This week we were blessed with the return of Snowpiercer, though, like the class structure of the train, not everyone gets access to the show on equal terms.
As I am in Canada, I had to wait an extra day to view the episode, but at least I no longer have to play TrainStation2 on my phone to get my fix of locomotives!
(I’m kidding. I will never stop playing TrainStation2!)
Much like the train itself, episode 1: “The Tortoise and the Hare” brings us up to speed on what’s been happening on the two trains and sets the stage for what looks to be a season that will take a divergent track from the last two. Let’s hope it doesn’t go off the rails!
And no, that will not be the last train pun. And yes, there will be spoilers below!
Six months after the season 2 finale, the two trains are still separated, with Wilford chasing down Layton in Big Alice. Wilford’s train is freezing due to lack of power, and he has the population under tight gulag-esque control, forcing them to work in terrible conditions. Ruth is running a resistance movement with the help of Pike.
On the other train, Layton and his small crew are working to stay away from Big Alice and keep up with Melanie’s experiments. They also have members of Wilford’s crew held prisoner – Audrey, Martin Colvin, and Sykes, but under much nicer conditions than anyone in Wilford’s train.
The episode begins with Ben traversing into the wilderness to collect samples for Melanie’s data points. Apparently, he has to go so far out to get them because of “track contaminants.” As a reminder, the only way to really enjoy Snowpericer (and don’t get me wrong, this is one of my favourite shows) is to not question any of the science.
Of course, Ben falls into a building submerged in the snow (I’m going to guess it was through a skylight?). Layton and Josie (who are now back together as a couple?) rescue him. After Layton gives Ben way more oxygen than he needs to (why does he only leave himself ten minutes of air? Why not give Ben only half?), he decides to explore, as any good post-apocalyptic main character does.
Since Ben says they are in North Korea, and there are radiation symbols on the walls, this building is either a weapons facility or a power plant. Given it appears to be warmer in the building (-11 or so, much like the temperature where I live in Ontario at the moment), I’m assuming they’ll be going back to this facility to study it or take whatever is making it warm.
Layton runs into a survivor in the building who attacks him. Layton wins the fight, recharges his oxygen, and kidnaps the survivor. He doesn’t ask them if they want to go to Snowpericer, and he has no idea whether they are living a perfectly comfortable life in the building, but I guess he believes he’s saving them.
This is a cool twist because I’m very intrigued about how this person survived.
I’m wary about the vision Layton had of a tree in Africa surrounded by life and warmth. I’m not one for blending my sci-fi (as improbable as a lot of Snowpiercer is) with fantasy, so I’m hoping this is just a subconscious desire on his part and not some magical vision. But we’ll see!
During Layton’s foray, Alex and Till attempt to deal with Snowpiercer’s finicky engine and are attacked by Audrey and Martin. Audrey’s whole plan is to convince Alex that “Daddy Wilford” is correct, and she should allow the train to meet back up with Big Alice. Audrey is really reaching here, and it’s a relief when Till cranks her with a wrench (any time Till picks up a blunt weapon, it’s a good episode).
It’s clear Alex is hurt by Wilford’s manipulation and betrayal and isn’t likely to be swayed by Audrey’s nonsense.
Mr. Wilford is not happy. He is forced to keep the people of Snowpiercer alive to ensure Audrey’s survival when he’d rather “cull the herd.” As such, he runs a tyrannical train, with unhinged Kevin at the forefront. While he can’t kill anyone, he invents other ways to torment them, such as throwing sewage on people who sneak baths. His main goal is to find out where the resistance is hiding.
Speaking of the resistance, Ruth’s character has undergone a very interesting arc. It makes sense she’s the leader of the resistance because she knows the train so well and has felt the most betrayed by Mr. Wilford (aside from Alex). We leave the episode with her hiding in first class, which is a balmy -12 celsius (perfect skiing weather, am I right?). And, because I have to ship at least one couple in every show, I am totally into what appears to be flirting between her and Pike! I have no idea what a “whippet” is or why it’s a good thing to be “built like one,” but flirt away Ruth! You deserve it.
On a more serious note, we see that Javi is still alive and kept under control by Jupiter, the dog that mauled him back in Season 2, and that Wilford is having some experiments done on Zarah’s fetus. Again, the science behind the latter is questionable, but it’s clear they’re making a cold-resistant baby? Is this a long game plan or just experimentation?
If you’re not up on your fables, “The Tortoise and the Hare” is the classic story of a race between two animals – the plodding tortoise and the fast hare. The rabbit gets quite far ahead but gets cocky and takes a break, wherein the Tortise passes him and wins. It’s a story about hubris, but in this case, perhaps it’s foreshadowing the day when Big Alice does indeed catch up to Snowpiercer. And will it be because Layton gets a little too comfortable?
The next episode airs on January 31 / February 1st!