DISCLAIMER: This recap of the Snowpiercer premiere episode “The Tortoise and the Hare” has spoilers. Proceed at your peril.
Welcome, passengers of the Eternal Engine! Snowpiercer‘s back for a memorable season opener. While this show had a rough start amid its freshman season, it’s only improving with every new episode. The writers found their footing, which helped Snowpiercer stay on track (Get it?).
“The Tortoise and the Hare” methodically arranges the chess pieces for what’s sure to be a monumental season. Layton’s the hare while Wilford’s the tortoise, in age and speed. Wilford might be laying low to ensure Audrey’s safety with Layton, but something tells me he’ll whip out the big guns once Layton returns.
Asha’s introduction plays a pivotal role in this episode and beyond, considering she’s the link to New Eden and a potential life off-train.
Overall, it’s a solid outing with ample action while adding new, intriguing threads to the Snowpiercer tapestry.
Ready to dive into “The Tortoise and the Hare”? Let’s get to it.
We open six months after Layton (Daveed Diggs) took his “pirate train” crew to find Melanie. Layton provides a voiceover, calling their scalding hot 10-car vessel “The Hare” and referring to Wilford’s (Sean Bean) thousand-car train, currently freezing in some places and slow-going, as “The Tortoise.”
Wilford notes to the silent Javi (Roberto Urbina) that Layton recently passed through a particular section of track. Unfortunately, Javi must sit next to his attacker, Wilford’s dog Jupiter, while performing his engineer duties.
After learning about Layton’s progress, we see members of the resistance surreptitiously pass the news down the train until it reaches Pike (Steven Ogg). Then, Pike reports to Ruth (Alison Wright), who’s currently hiding in the bowels from Wilford.
Pike informs Ruth they discovered “signs of Snowpiercer,” and we see Ruth tracking Layton’s progression on a map. Pike doubts Layton will return for them, given how much time passed before they caught wind of him. But Ruth holds fast to hope.
Meanwhile, Bennett (Iddo Goldberg) leaves Snowpiercer to collect ice samples for research purposes. Since discovering Melanie’s data cores, Layton and his crew periodically stop at specific points to conduct research. They need proof the Earth is heating.
Layton and Josie (Katie McGuinness) communicate with Bennett to ensure he has enough oxygen to make the trek. Alex (Rowan Blanchard) expresses concerns after they came in “too rich,” believing they might struggle to restart considering how hot the train is.
Bess (Mickey Sumner) wonders what it’s all for — shouldn’t they head back to the main train to rescue the passengers from Wilford?
They must continue on their mission to find “New Eden” so that they can bring this evidence back to the main train.
Next, Bess visits Miss Audrey (Lena Hall), held captive in the library. Martin (Stephen Lobo), an innocent man who merely woke up from a nap to find most of the train missing, stands guard. Bess releases Audrey from her cell — it’s lunchtime! Sykes (Chelsea Harris) offers a wide selection of delectable menu items. Just add water!
Suddenly, Ben slips through a patch of perilous ground, falling into what appears to be an underground research station.
Layton rushes outside to help his friend, but Josie won’t let him go alone. He wishes she’d adhere to the chain of command for once; however, that’s not our girl’s style.
Meanwhile, Alex puts out a fire while Bess hesitantly seizes control of the engine. Layton and Josie share an unexpected smooch before heading out into the cold.
Somebody get me a knife; time to cut some sexual tension!
Later, Wilford is about to receive a briefing from Kevin (Tom Lipinski), but he wants Zarah (Sheila Vand) to read the latest report. Zarah’s super pregnant now. According to said report, the first class is mainly frozen. Zarah suggests removing the cars since they’re dead weight. But Wilford insists he’ll restore them to their former glory.
Someone’s playing “Robin Hood” in the name of the resistance, so Wilford asks Kevin to “get creative” with doling out punishments. Murder is off the table, for Audrey and Zarah’s sake.
Next, Pike gives Jackboot Tyson (Andrea Ware) a bathing token to use at her discretion. Ruth must be the “Robin Hood” to which Wilford refers. Pike acts on her behalf.
LJ (Annalise Basso) and Osweiller (Sam Otto), who now run the Night Car, get a visit from Kevin. After giving Kevin some “train-made hooch,” LJ and Osweiller urge him to ask Jackboot Stu Whiggins (Kristian Bruun) for information.
Anyway, Whiggins throws the second-class water master under the train. The water master offers hot baths to folks as a reward for working for the resistance.
Meanwhile, Wilford cleans Javi’s wounds in a chilling scene between the abuser and the abused. My poor baby Javi.
Then, Wilford and Kevin round up the water master and Jackboot Tyson, who’s currently in the bathtub. As a result, Pike tells Ruth to pack her belongings since the water master disclosed her location. As of now, Wilford still doesn’t know Ruth’s the key player in all this.
Wilford finds Ruth’s former hideout after she flees, and we see Pike lead Ruth to her new stealth headquarters behind the bar in the first-class dining car.
Layton and Josie find Ben, who regains consciousness post-icy tumble. They prepare to rescue him.
Martin unlocks Audrey’s cage, and the pair plan to storm into the engine to force Alex to merge with the rest of the train.
Josie lowers Layton into the hole, and he attaches a hook to Ben’s suit. Layton also gives Ben some of his oxygen supply since the latter’s stores run dangerously low.
While Bess works in a small cubby attaching wires, Alex does the math regarding how much time they have before things go pear-shaped for their bullet train. When Alex panics, Bess encourages her to talk it out; think like Bennett.
Suddenly, Audrey waltzes into the engine and slams the door to Bess’s cubby, knocking her unconscious while entrapping her. Audrey brandishes a taser and demands Alex turn around. It’s time to return to the arms of Daddy Wilford!
Audrey procures a smoke from her bosom and lights it with her taser, which, admittedly, is a smooth move.
Bess wakes up and finds herself trapped in a tight space. Martin stands on top of the cubby door, so she’ll have to locate another method of egress.
Josie pulls Ben out of the chasm while Layton urges her to transport Ben back to the train. He’s right behind them, or so he claims. Layton spots a glowing red light in the seemingly abandoned research facility. He must investigate!
He follows the crimson light to what appears to be a reactor. Someone’s here! But, as Layton wanders down the corridors, he notices a significant amount of blood on the wall and floor.
While exploring one room, a mysterious person attacks him from behind — it’s Asha (Archie Panjabi), and she views Layton as a threat. Layton prevails after a brief skirmish, and he uses that moment of respite to replenish his oxygen stores.
Meanwhile, Audrey plants verbal nonsense in Alex’s head, notably that Melanie’s research “died with her.” Bess emerges after her tunnel excursion, smacking Martin across the back of his head. She orders Audrey to step away from Alex.
Suddenly, Audrey begins steering the train forward, away from Josie, Ben and Layton. Bess knocks Audrey unconscious and persuades Alex to reverse for their friends. Alex wonders aloud whether Wilford’s methods are the best course of action. Bess encourages her to stick to Melanie’s way. Alex returns the train to its original spot on the tracks.
As Layton restores his oxygen, he has a vision of a desolate, windswept land bereft of snow. A looming tree stands tall in the middle of it all. Is this New Eden? Is Layton a seer of sorts?
Josie makes it back to the pirate train with Ben in tow, and she panics when Layton’s nowhere in sight. Ben believes Layton suffers from oxygen depletion by now.
Thankfully, we see Layton trudging toward the train with an unconscious Asha draped over his shoulders. Hooray!
Kevin makes an example of the water master and Jackboot Tyson, who dared to bathe. The audacity! He forces Pike and the others to throw waste on them as their punishment.
Meanwhile, Wilford observes as Mrs. Headwood (Sakina Jaffrey) injects an unknown substance into Zarah’s stomach, aiming straight for the baby growing therein.
Layton watches Asha while she rests. He can’t stop replaying the vision of New Eden in his head.
Here’s hoping Layton gathers significant evidence regarding New Eden soon because the outlook aboard Snowpiercer looks bleak.
I question why Wilford hasn’t pieced together Ruth’s presence on the train and pinpointed her as the new symbol of the resistance. Unless he believes she snuck onto Layton’s pirate vessel?
Do you think we’ll see more Orphan Black cast members at some point? What was Mrs. Headwood injecting into Zarah’s pregnant belly? Will Miss Audrey have a conniption when she finds LJ and Osweiller running her Night Car? Join me next week for more Eternal Engine shenanigans, only on Geek Girl Authority!
Snowpiercer airs Mondays at 9 pm on your TNT affiliate.
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