Monday, February 22, 2021

REVIEW: 'Snowpiercer' - Layton Continues Compromising His Morals to Defeat Wilford for Control in 'Keep Hope Alive'

TNT's Snowpiercer - Episode 2.05 "Keep Hope Alive"

Layton and Miss Audrey make a risky play for Big Alice, but Wilford has his own plans.

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.

"Keep Hope Alive" was written by Tiffany Ezuma and directed by Leslie Hope

This season has been pulling apart the argument that Layton is an effective leader. He took over that role from Melanie upon the conclusion of the revolution. And now, he is warring with Wilford for control of the train. Both sides have managed to open trade. Both sides have infiltrated the other to pass along information and plot more sinister actions. The heart of the conflict comes from the conviction Layton and Wilford have to take the most drastic actions to emerge victorious. Wilford has no qualms about using violence and subjugating people to his will. Meanwhile, Layton fought for democracy. He views any corruption of that moral path as an argument for why it is destined to fail. He wasn't given the opportunity to implement his system. Instead, he was quickly thrown into the deep end with this massive conflict. As such, his morals are being tested on the fly. It comes to a head the moment he asks Pike to kill Terence in order to keep Josie safe aboard Big Alice. A lot of that interaction is informed by the past. The Tail embraced cannibalism at one point in time in order to survive. That action forever changed Pike. He was offered redemption afterwards. That helped him become a better man. Layton is responsible for that. And now, Layton is asking Pike to compromise his values in service of the greater good. This is the only way to keep the train safe. Layton has made that determination. He can't stomach the action himself. He has to order someone else to do. And yes, Pike does it. Terence is killed here. That moment shows just how powerful Layton's influence still is on the train. People are willing to abandon their posts and their loyalty to Terence in order to make this happen. It's simply eliminating one threat while a larger one still looms. Snowpiercer has still been infiltrated in a significant way. In fact, the argument can be made that Layton has no clue what's happening on his train. Wilford has complete control over Big Alice. He demands everyone respect his leadership. He certainly fills the days of his crew with intrigue. It's only what's important to him though. He determines how they view each day and what service they can provide for the overall mission. He keeps them in that limited function because he views that as being all that they are good for. He knows how to offer people some semblance of life without having to create situations that threaten his leadership. This entire time he has had a plan. He still has allies on Snowpiercer. People are loyal to him no matter what. They aren't indebted to either Melanie or Layton. Melanie is gone. Her mission continues. Snowpiercer offers false hope about her activities. It's what the leadership feels is necessary in order to continue presenting as strong and cohesive. The Breachmen are killed though. Almost all of them are. That is Wilford's big move. It's not using those soldiers to carry out this coup. Instead, the attack comes from mysterious individuals within the crowd. The show creates that uncertainty. No one knows what truly happened. It's perilous and widespread enough to create severe issues. Meanwhile, Audrey fails in her mission to sabotage the engine on Big Alice. She is determined to succeed. Wilford notices her failed attempt though. And so, many people could be fighting a losing battle. That is tragic. It shares once more how easy it is to corrupt the world at large. Wilford is a sociopath who believes his vision of the world is the only way that it can be. He thinks Audrey is only fully realized as a human being when she is with him. Alex certainly calls him out on the misogyny. That doesn't change his behavior though. He remains in control. Actions happen exactly as he has planned. Layton and his allies are still largely reacting to every shocking twist and turn. Audrey stays on Big Alice longer than she expected. Josie still succeeds in passing messages along. But again, everyone has to question the morality of their leaders. Both sides have embraced deadly tactics in order to survive. That may be what the world has made acceptable. It's foolish to strive for some grander ideals. Everything will always be this dark and full of despair. Hope is fleeting. Some people can even escape this grand conflict. It doesn't always have to be deadly in order for this reversal of power dynamics to occur. Death makes it a more visceral experience. Wilford is in control now. Audrey and Josie are the only uncertainties aboard Big Alice. Their actions are in service to a greater good. And yet, Layton still demands so much from them without fully reciprocating that same respect and determination. He orders Terence's death to save Josie. That doesn't make him much better than Melanie or Wilford though. He is simply more torn about it before issuing the order and remaining cautious about who he can trust with information. Ruth has proven her loyalties to Snowpiercer. Layton still pushes her out. These blindspots are glaring and may only signal further destruction at the hands of absolute villainy.