Snowpiercer rolls full steam ahead into its third season, somehow managing to deliver thrills and twists that surpass anything we’ve seen so far. With shifting power dynamics, broken alliances and perhaps a hint at what could be the beginning of the end, this season packs plenty of surprises into its 10-episode run.
To say this season is ‘fast-paced’ still doesn’t quite capture just how many shifts there are in the narrative. It feels like there’s three season-long arcs that all go down one after the other, shifting the power dynamic and putting key characters in difficult positions. In other TV shows, this could be a bad thing if not handled well, making things feel too rushed, but absolutely everything seems deliberate in its pacing and brilliant in its execution. There’s never a dull moment, which is a huge compliment considering there are so many character arcs being followed. Whether it’s focusing on characters you love or characters you love to hate, there’s plenty of intrigue in where everyone’s journey is leading them to keep you engaged. I’d argue that one character in here is done a little dirty, but then again it’s most likely a result of having nowhere new for them to go in the future.
Once again, my biggest praise of Snowpiercer is its ability to build tension from episode to episode, always focused on leading to the season’s climax and ending every episode with something to hook you into the next. Each episode feels like it’s introducing something fresh, while still furthering the story elements it has already introduced – a sign of fantastic series writing. I can only describe this season as like a pressure cooker – it’s constantly building and building, waiting to explode, until it finally does. Just like in the previous season, the final few episodes deliver on all the shocks, twists, turns and surprises… only much bigger and more unexpected this time. I have to give the series praise for consistently throwing curveballs that make it hard to know exactly where things are going. There are so many moments where plot points are foreshadowed, making me think “okay this will happen”, only to sweep the rug out from under my feet at the last second.
One thing this season has over the last in terms of the narrative is the consistency across every character arc. With all the chaos that erupted in season 2 as a result of Mr Wilford’s introduction and the arrival of Big Alice, some characters felt oddly sidelined right when their arcs got interesting. This season doesn’t have that issue – it felt like I had a great grasp of where everyone was in every moment, without feeling like there were odd absences. It really must be noted that the fact that the writers are still crafting fresh stories to take place on the train without rehashing familiar plot points is remarkable. It just goes to show that the train’s complex social and political structure, that was introduced in the first season, is deep enough to sustain all these weaving narratives through 30 episodes. That being said, I hope the upcoming fourth season is its last. I don’t see this fantastic originality lasting forever, so I’d rather they go out on a high note with the exciting direction the future is taking.
Season 2 saw the arrival of Sean Bean’s Wilford, a character who is once again very prominent through this entire season. I honestly attribute much of the continued success of this series to the screen presence that Sean Bean exhibits through every single scene. In my opinion, he plays one of the greatest TV show villains. He brings so much charisma, charm and suave to the role that I’m entirely captivated in his journey whenever he’s on screen. It feels like we’ve had 4 seasons worth of content with the character, when in reality we’ve barely had 2. It’s truly exhilarating watching the character manipulate everyone to get exactly what he wants – the sign of a captivating and effective villain.
Sean Bean may be absolutely incredible, but he’s not the only one putting on a show. Daveed Diggs (Layton) is still a fantastic lead, even more in this season than the last. The general approach to a lead character is that you agree with their perspective and approach to decision making without any thinking otherwise. What I like about Layton as a character is that he’s flawed – he doesn’t always make the best decisions, and doesn’t always make decisions the majority of audiences will agree with, but it’s what makes him a little more relatable. Daveed Diggs plays the role really well, greatly depicting the moral conflict that the character is going through.
The end of last season may have seen Jennifer Connelly’s Melanie exit, but her absence isn’t felt nearly as much as I thought it would. This is mainly due to the strength of the supporting performances that really step up their game and enhance their respective characters’ arcs. The likes of Mickey Sumner (Bess), Rowan Blanchard (Alex), Steven Ogg (Pike) and Lena Hall (Miss Audrey), to name a few, all have engaging arcs that carry through much of the season. I thought all of their performance, most of which I liked before, have been stepped up this time around – mainly a result of their characters having a bit more to do.
In the end, the combination of political thrills and big action set-pieces outlines what is the best and most evolved season of Snowpiercer yet. It’s fast-paced, packed with thrills, deeply emotional and is driven by a core narrative that’s as unpredictable as its ever been. The fact that it remains tense and exciting through every episode, with each one introducing or developing an element that potentially changes the game, is amazing. The joy of this series is that every season up to this point has felt entirely fresh. Sure, it has largely the same tone and feel throughout, but the narrative always finds new beats to hit and constantly puts characters in interesting scenarios. If you haven’t done so already, get on board Snowpiercer and prepare for a wildly escalating train ride!