For those who were perhaps expecting the mystery of who killed Sean Wise and why to not arrive at an answer until the season finale, “Without Their Maker” has solved it.
It seems there was no grand conspiracy after all. Sean wasn’t killed because he knew too much or pissed off the wrong people. He was killed senselessly to please the fickle desires of a young woman bored by a life that, while not necessarily privileged given the situation, is far more privileged than anything anyone in the tail has experienced any time lately. And she fully expected to get away with it without significant consequence. She still might. We’ll have to wait and see what justice looks like on Snowpiercer when sentencing someone from first-class and if it looks any different from the real world when those of a privileged class carry out a murder.
This week’s episode could have been the season finale, but since it’s only Episode 4, what does that mean going forward? I suspect we’re not done with Lilah Folger Jr. aka “LJ” or her family for that matter. They seem to serve as representatives for the first-class folk on the train. And if they were growing impatient with Melanie’s– um, I mean “Wilford’s” management before, I doubt they’ll take the arrest of their precious little angel lying down. And with the coming insurrection from the tail, the lack of faith in the current leadership is likely to snowball.
And what are we to make of Layton’s decision to not exploit the deal he appeared to strike with LJ to keep her secret in exchange for help for his people? Is it a sense of ethical duty driving that decision or something else? Only one episode earlier, he was willing to hold out on the killer’s description until he was allowed to talk to Josie. Would holding out longer to expose LJ’s role in the murders of Sean, Nikki, and several guards to provide an advantage for his people have been that much greater a moral sacrifice?
“Without Their Maker” is an early game-changer. It promises to propel the story past its previous status quo into a new phase. It was a tight hour of storytelling that didn’t waste any time.
If there are any weak points to the episode, it’s that Josie’s mission gets shortchanged due to the hunt for Eric plot taking dominance. It would have been nice to see more there, especially because we’ve spent so little time with Josie up until this point and because, with Layton now missing, that mission ultimately doesn’t seem to amount to much.
That segues into another nitpick, sticking Layton in a drawer. When the trailers for the series spoiled that plot point, I thought it might be a season finale moment making the audience wait until the next season to see how he gets out. I generally dislike those kinds of cliffhangers because they rarely lead to long-term consequences beyond the following season premiere. But we’ve already seen more moments with Layton in the trailers. We already know Layton will be out of that drawer soon enough, neutralizing the stakes of it.
The performances remain strong throughout, but Annalise Basso, boosted into the spotlight this week, gets to particularly shine as LJ. There’s real potential to take her character in an exciting direction if they don’t just put her in a drawer and forget about her. This is the strongest entry since the premiere and sets the stage for bolder storytelling moving forward.