Snowpiercer season 3 episode 7 review: Layton dreams of warmer weather

Layton's medical condition takes him on an insightful journey.

Daveed Diggs in Snowpiercer
(Image: © TNT)

What to Watch Verdict

Layton's journey has some fun moments, but the best of the episode is in the real world conversations.

Pros

  • +

    It is fun seeing Snowpiercer decked out for tropical weather

  • +

    Mickey Sumner's performance

  • +

    Till and Miss Audrey's scenes

  • +

    The conversations between Josie and Zarah

  • +

    The big reveal

Cons

  • -

    The dream sequence drags in places

  • -

    Miss Audrey's very quick change of heart

NOTE: This post contains spoilers for Snowpiercer season 3 episode 7, "Ouroboros."

Dream sequences are a TV staple utilized to push the story forward while allowing the characters to experience a different version of their day-to-day existence. The Twilight Zone was fond of this narrative framework, while contemporary series like The Sopranos, Mad Men and Buffy the Vampire Slayer have all placed their protagonist in a sleeping (or unconscious) adventure to help make sense of their journey.

Snowpiercer is taking this route with Andre Layton (Daveed Diggs) when he falls into a coma after his battle with Pike (Steven Ogg) in last week’s episode. The last thing that flashed before his eyes were his vision of New Eden, which is what Layton's dream is about.

The opening scene shows Layton disorientated in the sickbay, but it's immediately clear something is awry. Sunlight streams in and there is no one to be found. The skull symbol that flashed before his eyes before he passed out is on the door and then someone pulls a bag over his head. Any doubt this isn’t real then is confirmed the moment Wilford (Sean Bean) shows up dressed like a supporting character from Indiana Jones to rescue Layton. What follows is an adventure through the familiar corridors of Snowpiercer but under a different climate.

All the familiar faces are present, with everyone playing a heightened version of their regular persona. Till (Mickey Sumner) plays a helpful librarian who gives Layton the advice he will need to get back to where he came from and Zarah (Sheila Vand) is the cartographer meant to help him get to his destination. 

“You’re not dreaming, you're dying,” is Till’s no-nonsense motivation to Layton to get his act together; the real version of Till also plays an important role in pulling him back. 

It's curious Wilford is trying to assist his rival, but this speaks to the changes in Wilford in the real world and is perhaps something Layton has unconscious knowledge of — or perhaps he hopes this recent experience might impact the Great Engineer for the better. 

Daveed Diggs in Snowpiercer

Daveed Diggs in Snowpiercer  (Image credit: TNT)

Layton’s mission is to make it to the Tail Boss (Kandyse McClure) so he can get home Though this figure is not someone we have seen before, she has the letter Zarah wrote to their unborn child. Layton clocks this is the adult version of Lyanna. Obviously, none of this is actually happening but his brain processing the guilt of killing Pike coupled with the lie he has told the entire train. When he fails to to break the cycle of his dream he wakes up back in the radiation bunker where he first met Asha (Archie Panjabi).

This coma is not Layton's only recent near-death experience. When he told Till about the Dragon’s Blood tree vision she put it down to his medical state. Well, it turns out she was pretty close to the mark. The big dream reveal is the image he saw that proved life has found a way was an image taped to the inside of a locker in Asha's bunker, which he happened to see before passing out. 

"I made it up," is his devastating dream state revelation and this confidence-crushing truth is reflected in the episode title. “Ouroboros (opens in new tab)” is an ancient symbol of a serpent (or dragon) eating its own tail. Much like Layton’s failure to break the cycle, this creature cannot prevent the infinite repetition of death and destruction. "I can’t lead this train if all I have is a lie," is Layton's concern at the end of the episode. However, this serpent is often paired (opens in new tab) with the Tree of Life symbol; perhaps there is still a reason for optimism.

While elements of Layton’s unconscious crisis are a fun deviation — both in how the train looks and characters we know — there are elements that drag in his dreamscape. Everything occurring onboard the real Snowpiercer is far more fruitful, whether it's Miss Audrey (Lena Hall) helping Till, Zarah and Josie (Katie McGuinness) bonding or Wilford proving he might not be as monstrous as he once was.

Sheila Vand and Daveed Diggs in Snowpiercer

Sheila Vand and Daveed Diggs in Snowpiercer  (Image credit: TNT)

Josie and Zarah have always been positioned as rivals because of their respective romances with Layton. Love triangles have a habit of turning women against each other, but Snowpiercer avoiding the overly done jealousy route is a welcome development. Instead, Zarah invites Josie into the inner sanctum and explains her relationship with Layton is as co-parents, which leaves a guilt-free path for the other couple to reignite that flame. 

Elsewhere, a former friendship is repaired that elevates the episode. Yes, Audrey has conveniently switched from fury at Wilford for showing what she perceived to be a weakness to assisting Till in her moment of emotional crisis. While I did raise my eyebrow at the speed at which she complied, it does also demonstrate the version of Miss Audrey we met in season 1 is still lurking beneath the surface. All it took was Till’s rare tears to pull her out. Sumner is excellent at playing the stoic version of this character and is equally impactful when she sobs uncontrollably after finding out about Layton’s condition.

Sean Bean and Rowan Blanchard in Snowpiercer

Sean Bean and Rowan Blanchard in Snowpiercer  (Image credit: TNT)

It seems like a lifetime ago that Miss Audrey would use the isolation chamber in the Night Car to help people deal with PTSD, grief and the daily grind of living in this environment. Till asks her to wield this unique skill set once more to remind Layton of "what he’s fighting for." Miss Audrey proves she still has what it takes. Could this be the start of her redemption arc? 

Audrey’s relationship with Wilford is toxic, but one person who brings out the best in him is Alex (Rowan Blanchard). After the young engineer gets Wilford the maps and materials he requested, he explains how he tried to track the "pirate" train during their six-month secret mission. 

Pointing out a signal does not belong to the breakaway locomotive, Wilford speculates this could be Melanie (Jennifer Connelly). The fact he is sharing this information points to the way his recent experience has changed him. It is impossible to trust this man and yet he is giving Alex the person he took away. Perhaps, there is still hope for the future after all. 

Emma Fraser spends most of her time writing about TV, fashion, and costume design; Dana Scully is the reason she loves a pantsuit. Words can also be found at Vulture, Elle, Primetimer, Collider, Little White Lies, Observer, and Girls on Tops. Emma has a Master’s in Film and Television, started a (defunct) blog that mainly focused on Mad Men in 2010, and has been getting paid to write about TV since 2015. It goes back way further as she got her big start making observations in her diary about My So-Called Life’s Angela Chase (and her style) at 14.