Welcome to Snowpiercer Explained, the next in a long line of explainer columns about our favorite shows. With TNT dropping a new show into the Snowpiercer universe, we’re riding along to help you keep up with the mythology and filmmaking of this post-apocalyptic freight train. This installment covers the two-part Snowpiercer season one finale.
In my last column, I said that Mr. Wilford is alive and well on another train. Snowpiercer’s two-part season one finale (“The Train Demanded Blood” and “994 Cars Long”) confirmed my theory with the introduction of Big Alice. However, the revelation that Melanie’s daughter, Alexandra (Rowan Blanchard), is also alive took me by surprise. But anything is possible in this show, and that’s why it never ceases to amaze me.
Alexandra’s arrival throws a spanner in the works for Melanie. In the finale, she admits that she abandoned her daughter for the sake of Snowpiercer. She also has no idea that Alexandra is still alive, and the inevitable family reunion won’t be a pleasant one. Furthermore, no one knows what really went down between Melanie and Wilford, but it wasn’t pretty. That’s why Melanie is so adamant to prevent him from boarding Snowpiercer.
Alexandra has been on the same train as Wilford all this time, which means they’re probably close to each other. This situation complicates matters between Melanie and Wilford, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out. Melanie wants Wilford out of the picture, but her daughter doesn’t. And surely she can’t betray her daughter again. The second train brings worse problems to Snowpiercer than family drama, though.
Wilford still has his fans and followers on Snowpiercer, and the timing of his arrival isn’t ideal. Layton has just taken control of the train and he’s trying to instate a system of democracy and fairness. Wilford is a threat to those plans, and he’s going to cause some disarray.
Wilford might be the second season’s big bad, but he’s a hero to many. Even Melanie chose to pretend that he was still alive and running things until the truth came out. For many passengers, he’s a symbol of hope and unity. Some folks, including Ruth, follow him with blind devotion. Those people are going to side with him when he inevitably challenges Layton’s authority in Season 2.
An all-out war between Layton’s supporters and Wilford’s supporters is one option. I suspect there will be a body count in Season 2, as that’s the type of show this is. However, showrunner Graeme Manson has said that the next installment will be about Layton’s “transition from revolutionary to politician.” This suggests that the showdown between him and Wilford will be more calculated than a simple call to arms.
It’s also worth noting that Layton’s democracy isn’t technically a democracy. He has spearheaded a violent revolution to overthrow Melanie and First Class. While Melanie ended up siding with him, he wasn’t technically elected. If he’s going to live by his democratic values, he must let the people decide who rules the roost. That’s how democracy works. Even if his opponent turns out to be a terrible human being who isn’t fit for power.
The finale makes it clear that Layton’s main goal moving forward is to unite everyone. The divisions on the train are arguably worse than ever before, but perhaps Wilford will be the catalyst that forces everyone to find common ground. One of the main ideas in Snowpiercer is that everyone exists in the same ecosystem. For true progress to be made, people must tolerate each other. That’s what Layton wants, but he will have to do some questionable things to reach that goal. Such is the nature of power.
Melanie had to make some difficult and cruel decisions when she was the train’s leader. That said, she was evil in the name of the greater good to an extent. All she ever wanted was to preserve law and order. Layton was quick to judge her, but he’s now realizing that he might have to do the same. They have more in common with each other than they’d like to believe.
Snowpiercer proposes that leadership is difficult, and that means making some unpopular decisions. Layton has already shown that he’s capable of putting his humanity to one side for the good of the train. He had to sacrifice some of the Tailies in the finale, after all. What will he be capable of moving forward? Does he have what it takes? Will the power corrupt him?
Elsewhere, Melanie is also going to struggle to adjust to a life without power. I don’t see that lasting. She got rid of Wilford in the first place because she wanted to rule her own creation. She won’t sit back and let someone else have all of the say. Of course, she needs to make it back onto the train first. When the finale’s end credits rolled, she was still lying in the snow outside.
Season 2 of Snowpiercer is shaping up to be very intriguing. The stories of Layton, Melanie, Alexandra, and Wilford are the main talking points going in, but there are other plots brewing. LJ will be out to avenge her parents, and Ruth has shown that she might have her own political ambitions. All of these powerful egos are destined to collide with each other, and it’s going to make for some entertaining television.