Snowpiercer, TV Shows

Snowpiercer Season 1 Finale Recap, Review, and Season 2 Preview

WIlford Snowpiercer

This post contains a whole train full of spoilers for Snowpiercer Episodes 9 and 10!

OK, so a lot happened in these final two episodes. And while there’s so much to talk about and so much to explain (like, say, physics and stuff), can I just point out that my predictions after episode 3 were on par? Is it cool if I just toot my own horn for a second here? OK good, because I said: “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.”

Now let’s talk about that disastrous removal.

Episode 9
Episode 9 starts out with Melanie in shackles among other prisoners in a dark jail cell of a train car. We see Walter “The Papermaker” Fleming get executed for his role in the treasonous activities, as a lead-up to Melanie being placed in the same situation later. The death sentence, poetically known as “Lung of Ice,” is now Melanie’s fate as she’s strapped to a chair and masked up, awaiting the same frozen death as The Papermaker. But who’s that masked executioner coming to save the day at the last second? It’s Javi! And now she’s free.

Commander Grey and the Folgers have a little discussion about what they’ll do with the rest of the passengers and how they’ll get the train back now that Melanie is out of the picture. Grey lays out his plan to gas each car, one by one (but not civilians, nope!) and have his men “mop up.”

But this is where the power struggle really begins to break down the first class rebellion’s poorly laid plans. Grey and Ruth, now a hot item, are trying to take over the train for themselves, but the Folgers also want all the glory. This will ultimately prove to be their undoing.

Remember at the end of episode 8 when Pike tells Grey that he is Layton’s BFF and knows him better than anyone else? Now we see Pike return, but he doesn’t hide the fact that he’s there to get a surrender out of Layton. The ultimatum is Layton’s life or the lives of everyone else on the train. “If you’re half the man you claim to be, you’ll take that deal,” Pike advises. Dang, man, you didn’t even say “If you’re half the man I know you are.” Maybe he’s not the friend he claims to be.

Layton is determined to fight this and not play by the ultimatum’s rules, that is until he reluctantly meets with Zarah where she tells him that she’s pregnant with his child. This instantly changes Layton’s mind and he goes back to tell Pike that he agrees to surrender. I imagine he figures that the baby growing up without a daddy is better than not growing up at all.

At this point, Melanie crawls through the HVAC ductwork in a not-so-subtle display of metaphoric change as she sheds her Wilford costume to join back up with Layton and reveal her plan. But why should he listen to her after all she did? “My way didn’t work. Maybe yours will.” She believes that Layton should be the train’s new leader, not her.

So they devise a plan that involves physics, timing, and a whole lot of luck. We get a hint of this plan as there’s brief discussion of unhooking a part of the train, but we don’t really see how it works until… well, until it does.

As Melanie points out, the timing must be exact, or the rear passengers will freeze and the front passengers will all starve if they stay separated. So even though we only got cryptic hints regarding Melanie’s plan to regain Snowpiercer for Layton, I’ll explain how it went down: Layton heads up train while Melanie stays behind. She disconnects the last cars of the train, while remaining on back, hoping that Layton will be able to do his part correctly, because if he fails, she’ll die too.

When it comes time for Layton to disconnect the cars behind him, he first wants to free the prisoners who are shackled in the jail cell car (that’s included with the middle car section). But he can’t find the key. None of the guards have it and time is running out! So he apologizes a billion times to them as he steps over each confused and crying prisoner to make his way out and pull the release handle.

So now at this point there are essentially three groups of cars on the tracks: The first section with the engine, the middle section with the Folgers (minus LJ) and most of Grey’s army, and the tail section.

Bennett and Miles coordinate the timing and speed of the engine with a fork in the tracks just perfectly so that when the front engine section goes off to the right side of the fork, they hit the track switch, sending the middle section to the left, then quickly switch it back to get those rear cars back to the right with the first.

The engine then slows down enough to let the rear car section catch back up from its momentum, and they gently reconnect the cars, leaving those seven middle cars to slowly float down the tracks on their left and eventually freeze to death.

Now here’s the one question I want answered: Why couldn’t Layton disconnect the car BEHIND the jail cell car to save their lives if it was such a big deal to him?

This episode concludes with an important lesson to Layton courtesy of Melanie. When confronted with the fact that Melanie knew Layton wouldn’t find the keys to free those prisoners, Melanie admitted that it was part of her plan to condition Layton for his new leadership role. “I knew the choice would be yours,” she said. “It’s what we live with every second of our existence.”

Just when we thought Layton would never let his morals be compromised, they were. He let those people in the jail car die. He pulled that release handle and he watched them as they drifted away to their deaths. And I hate to say it, but that just scores another point for Melanie. Her job as the leader of the train was not easy, and now we get to see how hard the job is and how Layton might handle the toughest decisions.

Episode 10
As a special treat, Episode 10 was released on the same night as Episode 9, and in it we get a finale that I think is safe to say no one expected.

Layton is taking his new role as leader of the train in stride, suggesting an elected council government and the formation of a constitution. “This war is over,” he says. “Now the work begins.” But he soon realizes that being the boss is not all fun and games.

Snowpiercer is quickly approaching Chicago, also known as Mile Zero, indicating the end of another full revolution around the world for the train. But just as they’re approaching the Windy City, Bennett and Javi catch a faint signal on the communication computer. When they realize that the signal is coming from outside the train, we see Bennett suspiciously sabotaging the satellite comm link. It’s later revealed that Bennett did this on purpose because he knew exactly what that signal was: a call from another train.

The other train turns out to be a prototype of Snowpiercer, affectionately named Big Alice. This second train is a supply mule, stocked with spare parts, food, the works. Bennett cut the signal trace, allowing Big Alice to find Snowpiercer in hopes of grabbing some much-needed supplies.

The entire train soon sees Big Alice out the windows as they get closer, and Ruth immediately assumes that it is Mr. Wilford, coming to save the day. The passengers are in a frenzy, acting like partying high school students who just found out that mom and dad are coming home early.

When Big Alice rides up behind Snowpiercer and attaches itself, it also creates an uplink connection, allowing it to take over controls of Snowpiercer. Melanie quickly suits up and heads outside to sever the connection. She’s not so convinced that Wilford is on Big Alice, and if he is, he might not be too happy to see her.

But she’s too late at this point. Big Alice turns on Snowpiercer’s brakes, Melanie falls off, and you will find yourself letting out the first gasp of the two you’ll release in the next 2 minutes.

As the second train cuts open the rear of Snowpiercer to board, a young girl walks up and asks if Melanie Cavill is alive on board. Confused, Ruth answers yes to the person who reveals herself as Alexandra Cavill, Melanie’s daughter whom she thought she lost seven years ago. Alexandra announces that the passengers of Snowpiercer have 13 minutes to surrender to Mr. Wilford before freezing to death.

We then see that Melanie is actually not dead from her fall, and now that both trains are at a complete stop, she’s able to recover and begin her approach to reboarding the train. The only problem is now she’s at the rear of Big Alice, not Snowpiercer.

So this ties up so many loose ends. It also explains why Sean Bean is listed as Mr. Wilford in Season 2: there’s another train with him on it! I just want to know if Alexandra will be happy or completely furious to see her mother again, considering the fact that Melanie admittedly left her daughter behind for the sake of the train.

Overall, I am very pleased with this series. I think it started out slow, but really blew us away with how it turned out. The twist at the end of this final episode was completely unexpected, although so well written that we can now look back and realize so many of the plot fragments that pointed to this moment.

While a second season has been confirmed and began filming back in October, word is that it was halted in March due to the Coronovirus. Let’s just hope that we will soon see what happens with Melanie, Layton, Wilford, and now Alexandra. In the mean time, check out this teaser for Season 2:

Shawn has been infatuated with the post-apocalyptic genre since he wore out his horribly American-dubbed VHS of the original Mad Max as a child. Shawn is the former Editor-in-Chief at Joystiq's Massively.com, creator of the Aftermath post-apocalyptic immersion event, and host of the Through the Aftermath podcast for over 10 years. He currently resides on top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere with his wife and four children.

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