Snowpiercer’s Jennifer Connelly aka Melanie Cavill let her flowing locks cascade down for the first time on “Access Is Power”. An episode spotlighting human depravity, regressive economic bartering, a rigid class system, and gladiatorial delights as distraction for the train’s semi-civilized, post-modern serfs.
This article contains spoilers for TNT’s Snowpiercer Episode 3 (“Access Is Power”).
Lithe, graceful, sophisticated caretaker of Wilford Industries’ hospitality by day, darwinistic demigod by night. Melanie Cavill’s prim & proper daylight demeanor allows her to maintain cover as Snowpiercer’s autocrat out in the open. Whether there ever was a real Mr. Wilford or not aboard Snowpiercer’s TV series alternate reality (and judging by a conversation between Layton & Roche tonight, there was), he lives only through Melanie Cavill now.
Cavill plays surrogate to an almost mythical, Zeus-like Mr. Wilford, introducing his elegant, refined pre-recorded messages as present day…. While letting her hair fall in relaxation over the charade, plunging the distance gravity will take it. Her Victorian updo as much of a mask and facade as the estate’s supposed noble lord. All part of the delicate balance of Snowpiercer’s ecosystem.
Mr. Wilford’s disguise allows her to personally asses the state of her dominion without revealing a visible royal crown. Thus, the train’s internalized caste system: elites, middle-class, lower-class, and the underclass of the tail are none the wiser to their true ruler.
Roman Coliseum as distraction from a species’ extinction
The elite investing family responsible for bringing Mr. Wilford’s vision to life made Ruth Wardell fully aware of their displeasure on tonight’s Snowpiercer. Unlike the ‘paupers’ that don’t look past a hit of Kronole, or those fully submerged in hedonistic delights aboard the train, Lilah Folger [Kerry O’Malley] knows an extinction event has occurred on Snowpiercer. While she couldn’t place the exact nature or species type, Mrs. Folger made it clear she knew Mr. Wilford’s Fight Night was a distraction. A modern Roman Coliseum to placate the masses while Rome itself burns, one train carriage at a time.
Fight Night saw Lilah Folger’s daughter LJ [Annalise Basso] not just take in the sights but relish complete societal breakdown. Anarchy broke out post-fight, as the elite watched from above in total safety, laughing in serene amusement. LJ even took the time to wave to Layton, seeing the train detective as just another pawn from the tail to be utilized and disposed. Sent back to the tail for all of time. In fact, Lilah made for than a few comments to Melina Cavill to simply get rid of the tail train carriage altogether. And not in jest. Rather, more as an insignificant burden making their caviar arrive late to the table each day.
Cavill shed her Pan-Am style blue uniform for a luxurious, chic sequined evening dress to commemorate Fight Night. Blending in with the elites that own the first class.
Kronole Origins Revealed
It turns out Dr. Henry Klimpt [Happy Anderson] is responsible for the street drug known as ‘Kronole’, though semi-indirectly. He’d been skimming the very chemicals used to suspend ‘unruly’ train riders in preparation for their stay in the drawers. Thus, a black market sprung along the third class in what would become Kronole. Essentially, those suspended in animation in the drawers become Kronole addicts as exemplified by accused train murderer Nikki Genêt [Madeleine Arthur].
Snowpiercer’s Dark Underbelly
Beneath the veneer exterior of the first class’ polished clientele lies decaying foundations built on the souls of the less fortunate. John Osweiller [Sam Otto] used his position to secretly trade Kronole, which can be used medicinally, to the tailies in exchange for sexual favors. One tailie was seen making such a trade last episode, his eyes looking vacant after the act…
The theme of tonight’s Snowpiercer showcased an economic system without rules or regulations, where every part of a human being is commoditized and sold to the highest bidder in exchange for one thing… Access. The thinnest opportunity for upward mobility available only by bartering anything and everything possible. A pre-determined free market rigged by winners. Those less fortunate destined to chase after the elite’s promised table scraps.
Be sure to read Better Call Saul’s Mark Margolis in big Snowpiercer Premiere scene, watch The Natural Aristocrat’s NYCC interview with Jennifer Connelly, and discover how to watch Snowpiercer online each Sunday.
The ripple of war between rich & poor, divided by tickets and doors, is at the heart of TNT’s Snowpiercer.
This article contains spoilers for the Snowpiercer TV Series.
1) Smell Indicative of Social Standing
Her name is Josie Wellstead and providing adequate visual deception was not enough for Josie to fool Third Class’ inhabitants. The doe-eyed Tailie was caught not by sight or sound. Not a misplaced word for miles upon miles. Instead her work in Sanitation, known on Snowpiercer as a Tailie-only profession gave her away. Every sense needed to be accounted for to present as ‘Third Class’ and Josie did not foresee the ‘blunder’. A total devolution of humanity.
On Snowpiercer, attempting to ascend upwards in the social hierarchy without permission by Mr. Wilford is a mirage. An oasis in a desert, always in view but never reached. No matter how much one run towards it, arms stretched out.
2) ‘Punishment for thee not for me’
LJ Folger’s sham trial conviction was designed to imbue the lower classes with a sense of pride. Fill their imaginations with halcyon delights of equal share and justice under Wilford Industries’ law. But it was a ruse, a show not unlike Fight Night and every other circus on the train meant to placate the masses.
While the Tail loses fourteen arms in primitive brutality for the filmiest of cases, First Class walks in eternal impunity for murder. Judgement commuted seconds after the gavel is lifted.
3) Privacy : An unbridled Luxury
Old Ivan’s greatest wish was simply to be left alone for a while, to have room to breath among a sea of people. However, space & privacy is a luxury only afforded to the nobility of Snowpiercer, while the Tail is left to crowd around… Living on top of each other, no business not public, no endeavor not known. Privacy reduced to thoughts jailed exclusively in the mind.
In the end, Old Ivan used his brief leisure time to take his own life. Exiting a labyrinth containing no formal exit, trapped in a permeant caste system.
4) Lack of Sunlight & Vitamin D
LJ lightly delights at being the first to show Layton daylight once again, reveling in controlling ‘access’ to the sun. Layton expresses that Tailies haven’t seen the sun in a decade, indicating a potential lack of Vitamin D and a large susceptible population to illness.
Thus, the lower socioeconomic class of the Tail is hit twofold. Their very rights as humans are impeded on, living with no windows, shrouded in darkness… While weakening their immune systems.
5) Bug Filled Protein Bars
Tailies are forced to consume low-grade protein bars made out of bugs or not eat at all. In fact, there was a time when the Tail resorted to cannibalism when Wilford Industries provided no sustenance in an effort to cull the population of stowaways. Meanwhile, the elite dine on the finest sushi available and subtly complain of secret extinction events, believing damage is being done to their menu choices.
6) Kronole Underground Drug Market
Kronole, an off-shoot of the suspension drug utilized by Wilford Industries to keep criminality hidden away in drawers, has damaged the Tail. Though rampant usage is not exclusive to the Tail, the use of Kronole as a type of painkiller in opposition to a recreational party flavor mostly is. The Tail relies on Kronole to mitigate their pain, both physical and emotion, lest they end up like Old Ivan. Snowpiercer’s unregulated, underground market is in stark contrast to the careful balance Mr. Wilford/Melanie Cavill advocates for.
7) Powerful leverage Sexual Favors from Tailies
Officer John Osweiller exploited Tailie desperation to secure himself sexual favors from the residents. In one particular case shown on screen, a boy’s mother loses her arm in an exchange of ‘compensation’ to save his sister. The woman’s son heads to Osweiller and accepts a trade of a sexual favor for Kronole, Osweiller having a constant supply of the drug. The deed done all in a bid to help reduce the pain of his mother’s taken arm, taken unlawfully, without due process or a court of her peers.
A post-modern version of Hammurabi’s Law. Her humanity reduced to nothing the second she boarded Snowpiercer without a ticket. Civil Liberties left behind in the cold.
8) Experimental Drawers = Human Experiments
Wilford Industries and the eternal engine have impeccable trust to their brand, regardless of moral feelings to the logo. No one aboard Snowpiercer, Tail and First Class alike can deny Wilford’s ingenuity is keeping them alive. Thus, when the revelation is made that the Drawers are merely incubators for human experiments, and the suspension drug is not all that sophisticated… Josie Wellstead and the show’s audience itself is surprised by their own misconception.
The corporate label of excellence is instantly vaporized, Wilford Industries is not perfect and infallible, Mr. Wilford’s (or rather Melanie Cavill’s) words are not a new religious doctrine. In fact, the suspension drug is not that different than falling into a forced sleep cycle of Kronole addiction.
9) Lower classes used as coliseum entertainment for elite
Fight Night was a ploy to distract Snowpiercer’s inhabitants from it’s unexpected Cow Extinction Event. The end of an entire species swept under the rug while two of the lower peasantry fight to entertain the masses. A ruse that allows First Class to simultaneously remind themselves of their gifted status as they watch the serfs punch away at each other. Watching from a secure station, the balcony practically a castle upon a hill overlooking a village. The aristocratic class enjoying goblets of wine from the top of a post-apocalyptic rebooted Roman Coliseum.
Even Melanie Cavill let her hair down for the first time for the occasion, taking a sip of wine, as she played back a pre-recorded audio tape of Mr. Wilford. An intricate facade built upon the foundations built on the veneer of widespread ignorance.
10) “Second Class gets Desserts”
It might seem like superfluous minutiae to have an serving of ice cream after dinner but it isn’t. In the never confirmed but largely attributed words of Queen Marie Antoinette fueling the French Revolution, “Let them eat cake” or Let them eat brioches” as stipulated by Jean-Jacques Rousseau in Confessions. Either way the meaning is the same, a complete disregard for the plight of the lower classes.
While Officer Bess Till enjoys the comforts of Second Class through marriage to Jinju Seong, her peers go without. Access to even a sugary hit of dopamine reserved only for those designated as elite.
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Snowpiercer’s first class sociopath, LJ Folger, played a Nintendo Switch on tonight’s episode. Coincidental product placement or console war omen?
This article contains spoilers for Snowpiercer Episode 5 (“Justice Never Boarded”).
Lilah ‘LJ’ Folger Jr. broke out a Nintendo Switch, complete with dual red Joy-Cons prior to her trial on tonight’s Snowpiercer. Was it post-modern TV product placement or subliminal messaging from the show’s writers about the console coming out on top? After all, anything aboard Snowpiercer is meant to be part of Mr. Wilford’s balanced, precise ecosystem. Did Wilford Industries deem Nintendo’s Switch the victor of the console wars due to its portable nature then?
It would seem probable in a haste to board Snowpiercer in worldwide chaos, the Switch’s portability allowed it to live by process of natural selection. Easily stowed away in a backpack. Nevertheless, the bright-eyed, ember haired LJ Folger was facing a murder conviction but chose the Switch as a welcome distraction. A Super Mario Odyssey themed Switch no-less judging by the dual red joy-cons and coin sound effects.
The tailies of course, have no such amenities. No consoles, no Joy-Cons. Forever the beggar looking outside the window of a candlelit, upscale, French bourgeoisie restaurant. No karma aboard Snowpiercer. LJ got off scot free ‘courtesy’ of Mr. Wilford’s emergency declaration tonight… The train’s shadow staff fearing what Sean Wise had said in his final moments about Melanie Cavill’s true identity.
Thus, a conviction by First, Second, and Third Class alike was instantly reversed. A commuting of the sentence by Mr. Wilford due to LJ’s age brought custody back to her parents. Thus, LJ is unlikely to learn from the experience as her noble-like status on Snowpiercer overcame even a murder charge. One which she admitted guilt to in front of a live jury, only blaming the influence of her lover Erik.
Thus, the reason LJ Folger was so nonchalantly playing a Nintendo Switch ahead of her own murder trial was perfectly stated. Just another game in the library to be enjoyed, semi-rigged entertainment. Easily reset after losing. When it seems LJ Folger has reached zero lives… There are no consequences.
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An unexpected twist propelled Snowpiercer’s Whodunit murder mystery from regular TV staple into an Orwellian dystopia. Where a person’s very skillset is commodified and put on ice… To be turned on & off at an elite’s whim. Begging the question: Do we own our lives?
This article contains spoilers for Snowpiercer Episode 4 (“Without Their Maker”).
Snowpiercer slammed a double dose of betrayal on viewers’ collective bartop tonight with no coaster. All Layton had to do was cover for LJ Folger being an accessory to murder & the tail would have been armed. Locked, stocked, and ready for revolution. The young Folger heiress promised not just guns but her leisurely support for the tail’s uprising. In the name of entertainment of course.
Layton smiled at the offer, grinning from ear to ear like a ten-year old about to unwrap presents on Christmas morning. But the good detective relented on the bribe, pushing ahead with LJ’s arrest. Following the system he swore to uphold to the T, despite the same system abandoning him to a T (the tail) long ago. As reward for his efforts, Layton would find himself sent to the drawers for knowing too much about Snowpiercer… And the true identity of Mr. Wilford.
One razor-sharp double crossing from the front, face to face, iris to iris, deserves another. Momentarily, it had appeared the series would follow the usual detective drama template. Melanie Cavill seemed to cozy up to Layton, inviting him for sake, nonchalantly hinting she knew that he knew who Mr. Wilford really is.
For a brief second, it felt like Melanie was looking to make a deal with Layton after assessing his new-found leverage over her. Then it happened. Layton’s sake had been drugged, and to Dr. Henry Klimpt he went. To be kept in the drawers off-books until further notice, essentially put on ‘ice’ like a six-pack in some stadium tailgate cooler. Akin to a biological experiment or virus, knowledge only on a need-to-know basis. Handcuffed by potential thought crime. A utility to be used and disposed of… Safely.Snowpiercer Season 1 Episode 4 “Without Their Maker” on TNT – Pictured: Jennifer Connelly (Melanie Cavill) – Photo Credit: TNT
Eminem once said “If you had one shot or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment. Would you capture it? Or just let it slip?” on 8 Mile’s “Lose Yourself” and for Layton the answer was ‘let it slip.’ If Layton had simply ignored his inner morality or feeling of connection with ‘dirt farm’ girl Melanie Cavill being on the same page as him, the tail would have had its best chance at revolt. He let his perception of Melanie get the best of him and reserved himself a rude awakening. No cancellations.
Simply put, he let his guard down and sided with the establishment against LJ, feeling like he’d earned his way up. Yet, walking in first class, making accusations against its patron diners, was done under a false sense of power. One Mr. Wilford could disconnect and did at a moment’s notice. Layton felt like a detective solving a case rather than a man who’d seen 14 arms taken by Wilford Industries.
His use to Mr. Wilford had concluded, the murderer found to be the Folger’s bodyguard Erik. LJ as the brains of the sadism behind Erik’s acts, occasionally participating to “feel something”. Erik had gone down in brutal fashion, literally axed multiple times after holding Jinju hostage in one chaotic last stand. Case closed. Balance had been restored aboard Snowpiercer. Layton could be put away until needed again, conserved for the future. His life fully commodified, his will, his agency… Removed.Snowpiercer Episode 4 “Without Their Maker” on TNT – Pictured: Madeleine Arthur as Nikki Genêt and Mike O’ Malley as Roche – Photo Credit: TNT
Layton should have been able to piece together the ominous picture Nikki Genêt’s murder and secret Kronole suspension technique painted for his life. Yet, he ignored the jigsaw puzzle pieces staring back at him, motionless. His returned detective status blinding him to the true nature of his new-found authority aboard Snowpiercer. Invisible decorations adorned Layton’s uniform.
Be sure to read & watch:
Check out more Snowpiercer TV series coverage in The Natural Aristocrat’s Snowpiercer articles section!