Monday, January 25, 2021

REVIEW: 'Snowpiercer' - Melanie's Latest Action Ensures the Train Is Changed Forever in 'The Time of Two Engines'

TNT's Snowpiercer - Episode 2.01 "The Time of Two Engines"

Mr. Wilford has arrived. As this new threat rattles Snowpiercer to its core, Melanie makes a move that can't be undone.

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 premiere of TNT's Snowpiercer.

"The Time of Two Engines" was written by Graeme Manson and directed by Christoph Schrewe

The first season established that the citizens aboard Snowpiercer were the last remnants of humanity after the planet had been decimated into a frozen wasteland. The train could never stop moving because the engine wouldn't start up again. These are the basic facts that informed the story. However, Melanie was an untrustworthy narrator. The world is more complex than the version that she told people for the past seven years as they fought for survival in this place. She adhered to a strict class system because that was the hierarchy Mr. Wilford wanted to set up when he created this train. She never wanted it to be known that she was actually in charge. She always saw herself as the brain behind the operation. She would do anything to maintain power for herself. She killed in order to oppress the Tailies. She used whatever information and tactics were necessary to maintain the order that she forced herself to accept. When the power dynamic shifted, she became powerless but willing to help adjust the new system of order to this environment. She wanted to present herself as an ally. People understandably wanted to hold her accountable for the crimes she had committed over the past seven years. However, the action always pulled her back into the intense circumstances. Right when Layton and his rebellion won, Mr. Wilford emerged with a second train. This former supply station actually has the capabilities to completely take over. As such, the entire world is under his thumb once more. He wants to take back what he perceives as being wrongly taken away from him. He wants vengeance against Melanie for deceiving him and taking advantage of his hospitality and resources. Of course, he's the type of powerful man who expects people to be completely loyal and indebted to him because of the kindness he extends to them. He wants them to be grateful for his charity even though he simply does that to get some kind of benefit from the other person. He widens his orbit just to secure his own future. Once someone stops showing their service to him, he discards them in ways that are absolute and crushing. The leaders of Snowpiercer hope they can gain some leverage by attacking and taking a hostage. That doesn't mean anything to Wilford though. He will allow hundreds of people to die just so he can remain in charge of the last remaining collection of humanity. That's how he operates. So much of that is communicated in this premiere. The first season posited Mr. Wilford as a mythical figure. Someone who loomed large over the proceedings but was never actually seen. Melanie used that myth to maintain her illusion. He was never as awe-inspiring as so many wanted to believe he was. His influence was actually crushing to so many. Melanie broke free of that. She allowed people to prosper. She simply rationalized that that also had to come at the expense of those who refused to reside in this dangerous and changed world. Layton's rebellion fought for democracy. They hoped to craft a new government on Snowpiercer. That opportunity is taken away from them. They just finished fighting one war. And now, they are immediately thrown into a new one. It's exhausting for all of them. They can't escape it. This is simply what their lives have become. This is what survival means. That's the obvious nature of reality at this moment. Melanie may believe that it's starting to snow again in the outside world. She can't test that theory. She is too caught up in the power dynamics that now plague the trains. She has all the necessary resources to bind the two together permanently. She has something to fight for on Big Alice. She hopes to regain the love and trust of her daughter, Alex. That's something she lost. She made peace with that. And now, she hopes her daughter will do the right thing. She doesn't because she is loyal to Wilford now. That faith carries consequences to it. Melanie is a powerful adversary. Layton fought her and won. Her influence could only carry her so far. Now, Snowpiercer is fighting to get her back. Wilford likely won't let her go. She disrupts his plans. He must make his influence known. People have to decide what world they are willing to fight for. It just comes with the realization that they can never actually implement these grand ideas. Too much chaos thwarts the ideals of democracy. Layton's life is changing as well. He gets the chance to move up in luxury. People respect him. And yet, he too may not know how to wield power in this world. That may only invite more suffering as the costs of war add up. It's a complex reality for him to face. None of this will be changing any time soon. That means a new war is upon everyone once more with Melanie changing the battlefield for good.