Welcome to Snowpiercer Explained, the next 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.
Melanie Cavill (Jennifer Connelly) needed a big victory. Fortunately for her, she finds one in the sixth episode of Snowpiercer in the form of a near-catastrophic fault with the train that almost killed everyone on board. With the Thirdies and the Tailies angry at LJ (Annalise Basso) being let off the hook for murdering men and keeping their severed dongs as a keepsake, the passengers needed a reason to trust the train’s authority once again. Mr. Wilford (a.k.a. Melanie) prevented a disaster from happening, and some good faith in the powers-that-be has been restored.
Melanie saving the day is only a bandaid fix to bigger problems that are brewing, though. It’s only a matter of time before the lower class passengers protest against the train’s system of injustice and oppression. Next time, they might decide to launch more than a strike against the train’s rulers and first-class elites. Melanie is always one step ahead of everyone, however, and she might crush those revolutions before they catch fire. There’s no telling which way it will go. However, Layton (Daveed Diggs) is one of Melanie’s biggest problems as he’s her intellectual match, but she’s finally found a way to gain the upper hand over the noble Tailie detective.
In “Trouble Comes Sideways,” Layton confronts Melanie — rather violently, I might add — and reveals that he knows all about her secret identity and what’s really going on in Drawers. She then explains that he was put in a Drawer because he’s one of the chosen ones who’s been selected to rebuild the world down the line. Layton ultimately decides not to kill her, partly because she’s the only engineer with the skills to fix the train’s mechanical problems. But he also doesn’t necessarily disagree with the idea of moving onto a new world after the apocalyptic ice age melts away.
Layton is too idealistic and committed to the Tail, though. He still poses a risk to Melanie’s plans, which is why she has an ace up her sleeve in the form of Miles (Jaylin Fletcher), who is Layton’s son. In the first episode, the child was selected to become an engineering student, which has resulted in him being given some privileged treatment. Melanie is also starting to take a keen interest in Miles, for a couple of different reasons.
Firstly, he’s an extremely gifted child who has impressed Melanie with his intelligence. She probably sees a lot of herself in him, given that she was probably like him at one time. Chances are she wants to adopt him as a protege of sorts, and he’ll no doubt be selected for suspended animation in the Drawers when the time is right. Miles is the future, and one day he might save the world.
Of course, now that Layton knows the truth about her, Melanie will use the child to keep his father at bay. At the end of this episode, she calls Miles into her office and gives him a gift to sweeten him up. She also tells him that “Mr. Wilford” needs a favor from him, and that will most definitely involve the child’s father. As long as she has Miles within her reach, she has power over Layton and the revolution he plans on leading.
It’s clear that Melanie isn’t downright evil. She occasionally does bad things in the name of a higher purpose, but that’s politics for you. Layton is showing signs of coming around to that because he sees the bigger picture. He wants to overthrow the elites, but will he deprive his son of a life beyond the carriages, knowing that the train is running out of time? Especially if it’s a life that he and his family can also be a part of?
I think Layton and Melanie will move forward with a shared vision of hope, albeit with different ideas in how to make it come to fruition. Maybe they’ll work together and find a way to compromise, which could lead to a better life for the Tailies. But even if that does happen, there is too much unrest on the train to maintain order and peace in the long run. The Thirdies want justice, but the sociopathic LJ knows all of Melanie’s secrets. And if those get out, the denizens of the carriages will revolt and blood will be shed.