DISCLAIMER: This recap of Snowpiercer episode “A Single Trade” is laden with spoilers. You’ve been warned. Proceed at your own peril.
Welcome back, occupants of the Engine Eternal! Snowpiercer‘s latest episode explored grief, trauma, abuse and depression. Notably, Miss Audrey reconciling with her own trauma at the hands of Wilford prior to their reunion. Side note: Lena Hall is an incredible vocalist. Her performance of “Glory Box” by Portishead in “A Single Trade” is nothing short of jaw-dropping. Props to the music department for an ace song choice.
Anyway, Josie made the move to Big Alice to receive treatment for her severe burns while simultaneously being Layton’s “eyes” on the enemy. Wilford was invited to an evening of scientific discovery and pleasure aboard the Night Car. Thankfully, despite Melanie’s absence in “A Single Trade,” we learned that she was alive.
Ready to delve into “A Single Trade”? Let’s get to it.
Now, we open with Miss Audrey (Hall) providing narration this go-round. She’s executing a beautiful ballet sequence. Said narration dives into her tumultuous past with Wilford. We see a long, thin scar on her forearm. Most likely a result of Wilford’s abuse. Additionally, we see our Snowpiercer crew delivering fresh food to Big Alice as per their previous agreement.
Meanwhile, Layton (Daveed Diggs) and Zarah (Sheila Vand) are enjoying a hearty breakfast in the formerly dubbed first-class dining car. Ruth (Alison Wright) pops in and hands Layton a communiqué from Mr. Wilford himself. Apparently, he wants to extend his medical services to Snowpiercer. Specifically, to frostbite victims from Icy Bob’s freezing tirade. Layton is reticent to accept. Could there be strings attached? After she leaves, Ruth reads the letter for herself. Clearly, she’s starting to suspect that Layton is withholding information from her.
Next, we see Wilford (Sean Bean) and Alex (Rowan Blanchard) on Big Alice. They’ve received an invitation to Snowpiercer’s Night Car for some fun with Miss Audrey. Well, that and the release of a weather balloon into the Earth’s atmosphere that’ll be received by Melanie. Alex pokes fun at Wilford for having a “paramour” in Miss Audrey. Bess (Mickey Sumner) is towing the Breachmen as they make their way to the Tea Room. She has a hunch that they may be responsible for Lights’ hand mutilation. While inside said Tea Room, Bess spots a memorial dedicated to the fallen victims from Layton’s revolution. Her eyes well up with tears. Pastor Logan (Bryan Terrell Clark) ushers her inside his quarters for some tea and a chat.
Later, Bennett (Iddo Goldberg) and Javier (Roberto Urbina) are preparing to send the weather balloon so Melanie can begin her research. Ben is obviously quite nervous — he’s worried that Melanie didn’t survive the cold. Meanwhile, Layton brings Miss Audrey into his lavish car for a frank discussion. She divulges about her career as an escort in Chicago. Back then, Miss Audrey belonged to Wilford. He left an indelible mark on her in more ways than one. Ever since their traumatic entanglement, Audrey’s been trying to wash clean of him. Layton asks her to engage with Wilford for the sake of the train. Audrey chooses to do so for herself, which is an empowering move for abuse victims everywhere.
Then, Wilford announces to his passengers that he’ll choose three names from a hat to join him for a night of debauchery on Snowpiercer. Alex ensures that her friend Emilia (Georgina Haig), the train’s seamstress, snags that golden ticket. Next, we see Layton is hosting a meeting with Miss Audrey, Ruth, Ben and Roche (Mike O’Malley) in the Night Car. The objective of this event, besides ensuring that Melanie’s trek was a success, is to see if they can garner intel from Wilford’s people. And, obviously, if Miss Audrey can coerce Wilford himself.
Bess is chatting with Pastor Logan regarding her mental state. It’s difficult to put faces to the names of all the casualties from the war. She wonders how she managed to survive unscathed while so many countless others perished. Survivor’s remorse.
Meanwhile, Wilford’s scientists are granted access to Snowpiercer. Ruth ushers them into their sickbay. They get down to business curing frostbitten patients. Later, Layton takes the reins and brings them to Josie. Ruth vents to Zarah about Layton. He doesn’t trust her. She may harbor positive feelings for Wilford, but she’s loyal to the train, first and foremost. Zarah offers to join Hospitality in an effort to sway Layton. She’ll help Ruth keep everything in check.
Next, the good doctors/scientists are examining Josie (Katie McGuinness). They believe she’ll need extensive skin grafts, but she can be healed. Layton is hesitant regarding Josie’s move to Big Alice for treatment. However, Josie insists that Wilford wouldn’t know who she is. It’s not like Tailies were on the official train ledger. She vows to be Layton’s eyes and ears while there. Josie will be Layton’s spy from the inside.
Then, we see Lights (Miranda Edwards) and other Tailies jumping Breachman Boscovic (Aleks Paunovic) in the third-class marketplace. She wholeheartedly believes that the Breachmen may be the culprits behind her attack. Boscovic insists that he’s innocent. Amid all that, Wilford is congratulating the three winners, which includes Emilia. However, he not-so-subtly reminds them that this is his evening. He takes precedence over their wants.
Later, Layton arrives on the scene in the marketplace to find Lights and his fellow Tailies under restraints. Roche and Bess are also present. Bess reminds Lights that she’s taking care of the situation. Then, she administers a hefty kick to Boscovic’s ribs. Layton chastises her for being out of line, but she asserts that Wilford’s people have been infiltrating the train for weeks.
Meanwhile, Josie gets a nice surprise in the form of Miles (Jaylin Fletcher). It’s Miles and Miles! Josie is obviously elated, but she also didn’t want the young boy to see her this way. He’s very proud of his mama. She’s a hero. As Josie is wheeled toward the border, we see a horde of Tailies cheering her on. Even while in agonizing pain, Josie still holds true to her values.
Next, it’s party time! Layton is donning a handsome suit while Zarah is dressed to the nines in Hospitality’s signature teal dress ware. She reveals that she joined Hospitality in an effort to keep a watchful eye on Ruth. Ruth announces to a room rife with dazzling guests that Wilford has arrived. He slithers into the car to much fanfare. Ben and Javier appear on video to inform the crowd of their balloon release. We see said weather balloon is launched into the atmosphere. Now, to wait for it to reach the appropriate height for Melanie to collect data.
Then, Miss Audrey makes her extravagant entrance. She belts out “Glory Box,” and it’s so damn spectacular. Chills. Afterward, Wilford approaches her in total awe. He’s utterly captivated by her. She leads him into one of her rooms for some private time. However, Wilford’s under the impression that he’ll be getting some. Audrey reveals that she altered some of the Night Car’s attractions. Now, she helps people process their grief.
Later, we see Bess canoodling with a pretty lady. My Bess deserves some happiness. Emilia meets The Last Australian (Aaron Glenane). Well, he’s not the last one anymore! As it turns out, Emilia hails from Perth. The pair forge an instant connection. He gives her his goggles. If she ever puts them on, someone will know she needs help. LJ (Annalise Basso) takes Alex to a skylight on Snowpiercer. The perks of LJ being a janitor is now she has access to everything. LJ procures a joint and the pair smoke it. She reveals what happened to her parents. Alex, in turn, confesses that she didn’t expect to like Melanie as much as she does. But don’t tell Wilford that.
Meanwhile, Miss Audrey urges Wilford to search his memories. What does he see? He sees them dancing in a forgotten time. Then, the duo are sitting in a bathtub filled with water. Much like when Wilford and Kevin took a bath together that ended in crimson-soaked tragedy. We see him handing a blade to Audrey. She slits her wrist. That’s where her scar comes from. She pulls out of the memory and realizes that he forced her to do that back then. Wilford urges her to give it to him. Just when you think he’s explicitly referring to sex, she starts feeding him. It’s very sexual in nature.
Next, Zarah walks in on Audrey feeding Wilford. It’s awkward. She reveals that the engineers are about to check in again with an update. We see Ben and Javier monitoring the exact height of the weather balloon. All is tense … until they inform the crowd that Melanie has made contact. She’s okay! Cheers erupt. Wilford sulks. He was hoping she would die out in the freezing tundra.
Then, Layton finds Miss Audrey dancing by herself after the event. He wants to know what transpired between her and Wilford. Audrey refuses to divulge details, but she assures Layton that Wilford is eating out of the palm of her hand. Literally. Now, Josie is sleeping soundly on Big Alice. We see Wilford approaching her room. Icy Bob is right next to her. Josie stirs and she turns toward the window. But Wilford is gone.
“A Single Trade” gave us more insight into Audrey’s past, which I appreciated. Obvious MVP for this episode goes to Lena Hall for not only singing like the rockstar she is but acting her ass off. While I missed Jennifer Connelly‘s presence, the choice to exclude her from this episode raised the stakes surrounding Melanie’s dangerous mission. Bringing Josie into the Wilford fold should have an interesting outcome. Katie McGuinness is a terrific performer, and I’d love to see her go toe-to-toe with Sean Bean a la Connelly last season. “A Single Trade” gracefully handles the dense and delicate subjects of depression, suicide, trauma, abuse and grief.
Do you think we’ll see Melanie in full research mode in the next episode? Will Wilford attempt to sway Josie to his cause? Will Bess find the assailant behind the attack on Lights? Join me next week as I recap Snowpiercer, here on Geek Girl Authority.
Snowpiercer airs Mondays at 9 pm on your TNT affiliate.
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