Monday, February 15, 2021

REVIEW: 'Snowpiercer' - Layton Asks Audrey to Confront Her Abusive Relationship with Wilford in 'A Single Trade'

TNT's Snowpiercer - Episode 2.04 "A Single Trade"

As the Big Alice crew are granted shore leave on Snowpiercer, Layton and Wilford have differing opinions on the future.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 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.

"A Single Trade" was written by Kiersten Van Horne and directed by David Frazee

The fetishization of suicide and self harm continues to be absolutely appalling this season. It was clear that Audrey was tormented the moment she learned that Wilford was still alive. This episode further fleshes out the backstory of the dynamic they had in the former world. It's absolutely heinous and despicable. She is a survivor of this violence. She has never truly escaped from under his thumb either. This train has been a shrine to Wilford for seven years. This is the only place to survive the apocalypse. She has to be appreciative of that despite the destruction he caused her both physically and psychologically. And now, Layton approaches her to ask if she is willing to continue this relationship with Wilford in order to gather more information about what's happening on Big Alice. Layton says he is only willing to do what Audrey is comfortable with. However, he is further traumatizing this individual who now exists in a world where she seemingly has no control. Her personal choices are limited. She tried her best to reinvent the Night Car during the seven years away from Wilford. It was originally designed to be a brothel and nothing more. It was meant to continue the elements of society that Wilford had always known and accepted. Women would work as escorts and would be expected to please the high-class socialites who need this form of entertainment. They would be nothing more than possessions for pleasure. Audrey altered this space to be one of therapy. Sure, those sessions could absolutely turn sexual. That's what happened with Layton and Zarah. It ends up in that same exact space here with Audrey and Wilford as well. It's meant to be a conversation of power and control. Audrey believed she had taken it away from Wilford because she was the one determining the operations of the Night Car without his presence. But now, that reality is completely consuming her from all directions. She can't disappear either. There is no where for her to go. It can be empowering for her to confront her abuser. And yet, any kind of satisfaction from that has to be delayed. She has to serve Layton. He has become the new leader who demands things from her. The season has really been leaning into the idea that Layton isn't an improvement from the leadership that previously existed on this train. He has allies who previously fought against the system. They hope it is better now. And yet, he is still putting on a show to celebrate minor developments in the name of entertainment. It's pure showmanship. He puts that forward as a way to manage Wilford. The two men are still sizing each other up. Meanwhile, Melanie has made it to the research station and has begun collecting data from the atmosphere. Her story has taken her elsewhere. She is no longer present for these evolving power dynamics. And again, the show has the potential to offer really compelling drama with this conversation about who gets to wield power and the proper way to do so. Instead, it feels repetitive with everyone making the same mistakes. The world does expand. Hope does enter the proceedings. Danger still lurks around every corner. Alex and LJ befriend each other. That's a disaster waiting to happen. Wilford manipulates his crew so that they are grateful that he delivers a night of freedom and luxury to just three of them. It's all a show. Alex sees behind the curtain. She isn't impressed. Snowpiercer continues to make victories over Big Alice though. That may change now that Josie has been moved to receive extensive treatments from the Doctors Headwood. Those two remain cagey about what exactly makes up their magical formula for curing frost burn. All of these steps are being taken. But again, damage is being done for very little payoff. Till infers that so much more is going on that the leadership doesn't understand quite yet. That just happens to be mixed with the personal turmoil and survivor's guilt that everyone continues to feel. That is more of a distraction to suggest personal conflict instead of further enhancing the story and the viewer's connection with the characters. At times, Till is important to the ongoing search for answers. Other times, she feels like an impediment to any kind of serious momentum. That's annoying. It extends to more than just her as well. The show is noncommittal with several characters and how far their actions are going to go. That also applies to any consequences for such developments. As such, the narrative essentially returns to being all flash and no substance. The flash just happens to be brutal and sadistic in a way that is completely galling and problematic.