Monday, March 7, 2022

REVIEW: 'Snowpiercer' - Layton Endures a Cyclical Journey Inside the Mind Following His Fight with Pike in 'Ouroboros'

TNT's Snowpiercer - Episode 3.07 "Ouroboros"

As the train grapples with Layton's status, he's discovering that some dreams aren't worth having. Wilford makes a shocking discovery.

"Ouroboros" was written by Renée St. Cyr & Tina de la Torre and directed by Christoph Schrewe

This is hardly the first show to present a character lingering between life and death as them falling into an alternate reality and needing to solve a mystery in order to regain consciousness in the real world. It's a lazy plot construct too. It presents strength and determination to heal as the sole reason to explain the person's ultimate recovery. Layton suffered a concussion before his confrontation with Pike. Then, he fought Pike to the death. He prevailed. He passed out shortly into the night he was required to spend with his former friend's body. He went hours without receiving any medical treatment. Nothing Dr. Pelton does aids in his recovery. In fact, the narrative presents Audrey's voice as offering more of a healing quality. She places her hands on Layton's chest and tells him to move towards her voice. It's presented as further confirmation for appreciating Audrey once more. She helped the leader of the train when he needed it the most. Till appreciates that. Meanwhile, the work of Dr. Pelton goes unsung. She simply states he's in a coma. She also sees the benefit of his loved ones being close and talking with him. She gets no praise. But none of this is the ultimate reason why he wakes up. Instead, he has to realize he's been lying to the train. His prophetic visions may be nothing more than his subconscious processing images around him while physically diminished. He was losing oxygen in Asha's bunker when he received his first vision of New Eden. They returned only during his fight with Pike. That gave him the motivation to strike and kill the man who threatened that vision. Only now is he beginning to question whether it's true or not. That's simply baffling. He simply believed in the visions being true. He led the entire train to believe as well. As such, they've been chasing that mystery. At the same time, enough information has been collected to suggest Melanie is still alive. That's a huge development. One that has to settle for being less significant because of its placement within the rest of the episode. It's all incredibly frustrating. That extends from the poor characterizations that have plagued Layton this season. He's not a good leader at all. It takes almost dying for him to stop believing in the sanctity of his word. That never should have been good enough. It was. It allowed him to take complete control. People followed him because he seemed reasonable. That could never withstand much interrogation. Layton's willingness to accept it now may not offer anything exciting either. It just leaves him more desperate for something of meaning to be found in the horn of Africa.

The point of producing an episode like this is to have fun with seeing the characters in complete new circumstances. Everything with Layton's journey though comes across as incredibly tame and familiar. It's a group of resistance fighters fighting for salvation aboard Snowpiercer. Sure, it presents with more tropical themes. Better foods and drinks are available. It's clearly aspirational on Layton's part. These are the joys of the dreams he once had. He yearns for that simpler time aboard the train. Everything has gotten so complicated. He doesn't know how to cope with that. Instead, everyone has the potential to be an ally or an enemy. They can turn in an instant against him. This is the life he is offering his newborn daughter. That's all she can hope for as well. No one can escape the train. It's what will confine all of them for the rest of their lives. Layton doesn't want to buy into that argument. In fact, more people are willing to look to the outside world and see the miraculous now. That has very little to do with Layton. He isn't the only person with agency. Everything continues to be shaped through his limited perspective though. He wakes up fearing that he has led from a lie. That was clear from the first moment he and his allies made the plan. He never thought so apparently. That's a false choice. One the show didn't provide the adequate context for. And so, it comes across as the season trying to find a purpose now that explains Layton's poor leadership and the lethal choices he has made. He survives. He won't face any lingering health problems. He is healed completely. That too is nonsensical. All it took was him relieving this mental block. It had a hold over him. He couldn't ignore it forever. Nor should everyone be so quick to forgive and appease him. He presents a dangerous journey. That was teased when he first suggested this path to the passengers. And yet, the terrain has been much more treacherous on the inside than anything on the tracks outside. That too makes it all seem like the show hasn't yet followed through on the threats it set up at the start of the season. It's delayed satisfaction. That doesn't work in an episode that is deliberately designed to pad out the main narrative. Nothing consequential happens here at all. It may offer the perception of such given Layton's revelation. It's not. It's the show embracing the cyclical nature of the train. It can never change. That doesn't present a narrative with many opportunities for momentum and evolution. After three seasons, that makes a show with a lost sense of perspective.