The second season of Snowpiercer has reached its midway point and has, so far, been moderately good, though by no means exceptional. The dystopian train has been cruising through the first four episodes at a decent pace, and while it has been ripe with plot-twists and cliff-hangers, it still lacks the darker notes of je ne sais quoi that made Bong Joon-ho’s version so very special. The potential is definitely there, which bodes well for the rest of the season, but the delivery is distinctly lacking.
If you were a fan of season one or, like me, found it sufficiently palatable, then season two will come as a welcome continuation. The arrival of Big Alice in the previous season’s finale set season two up nicely, with new characters and political tensions on the train providing some much-needed plot material. The focus of the season so far has been centred around the struggle of integrating two trains with different laws, societies, and resources. Mr. Wilford, Snowpiercer’s dark Willy Wonka, makes his grand return, flanked by Melanie’s daughter Alex and some fresh new cast members.
As in the previous season, the show is visually stunning. The intricate art-deco interior of the 1st class carriages contrasted with the gloomy, dilapidated tail compartments is still thoroughly enjoyable to look at, perhaps even more so now that the post-revolution integration of the carriages has caused people of all classes to move freely through the train. The costumes, scene setting, and camera work are bold and attractive- making Snowpiercer’s second season a highly enjoyable sensory experience. The cast continues to be a diverse and eclectic collection of characters, with people of various races, sexualities and genders being well-represented. Alex Cavill comes as a very welcome surprise; as an androgynous and highly intelligent girl who is too young to remember pre-Ice-Age society, she makes for a very intricate character. The exploration of her complex relationship with her mother has been one of the highlights of this season, and will no doubt become ever-more difficult as her loyalties are split between two trains.
The introduction of Mr. Wilford was a more dubious decision on the writers’ part. While Wilford’s return at the end of season one certainly provided a good cliff-hanger, it seems a bit of a lazy and disbelievable plot-twist. Mr. Wilford embodies all the villainous cliches we know and love, from his British accent to his unpredictable mood swings, and thus removes a layer of intricacy from the plot. As a fictitious figure embodied by Melanie, he held equal parts threat and appeal, effectively demonstrating the need for faith in a desperate, depraved society. Now, as a textbook villain, he is simply the antagonist in an increasingly basic plot. Snowpiercer’s second season appears to have simultaneously over-and underestimated how much it could pack in- resulting in a lot of undeveloped storylines that were opened in season one and have now been left to fizzle out. Much like in any dystopian drama, the great question remains: will life on earth be possible once more? Snowpiercer has begun to tackle this question in its second season and will likely find an answer to it in the coming episodes unless its penchant for hints and cliff-hangers carries through to the bitter end.
As a huge fan of the dystopian genre, I appreciate any attempt to create or develop a new world that does not leave you questioning every facet of how it functions. A series format certainly does help elaborate upon the fascinating world of Snowpiercer, but unfortunately runs the risk of becoming dull and somewhat starved for creativity in the process- which is particularly evident in the second season.
Image: Razlan via Flickr