In 1982, Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette brought the world the French-language comic book series Snowpiercer. The books told the story of a post-apocalyptic future where a non-stop self-sustaining train kept select people alive after the Earth began a new Ice Age.
The comics led to a movie in 2013 by Bong Joon-ho (who later won an Oscar for Parasite), which told the story of the revolution aboard the train, as the poor people on the back, treated like cattle, fought their way forward.
Now, TNT has a series based on the same comics (see my review of the first Snowpiercer comic here and the second Snowpiercer comic here), and it is yet another interesting look at the train.
Snowpiercer on TNT
Snowpiercer on TNT sees the series changed to a murder mystery, but the truth is that the murder itself is only a way to lead new fans aboard the Snowpiercer train where they can learn what life is like on the train.
Just like in the backstory of the original comic, as well as the movie that came after it, the back of the train include the “tailies,” men, women, and children who fought their way onto the train before it took off and the ice age finally destroyed life on Earth.
The train was meant only for the wealthiest to survive, although there were also members of a security force brought in to keep order. The train was then split up into sections.
At the front is the engine which runs the train and houses only the reclusive creator of the train and whose messages are delivered by Melanie Cavill (Jennifer Connelly), the head of hospitality.
Behind that are the first-class citizens on the train, closely followed by the second class and so forth. Further back is train cars that grow food and plants and there is also a train car with an entire underwater ecosystem. Finally, at the very back, is the tailies.
It is these characters we meet first, as Layton Well (Daveed Diggs) is a former homicide detective who is helping plan a rebellion where they can fight their way up and out of the horrid conditions in which they live.
It is Layton that we start to see the train through the eyes of. Melanie has him brought up since he is the only former homicide detective on the train and there has been a murder. Interestingly, there was another murder two years before that was the exact same and the person responsible was convicted and placed in the “drawers,” which is where criminals are placed in a suspended sleep to serve out their sentence.
Layton doesn’t want to help at first but does some investigating in the first episode out of curiosity.
However, while he is upfront, the rebellion starts without him and there is a mass loss of life. Layton finally agrees to the case, but he demands that no tailies die due to the failed rebellion and that is where the first episode ends, with the murder case looking to lead into the story of the eventual fight to the front of the train.
The fact that this season of Snowpiercer is surprising since the entire development of the series was a mess.
Josh Friedman and Scott Derrickson (Doctor Strange) were on board as producer and director originally, but both men left due to creative differences with TNT. Graeme Manson (Orphan Black) joined up as the new executive producer and used almost nothing from the original team.
What resulted is from the all-new storyline and the new murder mystery. Fans should be prepared though. The first few episodes sent to us for review purposes are a slow burn, but once the series hits its midpoint, the murder mystery takes a backseat to what this story is really about.
The acting is also top-notch, with some great performances along the way.
The rebellion is about to begin, and it might all start from an unexpected place. There is also a second season greenlit, so don’t be scared to start in now because there will be more.
Snowpiercer airs on Sundays at 9/8c on TNT.