Episode 2 of Snowpiercer takes us deeper into the logistics, relationships and class system of the train, plus we attend a big prize fight in the Night Car. It’s very aspirational. And educational. After Melanie reestablishes her dominance over him (That’s hot- Metamaiden, editor), Andre conducts a series of interviews, first with Roche as his partner, then switching back to Till. Not all of the interviewees realize they’re being interviewed. By the end of the episode, he may have solved the case.
This show is worth watching for the acting performances alone, both those of the core leads and the ensemble. Daveed Diggs (Andre), Jennifer Connelly (Melanie), Mike O’Malley (Roche), Lena Hall (Miss Audrey), Happy Anderson (Dr Klimpt), Susan Park (Jinju), Mickey Sumner (Till), Sheila Vand (Zarah), Sam Otto (Oz), Katie McGuinness (Josie), Kerry O’Malley (Lilah), Timothy V Murphy (Grey), Madeleine Arthur (Nikki), Iddo Goldberg (Ben) and more- it’s a huge cast- all bring the characters, the writing and the Snowpiercer world to life in a way that science fiction lives and dies by.
They all fully inhabit not just their characters, but the circumstances of Snowpiercer and their individual places in it. In a dystopian reality, no matter how realistic or unrealistic the sets and special effects are (and these are also amazing, don’t get me wrong!), it’s ultimately up to the cast to sell the emotional reality of the premise. This cast is all in.
I praised Daveed Diggs and Lena Hall in particular in my episode 2 recap. I was remiss to leave Academy Award winner Jennifer Connelly out of the explicit praise. She has the difficult job of finding the humanity in an ice queen dictator. The show’s fantastic writing helps her out, but in the end, Melanie’s character lives and dies based on Connelly’s performance.
It’s the nuances in her delivery that help us realize that Melanie actually cares about the entire population of the train, including the Tail, and desperately hopes to keep them all alive. These are HER people, just as the Tailies are Andre’s people, and she’s fighting at least as fiercely as he is to keep them alive. But her job is complicated by living a double life and the complexities of keeping the train running.
Each episode, we watch Connelly pull Melanie back together at the beginning of the day, then we watch Melanie hold the train together for 12 hours through the sheer force of her iron will, strained compassion and large intellect, as the energy that takes slowly breaks Melanie down inside. Because of Connelly’s performance, we can see that process, but few on the train notice it. In someone else’s hands, she might be a tropish dictator. Thanks to Connelly, I want to weep for her struggle by the end of each episode.
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