Last week’s episode finally showed us what Melanie was up to on her journey away from the train. It was a strong episode (my favorite so far) and it ended on a particularly shocking stinger – Melanie made it to the rendezvous point somehow, but Snowpiercer pretty much dissed her and kept going. It was a brilliant mirroring of the weeks preceding the Melanie centered episode – instead of wondering what happened with Melanie, we were left to ponder what was going on with the train … and what the heck Melanie was going to do now. This episode gave us the start of an answer to the first question, but unsurprisingly left Melanie’s fate a mystery.
A lot of plot was packed into this hour, so rather than risk any spoilers, I’m going to take a different approach and give some observations about the episode.
Observation 1: SNOWPIERCER does a great job of introducing and managing a large cast of supporting characters. In the process it has built up a viable ecosystem of characters to use for plot points. For the most part, this has allowed it to avoid the dreaded Nikki and Paulo effect. What is that? One of my favorite shows of all time was LOST. While it was about a planeload of passengers stranded on an island, it really only focused on a few. Like SNOWPIERCER, it was pretty much a closed ecosystem (for a while at least), so when it tried to expand the focus to other people on the island, it struggled. In short, LOST tried to shoehorn in Nikki and Paulo as two other castaways who were always there even though we hadn’t seen them. Everyone hated them. SNOWPIERCER rarely has to do this, because characters have been introduced around the fringes organically, and are brought in and out of the story.
Observation 2: Speaking of supporting characters, the one I feel SNOWPIERCER hasn’t handled that well is Audrey. She has been elevated from a bit character to a central role this season. So far, I’m just not digging it. Her ‘make people feel better’ schtick comes off like a superpower, but it doesn’t really make much sense. We simply haven’t been given enough reason to care about her.
Observation 3: SNOWPIERCER doesn’t mind killing people off, but it also doesn’t mind bringing them back. So far it has worked, but they better be careful not to overuse the technique. Otherwise, deaths will lack meaning, like a comic book.
Observation 4: Three characters got strong work this week – Ruthie, Till, and Wilford. This is a standout episode for Ruthie. For the first time, she gets a believable emotional arc. Bess Till is one of my favorite characters, but until this episode, I felt like the writers didn’t know what to do with her in season 2. This episode changes that. Wilford was becoming a bit of a mustache twirling villain caricature recently, but I feel Sean Bean’s character has found his footing this episode by dialing back the crazy a notch. In this episode, Bean strikes the right balance between charisma and menace.
Observation 5: AJ is like GAME OF THRONES’ Joffrey in that I hate her and feel she has no redeeming qualities. I can’t tell if it is because her performance is effective (like GOT’s Jack Gleeson), or if she’s just an annoying character.
Observation 6: I’m a sucker for shots of the frozen tundra outside the train. This episode has one of the best so far – the corkscrew. Unlike most of the others, this one is actually essential to the plot as well.
This episode amps up the conflict between Layton and Wilford that has been bubbling up all season. If you haven’t seen any episodes yet, you may not pick up what is happening. I recommend at least watching Episodes four and five of the second season to get yourself ready for this one. Episode six is a largely standalone episode – worth watching, but not essential to many of the arcs in play here.
The seventh episode of season 2 will air Monday, March 8th at 9:00pm ET/PT on TNT in the United States.
Check back next week for my thoughts on the 8th episode of the series.
Are you enjoying this new season? Feel free to chat with me on Twitter or leave a comment below!