Sunday, June 7, 2020

REVIEW: 'Snowpiercer' - Layton Puts the Clues Together to Unmask the Killer and Uncover Melanie's Secret in 'Without Their Maker'

TNT's Snowpiercer - Episode 1.04 "Without Their Maker"

A shocking twist in the murder investigation brings Layton and Till's manhunt to a cat-and-mouse climax. But Layton is getting too close to Melanie's big secret, which may prove the most dangerous game of all.

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.

"Without Their Maker" was written by Hiram Martinez and directed by Frederick E.O. Toye

The murder mystery was the plot point that presented the agency and urgency to the narrative. And now, that mystery has been wrapped up. Layton has solved the case. He identifies Eric as the killer. The brakemen search Third Class until he is found and killed. Meanwhile, L.J. was the one who actually determined who to kill and why the genitalia should be removed. Layton deduces all of this quickly. It confirms what the audience had already suspected given the numerous glances that L.J. and Eric have shared when they were previous seen. This moment is really the first that provides any true sense of character definition for either of them. It actually ends for one of them though. Eric is killed during his final confrontation with the brakemen. The show tries to increase the stakes of that moment by having Jinju be taken hostage. That gives Till a personal stake in the outcome of this manhunt. However, the resolution mostly makes all of that moot. It's a clean conclusion. It's an intense moment built up to ensure that there is a sense of unpredictability hanging over the proceedings. Meanwhile, the main story is happening up in First Class. Layton makes it up to the front of the train. He sees how the wealthy have been leaving for the past seven years. It continues to highlight the privilege they have and the oppression the Tail has felt. He calls it out. He's not afraid to do so. Melanie can even take ahold of that sentiment and channel it into something effective for her. Melanie and Layton have absolutely found a way to work together. They don't inherently trust each other. They come from two very different worlds and have two different opinions on what the future holds for Snowpiercer. However, Melanie needs Layton to solve this murder. He provides that for her. This case was never his priority when exploring the train though. He was gathering information about this place. He needed to know where to look to find potential allies and resources. He has found individuals who also feel oppressed and would even support the Tail should some kind of uprising take place. He understands everyone has to be strategic. Mr. Wilfred has already put meticulous thought into how this ecosystem should operate. Of course, it's truly Melanie pulling the strings. She can lord that influence over everyone on the train. Lilah demands to speak to the man in charge but she is pushed into compliance simply by Melanie's nonchalant words. Melanie wields that power and knows how to use people to get exactly what she wants. She plays Layton excellently in that regard. He could have formed an alliance with L.J. where he remains quiet about her role in the murders so long as she provides weapons to the Tail. He doesn't do that though. He exposes the truth and allows for L.J. to face justice for the crimes she has committed. Him showing off his intelligence makes him a target though. Melanie understands that she can't allow him to share the information he has gathered. He may only have his suspicions about the truth at the front of the train. That's enough to frighten Melanie though. It's a potent visual for a black man's life to be interrupted in order for a white person to maintain a sense of power and order. Layton was viewed as the hope for the Tail revolution. His actions have allowed the Tailies to break free further than they have before. It's still crushing when they get the note that he has gone missing. That is important. It proves that he holds information that could disrupt this environment. That confirms that Melanie is an oppressor. She silences the words of the opposition who can expose her as a fraud. It's a solid cliffhanger. It only lacks some power because the audience probably knows that Layton - the lead character after all - probably won't be stuck in the drawers for very long. It would absolutely be engaging if he woke up in a world that was different than the one he has already experienced. But the show needs to put the work in to prove that this system is on the brink of collapse. It has created that rising action of uncertainty. Melanie acts on some of that power here. She listens to Layton when it suits her interests. She condemns him as a threat afterwards. He has seen too much. He has given too much hope for a better world. It's potentially beautiful. But it also signals a change of structure that takes power away from the person who sees this as the only way to survive the end of the world. Those who ended it may still be in power though while those who have long been oppressed are still fighting against the same rigid sense of order that exists when nothing else in the world does.