If you missed the first two episodes of Snowpiercer, I recommend going back and checking them out before watching Episode 3. This show is an ongoing story as opposed to having standalone episodes. However, if you insist on starting now, here’s some background. After Earth became uninhabitable due to a scientific mistake, the last remaining survivors on Earth ride on a specially designed train that must keep moving to keep them alive. The train has a strict caste system based on placement on the train, and along with analyzing the differences between the haves and have nots, the show layers on an ongoing murder mystery.
Daveed Diggs’ (Black-ish) Layton and Jennifer Connelly’s (Rocketeer) Cavill remain the primary characters, each representing one end of the train. In this episode, their relationship is strained by Layton’s attempt to get a message to the tail car in last episode. It is interesting to see these two characters play cat and mouse, as Diggs’ and Connelly’s nuanced performances leave it up to the viewer to decide how much each of them know and what their ultimate plans are. Diggs has more to do in this episode and his strength is his ability to show the wheels turning in Layton’s head without having to explain himself.
One benefit the long form TV series has over a movie is the ability to take the time to develop supporting characters and through them, show more about how society functions on the train. Prior episodes examined the desperate residents of the tail section and the precarious life they carved out for themselves. This episode shifts to the front sections of the car. While I continue to find the first class passengers to be a bit one sided and annoying, the added detail into the train staff was a pleasant surprise. Till (Mickey Sumner) still seems to be Layton’s primary partner in the murder investigation, but he also gets to interact with some of the other staff members who were largely one dimensional thus far. This episode also introduces a new interesting character, a janitor named Terence (Shaun Toub), who seems poised to play a major role in the story.
Snowpiercer doesn’t spend a lot of time delving into its characters without purpose though. This episode is laser focused on the murder mystery. In doing so, the writers largely place the predicament of the tail car and the damage to the train on the back burner…or should i say, into the freezer? As a result, the investigation moves forward at a much quicker pace. As we learn more about what happened, we see more about how train society works in the first and third classes. This is a particularly tightly written episode, as almost every scene ties to something major that happens later. The first class even gains some relevance into the murder mystery.
If you’ve enjoyed Layton’s investigation, this is an episode you can’t miss. It ends on a major cliffhanger that could shake up the murder mystery plot in a big way. If you watch this show for the sci-fi elements, they are largely absent this go around. Snowpiercer continues to be a worthy successor to the graphic novel and movie it is based on. I’m not quite ready to say it surpasses them, but it definitely has the potential to do.
The third episode will air Sunday, May 31st at 9:00pm ET/PT on TNT in the United States.
Check back next week for my thoughts on the 4th episode of the series.
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