Snowpiercer Season 2 Episode 2: Smolder to Life Recap

Snowpiercer S2Ep2 Layton & Melanie

In season 2 episode 2 of Snowpiercer, we discover that when Melanie explained why she left Wilford on the side of the tracks 7 years ago, she underplayed how terrible life under his rule would be. In fact, I have a feeling we’ve only begun to learn how much worse life on Big Alice has been than life on Snowpiercer. Wilford appears to be a combination of a bloodthirsty cult leader like Charles Manson and a ruthless tech billionaire who only values competition and his own desires.

Smolder to Life brings us a hostage exchange, a promotion, a summit meeting, a death, a resurrection and a maiming. Ruth finally comes face to face with Wilford and LJ learns the value of work as a commodity.

Pay attention the characters’ hands in this episode. There is a strong motif focusing on hands as the symbols of the person and the body. Individual passengers, cars and mechanical parts make up the train as a whole and losing even one can make the crucial difference to the survival of the train as a whole. In the same way, hands are a crucial extension of each human mind and body. Losing all or part of a hand makes a huge difference in an individual’s life and potentially in the life of the entire train. Taking away the thumb of the wrong passenger could someday mean the difference between the life and death of everyone on the train, when they aren’t available to provide their expertise.

This is also a bloody episode. Following the trail of blood gives insights into character motivations and blind spots. Early on, Mel speaks about fire while there’s also blood in the room. The two are often symbolically linked, since both are red and blood contains the spark of life.

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Snowpiercer Season 1 Episode 10: 994 Cars Long

Snowpiercer S1Ep10 Layton Till & Ruth

In episode 10, we reach the end of Snowpiercer’s season 1 revolution. The train hasn’t completed a full revolution across the Earth’s surface this season, but maybe we’ll make it the rest of the way in S2. S1 began with Snowpiercer somewhere between Alaska and Vancouver, BC, CA, then followed the train down through South America. It ends as the train approaches its own Mile Zero in Chicago. The train slows down and marks this moment on every revolution, because it’s where the passengers lives were saved but at the same time many, many other lives were lost.

It’s also where Melanie pirated the train from Mr Wilford more than 7 years ago. This is their first time passing through Chicago when everyone on the train knows it. As First and Second are mired in post revolution chaos, Third and the Tail enjoy the freedom to slow down and explore the entire train, rather than just struggle to survive. But a few Wilford diehards haven’t given up hope that their demi-god is alive and out there somewhere.

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Snowpiercer Season 1 Episode 9: The Train Demanded Blood Recap

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In Snowpiercer’s penultimate episode of the season, the train’s class war ends and power is transferred to a new regime, but not before more intrigue and tragedy occur, turning the tables around and then around again. Layton and the engineers pull off a daring feat to win the day. It’s a tightly constructed episode that’s one of the best of the season.

Recap

Melanie gets the opening voiceover:

“I thought I could let him go. Over time, with miles traveled, I thought I could strip Wilford away. Shed his rules one by one, and finally, his mask, until he was just a logo on the wall… I thought I could create a kinder, gentler world, but the train demanded otherwise. The train demanded blood… I fed her. And now they will. Until we reach our final destination, everyone the same in pain and doubt. Holding our losses close, on Snowpiercer, 1,001 cars long.”

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Snowpiercer Season 1 Episode 7: The Universe Is Indifferent Recap

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Episode 7, aptly titled The Universe Is Indifferent, brings us not just the fridging of Josie, but the actual freezing, at the hands of her fellow white woman, Melanie Cavill. Though she dies so that others can live and emote, Josie goes out calling for justice and a sense of morality based on what’s right and wrong, rather than moral relativism based on convenience.

This might have the most self-aware fridging in TV history, given the way Snowpiercer narrowly avoided the Bury Your Gays trope. Josie could have saved herself by giving up the name of Bess Till, a lesbian character, probably dooming Bess to death instead, but she refused to betray another woman the way Zarah betrayed her. (Zarah is pregnant and her unborn child was threatened, so that’s a different issue.)

Josie hasn’t been one of my favorite characters, but she went out fighting for the greater good even beyond the needs of the train, proving she was the conscience of the Tail all along. I respect that. Before she died, she passed the role of Train Conscience on to Bess. Let’s hope Bess can rise to the occasion. And stay alive.

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