What We're Watching: 'Snowpiercer' on TNT is a Wild Ride on a 1,001-Car Train

A promotional image of Snowpiercer with Jennifer Connelly and Daveed Diggs

If you watched the 2013 Snowpiercer movie, you may have walked away scratching your head wondering what you just watched. Many people loved it. Some hated it. Others were convinced it’s a Willy wonka after. No matter what you think of the movie, you should at least consider the show. It’s very different but still good enough.

Before getting into meat and potatoes, I want to touch on the difference between the show and the movie. If you are a fan of the grainy, dark and stubborn nature of the film and expect the same from the series, you will be disappointed. You have to approach the show with an open mind as it is not a film-based show; it’s a show based on the same idea like the movie.

The film faces the socio-economic clashes of the head, although it is much more blunt in the series – this is the main reason why some people who liked the film do not care about the series. This and the show is indeed a police drama, which alleviates the problems that the film addresses so aggressively. But if you can look beyond that and see the Snowpiercer show it as a different idea based on a similar concept, then it’s easier to appreciate. In fact, go ahead and throw out all the preconceptions about the show that you have based on the movie now.

For those who don’t know Snowpiercer, it takes place in an apocalyptic future where the whole world is frozen. The only survivors of the human race are aboard a train of 1,001 cars – called Snowpiercer – which goes around the Earth without end. It was designed and built by Mr. Wilford, often referenced but never seen, which is a crucial thing to pay attention to from the start.

The train has to keep moving to keep people alive, and the show begins in seventh year around the globe. It’s a wild concept in itself, but the drama and societal divisions between the passengers are what drives the story.

Just like in this world we live in today, there are different classes on the Snowpiercer. The wealthy and authorized first class passengers, who paid lots and lots of money to secure their place. The second class, which seems to be made up mainly of white-collar workers of some sort (although this is only an observation, since it never explicitly stated how they arrived in second class). The third class is filled with blue collar workers who run the Snowpiercer day by day. And finally, there are the “tailies” – lads who broke into the train illegally to avoid freezing to death and living tight in the tail of the train.

There are a variety of other colorful cars on the Snowpiercer (considering it is 1,001 cars), including a aquarium, cattle cars, vibrant greenhouse cars, and much more. These are all the things that make the Snowpiercer work as an ecosystem, but the thousand (and one) cars aren’t specifically designed for hosting and ecosystem needs. There is also the strange “night carWho is some sort of … brothel meets bar meets night club meets … something else? It seems to be the meeting place for “third parties” (third class) to let off steam and often serves as an intermediary between certain jobs and certain classes. TNT reunited a fun website which allows users to explore the cars of the Snowpiercer, which is pretty neat.

A detailed image of the engine room on the Snowpiercer
The Snowpiercer engine room TNT

In the world of Snowpiercer, poverty streaked tails naturally want more than they have. Third class draft horses constantly feel underrated for everything they do, especially since the train’s ecosystems would collapse without them. And the first class, of course, thinks that everyone below them is, well, below them. Seems familiar? It should, because it’s very similar to the way our society works.

As I said earlier, the show begins in the seventh year of the train around the planet. For the most part, people play their part, keep quiet and follow the rules. That’s until a maintenance man finds a corpse with his arms, legs and, uh, his genitals cut off. It’s pretty awful, but it’s not the first time something like this has happened on the Snowpiercer. A killer was convicted the first time, but now all the signs indicate that they had the wrong person. Oops.

This leads the woman in charge of the Snowpiercer, Melanie Cavill (Jennifer Connelly), to drag Andre Layton (Daveed Diggs) from the queue to investigate the crime. Back in the world before, he was a detective and happened to be the only one aboard the Snowpiercer to have a real detective experience. So for all intents and purposes, this show is a criminal drama – at least for starters.

I don’t want to reveal spoilers, but there are several twists and turns throughout the first few episodes. In my opinion, which honestly may not represent much when it comes to television because I’m certainly easy to entertain, every episode of the show so far has been better than the last.

You can see the biggest bends before entering Snowpiercer, so nothing is really shocking when it comes to light. Still, it’s an interesting story and a fun watch. Some characters are a bit exaggerated – the big, first-class Folger family comes to mind – and others sometimes fall a little flat. For the most part, I think the writing is correct. And the game is pretty solid, although Daveed Diggs is easily the star for me.

The snowdrop crosses the frozen tundra that is the world
TNT / YouTube

If you haven’t seen the movie, you will probably like the show very much. But if you decide to watch the movie after you’ve already started the show, you should also keep in mind that the two are very different. I watched the movie after watching five episodes of the series, but I appreciate them both for what they are.

If you’ve watched the movie and loved it, you’ll need to approach the show as a new idea. You might not like it otherwise, especially because the way it deals with socio-economic flaws is very watered down compared to the film.

If you watched the film and hated it, well, you’d rather like the show. It is much less dark, grainy and “bizarre”. There is no fantasy in the show, so it’s more enjoyable for those who may not like the wild race than the film takes you.

Snowpiercer is currently airing in its first season on TNT on Sunday evening at 9:00 p.m. EST, or on request on the TNT application.

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