Andre Layton needed to fall into a mysterious coma to realize maybe he shouldn’t have faked it until he made it real when it comes to his hopeful vision of New Eden. Though after we took a long, labyrinthian journey through Layton’s psyche, Wilford of all people may have discovered the key to Snowpiercer’s salvation. But did “Ouroboros” deliver a satisfying hour of narrative progress or, like a snake biting its own tail, are we just going in circles?
This is a hard episode to review as most of what happened played out only in Layton’s mind. This certainly gave the cast an opportunity to essentially take on different roles, but the star of this episode was undoubtedly the set design department. It’s been a long time since we’ve gotten to explore some new cars on Snowpiercer where the production team got to have fun creating various environments within the at least mildly plausible limited dimensions of a train car. The Night Car has never felt this immersive.
Beyond the stellar set designs, however, this week doesn’t give us a lot to really chew on. I think the secret to making an “it’s all a dream” episode where the main cast gets to play weird versions of their characters is making the dreamer’s revelation at the end significant enough to justify the diversion from the central narrative. Short of that, the weird fantasy should at least be really, really weird and goofy and/or provide a space for the cast to show off talents there’s otherwise no room for in the show proper.
Episodes of other shows that best exemplify the former, an embrace of the super-weird direction include the Season 4 finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer titled “Restless,” or the “International Assassin” episode of The Leftovers‘ second season. As for showcasing cast talents, when I interviewed the Snowpiercer cast prior to season one, Lena Hall told me she’d love to one day do a musical episode.
The Tony-Award-winning Hall has had opportunities to use her musical talents here and there on the show, but Daveed Diggs — also a Tony-Award-winner for his role in Hamilton — isn’t afforded the same opportunity while playing the dourer, often brooding Layton. What better occasion to have at least delivered a partial musical episode? But sadly, that didn’t happen.
We already knew it was folly for Andre to stake his political reputation — not to mention potentially risk everyone’s lives — on a dubious vision and the gamble that this last hot spot in the Horn of Africa would prove viable for settlement. It just shouldn’t have required this much soul-searching for Andre to develop some self-doubt. Last week gave us a deep dive into who Pike was and what he wanted. This was a missed opportunity to put Layton under the microscope and explore some core aspects of his character to help us better understand what truly drives him.
It’s also hard to know how to read Wilford’s final discovery. While we did get a fleeting reunion with Jennifer Connelly a couple of weeks ago as an imaginary Melanie, it remains unclear if Connelly will ever return to the series in a more permanent capacity. So teasing a clue that may finally lead Snowpiercer to Melanie is suspect.
I could see this creating conflict in terms of characters choosing whether or not to divert course to find Melanie, but I’m still skeptical Melanie will be found prior to the ultimate series finale. If that proves the case, the writers are possibly building expectations on which they’re unable to deliver. Hopefully, Connelly will return though as the show has been diminished in her absence.
“Ouroborus” wasn’t a particularly successful dream episode. It failed to be both fun and odd enough — as well as explore the inner nature of its dreamer enough — to justify its departure from the show’s central narrative. If the cast had fun playing dress-up and deviating from their normal roles, that same sense of fun didn’t spread to me as a viewer.
If you’re going to do a big fantasy installment, it’s often best to go big or go home. Here, the show never seemed to commit to the conceit, and I just found myself waiting for the story to just finally arrive at its point…which just seems to be Layton’s big lie was a bad plan. No s--t. Nevertheless, he will likely fail upward anyway and be ultimately vindicated because he’s the hero of the story.
Watch Now:Powered by
Join the AIPT Patreon
Want to take our relationship to the next level? Become a patron today to gain access to exclusive perks, such as:
- ❌ Remove all ads on the website
- 💬 Join our Discord community, where we chat about the latest news and releases from everything we cover on AIPT
- 📗 Access to our monthly book club
- 📦 Get a physical trade paperback shipped to you every month
- 💥 And more!