Snowpiercer is only three episodes in, but already we get a good sense of what we can expect with TNT’s latest dystopian series.
If you’re new to the world of Snowpiercer, you may be happy to know that you don’t need to watch the 2013 film of the same name to know what’s going on in this TV series. The movie takes place 17 years after the world ends (2031) while this series takes place only 7 years after (2021). So in a sense, this is a prequel, although hardly any characters (or at least names) carry over. The entire premise of how the world ended and why the remnants of humanity are all on a giant train is explained right away in the show’s Season One intro, so you should be caught up enough to enjoy each episode from there.
The main similarities between the film and the series is the world itself. Snowpiercer is the name of the 1001-car train that is perpetually circling the frozen globe to keep humanity alive. Think of it as a mix between Noah’s Ark, The 100, and Murder on the Orient Express. Since the train is divided up along socio-economic status lines, with the wealthiest of the first class citizens in front and the poorest citizens in the back (or tail), you can imagine that not everyone gets along.
Other similarities include the drug Kronole and its debilitating effect on the train’s citizens, the frightening realization that cannibalism is a thing that some people turn to eventually, and Mr. Wilford — the train’s creator and main antagonist. Although you’ll find out in the first episode that there’s a distinct difference between the Mr. Wilford of the TV show and that of the movie.
I’ll try to keep this relatively spoiler-free, but you’ve been warned that I’ll let a few things slip for the sake of explaining my opinions on the show so far. As explained above, the first episode explains quite a bit about how Snowpiercer came to be, how the world turned into a giant snowball, and why the folks in the tail section (the Tailies) are ready to start a violent and bloody uprising. But just before that uprising happens, the authorities come in and request that Andre Layton (Daveed Diggs) be taken up front. Turns out, Layton was a homicide detective in his days before Snowpiercer, and Mr. Wilford needs his help to solve a mysterious murder.
By the time we get to the second episode, we get a better idea of Layton’s understandably rebellious personality, why he’s actually helping Melanie Cavill (Jennifer Connelly) solve this murder, and what’s in it for him. The third episode brings us a bit more background on the murder victim, as well as a possible motive and a connection to Layton himself. Was the victim a spy who was keen to Melanie’s secrets about her true identity? Did another woman who was recently convicted of another murder get framed, and will she have the info Layton needs to find the real killer of both victims?
I’ll tell you one thing about this series: it has a lot going on. This is certainly not the kind of TV show you can watch a few minutes at a time while discussing the latest watercooler gossip with your significant other. You really have to pay attention to this one to grasp what’s going on, and I love that. In fact, let the record show that I am really enjoying Snowpiercer so far and I look forward to seeing where this crazy dystopian murder mystery takes us.
So what can we expect from the show’s future episodes? We do know the names of all episodes in Season One, including the ominous final episode named “994 Cars Long,” which leads me to believe that there might be some sort of disastrous removal of seven cars along the way. We also have an interesting cast list for Season Two that includes Sean Bean and two stars of Netflix’s popular House of Cards series: Sakina Jaffrey and Damian Young.
But in all, I anticipate great things for this series, especially if the quality of writing and acting continue as they’ve been in these first three episodes. You can catch Snowpiercer every Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET on TNT.