DISCLAIMER: This recap of Snowpiercer episode “Without Their Maker” is rife with spoilers galore. You’ve been warned. Proceed with caution.
Welcome back, Tailees! Snowpiercer aired a game-changing installment tonight. “Without Their Maker” brought Layton closer to shedding light on Melanie’s big secret. You know – that she’s actually Mr. Wilford. As much as the Powers That Be are painting Melanie as Snowpiercer‘s antagonist, I really dig having a woman running the train. Jennifer Connelly is sensational in this role – stoic, multifaceted, and capable of communicating so much without saying a word. Daveed Diggs fits Layton like a glove. Here’s hoping his star continues to rise into the stratosphere.
Alright, ready to delve into “Without Their Maker?” Let’s get to it.
Now, we open with narration from Jinju (Susan Park) as she prepares a sumptuous meal for her and Till (Mickey Sumner). Simultaneously, we also see Erik (Matt Murray), the Folger family’s bodyguard, standing over a deceased Nikki (Madeleine Arthur). If you’ll recall, Erik slaughtered two innocent people prior to confronting Nikki while she was recovering from a two-year long sleep. It’s quite clear that Erik also killed Nikki. What’s not clear yet is his motive.
Later, we see Melanie (Jennifer Connelly) fretting over paperwork in her sleeping quarters. Bennett (Iddo Goldberg) pays her a visit and they sensually share an orange. Yes, you read that correctly. Of course, they discuss crucial train issues in need of resolutions, but it’s obvious that these two are more than just coworkers. Roche (Mike O’Malley) calls Melanie and informs her of Nikki’s murder.
Next, Till and Jinju are discussing their relationship status post-coitus. Jinju hails from second class, while Till is from third class. Apparently, Till doesn’t want them to be seen together. Not because of their relations per se, but because of their class difference. Interesting how Snowpiercer seems to heavily feature class discrimination as opposed to racial or sexual discrimination. Anyway, Till is called in to work. Roche also rouses Layton (Daveed Diggs) from his slumber in his cell. Everyone meets at Dr. Klimpt’s (Happy Anderson) quarters. Melanie reassures a weeping Klimpt that Mr. Wilford is willing to give him another chance, since Nikki was murdered on his watch. Layton is silently observing their interaction in the background. That’s when he begins putting two and two together, so to speak.
Then, Layton and co. realize that the killer a.k.a. Erik is still roaming about in third class. The gang decides to mosey on over to the Night car. Roche sends Till and Osweiller (Sam Otto) to search for the murderer in third class. Till isn’t happy with having to partner up with Osweiller, especially since he was caught dealing drugs not long ago and continues to work without so much as a reprimand. However, she does as she’s bid. Layton pays a visit to Audrey (Lena Hall), the Night car proprietor. She’s in mourning for Nikki, who was under her employment. He inquires as to whether Melanie ever indulged in the Night car’s services. Audrey keeps mum on the matter. That’s when Melanie steps in and reveals to Layton that Ruth (Alison Wright) is waking up everyone in first class.
Meanwhile, in the Tail, Josie (Katie McGuinness) is informing everyone of Layton’s gift to her in the previous episode. The miniature blue tube that he inserted in Josie’s mouth when they passionately smooched. Now, the plan is to infiltrate third class to where a former Tailee is working. Then, said former Tailee will open correspondence with Layton. It’s like a long-form game of phone tag! Josie steps in for a Tailee who’s fallen ill, although women usually don’t work in the sanitation department. When the Wilford guards call forward the sanitation team from the Tail, Josie melds right in with them. When you want sh*t done the right way, get a woman to do it.
Later, we see Melanie is leading Layton into the first class cars. There’s opulent artwork decorating the corridors. Famous paintings that we’ve seen and admired throughout history. Layton makes a derisive remark about how first class even has autonomy over art now. This show is so on the nose sometimes it’s scary. Melanie reveals that Layton’s anger at first class is justified. She wants him to utilize that anger – channel it into the investigation at hand.
Next, Melanie and Layton enter the first class dining car to find a bevy of the elites still in pajamas. Lilah Folger (Kerry O’Malley) and her husband Robert (Vincent Gale) are present with their daughter LJ (Annalise Basso). LJ expressed interest in Layton in the previous episode. Layton takes Melanie’s advice to heart and stirs up the crowd before him. He reveals that the murderer came from first class and is still wandering about third class. That’s when LJ reveals that her bodyguard Erik never returned to first class the night before. Uh oh. Someone is now a suspect!
Then, Melanie orders Layton to search Erik’s living quarters within the Folger residence. Lilah and Robert raise a stink about it and demand to speak with Mr. Wilford. Melanie feigns calling the big boss himself, but she’s actually speaking to Bennett, who’s driving the train. After getting Mr. Wilford’s “permission,” Melanie holds the receiver out for Lilah. However, she retreats with her tail between her legs. Layton and Melanie proceed to the Folger household for an inspection and interrogation.
Now, Josie and two of her Tailee comrades start their half hour lunch break from their sanitation duties. She quickly changes into pajamas because technically it’s nighttime. Then, she surreptitiously creeps into the third class dining car. We see Astrid (Jane McGregor), the Tailee who now works in third class, is having her lunch. Josie sits across from her and the pair share an emotional, albeit a quiet, reunion. She asks Astrid to send a message to Layton and to maintain active correspondence with him. Then, she can pass that news down to the Tail. Initially, Astrid is reluctant, but she eventually acquiesces.
Later, Layton begins riffling through Erik’s belongings. Lilah doesn’t approve, but she lets him do it anyway. We learn that Erik used to serve in the military prior to the world freezing over. In addition, he also saved LJ’s life as she was boarding Snowpiercer. Apparently, the Folgers hired Erik when they saw the world was turning upside down. Layton finds a suspicious tool nestled within Erik’s possessions. LJ reveals that it’s a tool utilized for beekeeping. However, Ruth and Melanie inform the bunch that Snowpiercer doesn’t keep bees anymore and haven’t done so for years. LJ incessantly and artfully evades Layton’s questions, so he ushers her aside for a private chat.
Meanwhile, Josie quickly returns to her lunch spot and changes back into her work clothes. Thankfully, she doesn’t get caught in the process. Then, we see Till and Osweiller stalking the Night car for Erik. They stumble upon his hideout. Inside, we see Erik has a loaded gun. According to, well, everyone, Snowpiercer banned guns. Erik escapes through the ceiling of his hideout once he sees Till and Osweiller are waiting for him outside. Jinju is also in the Night car and she pays a friend a visit. Unfortunately, she’s caught in Erik’s crosshairs. He takes her as hostage and attempts to flee.
Next, we see Layton and LJ are jamming out to some of Erik’s records. She plays coy with him and it’s quite clear she’s flirting with him so he’ll stay off her back. Layton, in turn, subtly flirts with her. It’s really a game of cat-and-mouse, though. LJ reveals that Layton was more interesting when he was trying to stage a rebellion as opposed to being Wilford’s puppet. She holds an avid interest in violence and societal upheaval. You know, to keep life spicy.
Then, Till, Roche, and co. spot Erik with Jinju. They start to pursue him while he fires at the group. Finally, they catch up with him in the bowels of the train. Of course, Till has a stake in this hunt because her beau is in danger. Erik orders all guards/soldiers to relinquish their weaponry, otherwise Jinju dies. They do so. Suddenly, Erik fires upward and shoots a hole in the exterior of the train. We see cold sunlight pour in. A slew of soldiers descend upon Erik and stab him to death. Thankfully, Jinju is able to escape unscathed. Thus, the murderer is no more.
Later, the Folgers learn of Erik’s gory demise. LJ feigns sadness and pretends to cry in her mother’s embrace. But Layton sees right through her. That’s when he announces that Erik was merely a puppet. A tool designed to kill. LJ was the one pulling the strings. She ordered Erik to kill Nikki and the other third class deaths in previous years. LJ is the real murderer – the puppeteer. Melanie’s guards arrest her, much to the disdain and vehement cries of Lilah. Boom! Don’t mess with Layton, folks. He’ll outsmart you any day of the week.
Next, Melanie announces over the train intercom that the murderer is dead and a second suspect (LJ) is in custody. All is right with the world again. But…what happens to Layton now that the investigation is closed? Melanie invites Layton to join her for drinks. She urges them to put politics aside and celebrate a job well done. However, she spikes Layton’s drink. He passes out. Melanie reveals that he can never return to the Tail again and, unfortunately, he knows too much. Layton figured out that Melanie is the real Mr. Wilford. We see Dr. Klimpt preparing to put Layton in a sleeper cell. Melanie urges the good doctor to keep Layton well groomed and safe, as per Mr. Wilford’s explicit orders. Well, hers.
Then, Josie receives a message from Astrid. It’s in a small tube which was concealed in a block of food. Josie opens said message to read two words: “Layton missing.” Methinks this will be the catalyst for a true uprising.
Now, the more I watch Snowpiercer the more I recognize Graeme Manson‘s (Orphan Black) touch. Much like Orphan Black, Snowpiercer is riddled with political and socioeconomic intrigue. Science vs. mankind. Painting a plausible future for all of humanity. Edge-of-your-seat cliffhangers. Clever dialogue. Snowpiercer has experienced some bumpy moments on its path around the globe, but I think this episode helped it finds its niche. The show unlocked new momentum and opened up more possibilities by no longer being bogged down by a murder plot. I’m curious to see where the train takes us, especially since there’s still six episodes left in the season.
Do you think the Tail will stage a revolution and reawaken Layton in the process? What’s Bennett’s deal? Will LJ see true justice? Join me next week as I recap Snowpiercer, here on Geek Girl Authority.
Snowpiercer airs Sundays at 9pm on your TNT affiliate.