DISCLAIMER: This Snowpiercer recap of “Prepare to Brace” is rife with spoilers galore. You’ve been warned. Proceed with caution.
Welcome back, Tailees! Snowpiercer delivered another solid installment with “Prepare to Brace.” In fact, I’d say it performed better than last week’s premiere. After the pilot’s pivotal reveal at the end, it’s safe to say that Melanie Cavill’s dual role as Head of Hospitality and Mr. Wilford will soon come to a tipping point. How long can she keep up the ruse, especially given the inevitable insurrection taking place in the Tail? Only time (and train mileage) will tell. Andre Layton forged ahead with his murder investigation, which led him to some intriguing discoveries. Sean (the man murdered in the premiere) was Wilford’s informant! Thus, begs the question: did Melanie have him killed before he could reveal her secret? I think I’d be more surprised if someone else did the deed, and not at her behest. Again…only time will tell.
Alright, ready to delve into “Prepare to Brace?” Let’s get to it.
Now, we open with Ruth (Alison Wright) paying the Tail another unwanted visit. Mr. Wilford a.k.a. Melanie wants the guilty parties responsible for last week’s coup to pay the price. Ruth brings a little girl forward. Said girl aided the handful of men who slaughtered several of Wilford’s finest. Her mother urges Ruth to spare her daughter. She cites that she convinced her little girl to participate in the coup. Ruth pivots and, at the mother’s request, seizes the older woman. Her punishment? Having her arm amputated by sticking it out the window.
You know, outside where the temperature is 147 degrees below zero. Her arm freezes instantaneously. Ruth’s men retract the poor woman’s arm and smash it to bits with a hammer. We see the shattered fragments scatter about. To be honest, this scene made my skin crawl. But it perfectly illustrates the formidable hold Wilford has over the lower class Tailees. Next, we see Pike (Steven Ogg) and the others indefinitely sentenced to the sleep cells. He quietly urges Layton (Daveed Diggs) to keep his promise – that he’ll eventually free them from their comatose state.
Then, Melanie (Jennifer Connelly) moves to the head of the train to find a potentially catastrophic situation unraveling. Bennett (Iddo Goldberg) and Javier (Roberto Urbina) are keeping their collective eye on the rough terrain outside. We see a cascading of debris courtesy of an avalanche, and it’s only a matter of time before the debris threatens to derail Snowpiercer. Javier suggests they slow down, but Melanie orders him to maintain speed. Probably not the most prudent of ideas. However, she’s the big boss. What she says goes.
Meanwhile, Layton and his new partner Bess (Mickey Sumner) start out their day of investigating. Roche (Mike O’Malley) urges the pair to be on their best behavior. As they’re embarking on their investigation, Layton catches the eye of a Tail comrade of his. There appears to be a silent understanding between the two, which tells me that Layton’s loyalty to the Tail is still going strong. Next, we see Melanie mingling with the elite in first class. Apparently, they’re unhappy with Mr. Wilford selecting a detective from the Tail. You know, class bigotry and all. Melanie explains that Mr. Wilford chose Layton specifically for his talents. In addition, Melanie gives a subtle “mic drop” stream of dialogue to a hoity-toity first class former lawyer. I’m smiling on the inside, folks.
Later, Layton and Bess interrogate a man in third class who was apparently one of the last people to see Sean alive. However, Bess refrains Layton from further delving into questioning for fear he’s “crossing the line.” Asking too many questions. Because even a detective on a case should have limited knowledge of his subject matter. Meanwhile, we see Nikki (Madeleine Arthur) is being revived following a two-year stint in a sleep cell. Initially, she was accused of committing the first murder. But, as we know, she’s most likely innocent. Jinju Seong (Susan Park) is by her bedside. She notices that Nikki’s left arm appears to be deteriorating. Not only that, but coming to from being comatose for that long may have debilitating side effects on Nikki’s mental state. Melanie demands Dr. Klimpt (Happy Anderson) to forge ahead with Nikki’s rehabilitation as planned.
Then, Layton and Bess pay the Night car a visit. We see Miss Audrey (Lena Hall), the proprietor of the car, performing a melancholic number to a somber crowd. Apparently, Nikki was one of Miss Audrey’s employees. Sean was a patron of this establishment as well. So, to get a better sense of what exactly Nikki did, Layton decides to take a trip to Night Land. We see Zarah (Sheila Vand) is situated in a small room when Layton enters it. The glass walls are akin to a giant aquarium – they hold serene, lapping waves of water. Miss Audrey convinces Bess to leave Layton with Zarah for 20 minutes. Zarah reveals that she helps people escape for a while. Sort of like therapy, but more visual. She urges Layton to close his eyes and imagine he’s outside again. Feeling the wind and the sun on his face.
Next, we learn that Layton is envisioning his former home, before the weather changed and altered humanity permanently. Suddenly, a scene plays out wherein Layton and Zarah are still a couple. They go in for a tender smooch. Then, they’re in bed together after a roll in the hay. Layton proposes to her by hiding a ring in a plate of doughnuts. Heads up, future husband. Take notes. I love nothing more than a good pastry proposal. It’s a bittersweet, tender moment, especially given their currently fractured status. Suddenly, Layton and Zarah begin having sex in real life. We see the memory play out in tandem with the present scene. Afterwards, Zarah urges Layton to stay in third class with her. However, he’s still unabashedly loyal to the Tail.
Later, Layton and Bess are present at the autopsy for Sean. The coroner admits to never having done a real autopsy before. Layton takes note of Sean’s amputated appendages and genitalia. Who else would have the proper tools for such a hacking? Why, the butcher, of course! Meat cleavers and all.
Now, Layton and Bess head to the cattle car, wherein a horde of bovine lie in wait for some chopping. However, the pair are shooed away since they don’t have notary for access. So much red tape! Suddenly, Snowpiercer rams into the oncoming debris from the avalanche. Melanie encourages everyone over the intercom to brace for impact. Said debris catapults into the cattle car, promptly shattering the glass barrier and freezing all cattle and humans within. Uh oh. That can’t be good.
Later, Layton and Bess are finally granted access to the butcher’s area. They find a grate concealed behind a table. After Bess unscrews said grate, we see a tangle of legs and arms are ensconced inside. Eureka! Layton finds a pin-like rod and stuffs it into his pocket for safekeeping. Meanwhile, Bennett and Melanie are donning astronaut-like suits to explore the decimated cattle car. They meet with Breachman Boscovic (Aleks Paunovic), and they persuade him to keep the unfurling situation under wraps. They bribe him with special amenities, as would anyone with unlimited power like Melanie/Mr. Wilford.
Next, in the Tail, we see the poor woman from the beginning of the episode is in recovery. However, she’s still in critical condition. Her son is now giving out uh, “special treatment” to Wilford’s soldiers in exchange for vital medication for his mother. Ruth returns to the Tail and reveals that Mr. Wilford wants children to succeed in academia. Thus, he’s selected a handful of Tail kids to receive an excellent education near the front of the train. Miles (Jaylin Fletcher) is selected, much to Josie’s (Katie McGuinness) dismay.
Later, Layton is chilling in his cell. He refuses to accept third class accommodations from Mr. Wilford, citing that he wishes to return to the Tail. However, as long as he’s still working the murder investigation, he must remain “upstream,” as it were. We see him tearing off a piece of his shirt to draw out a map of the upper cars. Then, he procures the pin from his pocket and picks the lock on his cell. Success! He surreptitiously sneaks out into the corridor. We see his comrade from the Tail emerge, along with a train of other Tail workers. Layton discreetly drops the cloth map for his friend to find. Then, he distracts the guards so said friend can grab it. Unfortunately, this results in Layton being the recipient of a brutal beating.
Meanwhile, Miles and Josie are bidding their farewells. Josie is fearful she’ll never see her son again. But, Miles reminds her that Layton wants a “plant” in the upper cars. That way, once the revolution goes off without a hitch, they’ll be Tailees on all sides. He reassures his mother that they’ll all be reunited again one day. How sweet.
Next, Melanie and Roche are interrogating a bruised and broken Layton. He reveals that he learned something revelatory today – Sean is a Wilford informant. He ratted out the Big Boss in exchange for, presumably, food and amenities. However, someone didn’t want him to live. Someone didn’t want Sean spilling too many secrets. In addition, Layton reveals his own observations: the filthy rich and the poor are more alike than one would think. Both are carnal, formidable beasts with unrestrained desires. All that separates them is a series of train cars. Mic drop, folks! Mic forking drop.
Now, sh*t has most certainly hit the Snowpiercer fan. One of the many things I dig about this show is the heightened stakes. Not only is there an outside threat in Mother Nature, but internal threats are sequestered in Snowpiercer itself. You have so many formidable elements at play here. If you’re going to have any kind of science fiction or genre show, high stakes are crucial to keeping an audience engaged. That and, of course, compelling characters and an intriguing story line. Having Sean be a Wilford informant definitely shines a spotlight on Melanie and her already murky intentions. Hopefully, we’ll see how that tidbit plays out.
Do you think Melanie is responsible for the murders? How will Layton clear the wrongfully convicted Nikki’s name? What exactly will happen to Miles once he moves forward on the train? Join me next week as I recap Snowpiercer, here on Geek Girl Authority.
Snowpiercer airs Sundays at 9pm on your TNT affiliate.
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