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SNOWPIERCER Season 1 – Episode 5 “Justice Never Boarded” Review – If You’re Not First, You’re Last

After last episode’s abrupt conclusion to the murder mystery that set the series into motion, I was curious to see where the show was headed.  Melanie’s (Jennifer Connelly) surprise decision to put Layton (Daveed Diggs) into one of the ‘shelves’ certainly set the stage for a major shift in the series. While I think the show could have benefited from filling out the mystery for another episode, I give the writers credit for not drawing it out for too long. 

In moving so fast, this episode lost a little of its footing, focusing on the trial of LJ (Annalise Basso). The lack of any doubt as to her culpability sucked a little of the drama over the trial machinations. This episode did confirm one thing for me – there is literally nothing redeeming about first class. Most shows like to sprinkle a little bit of backstory into its baddies to give them some context, but Snowpiercer leans hard the other way, painting the first class with a clear ‘bad guy’ brush. LJ is like a cut rate Joffrey from Game of Thrones. You really really hate her … and her parents are not too far behind. 

Photograph by Justina Mintz

Unfortunately, you don’t really hate first class for interesting reasons. They just don’t do much of anything except whine. I understand they were able to buy a seat on the train (as one passenger helpfully reminds us), but years into the voyage, you’d think they’d have to do something to maintain their status. What good is money on a train? I suppose there’s some social commentary in there somewhere, but at least make the characters interesting. The only thing I can say for them is they push Melanie to make a questionable decision that promises more interesting fireworks in upcoming episodes.

What is interesting is the pivot to the schism between first and third class.  It seems the third class has finally figured out that they are the ones doing all the work on the train. It was refreshing to see them flex their muscles a bit. Till’s (Mickey Sumner) separate but related mini-arc is a highlight of this episode. We don’t totally leave the tail car, as they try to figure out where Layton is.

Alas, Layton. Since he’s in the drawer, we don’t see much of him. We do get some blurry drug induced flashbacks. I’m not sure they added much to his character as the scenes they shakily depict were alluded to previously.  While Diggs’ performance is always one of the strong points of the show, I think this episode would have been stronger leaving him out.

Snowpiercer has been a very interesting show so far. While this was not my favorite episode, it set the table nicely for an interesting second half the season.  It has certainly built up enough credibility for me to keep watching.

The fifth episode will air Sunday, June 14th at 9:00pm ET/PT on TNT in the United States.

Check back next week for my thoughts on the 6th episode of the series.

Are you excited for this series? Are you liking it so far? Feel free to chat with me on Twitter or leave a comment below!

Darren Shulman
Darren Shulman
Darren is a professional lawyer and amateur movie/comic/TV reviewer who is lucky enough to have found a wife who is into the same geeky things he is. Darren has been making the trip from Ohio to San Diego Comic-Con since 2009. Other interests include, in no particular order: monkeys, LEGO, dinosaurs, and playing basketball poorly.

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