DISCLAIMER: This recap of Snowpiercer episode “The Eternal Engineer” is laden with spoilers. You’ve been warned. Proceed at your own peril.
Welcome back, occupants of the Engine Eternal! Snowpiercer gave us another thrill-riddled outing with “The Eternal Engineer.” Wilford facilitated a way to seize control of Snowpiercer, much to Layton’s chagrin. My girl Jennifer Connelly was sorely missing in this episode, but the Snowpiercer Powers That Be are drumming up the anticipation for when we do see Melanie again. Wilford created an engine dilemma so that the train would have to rely on him. Roche fell prey to the drawers along with his wife and daughter. Josie learned that her new skin grafts can withstand extreme cold. Will she become the next Icy Bob?
Ready to delve into “The Eternal Engineer”? Let’s get to it.
Now, we open with Roche (Mike O’Malley) providing this week’s narration. We see Boscovic (Aleks Paunovic) giving a ceremony for his fallen breechmen. He opens the door of the train and drops the wrapped bodies into the cavernous, frozen tundra below. Everyone on Snowpiercer stands in silence as a way to honor the dead. Layton (Daveed Diggs) and Roche notice that a handful of brakemen are throwing up the “W” sign a.k.a. Wilford’s symbol.
Later, after the ceremony, Bess (Mickey Sumner) reassures Boscovic that the Tail isn’t behind the breechmen massacre. Layton reveals that he’s taken up the mantle as a Tail defense attorney. Every day he goes on the intercom and defends the Tail from a train that refuses to accept them.
Meanwhile, Alex (Rowan Blanchard) is engrossed in a book when Wilford (Sean Bean) interrupts her reading time. Miss Audrey (Lena Hall) is loudly singing in the bath. Hey, at least she’s got the pipes. Alex surmises that Wilford has been doing a lot of ruminating given that he takes quite a few baths himself. That’s his thinking time. She not-so-subtly jabs at Wilford for withholding his plans from her. But now that Audrey’s back, Alex has been relegated on the chain of command.
Next, Layton and his advisors are meeting in the car he shares with Zarah (Sheila Vand). If you’ll recall, several people lit red candles in support of Wilford the night before. Layton mentions that Roche’s brakemen showcased Wilford’s signal, but the latter retorts that it’s a tradition. A deeply embedded tradition that isn’t associated with the man … or is it? Lights (Miranda Edwards) talks about how difficult it is for Tailies to move about the train. They’re essentially confined to certain spaces. Even Layton has trouble safely traveling through Snowpiercer. Tensions are at an all-time high.
Then, Roche finds his daughter Carly (Esther Li) is packing her things and temporarily migrating uptrain. His wife, Anne (Elaine Kao), is not a fan of the move, but it’ll be safer for Carly until the Wilford situation is mitigated. Roche and Anne bid Carly farewell for the time being. After Carly departs, Roche asks Anne how she feels about Pastor Logan orchestrating the attacks against the breechmen. Roche tries to remain impartial. Anne is a woman of faith, so this new development is testing said faith. “You keep the faith, I keep the peace,” Roche reminds her.
Suddenly, Roche turns on the sink and a flood of water uncontrollably spews forth. Ben (Iddo Goldberg) and Javier (Roberto Urbina) take note of the water issue. Javier goes off to check on the problem. Ruth (Alison Wright) is sporting a snazzy pair of wellies as she surveys the immense water damage. The corridors are flooded. But not to worry — Osweiller (Sam Otto) and LJ (Annalise Basso) are on the case! The dynamic janitor duo!
Next, we see Javier is hard at work trying to eradicate the water dilemma. Apparently, their intakes are jammed. Pipes are bursting left and right. It’s not good. Meanwhile, Josie (Katie McGuinness) wakes up on Big Alice. Wilford pays her a visit. This is the first time we’ve seen the pair interact. Wilford holds up a mirror to Josie’s face so she can see the incredible work courtesy of the Headwoods. Josie remarks that her skin doesn’t hurt as much anymore.
Additionally, Wilford procures a fake hand and conducts a harmless experiment on Josie. He covers her with a sheet, places her real hand on a tray and puts the fake one across from it. He proceeds to stroke both appendages in the same direction, methodical with every move. Of course, her brain registers the fake hand as her real one. Phantom Limb Syndrome is legitimate. Josie is in awe. However, her guard is still up. He’s the bad guy.
Then, we learn that the jammed intakes thing happens quite a bit. Initially, Layton assigns Wilford with the blame. In order to fix the issue, they’ll need to send someone outside. Boscovic is the only person trained in this arena to complete such a task. It doesn’t help that he’s the only breechman left and he’s in mourning. Layton decides to go talk to him. Ben urges him to act quickly as they don’t have a lot of time at their disposal. They do need to pick up Melanie, after all.
Next, Alex and Audrey spot Icy Bob (Andre Tricoteux) cruising atop Snowpiercer. The Headwoods let Icy Bob back inside while Wilford stands to watch. Alex surreptitiously wanders into the doctors’ lab space to bear witness to Icy Bob’s return. However, something’s amiss. Bob appears to be exponentially colder than last time. The Headwoods wrap him up and Wilford places a button in his hand. The ol’ breechmen tradition.
Meanwhile, Audrey spots Josie in the cafeteria. Josie immediately knows who she is. She also notes that Audrey has defected. Audrey doesn’t see it that way — she’s merely taking care of herself now. She doesn’t have to worry about war or class inequality on Big Alice. Perhaps Josie will embrace that too. But our Tailie extraordinaire isn’t buying it.
Now, Layton and Bess attempt to convince Boscovic to do this favor for the train. Risk his life to fix the jammed intakes. Layton tells him that, ultimately, it’s up to him. However, if this isn’t completed, then everyone will die. Boscovic acquiesces.
Then, Josie is visiting Icy Bob. Icy Bob might be on his last legs. He reveals that he’s done his time. He’s served the cause. Mrs. Headwood (Sakina Jeffrey) urges Josie to get some rest. They’ll need her soon. She decides to perform an experiment of her own. She sticks her bare hand outside in the well-below-freezing temperatures. Josie withdraws her hand to find that there’s zero damage. No frostbite. She didn’t even feel anything.
Later, Boscovic is suited up and outside. He scurries down the side to find the problem. It’s a massive metal stake that’s wedged in a place it shouldn’t be. Boscovic procures it after some struggle. He deposits the metal stake for Layton, Ben and Javier to see. Boscovic believes that someone else was outside before him. This was a deliberate attack of Wilford’s design. Boscovic pledges his allegiance to Layton at that moment. We love to see it.
Meanwhile, Bess and Roche are sitting in the latter’s office as the brakemen are dispersing to their respective stations. The corridors are still flooded from the water spill. Additionally, both learn that there’s a pervasive rumor going down the pipeline. The jackboots that survived the revolution are sequestered away and planning their revenge.
Next, Anne stops by and voices her doubts regarding Layton. Roche stands up for Layton, citing that he’s a genuinely good man who wants to do well by everyone. He wants equality for all. However, Anne is convinced that everything was much better under Wilford’s steady hand. More like Wilford’s controlling hand.
Later, we see Osweiller and LJ having supper after a long day. LJ is really good at the “working-class hero” thing. The pair share a smooch. I knew it was only a matter of time before they became an item.
Now, Ben leads Layton to the control room. Javier is already there and continuing to work on the problem at hand. Apparently, withdrawing that stake only solved part of the issue. The harmonic module is out of whack and it cannot be restored. It must be replaced. This is what keeps the engine going. If it isn’t fixed, then the engine will stop working. They’ll all be dead by the morning. Fortunately, Wilford has a replacement. Unfortunately, they’d need to invite him aboard Snowpiercer.
Meanwhile, Alex figures out what’s been going on with Snowpiercer. They needed to vent earlier because of the jammed intakes. Wilford had Icy Bob do some tampering. So, it was Wilford’s doing. Audrey surmises that a phone call will soon be forthcoming. She’s right.
Then, Layton ushers his advisors together for a brief meeting. He reveals that they’ll conceal Wilford from the public eye while he comes on with the replacement harmonic module. Nobody particularly likes this plan. Inviting the enemy with open arms. Layton informs the crew that if sh*t hits the fan, he’ll send up a flare.
Later, the lion returns to his lion’s den. Wilford is bewildered by the lack of fanfare surrounding his triumphant return. Unfortunately, as they’re speeding toward the control room, someone catches sight of Wilford. It’s only a matter of time before news of his presence circulates the whole train. Once they arrive at their destination, Wilford makes it a grandiose affair. He is a showman, after all. He has that in common with Audrey. Layton keeps his eye on Wilford as Javier and Ben replace the harmonic module.
However, sparks begin to fly. The system is overloading. Wilford hurriedly checks the panel to find that Melanie tinkered with it. Meaning, his module was designed for his panel. It won’t work otherwise. Then, Wilford orders the engineers to start a manual shutdown. Alex will push the train manually, which should give them more power to fix the issue. It’s the good ol’ “turn it off, then turn it on” solution. Ben gets on the intercom and informs the passengers that they’re manually shutting down Snowpiercer.
Meanwhile, Wilford belittles Layton for not being an engineer. How can Layton possibly run an entire train if he doesn’t understand it? Leave my boy Layton alone! Wilford decides to make an announcement to the train, much to the delight of his supporters. Obviously, he craves recognition and adoration. How dare anyone take credit for his work!
Then, after shutting down the engine, Wilford helps restart it again. Now, everything appears to be in working order. We see hordes of people in third class raucously cheering for Wilford. He saved the day! Well, more like remedied the problem he caused to steal a train from its rightful leader. Layton sends up that flare to warn his supporters.
Later, Roche unlocks Layton’s handcuffs. It looks as if the latter has been sitting in confinement all night. Roche vows to keep the Tailies safe. Layton just wants to be around to see his newborn son. We learn that as a trade-off for Wilford “saving the train,” Layton will have to turn himself in to Big Alice. Zarah and Layton say their goodbyes with a tearful embrace.
Next, Roche makes the trek to Big Alice himself. Audrey is there to greet him. She applauds him for making the “right decision.” Then, she leads him to a room wherein there are a series of drawers. Yes, akin to the drawers from season one. His wife Anne and daughter Carly are both sequestered away in their respective drawers, their vitals being monitored in the process. There’s an empty drawer just for Roche.
Meanwhile, Ben cedes the head engineer seat to Wilford. Now, the train belongs to him. He sits down and basks in his victory. You know, the one he seized through underhanded means.
It’s all heating up now! I’m glad the Snowpiercer Powers That Be didn’t rush Wilford’s return to power. The discussion of order vs. equality is quite intriguing. Those with more privilege, in this case, the “upper-class” passengers, were more content when order ruled the roost. Obviously, the less privileged i.e. the Tail suffered under the weight of this so-called order.
There are so many parallels to today’s society that can be made with this show. One notable line that sticks out to me is courtesy of Roche: “What is it about recent history that’s so hard to remember?” You’ve undoubtedly heard the old adage, “History repeats itself.” This illustrates that humanity has never learned nor probably never will learn the lessons that our history imparts.
Speaking of Roche, I’m curious about his ending in this episode. Was he aware that his family had been drawered? Did he volunteer himself to be drawered as well? Or did he board Big Alice with every intention of joining Wilford? Will Josie replace Icy Bob as Wilford’s weapon? Where exactly is Layton going?
So many questions! Thankfully, there’s a two-hour season finale to (hopefully) answer them on our horizon. Join me on March 29 as I recap Snowpiercer, here on Geek Girl Authority.
Snowpiercer airs Mondays at 9 pm on your TNT affiliate.
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