DISCLAIMER: This recap of Snowpiercer episode “The Universe Is Indifferent” is rife with spoilers galore. You’ve been warned. Proceed with caution.
Welcome back, passengers of the Engine Eternal! Snowpiercer continues its streak of home-run episodes. Just when I thought last week blew my mind, “The Universe Is Indifferent” came along and changed the game. Katie McGuinness is, without a shadow of a doubt, this week’s MVP. Her pivotal scene with Jennifer Connelly was a masterclass in acting. So, I’m gutted that Josie won’t live to fight another day. However, her valiant sacrifice will serve as a catalyst for Layton’s next critical move. This will certainly provide fodder for Layton’s ire against Melanie. Because now…it’s personal.
Alright, ready to delve into “The Universe Is Indifferent?” Let’s get to it.
Now, we open with Melanie (Jennifer Connelly) hanging out in the engine with Bennett (Iddo Goldberg) and Javier (Roberto Urbina). Javier is worried because it’s now common knowledge that Layton is wandering the train unfettered. What if he decides to spill Melanie’s big secret? Melanie vows she won’t give Layton the opportunity to weaponize said secret against her. However, Javier remains rightfully skeptical.
Next, Melanie announces over the train intercom that Miles will be promoted to train engineer. Ruth (Alison Wright) meanders into Melanie’s office despite it being her day off. She asks Melanie if Miles’ promotion is too soon, given that he’s so young. Melanie shoos Ruth away. Take a break, Ruthie. Kick up your heels!
Meanwhile, Layton (Daveed Diggs) and Josie (Katie McGuinness) overhear Melanie’s speech over the intercom. Of course, they’re worried for Miles since he’s their adopted Tail kid. But, Layton did want a Tailee in the engine, so mission accomplished? Even if Miles is ultimately Melanie’s pawn in an attempt to twist the knife in Layton’s side.
Now, Melanie learns that substantial drugs are missing from Dr. Klimpt’s office, so she interrogates Terence (Shaun Toub) the drug-dealing janitor. She knows that suspension drugs are vital in the creation of Kronall. Melanie asks Terence if he knows where Layton is. After not-so subtly threatening to amputate Terence’s dominant arm, the janitor reveals that he met Layton once. However, should he encounter Layton again, he’ll hand him over to Melanie straightaway.
Then, Layton and Josie go over their game plan while dressing for the day. He urges Josie to steer clear of Miles. Layton plans to recruit third class to their cause. They’re going to need all the bodies they can get to stage the impending insurrection. After sharing a heartfelt embrace, the two go their separate ways.
Later, Miles (Jaylin Fletcher) is awarded with a coveted and an elusive orange by his teacher. His classmates bid their farewells to Miles before Bennett escorts him to the engine. Meanwhile, Ruth runs into Commander Grey (Timothy V. Murphy), the formidable and stoic Scotsman. After some blatant flirting, the pair agree to a casual lunch. Get it, girl. Next, Till (Mickey Sumner) finds Jinju (Susan Park) waiting for her. Jinju questions Till regarding her whereabouts the night Layton went missing. Once again, Till asserts that she spent the night in third class. However, it’s plain to see that Jinju doesn’t believe her beau. Trouble in paradise is a-brewing.
Then, while the children in Miles’ class are preoccupied with a lesson, Miles begins vomiting. Presumably from nerves, but it could be from the rare orange. His teacher orders everyone to don a mask, including Bennett. This feel terrifyingly on the nose. Almost too timely, Snowpiercer. Anyway, Miles’ teacher and Bennett escort Miles to the infirmary.
Next, we see Dr. Pelton (Karin Konoval) waiting for Miles. She urges Bennett to stay on the other side of the door. However, Bennett senses that something is amiss. We see that Josie is there with Miles as well, albeit in disguise. Apparently, she was the one who made Miles sick from the orange. But it was done with the purest of intentions. She urges Miles to prepare for the next step in the revolution. Bennett observes this overly chatty nurse conversing with Miles from the other side of the door. Just when Josie makes a run for it, Bennett bursts into the room. Thankfully, he doesn’t catch Josie in the act.
Meanwhile, Ruth and Grey are sitting down for a lavish lunch. Ruth reveals her pre-Snowpiercer origin story: back in the “old world,” she owned a bed and breakfast. In fact, that’s how she met Mr. Wilford – he stopped to stay at her establishment and hired her to work on Snowpiercer almost instantly. Then, the Folgers appear. They explain to Ruth that they want her to lead the train, not Melanie. Melanie holds too much power. Initially, Ruth cannot fathom taking Melanie’s position. But Grey charms her into possibly considering it. It’s that Scottish accent!
Next, Melanie shows up at Zarah’s (Sheila Vand) humble abode. She demands to know where Layton is located. Then, as per Melanie’s usual, she subtly threatens to harm Zarah’s unborn baby if the latter doesn’t give up Layton’s whereabouts. Well, that and who freed Layton from the drawers.
Meanwhile, Layton and Miss Audrey (Lena Hall) are convening a secret meeting in the Night Car. Multiple people, including Dr. Pelton, are there to help stage a revolution. While the majority seem apprehensive, Layton reveals that he harbors a secret that’ll change everything. And he suspects that it’s something they’ve known all along – that Melanie is Mr. Wilford.
Later, Melanie and her armed posse arrive in the Tail. She demands they stand down from whatever revolt they’re concocting. Zarah somberly trails behind her. She points out Josie in the crowd as the one who freed Layton and knows his current whereabouts. The guards forcibly cart Josie away, much to the dismay of the Tailees. Bad Zarah!
Then, Melanie urges Till to leave Josie alone with her. They’re in the Hospitality headquarters. Melanie asks Josie where Layton is, but the latter remains tight-lipped. Loose lips sink ships. Melanie claims she doesn’t want to harm Josie. Josie spits out that she knows Melanie’s secret. Melanie demands Josie to choose – Layton or Miles. Once again, Josie keeps mum on that subject. The pair verbally spar. Finally, Melanie makes the executive decision to resort to bodily harm. Josie will never give up Layton. She freezes Josie’s pinkie finger via hose that’s connected to the train’s exterior. Next, she smashes Josie’s wholly frozen pinkie finger with a hammer. Ouch times a million.
Meanwhile, Layton and Miss Audrey meet with Terence. He’s not willing to pick a side, but Layton reveals that eventually he’ll have to fall in line somewhere. We see Melanie is vomiting in the bathroom after amputating Josie’s finger. She looks utterly perturbed. Till sneaks in while Melanie’s away to find Josie in absolute shock. Josie asks Till to deliver a message to Layton – that Miles is ready for what’s next. That Zarah is a traitor. Oh, and to do one last task before she leaves…
Next, Melanie returns from the bathroom to find Josie’s hand entirely frozen. Josie wriggles free from her restraints thanks to said frozen hand. Then, she takes on Melanie one-handed. The pair duke it out. Josie snatches up the hose utilized to freeze her hand and tightens it around Melanie’s neck. After some struggling, Melanie is able to break free. We see the hose is wholly detached from the wall, and below freezing air is whooshing inside from the outside world. Melanie pushes Josie toward the free-flowing air and flees the scene. We see Josie quickly freeze while trapped in the room. RIP Josie. She was a badass til the very end.
Later, Bennett escorts Miles to the engine. Melanie meets them halfway. Miles asks her if being an engineer makes her happy. She reveals that the train’s well being takes precedence over her happiness. You can see the mess of conflicting emotions in Melanie’s eyes as she chats with Josie’s adopted train son. You know, after she essentially murdered Josie.
Then, we see Miss Audrey performing on stage in the Night Car. Meanwhile, Layton is screaming in agony in the next room. Till revealed the news of Josie’s death shortly after it occurred. Next, LJ Folger (Annalise Basso) is led into one of the Night Car’s escapist rooms. She sees Layton emerging from the darkness. He’s fueled with rage. Layton coldly asks LJ if she wants to know Snowpiercer’s dirtiest secret. Naturally, LJ is ecstatic to learn of some heated gossip.
This episode was the best yet and I imagine this is just the tip of the iceberg for Snowpiercer. Connelly and McGuinness were extraordinary together. I found myself on the edge of my seat during those interrogation/fight scenes. Connelly continues to shine as a flawed, messy antagonist that you can’t help but empathize with. Melanie Cavill is proof that most “evil” characters aren’t inherently evil – they just make a string of horrifying decisions.
Do you think Layton’s revolution will unravel in next week’s episode? Will Jinju find out that Till played a hand in helping Layton escape the drawers? Will Melanie’s secret circulate the train? Join me next week as I recap Snowpiercer, here on Geek Girl Authority.
Snowpiercer airs Sundays at 9pm on your TNT affiliate.