“#Snowpiercer’s fourth chapter boasts solid suspense and an intriguing villain”
Snowpiercer Episode 4 brings a killer to light in the best episode yet
Who would’ve thought that TNT‘sSnowpiercer would wrap up its murder mystery storyline this early? Color me surprised, and that goes double since, for all its flaws, said wrap-up makes for the best episode of the season.
A big part of why it works is because it essentially retcons the supposed reveal at the end of last week’s episode. Instead of the thuggish nobody who executed the former suspect, the driving force behind the murders turns out to be the mysterious LJ Folger, the pampered daughter of the uppity rich couple we’ve seen arguing with Melanie. Why did she do it? She was looking for some sick kicks.
This could have easily been part of a revenge plot or a result of abusive parenting, so I have to applaud the writers for avoiding such cliched Law & Order motivations. Making LJ’s reasoning more elemental arouses much more curiosity from the audience.
After growing up on Snowpiercer and being constantly sheltered from the misfortune (and excitement) of other cars, imagine how hollow her daily life must have felt. The fact that she needed to kill and mutilate two people to finally feel something substantial is truly fascinating and makes the setting more affecting as a result.
Electric character dynamics elevate Snowpiercer this week
Her character also leads to a palpable tension throughout the episode. They say that, deep down, serial killers want to be caught, and that prospect is demonstrated effectively here. As Layton searches for clues, LJ is infinitely more cooperative than her parents, dropping hints and allowing him to get closer to the killer’s identity.
It’s not exactly subtle, but the dynamic that arises between them is intriguing. The best scene in the episode is when LJ is casually dancing to an old song, but you can tell that both she and Layton know the truth about her crimes. It’s fueled by understated suspense and sold well by Annalise Basso’s creepy performance.
Snowpiercer Episode 4 – Courtesy of TNT/WarnerMedia
In addition, it makes you wish that we could have gone more in-depth. Now, I’m not saying that we needed to be as intimate with this murderer’s mindset as Hannibal, but a bit more time would have been nice, especially for someone who’s instantly become one of the most interesting characters on the show.
Her reveal also leads to further chemistry between Layton and Melanie. As they maneuver around the subterfuge of the investigation and the bluster of the upper class, they have a subtle, unspoken rapport that’s conveyed well by Daveed Diggs and Jennifer Connelly. By the end, you can tell that they’ve developed a grudging respect for each other, and it thrillingly comes to a head during the end scene. I look forward to seeing what lies in store for these two, as it’s largely their relationship that’s keeping Snowpiercer afloat.
Sadly, Snowpiercer still has a bunch of boring people
Sadly, that means that the other passengers are still lacking. We had some peril befall the side characters this week, but the drama that they tried to garner from it mostly felt unearned. With the minor exception of Katie McGuinness as Josie, it’s still hard to care about the tail people, and their upper-class peers aren’t much better.
We’re meant to be biting our nails more than usual during the hostage situation due to one of the train employees trying to save her first-class lover, but their romance has been so underdeveloped that I forgot about it until they reminded me. Once again, the blandness of the supporting players continues to bring Snowpiercer down.
Then, of course, you have a few nonsensical moments that stand out like blemishes on an otherwise enjoyable episode. One such instance comes when LJ attacks Layton after he gives her up as the killer. Considering he had no evidence to support his accusation, this seemed like a phenomenally stupid move made solely to justify her arrest.
More damaging, however, is the fake phone call that Melanie makes to Wilford. When LJ’s mom is offered the phone as she demanded, she is too scared to pick it up. This also feels unearned.
Snowpiercer Episode 4 – Courtesy of TNT/WarnerMedia
We’ve witnessed Wilford’s punishments on the lower classes with practices like freezing and amputating limbs, but the upper-class passengers have been entirely spared from such barbarity. We should have seen one of them be imprisoned, maimed, or executed.
This would have been a supreme demonstration of Wilford’s power, especially since it would have blatantly spat in the face of this episode’s theme of the rich supposedly being untouchable. More importantly, it gives weight to Melanie’s threat. As it stands, though, I refuse to believe that no one has ever called her on her bluff.
Is it a smooth track ahead for Snowpiercer?
These elements lead me to believe that Snowpiercer expects a degree of mindlessness from its viewers. Oh, don’t think about these nonsensical displays or the fact that you barely know the people in danger; just sit back and be entertained!
If the showrunners ever want this to rise above being a popcorn substitute for its more cerebral film counterpart, then they must excise that mentality. This episode shows promise, but we still have a long way to go.
What did you think of the fourth episode of Snowpiercer? Did you see any of the twists coming? How do you think the show will change now that the murder mystery is over?
Snowpiercer airs Sundays at 9 pm on TNT.
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