Monday, March 14, 2022

REVIEW: 'Snowpiercer' - Treacherous Terrain Emerges Once the Train Decides to Change Its Mission in 'Setting Itself Right'

TNT's Snowpiercer - Episode 3.08 "Setting Itself Right"

As the train detours from New Eden, an environmental catastrophe threatens everyone onboard.

"Setting Itself Right" was written by Marisha Mukerjee and directed by Leslie Hope

Asha provided hope to the citizens of Snowpiercer. She existed as the proof of life sustaining itself off the train. She proved New Eden was more than a scientific theory. It's an actual place everyone onboard can aspire to live someday. That amounted to her being more of a plot point than a character. Her achievements that kept a nuclear power plant sustainable for human life for years went mostly overlooked. It's not until this episode when the train's own air filtration system comes under risk that those skills are necessary. She is the only person who can make the necessary sacrifice to save everyone. As such, that requires her to feel the same sense of duty that everyone else does. They need to stand together for the collective mission. No individual is more important than the mission. Lives have been lost along the way. Everyone mourns. It was all righteous because it ensured survival for all. It was only a few episodes ago that Asha was hiding in the secret underground holes of the train. That was the environment that felt most comfortable to her. She couldn't make the transition to a new existence. She had to always be looking out for herself because the cruel world has only offered her suffering and pain. Even when she tried protecting her family, she ultimately lost everyone who mattered to her. Layton saved her life. He pulled her out of the hole she dug for herself. And now, she finds purpose thanks to Ruth's determination. She is brought back to life fully. She has found a place to belong. She can contribute as one meaningful cog in a much larger system. Her role in the agriculture car is important. Her actions have consequences. She isn't the one at the head of the train making life or death decisions. She helped convince the train to unite under Layton's leadership. He laid out a path for them. She supported his vision for hope and prosperity because he had already provided that salvation for her. She repaid the favor. And now, she is required to make the ultimate sacrifice to prove to Layton he should still keep that hope alive. She confirms his vision is nothing more than a picture she had in the bunker. He based all his hope around the vision. It wasn't about the person he found. It was awhile both the show itself saw a function for Asha beyond symbolic. Even then, it does so right as it kills her off. That's lackluster overall. It signals Archie Panjabi only signed on for a year with the show. Life is always evolving on this train though as evidenced by whatever experiments Dr. Headwood is cooking up now.

A detour is taken away from the path to New Eden due to evidence supporting the idea Melanie could be alive. It's a theory created by Wilford and backed up by the data Ben and Alex analyze. As such, it's worth pursuing. Of course, the terrain turns out to be much more treacherous in this direction than where the train was headed. It's all done in the pursuit of closure. That's a powerful unifier amongst the train. Carly lost her mother. She grapples with that every day. She and her father have to find ways to survive. They do so together. Alex isn't alone in mourning Melanie. So many of the engineers and those in leadership seek inspiration from what she would do in any situation. They all want to believe she has survived for months on the strength of a single train car moving slowly around the world. The episode closes with confirmation of the visual. The train is closer than ever before to being fully reunited. That doesn't happen quite yet. Instead, it's a tease of what could potentially happen. It's a distraction in service to a character who has been pivotal throughout this narrative. That leaves not a lot of storytelling room for the show to focus elsewhere for its final two episodes. It will be tight. Of course, that's how the show has always operated. Even when it can relax, too much still happens without enough explanation for why the audience should care. For example, Till and Audrey are bonding now. It's a connection that seeks relief mostly out of boredom. Till can't help with the obstacle now in the way. It's mostly a convenient excuse to keep her away from the danger. She thrives in being of service. She has placed her entire sense of self-worth in her ability to do the job. That can't make up for her heinous past actions. Those can't be easily forgotten. No one can deny the reality that existed on this train for years. They just can't linger on it. Audrey frees that burden. And yet, this story is mostly about suggesting a romantic connection between them instead of offering relief to a character in need. That's strange. It asserts a desire to keep as many characters as possible in interesting positions. That means Zarah has a different relationship with Wilford than Layton does while LJ seeks out allies who can prop her up because Layton's administration has no tolerance for her whatsoever. It all has the potential to be interesting. It's also padding the story out so the big revelations don't come too soon.