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.
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.
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!