There's no mistaking it. Snowpiercer Season 1 Episode 6 was a clear change in speed (no pun intended, but it's valid) and focus.
With the murderer unmasked and the trial at its ignoble conclusion, we've pivoted properly to a tale of survival.
There are dangers posed both externally, by the uninhabitable environment and its effects on the train, and internally, by the class conflict.
This, specifically, is a Cavill-centered plot, beginning to end.
As the Head of Hospitality, it is on her shoulders to ensure the smooth continuity of Third Class labor.
This she does by wielding both carrot and stick.
I wear several hats. My department's responsible for smooth relations.Cavill
First, she reminds them of their sacred duty to the Engine Eternal, aka Mr. Wilford, making it sound like something holy which -- considering how dogmatic everyone on the train is about those lines we keep hearing over and over -- isn't that far off.
Then, she puts The Tail's most effective purpose into play. The Tail exists to be a tangible threat to all those uptrain.
No matter how hard done by they may feel, at least they're not in The Tail. No matter how little they have, they have more than those in The Tail. Actual food. Medical care. Education. WINDOWS.
This is why uncoupling The Tail has never been an option.
They are spare Thirdies. They are a potential brain bank. They are guinea pigs for the Drawers.
But, most of all, The Tail is a tangible reminder of how bad life really could be.
Jinju: They could cripple every system on the train.
Cavill: Yes, they could.
Jinju: They'd suffer along with the rest of us. They're putting the gun to their own head.
Cavill: Well, seems like to pull the balance of power their way, they're willing to risk it.
(Also, there's the whole logistical issue of what happens to uncoupled train cars on a train track that circumnavigates the globe over and over again. Wouldn't they just run into the cars on the track when they come back around?)
And yet, there's even more math to consider.
Snowpiercer was built with four hundred Drawers, highly experimental suspension chambers, ostensibly for the preservation of humanity if life aboard the train proves unsustainable.
Cavill: The Drawers aren't what you think.
Layton: The Drawers are hell and my people are still in there!
Cavill: They're not a prison. They're a lifeboat.
Cavill points out to Third during her address that there are "four hundred souls" in The Tail.
They punish The Tail by taking arms, not lives, and thereby, maintain a population level (since they're sterilizing them at the same time), give or take a few dying every revolt.
The question that comes to mind is whether Wilford/Cavill's plan was always to balance the Sleepers against the Tailies.
It's a zero-sum world now. Set a thing in motion, watch it tumble down the line. All that's coming is coming head-on. The whole great shit show flattened down into a single line. To climb, someone else falls. To gain, someone else loses.Osweiller
It's not a fully-fleshed out theory for me yet, and I'm sure more will be revealed to confirm or refute the thought, but it's interesting that those exact numbers should be thrown out.
Also, going back to the demographic math, knowing the Tailies account for four hundred, we can calculate Third is one thousand seven hundred strong, and that's more than half the train's population.
Cavill: Looks like the people of Third have had a change in heart.
Audrey: The celebration will end but their grievances won't. Next time, you won't have a disaster to save you
Cavill: Hey, Audrey! Read the room. We're alive.
True, it's a divided population between those who fear The Tail and those who refuse to bear the brunt of Wilford's Order.
Miss Audrey appears to represent the interests of Third, whether they like it or not. After all, Zarah's fear of being sent back downtrain is probably not a unique perspective.
Audrey is determined to get a better life for those she shepherds, unflinching in the face of Cavill's threats (probably because she knows she's pretty untouchable).
And yet, with everything that's going on, she is genuinely happy for Zarah's pregnancy. That says a lot about her style of leadership.
(Speaking of that, it seems rather soon for it to be Layton's baby. So, probably Sean Wise's?)
Cavill is very aware of the dangers of antagonizing Third. They touch every system of the train. They affect the operations of every department and every class.
The risk of pushing them into a closer relationship with The Tail is a danger to the all-important Order. If they can turn the brakemen, all the doors will open, and it's unlikely even the jackboots would be able to stop them.
Cavill's messiah complex isn't completely undeserved. She's sacrificed personally to become who she is now. She definitely identifies with Miles as someone who came from nothing with only brains to trade on.
When it comes to the train, the responsibility of saving humanity sits squarely on her shoulders.
I designed her. I'll fix her.Cavill
That being said, I'm not sure that it required a huge amount of technical know-how to plug in that cable.
Don't get me wrong. It took guts and determination and some physical prowess, but I don't think it had to be her. I think, for her, it had to be her.
Boki probably wouldn't have fit down there, but Bennett probably could've done the job, and she could've monitored the diagnostics.
But it was exciting to watch her doing the dangerous job, wasn't it?
"Minimal speed" still looks like that train was going way faster than it should for someone to hang out (literally) under the carriages.
And those outside shots? Gorgeous, cinematic vistas of a vast, frozen world.
What really got me was that immense sense of space.
Before Freeze, many people know cold. On Snowpiercer, only Breachworker know REAL cold. The New Cold, she is harsh and she BITE. Breachworker are only one who can dance with Cold. And if you listen....you can hear the music she play just for us.Boscovic
We've spent half this season inhabiting the narrow corridors and closed-in spaces of the train cars and, despite the opulence of the Night Car and the Firsties window-privilege, the idea of having nothing but that to live in for a lifetime is beyond galling.
It's almost understandable why someone like LJ would develop a deathwish.
When everyone else was bracing in place, preparing for a derailment, and even expecting to die, the expression on her face was almost hopeful anticipation.
While Ruth was trying to bolster spirits and convince everyone, including herself, that Mr. Wilford would save them, LJ knocked a dish off her table to watch it smash on the floor.
When even Osweiller seemed to be regretting (some of) his life choices, LJ Folger couldn't even be bothered to look for her parents or a stable wall to hold onto.
When she said that she wasn't meant for the Drawers, I think she meant she didn't want to live.
In any case, it's unlikely that Cavill was being completely honest with Layton about the Drawers.
We know that they are still experimental, so her claim that that the people on The List are being selected for diversity, a human seed bank for an unknown future, is pretty bunk (at least at this point in time).
Anyone already in the Drawers is cannon fodder for science, not the hope of humanity.
As you watch Snowpiercer online, consider the fact that the first Tailies we see in intimate circumstances also happen to probably be the cleanest Tailies on board at the moment. (LOL. It's where my brain goes whenever they present post-apocalyptic sex scenes.)
Of course, I'm not sure I'd want to be kissing someone who'd only recently been vomiting black bile uncontrollably but the heart wants what the heart wants.
So how long will the euphoria of cheating death last? When will Audrey's minions remount their efforts?
Will Layton and Josie make it back to The Tail? How is Astrid doing?
What will Miles be asked to do for Mr. Wilford? Will he manage to avoid The Drawers?
Assuming (and it's a BIG assumption) that not every dead body ends up in Third's noodle soup, how does Snowpiercer dispose of their dead?
Things are getting complicated. Let's hear your theories about who's telling the truth, who's got the upper hand, and who's got an ace up their sleeve!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.