Snowpiercer: 1.08 These Are His Revolutions
The long awaited revolution finally kicks off in the latest instalment of Snowpiercer and Melanie’s tenuous grip on control begins to slip. Yes, it’s the beginning of the end and These Are His Revolutions delivers the shows most action-packed episode yet. It’s a mixed bag though, as it also highlights the shows shortcomings and reminds you that there is a much better movie that did all this with far more visual style and impact.
After the pretty dull and plodding first few episodes of Snowpiercer, it has picked up a head of steam and this episode does pack a lot of content into its running time. When things begin to happen, they happen fast. So fast in fact that at times it all feels a bit rushed and, in my opinion, some of what happens could have been added to the last couple of episodes to help with the pacing.
First to go down is Melanie. After being virtually untouchable and the trains de facto mouthpiece for the last few years, she is soon unceremoniously removed from power with very little fight. She unknowingly caused her own downfall when she fast tracked Miles from the tail to become an engineer. Now with access to the engine, he simply invites the less than stable LJ Folger up to the control room and shows her that Mr Wilford is unequivocally not onboard the train. Not one for passing up a chance to sow chaos, LJ immediately informs her parents with this information, and they in turn confront Ruth and head straight for the front of the train. Bennett manages to lock himself and Miles in the engine room.
Melanie is not so lucky and soon finds herself in one of her own “hospitality” rooms. Possibly the exact same one where she tortured Josie to death in the last episode. All this happens quite rapidly and, as I’ve already mentioned, the show might have benefitted from having this happen across a couple of episodes to even the pacing out. I can understand that maybe having everything happen at once invokes a sense of the urgency and confusion that would occur under the circumstances but it is quite a lot to cram in to one episode. Especially with everything going on at the other end of the train.
Taking full advantage of the coup happening in first class, Layton, Till and the tailies launch their revolution from the rear of the train. Surging forward, with the third class passengers having joined their fight, they soon encounter Roche and his brakemen. After a tense stand-off they step aside, the news that Mr Wilford is not actually in charge takes all the wind out of their sails. The main battle comes with Grey and his ream of Jackboots and this is unfortunately where the show becomes a victim of its own premise. Obviously being set entirely on a train, albeit a particularly large one, Snowpiercer is always going to have a problem with geography. With the outside temperature being lethal in seconds you can’t even have people clambering over carriages the way most shows would handle it. That’s not to say a restrictive geography can’t be put to good use, The Raid being a good example. The original Snowpiercer movie itself of course features some excellent fight scenes, both brutal and balletic. With such a visionary director as Bong Joon Ho you’d expect nothing less. In the hands of someone less capable and with a lower television budget it shouldn’t be surprising that we end up with something a lot less exciting.
Deciding to stage the clash in the Night Car is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand it is the largest open space onboard the train, being used for entertainment events as it is, and as such gives the biggest area for the opposing sides to meet. On the other hand it is just a large open space. In the hands of a more proficient director and fight choreographer, this could have led to some intense close quarters carnage, think along the lines of Game of Thrones' Battle of the Bastards. Instead we get a very dimly lit affair punctuated with flashes of strobe lighting. This may cover up a multitude of sins but also makes it very hard to actually see what’s occurring. Add to this the fact that there are only a few key characters we care about. Everyone else is a nameless extra swinging a weapon around in the darkness. As it happens, when the fighting stops and the Jackboots retreat, everything is left at a stalemate. The tailies are stuck where they are and the revolution has stalled.
The final revelation of the episode also seems built up as if it is significant but amounts to very little. The tailies and Dr Klimpt have been freeing people from the drawers while the fighting takes place elsewhere. They open one drawer to discover it empty. Cue dramatic music as we cut to Pike sitting with the first class passengers. You know, Pike. The character we hardly got to know from the first couple of episodes before he was put in suspended animation. Apparently he’s some sort of expert on Layton and will be key in stopping the revolution. For a second, I thought it was going to turn out that he was secretly Mr Wilford or some other shocking plot twist, but no. I still think that there is more to the Mr Wilford situation than has been revealed so far. Melanie tells Ruth she left him outside to die when the train started its never-ending journey but with only two episodes remaining in this season, I anticipate at least one twist before we are done.
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