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Photo: David Bukach/TNT

Television

‘Snowpiercer’ season 3 episode 1 review: ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’

Snowpiercer returns for an all-new season.

Now only 1,023 cars long, Snowpiercer has lost much of what kept it running since its initial departure. That’s certainly true of the titular train at the center of this series, but it remains to be seen if that doesn’t describe the show itself as it begins its third season, a season that may (or may not) include Jennifer Connelly.

I had serious issues with last season’s finale. They mostly stemmed from the writers appearing to awkwardly write Connelly’s Melanie Cavill out of the show entirely while leaving a door slightly open for her to return. Obviously, Connelly was the series’ biggest star and was the face of its marketing since day one.

Then Season 2’s biggest plot developments — the arrival of both Mr. Wilford and Alex — centered Melanie even more. She’s Wilford’s archnemesis, the one who made the decision to leave him behind, and the target of his vengeance. And Melanie’s the mother who abandoned Alex, so Alex’s entire story revolved around her relationship with Melanie.

So the big question coming into Season 3 is whether Connelly is still in the show or not. One episode in, I still don’t know. Melanie makes no appearance in the premiere or in the trailers for Season 3, but Connelly’s name is still being included in the show’s marketing materials.

And with the show seemingly setting up as its endgame finding what the characters are calling “New Eden,” some habitable place off-train for settlement, it looks increasingly likely, as Alex fears, the search for Melanie will be futile. So I’m operating under the idea that we’re now in a post-Connelly era of the show where Melanie will likely be credited as a savior for actions taken off-screen with maybe a cameo appearance in the series finale. But who knows?

So now that we know what’s not in the premiere, let’s get into what is in “The Tortoise and the Hare.” Contrary to my opening, Snowpiercer is not technically 1,023 cars long; Big Alice is. Due to the 10-or-11-car rogue train carrying most of our main characters being driving by Snowpiercer’s engine, Mr. Wilford is now referring to that small train as “Snowpiercer.” And never the twain — or trains — shall meet.

Though actually, neither engine can survive without the other now. Big Alice cannot maintain a luxurious first-class any longer and Wilford has dissolved the class divisions. Once upon a time, Andre Layton promised to do this very thing, but somehow I suspect this wasn’t what he had in mind. In the car count voiceover that traditionally leads into the main titles, Layton refers to the larger train as Wilford’s “rolling gulag.” But that 1,023-car gulag is slow, while Layton’s pirate train isn’t.

Without the power generated from Snowpiercer’s engine, water pipes are freezing. Passengers are being moved around like musical chairs because there is insufficient power to heat everywhere at once. Snowpiercer too has heating problems, but its systems are overheating while the rogue engine has briefly stopped in its tracks while Bennett collects ice samples from one of Melanie’s reported hot zones. That’s before he falls through the ice into some mysterious room that leads to the discovery of at least one other mysterious survivor.

snowpiercer 3.1.2

Photo: David Bukach/TNT

Onboard Snowpiercer, Miss Audrey is held in a makeshift prison in the library car under the guard of Martin, a rando who got dragged along just because his train carriage happened to be among the about 10 cars split off from Big Alice. Sykes too is surprisingly helpful despite being Wilford’s loyal lieutenant. Though Audrey sees her as a traitor to Wilford’s cause, Sykes recognizes it’s in both trains’ best interests to merge once more and sooner rather than later.

Provisions are certainly limited on Snowpiercer. And heating problems aside, with both Bennett and Alex on Snowpiercer, Big Alice only has a barely alive Javier operating its engine. And some sort of prisoner exchange between Audrey and Zarah is expected when the inevitable reunion occurs.

Wilford’s more pressing problem at the moment is the underground resistance flowing throughout Big Alice. It’s united the unlikely pairing of Pike and Ruth under a shared cause while Kevin, acting as Wiford’s enforcer, tries to smoke out the resistance.

“The Tortoise and the Hare” falls into that category of the season premiere that mostly serves to ease audiences back into the new status quo, reestablishing where all the major players are at while teasing some new mysteries that will likely drive the rest of the season. Who is this newly discovered survivor? What do Layton’s visions mean? When and how will the two trains reunite? These episodes can feel perfunctory, but the rest of the season will likely need to play out before it’s clear if “The Tortoise and the Hare” made good use of its time.

snowpiercer 3.1.2
Snowpiercer S 3 E 1: 'The Tortoise and the Hare'
"The Tortoise and the Hare" falls into that category of the season premiere that mostly serves to ease audiences back into the new status quo, reestablishing where all the major players are at while teasing some new mysteries that will likely drive the rest of the season.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Looking forward to more Ruth and Pike partnering up
Melanie's absence is felt, and not definitely knowing if Connelly's status on the show is frustrating
Layton's newfound visions seem like a weird and lazy writing choice so far
We're continuing the tradition of Bess Till not getting much to do
Not a lot of plot development this week
4.5
Average

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