Welcome to Snowpiercer Explained, the latest in a long line of explainer columns about our favorite shows. With TNT dropping a new show into the Snowpiercer universe, we’re riding along to help you keep up with the mythology and filmmaking of this post-apocalyptic freight train.
Snowpiercer is shaping up to be the series that defines the social climate of 2020. While the show’s themes about inequality and injustice have always been relevant, recent events have only further solidified how these issues continue to plague society. Furthermore, people want to burn down the systems that allow these injustices to exist. “Justice Never Boarded” revolves around the idea of an unfair system that protects the privileged, even when they’re so openly guilty of committing atrocities.
In this episode, a jury finds LJ (Annalise Basso) guilty of murder and cutting off dicks. She doesn’t even deny it. The jury even sees the box of dismembered peckers that was uncovered from her room. But she spins a sob story about Erik (Matt Murray) forcing her to engage in the heinous acts, which no one buys at all. She’s evidently a monster, and people want to see her get the punishment she deserves.
However, LJ also reveals that Mr. Wilford’s informant — who was one of the castrated victims — spilled the beans on his secrets. Understandably, this scares Melanie (Jennifer Connelly), who fears that LJ will expose said secrets. LJ is pardoned by “Mr. Wilford” as a result, as Melanie doesn’t want her to squeal. Not unlike the British Conservative Party protecting Dominic Cummings after his recent misdemeanor, LJ got off the hook because she has made herself indispensable to the powers-that-be for now.
This episode confirms that LJ knows what’s going on to an extent, though she doesn’t confirm how much she knows. The previous installments suggested that Melanie was only worried about people finding out the truth about her being Wilford, but there’s more to the story than deception and false identities.
During a private meeting with Melanie following the trial, LJ reveals that she knows about the “Drawer secrets,” which means that she probably knows about their “experimental” nature and the mysterious list that Jinju (Susan Park) and Melanie referred to earlier in the episode. It’s clear that they fear this information getting out, but what exactly are they hiding?
The list in question is probably documentation of the people who have been locked in Drawers without a fair trial, which has happened a couple of times already during this season. That information becoming public knowledge will cause an uprising and bring an end to all of the work that Melanie and Jingu have been overseeing.
“Justice Never Boarded” also delves deeper into the effects of the experiments, and it’s clear that they’re still a work-in-progress. The prisoners, who are in a state of suspended sleep, experience nightmares, hallucinations, and traumatic memories. Those who are reawakened risk losing their sanity, which poses even more ethical and moral questions about the Drawer experiments.
Melanie is certainly a shady character at times, but she continues to show glimpses of genuine humanity. She’s in an awkward position that requires her to commit some questionable acts, but she might also be doing all of this for the greater good. She seems genuinely concerned about the deterioration of the prisoners’ mental state following their exposure to the Drawers, and that’s because she likely has a noble goal in mind.
I think Melanie is trying to find a way of ensuring humanity’s survival, and the Drawers will ultimately be used to put people into hibernation to see out the apocalyptic ice age. The train’s supplies aren’t finite, and the death of the bees and the cattle proves that everyone on board is on borrowed time. Jinju’s involvement is also telling, as she’s a scientist who also seems like a genuinely good person. She wouldn’t partake in this shady work unless the end goal is worthwhile.
Unfortunately, Melanie’s sneaky actions look set to be her undoing. By letting LJ off the hook, Third Class will seek retribution. While they might not be at the top of the societal pecking order in this train-based society, Third Class wields the true power as it’s responsible for most of the train’s everyday functioning. They have also made it clear that they want LJ to be brought to justice.
In this episode, Bess (Mickey Sumner) also learns that the Drawers hold prisoners who have been locked up without a fair trial, and her helping free Layton (Daveed Diggs) shows that she isn’t going to turn a blind eye to Melanie’s actions. Still, maybe Bess will overlook the experiments when she learns that Jingu is also involved, as it’s bound to affect their relationship. Bess could become the most important character in the show, as she’s sympathetic to the oppressed and close to Melanie. My guess is that she’ll use that insider knowledge to help the rebellion.
Of course, LJ is also a ticking timebomb who likes being in control. Now that she has leverage, she’ll use it to her advantage. Those in First Class are also plotting to take Melanie out of the equation, so the steward is going to have her work cut out for her in order to keep her growing list of enemies at bay.