Snowpiercer has just dropped it’s first episode and throughout this we’re gonna be discussing it’s overall plot, ending, and more.
There will be heavy spoilers here so if you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet then I highly recommend that you check out right now.
With that out the way, thank you for clicking this, now let’s get into our breakdown of Snowpiercer Episode One.
Snowpiercer Episode 1 Breakdown
After the effects of global warming devastate and war the planet, scientists try and cool the earth but in doing so they instead doom the population.
In an attempt to save what he can, inventor Mr. Wilford built a train 1001 cars long to wait out the thawing of the Earth. If you’ve seen the movie you’ll be pretty up to speed with everything already and similar to that film we start off in the lower class cars which contains the poverty-stricken members of society.
The tailies are crammed into the carriages, fed crushed cockroaches, sterilized and stamped on every time they try and rise up.
70% of the population actually exists in third and the tail and their inequality are vastly shown by the lavish life the front lead.
This fuels their need to fight back and it looks like the series will be focused primarily on two storylines.
A murder investigation in the front end of the train and a revolution in the tail.
Revolution is an important term in Snowpiercer as it not only means to revolt but it also carries meaning for the trains journey itself. Every time the train circles the world it is classed as a revolution and therefore it carries a double meaning.
We actually pick right at the beginning of the lower class boarding the train and are introduced to Andre Layton, Zara and Miles. Security try to stop the incoming threat and the leader of them Commander Grey is sliced across the cheek which leaves a scar that we see him still bearing later in the episode.
After a time jump we see that Layton and Zara have split up and the latter has been moved forward in the tail. Though we don’t know why this was it is important to know that they boarded the train together and were in a relationship beforehand.
They knew each other’s families so you could say, getting pretty serious now.
Zara wanted to die with her family but Layton promised her a good life on the train which we know turned out to be untrue. She likely became disenfranchised with life in the tail and bargained her way out of there.
Since then she’s not formed any real meaningful relationship and has drifted about with different groups, likely being in a similar situation to what she had in the tail.
Zara is the one that informs the front that he is a policeman and the two cross paths later on.
Layton has become a parental figure for Miles who has grown up and with his quote unquote train mum Josie, they have started a family. Similar to the film the tailies are fed protein blocks which we learned in the movie adaptation were made out of insects.
It very much carries the meaning you are what you eat and thus you get the feeling that the Tailies are considered bugs.
Is Melanie Wilford?
We are also introduced to Melanie Cavill played by Jennifer Connely.
By the end of the episode she is revealed to be Wilford but whether she actually is or not is a point of contention.
She sort of introduces main players up front and we meet Ruth, the Folger’s, and their bodyguard.
The Folger’s are actually extremely rich people that financed the creation of the train and they were the ones that provided Wilford with the money. They have likely met him before and thus they would know whether Melanie was the character or not.
On IMDB Sean Bean is listed as Wilford and thus we can take from this that he is really playing the character. So Melanie likely has him held captive or has killed him in order to take his place.
If this is the case then it would carry forth the revolution aesthetic that the show is laced with and she would’ve ousted the head of authority in the front in order to control the train similar to how the Tailies wish to.
Now from the off the season really recaptures the atmosphere of the film and it’s easy to see why with a lot of the creative team coming across from it. Boon Jong-Ho is a producer and the set design is extremely similar, however, that doesn’t mean that Snowpiercer is merely copying it.
Whether it’s going to tie in fully or not we don’t know yet but they do have some surprises.
The Tailend Explained
The series has a great cast and some really familiar faces that I wasn’t expecting to see. When they showed up it really got me onboard excuse the pun and each actor really brings their all here.
How Wilford Controlled The Train
Within the first ten minutes, the Tailies are already planning their revolt due to the first-class starving and sterilizing them. In the film, we learned that in order to keep the population at a certain level, Wilford would starve, sterilize and occasionally allow an uprising to happen in order to kill off masses of the populace.
He did this through an insider in the tail known as Gilliam but here it doesn’t really seem like there is someone working for him but I guess we will find out. What the Tailies do suspect is that Layton may have filled this role after he is called forth to investigate a murder within first.
This is carried out by Ruth who dons a fur coat when making her announcement similar to how Minister Mason did in the film. Now what this also does is that it shows the tail is far colder than the front and that they really have it bad there.
There’s lip service paid to another revolution and the removal of arms which as we saw from the film was a punishment when the Tailies stood up to authority.
Layton is put through sanitation which brought up images of a concentration camp for me and he’s escorted by the Brakemen. Layton gets to see the sun for the first time in a long time and we also see the length of the care as he’s put in the mess hall.
Sean Wise Investigation
Here he meets Roache who informs him of the body of Sean Wise who has been cut up and dumped into a hidden compartment.
We learn that he was sleeping with Zara, aka Layton’s partner before the train. Zara was in a relationship with three people and those in her car tend to be polygamists. This is called a chain and it’s what you gotta do if you wanna run train.
Layton is also introduced to a former Detroit police officer called Beth who beats him up and is clearly very prejudiced towards him even though before all of this he would’ve actually been seen as her superior. A similar crime happened years prior and a person was convicted for it which means that there was a copycat or Wilford jailed the wrong person.
The convict was Nicky J who we learn has been in under suspension for two years. On Snowpiercer this is carried out by putting people in a draw and slowly injecting them with Kronole, a drug that causes hallucinations.
If you’ve seen the film then you’ll know that Kronole has also been modified into a street drug and we spent a lot of time in the movie with Namgoong who was an addict. It is also capable of being used as an explosive so expect it to play a big part throughout the season.
The Garden Of Eden Symbolism
Layton is taken back to Zara and he also goes through a greenhouse car that carries a similarity to the Garden of Eden. Here Melanie picks a strawberry and though it’s not an apple, which was used in the bible, the fruit carries a similar meaning with it.
Melanie is a God, she possesses all the knowledge and power here and Layton is subservient to her. However, he wants to break free and gain what she has similar to Adam and Eve.
Melanie picked the fruit first similar to how Eve picked the fruit first and Layton could be viewed as a stand-in for Adam.
The film ended on an Adam and Eve aesthetic and the season may end with the two coming together. That’s just a theory though.
We also see a class trip taking place there and the teacher is indoctrinating the children to the message of Wilford. The teachers hammered home that life outside the train instantly meant death but we did learn through the film that things had begun to unthaw and it was possible to exist outside.
Up top in the aquarium car we join JinJoo who meets with Melanie. Jinjoo seemingly is in a relationship with someone and though I have seen some say that it may be Melanie, I think due to Melanie asking who this could be, it isn’t the case. They talk about other work continuing and this may be a reference to how she has taken the role and responsibilities of Wilford.
What she does isn’t too clear yet but due to her position up the car she is clearly very wealthy. The way that the train works is that the further up you are the more powerful that you are and thus we can take from this that she’s a very important individual.
The Revolution Begins
Back in the tail, it’s Evaughn birthday and he asks for a Rachmaninoff recording. Rachmaninoff actually died four days before his seventeenth birthday and this is echoed here.
He commits suicide to this and as the trains eldest member this sends them into meltdown. They get the security guards to come and collect his body and they rush the Brakemen and guards. A character named Strongboy who is a mute rushes up top and he’s joined by the homie Trevor from GTA.
It’s here that we see the return of Grey, the high ranking officer from the introduction and Melanie recruits Layton to calm the situation down.
Layton is given 3 minutes to complete the task of stopping the revolution and in numerology 3 means completion, creation and in the bible it is often a sign of divinity, something that Layton represents.
And this is the biggest reach of the video.
Layton defuses the situation and saves Beth by knocking her out. This may make her realize that her prejudice towards him was wrong but we will see the further into the series we get. Layton convinces the group to surrender and thus they are sent into suspension in a drawer.
Layton is planning on using them in reserve for when the revolution actually happens and though it is defused in this first episode, the season will likely still head towards it.
Snowpiercer Episode 1 Ending Explained
The episode ends with Melanie going to the engine room which is actually revealed to be a dormitory.
So, unlike the film, the Engine is actually a ruse and therefore it may not actually be contained within a room. It’s said throughout both the show and film that if you control the engine then you control the train and this metaphor of Melanie’s quarters being called the engine could hold a double meaning here.
We see images of Melanie’s family and it seems like she has a daughter which is why I believe that she is not really Wilford. Ruth also says something about Wilford demanding swift justice so it is possible that she has had an interaction with him before that Melanie would be unable to fake.
However, she does have a hoody that says MIT on it which is a technology college so perhaps she is indeed who she says she is.
Melanie plans out strategies on chessboards and there is a red line around her apartment, this is similar to the tracks that we see in the introduction circulating the world.
She goes up to the car and meets the driver who addresses her as Mr. Wilford. Again I’m sort of torn on this as I think Wilford was such a famous character in the world that I think many would know of him before the environment collapsed.
In addition to this, we know that Sean Bean is cast as the character so I do fall under the impression that Melanie is either working for him or has taken charge of the train, causing her own revolution that is unbeknownst to the rest of the passengers beyond the driver.
Either way what a cracking way to start the show and I really enjoyed this first episode. It’s got a brilliant balance of mystery, the revolution that was laced throughout the film and there’s a lot of things to be excited for going forward.
Obviously I’d love to hear your thoughts on the premiere and what you thought of the twists. Comment below and let me know.