'Snowpiercer' Season 2 Finale Review

The Snowpiercer Season 2 finale stumbled a bit, but it still builds sufficient Season 3 hype.

The cast in the Snowpiercer Season 2 finale.
(Image: © TNT)

What to Watch Verdict


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    🚄A proper amount of stakes for a season finale.

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    🚄Alex is given the opportunity to really shine.

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    🚄Both episodes playing together really benefitted the finale.

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    🚄Oz just casually hopping on the piano and singing a song was a lovely surprise.


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    🚄The (likely fakeout) death of [redacted] is meant to be a big finale swing, but mostly just reads as a cheap emotional punch.

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    🚄Miss Audrey truly being a lost cause feels like weak storytelling.

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    🚄Layton and Alex have had no opportunity to build rapport yet, so their scenes together felt forced.

This post contains spoilers for the Snowpiercer Season 2 finale.
Check out our last review here

The Snowpiercer Season 2 finale comprised of two episodes. "The Show Must Go On" and "Into the White" played back-to-back unless you opted to view the penultimate episode on TNT's streaming app over the weekend. Hopefully you didn't, because the two benefit by playing next to one another — especially considering that the final episode itself is definitely the weaker of the two. 

"The Show Must Go On" mostly consists of Wilford (Sean Bean) playing with his food. The long-locked doors of car 272 are opened to reveal a carnival car of fantastic goodies. Carousels, cotton candy machines, and a very special puppet show await Alex (Rowan Blanchard), LJ (Annalise Basso), Ruth (Alison Wright), Till (Mickey Sumner), and young Winnie (Emma Oliver). But all of the come with the catches of a Wilford production. The puppet show is a dry-run of what will be shown to the majority of Snowpiercer that evening. It tells a tale of Melanie Cavill (Jeniffer Connelly) believing nonsense, getting herself killed, and her weak daughter sobbing over her loss. Needless to say, Alex is less than pleased by the display. LJ, on the other hand, thinks it's all good fun. The youngest Cavill won't have to see the play twice, though. She and a "random" selection of guests will be attending a special event with Wilford while the rest of Snowpiercer enjoy the festivities.

What Wilford's really planned is a test. He wants to know which of Andre Layton's (Daveed Diggs) supporters will play ball. Snowpiercer's newly re-seated dictator plans to do a census of the people on the train and cull half of the passengers. He intended to keep that one close to the vest, but Alex outs him for killing half of Big Alice's population after she's had enough. Melanie's daughter isn't the only one to take a stand at the dinner table, either. A year ago, Ruth Wardell would have given her life to accept the job of Mr. Wilford's head of hospitality. Now, she understands the cost of his perfect order. She declines his offer, and is sent to compost with Layton for her troubles. Alex is sent to the brig. 

Notably less happens in "Into the White," but there are still a couple strong moments. Andre and Ruth are able to break out of compost and quickly kickstart a plan to go back for Melanie. Javi's (Roberto Urbina) ensures that they're able to get the train on the right track to make the loop back, but their plan is quickly thwarted by Wilford. As punishment, Javi is beaten and then fed to Wilford's dog. The act is meant to illustrate that Wilford is spiraling without a care for the future of humanity, but it's the resistance that's forced to make rash decisions because of getting caught. When Wilford speeds the train past Melanie, they're forced to go to plan Z: decouple the aquarium and split the engine and the first ten cars off to return to the pickup point for a rendezvous. Plenty goes wrong here as well, but the gist is that they accomplish their plan. Unfortunately, there's no Melanie waiting for them at the outpost. She'd burned through her resources and knew she could power the center long enough to keep her data safe if she chose to sacrifice herself to the white. 

There's a lot to love about this finale, with Ruth and Alex sitting pretty high on that list of reasons. Revolutions are messy business, and it's nice to see Snowpiercer's former head of hospitality get her hands dirty. Yes, that includes when she tazes Kevin (Tom Lipinski) in the balls. Alex's growth this season cannot be understated, and it felt like her story hit its appropriate peak by the end of things. Disappointed we didn't get to see her lay out LJ just yet, but that's to come later I'm sure. As a random aside, Oz's surprise vocals were more than welcome amidst the heavy story. His girlfriend might be a lost cause, but I'm still rooting for the messy former cop.

It's the decision to "kill" Melanie that I struggle with most — though the decision to truly have Audrey under Wilford's spell is a close second. First and foremost, the character obviously isn't dead. I'm all for the show continuing this god allegory for her, but the second coming feels a little on the nose. The lack of a body or any kind of finality here meant her last message to Alex was short of any kind of proverbial punch. But let's say I'm wrong and Snowpiercer's creator really did sacrifice herself to the white — what an exhausting ending to an exceptional character. There's just no part of this story direction that's satisfying or interesting.

The loss of Javi also stings, but at least his death had a little bit of meaning. (To be clear, I'm not entirely sure the third engineer is actually dead, either. But then we get into the issue of lacking stakes.) He was the pinnacle of courage in his final moments despite being terrified. He went from opening the door in Season 1 to ensuring he held the line as long as possible in the Season 2 finale. Painful loss is a great tool so long as it's a narratively meaningful one. Javi's death gets full marks in that regard.

And that's where we end things. There are plenty of other plot points — like Josie returning to save the day now that she's unaffected by the cold and young Winnie being a fearless little boss — but I'd like to save you from a 3000 word recap if I can. We end things with the resistance split. Ben (Iddo Goldberg), Alex, Layton, Bess, Josie and an incapacitated Audrey are on Snowpiercer's engine, while everyone else in the world is on the train's skeleton being pulled by Big Alice. Who knows how long it will take them to recouple, or how long it will be till they stumble across a miraculously alive Melanie Cavill. 

The two episodes making up the Snowpiercer Season 2 finale certainly weren't created equal, but they definitely do their job as ends to a chapter. I'm not thrilled with everything I saw, but I am sufficiently hyped for whatever they intend to bring in Season 3. At the very least, we can be sure that all the fish are extinct now. 

Amelia Emberwing

Amelia is an entertainment Streaming Editor at IGN, which means she spends a lot of time analyzing and editing stories on things like Loki, Peacemaker, and The Witcher. In addition to her features and editorial work, she’s also a member of both the Television Critics Association and Critics Choice. A deep love of film and television has kept her happily in the entertainment industry for 7 years.