Monday, February 14, 2022

REVIEW: 'Snowpiercer' - Alex Remains Haunted by the Past While Pike Questions Layton's New Leadership in 'Bound By One Track'

TNT's Snowpiercer - Episode 3.04 "Bound By One Track"

Alex must finally deal with her parental figures as a track obstruction uncovers a painful past.

"Bound By One Track" was written by Renée St. Cyr and directed by Leslie Hope

Layton told the citizens of Snowpiercer that the path to New Eden would be treacherous. That's why they've never traveled that route during the years since their departure. And yet, they voted to follow that journey because they were given hope. Asha was presented as a survivor from New Eden. Everyone was so quick to latch onto that hope. It's a vision of a better future. One outside of the train. Asha's life has improved. Life on Snowpiercer is better than the isolation she endured in a nuclear reactor. It's overwhelming but she won't break when it comes to this lie. Pike is the only one questioning the story that Layton has delivered though. It's responsible for people to question what their leaders tell them. Wilford punished those who stepped out of line and challenged his authority. That could explain why so many people are tepid in their critiques of Layton. Pike isn't afraid. He has suffered through this journey alongside Layton. Their paths diverged after a certain point though. Layton had purpose elsewhere on the train. That took him all the way up to leadership. It's a role he fought to have. He demanded it because he saw his leadership as being the necessary way to rule the last remnants of humanity. Pike certainly has lofty ambitions as well. He has disrupted the power structures of the train. He is simply counted on to be the reliable foot soldier. He was a lieutenant for Ruth as they led the resistance during the isolation with Wilford. That power structure is gone now. Ruth is back to being the head of hospitality. That means a return to the teal suit and the possibility of order. That was such an ideal for her at one point during this journey. And now, the story suggests that shouldn't be good enough for her now. She can aspire for more. Pike views her as the deserving leader of the train. She has been through all of the transitions of power. She has always done what was best for the train. That was her primary goal. She believes she is continuing to do that even while embracing Layton's lie. Ruth and Pike may be growing closer. That only puts them at odds with Layton. Ruth carrying that secret dooms this romance before it starts. They still yearn for one another though.

Ruth and Pike at least have the opportunity to pursue those feelings. Before, it was all about survival. And now, people can actually examine the trauma they have endured during the last few months. Javi has to drive the train even though he is terrified by the dog that could come back to attack him at any time. Alex realizes that she loves Wilford for what he taught her despite the horrors he inflicted on humanity. It's all wrapped up in an obstacle that resolves over the course of this episode. It's a way to inform Wilford where the train is in the world. It also allows Alex to show off her smarts and capabilities as an engineer. It delves further into the horrors that were done when Big Alice was struggling to survive. Wilford made people feel like they collectively sacrificed even though he willfully chose to kill half his crew. It's devastating. Alex was made to feel special because she was saved. And now, she clears the track for Snowpiercer to continue. She has her parental figures to thank for that clarity. She is still defined by living in their shadows though. Melanie and Wilford loom larger even though the show wants to pivot to a new focus. As such, it's difficult for the show to make a smooth transition. Sure, Wilford's life may be in danger. Roche wants to kill him. That only just shows how much people have changed since the start of this journey. That hindsight is necessary and provides vitality to the various developments. It's also done just to create complications that are messy instead of driven by character. Yes, it's an understandable impulse for Roche to want Wilford dead. It's reasonable why the new leadership wants to avoid killing their political rival. And yet, Wilford remains a threat as long as he stays alive. It doesn't matter that the show uses hallucinations of him and Melanie to drive a point about the lessons learned along the way. It's a plot construct to better dramatize developments while largely delaying any sense of momentum for the new journey of the season.