If you've been waiting with bated breath for Snowpiercer to get to the cannibalism portion of the story, Episode 2 — "Prepare to Brace" — has you covered. In addition to biting into the meat of the murder that Andre (Daveed Diggs) was pulled up from the tail to investigate, we also learn exactly how much of a threat the frozen outside climate is to the train itself.
We open with another monologue, this time from Josie Wellstead (Katie McGuinness). While Andre was able to protect the Tailies from being killed for their failed rebellion in Episode 1 (="First, The Weather Changed"), the mysterious Mr. Wilford still requires an example be made for the loss of life amongst his guard. At first, it's young Winnie (Emma Oliver) who's meant to pay the price. However, her mother comes forward and insists that she's responsible for her daughter's actions, and that she pay instead.
Josie's voice lingers over the gruesome scene. The mother's arm is wetted and placed through a gasket that allows it to be stuck outside the train, without any of the subzero temperatures breeching the train. As 60 seconds tick by, Josie speaks of rebellion and what Tailies believe is to come. Of note is this:
"They can take our limbs, our children, our leaders. The more they steal from us the more human we become. Humanity will fill our bellies one day when we meet the rich of Snowpiercer."
A hopeful sentiment wrapped up in the threat of cannibalism both embodies the vibe of the show and hints at what's to come as the episode progresses. It gives us a glimpse of just how far the Tailies have been pushed in their fear, and exactly the lengths they'll go to in order to ensure their people's survival.
All of this unfolds as Snowpiercer crosses a particularly sketchy stretch of track. While "Head of Hospitality" Melanie Cavill (Jennifer Connelly) does all she can to keep passengers calm, her tranquil demeanor can't do much to stop an avalanche.
When we catch up with Andre, we see that he's being kept in a cell but still being given actual food in the form of third-class rations (rather than the protein block served to the Tailies that's all too familiar to those who have seen the film). He and Bess (Mickey Sumner) must continue their investigation despite their tense relationship and do so to varying degrees of success. As the episode progresses, we see both harsh conflict and a strange support form between these two. Bess will undoubtedly become the insider on the Tailies' team before the season wraps, assuming she manages to survive that long. In the meantime, there's still plenty of bickering to come between these two former cops.
In their investigation, Andre quickly realizes that there's a cannibalism plot afoot (not a pun). Bess doesn't want to believe her partner at first, and instead falls back on humor to quip about the rumors of the Tailies' cannibalism. But it's a rumor that Andre quickly confirms. In the first few years, there were death cults that formed factions and warred in the tail. It wasn't until they had their own uprising that they were able to stop the murders and put an end to their people feasting on one another. While the upper-class citizens question the balance of his people, Andre's quick to point out that they put an end to their murders years ago while those in the higher cars slaughter each other despite ample food.
The two cops near their answers in the cattle car, but the aforementioned avalanche puts an end to any chance of questioning the butcher or his assistant. With them goes the last remaining cattle. The extinction event doesn't just mean a lack of beef for the first-class citizens, either. The cow's manure fertilized the crop while their methane was manipulated for their atmosphere. Their death is the first chip in Snowpiercer's delicate ecosystem, and it won't be the last.
It's not long after the avalanche hits that Andre and Bess find their evidence. The remaining bits of arm and leg are found hidden in a vent in the Butcher's freezer. However, Andre's not convinced that the murder and the cannibalism are directly related. You don't just chop a dude's junk off when you're using him for food. Besides, think of all the meaty bits that could have been used from the torso!
We don't spend much more time there, because Andre has to get beaten by a baton. He tries to get a map to one of the Tailies who were brought up for sanitization duty, earning him a meeting with Melanie. She's extra salty because she was forced to authorize rolling blackouts to allow for repairs in the cattle car, but not so angry that she discontinued apprenticeships for the children in the tail. Three kids are selected, including young Miles (Jaylin Fletcher).
That's pretty much the long and short of the episode. If it feels like we talked about a lot more exposition than we did last week, you're right! While the pilot leaned heavily into what the emotional tone of the series will be, "Prepare to Brace" leans solely into plot. While there's nothing necessarily wrong with that, it does give it a little less impact than the first.
With that in mind, all that exposition is imperative to the overall story. Every bit of information we received will continue to play out as the season progresses. Snitches, amputations, and people eating people lend for plenty of excitement even when we are exposition heavy, so the season's still chugging along on its tracks.
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