On May 17, 2020, TNT premiered Snowpiercer, an American post-apocalyptic dystopian thriller television drama series. It is based on both Bong Joon-2013 ho’s film of the same name and Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand, and Jean-Marc Rochette’s 1982 French graphic novel Le Transperceneige, from which the film was adapted.
Naturally, TNT’s Snowpiercer was a slower burn than its narrative predecessors, and it thrived in a weekly episodic format that allowed us to explore the train and its toxic power dynamics in a more expansive way. It wasn’t groundbreaking television, and it didn’t quite make our year-end list, but it was a good weekly watch with plenty of story potential.
The same is true in its second season, and now that the initial revolt has occurred, you can sense the plot finally settling into some fascinating character arcs. It also takes some calculated risks; for example, Layton almost instantly abandons the democracy for which the lower classes fought in favor of martial law.
He doesn’t have much of a choice—in the Season 1 finale, a smaller but more powerful supply train named “Big Alice” took over the train, carrying both Mr. Wilford (Sean Bean) and Melanie’s daughter Alex (Rowan Blanchard), whom she assumed had died seven years ago. It also stings as the de facto leader of the movement.
It’s also refreshing that the series’ female characters get some of the most interesting arcs. Miss Audrey, in particular, gets a deep dive into her painful past with Wilford that doesn’t really start until around halfway through Season 2. To cope with the horrors she has encountered, Tilly (Mickey Sumner) reluctantly turns to religion, while Alex is torn between loving her absentee mother and remaining faithful to her mentor.
Snowpiercer’s tale should profit from the weekly release once more. It’s not exactly a binge show because it juggles several plots and often changes main characters and themes. But, as its character narratives grow broader and more layered, this becomes normal over time; it remains exciting and original.
It isn’t the same show as it was in the first season, which is a positive thing. Snowpiercer Season 2 is a realigned yet richer experience, even for those of us who enjoyed the first episodes. It still looks like a reflection, but not in the same way it did before. It’s now about finding a way forward and adapting to new normals, much as in our real lives. We haven’t gotten off the train yet, but there’s a chance we will.