Snowpiercer: 1.06 Trouble Comes Sideways

A mechanical failure threatens to derail the train and doom everyone onboard.

A looming disaster threatens the lives of the passengers in the latest instalment of Snowpiercer. Strangely though, if might just be what Melanie needs in order to quell the uprising in third class. Of course she’ll need to avert a catastrophic crash and also avoid the murderous intentions of Layton. All in a days work aboard the one thousand and one carriage long post-apocalyptic train.

Jennifer Connelly really comes to the fore as Melanie Cavill in this episode, taking on the role of main action lead as she battles to keep the Snowpiercer on the tracks. A seemingly trivial leak causes an electrical short which jams one of the carriages brakes shut. A ticking clock element is introduced as shortly the train is going to cross a bridge over a massive ravine and a derailment is inevitable. It is Melanie who dons a heated suit and dangles underneath the speeding train to try and repair the fault.

Whilst this is Melanie’s most pressing matter she also still has the fallout from the sham trial to deal with. After commuting LJ’s sentence, in her guise as Mr Wilford, Melanie has incurred the wrath of the third class passengers. A mass “tools down” is planned which has the potential to really put a spanner in the works (pun fully intended). Melanie’s problems don’t stop there though as Layton, freshly awake from his stint in the drawer, is in somewhat of a psychotic rage and coming to kill her.

It is to Melanie’s credit that by the end of the episode she has saved the train, convinced Layton to let her go and used the goodwill of rescuing everyone to prevent the mutiny. Connelly imparts a ruthless go-getting attitude to the train’s defacto leader, brimming with confidence. You fully accept that she absolutely would be able to pull off the feats she does in Trouble Comes Sideways. I suspect though that time is rapidly running out on her reign, as Layton is now not the only one who knows her secret regarding Mr Wilford.

Away from the main plot of the impending derailment, brakeman Till is feeling the repercussions of letting Layton go and knocking out her colleague Oz. Deciding that blackmail is the way forward, Oz now has carte blanche to abuse passengers as he sees fit knowing that Till can’t say anything for fear that he will report her wrongdoings. Oz and Till’s relationship is explored considerably in this episode and we get a bit of backstory for Oz which explains a little why he is the way he is. Things get particularly interesting when the train is rocking on the tracks and death looks pretty inevitable.

We see a different side to the two brakemen as they silently hold hands and wait for the inevitable. Of course once the threat has passed they are soon back to their status quo but now Till has decided she isn’t going to kowtow to Oz any longer. We also get a brief glimpse of Till and Jinju’s life as newlyweds. Things aren’t exactly going well as Till is keeping secrets from her wife, specifically about Layton and the drawers.

This episode also gives some more information about the nature of the drawers and the mysterious list. We’re drip fed just enough facts to keep our interest piqued. Dr. Pelton tells Layton that every passenger has a file and some of them are marked with an X. His file was one such marked, as is hers. They conclude that this list must be composed of troublemakers who have been marked for confinement to the drawers. However, Melanie provides a different explanation when threatened by Layton. She declares that the list is quite the opposite and that it is made up of people who have been handpicked to ensure that humanity will be able to survive should Snowpiercer finally suffer a catastrophic failure. Given Melanie’s duplicitous nature there is no guarantee that this is the truth but it does sound plausible.

The list and the drawers continue to provide the main mystery to Snowpiercer, as does the mythical figure of Mr Wilford, and as such it is still quite watchable. As the series enters its final stretch hopefully if can keep the momentum going and arrive at its destination station in a satisfying manner.


Updated: Jun 24, 2020

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