If you thought there is a very finite number of stories that can be made aboard a perpetually moving train around the world, think again, because ‘Snowpiercer‘ returns with a third season that, despite looking at and relying on the previous two, He knows how to give different adventures while exploiting social conflicts.
Of course, if you’re interested in the series, I don’t want you to lose interest, so I will try not to make important spoils, but expect that some toll must be paid. In the thousand-odd-car Snowbreaker, nothing is free.
nothing is lost here
When we met the Snowbreaker, the train did not have a fixed destination, but was dedicated to traveling the world thanks to a perpetual motion engine and a religious belief that the laws of physics would not affect the layout of the tracks. What’s more, the train needs to keep moving for its systems to function optimally. What this season raises is, To what extent would you fight to stay on the train… or to have the opportunity to get off and start over?
As seen at the end of the second season, it turns out that there is a hope that either temperatures will cool down, or there is some point on Earth where the ice that covers the planet has given way to a habitable climate. Of course, Layton (Daveed Diggs) sees in this the perfect opportunity to break the deck: why fight for the rights and resources of a train that wasn’t meant to accommodate so many people in the queue…if you can do it for your right to escape alive?
The first hurdle you will have to face is Wilford (Sean Beanwho has fun again
to the AntI mean the Snowbreaker), who has taken control of the Snowbreaker, while Layton’s faction manages to take refuge in the Great Alice, the maintenance train that the villain will use to disembark.
Perhaps it is Wilford’s position, to prevent Layton and his people from discovering if there is a habitable point on Earth and leaving, what makes a little water about the discourse that is under the narration of the series, which is none other than the class struggle. It is never very clear that the colistas are cheap and disposable labor, but a kind of begging wagon. And in that light, short of losing control or a few cars, why should Wilford take on his class and ideological opponents, wasteful of resources, instead of letting them go?
a religious experience
When Layton finally confirms that there might be a habitable site, he has an epiphany rescuing engineer Bennett (Iddo Goldberg) inside a nuclear power plant. He leaves with a vision of a paradise in the Horn of Africa and a new survivor, Asha (Archie Panjabi).
Although I’m not a fan of religious and “supernatural” views to justify plots in clearly secular narratives, Layton’s experience gives the entire series a tremendous boost. Until now, spectators and train passengers thought that people could only live or die for the Snowbreaker, but… escape from it? It is a new perspective that, as I will tell you later, has a negative side.
Be that as it may, Layton’s determination to taking passengers to the Horn of Africa gives a new meaning to everything and also raises the stakes. Before, taking control of the train meant being the captain of a paper boat in a sea of ice, with the limited ability to avoid a tragedy and choose, from time to time, the route; now, taking the direction is also choosing whether the trip will have an end or not. Before, conscience guided; now, also guide faith in a better place.
And, deep down, it affects one of the main themes of the entire series: trust. What the leaders do to keep it and to what extent they are willing to betray it and protect themselves from the truth being discovered. Because Layton has been on the side of the downtrodden and tried to act as an equal ruler, but… what if he is forced to act like Melanie (Jennifer Connelly)?
A luxury crew
One more season, however, what is surprising is the rich secondary team that ‘Snowpiercer’ has, and how well cared for most of them are. Actually there are so many, more than twenty with their own name and agency (in a series of ten episodes per season where there is no room to breathe, neither in the wagons, nor narratively), that it is normal for someone to slip between the gears of the narrativelike Martin Colvin (Stephen Wolf).
Ruth shines again (Alison Wright) on her unstoppable path to being a better person, even becoming the unlikely leader of the Resistance against Wilford. Brakeman Till (Mickey Sumner) receives, too late, a subplot from which he manages to get gold, as does Miss Audrey (Lena Hall), disoriented before the ups and downs of her character until she finds an anchor in the final stretch.
Surprising, in the first chapters, the insistence of the series in redeeming despicable people like Folger (Annalize Basolet’s remember, the killer of the first season and unwitting motor of Layton’s revolution) and Osweiller (Sam Ottowhose character traded oral sex for favors), but you’ll be glad to know that karma has humor and reaches everyone. Also to the beasts of this season, Kevin (Tom Lipinsky) and a Pike (Steven Ogg) traumatized the latter by what Layton forced him to do in the war with Melanie.
And if you’re wondering, yes, Sean Bean does a great role again as Wilford, with a wider range than that of supervillain who chews the stage. Jordi Boixaderas, in its Spanish version, has an equally good time. The engineer and architect of the Snowbreaker goes up and down the ladder as he deserves, until an ending that may not be what you expected, but could not be another given the nature of the series’ heroes.
lack of wagons
For the first time, I did not have the impression that the chapters were stretched out, but rather rushed because of everything they wanted to tell. It has been a busy season, with multiple changes of leadership, betrayals, selection of sides. When you have an end in sight, you don’t need the status quo, but the actions that will lead to it, and the writers and Graeme Mansonthe ‘Snowpiercer’ showrunner thus far, have made the most of it.
Perhaps that is why the out of pot that is ‘Uroboros’ is so out of tune, the worst episode of the whole series and, dare I say, one of the worst episodes I’ve seen in a current series. It has it all (badly): the hallucination, the result of a character’s coma, worthy of the filler chapters of any syndicated series of the 80s and 90s, with a cumbersome narration and everything to solve a mystery that we didn’t need to know, especially if they had taken faith as narrative fuel up to that point. It’s a way of grounding a certain character’s motivation and forcing him to be rational again, but there were better ways to do it.
This season is the example that many series are crying out for more chapters to avoid, for example, that the colistas are something more than props now that the decisions are made in the cabin of the Snowbreaker. They need air to develop new plots and sometimes deviate from the main narrative. Feature characters from a single episode. ‘Snowpiercer’ may be a novel, but choose to be a chopped film that, at least in this season, have managed to cut the correct narrative pulse.
Conclusion (or the advantages of traveling by train)
The last episode of the third season of ‘Snowpiercer’ tastes like the final chapter of the series or it should be for some of the best characters. I repeat that I am not going to go into spoils, but the series is named after the train, after all, and very important decisions are made that force the entire passage to choose sides.
In the end, ‘Snowpiercer’ has found balance… at the cost of shedding ballast. The machinery has seized up and over-revved and, with that chapter of ‘Uroboros’, has been about to go up in flames, but the trip has been worth it. I have no doubt that there will be a good handful of spectators getting off here.
And now? The last minutes announce a new threat that, this time, the Snowbreaker society should be able to face together. It seems like another interesting adventure, but it is curious that, at this point, this series is like the train and I feel like another passenger: I like it enough to just go with the flow although the destination is not a place, but to travel the tracks until the body holds.
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‘Snowpiercer’: faith and destiny climb the snowbreaker in season 3, the most balanced of the entire series