DISCLAIMER: Spoilers abound in this recap of Snowpiercer episode “First, the Weather Changed.” You’ve been warned. Proceed with caution.
Welcome to Wilford Industries! Tonight’s the night, folks – TNT’s new series Snowpiercer has finally left the station. Initially, I was drawn to this show for a myriad of reasons. Firstly, I loved the Bong Joon-ho film of the same name that starred Chris Evans. Secondly, there’s Jennifer Connelly and Daveed Diggs. Both are consummate performers whom I admire. If Connelly’s name is attached to it, chances are I’ll watch it. Thirdly, Graeme Manson. Orphan Black was a severely underrated masterpiece in my humble opinion. All in all, Snowpiercer was a series I was destined to watch. “First, the Weather Changed” is probably one of the strongest pilots I’ve ever watched. Absolutely engrossing, with captivating performances by Connelly and Diggs. In addition, the episode did an excellent job of adhering to the previously established mythology of the Snowpiercer universe while creating a new story for fans to enjoy.
Alright, ready to delve into “First, the Weather Changed?” Let’s get to it.
Now, we open with voice narration from protagonist Andre Layton (Diggs) getting us up to speed on things. In the future, climate change worsened exponentially. Climate scientists attempted to reverse the damage done by drastically cooling the planet. Unfortunately, this turned Earth into a solid chunk of ice. Thus came about the creation of Snowpiercer – a massive train housing 1,001 cars. It perpetually circles the globe while sheltering the last remnants of humanity. Layton was among a group of lower class citizens who boarded Snowpiercer without tickets. As Layton continues to narrate, we see fights breaking out in the “tail” of Snowpiercer. Hordes of people clambering to get on the train. The train’s authorities enacting police brutality.
Next, we fast forward almost seven years later. Layton, along with his girlfriend Josie (Katie McGuinness) and her son Miles (Jaylin Fletcher), have lived in the Tail without exposure to the rest of Snowpiercer. Everything is divided into classes, with only the elite and wealthy having access to all amenities aboard the train. Layton, a man named Pike (Steven Ogg) and many others are planning a coup. The doors separating the Tail from the other cars can only be opened by authorized personnel. Said doors are massive. Their hope is to migrate to the front of the train, steal weaponry and mess with the train’s electrical system. How will they make their escape? Whenever someone from above pays them a visit. Usually that occurs when it’s time to receive scant food rations or there’s news. Class warfare at its finest!
Then, we meet Melanie Cavill (Connelly). She’s in charge of Snowpiercer’s Hospitality unit and ensuring that relations between the classes are smooth as a marble. Oh, and she’s essentially Mr. Wilford’s right hand woman. Mr. Wilford is the brains behind Snowpiercer, as his company funded the whole thing. Melanie makes regular announcements over the train’s intercom to keep the public up-to-date on the outside weather. We see Melanie waltz through a, presumably, first class dining area warmly greeting its occupants. Ruth Wardell (Alison Wright) – Melanie’s right hand woman – informs Melanie of a disturbance in one of the lower classes. Of course, she’s referencing to the Tail.
Later, Ruth pays the Tail a visit to make some announcements. It appears the gang is ready to ambush her. The time to strike is now! However, before they can start the first stage of their coup, Ruth calls for Layton to step forward. The authorities hustle him away without an explanation.
Now, we see Layton moving through the different cars. He’s in awe of the world around him. In addition, he reacts to seeing sunlight for the first time in several years. The guards plop Layton before Roche (Mike O’Malley). Roche gifts Layton with a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup. Of course, this is the first true meal Layton has consumed in, again, several years. He scarfs down the meal in mere minutes. To be fair, that’s how I eat grilled cheese and tomato soup too.
Then, Roche informs Layton that a murderer is afoot! Someone is slaughtering higher class citizens, and a body has been discovered. Prior to Snowpiercer, Layton was a homicide detective. Mr. Wilford wants Layton to catch the murderer and solve the case. Layton refuses, and will only accept said job if certain conditions are met. Roche is not willing to bend though.
Next, they take Layton to see the corpse. The poor man was essentially diced into pieces. Two of the guards, sans Roche, take Layton to a holding cell and proceed to beat the snot out of him. Roche reappears with Melanie and promptly scolds the guards for acting out of line. Melanie introduces herself to Layton. She explains that Mr. Wilford really wants Layton for this job. He’ll have any and all resources at his disposal. Access to the entire train, for starters. However, Layton won’t budge unless he receives third class rations and sleeping arrangements.
Then, Layton meets with Snowpiercer’s doctor Klimpt (Happy Anderson). He maintains the sleep cells. When someone commits a crime, punishment usually involves putting the felon to “sleep.” Like an induced coma of sorts. However, they’re placed in drawers that looks all too like a morgue. Melanie informs Layton that, two years ago, a girl named Nikki was put to sleep for being the supposed perpetrator of the murders. But, Layton believes they accused the wrong person. Now, they must revive Nikki and elicit the facts from her.
Later, Roche takes Layton to a club where all the cool kids like to mingle. Roche explains that a man named Steven went missing the night before, and his roommates are prime suspects in the matter. Layton sees that his ex-girlfriend Zarah (Sheila Vand) is present. Roche wants him to question Zarah. We learn from Zarah that Layton inadvertently forced her to join him on Snowpiercer, but once she boarded she “betrayed” the Tail by accepting work with the higher classes. Then, Layton became romantically entangled with Josie. I love me some good love drama! Anyway, Layton asserts that Zarah is innocent.
Meanwhile, the oldest resident in the Tail, Old Ivan (Mark Margolis), is celebrating his birthday with Josie and the gang. One of the “Tailers” plugs in a cellphone and urges Old Ivan to play some music. However, the battery life is meager, so his music session won’t last long. What I love most about this scene is the perspective it provides. We take so many simple things for granted – like listening to music – and this was a reminder of that. Unfortunately, this scene doesn’t end on a happy note. Old Ivan commits suicide by hanging, which is telling of just how miserable the conditions are for residents of the Tail.
Suddenly, Pike and the others stage their coup in the Tail. They’re able to successfully keep the doors open by wedging a ramp in between them. Bloodshed and chaos ensues. Guards from above are swiftly slaughtered, while residents of the Tail also suffer injuries and worse. We see Josie join the fray. Josie, alongside Pike and a few others, are able to get through the first set of doors.
Next, Layton is called to the Tail to alleviate an already tense situation. Pike and co. are caught red-handed (literally). Layton attempts to calm them, but Pike believes the former is a traitor. Layton assures the group that he’s still one of them. He’ll always be on their side. He urges the crew to pleas guilty and accept “sleep” as their punishment. Then, while they’re in the sleep cells, Layton can stage a plan that’ll take everyone in the Tail to the top. They’ll gain control of the train. Thankfully, Layton diffuses the scene. Oh, and he accepts Melanie’s proposal. He’s going to find that murderer! Melanie, in turn, acquiesces to Layton’s terms. Now, Pike and the others will receive punishment besides the sleep cell. Most likely, they’ll lose a limb. You know, as a warning.
Later, we see Melanie arrive in her car to decompress from the day’s trials and tribulations. Her sleeping arrangements aren’t as lavish as I expected. After she dresses down into lounge wear, we see her head to the very front of the train. A man named Bennett (Iddo Goldberg) is sitting in the conductor’s chair. Melanie shoos him away and takes her throne. Oh, and Melanie is actually Mr. Wilford. She’s the top dog, folks. Large and in charge!
Now, this episode blew me away. Snowpiercer delivered a solid first installment, and I can’t wait to see where this season will takes us. There’s an interesting mix of nuanced characters and enough intrigue to keep me hooked. Not to mention, a strong cast and a mesmerizing score to boot. I love science fiction coupled with political intrigue, and this ticked off all the right boxes for me.
Do you think the murderer is someone we’ve already met aboard Snowpiercer? What are Melanie’s true intentions? Where is Josie in all this? Join me next week as I recap Snowpiercer, here on Geek Girl Authority.
Snowpiercer airs Sundays at 9pm on your TNT affiliate.
This article was originally published 5/17/20
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