Sunday, July 12, 2020

REVIEW: 'Snowpiercer' - A Dangerous Maneuver Could Shift Control of Snowpiercer Forever in 'Old Ways, Old Wars'

TNT's Snowpiercer - Episode 1.09 "Old Ways, Old Wars"

The rebel forces are on the ropes when a dangerous foe defects to their side. They hatch a final plan to take control of Snowpiercer once and for all, but it comes at a grave moral cost, and just may destroy them 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.

"Old Ways, Old Wars" was written by Aubrey Nealon and directed by James Hawes

At the start of the series, Layton and Melanie were reluctant allies. They never trusted each other. However, they had to work together to advance their agendas. Their partnership had purpose. That is still essentially true during the penultimate episode. Melanie's few remaining allies from First Class free her from the brink of death. That's a somewhat complicated and logistically weird moment. It's more important that she is free to roam around the train and eventually ally herself with Layton once more. It's also just a way to show that Javi and Jinji play a role in this war even though it's very minor in the grand scheme of things. It also establishes the prison car. That's the place where the prisoners of this war from the Tail and Third Class are being held and executed. It's a brutal death as well. Lives are actively being lost. The citizens of First Class don't care because they view overcrowding as a serious issue. This action deals with that while having no real effect on the war. Sure, it puts the stakes into greater context about just how amoral that side is willing to be. It should be no surprise whatsoever that L.J. grew up to be a woman with murderous impulses. Her parents teach her that that behavior is okay because it allows those they deem inferior to remain in their brutal places in this society. They get to dictate what status a person deserves to be in. They then have to be happy with that no matter what even though things are certainly not equal aboard this train. Layton and his revolution want to change that. Melanie's solution may ease some of the pressure. The fuel may be everlasting so long as the train never stops moving. However, the equipment on the Snowpiercer could fail at any time if it doesn't have the appropriate maintenance and care. Miles is trusted to be a part of the engineering team. He is a huge support for Bennett as they navigate the train through Melanie's complicated and risky plan. This maneuver is the only way that Layton and his allies can emerge victorious in this war. Before that moment, he is willing to surrender. He doesn't want to sentence more people to death - especially knowing that Zarah is pregnant with his child. That reveal makes him a changed man. One who cares more about human life. He is compassionate in that moment. He will sacrifice himself to ensure that more lives aren't lost because his revolution failed. When Melanie emerges from the ventilation, she does so with purpose. She knows exactly how to deliver a fatal blow in this war. She knows the design of this train better than anyone else. She knows the terrain that is coming and how to best use that to their advantage. Her solution is immediately accepted and acted upon. The train will disconnect and lose seven cars. The opposition forces will be trapped there and slowly but surely freeze to death. By controlling the speed from the engine, the other two sides can merge once more. It's an action that could effectively end humanity. Layton, Till and Roche are willing to take it because it's the only action that allows them a chance at a better life. One where the Snowpiercer is managed differently. Melanie will relinquish her control. She allies herself with Layton largely because it doesn't mean immediate death. This helps her stay alive. She has been motivated by the survival of the human race. She says she will do anything to keep it going. However, she also forces a severe choice onto Layton. When he disconnects the side up train, he also has to choose to condemn everyone still aboard the prison car. He wants to rescue them but he can't. He just doesn't have the time to do so. He makes that brutal sacrifice knowing that even more people will live. He has to say goodbye to people who believe in him and his ideology. He would never leave them behind. And yet, this is the only solution in the moment that can work. He is on a tight time schedule. He has to act quickly. It's the most agonizing and effective moment of the series to date. It highlights the dark choices humans have to make to survive the most brutal circumstances. That has always been the ideology of the series. However, it was very two-dimensional and broad when it came to depicting it onscreen. With this action, Layton will remain haunted by the cost of war. This is what it took to survive. Melanie knows that. She made it the only outcome for Layton to accept. They will never be allies. This action will cause more pain. Only the finale will reveal who emerges with power and the ability to shape the future. Layton is in charge. That comes with some extraordinary responsibilities while knowing that the logistics of this train may not suit his ideals. That's bleak especially when it comes to the social commentary on class. But that may be what Layton has to admit in order to escape the brutal reality that has defined life for seven years after the apocalypse.