“It’s just about control,” Bennett tells Andre Layton of how Mr. Wilford treats all his relationships. Perhaps even more than last week’s episode, “A Great Odyssey” provides a front-row seat to Wilford’s manipulative influence. So, when Melanie unboards at the end of the hour, it’s with great reticence as she knows she may have just thrown Snowpiercer to the wolves.
The narrow bend in the test track Snowpiercer needs to pass to desposit Melanie close enough to a remote research station in the Rocky Mountains is named “Neckbreaker” for a reason. We were previously told this track proved unfit for Snowpiercer, but with Big Alice activating a booster, Snowpiercer rerouting power from the formerly first and second-class, as well as Alexandra’s engineering skills, they overcome their first hurdle.
Bess Tillman’s investigation into the assault that ended in Lights losing two of her fingers doesn’t progress far this week. She and Roche suspect the attack was carried out by “breachmen,” those we met last season with the EVA suits tasked with fixing car breaks on Snowpiercer. The breachmen are known to be loyal to Wilford, and even sport Wilford-branded tattoos. The two law officers confront a team of breachmen in the train’s weight room but get nowhere.
Andre has better luck convincing Josie he’s not a sellout though. The still bedridden Josie begins the episode highly skeptical of the new order Andre has established: “You’ve given them nothing that we promised, and your leadership is in question.” She continues, “Revolutionaries make terrible politicians.” And what little trust she would have put in Melanie before their fight, Josie may have even less now. But she ultimately sees they have a new cause now, one that relies on Melanie’s success.
Pike too seems to be finding a new role in all this. The new border stamp checkpoint between Snowpiercer and Big Alice has killed his black-market weed trade, but Andre sees an opportunity to use Pike’s operation to his own advantage against Wilford with careful control over what comes in and out. Wilford pressed on Alexandra the importance of keeping those on Big Alice hungry and reliant on him. Andre learned from his interrogation with Kevin — and from Pike’s rather silly season premiere ruse to get Big Alice to open their door — that Big Alice is, well, starved for fresh food, and I suspect he plans to put that knowledge to good use.
But perhaps tonight’s biggest moment comes when Alexandra sees Melanie off. While it’s possible Alexandra is a far better actor and manipulator than we’re led to believe, she reveals that all of Wilford’s power games used to turn her against her mother have colossally failed, and Alexandra is more solidly on Team Melanie. I assumed we’d get here eventually by around the season finale, but if Alexandra has truly switched sides, it’s a game-changer in the Snowpiercer versus Big Alice cold war that will certainly escalate now that Melanie has disembarked for a month — or forever if Wilford has anything to say about it.
If there was any doubt to Wilford’s narcissism and megalomania, it went out the window once we glimpse the literal throne he sits on as he greets Snowpiercer’s leadership at the border. Dude has an effin’ THRONE!
“A Great Odyssey” is hyper-focused on the mission to drop Melanie off at the research station, which comes at the expense of everything else. The characters long established as the main players are front and center while those on the edges of the main narrative like Audrey, Zarah, and Pike are mostly sidelined again this week. And that’s to say nothing of the continuing frustration at the inexplicable absence of once important characters like Miles and Jinju. Even Osweiller and LJ sit this one out.
We were treated to some new sets though. Snowpiercer has a fairly no-frills weight room. Melanie’s short tour of Big Alice may have been more enlightening. The prototype train houses 27 cars of supplies, which leaves only 13 for its roughly 100 passengers and the engine. Those passengers sleep on bunks in tightly cramped quarters except for Wilford, whose more luxurious suite we’ve already seen.
The experiments on Icy Bob provide us a window into Wilford’s psychology. We’ve already witnessed Wilford talk one of his own into slitting his own wrists as penance for revealing too much information. Now we see he’s manipulated poor Bob into volunteering to undergo an extreme transformation out of a sense of duty.
The true MVP of this week though goes to Rowan Blanchard, who’s provided the opportunity to play so many facets of Alexandra here. We see her fear and vulnerability finally emerge. Like everyone, she’s clearly experienced trauma, but it wouldn’t be surprising to learn hers is greater than we know at this point. It’s clear Alexandra’s the linchpin of this entire season, and there’s a deftness to Blanchard’s performance that suggests the producers were right to put so much faith in the young actor to embody this critical role.
New episodes of Snowpiercer air Mondays on TNT.
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