Suspense is on the menu this week on Snowpiercer . The train's failing, and there's only one woman who can save her. Unfortunately for the very miffed Andre Layton (Daveed Diggs), that woman is Melanie Cavill (Jennifer Connelly). Episodes like "Trouble Come Sideways" rely on their tension to see the plot through rather than focusing on heavy exposition or subplots, but that doesn't mean that these fun little thrill-rides don't have anything to say. Rumor of a strike starts to spread across the train long before one of her engines starts to falter, and there are new secrets to learn about the train and its complicated ecosystem.
Third class' threat to strike brought out the most authoritarian version of Melanie that we've seen so far. When she's asked what she's going to do about the strike, she says simply that she's going to "crush it". She then marches directly to third class and lets them know that if they move forward with their plans, she will randomly select ten passengers and send them to the tail. Their positions will then be filled by Tailies, a people more than willing to fight for what third has.
This power clash is a perfect illustration of how both quiet and flagrant classism manage to keep a grip throughout all levels of "polite society". The poor are pitted against each other in a zero-sum game that they're destined to lose while the rich continue to benefit from their labor. Third class is correct – Snowpiercer stops without their work. But how many of them are willing to risk themselves or a loved one being sent to the tail over taking a stand?
The clean-cut head of hospitality has to shift from the strike crisis to immediately trying to sort out how to save her baby. Well, her baby and the lives of all the other people on board. Before she can do so, she's met with a-still-waking-up-but-very-pissed Andre, who is more than happy to kill her for stuffing him into one of the drawers and lying to the entirety of the train about Mr. Wilford's existence.
This is where the ever-clever Melanie points out that she's the only one who can save the train. Thing is, this isn't delivered with her typical poise. Ms. Cavill is genuinely concerned that Andre is about to take her life and practically begs him to let her save the train. Of course, seeing a ghost that she had thought was taken care of probably didn't make things any easier for Snowpiercer's two-faced overlord.
With the thought that they're all pretty much about to die, Andre rushes back to Josie (Katie McGuinness) in the medical car. Meanwhile, other members of the train are coming to terms with the fact that they might not come out on the other side of the upcoming bridge alive. Bess Till (Mickey Sumner) and her partner Oz (Sam Otto) come to terms while holding hands and waiting for death. Great news for Bess, because Oz was ready to extort her over that bashing him in the head business from last week. While the train's two beat cops were doing that, a terrified Ruth Wardell (Alison Wright) was doing her best to keep the train inspired and calm. As an aside: her betrayal of Melanie will be quick and poorly planned, and I for one look forward to witnessing the attempt.
Since we're only on episode six, we always knew that Melanie was going to be able to fix her train. That doesn't pull from the tension of the episode, though. Emotions range from stoic to terrified, and everyone plays their roles perfectly. When Melanie comes up from underneath the train, we see her nearly lose her cool for the first time in the series. While she manages to keep it together, she's quickly reminded that the joy of life felt universally by the train's passengers in that exact moment will not last. Miss Audrey (Lena Hall) and the rest of third are still out for blood, and no threat to send passengers to the tail over their strike is going to quell her rage.
We learn two other important tidbits in the span of this episode. The first is that there are eleven more cars worth of drawers. Though Andre, Josie and the good doctor are quick to believe that these are for malicious ends, Melanie puts those thoughts to rest when she's confronted by Andre before fixing the engine. The additional cars worth of drawers are a failsafe, not a punishment. They're a space for those chosen by Melanie (and presumably Wilford before her) to continue humanity should Snowpiercer falter. Keeping the bodies in suspension gives them the highest chance at survival in the event that the heat stops pumping through the train.
The second clever piece on Melanie's complicated chess board is young Miles. She knows his importance to Andre and his people, and she seems set to exploit that without remorse. "Trouble Comes Sideways" shows the beginning of her conditioning the young man to play some kind of role against the tail, but we don't learn what just yet. All we know is that she's testing him, and that he's now the proud owner of her first caliper (a gift from Mr. Wilford himself).
A lot of interesting pieces were put in place as the series officially kicks off the latter half of its season. We're on the downhill slope now, and things are sure to continue to heat up the closer we get to the season one finale. In the meantime, Andre and Josie have their first moment of privacy since they started seeing each other. Sometimes the revolution can wait until the morning.
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