TNT’s Snowpiercer series is now officially more than halfway through its 10-episode run for the first season, and I have to say that it’s refreshing to see the show gain so much momentum in the last couple of episodes.
Episode 6, entitled “Trouble Comes Sideways,” is by far the most action-packed episode that we’ve seen so far. After the crime-and-punishment theme that has ruled the first five episodes, this sixth installment takes a welcome turn away from “Who killed Sean Wise” to “How much longer can Melanie hold it (the train and herself) together?”
As you can imagine, the rest of this post contains lots of juicy spoilers, so beware!
We start the episode with a little narration from Brakeman Osweiller who is cleaning himself up after being knocked out by his partner, Till. During his retrospective look at his life and some hints as to why he’s such a jerkface, we watch a green liquid (presumably battery acid) melt down through the train’s engine room on to some electronics, eventually creating a short that locks up the brakes on one car. That might seem like an easy fix, but quickly turns into something much worse later in the episode.
In the meantime, Josie sneaks her way up into third class to save Layton from a fate in the drawers, only to almost kill him in the process. This eventually leads to this episode’s sex scene between Layton and Josie, but WAIT! We also learn that Zarah is pregnant (presumably from her trip to bangtown with Layton in Episode 2). I’m sure that will come up later. Just a hunch.
Layton tells Josie the big secret about Melanie being Wilford and runs off to kill Melanie for putting him in the drawer. But while he’s poising to do the deed, there’s an accident with the engineers repairing the failed brakes, and a broken hydraulic line sends the entire train into a mean death wobble. You know what I’m talking about, Jeep Cherokee owners.
“This train’s dying, Layton,” Melanie pleads with Layton while he tries to end her. “Let me fix her!”
There’s a really intense scene where Melanie suits up, dangles under the train car with the broken line, and fixes it herself. “I designed her, I’ll fix her,” she proudly proclaims.
I think these two lines really drive home the fact that Melanie feels deeply connected and responsible to not only her hospitality duties with the passengers of all classes and as a secret Wilford, but also as an accomplished engineer who didn’t just fall into this position accidentally.
And this, to me, might be the most brilliant conflict of the storyline. We want to like Layton because he’s the every-man, fighting against The Man for what is good. But we also have Melanie, just trying to keep order on a mechanism that she designed to save humanity’s last hope of survival when or if the Earth thaws. “The drawers aren’t a prison, they’re a lifeboat,” she tells Layton at one point.
We see this even further when Melanie addresses the third class just before a scheduled rebellion is set to happen. She lets them know that if this work strike goes as planned, she will trade 10 random third class workers for 10 random tailies.
“You think life in third is bad,” she says to the unruly crowd. “There are four hundred souls down-train who would KILL for what you have! Protect it. Call off the strike.” So they do.
I admire Melanie for her work ethic and determination, although her use of a violent police force certainly tarnishes her credibility. But most sadly, her insistence to handle everything herself and forgo any sense of delegation will come around to bite her in the end. We see her pained face staring off into the distance more than a few times in this episode, and I just can’t help but wonder how much longer she can keep this up, especially since the only two other people on the train whom she trusted with her secret are having a bit of a conflict themselves.
But it’s Melanie’s mysterious interactions with young Miles throughout the episode that is most peculiar. We know that Miles is a very gifted young man, and Melanie recognizes this as well. She approaches him about a secret math project that she had him work on, and in the final scene of the episode, she gives him a caliper measuring tool, stating that “every engineer needs one.” Does this mean that Miles will be groomed for her position as we saw happen with Curtis in the Snowpiercer movie? That’s my guess, but I also feel like it won’t exactly be that clear-cut.
Do you share my thoughts that Snowpiercer is getting better and better with every new episode? Let us know in the comments below!