Snowpiercer Season 1 Episode 2 Recap: Prepare to Brace
In the second episode of TNT’s Snowpiercer, Layton (Daveed Diggs) uses his new position as train detective to investigate the murder while gathering intel for the revolution on the side. Meanwhile, Melanie (Jennifer Connelly) faces a resource crisis, with potentially drastic consequences for the entire train.
Keep Your Promise
Josie (Katie McGuinness) narrates this week’s episode, sharing that the Tail section has survived all the suffering those from the upper train have bestowed upon them because the reason they are here is they “refuse to die in the first place.” Ruth (Alison Wright) tells the Tailies that they don’t have to do anything but “sit around” and not rebel. She is in the Tail section with a few Brakeman punishing the Tailies for their recent act of rebellion. At first Ruth is planning on taking the arm off of a young girl who helped, but her mother takes her place. They open a hole to the outside world for her to stick her arm through, and once it’s frozen, they smash the destroyed appendage as a message to the rest of them.
Meanwhile, Pike (Steven Ogg) and a couple of other Tailies are being placed in the drawers, arrested for their part in the failed rebellion, as Layton looks on. Pike tells Layton to keep his promise as a woman reads from a page saying that Mr. Wilford has found the “unticketed passengers” guilty of insurrection, murder, and disturbing the order of the train, reminding them that as stowaways they have no right to trial and how they should be grateful for the mercy of the Engine Eternal for allowing them to live thus far. They are sentenced to indefinite suspension in the drawers.
Back in the Tail section, Josie’s narration continues as she says that they’ve checked their dignity at death’s door: “The more they steal from us, the more human we become. Humanity will fill our bellies, won’t they? When we eat the rich of Snowpiercer. 1,001 cars long.”
Melanie, who was revealed in the premiere to be the real Mr. Wilford, checks in with her engineers, Ben (Iddo Goldberg) and Javi (Roberto Urbina) at the front of the train who have concerns over the worsening weather and terrain that are affecting the train, especially how their speed continues to trigger avalanches. Javi wants her to slow for safety, but Melanie disagrees, telling them to maintain speed.
Layton is told to team up with Brakeman Till (Mickey Sumner) who is being cold towards the detective along with the other Brakemen. Layton says Till is suffering symptoms of PTSD after being taken hostage and reminds Till that he’s the one who saved her and that 14 of his people died, too, along with the Brakeman who were killed. Down a corridor, Layton sees two of his fellow Tailies who are uptrain on forced sanitation duties. In First Class, Melanie attempts to placate the Folger family who are upset with news of the rebellion and of Layton’s assistance with the murder investigation. When Lilah Folger (Kerry O’Malley), a former lawyer, tells Melanie that the train has proven that they’re all capable of killing, Melanie smiles and agrees, which is why everyone’s a suspect, including Lilah. Ruth breaks up the tension with an offer of coffee as Melanie tells everyone that “it’s a good day to stay seated and ready to brace.”
Layton and Till continue their investigation by speaking with Tunnelman Carter, the man who found Shawn’s dead body. Carter shares he was doing routine maintenance and discovered the body when he popped a floor panel, finding “no arms, no legs, and no dick.” As he’s speaking, Layton snatches a pen he sees sitting on the counter. When Layton attempts to ask about the checkpoints between classes, Till advises Carter not to answer. Layton says he’s trying to assess how far the body could have been moved, but Till doesn’t give in. After speaking with Carter, Layton tells Till they should visit the Nightcar where Nikki (Madeleine Arthur) — the girl who was wrongfully accused of the previous murder — used to work that also serves as the scene of the first crime.
In the medical car, Nikki is struggling (including suffering serious wounds to her arm) after being woken up from a two-year stint in the drawers. Melanie asks Dr. Klimpt (Happy Anderson) if the effects Nikki is experiencing stem from the suspension formula or the duration of her time in the drawers. Klimpt isn’t sure but says Nikki will eventually come out of it. Jinju (Susan Park) who is assisting with Nikki’s care suggests maybe Mr. Wilford should put the drawer program on hold, but Klimpt says no, that Melanie should tell Mr. Wilford that he’ll get to the bottom of it.
Layton and Till arrive at the Nightcar where a crowd of people are being serenaded by Miss Audrey (Lena Hall), the alluring and deeply intuitive madame of the car that serves as the train’s cabaret and brothel. Miss Audrey also provides tailored psychic services to Snowpiercer’s traumatized survivors, becoming privy to all of their fears. As Josie tends to the mother that lost her arm in the Tail section, Layton and Till question Miss Audrey about the circumstances of the first murder. She shares that she found Nikki in the room with her regular, Edward, saying Nikki had no idea what was happening because she’d been drugged by the real killer. Miss Audrey and her bartender offer Layton a free drink, “old world spirits,” for his service in trying to “reverse a Wilford injustice.” Layton savors the liquor before spotting his ex-wife, Zarah (Sheila Vand) and asks what it is they do in the Nightcar. “We offer epiphanies, darling,” answers Miss Audrey.
Miss Audrey convinces Till to allow Layton 20 minutes to see for himself and he finds himself alone with Zarah in a small room with the soothing sounds and visuals of water on the surrounding walls. Zarah explains the Nightcar’s never been a brothel, but a place for people to heal. Zarah has Layton close his eyes, listening to the sound of the water as she guides him in meditation focused on the water. Layton has flashbacks of his memories with Zarah before the world froze over, including when he proposed to her. After the memory, Layton and Zarah end up having sex. Afterward, Zarah tells Layton that Wilford’s people are keeping secrets and says she thinks Shawn was a snitch because he was receiving perks. Layton asks if she was in love with Shawn, and Zarah replies, “It’s Snowpiercer, Andre.” Layton tells Zarah he won’t let them pin the murder on her, but while he’s up there he has a responsibility to the Tail. Zarah wants him to stay up there with her, but they’re interrupted by Till before they can continue their talk.
Layton and Till go to the morgue for Shawn’s autopsy results. Layton points out a lividity on Shawn, telling Till it’s pooled blood meaning Shawn was laying down facedown for awhile post-mortem before he was moved later. They also discover Shawn was choked in and out and his limbs were sawed off, removed after he was face up. Layton implies that the butchers would have the tools to cut off a man’s arms and legs. The mortician asks if he means cannibalism, but Till says no, “we don’t do that up here,” and then tries to crack a joke about the rumors of the Tail section. Her smile is wiped from her face when Layton explains those weren’t rumors. He tells them that during the first two years, there were “kill cults,” and how one gang in particular would kill or eat anyone. “Had no choice.” The rest of the Tailies ambushed their leader and each of them “ate a piece of his heart so that no one could say they were innocent.” Layton and Till later head down to the butchers’ car that contains their cattle, but they are denied entry by one of the butchers who says it’s a restricted area. He says if they want in they have to get the notary.
The engineers suddenly receive a seismic alarm alerting them to an avalanche they are headed for. At the medical cart, Melanie tells them to brace as the train is struck. One of the windows in the butchers’ car shatters, killing the workers and cows as they swiftly freeze over. The train’s military unit eventually allows Layton and Till to examine the freezer. Layton finds a loose screw on one of the vents, and while Till works to open it, Layton grabs a tiny object from one of the shelves and puts it into his pocket. Inside the vent they find Shawn’s missing limbs.
We then meet Breachman Bojan Boscovic (Aleks Paunovic), a large and fearsome-looking Breachworker, one of the most dangerous jobs on the train, with frostbite scars and stumped ears who is used to the cold and jokes about the hazards of the job. Melanie and Ben speak with Boscovic about the “extinction event” after what happened in the butchers’ car. Boscovic is ordered to fix the windows first; Melanie says she can lower the train’s speed by 12%, which means they’ll have to start rolling blackouts to make up for the lost power, beginning with the Tail section. Back in the Tail, they suddenly find themselves in the dark. Josie is still trying to comfort the woman who lost her arm, whose son is giving oral sex to Brakeman Osweiller in order to get medicine for his mother. In return, Osweiller gives him a couple of pieces of Krono, a dangerous and flammable drug, to kill the pain.
Melanie meets with her confidantes Jinju and Ben to discuss next steps as they deal with the resource crisis. Melanie doesn’t want to break rotation, says they’ll ration the people, not the crops. Third and Second Class will get 15 minutes of running water a day and “the Tail will have to survive on what they’ve hoarded.” Ruth goes to the Tail section to announce which children will be selected for an apprenticeship, with Miles (Jaylin Fletcher) being one of them. He later says goodbye to Josie before he and the other kids that were selected are taken away to be educated uptrain. Miles knows it’s imperative that the Tail has friends in other parts of the train, and believes he will see Josie and the others again during their revolution.
Meanwhile, Till is reporting that they found two legs and one arm. Layton tells Till he doesn’t believe one of the butchers actually killed Shawn, though, that they came second and took the limbs for meat. Till stands up for Layton when another officer shoves him and admits her guilt in the way Nikki was initially sentenced for the crime without a fair trial. Done for the day, Till locks Layton back up in his temporary cell. When he’s alone, Layton tears off a piece of his shirt to write down details on the cars he’s visited so far. He then grabs the tiny object he stashed and uses it to open up his cell. Layton sneaks out, using a marker to mark the floor before leaving the piece of his torn up shirt on the ground for the sanitation Tailies to find. When the Tail workers are brought into the hallway by the security unit, Layton uses himself as a distraction so the other guy can grab the piece of shirt that contains Layton’s message, but it’s unclear whether Layton’s fellow Tail member was able to grab it.
After he’s beaten bloody for escaping his cell, Melanie asks Layton what he sees when he looks at the train. Layton says he sees a “fortressed class.” Melanie snaps, saying she sees “3,000 souls surviving on a planet that’s determined to freeze all life in place. We’re still in motion. Alive and kicking. And it is not thanks to chance or fate or God. It is thanks to order, meticulously maintained by Mr. Wilford. A balance of need and greed and speed. And you Tailies, who seem to have forgotten that it is a 117 degrees below zero outside of this metal tube, and Mr. Wilford is awake 21 hours a day just to keep the goddamn heat on.” Layton spits blood before replying that must be why Snowpiercer needs informants like Shawn, revealing he knows the dead man was a Wilford rat who got paid in perks. Why else would they care so much about this murder?
Layton continues: “What you really want to know is when he was tortured, what Wilford secrets did he spill? Y’all got killers and cannibals and God knows what else up here. So don’t you lecture me about balance. My people found ours years ago.” Melanie says she can see why Mr. Wilford wants Layton as train detective, considering how perceptive he is, but that is the only reason he’s still there.
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