**Warning: This TV recap provides spoilers for the latest episode of TNT’s “Snowpiercer.”**
The planet warmed and the ice caps melted, Andre Layton (Daveed Diggs) explains in narration over an animated introduction. So begins “Snowpiercer” with episode one, “First, the Weather Changed.” A failed attempt to cool the climate resulted in freezing the world to its core. The only survivors circle the globe in an endless loop on a 1,001-car train designed by the enigmatic Mr. Wilford.
Anyone who knows the 1982 graphic novel, “Le Transperceneige,” or Bong Joon-ho’s 2013 film, “Snowpiercer,” understands the gist of the story and that it mainly follows the impoverished residents of the tail section. The Tailies. Layton is one of dozens of unticketed passengers who shoved their way on board just as the world was ending.
In short order, we meet Layton and his fellow Tailies which include Josie (Katie McGuinness), Miles (Jaylin Fletcher), Old Ivan (Mark Margolis), and Pike (Steven Ogg). They’re in the middle of plotting an uprising as rations are cut in half and conditions deteriorate in the rear cars.
We also meet Melanie Cavill (Jennifer Connelly), the head of hospitality. She makes her morning announcements before wandering through a first class dining car and greeting some of Snowpiercer’s wealthy inhabitants. But the tranquil morning is interrupted by news of a murder and Cavill knows the best man to solve the crime is none other than former homicide detective Andre Layton. She sends Ruth Wardell (Alison Wright) to pluck him from the tail section and enlist his help.
Guards John Osweiller (Sam Otto) and Bess Till (Mickey Sumner) escort Layton to examine the crime scene where he learns this murder matches a similar crime that was believed to have been solved. The supposed perpetrator, a woman named Nikki (Madeleine Arthur) has been incarcerated for the past two years. Aboard an unstoppable train, prison comes in the form of cryo-sleep in a refrigerated locker.
Osweiller and Till attempt to woo the detective to take the case, offering grilled cheese and tomato soup before reuniting him with Zarah (Sheila Vand), an old flame that found herself in the Snowpiercer’s version of a red light district.Till, a former police officer herself, is much more sympathetic than her partner and they are both downright kind compared to Roche (Mike O’Malley), a third guard with a lot of pent up hostility. Layton refuses to investigate the murder and demands to return to his friends so that they know he didn’t betray or abandon them.
Meanwhile, the Tailies pause their rebellion planning to celebrate Old Ivan’s birthday. In the cramped confines of their overcrowded car, he makes a wish: to spend just one hour all alone. They happily grant his desire, and when he’s all alone, Old Ivan hangs himself with an electrical cord. It is a moment of tragedy that also provides his compatriots with an opening. When the guards come to retrieve his body, the Tailies pull off a switch. Instead of the dearly departed Ivan, the guards find the very much alive Z-Wreck (Kwasi Thomas), and there is sudden chaos as everyone pulls out weapons and the fighting begins.
Learning of the uprising, Layton promises if they take him back to the tail, he can broker something of a ceasefire. Reluctantly, they agree. The death toll for both the Tailies and the guards is high, but Layton manages to convince Pike to stand down by promising he can deliver intel from the forward sections. He goes back to Cavill and the guards with an offer. He will accept the homicide case and restore order to the train if Mr. Wilford will show mercy to the rebels. Cavill agrees on the condition that they make an example of someone, but promises there will be no more loss of life.
It’s the end of a very long day for Melanie Cavill, which included a visit to Jinju (Susan Park), where she picked up a fresh meal for Mr. Wilford, and broke the news that Nikki was wrongfully convicted of murder and will be awakened as part of the new investigation. Jinju took the news hard and we can’t help but wonder what kind of history is about to be defrosted. After reaching an agreement with Andre Layton, Melanie changes out of her stuffy uniform, dons a sweatshirt and lets her hair down, and moves to the engine compartment. “You’re in my seat,” she says to Bennett Knox (Iddo Goldberg). They make idle talk about sushi and luxuries that are running short. He gets up and says, “It’s your train, Mr. Wilford.”
What we know so far:
- The Snowpiercer has been moving for 7 years. Certain supplies are already running low and sections of track are beginning to crumble.
- It’s possible to get out of the tail section alive, but it’s usually not a much better situation for people who manage it.
- There might be a very patient serial killer on board.
- Unlike the film, in which tail section children were used for a specific job, this Snowpiercer has rendered the Tailies sterile and unable to reproduce. The youngest child is now five.
- Melanie Cavill and Mr. Wilford are apparently one and the same. Which begs the question: was there ever a Mr. Wilford in the first place?