The Time Of Two Engines
Episode 1 of Snowpiercer Season 2 immediately sets the stakes as the 994 carriage Snowpiercer is pitted against 40 carriage Big Alice. With a list of demands, Layton rallies the troops alongside Ruth to gather the ingredients and bring them back to Mr Wilford. Without much of a choice, they grit their teeth and prepare to hand over the goods.
Meanwhile, Melanie braves the cold to try and restore the connection between carriages by using an axe to hack at the wiring. While she does, the goods are handed over and the train departs.
With Big Alice attached to Snowpiercer, Melanie struggles to regain her composure as she spots snow falling lazily to the ground outside. Ben pleads with her to get back on the train, as she collects a snow sample and scrambles back to the carriages – Big Alice carriages. The passengers onboard Big Alice are not exactly pleased to see her.
Anyway, she’s eventually brought in and winds up face to face with Mr Wilford himself. When they left the station all those years ago, Wilford has been working all this time to get Snowpiercer back. Only, Melanie tells him that’s not up to her anymore.
Given Wilford was originally there in spirit all this time, she tells him the Tailies are in control. “Who are the tailies?” He asks incredulously, showing just how different the fates of these two characters have been.
Although Melanie is sure she can withstand Wilford’s unpleasantness, when Alex shows up alive she’s shocked and breaks down. This girl, as fate would have it, is the same one who brought goods back from Snowpiercer. Unfortunately Melanie is sent to the brig as she tries in vain to get through to her daughter.
Eventually though she’s brought down to see the bumbling Doctor Edwards who could not be more archetypal mad scientists if they tried. Anyway, they examine Melanie and marvel at her various cuts and bruises.
Layton takes control of Snowpiercer in Melanie’s absence, setting up barricades in the tail end of the train. What was once the least important carriage is now very much the most important. How’s that for irony! The other important element for Layton and Snowpiercer to consider though is keeping the train fed and calm. War is coming and even worse, news of Zarah’s pregnancy causes hostilities among some of the passengers.
Alone, Layton decides to greet the citizens onboard Snowpiercer via the usual tannoy announcement. In doing so, he extends martial law across the train. That obviously doesn’t go down too well with the passengers as they realize they’re going to have to fight again. Tellingly, Layton and Zarah are given first class accommodation.
With martial law in place, the tailies are the ones with the power now – at least outside Big Alice. They trade provisions with those in the other train in secret, with weed distributed across the carriage. When Layton finds out though, he realizes this is exactly how they get the jump on Wilford and the others.
Fighting breaks out at an opportune moment and Snowpiercer forces flood into Big Alice. Layton rallies the troops into taking out for the first carriage. While they do, on the other side of Big Alice, Melanie and Wilford eat dinner together until the latter finds out about the attack and strikes back.
The big man is brought in, a behemoth able to withstand the cold called Bob, freezing the carriage and forcing them all back into Snowpiercer. He seems completely impervious to their attacks and shuts the door behind them.
Ruth is not happy, especially given Layton didn’t inform her before making this rash decision of attacking. However, they do have a hostage in Kevin, whom they believe could be used as leverage against Wilford going forward. Kevin warns them that this is a big mistake – as we see exactly what he means. It turns out Big Alice has complete control of Snowpiercer, able to move it back and forth at will – even grind it to a halt if need be.
In fact, Wilford warns that unless he gets his train back, he’ll stop Snowpiercer completely and kill everyone onboard. With Alice working as an engineer, Melanie warns her not to flip the switch. As she does so, Melanie reveals that she’s got the upper-hand after sabotaging the controls earlier this episode.
The two trains are connected together for the time being so if Snowpiercer dies – so too does Big Alice. They’re going to need to try and find a way to co-exist as this long, cold war looks set to begin.
The Episode Review
Wilford’s description of this new world is incredibly poetic, calling the frozen wasteland and these trains “a rolling steel artery on a dead marble,” which is easily the best bit of dialogue in the episode.
On top of that, this second season changes the dynamic of the show as the balance of power shifts with some lovely poetic moments involving the tailies assuming control and the 1st class citizens being left in the dark.
These changes can also be felt with the tail end of the train too, as Big Alice’s arrival throws up all sorts of problems for our characters to try and contend with. It’s clear these two trains are going to have to coexist for the time being and you can feel it’s only a matter of time before all hell breaks loose again.
So far though, Snowpiercer comes roaring back out the gates with a pulsating premiere episode, one that leaves the door open for a really exciting follow-up. Based on this showing, you really won’t want to miss the next episode!