DISCLAIMER: This recap of Snowpiercer episode “Many Miles From Snowpiercer” is laden with spoilers. You’ve been warned. Proceed at your own peril.
Welcome back, occupants of the Engine Eternal! Snowpiercer blessed us with a Melanie-centric episode this week. After two outings that were sorely lacking the sublime Jennifer Connelly, we got to see what our favorite engineer was up to in “Many Miles From Snowpiercer.” Melanie struggled for survival with limited rations at the research station. Additionally, we pulled back the curtain a bit on her life prior to The Freeze. She grappled with her inner demons and reconciled with her mistakes. This season clearly sports a redemption arc for the former Head of Hospitality. And boy, does Connelly shine.
Ready to delve into “Many Miles From Snowpiercer”? Let’s get to it.
Now, we open with Melanie (Connelly) after the train deposits her near the research station. The wind is howling, and snow is blowing every which way. She’s riding an ATV of sorts that proceeds to get stuck in the snow. Melanie grabs whatever she can feasibly lug to the station. She’ll have to retrieve the remainder of her rations later.
Then, she attempts to shovel her way into said station. Melanie stumbles upon a frozen body that’s boasting a bullet hole in the head. After struggling for some bit to gain access, Melanie finally enters the fray. She finds yet another corpse. A woman slit her wrists while sitting in a chair. We see her pooled blood is frozen like massive crimson icicles. Melanie plans to snag the rest of her items in the morning. For now, she has to get the station back online.
Next, the following day, we see Melanie at the scene wherein she left her rations. An avalanche has completely concealed the area with copious amounts of hefty debris. So, there’s that.
Flashback time! Melanie is in Chicago prior to The Freeze. She’s admiring the fruits of her labor by walking through Snowpiercer’s engine room. Everything looks shiny and new. Wilford (Sean Bean) is present and the pair appear to be on good terms. He’s even willing to attribute partial credit to Melanie for the train’s successful construction.
Meanwhile, Melanie rummages through the cabinets in search of food. Nothing. However, she does find a human forearm in the freezer. Yummy. She hallucinates Wilford at that moment. Mirage Wilford proceeds to belittle her regarding her lack of rations. How will she survive in this frozen tundra? He’s relishing in their verbal sparring, even if it’s all in Melanie’s head. Melanie marks the calendar for Snowpiercer’s return. Then, she receives data for the first weather balloon via the station’s radio tower. Success!
Now, we’re falling headfirst into another flashback. This time, Melanie is confronting Wilford in the Night Car. Well, this is during its early conception. She chastises him for funneling their monetary resources into a brothel. Wilford just wants entertainment! Music! Art! Just because the world is ending, it doesn’t mean they can’t celebrate creativity. Melanie believes they should be bringing a team of geneticists into the fold. Wilford wants more jackboots. More security. He sounds rather Trumpian in this scene.
Once again, it’s all about law and order while science takes a backseat. Wilford not so subtly threatens Melanie. He reminds her that he’s in charge. He can deny her family access to the train.
Later, Melanie notices that her biscuit is missing. Perhaps she ate it in her fatigued state. We see her munching on a measly piece of candy for sustenance. She hallucinates Layton (Daveed Diggs). Mirage Layton notes that now Melanie knows how the incessantly hungry occupants of the Tail felt. She constantly withheld rations from them. Melanie spots a rodent in the corner. An idea takes root.
Then, Melanie removes a piece of flesh from the frozen body outside. She sets up a trap for the mouse. Mirage Layton ponders whether Melanie actually saw said mouse or she’s losing her marbles. How can anything survive out here? Next, Melanie is going down Memory Lane again. She’s on the train with Bennett (Iddo Goldberg) right before it departs for its maiden sojourn around the globe. Wilford is antsy and wants to leave now. Melanie is still waiting for her parents and for her daughter Alex. Melanie’s geneticists are clustered together outside while Wilford’s jackboots have guns brandished at them.
Now, she stirs from her slumber to the sound of a mouse. Bingo! The little guy fell for her trap. Mirage Layton has a great recipe for a rat stew, but Melanie has a plan. She concocts a liquid and dunks the mouse in it. As he scurries off, we see his small footprints leading the way to his hideout. Melanie tears apart the wall to find a rodent colony living within. Safe and sound. Surviving and thriving. Melanie hallucinates Alex (Rowan Blanchard) next. Mirage Alex reveals that it’s a geothermal vent, which is responsible for sustaining the rodent colony. Science! Melanie refers to it as a “miracle,” but Alex corrects her. “It’s life, mom,” she responds. How poignant.
Later, Melanie is feasting on a hot and juicy rat. She cuddles up to Mirage Alex. Alex claims that she finally understands why Melanie left her behind in Chicago. We flashback to just minutes before Snowpiercer’s departure. Melanie asserts that she’s not leaving without every single geneticist promised to her. Wilford pushes back that he only granted her six geneticists, not 12. He needs six more jackboots instead. Since neither refuses to budge, Wilford makes an executive decision. He orders his lackeys to slaughter all of them. Right in front of Melanie and Bennett.
Meanwhile, in the present, Melanie is in the process of receiving data for the 11th weather probe. Suddenly, a gust of wind knocks over the radio tower which severs her signal. Now, all of that data is lost. This must be when Snowpiercer was waiting on Melanie’s confirmation of contact. Melanie discovers that the tower punctured a hole in the roof of the station. After patching it up, she succumbs to more relentless badgering from Mirage Wilford. He scolds her for acting self-righteous. As if she’s a “better human” than him. Of course, we know all of these hallucinations are merely Melanie’s own psyche playing tricks on her.
Next, we see Melanie is outside with a makeshift pulley system. She’s attempting to lift up the radio tower from its prostrate position. In flashback territory, Melanie is trying to figure out if her family made it on the train. When they learn that Wilford is merely minutes away from boarding the vessel himself, Bennett urges her to leave him behind. Leave the madman in the cold. Melanie argues that she’s still waiting for her parents and daughter. A horde of people is scrambling onto Snowpiercer, including Layton.
However, having Wilford out of the way would be best for those on Snowpiercer. Melanie tearfully gives the order and the train chugs away from Chicago. We see Wilford watch it go in bewilderment. In the present, Melanie is successful in raising up the radio tower. She goes back online and all the data is accounted for. Huzzah! More time passes until the end of the month arrives. But Snowpiercer doesn’t.
Now, three days have passed since the train was supposed to return for Melanie. She incessantly tries to contact them via radio, but to no avail. Melanie, under the impression that she will be stuck there for all eternity, leaves an emotional message for Alex. She asks for her daughter’s forgiveness. Melanie gave it her all. We see a hallucination of Alex embracing her mother. She reassures Melanie. Alex tells Melanie that she can stop apologizing. It’s a wonderfully heartfelt moment. Mirage Alex transforms into little Alex. A young girl hugging her mom.
Later, Melanie packs everything up and heads outside to the rendezvous point. She spots the train, but it’s speeding down the tracks. Melanie emphatically calls out to Snowpiercer to slow its roll. The wheels appear to be on fire. Suddenly, it whizzes right past Melanie without even a show of decreasing speed. We see Alex is screaming for her and pounding on one of the windows. Melanie has been left behind.
Judging by the timeline, it would appear that Melanie was abandoned amid Wilford’s attack on the breachmen. Regardless, this raises questions about Melanie’s situation. While I don’t think Snowpiercer would kill her off, this certainly throws a wrench into Melanie’s quest to repopulate Earth.
Connelly’s performance in “Many Miles From Snowpiercer” is, without a doubt, award-worthy. She doles out consistently brilliant work, but she catapults her portrayal of Melanie Cavill to another level. Her acting is never forced. It’s always natural. The scene wherein Alex embraces her is nothing short of touching. I like that the show is forcing her to reconcile with her past. She’s made treacherous mistakes aplenty, but she’s evolving into a better human being. Her “hallucinations” involving Wilford, Layton and Alex were merely projections of her own thoughts. The ending marked the start of Melanie’s journey toward finally forgiving herself for her transgressions.
Do you think Wilford is behind Snowpiercer leaving Melanie in the cold? Was Melanie’s research conclusive? Is Earth salvageable or will it continue to be an uninhabitable wasteland? 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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