Well, Snowpiercer Season 2 Episode 8 was probably the greatest reversal of fortunes presented so far in a single offering.
It’s honestly a little mind-boggling that we could start with some general unrest and end with a complete leadership change in a solitary hour of narrative.
Even Snowpiercer Season 1 required multiple episodes for the revolution to succeed. It also required Melanie to switch sides.
So, who is our lynchpin this time around?
Well, the easy answer is Wilford.
After all, he plans to conquer Snowpiercer. He orchestrated the massacre of the breach workers. He lured Audrey back to Big Alice. He’s carefully sowed seeds of doubt about Melanie’s survival.
The illusion has its value if it takes the pain away.
Beyond that, he ordered the modification of Icy Bob, turning him into something else. Josie’s in that quagmire now too.
But the plan he made wasn’t exactly the one that unfolded, and that’s where we get to see another layer to The Eternal Engineer.
Think this through with me.
The termination of the breach workers was meant to be absolute. Breachman Boscovic was never meant to survive. He only lived because Layton and Roche got to him before the assassin assigned to him did.
Thus, there was never meant to be a breach worker available on Snowpiercer when Icy Bob stuck that railway spike into the trains gills.
Whether the spike was meant to contact the hydrogen regulator and fry the god module is a question mark.
Was the actual target the god module and flooding the train just a bonus?
They only realized the god module was fried once the spike was removed, and the hydrogen readings were still fluctuating madly.
If Boscovic had been killed by the assassin or had refused to go out, the spike would never have been removed, and the train would’ve continued to flood.
The fried module wouldn’t have been detected, and the train would’ve shut down completely before they ever realized they were running out of fuel.
Can you do it, Layton? No, you’re not an engineer. How can you expect to lead the train? You don’t even understand how it works.
With the train stopped, there would have been no way of hiding Wilford’s return. It would’ve been spectacle and pomp over the top and beyond.
However, because they caught it early, they were able to sneak him in relatively quietly.
And that’s where Layton’s plans started to unravel, and Wilford was able to pivot to victory.
If this repair had been simple, there’s a chance they could’ve gotten him back to Big Alice.
But Melanie’s hack created the unforeseen and dramatic need for a total shutdown and restart.
Layton: Games upon games.
Wilford: There’s only one conductor of the orchestra.
Once Wilford addressed the train to order the shutdown, it was the beginning of the end.
And once the train was successfully restarted, it was clear that Layton and the Tail had lost.
In Wilford’s time in the engine server car, we saw his real acumen as an engineer.
However evil his intentions, the man knows his train.
Furthermore, he innovated in a crisis, formulated a plan of action, and gave clear instructions for its execution.
Alex: He warned me about this. He said that you hold back, it’s your main move. He said that there’s two different types of people in this world. There’s dreamers, and there’s schemers. And the dreamers can build the world up but the schemers slither their way through.
Mel: What do you think?
Alex: I think he says a lot when he’s high.
It’s funny what he told Alex about dreamers and schemers because he slithers better than anyone on either train, even Pike.
So far, we have seen evidence that he’s not only able to roll with the punches, he’s always able to turn the situation to his advantage.
Looking past Wilford, there are still others who hold influence on Snowpiercer.
The best way to identify them is by looking for who Wilford has removed – Audrey, Josie, Layton, Roche.
Although Audrey comes to mind first, technically, the first person taken to Big Alice was Josie on Snowpiercer Season 2 Episode 4.
We had very different journeys, but we were both leaders on Snowpiercer. We spent years being responsible for others. And now that we’re here, without all that weight…I don’t know about you, but I’ve never slept so well. The future is yours if you want it.
It’s unknown how much Wilford knew about Josie’s leadership in the Tail, but her wounds made her important to him as a new candidate for Icy Bob’s vocation.
Seeing him help her overcome her phantom pains provides a powerful example of the charisma with which he spins his allure.
Bringing Audrey back to his side on Snowpiercer Season 2 Episode 5 may appear to be motivated solely by personal affection, but taking the woman who has acted as a therapist for the entirety of Snowpiercer for seven years is a calculated move.
She was a source of comfort and healing for many. Also, she was privy to everyone’s deepest fears and losses. Probably their perversions too.
Josie: You’ve defected.
Audrey: I’ve returned.
As to whether Audrey has truly defected or whether this is a deep-cover, long con, I choose to believe the latter. I think I have to.
This is how I see it: Wilford has a radar for disloyalty. Alex has already been shut out because she dared to love her mother more than him.
Audrey knows him better than anyone, so if she is to position herself to help Layton, she has to immerse herself in the person she was before The Freeze.
The character who has held the line, for better or worse, has always been Roche.
I was worried when his wife, Anne, and daughter, Carly, suddenly appeared in the flesh. His family had been such a Mrs. Columbo throughout the series that my radar immediately lit up.
And rightly so. My head still spins when I think about how we went from Roche’s voiceover to him being drawered with his family in ONE hour. And my heart breaks.
Things fall apart, right? Or do they? Who can tell anymore what’s true, what’s a Wilford ruse? So we hang on too tight to what we do know. Crack ourselves into harder factions. We’re not afraid of our Ag Sec failing or biosecurity anymore. We’re lighting red lanterns for Wilford because we’re afraid of each other. And me, I’m out here selling the only common ground left, that we’re all human beings. You know, who need love and connection and space for hope. Or we kill each other. What is it about recent history that’s so friggin’ hard to remember?
A conversion that might prove significant is Boki, the Last Breachman, realizing that Wilford was behind the train’s sabotage. As one of his staunchest supporters, that realization probably cost him a lot, especially after the massacre of his fellow breach workers.
Wilford gave me this himself. He said,’Breachmen risk their lives for me. With this, I pledge the same to you.’ Take it, Maybe you can shove it up his ass one day, huh? Sir.
The Wilford medallion appears multiple times throughout. First, it is a token Boki lays on the bodies of his dead comrades. Then, Wilford gets it for Icy Bob when he returns from his mission. Finally, it is explained by Boki when he gives it to Layton.
Something that surprised me was the dynamic between Osweiller and LJ.
Honestly, I had assumed that they’d immediately jumped into an intimate relationship once they paired up, but it’s clear that he’s really been protecting and mentoring her the whole time.
LJ: Oh no, here comes Hospitality.
Oz: Ok, so this is where we shine, LJ. We do a bang-up job, they can’t take Janitorial away from us. Yeah? Ready.
LJ: Let’s janitor this bitch.
It’s weirdly sweet considering who we’re talking about. The ex-brakeman who charged blowjobs for morphine and the ex-Firstie who cut the penises of random men just to feel something. They were never going to be the prom king and queen.
Having such a shy and uncertain exchange of affection declarations was probably the most unexpected scene in the script for me.
Oz: You were great today.
LJ: Yeah? Yeah! Yeah, I was like some working-class action hero.
As I’ve said, they aren’t a pair I would’ve ever predicted being sympathetic towards, but it just goes to show that every character on this show has humanity worth cheering for.
I’ve meant to give proper kudos to the production team for a while, but it wasn’t until Breachman Boki was climbing around outside the train with no one to back him up and nothing but a flimsy harness keeping him from flying off that it hit me just how incredibly cinematic this season has been.
Snowpiercer Season 1 was claustrophobic on purpose. It was a murder mystery. It conveyed the squalor of The Tail. It put people in each other’s faces.
This season has taken us outside the train on multiple occasions for extended periods, and the scope of the frozen world has been epic.
From the shot of the breach workers’ bodies shattering on the river’s frozen surface to the red lantern-lit corkscrew winding of the train on Snowpiercer Season 2 Episode 7 to the flashback panned shots of pre-Freeze Chicago, the show is visually stunning.
It’s easy to take the scenery for granted as you watch Snowpiercer online because it’s always done so well, but I felt it was worth taking a moment to laud the team’s excellent efforts and the world they’ve created for us.
What does a Wilford-driven train look like after the revolution that took place? How will Order be restored?
Who will be next to be disappeared to Big Alice?
Will loyalties be tested yet again when they pass Melanie at the station?
Blow your whistle in the comments, and let us know how you think Season 2 will wrap up!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.