DISCLAIMER: This Snowpiercer recap of “Access is Power” is rife with spoilers galore. You’ve been warned. Proceed with caution.
Welcome back, residents of the Tail! Snowpiercer aired an immensely timely and relevant installment this week. Given the current state of unrest and turmoil, “Access is Power” resonated on a different frequency. Had this episode aired last Sunday, I don’t think it would have packed as swift a punch. While Snowpiercer tackles class warfare more than racial injustice, the sentiment is still similar. Layton and the Tail are merely fighting for equal footing while wealthy first class occupants are living in the lap of luxury. It’s eerie potential foreshadowing into how our future could unfurl.
Alright, ready to delve into “Access is Power?” Let’s get to it.
Now, we open with a montage of train occupants from different classes exchanging goods for access. “Access is power” is the prevailing theme in said short montage. People crave access to all parts of Snowpiercer – especially those dreaming of living in a higher class than their present station. Money isn’t common currency. Instead, people trade secrets or rare objects. Really, anything that gets them through another door.
Meanwhile, we see Layton (Daveed Diggs) is dreaming of when Zarah (Sheila Vand) left the Tail for good. He urged her to take his wedding ring in case she needed something valuable to exchange. We see other Tailees verbally accost Zarah for abandoning the Tail in favor of the Night car. However, Layton tearfully watches her leave without uttering a word. Josie (Katie McGuinness) stands by his side.
Next, Melanie (Jennifer Connelly) is hosting a meeting in first class with her trusty sidekick Ruth (Alison Wright) at her side. She’s attempting to quell unrest and ease any tension mounting between first class and the lower classes. Thus, Melanie and Ruth present the idea of “Fight Night,” wherein lower classes participate in a fight match. The prize? Access to third class. Again – access is power. Of course, Melanie is well aware that Fight Night is merely a tool meant to distract everyone from said mounting class tension. Governments are good at distracting, huh?
Later, Layton is lead into a room with a knapsack over his head. Despite his post as the official train detective, Layton’s still declined access to certain avenues of Snowpiercer. Melanie and Roche (Mike O’Malley) are standing before him. Sean, the latest murder victim and former Wilford informant, was also involved in black market dealings. Kronall is a popular drug sold in the black market and there are rumblings that Sean partook in dealing this particular drug.
Meanwhile, Bess (Mickey Sumner) is having a nice roll in the hay with Jinju (Susan Park). Bess discovers that Nikki, the wrongfully accused girl in the sleeper cells, is actually awake. Melanie and co. fibbed, citing that no one was allowed to see Nikki because she was in a coma. Recovering from a two-year stasis is hard on the body. Bess leaves in a hurry, presumably to inform Layton and Roche of this new development.
Now, Layton and Roche are paying John Osweiller (Sam Otto) a visit. If you’ll recall, Osweiller was trading blow jobs for vital medication for the Tail in last week’s episode. However, he claims to know nothing about Sean’s murder or his connection to Kronall. Funny how, suddenly, people with extensive knowledge feign ignorance when they’re under a microscope.
Later, Ruth is mingling with the first class masses. One family of three – husband, wife, and daughter – are chatting it up with Melanie’s right-hand woman. The matriarch, Lilah Folger (Kerry O’Malley), expresses discontent with the impending Fight Night. Justice must be served! Is the new Tailee detective really up to the challenge of catching a killer? Methinks she’s worried about saving her own skin, lest the serial killer at large makes their way up the food chain to first class.
Next, Melanie meets with her right-hand man Bennett (Iddo Goldberg). What’s his deal, anyway? I hope we delve into his character at some point. Anyway, he reveals that the situation with the decimated cattle car isn’t resolving as Melanie initially hoped it would. Then, Jinju calls Melanie to inform her that Bess is on the war path. We know Bess will inform Layton and Roche of Nikki’s current state.
Later, Layton and Bess arrive at the sleeper cells. They find Nikki (Madeleine Arthur) present, but she looks terribly unwell. Melanie arrives in time to find the duo attempting to question Nikki. That’s when they discover that the drug Dr. Klimpt (Happy Anderson) has been administering to Nikki contains traces of Kronall. Uh oh. Klimpt, you got some explaining to do! He claims that he had no idea of Kronall’s connection to the drug he had on hand. During Melanie’s questioning of Klimpt, Layton finds a bag of Miles’ hair on hand. Naturally, he demands answers. Melanie reassures him that Miles is safe and sound. He was accepted into the apprenticeship program and simply had a hair cut. Layton demands to see him.
Then, Layton watches Miles excel in class. The pair reunite afterward. Miles (Jaylin Fletcher) eagerly gives Layton the 411 on his school day and that he’s acing all of his courses. Layton and Miles share a warm embrace before the latter is led away for suppertime. See, sometimes good things happen on Snowpiercer!
Next, Melanie is all dolled up for Fight Night. We see her listening to an unidentified man giving a speech on her laptop. Earlier, during her meeting, she read a letter from Mr. Wilford which contained a quote from Winston Churchill. Of course, we know Melanie is really Mr. Wilford. Perhaps she’s preparing for “Mr. Wilford” to grace Fight Night with one of his impassioned orations.
Later, Melanie relents and grants Layton access to Fight Night. Bess accompanies him. We see first class lounging in the balcony while the lower classes cluster around the fighting stage. Layton urges Bess to let him speak with Zarah, who’s working as a bartender for the event. She acquiesces, but orders him to watch his back. Aw, these two are becoming best buds. They should team up for a TV procedural drama, solving murders left and right in tandem! And, sure enough, “Mr. Wilford” does grace the airwaves with an inspirational, uplifting speech in honor of Fight Night. We see Melanie sitting in her office while said speech is playing from her laptop.
Next, we see Layton roaming through Fight Night on the ground floor. Ruth points him out to Lilah. We see her daughter, LJ (Annalise Basso), really taking an interest in Layton. I get it. He’s a good looking guy.
Meanwhile, Layton pulls Zarah aside and the two profess their love for each other. However, Layton’s loyalty to the Tail takes precedence and Zarah understands him. They share a passionate smooch. Zarah gifts Layton with his own wedding ring. Why? Because the very man Layton wishes to speak with will only accept material trades. This man, Terence, is apparently the Kronall dealer Sean worked for.
Now, Osweiller urges Terence (Shaun Toub) to meet with Layton. The pair eventually chat it up. Layton gives Terence his wedding ring in exchange for information. Apparently, Terence was the last person to see Sean alive prior to the latter’s unfortunate demise. Terence reveals that Sean was with a man in his thirties and gives a physical description to Layton. Boom! Just like that, information flows like honey.
Then, Nikki is awake and roaming the corridors. Of course, her body is in withdrawals from the Kronall leaving her system. Nikki stumbles upon Fight Night and Bess immediately reaches for her. Nikki’s presence catches the eye of Lilah and her first class comrades. Lilah is still under the impression that Nikki is a murderer and not wrongfully accused. Suddenly, the pair fighting on stage take their fisticuffs to the masses. Riots blossom in front of the rich who, naturally, flee the scene as the lower classes duke it out. Again, this feels eerily timely.
Later, Layton arrives after his meeting with Terence. LJ spots him again and proffers him a wave. The thirst is real. Very real. Anyway, Layton tells Melanie that he has vital information to impart. However, he wants to see Josie in the Tail first. Layton wants to reassure Miles’ mother that her son is in good hands and in good health. Melanie acquiesces.
Next, we see Layton meeting with Josie through a small window in a door. He delivers the good news regarding Miles. Josie is thrilled to hear of Miles faring well in school. Layton tearfully reveals that he loves her and the pair smooch. Melanie’s guards yank Layton away and she shuts the window on Josie. Then, Layton informs her of what Sean’s friend from his last night looks like.
Meanwhile, Bess was able to get Nikki safely back to her room. However, we see a man encroaching into her territory. He mercilessly slaughters a guard and a doctor who’s supposed to be monitoring Nikki. Then, we see he’s the man that’s incessantly by LJ’s side in first class. He claims that Nikki knows him. That she knows what he’s done. Suddenly, he switches the light off in her room. Unfortunately, we don’t see what happens to her after that.
Later, Josie is in her bed, smiling to herself over her encounter with Layton. She procures a pill-shaped object from her mouth. Presumably, it was planted there when Layton was kissing her – by Layton himself. Perhaps it was something he received from Terence? Whatever it is, it’s important to her and the Tail. To be continued!
Now, Snowpiercer‘s relevance just flabbergasts me. Of course, sci-fi usually tackles societal topics that profoundly resonate with us. It holds up a mirror to society and shows us what we fail to recognize ourselves. The future as depicted in Snowpiercer could feasibly be our future if we’re not careful. Anyway, so far I’m really digging this show. Each episode leaves me with more questions than answers and that’s what I love in my sci-fi. Intrigue and mystery. Something that leaves me sitting on the edge of my seat and pleading for more. Snowpiercer is certainly delivering on that front.
Do you think Nikki survived this episode? What other secrets could Melanie be hiding? What was the object Layton surreptitiously passed to Josie? Join me next time as I recap Snowpiercer, here on Geek Girl Authority.
Snowpiercer airs Sundays at 9pm on your TNT affiliate.