanie controlled the train because someone had to do it and she inherited a patriarchal system. The people of Snowpiercer don’t know how to live any other way and a continuous crisis didn’t allow her to guide them in a new direction. But other than the Tailies, Melanie never asked anyone to make more sacrifices than she made herself. Unfortunately, as with many women, the amount and quality of the work and sacrifice she did went unseen and unappreciated to this day.
Wilford revels in control and ownership, to the point where he wants to kill everything he can’t control and wants everything else to die with him, like the Egyptian pharaohs who had their entire households buried with them to serve them in the afterlife. He’s the ultimate nihilist. Believe him when he says, “We all know how this ends, don’t we? Everybody dies.” He’s not being philosophical. That’s his plan for Snowpiercer and Big Alice. Melanie told us that when she explained why she took over the train. So did Miss Audrey when she said he wants to own everyone’s soul, not just control their bodies.
He doesn’t just want their lives. He wants to own their deaths and their afterlives, too.
Layton wants to create a Scandinavian style socialist democracy on Snowpiercer, with the equality of Big Alice’s system, minus the evil dictator, combined with some of Snowpiercer’s individual freedoms and creativity, without the drastic inequalities of the class system. Very few people on either side even understand the type of system he wants to build. On Snowpiercer (the train), most can’t see themselves benefitting from it the way they can see themselves succeeding by gaining Wilford’s favor, like Ruth, or getting rich, like Pike and the Janitors.
But Layton also understands how to motivate the hungry and oppressed, like the people of Big Alice, by tapping into bigger dreams, the way he did with the Tailies before the revolution. Unfortunately, now that the Tailies are part of the broader train population and not directly under his influence, they no longer see themselves as a socialist collective with a singular purpose. He’s losing them to the temptations of their individual greed and desires. They want to make money, settle scores, find better housing and all of the other understandable goals human beings make for themselves that get in the way of lofty political purposes.
The crew of Big Alice are this season’s Tailies.
Wilford is wielding a sword, but Layton is wielding word of mouth in the underground Resistance, which you can bet he’ll soon tap into on Alice. The power of language is always stronger in the end- Wilford should just write a book to pass on his knowledge, like normal people.
Back to our regularly scheduled train ride.
We’re introduced to a new character on Big Alice during the voiceover visuals- Emilia, played by Georgina Haig, from Fringe, Once Upon a Time and The Crossing. I’m always happy to see Georgina Haig on my screen. She doesn’t get much to do this episode, but my hunch is she’s the leader of the Big Alice Resistance, also possibly related to or meant to fall in love with The Last Australian, since she’s also from that great land.
Wilford has someone taste any food served to him that’s made by someone else- that means there have been unsolved assassination attempts. And the battle with Snowpiercer didn’t seem like Icy Bob’s first fight. That means there have probably been rebellions on Alice. The surviving Resistance will have learned to blend in and even appear cooperative. Appearing normal while quietly rebelling is Georgina’s sweet spot.
After the opening credits, we find Melanie and Ben waking up in her cabin. He reassures her that she’s doing the right thing by going to the research station, even though it means abandoning Alex again. She needs to do this for Alex and as a leader, for the greater good.
Okay, back to the recap for real.
Alex is at the helm on Big Alice. She updates Wilford that in about an hour they’ll be at the junction where the trains will switch tracks to head west. She’s worried about getting Snowpiercer up over the mountain.
I’m having Lord of the Rings feelings again.
Wilford made breakfast this morning, including soft boiled eggs. Alex warns him that the others smell the fresh food they’re eating and are jealous. That what Wilford wants. He says they all need to stay hungry. Alex presses the spot on her hand where she cut herself with the razor in the last episode, Smolder to Life. Wilford says the scar will remind her how far she’s willing to go.
Alex says it reminds her that Melanie pulled a surprise on them. Wilford is excited by their new circumstances. With Melanie leaving on a suicide mission, they’ll be free to toy with Layton, rather than just slitting his throat so they can deal with Melanie.
Layton, Ruth and the engineers have an engine to engine audio meeting with Wilford and Alex to plan the dangerous trip across the new stretch of track to drop Melanie off for her trip to the research station. This spur is known as the Rocky Mountain Test Track, AKA Neckbreaker. It’s steep path over a mountain involves a sharp, hairpin turn called the Berthoud Curve. The track is in good shape, but Snowpiercer’s size means it can’t go fast enough around the curve to make it up the mountain. Once they’re through the curve, Big Alice will activate their booster to give Snowpiercer enough torque get over. If that doesn’t work, they’ll have to reverse out of the track, then go all the way around the world to come at the station from the other direction, which Melanie will miss her window of opportunity.
I’m not sure why Melanie has a window. Maybe she needs to do this during the summer months, when she’ll have the most light and “warmth”?
Wilford throws out frequent mocking comments and little to nothing of use.
Melanie hands Ruth a list of supplies that she’ll need from Alice and tells Wilford she and Ben want to gather them. Wilford informs them that Ben isn’t allowed on Big Alice. “It’s a Ben-free zone.” Melanie suggests Alex can help her and Wilford agrees. Ben reminds Melanie that they still need parts for Snowpiercer. Layton has an idea for how to increase their negotiating power. Melanie thanks Ruth for her help. Ruth snipes back at her. After Ruth leaves, Melanie advises Layton not to lie to her, because she’s a valuable asset to have on your side.
Out in the corridor, Ruth runs into Roche. She tells him to head for the border. He asks what’s going on.
Ruth: “Engineers and mountains, almost as big as their egos. Where will we land when the snow settles?”
Roche: “Hopefully on a couchette, with my wife and a cold beer.”
Ruth is on fire this episode and the elusive Mrs Anne Roche gets another mention.
Roche finds Till in his office- she slept on the cot, since she moved out of Jinju’s place and hasn’t found another permanent spot. She tells him that she’s too busy with her assault case to even bother with her living quarters. Roche puts his breakfast away and they head out to the border.
Ruth now has a podium and an official Snowpiercer rubber stamp for border crossings. Pike is appalled that his smuggling operation will now be hampered by such officialdom. Ruth is in her glory. Best of all, she has a hotline for communication.
The phone is black though- everyone knows Cold War hotlines are red!
When her phone rings, Ruth tells the riffraff behind her to be on their best behavior for this diplomatic mission. Sykes is the first one through the door. Ruth wonders why it isn’t Kevin, her counterpart on Alice.
He’s part of everyone on Alice now, so he’s there in a a sense. Wilford is revealed sitting on a gilt and velvet throne. 😂 He says Kevin got sick on Snowpiercer, explicitly calling it Layton’s fault.
Set up for potential future hostilities, when he claims Layton “killed” Kevin?
Just to be a jerk, Wilford haggles over Melanie list of supplies. After a minute, Layton brings up the list of replacement parts Snowpiercer needs, separate from Mel’s essential research trip, especially bogie motors. Before Wilford can give him a hard time, Layton reveals that in trade, he’s offering a delivery of fresh foods once a week. He pulls the cover off the potential first delivery. Alice’s crew practically drools over it.
Wilford stops joking: “You seem like a capable leader. Amazing what you’ve learned in such a short time. I’ll consider it.”
Guess nobody told Wilford that Layton was King of the Cannibals and Tailies for several years before he took over the entire train. He knows what hungry people look like and what they want. And what they’re willing to do.
It’s time for Melanie to board Alice to pull her supplies. Ruth offers to escort her, but Wilford says no, she’ll get a turn eventually.
I don’t want Ruth going any closer to Alice than her hotline podium. We know Wilford has a taste for Hospitality meat. Kevin started as an apprentice. 7 years later, Hospitality is an extinct breed on Big Alice.
Wilford escorts Melanie to Alice’s 27 full supply cars, rubbing that number in as they go, as if he’s a dragon with a hoard. He tells Melanie she’s genius for coming up with the warming idea
to derail his own plans. It’s so plausible that even the Headwoods are on board. After thinking about it all night, so is he. Melanie says something about modelling and science and building their first colony.
I get the impression that Melanie is getting everyone off that train whether the Earth is warming or not. She saw enough of what the Headwoods can do to believe they don’t need the trains anymore. Maybe it’s now possible to build a stationary colony they can survive in. There are probably underground facilities, like Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado, that could support them combined with the Headwoods’ technology. Melanie just figures everyone else will need the hope of a warming Earth to believe it’s possible. And they won’t survive Wilford for much longer in a closed, high speed environment. She’s probably had this backup plan in mind for a long time, in case he showed up.
Wilford: “It’s just sad you’re going to freeze to death for data.”
Alex, who’s just entered up on the balcony, laughs. He thinks she’s laughing at her mother. She says Melanie should be able to survive with the supplies on her list.
As a matter of fact, there is a long tradition of scientists dying for data. Especially scientist-explorers, who are pioneers in their field. The way Wilford said that with such disdain tells us that Melanie told the truth about him. He probably went to engineering school, but he paid someone to do his homework and has stolen other people’s work ever since. He’s the ruthless, charismatic frontman who takes credit for other’s ideas and work because he’s certain they should have been his anyway. He’s powerful enough to discredit anyone who tries to reveal the truth about him, even now. And he’s the type that people naturally believe as inventors and innovators, rather than Melanie.
Once the two women are alone, Alex worries about everything that could go wrong on her mother’s journey. She seems to have an impressive understanding of the technology and issues involved. Melanie has already thought through the same potential issues and come up with solutions. She’s been improvising on Snowpiercer for years, so she’s confident in her ability to work things out. She quietly tries to reassure Alex that she has the skills for the journey.
Then it’s Melanie’s turn to ask about Alex’s life. Alex is the youngest crew member on Alice. (
We know from the film that young meat is the best meat.) She’s angry that Melanie is leaving her again. Melanie tries to convince her that this trip is necessary so that Alex has a world to live in outside of the train someday. When Melanie asks more questions about her daughter, they visit Alex’s bunk.
Layton visits Josie, but has to wait for half a dozen tailies to leave them alone first. Mama Grande tells him that Josie doesn’t want Miles to see her like this and that they’ve told her everything.
Glad to hear the show remembers Miles exists.
Layton starts out with an apology, always the right move for the man in a relationship. 😘 Josie isn’t sure what he’s apologizing for exactly, but begins to list potential slights, Zarah’s pregnancy apparently being the one she’s most upset about. I guess he never told her about that time he had sex with Zarah as part of an undercover operation to get him supplies in prison so that he could then attempt to get a map of the train back to the Tail.
It’s never been confirmed that Zarah taped the pen to Andre while they had sex in the Night Car in season 1 episode 2, but I don’t know where and when else he would have been able to accomplish that.
He now lives with Zarah because Ruth insisted it makes the most sense to give him a base of operations and to protect the baby. Plus it gives the train hope and something to focus on. People love a royal baby.
Anyway, Josie points out that she was dead, so she can’t be jealous that he moved on. He replies that she’s not dead anymore.
If I were on Josie’s side, I would note that it took him approximately 24 hours after he slept with Josie to go back to Zarah, but again, the baby and some other complexities provide extenuating circumstances. He hadn’t ever slept with Josie when he got Zarah pregnant and Zarah is still his wife, so I’d have to go with her prior claim, if the two women were going to fight this out.
If we’re giving Layton a say, I think he needs to find out who each woman is in their new, post revolution situation. Zarah has some good reasons to go back to being a loyal and supportive wife and has proven herself so far. To me, Josie always seemed a bit cool toward him (and Miles). She won’t be the same person now that she’s out of
prison the Tail- she could finally feel free to love him or she could feel she doesn’t need her Tailie boyfriend anymore. The same goes for her relationship with Miles.
My prediction is she’ll switch sides completely and side with Wilford against Melanie. She’s always seemed meant to be the archetypal self-serving white woman who only supports a cause when it benefits her. Plus, someone in the Tail was a spy, I’m certain of it. Josie’s a good candidate, now that we know Grey saved her.
Josie says that the mother of Layton’s child isn’t important. The person who ruined her face is.
That’s tough to argue with.
Layton explains that as leader of Snowpiercer, he has to work with Melanie.
Josie: “You sacrificed 35 Tailies to her plan. People that I convinced to fight… And now you’ve given them nothing that we promised. And your leadership is in question.”
Layton says that he wanted to die with the prisoners in that car.
He’s had what, a week or two to mop up the war and give the people what he promised them? It’s a bit unrealistic to criticize him so soon. It’s kind of a miracle that everyone is getting fed at this point. But yes, quite a bit is also falling through the cracks. He needs to set up a council and committees with representation from throughout the train so that he can delegate more. This was something Melanie never allowed, that he has to do. If Josie was a truly supportive mate, she’d be offering to help him with that once she’s better. That’s the way they continue the fight, not by continuing a vendetta against Melanie.
Josie didn’t even ask him to catch her up on the war and the new government from his perspective. She listened to the people who are impatient because the arrival of Big Alice interrupted the process of rebuilding the government, the ones who started with the least and lost the most, and she accepted their negative spin on events. Those 35 Tailies were terrible casualties. They also evened the score between the classes in a sense, since it wasn’t only 1st class and jackboots left behind when they disconnected the cars in S1Ep9. The woman who raised her adopted son to be a child soldier ought to understand that’s the nature of war.
The reality is, she does. She could be setting herself up as an opposition leader to Layton. Eventually, there will be elections. If she can convince the Tail and 3rd class that he’s been too easy on Melanie and the upper classes and that they should fight Wilford rather than work with him, she could win.
Layton defends the current mission, looking forward to the future and recolonization, and tells her Melanie is vital to its success. He needs to protect the mission from Wilford.
Josie: “Revolutionaries make terrible politicians. That’s how they see you now. And you need my support or you’ll lose them.”
She says it like he hasn’t always been both a politician and a war chief. Layton insists that he’s still a Tailie, but the truth is that he never was just a Tailie. He was always something more than the average rank and file Tailie who waited for him to save them from the cannibals. He’s not the only Tailie with potential to be more- Lights was attacked because the 3rd class rabble sensed she’s a threat.
Josie’s last statement is an implicit threat. Turn against Melanie or she’ll turn the Tailies against him. She doesn’t understand that Melanie is also the chief engineer or how the train’s systems actually function to keep everyone alive. Josie simply wants power and to get rid of the woman who locked her up for 7 years, then disfigured her.
Josie is actually the proof that revolutionaries make terrible politicians.
Terence questions Pike about the current state of his weed smuggling operation as they sit in the Night Car balcony. Pike admits that his operation is currently at a standstill, but says he’s recently been privy to high level talks that lead him to believe patience will be rewarded. Terence tells him he’s not a patient man and doesn’t want to be seen with a Tailie if there’s nothing in it for him financially. He kicks Pike off of the balcony.
Till brings Roche and Layton to see Lights’ maimed hand for themselves. Lights says again that they put a bag over her head, so she didn’t see anything. Winnie says she saw masked assailants running away. Z-Wreck says they took the fingers with them. Till says the rumor is that it was the Breachmen. Last Australian adds that Lights was opening a repair store in the market. The Tail isn’t free if everyone is still prejudiced against them.
Layton reminds them that they are OneTail and will protect themselves. They need to stay in their lane and hold the line without crossing it right now. Till promises Lights that she’ll solve the case and whoever did this won’t be back.
As Till, Roche and Layton walk away, Till reminds them that Wilford already has people on Snowpiercer. The Breachman are their prime suspects, since they love Wilford and hate the Tail. Layton sends a reluctant Roche with Till to question the Breachmen. Till tells Roche to think of them as
The breachmen all live together in quarters that are half dorm, half gym. Boki and the other Breachmen are borderline unfriendly and threatening, but answer their questions. They’ve been holed up in their quarters, in mourning, since they found out Wilford, their once and forever true leader, isn’t on Snowpiercer. They sat out the revolution and intend to sit out the current democratic experiment. They don’t need to fight or attack anyone. They’re just hanging out, waiting for Wilford to take back control
or send them a signal. Boki shows them his Wilford logo tattoo- “W” encircled by the words honour, order and work.
Emilia seems to be on guard duty in the sleeping quarters. She’s upset when Alex brings Melanie around and leaves so that she has plausible deniability. Alex tells Melanie to climb into her bunk quickly, before anyone else sees her there.
Melanie complements Alex’s “room”. Alex tells her they get to decorate them, but they’re all the same. They realize they use the same paper and string trick to visualize the train’s route, but then Alex points out that they had the same teacher. Alex says she used to draw Melanie all the time and shows her a picture. Melanie used to visualize Alex, too. Alex tells her that Wilford says Melanie is the best driver he’s ever known. They go over their route together, then Melanie shows Alex how she senses the condition of the train by feeling its vibrations. She says they might have a wheel out of alignment.
She puts her hand on Alex’s cheek, as if to sense her condition as well. Alex puts her hand on her mother’s hand, but then it’s time to go.
Layton fills Ben in on the negotiations to trade food for train parts while Ben packs Melanie’s bags. Ben tells Layton to be careful with Wilford. At first, he turns on the charm and is irresistible. Then “the knives come out.” He tears people apart for the fun of it, but Ben and Melanie refused to let him do that to them.
Ben: “His brand of jealousy isn’t about anything normal like love or betrayal or sex. It’s just about control.”
Layton: “We might have to find a way to use that.”
Ben: “Yeah, we might. But we still have to get halfway across the world with him, so whatever your plans are…”
Layton: “No secrets. We’ll get back to Melanie together.”
They shake hands.
Wilford checks on Icy Bob, who’s unconscious, frozen and bloody. The Headwoods share that he spent 54 minutes at -96 degrees. It’s the longest and coldest conditions he’s ever withstood, but Wilford wants him to go colder and longer. The Headwoods say they can do more treatments. Wilford tells them they have have 2 weeks, maybe a month, to finish preparing him.
Not much question about who he’s going after out in the cold.
Wilford catches Alex trying to feel the train like her mother does. Turns out Melanie was right, there is a wheel out of alignment. Wilford reminds her not to get sentimental. They want Melanie off the train. He makes Alex repeat it after him.
The inside of Alex’s head must be a very complicated place right now. I hope she’s as strong as her mother.
It’s time to prep for the big trip up the mountain and around the Berthoud Curve. Melanie will be at the helm on Snowpiercer and Alex will drive Big Alice. Everyone but Wilford looks worried that the pressure will be too much for Alex. Melanie informs Wilford that Snowpiercer is short on power, so they’re going to move the 1st and 2nd class passengers into their emergency muster stations, then cut the power to the empty cars. They have 25 minutes for the evacuation. Ruth is not pleased to be given such short notice.
They hit the first rough cliff side spot on the mountain and nearly derail. Ruth drafts Layton to help her with the evacuation. He actually goes to sit with Josie, who can’t be moved from the infirmary. Zarah helps Ruth, while Tristan does the announcements. He gets the vital information out, but lacks Hospitality’s usual crisp delivery. Ruth will need to do some training with him.
Josie asks Layton to help move her facial bandages aside so she can see the extent of her injuries. Her skin is dark red and one eye is swollen shut. It’s hard to tell how scarred her skin will be, but her facial features look pretty normal.
Snowpiercer is still lagging behind where it needs to be. Wilford sets up the ascent so that with one wrong move, Alex will derail the train.
In the Night Car, Miss Audrey performs for the evacuated passengers, but she’s drunk and generally not her usual polished, put together self. Till tells Roche that she’s cracking, just like everyone else.
With the passengers evacuated and Snowpiercer at the curve, they shut the power down in the empty cars. It’s time to hit Alice’s booster. Melanie tells Alex she’s proud of her. Wilford encourages Alex to derail the train instead of saving it. Or she could neglect to hit the booster and then reverse the train, so she can spend more time with her mother.
Alex hits the booster and successfully guides the train around the curve, while Wilford taunts her the whole way. Melanie praises her at the end. Wilford mocks her. When he notices a tear on her cheek, he says it’s the last one he’ll allow her. She defiantly says it’s the last one he’ll get.
Once the train is on a slow, stable run, Alex leaves the engine to do a last check of Melanie’s suit and gear. Wilford verbally pokes at her a few more times, but lets her go.
The Night Car turns into a party. The Breachmen have come out of hiding. Zarah takes care of Miss Audrey. Pastor Logan says hi to Roche and Till. He gives Till a St Christopher medal, telling her the journey never ends.
Layton tells Josie that the hope for a new world is real. That’s what Melanie’s trip is about.
Josie: “Melanie. While my skin was freezing over, I curled up and protected this hand. ‘Cause one fist is all I need. You’re going to be a father. Your child. That’s a guiding light for all of us. And if Melanie’s mission is our only hope to ever get off this train, then our people have a new cause now.”
Layton kisses her fist. That would be the hand she didn’t freeze and smash herself. But what made her think she would survive freezing in that room, which is always a death sentence? Is this confirmation that she was Grey’s Tailie mole? Let’s recall that she also took part in the S1Ep1 rebellion that saw many arrests and deaths, but she slipped back into the Tail unnoticed.
I’m perplexed that Layton’s child with Zarah would suddenly be a guiding light for the Tail. Miles was a little guy when the trip started and Winnie was born on the train, in the Tail. Why aren’t they guiding lights? This feels like possible confirmation that Miles was Josie’s “Tail child” (he calls her his Tail mom), but that’s over now.
Most importantly, Josie is singing a very different tune now from what she said to Layton during his earlier visit. What happened in between to change her mind?
Melanie and Ben kiss goodbye, then she leaves for Big Alice. Layton and Ruth escort her to the border. Before she crosses into Big Alice, Melanie goes over Layton’s priorities with him. He gets it right, including understanding that Wilford is actually not okay with everyone getting off the train and recolonizing the Earth. Melanie adds that the success of her mission will be measured in data, not her own survival. Layton nods, they wish each other luck and she heads for the border.
Layton calls Pike out from behind a curtained area where he was eavesdropping. He tells Pike to start up the marijuana trade again, but Layton will control the business, including what’s traded in return to Big Alice. Pike was born for this job, so he’s fine with the stipulations.
As they wait at the border, Melanie recommends that Ruth trust Layton because he’s good and just. Then she asks Ruth to keep an eye on Alex for her. Ruth gives her word that she’ll look after Melanie’s daughter.
Alex meets Melanie at the border. As Melanie is leaving, Ruth tells her they’ll all be waiting for her when she gets back.
Alex helps Melanie suit up. They go over her protocol for arrival at the research station one more time. Melanie tells Alex again that Wilfred frequently just wants to instill guilt and fear in her with the terrible things he says and does. But she should never forget, those things are his fault, not hers.
Alex hugs her and admits she almost tried to keep Melanie with her. Melanie acknowledges that they had to make difficult choices so they could be together and safe in the long run. She tells Alex there are people she can trust on Snowpiercer.
Snowpiercer sets off a flare in the snowbank outside the train, then Melanie’s supplies are dropped. Finally, Melanie jumps out of the train.
Going to need either a tie-in graphic novel or a webisode series about Big Alice’s early years.
Another benefit to killing Kevin, besides making him available for food- his skin can now be used for Icy Bob’s next round of skin grafts. I suspect the Headwoods also grow cloned skin in their lab, based on the skin sample they took from Melanie, but that could be a slow and expensive process, compared to harvesting a crew member. It could eventually allow them to create the perfect genetically engineered skin suit for Icy Bob, but they apparently aren’t there yet.
Where is Miles? My headcanon is that he sleeps in Melanie’s cabin during his 2 or 3 days engineering shifts, then stays with Layton and Zarah while he’s off duty, in a joint custody arrangement. Whenever we’ve visited one, he’s been with the other. But it’s time to show him, especially after Josie’s decision not to see him. Your older kids don’t stop being important just because another one is on the way. Rumor has it that the actor took a role another show that kept him away from filming. Hopefully we’ll see him soon.
Is Melanie sleeping in what was supposed to be Wilford’s cabin, the way Ruth thought, or was that cabin always meant to be hers? The double bunk makes me wonder if the cabin was meant for her and Alex. Was one of the 1st class cabins meant to be Wilford’s? Maybe she was supposed to be chief engineer, but after she offed Wilford, she decided on the Hospitality ruse to help her keep tabs on the train. And did she sneak Ben onto Snowpiercer to replace Wilford or was Wilford more agreeable toward him back then?
The old social classes aren’t going anywhere on their own on Snowpiercer. Layton needs to do something about equalizing living arrangements stat, before these factions become anymore entrenched.
Melanie and Ben’s romance has been played up more in the first 3 episodes of this season than it was in all of last season. Once Melanie has left the building we can start playing the “Who is Alex’s daddy?” game for real. I’m placing even money on Ben and Wilford, with a small outside chance of an unknown third party crawling out of a cryogenic chamber to claim her.
I suspect Melanie told Ben that Wilford was the father and told Wilford that Ben was the father. There’s the off chance that Ben could be Wilford’s son, which would make that an especially interesting scenario, given Wilford’s hyper competitiveness. Emilia could also be Wilford’s daughter. He’s absolutely capable of putting his biological daughter on janitorial duty (for example) and his chosen daughter in the engine with him. Actually, he’d revel in doing that. Or in pitting siblings against each other. Now I’m wondering who else could be his child. Josie?
The foreshadowing for Melanie’s death had better not come true. I don’t need “high stakes”. I need story continuity and compelling characters. Jennifer Connelly/Melanie’s version of an extremely dark and flawed but powerful superhero is one of the most compelling female characters of recent years. I’m nowhere near ready to lose her. In fact, killing her at any point in the shows run, especially through any form of suicide, would defeat the entire point of her character. The only other equivalent I can think of is Nancy Botwin from Showtime’s Weeds, who endured and outmaneuvered every opponent until the final episode, which I refuse to believe is canon.
Really, this trip is a genius move on Melanie’s part, if she survives it. Let the trains fight to survive without her for a month during a difficult time. Odds are they’ll be happy to have their chief engineer back, maybe even their former leader.
The Rocky Mountain Test Track can just barely be seen in the light blue circle I’ve added to highlight it in this screencap from season 1. In season 1 episode 1, Snowpiercer was heading south down the west coast of North America in former Canada, on their way through former Vancouver and Seattle. Over the course of the last 14 episodes they’ve continued down the west coast of the continent, through Mexico and Central America, circled South America, then made their way back up north into the former southern US. The end of season 1 and beginning of this season coincided with the train passing through Washington, DC, then heading west to Chicago.
Big Alice caught up with Snowpiercer in Chicago, in the middle of the United States and the continent, very close to where the test track spur breaks off to head west. They’ve left their regular route in order to drop Melanie off near the Research Station and release test balloons which will collect weather data. In this episode, they travel the toughest section of the Rocky Mountain Test Track, the Berthoud Curve, then drop off Melanie, before continuing west.
The Rocky Mountain Test Track, AKA Neckbreaker, with its Berthoud Curve, could be based on the real life Berthoud Pass which crosses the Continental Divide in the Rocky Mountains of central Colorado near Denver:
“The pass is named for Edward L. Berthoud, the chief surveyor of the Colorado Central Railroad during the 1870s. Accompanied by Jim Bridger, Berthoud discovered the pass in July 1861 while surveying a possible route for the railroad. Berthoud concluded that the pass was suitable as a wagon road, but not as a railroad, and was then hired by the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company to survey a route over the pass to Salt Lake… The pass is one of the most notoriously difficult passes in Colorado for motorists, based on its height as well as the steep grades on both sides (6.3%) and the large number of switchbacks on the southern side of the pass. At least 55 avalanche paths have been mapped on Berthoud Pass; with some of them intersecting U.S. Highway 40, and a smaller subset of paths intersecting the roadway at multiple points on the pass.” (X)
While at 11,307 feet the summit of the pass isn’t quite as high as Breslauer Research Station’s 12,000 feet, it’s pretty close. Historically there was a ski resort at the summit which was recently replaced by a modern warming hut.
Images courtesy of TNT.