Monday, February 28, 2022

REVIEW: 'Snowpiercer' - Layton's Need to Protect His Secret Propels Him to a Confrontation with Pike in 'Born to Bleed'

TNT's Snowpiercer - Episode 3.06 "Born to Bleed"

As the bomber is revealed, Layton comes to terms with his past decisions before making an irreversible call.

"Born to Bleed" was written by Tiffany Ezuma and directed by Leslie Hope

Layton agrees to fight Pike to the death. That action confirms Pike's entire theory about how leadership has changed Layton. It was a radical evolution for the character. Contextualizing it all in these lethal stakes helps cement it though. Melanie and Wilford embraced villainous tendencies when they were at the helm of Snowpiercer. And now, the same happens to Layton. The power of leading humanity to wherever they deem best is corrosive. It fundamentally changes a person. Of course, Melanie was given a season out of control to be offered redemption. The same seems to be taking place with Wilford. He sees himself as nothing more than a weak, old man now. He can no longer project strength and stability in the same way. He's alive. His body is failing him as a result of the injection of an unstable drug. Alex is even critical of how imprecise Roche's assassination attempt was. She can't leave anything to change. To take Wilford out, the assailant has to be certain with their weapon. Roche opted for tragic irony as vengeance for his wife's death. That's poetic justice in a way. It also allows Wilford to remain on the outskirts of the narrative. He remains relevant. His new status simply confirms that Audrey was drawn to the power afforded to the people in charge of the train. She didn't actually hit rock bottom like it seemed. She is still enthralled with Wilford and constantly scheming to regain what was lost. She is loyal to him even though his cause no longer seems viable. The train is Layton's now. He is in control. He decides how this society behaves. He promised change. He hopes to deliver leadership that treats humanity with more compassion. He finally has the chance to implement the changes that so many died to achieve. In reality, the train still separates its passengers. Everything works the same as it always has. Layton's promises are hollow. Moreover, he has lied to everyone. Pike is the only person who was skeptical of what was promised through New Eden. Layton's lie isn't even good. He claims that Asha came from New Eden. However, Layton's pirate train never made it there. That's why Snowpiercer must go along the treacherous track now. That doesn't explain how Layton and Asha met. She may feel more at home in confined spaces under the train. That also means she slips when Pike unexpectedly appears.

This shift in Pike's perspective is jarring. It does have purpose. That comes from this being his final stand. Layton killing him cements his shift into at least anti-hero territory. The show always wants to blur the lines of what leadership means in this new world order. Of course, it has followed a similar pattern each season. Part of that is learned behavior from over the years. Pike even states that things were so clear in the six months Layton was away. Wilford was the villain. Pike and Ruth were the heroes. They had to keep the resistance alive until Layton returned offering salvation. They achieved that. Wilford was ousted from power. The science supports Melanie's underlying thesis about the world thawing. Pike sees Layton as a traitor to the ideals that once meant so much. In fact, he views every past action as confirming Layton as someone who was never truly loyal to the Tail. That's complicated because it's easy to see Pike's argument. Layton prominently got to leave that space. He was tasked with a mission. That investigation didn't amount to much. It provided him with access. He had that taste of freedom before the rest of the Tail did. He continually brings salvation. In the time when others are asked to wait, they do so because they believe in him. However, Layton doesn't seek to understand all that his friends endured in order to survive. He was in the dark about how close Ruth and Pike got. They had to rely on each other. Layton knew that he could trust them to remain loyal to the train. They were the thorns in Wilford's side every single day. The resistance was powerful. And now, there is no need to resist any longer. Pike can't escape that mindset. He needs to see Layton as a traitor. The lies confirm that. They do so for the audience as well. Layton isn't the only person who enforces that false narrative. He is deemed responsible because he is in charge. Killing Pike also leads Layton to more visions. He positions himself as the prophetic savior. He has put that importance onto himself. It's the narrative showing how Layton can view all of this as fundamentally good. He kills his friend. The sacrifice is worth it despite passing out due to the likely concussion. His allies are stunned that he would take this path. He did so to maintain control. He kills because Pike represents a threat to his reign. He prevails because he has superiority in the narrative. Pike's death should shift perspectives as to how stable Layton has become. It may cement Ruth's own path towards leadership. But the show always wants to present the argument that Layton is righteous every step of the way.