Sunday, May 31, 2020

REVIEW: 'Snowpiercer' - Layton Makes Huge Strides in His Murder Case While Melanie Crafts a Distraction in 'Access Is Power'

TNT's Snowpiercer - Episode 1.03 "Access Is Power"

Layton descends into Snowpiercer's black market with Till, searching for both the killer and a valuable commodity for his revolution. Melanie stages a prize fight to distract the passengers from mounting class tension.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of TNT's Snowpiercer.

"Access Is Power" was written by Lizzie Mickery and directed by Sam Miller

Layton identities the murder suspect at the conclusion of this episode. And then, the audience receives the confirmation that the character in question is in fact the killer. The show articulates that by having him kill even more people. That also happens to be the only action that defines that particular character. Before that point, he didn't even have any dialogue. The only thing of significance he had to do in the narrative was trade glances with L.J. in First Class. That happened several times. As such, any savvy viewer could suspect that something more was going on between them. But the show uses this reveal in order to introduce this character fully into the narrative. There isn't some understanding of who he is and how he operates before becoming the prime murder suspect. It just suddenly becomes important that he is the killer aboard the train. It's a mystery that comes to an end after three episodes. That is a good thing because the murder mystery has been the weakest aspect of the narrative so far. It was just so unimaginative for a show set in a post-apocalyptic future to revolve almost entirely around a search for a killer. The train faces a resources crisis at the moment. One of the train cars was nearly destroyed in the previous episode. That isn't revisited at all. There are only a few fleeting moments where Melanie discusses what actions need to be taken to keep the train running. Meanwhile, those in the Tail deduce that the train has slowed down. As such, they will have to brace for days and weeks of limited resources. It sets up the idea that the Tail should be removed from the train in order to help the other passengers survive. Melanie dismisses that suggestion. That proves that she does care about the preservation of human life back there. She isn't as cold and callous as the engineers or the First Class passengers. They treat the suggestion so nonchalantly. It would stop any talk of rebellion. Instead, they can just focus on their lives of luxury escaping the apocalypse. First Class comes across as the wealthy and privileged of the world who dance while society is burning to the ground. Chaos erupts during the fight night. Meanwhile, the privileged are up above dancing the night away. That encourages L.J.'s fascination with violence. That clearly has to be driving some action at some point. However, these characters are nothing more than archetypes. They are ideas the show is trying to explore. It just happens to be very clunky and boring in the early going. Layton does find a way to smuggle a message to the Tail. He just has to make a friend in the black market. That points him in the direction of the killer. But he is continually having to work two core objectives at the same time. He is given his freedom because he is a detective. He also has to fight to support his friends in the Tail no matter what personal harm may come his way. He may care about Miles and Josie more than others. However, he is fighting for a cause. That fight may change now that he has identified the killer. The narrative is shifting. It has to. At the moment, it's easy to poke holes in everything that is happening. Layton says he can sneak away from Till in order to meet with Terence. He doesn't even check to see if she is watching him though. She is distracted because Nicky has wandering into the fight night. That's what distracts her. So, Layton is mostly just lucky that he happens into fortunate situations and information. That doesn't present him as being all that smart or capable though. It may prove just how dysfunctional this train truly is. Melanie believes she has crafted the perfect illusion of Mr. Wilford maintaining a strong and rigid society. Instead, so many cracks have forced that could create a lot of damage without much effort. The pieces are there for that to be a captivating story. At the moment though, it's lackluster storytelling that could become something more should it gain the necessary focus and drive to do so. The narrative can certainly conjure up effective and chilling imagery. But the visual effect may be the only thing the show actually achieves. It doesn't really mean anything that Nicky wanders around the train in her confused state and the killer strikes the medical car before sitting down for a chat with her. They are eerie images. But that's basically all they are in a series yearning for more imagination.