Snowpiercer Season 2 Ending Explained

Warning: SPOILERS For Snowpiercer Season 2’s Finale – “The Show Must Go On” and “Into The White”

Snowpiercer season 2’s ending saw Andre Layton (Daveed Diggs) lead a small group of rebels to steal the train’s engine from Mr. Wilford (Sean Bean) in the hopes of getting Melanie Cavill (Jennifer Connelly) back – only to discover that Melanie has died! However, Melanie’s sacrifice ensured the hope that there can be a future for Snowpiercer’s passengers outside of the train – but Joseph Wilford still stands in the way of that future.

After Wilford’s successful takeover of Snowpiercer in episode 8, “The Eternal Engineer”, Layton and Ruth Wardell (Alison Wright), who were banished to Big Alice’s compost car, plotted to take back the train. With the help of Javier de la Torre (Roberto Urbina), who Wilford made an engineer on Big Alice, and Melanie’s daughter Alex (Rowan Blanchard), who betrayed Wilford, Layton and Ruth made it back to Snowpiercer and rallied their co-conspirators, including Bennet Knox (Iddo Goldberg) in Engineering and Bess Till (Mickey Sumner). Alex provided Layton with his desperate gambit: they would uncouple the first ten cars of Snowpiercer from the rest of the train and take it to find Melanie. Wilford deployed Josie Wellstead (Katie McGuinness), his “cold woman” who was turned into the new Icy Bob (Andre Tricoteux), to breach the train and disable the engine from the outside. Instead, Josie destroyed the Aquarium car, which separated Snowpiercer’s head from the remaining 1,023 cars.

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Related: Snowpiercer Finally Explains Why Melanie Had To Betray Wilford

With Layton in command of an incredibly fast, 10-car “pirate train”, he and his loyalists zoomed to the Breslauer Research Station to find Melanie, who was left behind on the tracks when Snowpiercer missed their rendezvous thanks to Mr. Wilford’s sabotage. But instead, all Layton and Alex found were the data drives left behind and Melanie’s diary, indicating that she surrendered her life because Cavill exhausted her few resources for survival and she believed she wouldn’t be rescued. Without Melanie but with the proof she provided that the frozen world is indeed warming, Layton and his friends departed to “get our train back”. The shocking events of Snowpiercer season 2 end in a cliffhanger leading into season 3.

Melanie Cavill Is Dead – What This Means For Snowpiercer

Snowpiercer Melanie Outside

Melanie Cavill was separated from the rest of the train and cast after Snowpiercer episode 3, “A Great Odyssey”, and never got to reunite with them. Melanie got all of episode 6, “Many Miles From Snowpiercer”, to herself but when she was left behind at the rendezvous point, it was an ominous signal that Cavill wouldn’t rejoin her daughter Alex and the rest of the train. According to Melanie’s journal she left for Alex and the evidence Cavill left behind at the Breslauer Station, she ate all of the rats that she used for sustenance during her month-plus in isolation, and she used the remaining power to keep the data drives warm. Melanie resigned herself to walk “into the white” and to die alone in the wilderness as a martyr.

This is a tragic and shocking turn of events, especially since Jennifer Connelly is Snowpiercer‘s series lead and it’s hard to believe that she has left her own show. TVLine did confirm that Connelly will still appear in Snowpiercer season 3. Given Melanie Cavill’s ingenuity (and a possible unforeseen plot twist), there is also a chance Melanie could somehow still be alive. After all, Snowpiercer has walked back major deaths before, like Josie in season 1. Until that happens, however, it has to be taken at face-value that Melanie Cavill is dead and that Snowpiercer will go on without her. Barring a full-fledged comeback, Melanie could still appear in flashbacks or via another storytelling device.

Poignantly, Melanie sacrificed her life for the people of Snowpiercer, whom she always felt responsible for as the remainders of the human race, and for Alex, specifically. The proof of the future outside the train and the journal she left behind were Melanie’s last gifts to Alex, who fate cruelly separated her from for the last seven years, outside of the few precious moments they spent together on Big Alice. Alex, who is indeed her mother’s daughter in brains and engineering talent, can now take Melanie’s place as Snowpiercer’s main engineer, as well as fight for her mother’s ideals and principles as someone who was an advocate for science and who cared about other people.

Related: Snowpiercer: The 4 Key Women Wilford Needs To Take The Train

Melanie Was Right: The Warm Spots On Earth Are Real And The Future Is Outside The Train

Snowpiercer Warm Spots

Melanie and Snowpiercer’s Engineering team’s plan during season 2 was to launch probes into the atmosphere during the train’s revolutions while Cavill collated the data at the Breslauer Research Station. Melanie needed to prove her theory that the planet was naturally warming up and that there are areas on Earth that could be liveable within the lifetime of Snowpiercer’s passengers. The data Alex and Layton brought back to the Snowpiercer pirate train was even more optimistic as parts of Northern Africa and Central America appear to have become significantly warmer. The future, as Melanie promised, is indeed outside of Snowpiercer.

However, the prospect of Snowpiercer’s passengers disembarking the train for good is a direct threat to Mr. Wilford. For Wilford, the end of the world in the Freeze was the greatest opportunity of his life; he nihilistically believed that the 3,000 refugees aboard Snowpiercer were always doomed eventually, and he built the train’s society in his image and to feed his ego until the inevitable end. It was this life of self-aggrandizing hedonistic pleasure that Melanie stole from him for seven years when she took Snowpiercer.

A future outside Snowpiercer means that the people would no longer need or worship Mr. Wilford as their Messiah, so he either never believed Melanie’s data or simply sought to squash it because, to Wilford, there’s no world he will allow beyond the one he built on Snowpiercer. What will happen if and when Layton and his rebels return to Snowpiercer in season 3 and show proof that life outside the train is possible remains to be seen. But it’s a future Mr. Wilford will fight tooth-and-nail to eliminate.

Wilford Still Controls 1,023 Cars Of Snowpiercer

snowpiercer antagonist wilford

Layton took Miss Audrey (Lena Hall) and Mr. Wilford’s security chief, Sykes (Chelsea Harris), hostage as insurance against Mr. Wilford taking revenge on the people of Snowpiercer, but this is really no guarantee that Joseph won’t punish them anyway. The most obvious victim of Wilford’s wrath is Ruth, who got into an altercation with Kevin McMahon (Tom Lipinski) and was unable to join Layton before he rode off with Snowpiercer’s engine. Sadly, Javi appears to be dead because Mr. Wilford ordered his pitbull, Jupiter, to maul him, which leaves Joseph as Big Alice’s sole engineer. While Wilford promised he wouldn’t touch Zarah (Shiela Vand), who is pregnant with Layton’s baby, she is still the best leverage the billionaire has on “King Layton”. Additionally, Lead Brakeman Sam Roche (Mike O’Malley) and his family are in the Drawers on Big Alice, and he can use their safety against Layton too.

Related: Snowpiercer: Miss Audrey And Night Car Therapy Explained

Wilford still has plenty of allies, as well. Besides the abnormally loyal Kevin, Joseph can rely on his mad scientists, the Headwoods, and L.J. Folger (Annalise Basso) has slid into the role of Mr. Wilford’s confidante that used to be Alex’s. Further, much of Snowpiercer, like Third Class, the Jackboots, and the Tunnelmen, proved to be loyal to Mr. Wilford and rejoiced when he regained control of the train from Layton. However, it will be harder for Mr. Wilford to maintain his authority once the train talk spreads that Layton cut off Snowpiercer’s head and stole the Eternal Engine, and Wilford will do everything he can to debunk Melanie’s data when Andre does return to the rest of the train in Snowpiercer season 3.

Equally as surprising as Melanie’s apparent death is the fact that Mr. Wilford didn’t die in Snowpiercer season 2! Despite Alex cutting his throat with a razor blade (in a callback to Wilford’s original plan for her to assassinate Layton in episode 2, “Smolder to Life”), Wilford managed to survive the entire season. For longtime fans of Sean Bean, this bucked the long-established trope of his characters dying. In fact, Jennifer Connelly essentially stepped into the “Sean Bean role” when Melanie Cavill was unexpectedly killed off, just like how Bean’s Game of Thrones hero Ned Stark died in season 1’s biggest shock.

Snowpiercer Season 2 Was A War About Different Kinds Of Leadership

Mr wilford staring at Layton

Snowpiercer season 2 came down to a conflict between two opposing types of leadership: Mr. Wilford’s cult of personality authoritarianism and Andre Layton’s fragile democracy. Once Wilford regained control of Snowpiercer, he attempted to reinstitute his cruel class-based system, and he secretly intended to cull the passengers in order to preserve resources just like what he did on Big Alice years prior. Meanwhile, Layton had to suspend democracy and institute martial law when Wilford emerged as a threat, and he found his authority overwhelmed by Wilford’s popularity. The pro-Wilford sentiment aboard Snowpiercer was fueled by the idea that things were “better” under his rule; indeed, it’s undeniable that Andre’s brief tenure as a leader resulted in wars and lots of deaths as he tried to give the Tail Section equal rights on the train.

However, Mr. Wilford is demonstrably power-mad, has proven he cares nothing for human life that doesn’t suit his ends, and Snowpiercer is doomed under his authority. Meanwhile, as Alex herself stated in Snowpiercer‘s season 2 finale, in Layton, she saw a leader who listened to the advice of others, women who held positions of power, and the driving idea that the greater good of the commonwealth is the most important thing, even when it’s difficult and costly to those in power. Essentially, these are the ideals Melanie Cavill tried to live by after she realized she was wrong to spend seven years maintaining Mr. Wilford’s “perfect order”. Snowpiercer has endured a terrible amount of death and tragedy, and there will likely be more to come in season 3 until either Andre Layton or Joseph Wilford emerges as the true leader of Snowpiercer who can ensure the future of the human race.

Next: What To Expect From Snowpiercer Season 3

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