Snowpiercer Second Season Adds Betrayal, Murder, and Sadism

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Snowpiercer Season 2

In a world where temperatures have dropped to hundreds of degrees below freezing, the last remnants of humanity remain alive aboard a passenger train that runs on a perpetual motion device, generating the heat and power needed to continue running. The train, Snowpiercer, was the brainchild of Joseph Wilford, who it was revealed in the first season did not make it aboard the train before engineer Melanie Cavill (jennifer Connelly) made the decision to close the doors and pull out of the station, leaving behind to die those who did not have a ticket or who did not otherwise get on board -- including her young daughter.

However, at the end of that first season, it was found that Wilford (Sean Bean) had a smaller, second train -- Big Alice -- and it runs with fewer resources and a smaller crew. Wilford even took on Melanie's daughter, Alex (Rowan Blanchard), who has become as brilliant an engineer as her mother. Having attached itself to the end of Snowpiercer, the trains function as separate countries with a hard border, with illicit trade between them. But Wilford wants nothing more than to take full control back of Snowpiercer -- and the opportunity presents itself when Melanie finds evidence that the Earth may be warming back up, evidence she needs to follow up on by being dropped at a research station for a month while Snowpiercer continues to circle the globe.

While quite bizarre in its first season with the curious and disturbing empathic abilities of the mysterious Miss Audrey (Lena Hall) and the murderous psychosis of the young socialite LJ Folger (Annalise Basso), the only real science fiction aspect of Snowpiercer was climate change and some of the advanced mechanics of the engine. The coupling of Big Alice to the train brings with it advances in medical technology, including a gel that promotes the regrowth of skin tissue. Tail Leader Andre Layton (Daveed Diggs) siezes on this opportunity to have his friend Josie (Katie McGuinness), her skin ravaged by exposure, to become whole again. But the treatment involves more than that -- Wilford has been experimenting on developing a human being who can withstand increasing levels of subzero temperatures, a monstrous enforcer who can stalk the top of the train and insert himself into Snowpiercer by surprise.

One of the aspects of Snowpiercer that is never really addressed however, is the one that is persistently in our face at the start of every episode. The series began with "Snowpiercer -- 1000 cars long." That later changed to a smaller number when a group of cars was let go after an uprising, and then surpassed 1000 cars when Big Alice coupled itself. Throughout the series we frequently see characters go to the engine and then go to the tail, almost always by walking (and sometimes running) down the corridors of the cars. I did a bit of research, and your average passenger rail car is 85 feet long. If we stick to just the 1000 number, that's 85,000 feet, which translates into just over 16 miles long from end to end. Since there is no internal mini-train for people to ride in to get them to various places in the train, we have to believe these people walk/run 16 miles to deal with things. Each one-way trip is hours -- if not a full day -- of walking. It's not dealt with in the show, never really brought up, but it does make me consider the logistics of the show's environment as I watch the drama unfold.

Before the second season is up, we have yet another murder mystery to solve, bad guys to punish -- and some psycho-sadism on the part of Mister Wilford to endure; and we lose a regular cast member in the process (or maybe not -- it's never really fully resolved). With Wilford seemingly having the upper hand now, the third season will have a lot of loose ends to tie up. (Don't worry, I'm sure Mister Wilford will meet justice in the end; I mean, he is portrayed by Sean Bean, after all...)

3.5 / 5.0