Snowpiercer TV Series S01E01 Review: “First The Weather Changed”
Snowpiercer TV Series S01E01
The highly anticipated TV series Snowpiercer premiered Sunday to mixed reviews, amid possible confusion about its place in the Snowpiercer universe and how it fits in with the comics and film of the same name. However, once viewers get past the lack of continuity, they’re in for a sci-fi drama that mirrors both post-apocalyptic television like Walking Dead, as well as space odysseys like Star Trek (due to its contained setting). Furthermore, fans will definitely appreciate learning more about this universe due to having more time in a television series to expand on undiscovered aspects of “Snowball Earth” as well as our new characters.
In the first episode, called “First the Weather Changed,” we actually get to see the frozen apocalypse for a brief moment, which occurred in the year 2014. The action of this series is set in 2021, whereas the movie adaptation occurred in 2031. Snowpiercer is humanity’s last hope for survival: a train that circumnavigates the globe. The episode begins as the so-called “Tailies” desperately board the Snowpiercer train, for which they do not hold tickets. Due to not having paid for tickets, they are relegated to the back of the 1,001 car train and regarded by the paying First through Third class passengers as freeloaders. The Tailies are fed black gelatinous bars, and we learn early on that rations of which have been cut. We learn later in the episode the women of the Tail have been sterilized, and a child hasn’t been born in the Tail for five years. There was also a Tail rebellion three years from the time of departure.
The Tailies are preparing for another rebellion when officers and hospitality workers of the train enter the Tail to fulfill a “Removal Request,” and take main protagonist Andre Layton into custody. After serving him his first real meal in seven years, they inform him of the purpose for his removal: to solve a murder. Layton was a detective before he boarded Snowpiercer and they discovered this due to an ex-girlfriend of Layton’s that now resides in third class. Throughout the episode, Layton attempts to leverage his cooperation to secure reform for the Tail. He requests that they be allowed to reproduce freely, and is told “We don’t let thieves proliferate.” He also seeks to return to the Tail, so as not to be perceived as a traitor to the people that look up to him.
During his time investigating this murder, a older man that was instrumental in the Tail’s rebellion plans hangs himself, motivating the Tailies to carry out their revolt. The Tailies are able to kill quite a few officers and make it to the next car when Layton offers to speak with them to quell the revolt. He tells the Tailies he has a plan that could work to “make it to the engine.” He asks that they turn themselves in to be imprisoned in “the drawers,” which is a train car full of morgue drawers in which offenders are put in comas. Since the other option is execution, the Tailies agree, but one of them will have to “lose an arm” to “make an example of someone.” Now, Layton has found his ultimate point of leverage: if Mr. Wilford agrees to imprison, instead of killing the Tailies involved in the revolt, he will solve the crime.
Mr. Wilford is the person who created Snowpiercer, who is in charge of the train and the engine. We first meet Melanie Cavill, the voice of the train, as the leader of “hospitality.” She does everything from dealing with literal “first world problems” in first class, like who gets to be in the sauna at what time, to murder investigations, and by her own admission “wears many hats.” If that clue was not heavy-handed enough, our suspicions are confirmed by the end of the episode: Melanie is Mr. Wilford.
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Since Snowpiercer has already been renewed for a second season, fans can look forward to learning more about this universe than the film version had time to explain. However, it will likely always fall short of Bong Joon Ho’s incredible tone in the film version. The high bar that Bong Joon Ho set is likely the main catalyst of the mixed reviews for the show. While it likely won’t come close to his version, fans can still expect plenty of social commentary, twists, and action in the season to come.
Snowpiercer TV Series S01E01