Sunday, June 28, 2020

REVIEW: 'Snowpiercer' - Melanie Targets Josie and Miles to Lure Layton Out of Hiding in 'The Universe Is Indifferent'

TNT's Snowpiercer - Episode 1.07 "The Universe Is Indifferent"

On a divided Snowpiercer, Melanie intensifies her search for Layton. Meanwhile, Layton is weaponizing her secret, and Third Class faces a reckoning when he presents them with a choice.

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.

"The Universe Is Indifferent" was written by Donald Joh and directed by Helen Shaver

LJ makes the argument in the opening narration that the universe is indifferent to the pain and suffering experienced by humanity. Humans are inherently selfish, which has led to the near destruction of the entire species. Those tendencies and impulses are still apparent on the Snowpiercer. It's a masochistic view of the world. One where she has the privilege of delighting in the suffering of others. She doesn't have to endure it herself. When she did, she was allowed to avoid any kind of serious punishment. As such, it's startling that Layton is willing to trust her now with the big secret of the train. She may simply be one of the few people he knows will wield it as the weapon it absolutely is. Melanie argues that Layton won't reveal her truth about Mr. Wilfred until it is most beneficial to him. In actuality, he has to come clean with what he has learned during his time exploring the train just to potentially motivate the leaders of Third Class into joining his rebellion. He views the recent near derailment as a staged event. Melanie orchestrated it in order to quash any rebellion from forming in Third Class. She had to do something to calm tensions following the trial. The train was truly at risk though. Layton felt the urge to leave behind his vendetta against Melanie in order to be with Josie. He wanted to spend the potentially final moments of his life with her. That is how he feels. They declared their love for each other. They got to spend some time together. He is a fugitive and she has broken free from her place in this hierarchy. That's all they get though. In the pursuit of toppling an unjust system, people are going to die. Layton has that clarity. Everyone in the Tail knows that the fight for freedom may end tragically for them. Many have sacrificed their lives in the hopes of building a better life for those left behind. It hasn't gotten much better in the seven years since the train first departed on this mission. Layton hopes to change that now. He believes the Tail has the momentum to make a real difference. He can grow support in Third Class while also preparing his allies throughout the train. Miles is given importance. He has a role to play in all of this. Melanie wants to keep him close in the hopes of drawing Layton out. However, she may be placing him in the spot where he could do serious damage to her cause. Her rule has been absolute. Sure, the narrative wants to play into the complexity of the decisions she makes. It wouldn't be engaging or entertaining if she was simply a villain who delighted in the suffering of others throughout this class system. That can work for some characters. That's basically all the nuance there is to LJ. But the show uses that example as a way to examine privilege and the dark impulses within humanity. With Melanie, it wants to tell a more complicated tale of someone who rose to this position in life and is trusted with maintaining a certain world order. She is the person in charge though. She talks about being held accountable by someone. That oversight just isn't apparent. She is using Mr. Wilfred's name to get whatever she wants. People are willing to die to expose her and topple the society she has built. It's tragic that Josie dies here. It's a close call for Melanie as well. That action plays as the show knowing that it has to intensify the tension and call for rebellion. Josie will become a martyr for the cause. Melanie will have to fight against that. Any progress she has made may have been undone. It doesn't matter that her actions make her sick as well. She still committed them in the name of something greater. It isn't right. Josie understands that and hopes that Till will prove to be a valuable ally in the coming revolution. Josie won't live to see it. Her death has this importance to the overall momentum of the plot. But it also comes across as personal motivation for Layton because he loses the woman he loved. The audience didn't really have much time to buy into them as a couple. It was something introduced just in order to add a bit more to the proceedings. The same goes for Ruth's sudden openness to the talk of overthrowing Melanie in First Class. These are actions meant to cause drama instead of being narratively devastating and unexpected for the characters and audience. Plus, it's unoriginal while embodying a lazy trope of a woman's worth ultimately being nothing more than the reaction her death evokes in a man. There isn't indifference as LJ would like to note. However, it's still difficult to care when the show is very transparent with its wishes and not fully achieving them in the end.