This was my favorite episode of SNOWPIERCER yet and if you are a few episodes behind, watch them before reading this review. If you read my prior reviews, you’ll notice that since the series’ start, I’ve been fascinated by the brief snippets of the world outside the train and the world before the ice age that killed off everything but the people on Snowpiercer (and Big Alice). A few episodes ago, Melanie departed the train on a mission to link up with a research station to figure out weather models (long story) and ever since, I’ve been keenly interested to see things from her perspective. This episode delivered on all three counts.
While the train has anxiously awaited updates about Melanie’s fate, the show decided to go with the ‘you don’t know what happened to her and we’ll look at things from the train’s perspective’ for the past two episodes. While that is fine for manufacturing suspense, it only served to heighten my anticipation for seeing the struggles she went through directly. This episode answered many of the questions raised about what she was doing over the past two episodes in a satisfying way. So while it was frustrating to wait, kudos to you, SNOWPIERCER writers for building up and paying off the tease.
When you are crafting an episode about one person being by themselves for a long time, it is hard to carry the narrative momentum. The episode relies on the ‘having conversations with imaginary characters from the show’ technique to give Melanie someone to talk to. I tend to dislike this approach (for many reasons I’ll spare you from here), but it was less annoying than usual in this episode. While we had some cameos from other cast members, this was really Jennifer Connelly’s showcase episode. In addition to carrying the episode mostly by herself, she displays grit, a wide range of emotions, and even some charisma.
It’s also nice to get away from the train for a while. We get the most sustained look at the outside world and a new inside location to explore. In addition to seeing the world outside the train and figuring out what Melanie is up to, this episode provides some awesome flashbacks that fill in more detail before life aboard the train. Rather than just showing something to flesh out characters and their relationships (a Zarah/Layton flashback early in season 1 comes to mind), these flashbacks answer some major plot questions that have lingered since the pilot.
Capping off the episode, the writers avoid the safe play and end on the type of cliffhanger that has no easy resolution and leads to more questions. While I was kind of mad at the last two episodes for hiding the ball on Melanie, I must admit the writers took the right approach. This episode is a payoff for the last four and a key one for both the plot and the overall SNOWPIERCER mythology.
The sixth episode of season 2 will air Monday, March 1st at 9:00pm ET/PT on TNT in the United States.
Check back next week for my thoughts on the 7th episode of the series.
Are you enjoying this new season? Feel free to chat with me on Twitter or leave a comment below!