TV Review: Snowpiercer S2E2 Smolder to Life
Warning: “Smolder to Life” features suicide and may be upsetting and triggering to some individuals.
Snowpiercer‘s second season’s second episode is an interesting one as each train attempts to gain intelligence about each other. “Smolder to Life” is a dance of sorts as Wilford and Andre do what they each can to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of each other.
Each side has a hostage to work with, Kevin with Andre and Melanie with Wilford. But, there’s more than that, each side also has issues with worship and loyalty. There are those among Snowpiercer who worship Wilford. A person who thought dead and has arisen has certain religious aspects to it. And there’s Melanie’s daughter who is clearly not sure what to think of her mother and her abandonment issues.
There’s an interesting dance between Wilford and his attempt to be worshiped and rule and Andre’s attempt to help spread democracy through Snowpiercer. It’s one man versus possibly the people, though things are up in the air as to which side some of the people are on.
What’s really interesting is what we learn of Wilford and Big Alice. We see the extent to which individuals on the train will sacrifice themselves for Wilford. We also get teases that as advance as their technology is, Wilford’s train may be having more issues than Snowpiercer. Starvation is teased as well as possible experiments on individuals. The hulk we saw in the first episode, we get a better idea as to why he can withstand the cold.
But, Snowpiercer has issues as well. An assault has occurred and “Smolder to Life” begins to mimic the first season in some ways. We see the show kick off a new arc beyond the issues the two trains combine face. The series could easily focus on just the two trains having to deal with each other. But, it expands beyond that to show how the new dynamic on the train is leading to new issues, new allies, and new dynamics. But, even that plays into the greater themes of the show. The murder could possibly be a caste thing and attempt to stir up trouble. It could also be Wilford attempting to stir up trouble.
And one of those new dynamics is the snow Melanie discovered in the first episode. What does it all mean? This is an interesting twist as it plays into things we see in other media, the film, the comics. It explains some things in some ways. It’s a hell of a shake-up of the series and where it’s going and also presents an interesting back and forth between Wilford, Melanie, and Andre in front of everyone. It digs into Wilford’s motivation. Did he create the trains to protect humanity? Was it so he can rule? Where things are going really digs into that simple question.
The episode is what individuals are willing to do for each other. Kevin’s sacrifice. Melanie’s sacrifice. They are for other individuals. One is a cult like zeal. The other is for herself and maybe for her daughter presented as something greater. We get to see the different approaches to this new world even further. In place of a ruling caste, we have a ruling individual. In each case the people are in the way. Each brings order and subjugation, though the alternative is full of questions and risks as well. We get to see how two individuals react and it seems the series looks to explore how that goes with the people as a whole. While not quite apparent, “Smolder to Life” may deliver an even more intriguing political allegory than the first season.
Overall Rating: 9.0
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The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255
Text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741