Snowpiercer’s pilot established the world the show inhabits – a world frozen over by a global warming fix gone wrong, the central conflict between the front of the train ‘haves’ and the back of the train ‘have-nots’, and murder mystery driving the plot forward. The pilot also sprinkled in some additional questions. This episode moves each of these elements forward but adds a new ingredient to the mix – an avalanche damages the train, putting everyone at risk.
Snowpiercer deftly juggles all these balls in the air. Layton continues his investigation into the murder that led to his being brought out of the tail car. He finally gets to show some detective skills, which helps because I was starting to wonder why they needed him to help out so badly. The tail car faces the punishment for their riot while the opulence of the front of the car is further explored. More information is teased about the wrongly convicted murderer who was ‘shelved’ years ago while something is amiss with the attempts to revive her.
As I predicted (more accurately hoped) after watching the pilot, this episode includes a flashback to the time before the train. While i continue to be interested in life before the train departed, this particular glimpse felt a bit padded. It answered some questions, but a few minutes could probably have been shaved off of it. I think a little more time with the characters is needed to invest in them enough to sustain a lengthy flashback. With that said, it didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment of the episode.
The second episode also includes some nifty special effects, from the glimpses of the avalanche, to a grisly punishment for the tail car riot in the pilot, to a set piece involving cows. As I mentioned in my review of the pilot, there is a fair amount of violence in this show, and this episode throws in a little mild/suggested nudity, so parental discretion is advised.
One thing this show handles differently than the graphic novel and movie Snowpiercer versions is the ambiguity of the front of the train staff. Rather than being portrayed as simply the bad guys or the inappropriately entitled, the staff are a little more nuanced. Mickey Sumner’s Bess Till seems to be the primary partner for Layton now, and her character continues to be a standout. Jennifer Connelly’s Cavill is also given more depth and an opportunity to explain why the system is set up as it is. While you may not agree with it, what matters is, she does. The front of the train passengers are more one-sided and thus far are the weakest characters. Snowpiercer has already been renewed for a second season, which is a pretty big sign of faith from the network. So far, that confidence has been justified.
The second episode will air Sunday, May 24th at 9:00pm ET/PT on TNT in the United States.
Check back next week for my thoughts on the 3rd episode of the series.
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