DISCLAIMER: This recap of Snowpiercer episode “The Show Must Go On” is laden with spoilers. You’ve been warned. Proceed at your own peril. 

Welcome back, occupants of the Engine Eternal! We’ve reached penultimate episode territory with “The Show Must Go On.” Wherein Wilford hosted an extravagantly awkward dinner party, a mini carnival and an insensitive puppet show. All in all, Wilford may be a grandiose showman, but courteous host he is not. Josie pushed the boundaries of her impressive immunity against the freezing cold. It’s abundantly clear that Wilford wants to make her the new Icy Bob.

Layton worked in the compost car aboard Big Alice and it was a sh*tshow. Get it? Ruth made a costly choice that resulted in the removal of her most precious teals. While this outing wasn’t heavy on the action, it did boast psychological manipulation, tense scenes and verbal jabs aplenty. 

Ready to delve into “The Show Must Go On”? Let’s get to it. 

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Now, we open with narration from Ruth (Alison Wright). She delves into how Melanie utilized hope to catalyze the passengers. Not to mention, Layton’s approach to hope was quite different. Ruth surreptitiously informs Bess (Mickey Sumner) and Zarah (Sheila Vand) that Roche and his family were taken to the drawers on Big Alice. Bess reveals that Wilford wants to see her. Ruth encourages her to be what he needs. Make herself “useful” in his eyes. The fight for the very soul of Snowpiercer will continue on full steam ahead. 

Next, Wilford (Sean Bean) is hosting an opulent dinner party that evening. He’ll be selecting special guests at random to attend. Kevin (Tom Lipinski) is annoyingly upbeat ever since Miss Audrey toyed with his brain. Meanwhile, Javier (Roberto Urbina) is being transferred to Big Alice to drive the train. He packs his bags and bids farewell to Ben (Iddo Goldberg). Ben urges his pal to keep on keepin’ on. They’re a week away from picking up Melanie. They must focus on her imminent return. 

Still of Iddo Goldberg in Snowpiercer episode "The Show Must Go On."

Snowpiercer 208 unit 2/6/20 ph: David Bukach

Then, Ruth waltzes into the Hospitality headquarters to find stacks upon stacks of files. Wilford’s lackeys ransacked them from the med bay. He wants access to every file and every ledger, confidentiality be damned. Additionally, he’s having passengers fill out questionnaires to determine their “place” in his new world order. Oh, and folks over 39 years old are considered to be “senior citizens.” Ruth protests the move, citing that she knows every soul on the train and has vowed to protect them. 

Later, Javi meets Alex (Rowan Blanchard). She’s not impressed. Alex tries to put on this “tough gal” persona. She orders Javi not to touch anything. Just run the train. He notices how alike Alex and Melanie are, especially in how they operate from an engineering standpoint. Alex leaves Javi to it since she has Wilford’s shindig on the agenda. 

Meanwhile, Wilford and Bess are chatting it up. He can’t quite figure her out. What’s her place on his train? He finally discloses that Roche and his family were put in the drawers. Wilford suggests she tell the occupants just that. However, they both know that won’t go over well. 

Now, we see Layton (Daveed Diggs) mucking about in sh*t. He’s unkempt and covered head to foot in soot. He’s a hot mess. Our leader has been brought low. Josie (Katie McGuinness) is speaking with the Headwoods regarding her new ability to withstand freezing temperatures. Technically, they fiddled around with her body without her consent. She’s not sure what Wilford’s objective is here. But the doctors suggest they push the envelope a bit. See what else she can do. 

Then, Ruth and Kevin enter car 272, which was previously closed to the public. It’s now been transformed into Willy’s World — an elaborate and decadent carnival complete with a mini Ferris wheel. LJ (Annalise Basso) and Alex are riding a small carousel as well. Ben and Bess are standing off to the side looking utterly miserable. Wilford makes his grand entrance as the carnival host extraordinaire. 

Next, Wilford gives the tiny group a preview of his latest and greatest puppet show. It would appear he penned the script himself. We see him recite the lines backstage in tandem with the cast. There are crudely made puppets that are meant to represent Wilford, Alex and Melanie. In this production, Melanie dies. It’s obviously parodying her valiant trip into the frozen outside world. Alex is livid. I don’t blame her. 

Still of Annalise Basso in Snowpiercer episode "A Single Trade."

Snowpiercer 204 Unit 12/19/19 ph: David Bukach

After the show, everyone is presented with a golden ticket to Wilford’s dinner party. Bess reminds Wilford that he can lock Layton away, but there’s still a bit of “his fight” in all of them. Get it, girl. Show him who’s boss. 

Meanwhile, Winnie (Emma Oliver) is chatting with Zarah. Zarah asks her to pass on a message to Josie in Big Alice. Josie is supposed to make contact with Layton to inform him of their continued mission. Everyone on Snowpiercer is still bracing themselves for a fight. Josie dons a black suit and enters a chamber while the Headwoods observe her. They pull a lever and she’s exposed to copious amounts of freezing cold air. However, her limbs don’t fall off. In fact, nothing about her external appearance changes. She’s like an actual superhero. 

Then, Layton finds various items that could prove to be useful down the line such as a shard of glass. He discreetly hides said items away from prying eyes. Wilford pops in for a visit while Layton works in “The Swamp.” They verbally spar as per their usual. Layton has an excellent retort amid this conversation. He refers to Wilford as an “old white male dictator with a train set.” What a perfect metaphor for today’s turbulent times. Wilford dangles Zarah and the baby in front of Layton like a scrumptious carrot on a stick. Always with the manipulation.

Next, we see everyone gearing up for the night’s festivities. The first-class dining car is all swanked out courtesy of Ruth’s keen eye for lavish party aesthetics. Zarah and Bess show up arm-in-arm with the latter sporting a sleek suit. I dig this pairing. Alex is as stoic as ever while LJ is over the moon to be back among the rich. Osweiller (Sam Otto) confesses to Bess that he feels like a fish out of water. 

Suddenly, the stars of the hour make their highly anticipated entrance. Miss Audrey (Lena Hall) and Wilford drunkenly stumble into the room. They pre-gamed pretty hard. They both proceed to sit at the piano and plunk out a jovial, alcohol-infused tune. Nobody except them is really having any fun. I still can’t believe Audrey fell hook, line and sinker for Wilford’s crap. 

Now, we’re in full-on dinner mode. Wilford is intrigued by Osweiller, who’s now the new Head of Janitorial since Terence was killed by Pike. LJ spews vitriol about Melanie in front of Alex. She’s not amused by the nonchalant spreading of lies. There’s a ton of back-and-forth among the attendees. Lots of not-so-subtle verbal digs. Wilford claims he’s not sure how Osweiller fits into his grand scheme. That is until Osweiller asks if he can play the piano. 

Next, Osweiller plays and sings “Winter Song” by Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson. It’s a stunning rendition. Who knew this guy had pipes and chops? Not I! His voice accompanied by his piano skills may just rival Miss Audrey. She’s not happy that someone else aboard the train is a gifted artist. The song is perfect for the mood and tone of the episode. Even Wilford appears to be touched by the performance. 

Still of Alison Wright in Snowpiercer episode "Keep Hope Alive."

Snowpiercer 201 unit 10/30/19 ph: David Bukach

Meanwhile, Josie pays Layton a visit. He’s taken aback by her appearance. The Headwoods did incredible work on her skin grafts. This is the first Layton/Josie scene we’ve had since the beginning of the season. There’s clearly still a bit of tension lingering between them. She discloses that the gang is ready to move forward with their plans to dethrone Wilford. He must keep the faith. In turn, Layton urges her to stay put. Wilford has something in store for her and she has to see it through. 

Then, Alex informs Ruth regarding Wilford’s census. What’s it all for anyway? We learn that, initially, Big Alice harbored 200 passengers. Well, until Wilford learned that he didn’t have enough resources to care for 200 people. So, he culled them. Women, children and men. He selectively picked off certain folks that couldn’t serve him. That’s his plan for Snowpiercer. Wilford demands his lackeys to throw Alex in the brig. 

Later, Wilford tells Ruth that the empty place setting is for her. She’s the special guest of the evening. He orders Kevin to sit down across from her. He reveals that there’s a “glut in Hospitality.” Only one person can be in charge. Only one diligent soul can lead the pack. Wilford offers the job to Ruth. Of course, he’s doing this to keep her under his thumb. Javier has been moved to Big Alice and Layton is imprisoned in the compost car. Not to mention, Melanie is off the train altogether. Josie is being primed as his newest weapon. 

Now, he wants Bess to be his personal advisor. Clearly, he’s trying to separate the major players in Layton’s revolution. So, the position is all Ruth’s, but only if she announces to the occupants that they won’t be picking up Melanie. Ruth’s face falls. After a pause, she rejects his offer. She won’t do it. Ruth’s character growth this season has been so beautiful and gratifying to witness. Wilford orders her to remove her teals. She’s escorted out of the room. 

Next, Wilford whisks Bess away to a room that’s housing the folks responsible for killing the breachmen. You know, the people that committed acts of murder on Wilford’s behalf. They’re bound with apparatuses over their faces. With the pull of one lever, an exorbitant amount of outside freezing air will make its way into their lungs. They’ll die. Bess urges him to give them a fair trial. A just trial. Then, once they’re deemed guilty, he can punish them. But Wilford admitted himself that he’s “dyslexic when it comes to right and wrong.” He pulls the lever anyway in front of Bess. 

Still of Mickey Sumner in "The Eternal Engineer."

Snowpiercer 207 2/3/20 ph: David Bukach

Meanwhile, Ruth is led into the compost car. Layton is bewildered to find her there. Javi is stuck driving the train while everyone else around him is cavorting and orgy-ing aboard Big Alice. It’s awkward for him. Suddenly, he receives a static-riddled message from none other than Melanie. He quickly switches it off before Wilford hears it.

Then, he races to the bathroom and sends a message to Layton and Ruth in compost. How? By shoving a piece of toilet paper into an empty lipstick tube and flushing it down the toilet. Pretty ingenious if you ask me. Layton and Ruth find said message. There it is — the hope Ruth was referring to at the beginning. We’ve come full circle. Layton suggests it’s time they break out of their putrid cell.

RELATED: Catch up on all the Engine Eternal drama with our Snowpiercer recaps!

Sh*t’s hitting the fan now, Snowpiercer fans! “The Show Must Go On” boasted some wonderful performances, namely from Alison Wright and Mickey Sumner. As a character, Ruth has really grown on me. Watching her getting stripped of her teals was probably more than a slap in the face for her. She had a lot of pride in her work and genuinely cared about everyone on the train. Wilford’s playing a dirty game, but we’ll see who comes out on top in the season finale!

Do you think Layton and Ruth will break free in the next episode? Will they make it to Melanie in time and defy Wilford’s orders? How on frozen Earth did they afford a carnival? Keep your eyes peeled for my recap of part two of the Snowpiercer season finale, “Into the White”!




Melody McCune
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