Opportunity is key. Who has it, how they get it, and what they can trade it for are explored as Layton begins to put the pieces together in Snowpiercer Episode 3.
TNT’s serialized version of Bong Joon-ho’s film of the same name is timely not just because of the structure of the train itself but the idea of violent rebellion as a form of change. This weekend’s protests erupting all over the US prove you can only oppress people so long. The Tailies fight because they are rebelling. They are starving, sick, and freezing. They fight for better lives for themselves and the few children left in the Tail. The protesters across America march because the world shouldn’t tolerate brutality. Our status quo has created a system that makes a segment of our country terrified. The very nature of the train sets up opportunities for enterprising criminals to take advantage of the weak, just like our current world. Snowpiercer Episode 3 put that inequality front and center.
Melanie Cavill is smart. There’s no disputing she is bright. She isn’t nearly as intelligent as she thinks she is, though. That’s the problem with the intellectually elite. They fail to realize they have shortcomings, and others might contribute something. She has been running things for years by herself, and she believes her own hype. Bulldozing her way through, she clings to her authority. She borrows heavily from Winston Churchhill’s famous speech, “We Will Fight Them On The Beaches” when rallying her troops, believing they couldn’t possibly be educated enough to know the famous words. She splices together the real Mr. Wilford’s words from some long-forgotten board meeting to deliver a rousing message before Fight Night.
She is a cardboard cut-out masquerading as a leader. She isn’t wholly unfeeling, just out of touch. That might be even more dangerous. She isn’t willing to kill all the Tailies by disconnecting the Tail with all of them in it, but she isn’t ready to help them either. Her hand in their lives and deaths is passive. She doesn’t have actual blood on her hands. If the murders on board the Snowpiercer have proven anything, she doesn’t know nearly as much as she thinks she does about human nature, the train, or anything not related to her field.
Dr. Klimpt points out one of Mr. Wilford’s weaknesses when his role in Kronoles manufacturing was discovered. Those that are “drawered” have bed sores and physical maintenance issues that require things he wasn’t provided with to care for them. As a result, he sells RFID chips and chemicals. He is behind the drug trade onboard the train without exactly knowing it. The drugs used to keep the “drawered” individuals asleep are used to make Kronole. He knew intellectually that those substances were probably used nefariously, but he thought he was doing it for good reasons. It is his words at the beginning that demonstrate the importance of access. Everything has a price, and he has things everyone wants.
His role is initially altruistic; the result is not. The drug trade allows the security guards, namely Osweiller, to trade drugs for sexual acts. Last week he provided Kronole to help the woman in the Tail who had her arm froze and shattered. He is the worst kind of slime who uses other’s disadvantage to his advantage. The murder victim, Sean Wise, was looking into who was behind the distribution of Kronole. It undoubtedly got him killed.
Treachery is a way of life in this insular world. Jinju and Bess are in a relationship but clearly loyal to others. Mickey Sumner(Bess) has developed a complex character that’s more capable than anyone realizes. She is just beginning to understand what is happening on the train and trusts Layton more than she trusts her girlfriend. Jinju has allegiances to Melanie and her project over Bess. These two women have an affinity for one another but minimal trust. When they each get information, they betray the other. Jinju needs to keep Nikki from meeting with Layton, and Bess knows Melanie has been keeping Nikki separated even though she is no longer unconscious.
Taking a play from our own President, deflection is the key to squelching unrest. Melanie suggests moving a prize fight sooner. The winner gets a ticket from 3rd to 2nd class. She also encourages Ruth to keep the 1st class riders busy. The Folgers aren’t fooled and know they are being placated but participate anyway. As Fight Night arrives lots of citizens arrive to watch. It is a spectacle similar to Gladiator fights in the Roman days. The rich sit above the fray watching it all unfold while staying safe, while the lower classes are right in the midst of the violence.
Layton and Bess go to the fight as well to suss out who is slinging dope. The janitors are the great collectors of Snowpiercer, and Terrance(never Terry) has many side hustles. He runs Kronole, among other things. He provides Layton the chip in exchange for Layton’s wedding ring. Terrance is an opportunist and a possible ally moving forward. Shaun Toub(Terrance) is chillingly self-aware. He knows his worth on the train and knows how to advance his status.
Side characters got more significant roles this week. Brinkman Roche got more screentime in Snowpiercer Episode 3. Despite having a security role on the train, he has seen sacrifices of his own. He has been married for twenty years and had three children. Only one of those children made it on the Snowpiercer. He is one of the people who met Mr. Wilford before the freeze. Miles, Layton’s adopted son, has been moved to an apprentice program because of his intelligence. He is thriving in his new environment, and Layton is thrilled. He uses Miles’ situation as a way to communicate with Josie and pass a chip to her. When Layton got a description of the last person to see Sean alive, he parlays that into a brief discussion with Josie. Dr. Klimpt trades in more than just chemicals, and Layton is the recipient of that trade.
We got our first glimpse of the killer this week. The murderer is polished and very good at his job. The mysterious man dresses and acts like he is 1st class. The rich aren’t immune from psychopathy. He obviously has been killing for a while. He bludgeoned his way through the security guards and the medical technician. It doesn’t look good for Nikki. What she knows hopefully won’t die with her. With his skills, he more than likely is a tool of someone more powerful. Who that is will be interesting to discover. Power demands control, and he is the brawn to someone’s brain.
More than overt evil, passive misconduct may do more damage. Every action has a reaction. The chemicals used to “drawer” people and constant oppression led to a thriving drug trade. Distrust and undercover investigations by an ill-equipped spy led to Sean’s death. Meat noodles from human limbs are a consequence of starving people and strong stomachs.
When writing this review, there were other more visually captivating photos to use as the cover shot. It didn’t feel right to include a still from Snowpiercer Episode 3 of a white person, even if that person was a woman. With all the protests happening around the US, it’s important to remember that everyone but the 1%ers is just lower class train members. The upper-middle-class are the second class train inhabitants and those employed, but living in unsafe, underrepresented areas have as little opportunity as the third class.
That leaves the remainder who are marginalized, abused or taken advantage of. Those are the Tailies. As much as we would all love to hold onto our section of the train, we need to remember we are all just a second away from becoming Tailies ourselves. I never advocate violence, but it’s time to take a stand and fight for fairness before the Wilfords of the world control us all. Catch up on all our Snowpiercer coverage here.
- When did Mr. Wilford die?
- The Tailies are more resourceful than anyone gives them credit for. They not only are capable of determining problems on the train but they freely ration everyone for the benefit of the entire group.
- Terrance has serious connections. I wonder what else he trades for? We need to see more of his trash mafia.
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.