At the end of the last episode, I wasn’t sure how SNOWPIERCER would treat Melanie’s mission outside of the train. Would the show follow her character on her adventure or focus on the people inside the train and mine her success or failure for suspense. While I wish they chose the former, the writers chose the latter and the episode has many characters wondering if Melanie made it.
The reason I was hoping for the other approach is the jolt I get whenever SNOWPIERCER provides a glimpse of the frozen outside world. While it doesn’t show Melanie, this episode does make use of the view outside the train more than most prior episodes. With Melanie off the train, the show is free to catch up on many of the characters from season one that we haven’t seen in a while (Hello, last Australian!). Pike continues to be one of my favorite characters, despite his small role. He’s not necessarily a good guy, but he’s eminently likeable. It is also (finally) interesting to see where the writers are taking Josie, who went from being martyred in the first season to sitting in a hospital bed after miraculously surviving. Till’s crime investigation gets a brief mention, but it does get tied into the overall plot a bit better in this episode. I’m hoping Mickey Sumner’s character is given more to do in future episodes. In addition to updating us on returning characters, there is a lot of potential in a new Big Alice passenger introduced in this episode. This episode also gets an award for being the first one in which I’ve been interested in what is going on with Zarah.
I finally feel like Daveed Diggs’ is finding his footing with Layton’s new role. Layton comes across as much more assured and Diggs’ performance finally evokes the charisma that he consistently displayed throughout season 1. The episode centers around his chess match with Wilford as they await Melanie’s fate and we finally get to see some of the Layton we saw last season.
This was a strong episode plot wise, save for one misstep. Episode four spends the most time yet with Audrey, providing a backstory of sorts for her character. Audrey has never registered for me, and I didn’t feel this storyline landed. I think it would have been more effective if I was more invested in Audrey prior to the episode. As it was, I found myself eagerly anticipating her scenes ending. This is in part a reflection of everything else going on. While it lacked the huge spectacle event that seems to pop up every few episodes, this installment moves most (if not all) of the plot threads forward. With so many characters to become invested in and the interesting storylines progressing (Till’s investigation, Layton and Wilford’s chess match, Big Alice’s ability to treat cold exposure, Melanie’s departure), the Audrey plot just seemed to slow things down a bit.
Episode four did a great job moving most of the characters and storylines forward just enough to keep momentum. If the show continues to give Audrey a bigger role, I’m interested to see how it continues to treat the existing (and new) characters. So far, the addition of Big Alice to the show has provided SNOWPIERCER with a strong new direction and allowed it to avoid a sophomore slump.
The fourth episode of season 2 will air Monday, February 15th at 9:00pm ET/PT on TNT in the United States.
Check back next week for my thoughts on the 5th episode of the series.
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