Snowpiercer Season 1 Recap and Ending, Explained

‘Snowpiercer’ is a dystopic thriller series that entails from the eponymous film made by Bong Joon-ho. The plot is based upon the French graphic novel ‘Le Transperceneige.’ Presenting a dystopic world where ice-age has taken over, the last remaining humans are boarded on a perpetually moving train called the Snowpiercer. Circumnavigating the globe, the train houses 1001 carriages rigidly separated by class with distinct bogies marked for people from different social strata.

The train is built by the billionaire Mr. Wilford, who rules the proceedings with an iron hand. Season 1 of ‘Snowpiercer’ is a deftly crafted story with biting allegories to the human fallacies when faced with impending doom. Their primal instincts come into the forefront in an attempt to fight for survival. If you are curious to know more about the details, we have got you covered. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Snowpiercer Season 1 Recap

In 2021, the world has been converted into a frozen wasteland due to the adverse impacts of climate change. A constantly moving train is built that has in-built resources to house the last remnants of humanity. The train is segmented based on class- people from higher social order enjoy the luxuries of resources, whereas the impoverished languish at the train’s tail end.

Melanie Cavill (Jennifer Connelly) is the powerful Head of Hospitality, who is in charge of maintaining day-to-day affairs and balancing resources on the train. Aided by her trusted people, she manages the affairs with an iron fist but empathizes with the lower-class members. Andre Layton (Daveed Diggs) is a disgruntled homicide detective living in the Tail (tail end of the train) who plots a revolution to take charge of the train and end the prevailing discriminations.

Things are set into motion when Melanie calls him to investigate the inexplicable murders that have plagued the train. In his investigation, Layton finds out harsh truths and secrets that can upend the society situated within Snowpiercer. Using the information obtained from his investigation, Layton coordinates a successful revolution that puts him in charge of the train. This process, though, comes at a great cost as he has to navigate his way around scheming members of the first class who themselves are plotting a coup against Mr. Wilford. In the end, a dramatic twist awaits Layton and the remaining members, which can jeopardize their plans for democracy.

Snowpiercer Season 1 Ending: Where is Mr. Wilford?

It is revealed that Mr. Wilford is apparently left to die initially by Melanie Cavill. Melanie assumes the identity of Mr. Wilford and keeps the myth of his existence intact to provide a semblance of hope to the members of the train. Using Wilford’s authority, Melanie effectively runs the train, during which she has to make some morally dubious decisions. Even then, her acts are remotely justified given the daunting task of maintaining a delicate balance in the face of rebellion.

At the end, when Layton usurps power, we see another train named Big Alice literally clamp to the Snowpiercer. As the train comes to a halt, Melanie states that Mr. Wilford has returned to claim his place. As Layton and his fellow mutineers prepare to face off Mr. Wilford, a teenager identifying as Alexandra, Melanie’s daughter, gives them an ultimatum to surrender. During the final reveal, Mr. Wilford’s presence is anticipated, and we can expect him to be on board Big Alice.

An interesting plot detail is when the W symbol on the door turns around and changes into an M. A clever interplay of initials, this subtle moment indicates that Wilford and Melanie are somehow related, and Melanie’s daughter is the missing link between the two. We can be assured that Wilford is not dead, and he catches up with the Snowpiercer by boarding on his other creation, Big Alice.

Will The Revolution Be a Success?

Layton manages to take control of Snowpiercer, and his fledgling revolution seems to succeed at the moment. Nevertheless, the circumstances leading to the revolution are peppered with clues that indicate that Layton will have to face major troubles to build a democracy. Layton perceives Melanie to be a tyrant for her manipulative ways but finds himself in the same situation when he has to pull the switch triggering a compartment detachment that kills his friends.

The weight of the hard choices dawns upon Layton, and he understands that certain sacrifices need to be made to maintain order within chaos. The newfound freedom for the “tailies” entails a chaotic state, which Layton finds difficult to contain as it can change into the very society that he rebels against. Moreover, he has to deal with his personal problems as Josie (Katie McGuinness) is killed trying to keep Layton’s secret from Melanie. Layton also finds that he is about to be a father as his ex-wife Zarah (Sheila Vand) is pregnant.

He surrenders (as a part of a ruse) where he is made to wave a white piece of cloth symbolic of his defeat, albeit at the cost of his ego. Throughout the series, we see a red flag that symbolizes aggression and, it is at this moment, we see Layton take a step back. Layton soon realizes that to be a leader, certain tough decisions have to be made that can hurt the conscience badly. We can assume that Layton now sympathizes with Melanie, and in the face of Mr. Wilford’s arrival, he has to hold his ground, perhaps with a political upmanship. It remains to be seen if the revolution leads to order or anarchy.

What Happens to Melanie?

Melanie escapes her execution when her truth of usurping Mr. Wilford’s position comes to light. Eventually, she helps Layton plan the revolution. When Big Alice tries to uplink itself with Snowpiercer’s mainframe, she ventures out in a protective suit to sever the connection. Unfortunately, she gets stranded in the barren ice. We have reasons to believe that Melanie is alive as her suit protects her from the harsh environment.

Also, her connection with Mr. Wilford will play out in a manner where she might board Snowpiercer again. In the scene, where Melanie goes for a therapy session, she delves deep down into the trauma of leaving her child while boarding the train. The soft music in the scene is similar to the radio signals that Snowpiercer receives in the final episode. Since the signals were from Big Alice, it establishes a deeper connection between Mr. Wilford and Melanie. As her daughter looks for her, we can assume that Wilford and Melanie will have a showdown with Layton’s revolution in the background.

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