Wilford is testing the faith of the resistance. A near-perfect Snowpiercer Season 2 Episode 9 asks everyone to stay strong and trust each other.
The penultimate episode of Snowpiercer Season 2 felt like the beginning of something big. It was anxiety-inducing, painful, and played out like the best Rocky montage. Wilford has control now, but he’s losing it literally and figuratively. At first glance, the title of Snowpiercer Season 2 Episode 9 would appear to be about Wilford. He is, after all, the king of all show and no-go. This superficial, myopic, petty man cares only about himself. He needs the show to keep increasing everyone’s adoration. The show must continue bigger and better to maintain his stranglehold on the train. The title is actually about Layton and the rest of the resistance. The group is being separated and neutralized, but they have a chance as long as they are living. The show must go on for Layton, and his group or all of Snowpiercer 1034 long is doomed.
An emotional Snowpiercer Season 2 Episode 9 highlights the differences between Layton and Wilford. Cooperation is about respect and fairness. Layton offers both, while Wilford just takes. If you have nothing to offer, you will be eliminated. Wilford instructs Ruth and Kevin to take a census. He wants people divided into age groups and abilities. Ruth is disgusted by the implications while Kevin follows blindly. That is the primary difference between Kevin and Ruth. Even when she was committing terrible acts, she did so because she thought she was benefitting the train as a whole. She believed in a utilitarian approach—the most good for the most people. Kevin believes in nothing but the will of Wilford.
Kevin is almost orgasmic in his love for Wilford, and all he gets in return is betrayal and misery. Wilford gave the head of hospitality to Ruth because it was a way to break Ruth down and demonstrate civility to the train. He underestimated the woman’s resolve, though. It’s a pivotal moment for Ruth that shows just how far she has come. Alison Wright continues to infuse Ruth with humanity and strength. Wilford may think the humiliation he caused her by walking her “tealless” to the compost would destroy her. She has dignity and grace even in this heartbreaking moment. She also is back with Layton, and there is strength in numbers.
We got a glance at parts of the train that have remained a mystery. Car 272 is a carnival. It’s been closed for years because it is an extravagance that wasn’t needed. Willy’s World is a suck on resources, but that doesn’t matter to Wilford who thinks his comfort and pleasure is the only priority. He overplays his hand with the puppet show though. It was designed to embarrass Alex and force her to fall in line. Instead, it galvanized the headstrong girl. Over dinner when LJ continued to taunt her, Alex shared Wilford’s biggest secret. He killed half of the 200 people on Big Alice because they were a drain on his resources. It’s hardly surprising, but armed with this new information it gives the group ammunition.
Direction by Clare Kilner, who also directed The Alienist: Angel of Darkness, is especially good in Snowpierecer Season 2 Episode 9. Physical space matters as much as shot angles. Often Alex is shown physically choosing to move to stand with Bess and Ruth. Alex is no longer Wilford’s compliant automaton. She has chosen a side even if she doesn’t fully realize it yet.
It’s always been about faith. Wilford needs to crush it. He doesn’t want to leave the train. He needs everything to stay the same. In the absence of faith, there is a vacuum. He has filled it with fear. Propaganda and misinformation propel that fear through the train. Wilford is an egomaniac that needs everyone to love him. This is why he doesn’t drawer everyone. He needs to punish and warp his dissenters until they love him. He tries with Ruth, Bess, and even Layton. All parties aren’t as easily manipulated as a child or a psychologically scarred victim.
Layton accuses him of being just another rich white man with an expensive toy. Layton isn’t wrong. Wilford is a sad little man-child that demands obedience, while Layton asks for trust and cooperation. It all boils down to that—obedience versus cooperation. Wilford only has fear, while Layton has friends. Those friends are being threatened, and some are removed from the chessboard, but they could be cultivated in other places. Mr. Wilford can never enjoy the kind of devotion he wants without negativity.
Wilford enjoys ruling through fear. He needs control and power, and the more he has, the more desperate he is to hang onto it. That is why everything is so theatrical and over the top. Its desperation. That’s the problem with fear. It’s catching, and even those doling it out begin to get scared. Fear makes everyone dangerous. It makes the righteous stronger in their convictions. It allows unions between groups and people you would never expect—the enemy of my enemy. The dictators turn nasty. They have no choice. They rose to the top with fear and lies and have no option but to keep going even as the train runs off the tracks. The preening confident man hides a terrified child.
Josie is a beacon of light. Whatever the Headwoods did to her, she is a weapon, a tool, and a resource for those she is loyal to. She could be the key to everything. Of all of Layton’s people, she is the one Wilford most underestimates. She is Icy Bob 2.0. Her unique skills could be used to take back the train, or she could be a problem if the Headwoods continue to experiment on her mind. Season 2’s savior could be Season 3’s Big Bad.
Two minor players were surprisingly significant this week. Javier, who has been sent to Big Alice, has always been a bit of a follower. He was passive and lacked backbone. He followed the orders of those in charge without question. Now that he has had a taste of hope, he has found strength we didn’t know he had. Javier’s clever action with Miss Audrey’s lipstick and his note about Melanie’s communication keeps that hope alive. We have seen where things end up. In the fantastic episode 6 of this season, we saw the train race past Melanie with Alex crying. Season 2 of Snowpiercer was never about getting back to Melanie but getting back hope. Fath makes us stronger even apart. Melanie is a survivor. Where there is a will, there is a way.
The other big surprise was John Osweiller(Sam Otto). Bess’s old partner is an opportunist and an abuser. He took advantage of situations and exploited people. He has aligned himself with LJ out of necessity and because he is intrigued by her. That doesn’t mean he isn’t concerned about her darker impulses. There is a sadness about Osweiller that makes me wonder what happened in his past. Sam Otto’s beautiful rendition of My Winter Song by Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson was haunting and full of pain. He sang for his supper and sang for everyone’s loss. It was a surprising and poignant reminder that they were people like us once. There is so much more to his story.
Song selection has been outstanding in Season 2 of Snowpiercer. Every song, every note, every production has been designed to wring emotion from us. My Winter’s Song is no different. The gorgeous piece doesn’t need anything but a heartfelt voice and the piano to convey everything everyone is feeling. The lyrics speak directly to the heart of what is happening on the train and outside on the frozen Earth.
This is my winter song to you. The storm is coming soon, It rolls in from the sea My voice; a beacon in the night. My words will be your light, To carry you to me. Is love alive? Is love alive? They say that things just cannot grow beneath the winter snow, Or so I have been told. They say we're buried far, Just like a distant star I simply cannot hold. Is love alive? Is love alive? Is love alive? This is my winter song. December never felt so wrong, 'Cause you're not where you belong; Inside my arms. I still believe in summer days. The seasons always change And life will find a way. I'll be your harvester of light And send it out tonight So we can start again. Is love alive?
Bess tells Wilford you may lock up Layton, but there is a little of him in all of us now. Hope and love are more powerful than fear. The winter has been long, but the ice is thawing, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Follow all our Snowpiercer coverage here.
- I guess 39 is the cut-off age for usefulness. Note to self; it’s all downhill after 40. AARP needs to get me my elderly person card ASAP.
- Stupid LJ. Now that Wilford knows she is a killer and male unit remover, she is a liability unless she chooses to become an enforcer for Wilford. She’s way too soft to work for a living.
- I can’t wait to see what weapon or tool Layton MacGyver’s out of the pieces he collects in the compost.
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.