This Snowpiercer review contains spoilers.
Snowpiercer Season 3 Episode 5
Things were going a bit to well for Andre Layton by the standards of Snowpiercer. Zarah’s pregnancy is getting close to the end. Layton has the train headed for New Eden. Wilford is in a coma state and safely out of the way. Ben has figured out a way to try and help Javi recover from his traumatic experience at the hands of Wilford, and everyone’s excited by the prospect of a new little Layton running around, fomenting revolution and causing trouble. However, trouble never waits for children to grow up, or even arrive. In fact, sometimes trouble uses the joy of impending parenthood as a chance to take advantage with no one watching.
Every big event to take place on Snowpiercer seems to be a cover for someone to do something nefarious, be it Wilford using the Loyal Wedding as a way to secretly round up anti-Wilford partisans to the birth of Andre Layton’s daughter being used as a way to attempt to assassinate Layton and the train’s leadership. It’s a deliberate, calculated campaign; as Till tells Layton, once is a statement and twice is a campaign to shake faith, and when you’re Layton attempt to sell New Eden, your best lever to use is the faith people have in you as a leader and a person.
As a train, Snowpiercer has always depended on symbols to hold order. Melanie used Wilford, the great engineer guiding the engine eternal. Wilford uses himself, and the hagiography he built into the walls of his train. Layton has the idea of democracy, a level playing field, and his vision for New Eden to keep everyone moving together on the same track, though it’s clear that there are people who aren’t agreeable to keep their heads down, thanks to the cold opening that features a failed assassination attempt via explosive in the seed vault.
Or, perhaps, the anti-Layton movement is a conspiracy of one, headed by a former Tailie turned leader Pike.
Pike has made no secret of who he believes needs to be in charge of the train, and it’s not Layton. While Steven Ogg doesn’t get first billing this week, when he shows up in brief scenes, his class as an actor is on display, and he holds the screen whether it’s in fraught public conversation with Ruth or skulking about in the shadows, waiting to catch Layton in his trap. Or, given his abilities, wanting to scare Layton into stepping aside without actually killing him; if Pike wanted Layton dead, I’d imagine he’d be dead. Ogg and Wright do a very solid job in the middle of the episode with their exchange, the two pushing and pulling at one another nonverbally, but it’s the very end of the episode, in which a guilt-ridden Pike destroys the remote used to trigger his bomb after hearing Audrey’s (Lena Hall) song where Ogg does his best work and where Erica Weston focuses the bulk of her attention at the end of the episode.
The conflict is clear on his face, and when the tears come, Ogg does just a good enough job at hiding them from the people around him to make it credible, without it being hidden from the all-seeing eye of the camera. Pike’s pain is sold clearly, as Alison Wright sells Ruth’s ambivalence by returning to her role and leaving Pike behind in the process. She’s returning to her job because it’s best for the train; Pike wants new leadership because he feels it’s best for the train, and not out of any personal malice towards Layton. The two might not be best friends, but Pike doesn’t seem to be lashing out, he just thinks Ruth would be a better leader at this point than Layton, and he might have a point to that given Layton’s distraction with impending fatherhood.
While Adam Starks’s script does indulge in some of the expectant father clichés, like having him under foot and interfering with the work of Dr. Headwood (Sakina Jaffrey), it’s more forgivable because everyone seems to be under foot regarding this pregnancy, from the kids in school to the self-appointed Uncle Till (Mickey Sumner). Everyone seems to have a case of baby fever, particularly after the new baby is born and the train gets another chance to celebrate. Layton has a reason to mistrust Headwood, and the rest of the train has a reason to be excited by the prospect of a new life growing up on Snowpiercer.
It seems that the new birth is a chance for rebirth. Audrey sings for the first time since falling back into Wilford’s sphere of influence. Oz and LJ seem to at least be willing to play nicely with Layton’s new regime. Wilford seems to be slowly regaining his faculties while his torture victims Sykes (Chelsea Harris) and Javi (Roberto Urbina) have seemingly found enough in common to begin the process of recovery for the train’s all-important engineering department. Even Ben and Josie seem to be taking steps to move forward, finding comfort in one another’s arms while forgetting their past pairings. Even Pike seems to change for the positive by the end.
Of course, if Layton’s faith in New Eden isn’t rewarded with something even slightly livable, that will all turn sour in a hurry. New babies are great, albeit stressful, but that good will only carries so far when you risk the lives of an entire train on a gamble that doesn’t pay off. Considering multiple enemies within and the murderous conditions without, Layton better hope his gamble pay off or his daughter might grow up without a father.