'Snowpiercer' Episode 1 Review: Class divide, a murder mystery and dark secrets highlight the pilot chapter
Spoilers for 'Snowpiercer' Episode 1: 'First, the Weather Changed'
Grotesque, violent and thrilling, 'Snowpiercer' opens with an explanation about the surviving members of humanity living out their days on a complex construct of a train that keeps them alive by circling the globe. The dystopian drama makes sure there is enough punch in the pilot episode to have the audience coming back for more.
Based on the 1982 French graphic novel 'Le Transperceneige' and the 2013 South Korean-Czech film of the same name, directed by Bong Joon-ho, the reboot presents the world as a bitter frozen wasteland after a human experiment to cool down temperatures goes horribly wrong.
To survive, a certain Mr Wilford builds one of the largest trains in the world inhabited by the survivors — a mammoth 1001-car carriage that chugs around the globe. 'Snowpiercer' is a world within itself and it shows four sections with the rich right at the top and the poor back at the bottom or better known as the tail.
Andre Layton (Daveed Diggs) is a man who hates wanton violence. He is reluctant in the resistance's plans to break their way out of these cars and work their way up to the elite segments of the train.
Freedom and fair treatment are the only factors that drive them to make the move and despite their planning, success is not assured due to lack of resources and information. The tail is subjected to oppression, ruthless violence, starvation and ill-treatment to the point where they sharpen their claws to fight their way out.
The episode also establishes that there's trouble in paradise. Jennifer Connelly as Melanie Cavill or better known as the "Voice of the Train" is made aware of murder on the train and the details are gruesome.
The body's limbs, hands, and penis are chopped off and the higher-ups try keeping the news as secret as possible. However, with zero leads and possibilities of more murders, Melanie recruits Layton, who was a homicide detective back in the day, to assist with the investigation much to the chagrin of the tails and the elites.
'First, the Weather Changed' drops a bomb early on when it reveals that Melanie, in fact, is actually Mr Wilford. Throughout the episode, while the name is constantly mentioned, it isn't until the final minutes of the show that this reveal is made.
Bennett (Iddo Goldberg), one of the train engineers calls her Mr Wilford. This tops an intense episode that explains much about Snowpiercer in the first 15 minutes. Layton's mission also sees some details of the murder kept hidden.
One of the highlights of 'Snowpiercer' is the sheer number of characters. The extensive ensemble cast gets a quick introduction and it does take some time to figure out who's who. Mickey Sumner as Bess Till, Annalise Basso as LJ Anderson, Alison Wright as Lilah Anderson, Sheila Vand as Zarah, Sam Otto as John "Oz" Osweiller and Goldberg make fleeting appearances playing their roles to perfection.
'Snowpiercer' is promising and the bigger challenge is to be consistent through the series. It is no doubt impressive after all the struggle it went through in its early stages of production.
Only time will tell about the impact this thriller will have. 'Snowpiercer' airs on Sundays at 9 pm ET on TNT.