Snowpiercer: 1.05 Justice Never Boarded
As Snowpiercer reaches the halfway point of its first season journey, it definitely continues its gradual improvement. By no means is it a classic piece of television, but by fleshing out some important relationships and increasing the layers of intrigue, it’s certainly a lot better than the opening episodes made it out to be.
The previous episode felt like the conclusion to the first chapter with the murderer despatched and Layton locked away in a suspended animation drawer for his troubles. Justice Never Boarded opens up the world of the titular train some more and gives us some idea of its inner workings, and also a bit more insight into the different classes and the characters that inhabit them.
To begin with, we see the marriage of brakeman Till and Jinju. It’s actually less a marriage ceremony and almost more a business arrangement. Once signed, the contract means Till is now a citizen of the second class, something that I suspect will cause feelings of ill will, especially with the inevitable revolt which looks more and more likely as each episode passes. Same sex marriage may not be an issue on board the giant train but I imagine having to choose between your loyalty to your old friends or your new position, will cause significant issues.
Till is rapidly becoming my favourite character on the show with her tough brakeman image nicely contrasted by the tender moments we see her share with Jinju. Mickey Sumner cuts an imposing figure when in her uniform and oozes authority a she goes about her business protecting the train and its inhabitants. However, by the end of this episode, she appears to have doubts about the running of Snowpiercer and the side she may choose to come down on in the upcoming struggles seems in doubt. Knocking her brakeman partner Oz out to save Josie and Layton will obviously have major repercussions in the future.
It is also the story involving Layton, Josie and the mysterious drawers that gets a massive boost this time out. Word on the train is that Layton has returned to the tail section after helping solve the murder case. Obviously those in the tail know this is not true, so Josie uses their stolen implant again to gain access to the carriages further up. Things go awry when the sanitation crew she is with reveal they just want to steal medical supplies and abandon her to her own devices. She soon discovers the drawers and after opening a few and realising she recognises some of the people inside them, eventually discovers Layton in his induced coma state. It is at this point that she is discovered and Till intervenes to stop Oz from attacking her. Till is shocked as much to see Layton in a drawer as Josie is having also been told that he had been returned to his people. Her decision to help Josie spirit Layton away revealing where her allegiances will ultimately lie.
More details about Melanie Cavill are also revealed including her sometimes sexual relationship with the engineer Knox. This relationship is obviously a cause of friction between Knox and the other engineers, as they resent his preferential treatment. In fact strained relationships are the main thread running through the show, probably not surprising when you cram three thousand people into a train of a thousand and one carriages and treat them all differently depending how much money they have. There is not just a revolution from the tailies to contend with now, but unrest in third class after the murders. Also there is now a potential mutiny in second and first class as they perceive Melanie to be weakening in the face of all the unrest. All it will take is one spark to light the fuse aboard the thundering train and just possibly LJ Folger could be that spark.
The other major part of the episode is the show trial of LJ for her part in the murders. It seems that usually only first and second class passengers are involved in such affairs, but with the deaths happening in third class Miss Audrey convinces Melanie that they should be represented at the trial. This seems to appease the masses and goes some way to quelling the feelings of unease that are growing. Melanie’s later decision however appears to fly directly in the face of this and is only going to inflame the situation.
After LJ is found guilty, even after her play acting of pretending she was an unwilling participant, Melanie delivers a message from Mr Wilford. Obviously this message has come from Melanie herself in which she advises that he has commuted LJ’s sentence and released her into her parents care. This will obviously not go down well with third class. Unfortunately Melanie has been forced into this position by LJ threatening to reveal everything she learned about the drawers from the victim she and her bodyguard tortured to death. She mentions a list which along with the drawer is obviously part of a much bigger plan and presumably will form the bulk of the story moving forward.
There is a very strange scene which I am still struggling to see the significance of. Perhaps it will become apparent later. LJ’s father pops his fake eye out of his head and gives it to LJ who sticks it in her mouth. Both of them seem to find this highly amusing. It’s certainly an odd thing to do and I can only assume it’s a way to show how depraved some of the first class passengers can be. It certainly helps reinforce the fact that LJ is quite insane and definitely a danger to everyone onboard. Annalise Basso puts in a fine performance and makes LJ a compelling villain. She’s not quite up there with the Joffreys and Ramsay Boltons of the world, but she’s certainly heading in the right direction.
I feel some of the easier episodes would have played better had some of the information in Justice Never Boarded been mixed in organically with the murder investigation. I’ve mentioned previously that it’s hard to really care about a character or get emotionally involved with a story if you don’t know any of the characters very well. Perhaps giving us a bit more backstory to the various passengers would have meant we cared more when they started getting murdered. Motives and the actions of some of the main players also would have been less muddied and confusing. I can accept the fact that the writers probably wanted to get to the meat and bones of the murder investigation as soon as possible but there are ways to do that and still give us world building details and compelling characters at the same time. Now that we are actually getting to know the occupants of the Snowpiercer the show is becoming far more watchable.
Dir: Christophe Schrewe, Clare Kilner, David Frazee, Everardo Gout, Frederick E.O. Toye, Graeme Manson, Helen Shaver, James Hawes, Leslie Hope, Rebecca Rodriguez, Sam Miller, Scott Derrickson | Cast: Alison Wright, Annalise Basso, Benjamin Haigh, Daveed Diggs, Iddo Goldberg, Jennifer Connelly, Katie McGuinness, Lena Hall, Mickey Sumner, Roberto Urbina, Sam Otto, Sasha Frolova, Sheila Vand, Susan Park | Writer: Graeme Manson