After last weeks premiere of Snowpiercer I was very much looking forward to episode 2. Usually the second episode focuses on setting up the backstory and take a break from the hectic plotting of the premiere. Snowpiercer is no different. Former detective Andre Layton is quickly pushed into conducting his homicide investigation of one of the passengers. At all times he remains teamed up with Bess Till, one of the brakemen, who is showing a softer side this episode. While Layton does his thing Melanie (Jennifer Connelly) has to face awkward questions from first-class passengers. They know about the revolt of the tailies that killed nearly 20 and they know about the murder. Meanwhile Snowpiercer has to face a difficult piece of track. The train’s momentum is creating earthquakes that is setting of avalanches.
Layton, Zarah and Sean
Layton starts his investigation with the man who found the body, but that is dead end. Next he questions people who knew the victim, Sean, personally. His former lover Zarah invites him to the ‘night-car experience’, some sort of hallucinogenic method to relive past experience. Layton sees flashbacks of his past live with Zarah. Its an effective method besides flashbacks to enlarge the scope of the series beyond the Snowpiercer. What is perhaps less believable is how Andre and Zarah immediately rekindle their love after years of separation. However, Andre does uncover Zarah and Sean were planning to have a baby, something that could be arranged through perks. Sean’s autopsy reveals his dismemberment was done with a meat cleaver. This casts suspicion on the people in the cattle carriage, though it does explain why his penis was removed before death.
Only on TV
In a turn of events only possible in series an avalanche hits Snowpiercer and breaks the glass to the cattle carriage. Everybody there is killed, leading to shortages of meat and methane now that all cattle is dead. Somehow it is odd no one considered more redundancy. However, these problems are Melanie’s. Andre (Daveed Diggs) considers no one in the cattle carriage had motive. If the murderer wanted to pass Sean’s meat has beef, cannibalism was rumored, then why torture him before death. The episode ends here. In the last scenes Andre stages a breakout from his cell just to pass on a map of Snowpiercer that he has been building throughout the episode.
Though he succeeds he receives a considerable beating. Melanie confronts him about his escape attempt and questions why he is onboard Snowpiercer. Andre now plays his ace card and tells her Sean was her snitch in 3rd class. That explains the perks he received. Somebody found out, just like with the first murder years back. Cutting of the penis was torture to reveal what he knew. Melanie needs Andre to solve murder and uncover what the killer knows about Snowpiercer.
The limits of Snowpiercer
The second episode of Snowpiercer was very effective at showing us more of the backstory. We saw more of the oddball characters from the premiere, but also what length people will go to survive. One of the male tailies gave fellatio to a brakeman in return for drugs. These are used to treat the sick in the tail. All this gives the show a hard edge, despite the dubious premise. However, there is a innate problem with Snowpiercer. Why should we be vested in the characters? They live in an apocalyptic future in which most humans are all dead. And on the face if it I cannot see an end to this particular train journey.
Besides, most of the characters on Snowpiercer are assholes. I mean it, most fear to lose what little they have and to add drama to the show we see them accost Layton almost every other scene. At this moment I am rooting for the entire train to just derail and have everybody suffer a painful death in the cold. Or I prefer Layton to start a rebellion that ends in the engine. Snowpiercer will probably end either way, or both and the shows producers have the task of delaying the inevitable.