January 1, 2023

“Snowpiercer” is Running Out of Gas (Season 3 Review)

Note: This review was originally published on SiftPop in April 2022.

I’m beginning to think that Snowpiercer worked much better as a movie.

Granted, I adore the first two seasons, but Season Three is the first time I’m getting the feeling that the series is overstaying its welcome. Perhaps it’s the fact that one of its best characters (Melanie Cavill, played by Labyrinth’s Jennifer Connelly) was essentially abandoned in the previous season, but it seems like the effort of producing this series has only decreased, and with a fourth season on the way, I sincerely hope they are able to pick up the pace again.

Image courtesy of TNT

With events that directly follow Season Two, Andre Layton (Hamilton’s Daveed Diggs) is in charge of Snowpiercer, the hyper-speed train carrying the only survivors of a massive freeze that pulverized the planet Earth. Layton’s benevolent control is still under threat from the ruthless Joseph Wilford (Game of Thrones’ Sean Bean), who made quite a splash with a bloody introduction last season. The definitive “battle for Snowpiercer” happens earlier on in the season than you might think, with the remaining episodes mostly covering the fallout.

That fallout is part of the show’s problem, though — for most of the episodes following the battle, it feels like not much is happening. Many plot-lines feel entirely unnecessary, and while this does change with the final two episodes, the path to get to that point doesn’t feel earned, only padded with filler.

Part of that is due to the fact that Snowpiercer has stuck with its tactic that has served it and many other series very well — focusing, at one point or another, on most every character in its roster. Unfortunately, this also means spending time with the players who have become increasingly one-note, and therefore uninteresting to watch. It’s a damn shame, because many of these characters used to be fascinating, but I just can’t find it in me to care about them anymore.

What’s even more unfortunate is that some of the storylines that are quite interesting are relegated to the C-story of any given episode, and are barely focused on at all. The most prominent of these is that of Javi (Metástasis’ Roberto Urbina), who is struggling with PTSD after surviving a brutal attack from Wilford’s dog in Season Two. We know from a prominent arc last season that Snowpiercer is willing to go deep and go dark, but there’s a noticeable lack of that in Season Three.

Sean Bean continues to be Snowpiercer’s MVP, giving an unhinged performance of a madman desperately trying to hold everything together. He’s the best part of the show by far, and at points, it feels like he’s holding that together too. With everything other than Wilford, it feels like no new ground is being covered, yet almost every character is constantly speaking about progress, and how far they’ve all come. That was a feeling I did not share.

Snowpiercer Season Three loses most of its momentum early on, with uneven pacing and annoyingly shoehorned-in relationship drama, but it’s far from terrible — the performances remain strong, and there is plenty of warmth to balance out the increasingly chilly atmosphere. A great ending gives me hope for the future, but Season Three is definitely my least favorite thus far, and perhaps it proves that the series is finally running out of fuel.

All three seasons of Snowpiercer are streaming on HBO Max.

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