Sunday, July 12, 2020

REVIEW: 'Snowpiercer' - A Shocking Revelation Ensures a New Power Structure for Humanity's Survivors in '994 Cars Long'

TNT's Snowpiercer - Episode 1.10 "994 Cars Long"

In the revolution's aftermath, Layton struggles to govern the shell-shocked survivors. Melanie finally makes peace with her demons, only to realize the biggest threat to their survival is right over her shoulder.

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 season finale of TNT's Snowpiercer.

"994 Cars Long" was written by Graeme Manson and directed by James Hawes

Layton and his revolution aren't given the ability to govern. They emerged victorious in the war against First Class. Melanie is no longer in charge of Snowpiercer. Layton will lead. He has big ideas about implementing democracy. And yet, the narrative is more interested in the chaos of the aftermath. Everyone struggles to bring about order. It's all explained as being a poor decision to separate the train cars that had all of the armed guards on them. Now, the Brakemen are over extended and the resources are crumbling because everyone is looting. They are taking whatever they can get. Layton, Till and Roche try their best to restore some sense of order. They want to start moving towards their societal ideas. Melanie can safely be an engineer alongside Bennett and Javi. She is grateful to no longer have to make all the hard decisions about survival on this train. She is exhausted. The show actually delves into her past as well. She breaks upon talking about her daughter and the destructive choice she made to leave her behind. It is a heartbreaking moment. Only now is Melanie realizing that she would rather spend time with her instead of being so focused on the work. She only saw the benefits of ensuring the survival of the human race. She needed that drive and passion. She had the expertise and knowledge to engineer this grand idea. She had to sacrifice being a mother to make that a reality. That also meant consigning herself to her daughter's likely death. They would never reunite. Melanie now has the time to properly mourn that loss. But again, it's not long until the action accelerates into top speed. Everyone thought the conflict aboard the Snowpiercer would be the major climax. It was the core struggle where everyone had to pick a side. Grey and the Folgers have been eliminated as threats. L.J. has been kicked out of her First Class suite. And now, a new threat is immediately introduced. Instead of recognizing the passage of time on this arduous journey as they complete a full journey on the track, they have to worry about a new train appearing. The engine picks up the signals first. They suspect that something else is out there. The world seems inhabitable. But they are listening to music that suggests a different culture and society has been allowed to thrive. The visual of another train immediately unifies the Snowpiercer. They aren't all happy to potentially see Mr. Wilford. Melanie is actually terrified. She does whatever it takes to avoid a collision and losing control. She still maintains that responsibility even though Layton won the war. She still sees this train as hers. She is in control. She won't give that away. She loses it though. Mr. Wilford is still alive and makes a vicious attack on the Snowpiercer demanding absolute and immediate surrender. Ruth is willing to greet his forces with a welcoming party. She celebrates his arrival because she has long viewed him as a visionary. She wanted Melanie dead because of her deceit. That didn't happen. In fact, Ruth just wants the clarity of knowing her love is respected. She is dangerous because she has access to weapons. She isn't wrong for suggesting diplomacy before violence. That is the right message for how society should operate when it comes to clashes between people. The story feels the need to do a show of force no matter what though. And so, it goes for the big action of seeing Melanie navigate the top of the train by herself only to fall off once the brakes hit. The Snowpiercer comes to a stop. That too is a stunning image. One that cements the idea that a new foe has arrived with the resources to make immediate change. Layton and his allies fought for that for years. They finally achieved that goal only to be greeted by a child who wants to be reunited with her mother. It's a big surprise that further expands this world. But it's all action instead of meaningful character work about the cost that everything that was done this season has had on the characters who now have to find a way to keep living. Layton and Miles mourn Josie for a moment. Layton and Zarah discuss being a family for a moment. Melanie and Bennett fight for a moment about the potential salvation of Wilford's resources. Till and Jinju break up over differences regarding the order of Snowpiercer. Ruth clashes with what Layton wants to accomplish. These moments should have value to them after ten episodes worth of development. In the end though, the show is still finding itself and struggling with what it is hoping to achieve through its social commentary. It basically amounts to nothing more than the world being dysfunctional and never being allowed to evolve behind the structures that have always been in control. People fight for that revolution. It is never enough. That is an especially odd message even though the show feels the impulse to keep things complicated and unexpected as it embarks on another season. Cliffhangers that could unravel everything are typical exciting. Here, it's just more evidence that the show wants to introduce something new to overshadow what has already occurred.