SNOWPIERCER Season 2 Review; "An Action-Packed, Entertaining Ride, [But] Season 3 Needs To Shake Things Up"

Snowpiercer season two arrives on TNT on January 25th, but how does this latest batch of episodes compare to the divisive first season? Well, the addition of Sean Bean is definitely a win for the series...

Eight episodes of Snowpiercer were provided by TNT for review purposes.

The first season of Snowpiercer didn't quite manage to live up to the film (and graphic novel) it takes inspiration from, and there was such a rush to get to the revolution, many of this concept's harder hitting ideas were glossed over. For example, we never got to fully explore the train's class system, why those in the Tail were treated so badly (beyond the obvious), and what seven years spent travelling across the frozen remains on Earth would really do to someone.

Those were ideas touched on, of course, but not in a way that made the series much more than your standard action/drama. Meanwhile, all but a few characters faded into the background (not all that differently to the vast majority of passengers aboard a train you're travelling on). The problem with rushing straight to and through the revolution is that watching someone attempt to govern is nowhere near as interesting as the struggle to reach that point. Thankfully, the returning Mr. Wilford does give us a fight to invest in which delivers heaps of twists and turns, and should make you want to return each week. 

Season two is a step in the right direction for the series, but it's the addition of Sean Bean as the aforementioned Mr. Wilford which makes it worth tuning in for this next batch of episodes. The actor is quite clearly having an absolute blast as the villainous creator of Snowpiercer, and Big Alice being linked up to that train helps create an interesting new dynamic as those aboard are forced to pick sides. There's something delightfully demented about Bean's Wilford, and he's definitely more than just a one-dimensional baddie; his hatred of Melanie (Jennifer Connelly) makes for compelling viewing, as do his dastardly plans to regain Snowpiercer. It's a shame the series doesn't lean a little more heavily into the dynamic between him and Layton, and some uninspired material means Daveed Diggs is never really given the chance to show what he's capable of. Instead, it too often feels like he's sleepwalking through many of his scenes, and as tremendous as he is as the leader of the revolution, he simply doesn't get strong enough material to steal the show as often as he did in Hamilton. He's one of the most talented actors working today, but there are only fleeting glimpses of that here.
 


Connelly, however, remains excellent. The actress is given the chance to shine in an unexpected, standalone episode shedding some light on the day Snowpiercer first left the station and setting the stage for a potential status quo shift in the series down the line. It feels like the show has too quickly forgotten what a merciless villain she was in those early episodes, but it's interesting to explore Melanie's relationship with her daughter now they've been reunited, and easy enough to root for her as more is revealed about her past. Alison Wright, Mike O'Malley, and Steven Ogg, in particular, remain highlights in the supporting cast, but outside of them, it feels like many of the characters are just...there. Considering how often the series reiterates how many cars the train has, it remains baffling that we're still spending so much time in the same old places, with the same, mostly uninteresting passengers. 

Visually, Snowpiercer is a delight, and the visual effects never disappoint. The world outside the train looks incredible, while the sets are undeniably impressive even if it would have been nice to maybe visit a few carriages we haven't seen before.

Snowpiercer definitely needs to start exploring new ideas, but still makes for entertaining, often exciting viewing. There's a murder mystery to delve into this year, plenty of cliffhangers, and the addition of Bean and some new characters on Big Alice who do lay the groundwork for future stories. There are times when this season embraces the show's sci-fi roots, and that's perhaps when it's at its best (the time spent figuring out how to create a "border" between the trains, however, is the show at its worst). After eight episodes, the stage is set for two must-see final chapters which will make or break the series. Those have the chance to shake up Snowpiercer in a big way, and if the series heads down a bolder direction heading into season three, then it could become appointment viewing. As it stands, it's still worth tuning into, particularly if you were a fan of the first season. 

Sean Bean steals the show in every scene, but even though Snowpiercer remains an action-packed, entertaining ride, season three needs to shake things up and stop playing it safe, or it might be time for viewers to get off at the station. 

Ke1

Snowpiercer premieres on TNT on January 25.

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