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TV Review: Snowpiercer S1E10 994 Cars Long

Snowpiercer

“It’s a brand new revolution.”

The revolution is over or has it just begun? The rebels have taken Snowpiercer and the question is, where does it roll from here? The order has been shaken and systems have been brought down leaving a vacuum to be filled.

The finale to the first season of Snowpiercer examines and attempts to answer these questions. Andre Layton is sort of in charge and we’re shown the type of man he is. It’s in stark contrast of what was happening in the previous episode as individuals jockeyed for power. Instead Layton has decided to rely on the leaders of each group, guild, and section in hopes of building a leadership council to guide the train in a new direction.

We also see what happens with a gap of leadership. Some individuals have created fifedoms taking over the space made by the first and second class passengers who were left to freeze in the previous episode.

Wha’s intriguing is some of the small details. Layton for example has washed up and still has blood on his head and wounds not covered. There’s also wording that’s used like Melanie describing her taking of the train as piracy which reflects on the tailies taking over.

But, the episode really brings things to a head with a surprise direction and unexpected turn at about the half way point. It’s difficult to describe the moment without spoiling the surprise and the excitement of it is about the discovery and sequence. It’s a “holy shit” sequence of events that shakes things up on multiple levels and for those who enjoy the comics and property as a whole is a direction that is both surprising and not.

The sequence events highlight Layton’s leadership as well, there’s tense moments. Between Melanie and Layton, the episode feels like it’s not putting fate in a higher power but in oneself and the others around you. It’s rejecting the god-like omniponence of Wilford for whom the train passengers should be greatful. Instead it’s about working on the future together, taking their fate into their own hands.

The season finale is a rejection of the past in many ways and what sort of future the train, and its passengers, can bring. With a hell of an ending and a nice reflection of the series beginning, this is a finale that really brings the series together in so many ways and opens up a world of possibilities not just for the television series but the property as a whole.

The first season was slow but as a whole, it’s strong than its individual parts. Much like Snowpiercer itself.

Overall Rating: 8.5

TV Review: Snowpiercer S1E9 The Train Demanded Blood

Snowpiercer

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

TV Review: Snowpiercer S1E8 These Are His Revolutions

Snowpiercer

The opening of the episode is a fascinating one delivering a juxtaposition of the order the crew leadership believes in and the revolution that they face. It also emphasizes how easily everything can go off the rails, literally and figuratively. But what we really get is, the revelation that there is no god. Wilford doesn’t exist on the train and he’s a construct used to keep the train in line.

These are his revolution. 1,001 cars long.

It’s an interesting layered statement towards the beginning of the episode. Wilford has of course set the train in motion but also his decisions have lead to the current state of the train and the revolution from its passengers.

What’s interesting is how the episode pulls together decisions set up from earlier in the season. Melanie’s undoing is due to LJ whom she commuted. If she had not appeased the first class, Melanie’s undoing might not have been quite the same. It’s an interesting flow of seeing how leadership decisions can spiral and roll into something more.

The spiraling of things applies to the revolution spreading. Seeing it move from one car to the next is impressive. The coordination and communication are impressive. That goes beyond the tailies and their allies. It also applies to Melanie and those in the engine.

The episode lays things out there in an impressive way. We get the truth about Wilford. The reaction too is interesting and varied. We get the equivalent of having your reality completely shifted and the harsh truth revealed. That believing in a higher power has been a wasted exercise. Where it’s really interesting is how individuals react to the news, whether it’s to gain power or their personal impact finding out that things like an accolade from Wilford wasn’t real. But even with that, what Melanie reveals about the train and Wilford is unexpected and details that add so much. It also rocks Ruth an interesting way.

That religious theme extends to Layton. His return to the tail of the train has a Jesus iconography in its framing. His hair and robes blackened out initially. His welcoming back has a savior aspect to it.

The use of a red flag is an interesting one. The color is one that has been adopted over the years by revolutionaries and socialists and the tailies chanting “one train” has a sense of that want unity. There’s also the use of the color by Santa Ana where it meant “no surrender. no clemency.” Both of those historical uses feel appropriate for the goal of those rising up.

This is the episode where everything comes together and the action we’ve been expecting since the series begins starts to happen. It’s taken up to this point to get the pieces in place and set up the revolution. Now we get to see that revolution actually begin in all its bloody glory. As presented, it’s a logical leap and the series as a whole is better than the individual parts. It’s good to see sticking with the show has really begun to pay off.

Overall Rating: 8.35

TV Review: Snowpiercer S1E7 The Universe is Indifferent

Snowpiercer

Layton is free and the trio at the head of the train needs to decide what to do. Do they tell the train the truth about Wilford? Do they do something else? Melanie has a card up her sleeve to handle Layton and plays it in this intriguing episode of Snowpiercer entitled “The Universe is Indifferent.”

With an opening in engineering, Melanie has declared Miles, Layton’s son, will be the apprentice to take the position. It’s clearly a trap as both a hostage and bait to capture Layton and more than likely route out more insurgents.

Layton is free and Melanie is smart enough to know that he didn’t get out on his own. What’s interesting is, you’d think there’d be more security, at least cameras, on this train to help them figure out the answers as to what happened.

The episode is full of intrigue as Layton attempts to seek allies in the Third Class train and the Night Car. Then there’s also the recruitment of Miles. A plan is hatched to get Josie to Miles and interestingly, there seem to be quite a few folks in on the plan. It’s a fascinating turn of events as you realize how deep and spread the revolution is and who’s in on it.

“The Universe is Indifferent” also focuses on Ruth, a character who has been close to the spotlight but not quite. She had her moment calming the train and this episode gives us more. She’s a bit of a mystery character. Kind of a second to Melanie her loyalty and her thoughts have been a bit of a mystery. It’s hard to tell exactly where she lies and what she’s thinking. And here, we find she’s a key figure in what she’s lobbied to do.

The episode is an interesting one. Melanie attempts to bring control to some aspects of the train all the while those around her plot. Her control is tenuous at best and like a mad despot, we see moves in an attempt to cement her power. Imposing fear among the tailies, threats to other passengers, and black bag renditions to “Hospitality.” We can see those around Melanie questioning her rule beyond those we know of. You can see the unease all around her. The show about class shifts a bit to a focus on rule.

What’s interesting is the show subtlely makes Melanie’s views make sense. She sees the train as a system that is designed to function a certain way. “The train demands it.” What the tailies represent, what Layton threatens, would undo that equilibrium and stability. We also get to see that Melanie is more than willing to get her hands dirty to achieve what she wants. This is the episode where she goes from a simple bureaucrat to a despotic ruler. But even in her actions, we still get some sympathy, She has issues with what she’s done giving her a bit more depth than someone who’s just clearly and singularly evil.

And Melanie’s actions also has the show shoving Bess further into action. She’s been an interesting character who has shown real growth over the season, the person who’s eyes are opened about the injustice around her.

Out of the episodes so far, this is one that has really stood out. It begins to bring together so many of the plotlines that began to be seeded from the beginning. The show is finally on track and things are a bit clearer as the pieces of the puzzle come together.

Overall Rating: 8.0

TV Review: Snowpiercer S1E6 Trouble Comes Sideways

Snowpiercer

With justice not found in the previous episode of Snowpiercer, where does the train go from there? The opening moments of the episode are interesting showing a mechanical issue for the train but also setting up a strike due to the injustice. It shows the dichotomy of the train in that it’s inequality within a system that requires all to work together. It’s an interesting situation in that the system has to find a balance to work and everyone is in it together but a small set live comfortably off the work and suffering of others. It’s a microcosm of capitalism and our current socio-political spin. “We’re in this together” when only a few benefit.

The episode dips its toes too into unionization and strikes. Melanie threatens to break it by sending those who do to the tail. She sees the tail as leverage to keep those not there in line. The investigation into protest too shows off the corruption of the train’s police echoeing the real world.

The truth about Wilford also spreads as Andre spreads what he found out. The truth about the imprisonment too is dicussed describing it as “North Korea tucked away in second class.” Where Andres goes is interesting as we get to see cracks in higher classes and the tailies gaining allies. The decision may not be completely altruistic and more for one’s own survival but it points to the order being surface deep.

The episode gets interesting further as it throws in aspects of the surveilance state. A question hangs as to why some individuals are highlighted and Melanie delivers a reason why but it’s unknown how truthful she is. She is the one keeping Wilford’s secret afterall.

And finally, the episode really dives into disaster distracting the masses. The train is teetering on collapse due to malfunction. It of course survives leading to celebration. Much like Presidents starting wars or blaming others, it’s a momentary distraction from the grievances of the masses. It shows Melanie is more than capable of creating the narrative to muddy the seeds of revolution.

The episode is an interesting one as it builds off the previous arc and shows the various obstacles that stand in the way of equity and revolution.

Overall Rating: 7.95

TV Review: Snowpiercer S1EE5 Justice Never Boarded

Snowpiercer

When the last episode of Snowpiercer ended, Layton was thrown into their version of prison, a suspended animation which left a huge question as to where this series was going. The episode kicks off with a voiceover focusing on the revolution to come. It feels like a focusing of the show on the themes that have been teased throughout. A revolution will be fought to replace the tyranny that replaced the previous tyranny.

The episode really dives into class with a few storylines including the trial of LJ Folger and Bess Till moving to second class. How would a trial work on the train? What happens if LJ is found not-guilty? Will that shake up other classes? Does it matter when things are already volitile?

LJ is clearly a manipulative sociopath and it’s interesting the focus on her parents and their planning for the trial. They talk about who makes up tribunal and how unlikely they will find one of their own guilty. It reeks of white priviledge and dances around real world issues. We also see more of her interactions with her parents who… clearly have issues of their own.

The episode really focuses on the split of the train as can be seen with the Nightcar. The first and second class are overseeing a trial of one of their own who has killed individuals from other cars. We get to see more of the laws and rules that govern the train. It’s not the tailies that are pushing the revolution, it’s the third class who “touches every system of the train.”

The episode is interesting as Melanie figures out how to navigate the various political factions and what it means if the tribunal does see some equality. It’s an interesting discussion as we see similar issues playing out in the real world, clearly guilty individuals not be judged by the right parties and being found not guilty leading to unrest.

The episode is an interesting one as it feels like it explores the sparks of revolution. There’s the tailies who have been working to overthrow the oppression for quite some time. Then there’s everyone not in the first or second classes who may see the trial as their spark. One is an underclass who have been shat on the entire time then there’s those who may finally stand up after directly being impacted by injustice.

Justice is not reserved for the rich. There can be justice for all.

The above sums up well what the episode is about as the trial commences. And things really come together in the last ten minutes of the show as Layton’s fate, the trial, all come together. It’s some fascinating weaving of threads really getting to the “heart” of the episode. We get more information on Layton who is mostly away from the episode and really dive into the class divides on the train. It’s taken a while to get to the meat of the show but it looks like we’re finally getting there.

Overall Rating: 7.75

TV Review: Snowpiercer S1EE4 Without Their Maker

Snowpiercer

In the fourth episode of Snowpiercer, “Without Their Maker,” a shocking twist in the murder investigation brings Layton and Till’s manhunt to a cat-and-mouse climax. Layton gets closer to Melanie’s big secret, which may prove the most dangerous game of all.

The fourth episode of this series is a fascinating one in that it ends one chapter and opens up another. It’s an unexpected episode in so many ways and really leaves viewers scratching their heads as to what to expect next.

As we saw at the end of the previous episode, we know who the killer is and throughout the episode, all of that is revealed and the case “solved.” When the series began, I expected this murder mystery to play out far into the season but this episode goes heavy on that plotline and wraps it up in a way.

So where does the series go from there?

The episode hints at what’s to come not just with it’s shocking ending but also that the truth about Mr. Wilford will be what drives more of what’s to come. Melanie (Jennifer Connelly) has been clearly acting as Mr. Wilford with digitally put together speeches and acting as his voice. The rest of the trains seems to begin picking up on the fact something is up and Layton clearly knows something is up.

So Melanie’s actions at the end of the episode makes a lot of sense but where that puts Daveed Diggs’ Layton for the series is up in the air.

The exploration of class in this episode is limited and subtle. There’s a lot of talk of which class the killer is from and it’s likely any trial to come will touch on class further but as far as the big picture themes of the series, the focus on them is limited.

The episode is an interesting one as it could easily be a season finale. It for the most part wraps up what seemed like a major plotline but really was an engine for Layton’s story and to explore the train. It also sets up nicely what’s to come for the series. It’s an unexpected episode and one that is welcomed in many ways. We can move on from the odd detective story which felt shoehorned in and get to the real meat of the series.

Overall Rating: 7.15

TV Review: Snowpiercer S1E3 Access is Power

Snowpiercer

In the third episode of Snowpiercer, “Access is Power,” Layton descends into Snowpiercer’s black market with Till, searching for both the killer and a valuable commodity for his revolution. Also, Melanie stages a prize fight to distract the passengers from mounting class tension.

The third episode is a strange one to watch as its themes touch upon the real world chaos we’ve been surrounded by these past few days.

Melanie and those in charge’s control is slipping and that’s being noticed by the ticketed passengers. Much like a certain Cheeto colored elected official, the plan is to distract the masses with a prize fight, gambling, and a speech by Wilford. The episode is striking as it an “extinction event” is touched upon as the train hits some technical issues.

It’s hard not to watch this episode and think about the protests filling the streets across the United States, the attempts at distraction and controlling the narrative by the media, and COVID that still spreads undaunted.

Of course the fight goes off the rails resulting in a riot. That too feels like it reflects the real world as the rich and powerful watch the masses destroy each other for entertainment. With this segment alone, the show begins to touch upon it’s promise, though does so slowly.

The “detective” aspect of the show moves forward bringing in the concept of the train’s black market and an illicit drug trade based on the drug used for those in suspension. And all of it feels like it comes quickly as we’re also treated to the serial killer among the train. While this plotline all felt shoehorned in to the previous two episodes, now things feel a bit rushed as the reveals come quickly.

And underneath are the continued steps to the revolution which is underplayed and teased out slowly. And that’s one of the more fascinating aspects of the show. Some of it feels like its pace is rather quick while other aspects drag out creating a tone that’s all over. It touches upon class warfare and then at other times focuses on a police procedural. The show feels like numerous concepts mashed into one and none of it stands out. But, much like the Snowpiercer itself, the show might need to be judged by how the episodes come together as opposed to each individual car.

Overall Rating: 7.15

TV Review: Snowpiercer S1E2 Prepare to Brace

Snowpiercer

In the second episode of Snowpiercer, “Prepare to Brace,” Layton uses his new position as the train detective to investigate the murder while gathering intelligence for the revolution on the side. Melanie faces a resource crisis with potentially drastic consequences for the entire train.

The second episode of the series does a bit better of a job diving into the themes of the show, especially the disparity and brutality of the reigning regime. The episode opens with punishment being meted out for the uprising in the first episode. It’s a brutal in your face reminder that those that rule see the individuals in the back of the train as less than human because they’re not ticketed. Adults or children, it does not matter, justice and order shall reign and those who rock the peace shall be sacrificed to “appease” the train.

The episode continues to tell much of its story and world through the visuals. As Layton explores the train, we the viewer, do as well. Each train car tells a story with so much detail pack in it begs to be watched again.

An prime example here is the nightcar concert. It’s hard to not watch the excess and free expression while knowing the suffering in the back of the car is occuring. What’s interesting is what we also see happen in that car, which hints that the order from outside the tail might not be as present as believed and there may be potential allies.

The nightcar does allow us to learn more about Andre’s life before the train. We get a better sense of who he is and it’s a positive direction. Up to this point we just know he snuck on the train with family, lying about being a detective, and plotting a revolution. These aren’t exactly the makings of a straightforward hero. Instead we at least get a better sense of who he was before in a “loving” sense.

But, where the episode goes from there is interesting. Andre discusses the gangs and cannibalism that happened in the tail creating a sharp contrast with the individual we just saw. And the episode continues its uses of visuals by then cutting to the cows of the cars setting a contrast between what the tail has needed to do to survive compared to what the rest of the train has done.

From there, we get a bit more potential of the show as threats in the environment itself emerge with the train taking a beating from the snow and entire cars wiped out from a breach and the cold. That, along with the choices that stem from it continue to tease the potential of the show. And the entire episode is mostly those teases. We see the disparity of the cars and the people. We also see the choices that need to be made due to resources. It really continues the first episode’s setting up the world the show takes place.

While the debut felt a bit too much focused on Andre and his solving a murder, the second episode uses that as just a plot to set up our exploration of the train and the world and a tool for potential revolution.

The second episode is an improvement on the first teasing the potential of the series and bringing it more into focus of what was expected from the previous graphic novels and film. While still a bit drawn out, it’s setting up an intriguing series with a lot of potential.

Overall Rating: 7.15

TV Review: Snowpiercer S1E1 First, the Weather Changed

Snowpiercer

When the news that Snowpiercer was coming to television, I wondered how they’d take such a compact story and adapt it for television without stretching out what we’ve seen so far. Based on the French 1982 graphic novel series and praised film spun out from that, the show takes the familiar and mixes in… the familiar.

The story of Snowpiercer tells the tale of the last of humanity. The world has become a frozen wasteland and all that remains, that we know of, is a 1,001 car train the can never stop and circles the Earth. Along with the ticketed passengers a rush of those trying to survive fill the back of the car with stowaways. That sets up a story of class and caste. The “tailies” and ticketed passengers. The haves. And the have nots. It’s a story of class warfare while the survival of everyone is on the line. In the age of COVID-19, the series takes on an even more interesting twist layering on the haves representing those who want the world to open at the expense of the lives of tailies.

But, where can the show go? A police procedural.

There’s been murders on the train and actor Daveed Diggs‘ Andre Layton is tapped to solve it. Layton is a tailie and uses his newfound role to explore the train so that his fellow oppressed can rise up and take the train. We’re not getting the uprising, instead of a familiar genre with an unfamiliar backdrop. There had been a previous murder and now there’s doubt the individual found guilty committed the original.

Jennifer Connelly, the other marquee name on the series, is relatively underused acting as the voice of Mr. Wilford and keeping the train running. The talented Steven Ogg is the other face you might recognize, but his role is also rather short and abrupt. That leaves the focus, and pressure of success, on Diggs’ shoulders.

It’s an interesting start that teases the show’s themes as it introduces us to this world. There’s something intriguing about the direction and choice of how to plot this season but the end result is a bit cold in the end. The excitement and tension of the graphic novel and film are missing and we’re left with the shell of the original concept. It feels like a different show was fused with the Snowpiercer story.

The first episode teases a possible great series but doesn’t quite deliver on its concepts. It doesn’t commit to the struggle. But, as a debut, it’s more than enough reason to explore this world further. Hopefully, we get a more to connect with, instead of CSI: Train.

Overall Rating: 7.0

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