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In the first half of his two-part season finale, Snowpiercer barrels towards an inevitable team: Layton and Melanie. Here, the show benefits from its intentional obscuration of Mélanie’s motivations during the series. She becomes the anti-hero that the show has positioned her. For all the attempts of the season to complicate its revolution, things fall into place quite well in “The Train Demanded Blood”. It is first – led by Nolan, Ruth and the Folgers – against everyone. Mélanie is fighting on the right side. Supposedly, it was never about power for her. Of course, this seems practical.
Narrative convenience is the name of the game in this two-part game, and most of the time, it’s not bothersome. After all, action stories are always filled with last-second saves and luck. I don’t object to Strongboy’s perfect timing or the teasing of Melanie’s performance just to get Javi to get her out of there. These are truly exciting moments of action, with which these episodes abound. But all these problems with the development of the characters during the series come back to the bite Snowpiercer in the queue in this quick conclusion.
Attempts at emotional depth in writing are often missed. Layton tells Zarah that he doesn’t forgive him, and this moment strikes hard, but Zarah tells him that she did it to protect their unborn baby. And this is the moment comes just before Layton decides to force the surrender that Pike is sent as a messenger to propose. We see before Layton grappling with the full extent of the revolution, grappling with violence. And Pike continues to insist that Layton will collapse rather than suffer continuous losses. But didn’t Layton always preach that there would be major sacrifices? When did he hesitate about the cost of an uprising?
On Zarah’s forehead, things get even more overworked in the second part when Josie’s betrayal seems to be mitigated by the fact that she is pregnant. Zarah asks questions about the Josie of it all, and Layton replies, “We will never be the family we dreamed of, but we will find a way. It is perfectly vague. Snowpiercer let ambivalence take the place of complexity most of the time.
While Layton plans to surrender, Melanie scrapes along the conduits to head towards him. Make no mistake: Jennifer Connelly is a very convincing action heroine. And a Melanie / Layton team doesn’t come exactly from nowhere. It looks like the whole season has been built there. But Snowpiercer likes to flatten the motifs of his characters in order to advance the intrigue, alluding to moral ambiguity without fully committing to it. Layton, of course, doesn’t let Melanie drop out right away. And yet, there is still not much to question Mélanie. She stops Layton, Audrey and Till hesitate to let her help them: “I’m mean, I’m ruthless, I’m a monster, yeah of course all that, and now what?” Again, it’s vague. It is an attempt to recognize its misdeeds, but also to overcome them. Snowpiercer train may never be able to slow down for risk of engine failure, but that doesn’t mean Snowpiercer must always go through the choices of his characters.
With Melanie fighting on the bright side of the revolution, that makes Nolan, Ruth and the Folgers the true face of fascism. Ruth’s desire for order is literally her only defining quality, just as the Folgers’ taste for power and wealth is theirs. The only defining quality of Nolan is his bloody violence. So yes, all of these characters have clear motivations for where they fall, but again, it’s neat and tidy. They are only defined by these reasons, so it is difficult to really invest in one of their choices or the issues for each of them. And the forced romance Nolan / Ruth continues to be silly.
“The train asked for blood” culminates in a very emotionally intense choice for Layton, who realizes that to carry out Melanie’s plan to cut part of the train, he will have to sacrifice a group of his friends who are locked in one of the cars that will be cut. He frantically searches for the keys to free them before realizing that there is no time. Snowpiercer is often adept at constructing these kinds of action moments with high stakes that force the characters to make difficult and indelible choices. It was one of the best executed moments of the first part. But Melanie’s insinuated comparison of the choice Layton made with her own choices is not what writers might hope for. Yes, Layton had to make a technically cruel choice to save lives. That doesn’t really compare to Melanie who led a fascist regime for almost seven years, freezing people’s arms at any sign of trouble. Snowpiercer always wants to have two ways with Mélanie.
While the first part is full of action, the second part of the finale – “994 Cars Long” – takes a little respite to cope with the psychological and logistical consequences of the war. Some of the quieter emotional moments work quite well. Finally, we have a glimpse of Mélanie’s psyche, who goes into the mourning room with Audrey in order to deal with the fact that she chose to work rather than her own daughter. It would have been nice if some of these emotional issues broke down earlier in the season instead of just being discussed, but it’s still a pretty effective streak, especially given the big revelation that her daughter is still alive at the end of the final. . Layton and Miles dealing together with Josie’s death make it another affecting, character-focused moment.
But Layton’s positioning in “994 Cars Long” is still everywhere. Melanie indeed gives him control of the train, and of course, it takes time to build new systems, but Layton defies the old conventions of order despite a speech at the top of the episode he wants change not order. He always locks people up for minor crimes. People are always in the queue without light or heat. Here, Snowpiercer suggests that Layton might not have a full plan for democratically directing the train, which is a little hard to believe as this has been his goal all his time aboard Snowpiercer.
Things go up in gear at the halfway point of “994 Cars Long” when the possibility of survivors arises. With the end of the war, the series must indeed find a way to advance the narrative as urgently as the revolution has provided. This propulsion comes from another train, a rescue train, on which Mr. Wilford could very well be. Bennett is the first to realize this, and Mélanie becomes furious with him for having made the unilateral decision to let the train become attached to the Snowpiercer… even if taking unilateral decisions on the basis of the preservation of humanity is somewhat thing Melanie does all the time. Does Melanie intentionally lack self-awareness or is this yet another example of Melanie’s characterization that doesn’t have a full meaning? Melanie really sees herself as a kind of anti-hero who has to live with her terrible choices and who never really engages with them. It’s difficult to write morally complicated characters, and Snowpiercer Often simplifies things for the sake of history.
Together, “The Train Demanded Blood” and “994 Cars Long” work well, bringing action but also some more introspective moments that come at the expense of humans and the impact of war. It’s certainly exciting, and Daveed Diggs and Jennifer Les Connelly are great action stars. But all the weaknesses in the characterization and development of the characters who have plagued the season are clearly displayed in the two-part final, sucking up some of the issues. Snowpiercer requires a significant suspension of belief in the gruesome of the world he created, but not basing his story on consistent emotions – especially when it comes to someone who ends up being as important as Melanie – makes it slip even more than some of her wacky logistics. SnowpiercerIts greatest strengths lie in its action sequences, but the emotionless aesthetic makes the mechanical series appear empty. The last minutes of the final are more tedious than propulsive.
- Although I’m not totally sold to Ruth as a character, I would love to hear Alison Wright say “biscotti” over and over.
- LJ and Osweiller become friends, and even if I am amused by the fact that LJ does not know how to peel an egg, this couple of unlovable characters seems very random. LJ always feels very random.
- Bennett and Miles turn into a dynamic engineering duo on the other hand is a nice development.
- Pike, Terrence and Annie decide that the post-war period is the time of the bacchanal, taking control of the Folgers’ car. I don’t really know what these scenes are for.
- The split of Till and Jinju is another of the rare emotional moments anchored in the second episode.