TV Review: Snowpiercer S1E9 The Train Demanded Blood
The ninth episode of Snowpiercer opens up with Melanie in chains along with a car of individuals. It’s interesting to hear her thoughts as to why she did what she did concerning Wilford and the train. Her hope was that over time people would forget and it’d just be a name. She had altruistic goals and we can see that in many ways, she is a good person and she shows empathy for those around her bleeding. Her focus is that of the train and it’s the train’s survival that matters.
But, what’s truly interesting is how quickly the train has fallen into a more fascist tendency, split between forces. As Melanie says, she tried to do good but, “the train demanded blood.”
The episode has no problem delivering a brutal perspective from the first class. They’re willing to kill, even the innocent, to take on the “rebels.” The tailies and those in third are looked at as nothing more than workers to help keep the train running. They aren’t human, they’re a means for the wealthy to continue to live in luxury.
We also see the jockeying for power. Even those that are united to suppress the “poor” are tenuous allies at best. These are individuals who want nothing but power and to keep their positions. What the show does that’s solid is to keep viewers guessing. The first twenty minutes is full of twists and turns. There are double-crosses and ultimatums and you never quite know exactly whose loyalty is where.
While the first half of the episode sets up where things are as far as factions and the war, the second half is a gambit for the “rebels” to take on first and second class. It’s a massive gamble that could win the “war” for those suppressed, it also could kill the entire train. It’s an idea that feels a bit over the top for the more grounded last few episodes but it’s a great concept in how to win the war and deliver a blow to the suppressing class.
And the episode does a good job of emphasizing the brutality of that suppressing class. These are people who want to hold their positions no matter what and gain more power. There’s a cruelty to their nature that draws no sympathy. Unlike with Melanie, there are no redeeming qualities among them.
But then there’s the gut punch. With the plan in motion there’s a wrench thrown into it all. It’s a stomach sinking moment that will make you say “oh no.” It emphasizes the humanity of Layton where he recognizes the choices he has to make and the deaths it will cause. It also challenges our notion that he doesn’t have the “stomach for blood.”
And through those tears, there’s also some hope. It’s a bittersweet end to the episode full of lessons. In the end, Melanie’s worldview of difficult choices isn’t one that’s far off. Where do things go? We have one episode to find out.
Overall Rating: 8.4