Warning: SPOILERS for Snowpiercer Season 1, Episode 5 – “Justice Never Boarded”
Snowpiercer‘s intriguingly complex story is doing what the 2013 film directed by Bong Joon Ho couldn’t: stage two simultaneous revolutions on the Great Ark Train. Not only has a rebellion been brewing in Snowpiercer’s Tail section, where the 400 stowaways living in squalor are plotting to take the train, but a second insurrection has sparked uptrain in First Class, where the wealthy and powerful Folger family have taken steps to usurp control of Snowpiercer from Melanie Cavill (Jennifer Connelly). The Head of Hospitality, Melanie is the Voice of the Train who has been secretly posing as the mythical billionaire, Mr. Wilford, since Snowpiercer departed Chicago 7 years ago.
The midpoint of Snowpiercer season 1, episode 5, “Justice Never Boarded,” presents the trial of L.J. Folger (Annalise Basso), the teenage daughter of Robert (Vincent Gale) and Lilah Folger (Kerry O’Malley). L.J. was the mastermind behind the gruesome murders carried out by her bodyguard Erik (Matt Murray), who was killed in last week’s episode, “Without Their Maker.” L.J. was taken into custody, but originally, First Class was going to determine the Folger girl’s guilt. This corrupt power play incensed the people of Third Class because, after all, the murders happened in Third and the victims, Nikki Genet and Sean Wise, were Third Class passengers. As Miss Audrey (Lena Hall) of the Night Car reminded Melanie, Third Class encompasses Snowpiercer’s largest population, and Third touches every system on the train so a revolt would be disastrous. Melanie reluctantly acquiesced and allowed a tribunal from First, Second, and Third Class to judge L.J. – whom they found guilty of all charges until Melanie, posing as Mr. Wilford, ordered the girl’s sentence commuted.
Meanwhile, when Andre Layton (Daveed Diggs) solved the murder case, the Train Detective also concurrently deduced that there is no Mr. Wilford besides Melanie Cavill. This discovery landed Layton in the Drawers, where he was cryogenically frozen until his lover from the Tail section, Josie Wellstead (Katie McGuinness), freed Andre with help from the Janitorial staff and Brakeman Bess Till (Mickey Sumner), who was Layton’s partner in the murder investigation. Melanie doesn’t know (yet) that Layton is free, but she is well-aware Andre knows her most damning secret. All throughout the murder investigation, Layton had been compiling intel about the train’s 1,001 cars for the Tail’s brewing revolution to take Snowpiercer. The Train Detective had also been forging crucial alliances, not just with the Brakemen but with Terence (Shawn Toub), the head of Janitorial, who also runs Snowpiercer’s black market. Thanks to Layton and Josie’s careful plotting, the Tail has gained a foothold through Third, amassing a force that could take Snowpiercer when the revolution begins.
For her part, Melanie is well-aware of the unrest in Third and of the Tail’s revolution plans (they’ve attempted and failed to take the train before), but Melanie feels far more threatened by the sedition brewing uptrain. Furious at the way their daughter (despite her obvious guilt) has been treated, the Folgers are exercising their entitlement and have begun forging their own pacts, including with Commander Grey (Timothy V. Murphy), the head of Snowpiercer’s military force, the Jackboots. Also sympathetic to First Class is Ruth Wardell (Alison Wright) from Hospitality, a true believer in Mr. Wilford who is dismayed at how Melanie’s decisions are disrupting Wilford’s “perfect order.” The Folgers seek to overthrow Melanie and run the train in her place; while they’re unaware of Melanie’s secret that there is no Mr. Wilford, the First Class passengers are a growing threat that Melanie realizes she can no longer bamboozle by hiding behind Mr. Wilford’s facade.
Snowpiercer is 1,001 cars long, and now, both ends of the 10-mile-long train are about to explode in a bid to seize power from Melanie Cavill. This ingenious twist is a story the Snowpiercer movie could never do. Limited by its 2-hour run time, the film starring Chris Evans only told its version of the Tail’s revolution and their discovery of Mr. Wilford’s (Ed Harris) plot to kill them all. But with ten hours to deliver its season 1 story (and season 2 already greenlit by TNT), the Snowpiercer TV series has been able to build a far more intricate world-within-the-train, populated by a fascinating gamut of characters all pursuing their agendas to better their lives – by whatever means necessary. “Justice Never Boarded” sets the stage for the second half of Snowpiercer season 1 and the question becomes if and how Melanie Cavill can withstand the two separate revolutions coming to take the Great Ark Train from her.
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Snowpiercer airs Sundays @ 9pn on TNT.