Monday, March 29, 2021

REVIEW: 'Snowpiercer' - The Train Divides Again Between Layton and Wilford with Melanie's Life in Jeopardy in 'Into the White'

TNT's Snowpiercer - Episode 2.10 "Into the White"

Hope is a powerful motivator. As things hit their darkest point, Layton hatches a plan.

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 season finale of TNT's Snowpiercer.

"Into the White" was written by Graeme Manson & Aubrey Nealon and directed by Clare Kilner

For years, Big Alice existed as a compact train stalking Snowpiercer along the tracks. Wilford was waiting to strike. He was preparing for the right moment to appear and immediately take over. His plan didn't go smoothly. The two trains were forged together as one. Melanie created the new equilibrium for the season. She then served as inspiration for what the future could be. She offered hope that the world was warming once more. The planet would be habitable in the lifetimes of these characters. She simply needed more science to prove her hypothesis. She was willing to risk it all in order for humanity to survive. Layton and Ruth rally around that same idea. The conflict with Wilford isn't defined by them having to become just like him in order to defeat him. It's simply about being willing to risk everything of meaning aboard the train in service of this hope. They band together to launch this latest coup. Lives are lost along the way. Some people feel protected because of the valuable skills they bring to the ongoing function of the train. However, Wilford still deems Javi to be expendable. He doesn't need another engineer to further complicate his life. But again, it's all fundamentally about loyalty for Wilford. He expects everyone to be grateful to him because he is the only reason they are all still alive. He presents himself as their hero and savior. Whenever a crisis emerges, he is the one to save the day. It doesn't matter that he is the one who created the disasters in the first place. Men like him have always been corrupting this world. Their expectations are diabolical. They only lead to ruin. And yet, Wilford doesn't die at the conclusion of the season. That's a bit of a surprise. It certainly felt like his story as the antagonist could have been resolved within one season. That creates a much more open ended conclusion. It's not inherently bad. It just comes across as setting the stage for the next conflict. That's all that this world ultimately aspires to be. It's recovering from one conflict just in time to prepare for the next. Some lives are saved. Others are lost. Josie has found new purpose. Wilford hopes to wield her as his powerful new weapon. She is someone who can bear the cold and strike his enemies. That's not where her loyalties lie though. That has never been in question either. All it takes is contact from Ben for her to know exactly what to do. She has never wavered in her support of Layton. Her actions may destroy the aquarium. They fulfill the plan that Layton and his allies have hatched though. Her journey contrasts with Audrey's too. Her storyline has been a complete mess. Earlier, the narrative was purposefully teasing the audience about where her loyalties lie. She lives in fear of Wilford but stands by his side. It felt like some twist could reasonably happen where she turns on him. Instead, she explains it's all about survival. She supports Wilford simply because he seems like the obvious victor. That is true to a certain extent. He knows how to viciously take power for himself. Layton and his allies never lost hope. They rally around Melanie making contact again. Wilford still disrupts those plans. But they still succeed in breaking free. The train becomes two once more. This time the engine from Snowpiercer breaks off as a compact unit to embark on its own special mission. The lines are drawn anew. Each side has potential liabilities on the other train. Ruth and Zarah aren't with Layton. They could suffer as a result. The Tail can as well. Moreover, Melanie is lost at the end of this story. That is a huge surprise. It doesn't quite feel earned either. It's odd that her story largely concluded with "Many Miles From Snowpiercer." She fought to get back to the train. The fight for power prevented her from safely reuniting with them despite numerous people fighting for that outcome. As such, she dies in the cold. Her last act is to save the climate data for as long as possible. Layton and Alex do retrieve that. The mission continues. There is reason to hope. Melanie just happens to die off camera. That strikes a lot of emotion out of that moment. Instead, it's all about Alex's reaction to the news. Melanie has existed more as a precious resource to be fought over instead of a multi-dimensional character with a stake in the outcome of this world. That was a strange development this season. Again, so many characters had weirdly structured stories here. It is hard to make sense out of a lot of it. That too makes the show feel less invested in what can potentially happen next. It's going to be a battle. That is the obvious answer. It's what it is all about. People hope for a better world. What has been created on Snowpiercer is mostly a continuation of the heinous deeds that ended the previous one. Some people make noble sacrifices. However, the true monsters continue to live with a vast amount of power that can be used to a lethal extent. That should be feared. Nothing about this ending feels like the conclusion of a chapter in this story. It's just symbolizing that the future of the train is divided - both physically and within the hearts of its passengers.