As America debates the qualified immunity of its police force, Snowpiercer asks whether some of its passengers are similarly untouchable to the justice system.
If you thought LJ’s story was over after her discovery and arrest, it appears this is only the beginning. But “Justice Never Boarded” is really Melanie’s story.
The fallout of Melanie’s choices is finally catching up to her as she finds herself in the impossible position of trying to satisfy opposing forces from all sides. Audrey wants justice for Nikki and the third-class. Lilah and Robert Folger want absolution for their daughter. Ruth wants order and precedent maintained. And that was before LJ hinted she knows Melanie’s secrets and would spill if the verdict doesn’t go her way.
There was no perfect solution for Melanie, but her efforts to please everyone somehow may prove most fatal of all. Sure, Audrey got her tribunal selection lottery that pulls from each of the three recognized classes of the train and even got her desired verdict, but that verdict doesn’t mean anything when LJ receives no consequences. Audrey may yet decide to carry out her threat of a revolt after all.
Meanwhile, the very decision to change the tribunal section process is an affront to Ruth’s sense of order as she’s already seemingly in the early stages of plotting a potential coup against “Wilford”.
And while no doubt grateful for the moment that “Wilford” commuted their little girl’s sentence, the Folgers could still be harboring a grudge against Melanie personally, and it’s hard to predict their response if they learn the two are one and the same. They’re already aware that the resources to maintain the lifestyle they’ve grown accustomed to are slowly running out. Melanie rejected the suggestion once to cut the tail loose even with the caveat of relocating its occupants slightly more uptrain. Would the Folgers and other first-class passengers turn against Melanie/”Wilford” if someone like Ruth offered new leadership and showed the willingness to preserve resources by just cutting the tail loose, people and all?
Of course, LJ also cannot be trusted to keep Melanie’s secrets, which may also include Melanie’s plans for the drawers down the road. Even in one of the better case scenarios, LJ has indefinite extortion material against Melanie unless Melanie arranges some accident to befall her.
And finally, there’s The Layton Factor. Hastily shoving Andre Layton into a drawer might be the biggest misstep of all. Now that Bess Till — newly upgraded to first-class as she moves in with Jinju — knows what Melanie’s done to Layton and will likely learn what Layton knows, Melanie has probably lost another valuable ally right as the tailies are preparing to begin their insurrection too.
This was Jennifer Connelly’s strongest performance so far this season. She’s got to sell a Melanie who is carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders and could be approaching her breaking point while outwardly maintaining her composure. The walls are closing in on her, but Melanie will maintain the illusion everything’s fine. And Connelly performs this feat masterfully.
But I do continue to be baffled by the writers’ decision for Melanie to deploy such old school technology to keep her ruse: audio editing tricks, phone calls with essentially no one on the other end, messages via pneumatic tube. We’re already operating in a Science Fiction universe with technology ahead of 2020. Why not give Melanie something that doesn’t require such a suspension of disbelief that no one’s caught on yet?
The outcome of the trial was predictable even if we didn’t know exactly what mechanisms would result in LJ’s eventual release, but “Justice Never Boarded” gives us our clearest look yet at where the back half of this season is going.
Whether it’s the rebellion from the tail, the rebellion from the night car, or the rebellion from Ruth and the first-classers, Melanie is going down. And while her leadership has been, at times cruel, we’ve seen her show compassion too. And her cruelty tends to only occur when she thinks it absolutely necessary. So perhaps Snowpiercer is better off with the devil we know than someone like Ruth who relates most to the first-classers and who has taken well to her role as disciplinarian dispensing grotesque literal “disarmament” in the tail.
Just about everyone — except maybe the helmsman she’s sleeping with — is gunning for Melanie. Too many people now know too much or have grown frustrated with “Wilford’s” leadership. Even Jinju, among the most trusted in Melanie’s inner circle, now will be torn between her allegiances to Melanie and those to her girlfriend. One thing is clear. This train is steering directly into trouble.