In episode 5, we visit Big Alice with Miss Audrey for a date with Wilford and to check on Josie’s progress. The turf wars continue on Snowpiercer, creating a situation where Layton feels he has to act decisively. By the end of the episode, loyalties are in question once again and Snowpiercer’s power structure is in jeopardy.
Josie gets the opening voice over, while the Headwoods work on her tissue damage. The goop in that first vat (above) looks a bit slushy to me. Are they increasing her cold tolerance without her even realizing it?
Josie: “It’s easy to fight when you’ve never been hurt before. Until it happens, you’re invincible. But, with every fight there’s a risk, and sometimes you’re sidelined. The road to recovery is long- endless, when it’s not clear if you can recover. Some days, I lose sight of who I am, but I can’t forget what my mission is. I have to keep the hope alive that I can still make a difference. If not, then what was coming back from the dead for? I count the days and pray to be whole again, back with my people on Snowpiercer, 1,034 cars long.”
As Josie speaks, the Headwoods work on her tissue. They appear to be culturing skin grafts for her. The atmosphere on Big Alice is such that even the most charitable acts seem sinister. I’m terrified to find out what kind of monster they’re turning Josie into.
Surprisingly, she’s allowed out of the lab to take a walk in the public hallway- maybe to make contact with Emilia? I’m sure the Headwoods mentioned that she’d have to be kept in the sterile lab environment with no visitors. She steals a small glass vial, writes a note, then puts the note in the vial and the vial in a laundry bin, where Emilia collects it.
Meanwhile, the Headwoods are working on Icy Bob. They’re holding a gas mask to his mouth and encouraging him to go higher as he writhes in pain. Are they pumping extra cold air into his lungs?
Another worker collects the vial from Emilia. It crosses into Snowpiercer with trade items, going from Tristan, to a Brakeman, then to Pike, then Winnie, who runs it up to Layton in 1st class. Terence the Janitor watches her run through his territory in 3rd. The note says: Coldman preparing. Wilford making a move.
Wilford has been listening to Miss Audrey’s albums on repeat since they came back. Emilia tells Alex that Wilford is pining for his great love. Alex retorts that Emilia is pining for her love, the second to last Australian. Emilia proves it’s love by telling Alex that his name is Murray (almost no one knows his real name).
Wilford announces that it’s time for Big Alice’s book club, where they’ll discuss Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, the novel they requested on their shopping list from episode 1. Emilia is worried because she hasn’t finished reading the novel yet. Alex fills her in on the ending, saying he kills his first wife and the house burns down.
Rebecca is a metaphor for the season, possibly also for the series. There are concentric circles of symbolism which connect the two stories. I have to confess, I’m worried about the burning house. People from Big Alice have already said that Wilford doesn’t care- he’ll burn everything down if he doesn’t get his way.
Fun facts [Spoilers for Rebecca!]: Rebecca is a Gothic Noir murder mystery. Maxim, the husband, is the murderer, but the maid, Mrs Danforth, burns down the house. So, metaphorically, Melanie is Maxim, the husband and true owner of the estate, equivalent to the engineer who truly understands the train. Wilford is Mrs Danforth, the delusional housekeeper and caretaker of the estate who clings to outdated ideas and becomes violent when she loses.
They are telling us to believe Melanie’s version of events, not Wilford’s, and not to underestimate how dangerous Wilford is. He really will destroy everything rather than let anyone else have control of the train or the future.
Zarah approaches Miss Audrey in the Night Car to offer her support, but Audrey says she knows what she’s doing with Wilford.
Big Alice’s book club is held in Wilford’s cabin in the engine and attended by the Drs Headwood, Emilia, Damien Ho, two unidentified female passengers and Alex. Sykes escorts them in but doesn’t stay. Wilford leads the discussion, which is undoubtedly part of Alex’s homeschooling. Everyone is reluctant to be the first to voice an opinion until Damien finally says he found the heroine tragic and thought the husband sucked. The discussion continues, with the participants questioning whether the first person narrator can be trusted to give the audience the truth of the story.
Alex: “If she doesn’t trust herself, why would we ever trust her?”
Emilia: “She’s a girl in love. That can make you do crazy things and act outside of yourself.”
Sykes reenters and privately tells Wilford, “Our friend uptrain lit a lantern. We’re a go.” Wilford gives her an invitation for Audrey.
He wants her to dine with him as they pass Lhasa, Tibet, also known as the Forbidden City, because it was once an exclusive religious center. Audrey shows the message to Layton and the rest of the inner circle in the engine and explains that she and Wilford visited Lhasa together once. Layton is worried about her physical and mental safety, as are the others. Audrey insists that she’ll be fine. Wilford wouldn’t hold her against her will and they need someone on the inside.
He won’t hold her but he might hold another razor blade.
Ben and Javi show Audrey how the comms panel works so that she can sabotage the Big Alice comms panel. If she can manage to unlock the red box and switch two wires, they’ll have a secret, open channel to the engine they can use to listen in on every conversation.
The Headwoods are in the middle of doing a painful procedure on Josie when Sykes calls them out into the hall. She tells them, “It’s happening tonight.” Mrs Dr Headwood replies, “That wasn’t what we agreed on.” Then the door closes and we can’t hear anymore of the conversation.
Josie is left alone, gasping for air. Icy Bob tells her she’s having a panic attack and should name 5 red things in the room. She’s confused, so he tells her again. She names blood, tissue, bucket, button and the red book his holding up for her.
Icy Bob: “The trick is to externalize the pain. Don’t internalize it, or it’ll paralyze you.”
Josie asks him what Wilford’s planning for tonight, but he refuses to answer. He tells her these aren’t people you want to cross. His skin grafts make a compelling case for the truth of that statement.
The Headwoods return and Mrs Dr Headwood tells Josie they’ll have to put her under for the debridement on her shoulder, since they have to go deeper on that procedure.
And maybe now they have to work faster, to be ready for whatever is happening tonight?
At the next meeting of Layton’s advisors, this time in his cabin, Javi tells them that they’ve released the 11th weather balloon and have received the results. They’ve shared the results with Wilford and the science is also safe with Melanie. Zarah and Ruth ask Javi to let them know when they can announce the next time they make contact with Melanie, since her pings are such a morale booster.
Moving on, Layton asks which cars are most vulnerable to an outside attack, since there are indications that Wilford’s Coldman might be planning something. Till asks what the indications are. Layton ignores the question and asks Javi about breach cars and anything with a port. Javi says there are 16 breach exits, which can all be secured from outside entry.
Till interrupts to question the decision to keep the border open for trade when they’re worried about an attack. After Layton confirms that the border is open for trade, he asks Till and Roche to stay while everyone else leaves. Then he tells them that he has a source on Big Alice. Roche can guess who it is. Till figures out that they’re communicating through trade. Layton explains that Josie is okay for now, but she’s following a lead, so they need to keep the border open.
Till melts down a bit while reminding them that Wilford isn’t their only problem. The Breachmen and the Tailies are still hostile and she still doesn’t have a clue who amputated Lights’ fingers, even though it’s been two weeks. Layton and Roche decide the hysterical woman should take a day off and calm down.
Ruth is also upset with Layton and vents to Zarah on their way to the hospitality office. When they get to the office, she bans Tristan from making public announcements. He was about to go on and is thrilled to give up that part of his job. Ruth appoints Zarah as his replacement and tells her she’s on now, gesturing for Tristan to hand over his notes.
She tells Zarah she expects poise under pressure, just as Zarah runs to the waste basket to vomit. She’s having morning sickness. Ruth is about to take the pad with the announcements back when Zarah accidentally hits the chimes that signal an announcement is coming. She turns to the mic like a pro and smoothly reels off the morning news. Zarah has finally found her calling.
Oz and LJ find Pike sitting in a 3rd class bar making deals. Firstie York, who was often a silent part of clandestine operations in S1, is one of his customers. LJ hits Pike in the head with a pipe to knock him out. She’s thrilled with the sound it makes.
She’s not helping the case I keep trying to make that she was at least sort of innocent in her previous crimes. 😉 Oh well. We’ll always have Stockholm Syndrome and insanity as excuses.
They take Pike to Terence, who threatens to kill him or worse if he does business in 3rd class again without the permission of the Janitors.
Once Pike is freed, Layton staples Pike’s head wound shut with a regular carpentry staple gun and metal staples while Pike describes his ordeal. Layton tells Pike not to worry, the pain is only because the metal has to bend when it hits his skull. 💀 😱
This is how you can tell Layton is a cop and not a doctor. Also, don’t Tailies get the full Snowpiercer medical plan with treatment from Dr Pelton now?
I hope they at least had a bottle of 200 proof moonshine to pour over Pike’s wound and the equipment involved in this cure. Maybe this is the set up for another Headwoods experiment. Headwoods sounds too much like head wounds to be accidental. Bet head injuries/brainwashing/neurology and psychiatry are their specialties.
Pike reminds Layton that the weed trade feeds the Tail. Wasn’t that part of why he gave it to Pike? Layton agrees that it was part of the deal.
Layton’s cultivating the Tail as his personal organized crime ring on purpose then. He’s intentionally a mob boss mayor.
Pike tells him that LJ was the one who hit him and that she’s a scary psycho, even though she’s Layton’s creation. Layton asks if Oz was with her but Pike says Oz is a lone wolf- Terence is the problem. “This can’t stand.” Layton insists that he’ll handle Terence.
That sounds like LJ and Oz work for Layton as well as working for Terence, which makes sense. Both were always double or triple agents in reality who were mostly just taking care of themselves in the cold, cruel world of Snowpiercer.
As Wilford dresses for his date, Alex asks when he and Sykes are going to share their evil plans for Snowpiercer with her. He tells her that all will be revealed in time. Right now, he needs her feminine opinion on his outfit. She gives him a perfunctory “fine”- clothes aren’t particularly her thing. Wilford is scandalized and starts instructing her that women must have firm aesthetic opinions. She tells him he’s a sexist old codger who should return to his own century.
Then she asks why he gets to have his girlfriend, Audrey, over, but she doesn’t get to visit her maybe girlfriend, LJ Folger? He deflects, telling her it’s because everything always has to be about him, which is true, but not the whole truth.
He also really doesn’t want her and Audrey to get along. Both are to remain
razor laser focused on him and jealous of each other.
I’m not sure what to call Audrey’s walk through Snowpiercer to meet Wilford. The Walk of Shame comes after a date. And she’s certainly not a bride as she walks down the center aisle. She’s dressed gorgeously, in flowing blood red. The best analogy is probably that she’s a lamb leading herself to the ritual slaughter. She’s wearing a strapless gown, so that her upper body is naked, as if she’s back in that bathtub of bloody water, with her dress’ bloody red skirt and long matching shawl flowing out around her. She wears matching gloves, so that she, too, has blood on her hands tonight.
While Sykes leads Audrey into Big Alice, Alex asks how Audrey will help them take Snowpiercer. Wilford gets a gleam in his eye and looks almost boyish as he says, “Well, that’s where you watch the mystery unfold, Alexandra.”
When Layton stops by to visit Terence, he finds LJ and Oz on their hands and knees scrubbing floors nearby. He mocks them a little and they walk away. That was probably actually a dismissal of his spies so that his negotiations with Terence could be in private.
Layton tries to work out a deal where the Tail and Terence split the weed trade 60/40 and Snowpiercer won’t lock Terence up for the many crimes they can “prove” he committed. Terence feels entitled to the entire drug trade in perpetuity and doesn’t recognize Layton’s authority. He counters by telling Layton that he’s noticed Winnie running messages from Big Alice to 1st class and knows they have a spy on the other train. He threatens to sell the spy out to Wilford if the entire drug trade isn’t returned to the Janitors.
Oops. That was one step too far. He thinks he still has the power and protection he did under the old regime and doesn’t remotely understand the new political realities. I don’t think anyone but Wilford and maybe Ben completely understand the new political realities of the combined train system. The rest are underestimating some aspect of the danger.
Layton and Zarah visit Dr Pelton for the first ultrasound of their baby. While they’re waiting, he tells her about the situation with Terence. She didn’t know that Josie is the spy- only a few Tailies, Roche and Till knew. She and Ruth thought that Audrey is the only spy on Big Alice. Zarah says that Terence is a danger to them and the baby, so he needs to be dealt with. Layton tells her that he can’t do what he used to do in the Tail, implying that he assassinated more people than just the cannibals. She reminds him that now he has people to do that sort of job for him.
Dr Pelton shows them the ultrasound image of their baby, which makes them all really happy for a minute. She tells them that the baby is currently the size of a blueberry. And by the way, the bee population is recovering from colony collapse, so they might have blueberries again someday.
Audrey tells Alex that she’s glad they have a moment alone in the engine together before Wilford joins them, since Audrey is friends with Alex’s mom. Alex responds that her mom is enemies with Wilford, so where does that leave Audrey? Audrey says, “Neutral, darling.”
Alex turns the conversation into an interrogation, asking if all of Audrey’s songs on her albums are about Wilford. Audrey says that most of them are. Alex asks if that means she loves Wilford.
Audrey: “What Joseph and I have is complicated, to say the least, but I wouldn’t be here if my connection to him wasn’t deeper than anything I’ve felt with anyone else.”
Wilford: “She’s right. It’s an abyss. Audrey is one of the most intuitive people I’ve ever met. Welcome aboard, old friend.”
He kisses her hand. Alex gags, then leaves, purposely walking between the lovers to annoy them.
On Snowpiercer, the latest weather balloon reaches 39, 500 feet with no “ping” from Melanie (she normally pings around 35k). Javi tries to console Ben that she could have missed checking in because of a minor issue, but Ben doesn’t believe anything less than disaster could stop Melanie.
Captain Picard Day Melanie Cavill Day in the 1st class Dining Room. Miss Gillies and the school children present a lovely mural they’ve painted in Melanie’s honor because she’s bringing them so much hope. Eugenia, sitting next to York, isn’t impressed.
Ben and Javi call Layton and the rest of the advisory team to the engine to inform them that Melanie missed her latest ping, for balloon 11 out of 12. Javi is still hopeful that the issue isn’t serious, but Ben reminds them that she might have lost contact permanently. They can build a climate model from the 11 probes they’ve already launched. “But Melanie…” Ruth interrupts Ben to tell him that she’s sure Melanie is okay. She can just feel it. Javi says that they launch the 12th and final probe tomorrow, then turn around to go back for Melanie.
It’s nice to see Ruth and Javi, two of the people who have lost faith and switched sides in the past, jump in to buoy the others up in this moment. They were both deep in Melanie’s shadow in season 1. With her out of the picture this season, both have grown as people and as professionals.
They all agree that Wilford can’t know that Melanie didn’t make contact. They also don’t want the passengers to lose hope. So they decide to lie to Wilford and the train passengers for now and say she made contact, in order to keep the passengers’ spirits up. Ruth is fully on board with this plan.
Ruth understands the value of a strategic lie, especially lies meant to preserve lives. It’s a selfish lie she can’t stand, or one that shuts her out of information she needs or has the right to. She will work her way toward full forgiveness of Melanie as she comes to understand the truth about Wilford and the stakes involved in the lies Melanie told.
Till spends her day off drinking in 3rd class. Oz joins her. He misses working with her, but from his perspective the new world order isn’t any better than the old one. He doesn’t have any leads on what happened to Lights, either.
After Oz leaves, Boki and his girlfriend send Till a drink, then toast to Wilford. Till toasts back, but pours her drink on the floor rather than consuming it. Before Boki and Till can get into a physical fight, Pastor Logan intervenes and drags Till out of the bar, saying he needs to show her something.
It’s the Snowpiercer version of Fight Club– Pastor Logan is a big multi-tasker. They wear huge boxing gloves though, so maybe it’s not technically a Fight Club. It does show that Logan is more than the pacifist he appears to be in public, so Fight Club is still an apt reference. He baits Till into fighting as hard as possible in order to physically work out her emotions. Once she’s fighting hard, he fights back just as hard, so they are beating each other up.
In the thick of the fight, Logan tells Till: “You hurt a lot of people in your past. People hurt you. You don’t want to feel pain, but it’s unavoidable. Suffering is a part of the human condition. You can’t get to joy, to relief, without hurting. Sometimes yourself, sometimes others.”
That’s a creepy philosophy. Is he going to hand her a razor blade next?
As she folds linens and plans the announcement that will be a lie about Melanie’s missing ping, Ruth remembers working with the former chief engineer. She confides to Zarah that she’s not naive. She’s already done things that she’s ashamed of for the good of Snowpiercer. Zarah tells her she’s one of Snowpiercer’s leaders and telling this lie to keep hope alive and maintain what little order remains won’t be something she regrets. Zarah insists that what Ruth does on Snowpiercer matters. Ruth replies that she needs it to.
Wilford and Audrey flirt and reminisce about the old world over dinner. He tells her that all of this is only worth it if she’s back by his side. She asks him to pour them another drink so she has a reason to stay a little longer. While he’s in the back of the engine opening another bottle, she attempts to pick the lock on the comms box with a screwdriver, but it doesn’t work. Wilford notices that she’s acting suspiciously next to the comms, but doesn’t say anything when he returns with the drinks.
Ben radios over with a fake message about the latest climate balloon. Wilford listens to the basics, then cuts him off. He tries to kiss Miss Audrey, but she cuts him off and suggests dessert.
Layton and Pike have a private meeting in Layton’s car to discuss what to do about Terence. Pike observes that Layton doesn’t really have the temperament to run the train or live in 1st class. Layton doesn’t answer directly, he just tells Pike that there are things he can’t do himself now that
he’s the mayor of this town he runs the train.
Pike immediately knows what he means.
Pike: “The Tail wanted to hang me for cannibalism and you vouched for me. And I made a vow never to kill outside of combat again. To be a… to be a better man. To have a better heart.”
Layton: “You have.”
Pike: “Except when you ask me to do something like this.”
Layton: “If Terence is going to try and use Josie to blackmail me, she isn’t safe. We can’t lose our source over there, and she’s our sister, Pike.”
Pike: “Ain’t no scribe writing Pike’s story in the history of Snowpiercer.”
Layton: “Tailie stories live longer, brother.”
Pike leaves, apparently resigned to what he needs to do.
Till and Logan sit and rest when they’re done fighting. She asks if he meant what he said while they were sparring. She was depressed by his message, that not only is suffering necessary, but sometimes we have to cause it in others. He says he meant what he said.
And now comes his real message. He feels the train has suffered a lot recently and he’s had enough. Layton isn’t working out as a leader and it’s time for another change.
Logan: “A leader can only compromise himself so many times before he loses the faith of his flock.”
Till: “We need to give him time.”
Logan: “Possibly. Or, he’s the wrong shepherd. Jeremiah 50:6- “My people have been lost sheep.They’re shepherds have led them astray, turning them away on the mountains. From mountain to hill they have gone. They have forgotten their fold.”
While Bess speaks with Logan, Pike makes a pair of knives out of an old can. Layton walks through the market in 3rd class and dismisses his people. LJ and Oz vacate the area. When Pike enters the market, the Brakeman on duty clears out. Pike finds Terence in his balcony HQ.
Pike sets one of the knives down in front of Terence and tells him he needs the fight to be fair. Terence is incredulous that Pike wants an assassination to appear fair. Pike tells him it’s a Tail thing.
Since Layton killed the cannibals and established order, Tailies duel in plain sight, with rules. They don’t hunt each other down anymore.
Terence yells down to the main floor for Oz, but he’s gone. Pike tells him no one’s coming to help him. Suddenly Layton’s deal sounds very reasonable to Terence, but it’s too late. Pike begs Terence to just do him a favor and die quickly and quietly, with honor.
That’s not something Terence is equipped to do. He throws dangerous objects at Pike. Pike gets upset that Terence broke the rules of a fair fight and attacks, yelling at him about how wrong it is that he refuses to die quietly and with honor in a fair fight totally set up as an ambush by Pike. He presses Terence down into a chair, then picks up a drill and drills through Terence’s mouth and the back of his skull, killing him. Pike is sobbing by the time he’s done. He’s a blowhard, but he actually can’t handle committing cold blooded murder anymore.
Zarah and Layton sit down to dinner in the dining room. He’s tense, waiting for news from Pike. She tells him she’s proud of him.
Ruth finally makes her announcement: “Good evening, Snowpiercer. Earlier today, high above us, another of our weather balloons made contact with Engineer Cavill out there on her own, a lone spark lighting the way forward. On this train, none of us are strangers to despair, so we should celebrate these victories when they come. We must hold fast to our mission, our vision, and ourselves. So, as we prepare to turn around and return to her let us all say a prayer for Engineer Cavill and our dreams of a life one day beyond Snowpiercer.”
The passengers cheer when she finishes. While she was speaking, Pike shaved his head, the universal male signal that they’ve been through a traumatic event which they must atone for, possibly by committing horrific violence. Pike was unstable before he shaved his head to expose the long row of metal staples, symbolically revealing the monster he is on the inside to the whole world. This won’t end well.
The Headwoods prep for surgery and Mr Dr Headwood gives Josie a couple of pills to take as her general anesthesia. He says the procedure will take about an hour, then bustles to the other side of the lab to jot down some notes. Josie pretends to take the pills, but actually slides them under the bandages on her arm. Icy Bob watches from upstairs in the lab.
Once Josie seems to be asleep, the Headwoods get to work. They chatter as they pull and poke at her wounds. Josie silently repeats the names of the red objects to herself in an attempt to stay still and relaxed through the pain. She jumps a little when they use a UV light on one section. They notice, but they keep going.
The Mr says it’s starting tonight and they won’t lose. The Mrs is surprised that he’s using the Breachmen so early. The Mr says that it’s a shame to risk losing some good subjects so early.
Once Josie has recovered from surgery, she puts her message in a vial and tries to put it in the laundry cart, but she’s interrupted by Icy Bob. He confronts her about ditching her meds during the surgery and demands that she give him the meds she saved. Josie asks if he’s going to turn her in. She takes his lack of response as a no and gives him the pills. He says, “I hope you know what you’re doing.”
Obviously she has no idea what she’s doing. Nobody on either trains knows what they’re doing. It’s a unique situation.
Wilford asks Audrey to stay with him after the border closes for the night. She says she’s not the same person she used to be. He insists that she is. She tells him that it’s her turn to break him. He thinks he’s too hard inside to be broken. She flinches each time he touches her leg. Audrey asks why she’s there, if he can’t change, even for the good of the train. He suggests that if she thinks about it, she’ll realize that in the battle between him and Layton, it’s already clear that he’ll win. He wants her to be his queen when he becomes king of the entire train. They’re both only half alive without each other. He asks her again to stay.
Layton personally supervises the evening trade at the border and directly receives Josie’s messages: “Tonight! Breachmen.”
Ruth notes that they’re almost done exchanging goods, but Audrey still isn’t there. Layton tells her to have Roche meet him at Muscle Beach, the Breachman’s quarters. Then she’s to get Audrey back and close the door to Big Alice as soon as they finish the evening’s trade.
Someone in a black jacket and hoodie, with the hood up, approaches the Breachmen’s quarters, then turns away when they see Layton and Roche coming. It’s too dark for the audience to see who’s under the hood.
Layton and Roche find Boki alone in his quarters. They assume the Breachmen are implementing a plan for Wilford and attempt to interrogate him. Boki doesn’t know what they’re talking about.
Meanwhile, a group of assassins in black jackets and hoodies simultaneously strike the rest of the Breachmen, quickly and efficiently killing all of them, even though the Breachmen should be hard to kill. They’re taken by surprise and stabbed, garroted or bludgeoned before they even realize they’re in danger. Someone sets off a loud train wide alarm that alerts Roche, Layton and Till. Till finds Boki’s girlfriend dead in a hallway, already surrounded by a crowd.
The alarm is howling by the time Wilford walks Audrey to the border crossing. He feigns surprise at the chaos, then gives both Audrey and Ruth the choice of which train they want to be on when the door closes. Ruth refuses to leave her post in the middle of a crisis. She repeatedly calls for Audrey to come home to her people as Wilford’s people shut the door. Audrey doesn’t answer verbally, but she isn’t completely frozen, either.
Her motivations are unclear. She’s afraid, but of what? Of getting caught up in another violent war on Snowpiercer? Of what will happen when Wilford succeeds in taking over Snowpiercer, which she now realizes is close to happening? Did she stay to continue spying on Wilford for Snowpiercer or to take him up on his offer to rule by his side? Or will she attempt to keep her options open until she can judge which way this war will go?
Head injuries so far this season, off the top of my head- Pike hit with a pipe, resulting in a long laceration, which Layton stapled shut; Josie has massive frostbite and looks like a mummy; Icy Bob has extensive skin grafts and is forced to endure more exposure on a regular basis; Melanie was briefly knocked unconscious when she fell off the train; Terence- deadly assault with a drill; the Breachmen, especially Cherry Sherry (hammer to the back of the head), but others were garroted, knifed in the neck and had heads slammed against the wall; Strong Boy still has a weird form of aphasia from the Drawers that makes him speak Mandarin instead of English; it’s minor, but Emilia has a pierced lip and lip ring; Lights had a hood put over her head while she was assaulted; Zarah vomited; Tristan had trouble getting the announcements out clearly.
There is a theme building here, along with the Headwoods’ name and the increasing level of depression, despair and anger on Snowpiercer. I think there’s an undercurrent of something building on Big Alice, too, but it’s unclear which direction it will go in. On Snowpiercer heads are messed up and acting irrationally to the point of chaos. On Big Alice, they are imprisoned to the point where even thought is restricted.
Josie is only as tall as Icy Bob’s waist. Is he 10 feet tall? Are they shrinking her? Did the Headwoods enhance his height, too?
Did the Headwoods know Josie was awake and set her up to send the message to Snowpiercer? What was their motivation? Layton and Roche saved Boki, but they were in an isolated spot, unable to get messages or give orders quickly.
Wow, the plan to have Audrey sabotage the comms was lame. There was no way she could pick the lock on that box without Wilford noticing, since it’s nearly at eye level and all alone on the wall. Audrey couldn’t pretend to be in that spot for many other reasons. They could have at least given her a better tool than a screwdriver and had her practice on a similar lock on Snowpiercer. This has me back to wondering if Ben is also a spy or still a bit sympathetic to using Wilford to save the train, anyway.
Season 1 showed us Melanie’s version of Mr Wilford, the Chief Engineer who prized order but not equality, who ruled with an iron fist but could also be capricious with his largesse and his punishments. We’ve seen in season 2 that Wilford does, in fact, possess those qualities. But Melanie kept Wilford off the train for some very good reasons and those are being revealed as the season progresses. His relationship with Miss Audrey is the embodiment of his excesses.
Without Wilford, Melanie ran a train that was unfair, but livable, for most of those who were contracted to be on board. Without Wilford, Miss Audrey ran a Night Car that entertained and healed, meeting the passengers’ deepest emotional needs without exploiting them. The Tail is a separate issue, since there were and still are resource issues. Melanie kept the refugees alive, but certainly could have made life more equitable for everyone. Wilford would have had all the Tailies killed.
How do we define fairness in a world where almost everyone is dead but resources are even more scarce? Shouldn’t it be a goal to keep everyone alive and healthy, no matter how they got on the trains?
One of Wilford’s talents is his ability to tempt people to follow him and their own desires so far down a rabbit hole that they can’t figure out how to return to normal life. He fulfills their deepest desires, but at the price of their souls, while appearing charming and harmless to those who don’t know him well. If you can survive him, he’s probably earned your undying loyalty for everything he’s done for you and because of the secrets he knows about you.
The writers have chosen to focus on the hidden identity aspect of Rebecca- in the novel, none of the main characters are what they seem at first. Even the narrator, the second Mrs de Winter, never gives her own name. Some people question the authenticity of the narrator because she guards her anonymity and because we’ve become so used to unreliable narrators in recent times. But her story is corroborated by other characters, so by the end, it shouldn’t be in question.
She has many reasons to keep her identity private, if one considers the story she tells. For one thing, fans of the first Mrs DeWinter would almost certainly send her death threats, if they could find her. 😉 The narrator doesn’t lie so much as hide. She tells us right from the beginning that she and her husband are hiding from their friends and that, though they feel very close to each other and as though they have no secrets, they actually share very few of their thoughts with each other. Her husband chose her because she is a master at making the best of bad situations without complaint. She does that by refusing to dwell on certain truths.
The novel begins with a dream of the home she and her husband were forced to leave and now never speak of- we are told from the start that she consciously represses important information so that it pops up in other ways, demanding to be processed, and that the de Winters are poor communicators. In the dream, the old home is smothered by overgrown plant life- life at Manderley was overwhelming for Mrs de Winter, with too many connections and obligations.
The second Mrs de Winter found that she couldn’t define herself in her role as Maxim’s wife, because everything she did was compared to Rebecca, just as everything Layton does is compared to Wilford and Melanie. Layton may not get the chance to figure out who he is as a leader because he has to spend all of his time reacting to Wilford, just as Melanie found she couldn’t ditch Wilford’s system, no matter how much she wanted to.
Rebecca, the first Mrs de Winter, was a hedonist whose excesses led her to hate her husband and wreck their marriage. The second Mrs de Winter craves financial and emotional security. She wants to be sure of her husband’s love and commitment to her. She’s the opposite of Rebecca, though potentially just as driven in her desires in the long run. That’s the enigma at the end of the novel. Are the couple staying silent to avoid confronting uncomfortable truths about the woman who will do anything to stay Maxim’s wife, including erase his past?
Wilford is a hedonist and in the past, Audrey helped him follow those desires. Melanie tried to run a more balanced train, but could never get rid of Wilford’s system, due to Wilford’s ongoing hold on the imaginations of the passengers and her own inability to find a better way. Layton burned the system down, but not the house.
Miss Audrey created the private rooms in the Night Car to help the passengers process their hidden emotions before they get out of control. We saw when she was alone with Wilford that she did the same for him during their relationship before The Freeze. What did he do for her in return? Did he provide more than money and affection?
The issue on Snowpiercer is that we still aren’t sure who the reliable narrators are and we don’t know everything that’s being hidden. Almost everyone has switched sides or lied to save themselves at least once and they’d all like us to forget it. They are all stuck on the train together and need each other’s skills, so they have to move on after arguments and betrayals. Now Wilford and Big Alice add more skilled labor and purposely increase the level of chaos and violence, along with the emotions that have to be swallowed for everyone to get along. We’ve been shown various coping methods- the Tea Room, the Breachmen’s gym, the Night Car, drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex. But tensions are rising and Layton isn’t doing anything to restore order.
Everyone whose name isn’t Till guessed that Layton has at least one spy on Big Alice. Till, who’s been struggling all season, acts as a naive and idealistic second Mrs de Winter type this episode. She was an inexperienced detective last season, which is why she should have a partner this season- two heads are better than one and unemployment is rampant on Snowpiercer anyway, so why not? But she wasn’t an idiot last season, which is what she’d have to be to act as naively as she does in this episode.
Roche has always been a complacent everyman who just wants to do his job and stay out of politics. He’s been dragged into the new government anyway, but I’m not sure that he fully supports Layton, despite Layton’s trust in him. Could Roche be one of Wilford’s spies? Or part of another shadow organization that’s still secretly operating on Snowpiercer?
When Layton and Pike met in Layton’s car, it appeared for a moment as though someone was watching them through a vent. I’m reminded of the very beginning of the series, when the window in the cattle car was purposely breached and the butcher who made the hole in the window escaped into the vent in the walk in freezer. Layton and Bess found body parts from Sean, the murder victim in that freezer.
Next episode, the butcher sold Sean’s chip to York (who reappeared this episode), which made its way to the Tail and Josie- that’s the chip Winnie still uses. That butcher melted into the anonymous Thirdie mass, as far as I can tell, and the purposeful breach of the cattle car has never been exposed on the show.
Does Boki know that the breach was intentional and will he talk know that his family has been sacrificed?
I’ve always wondered who ran the cannibalism ring. We saw a link to York when the butcher sold him the chip, but why would he need to buy it if he ran the operation? The chip also went through the Janitors on its journey, but their connections didn’t even go high enough to get them into the drawers normally. This operation seems too sophisticated for them and it definitely involved 1st class. But I don’t think Erik and LJ were smart enough to run it on their own. Their were indications Erik was taking orders from a woman.
Layton exposed the cannibalism, but he and Melanie and Roche never pursued who ran the game. I guess they just assumed the guilty butchers all died in the cattle car breach. Someone was paid off to keep quiet about the butcher whose body was missing. This is an example of Roche’s laissez-faire attitude working to help hide the corruption and underground economy on Snowpiercer.
Oz is auditioning to resume the role of Till’s bad cop partner. She needs someone who’s more savvy about the underground to watch her back and take care of the aspects of the job she’s now being portrayed as too principled to handle. I love their chemistry, so I’m all for giving him back the job and having LJ follow them around like a puppy/corrupt cop in training. Her mom was a lawyer- police work should be a good fit. She understands how the criminal mind works. 😉
I would watch a show that starred Oz, LJ and Till doing just about anything. The combination of a rebel with pure morals, a corrupt, world weary criminal/cop/sports hero and a young fiery anarchist with no solid identity yet is like crack to me. (Les Mis again-Enjolras, Grantaire and Marius. Alex is the lonely Cosette, Marius’ love interest. OMG, I just made Melanie Fantine, the saintly, dead mother. NO. But that makes Wilford and Audrey the Thenardiers, which is rather perfect. Layton will be Jean Valjean and save Alex for Mel, eventually, with the help of friends.)
Images courtesy of TNT.