‘Snowpiercer’ Boss Talks That Finale Twist & What’s to Come in Season 2
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 1, Episodes 9 & 10 of Snowpiercer, “Old Ways, Old Wars” & “994 Cars Long.”]
Although Snowpiercer, the titular train of TNT’s buzzy sci-fi series was intended to be a non-stop thrill ride, the drama came to a shocking halt in Season 1’s final moments.
Read on at your own risk. Tuning in to the last two installments before reading on would be advisable because we’re about to spoil some major plot points suggesting the direction of next season. In the season-ender, viewers were shown two hugely crazy moments: a decision was made to detach a portion of Snowpiercer from the 1001 cars-long locomotive, and the twisty reveal that there are additional survivors in the postapocalyptic world aboard a second train—prototype Big Alice.
But the shock value doesn’t end there as there were also two survivors—Melanie’s (Jennifer Connelly) daughter Alexandra (Rowan Blanchard) and an unseen Mr. Wilford (who will be portrayed by Sean Bean in Season 2). Adding to the layers of drama, Snowpiercer’s inhabitants were forced to a full stop in the exact location where boarding took place years ago as Big Alice attached itself to the train’s tail.
Expectations around Mr. Wilford varied among the passengers. Ruthie (Alison Wright) was seemingly ready to welcome him with open arms, as Layton (Daveed Diggs) and others appeared apprehensive. When it comes to Melanie, however, viewers will have to wait for her return aboard the train, as she fell off Snowpiercer in an attempt to prevent Big Alice from boarding.
Below, showrunner and executive producer Graeme Manson (Orphan Black) explains that twisty ending, opens up about the infirmary’s drawers and Layton’s discovery of Zarah’s (Sheila Vand) pregnancy news, and teases what’s coming.
There were a lot of moving parts in the final episodes, from Layton’s fatherhood discovery to the arrival of Melanie’s daughter Alexandra. When it comes to the characters, who should we be most worried about?
Graeme Manson: We try and parse out that [among the characters] and make our concern a little different [for each of them]. But I think it’s interesting how it all lands on the collective shoulders of Melanie and Layton. They’ve switched roles in a sense. So Layton is now about to begin the hard task of creating a democracy, and he is also carrying this tremendous responsibility. He now has a real understanding of how brutal it is to make those decisions of who lives and who dies. Then also beyond that, we’re setting him up for a transition from revolutionary to some kind of proper politician.
And Melanie is resigned to allowing this transfer of power and supporting it, and looking forward to spending her life in the engine on the science of survival, having given up the politics. So, that balance is really interesting right up to the last moment when everything that they fought for and struggled with is now up in the air.
Alexandra was teased throughout the season but wasn’t really explained until the final episodes. Considering her association with Wilford, should viewers be a little wary of her arrival?
Absolutely. It isn’t as tremendous of a shock to Melanie and for the writer strategically, the decision to make flesh of this character, which we had developed in Melanie’s backstory and is really the heart of Melanie’s trauma. The fact that she’s back changes the calculus of everything for Melanie.
We do know that Wilford and Melanie had this dark past. So how has Alex been turned or twisted? What does she believe? Who does she believe her mother is? Melanie hasn’t seen her since she was eight years old. We really do want this to be a fraught reunion and it’s going to be tough because Melanie is still outside of the train.
Do you think at this point Melanie is completely alienated or does she have Layton’s support? Knox (Iddo Goldberg) pretty much turned his back on her by allowing Big Alice to catch up to Snowpiercer.
No, I think that the initial horror of Wilford really drove her emotionally. And I think she understands the stakes here now with Wilford, and is prepared to sacrifice everything to save the train and her legacy for them. Of course, where we hang it, she does not yet know that her daughter is on that train. So how is that going to change her calculus? What happens when she realizes her daughter is alive?
Layton also learned that he was going to be a father, but we learned that pregnancy on Snowpiercer is a privilege, not a right. What can you tease about how that will play into Season 2?
It’s big stakes for Layton and Zarah, and it raises more questions about what we’ll do to survive. But in terms of eugenics and who’s allowed to breed, we sort of know how that works. I wouldn’t call it a key thing yet.
Ruthie is another character that’s been through a lot of emotional trauma. Is she in for a rude awakening after creating an idealistic picture of Mr. Wilford in her mind? Will she be allowed to remain in a role of power?
It’s such a fun character. Alison Wright is terrific, and we really like to put Ruth under those kinds of stresses. It’s tremendously entertaining to see her territory and domain be shared or sacrificed [to maintain] the decorum that she holds so dear. And as Layton has come to understand, you can’t do things without Ruth Wardell. So it’s fun to anticipate Layton and Ruth having to work together and it’s particularly nice to see their diametrically opposed attitudes to Wilford at the start of this. And I think that it’s another great runway for those two characters together.
Snowpiercer lost a few cars, too. Can we assume the people aboard those cars are dead, or should we not count them out yet?
I’d say no door is completely closed.
And just when viewers thought this battle of the classes was over on Snowpiercer, a new challenge awaits them. What can you tease about where the story is heading as we head into Season 2?
I’m highly anticipating Melanie outside that train and the next impending moments of this cliffhanger. Those next moments of Season 2 are action-packed and they will frame the next season completely.
How will Snowpiercer’s full halt impact the passenger’s survival? Will it be able to run again?
For a perpetual motion machine, stasis is the enemy of Snowpiercer. So as soon as they stop, they begin to get colder and colder. So, there’s a ticking clock on Snowpiercer. It’s a fun way to hang that and seize again, because we’ve never seen that train stopped. Most characters haven’t felt that in seven years.
Will the drawers be further explained in Season 2? There were some strange side-effects from the suspended animation that subjects undergo.
I think Melanie describes them as a lifeboat. So while they may have been misused, they are sort of an emerging technology to save the human race by putting enough people in the stasis that if something truly disastrous happens, they could be held in stasis until conditions improve, and we could continue the genetic line of human beings.
While they may have been misused, do you think Melanie has the right mindset? Should the human race be saved in such a harsh landscape?
I think that Melanie absolutely has the right mindset and that maybe the most important journey that Layton took this year was coming to understand that and realize he has to continue that, and how it’s on him now too. A lot of our characters feel that responsibility.
Snowpiercer, Season 2, TBA, TNT