Things are finally back on track this first season of Snowpiercer, after last week’s extremely transition-y episode that didn’t do a ton to move the narrative forward. Episode 7, entitled “The Universe is Indifferent,” begins to amp up to the promised revolution aboard the titular train in a meaningful way, as an executive upheaval begins to develop, loved ones are lost, and Andre Layton (Daveed Diggs) decides the only way to win the impending war is to align himself with the most twisted passenger aboard the Snowpiercer as well.
“The Universe is Indifferent” opens with a performance from Miss Audrey (Lena Hall) in the Nightcar, while Melanie (Jennifer Connelly) is on the hunt for Layton after their physical altercation last week. It’s apparent from her haughty pursuit of the detective that Melanie’s officially done taking crap, as we watch her interrogate Terence (Shaun Toub), the leader of the janitorial crew, as well as Zarah (Sheila Vand), who quickly finds herself acquainted with Melanie’s nasty side, as the latter threatens to take away her pregnancy if Zarah doesn’t tell her where Layton is.
We find out Layton’s whereabouts, though, as he’s rolled into the Nightcar inside of a laundry cart on the DL, and he asks Miss Audrey to help the cause by convincing Third Class to participate in an upcoming revolt against the rest of the train. She’s a bit hesitant, but he reminds her of the divide that will always exist between First Class and the rest of Snowpiercer, and how the issues that the Tailies face every single day aren’t that much different that the issues Third Class face as well in the grand scheme of things.
What’s interesting about all of this to me is that Third was willing to do a labor strike after they were unhappy with the results of LJ Folger’s (Annalise Basso) trial, but when it comes to getting down and dirty for the greater good, they’re not so sure they’re ready to lose their status. Most likely because they know that even if they think they have it rough, 400 passengers in the Tail have it a helluva lot worse than they do.
Another big development in episode 7 is that little Miles (Jaylin Fletcher) is called into action. Because of his expansive and impressive engineering knowledge already, Melanie decides to fast-track Miles as an apprentice in the almighty Engine Room. After the big announcement, Miles is working with Bennett (Iddo Goldberg) in his classroom, and out of nowhere, he begins to violently throw up. Everyone immediately puts on face masks (imagine living in such a world where people actually take face masks seriously??) out of concern, and he’s transported to Dr. Pelton’s (Karin Konoval) medical lab.
As it turns out, it was Josie (Katie McGuinness) who had to get Miles sick in order to get some one-on-one time with him, and she hides in plain sight of Bennett to tell Miles about everything going on and how he can help with kickstarting the upcoming revolution as well.
And speaking of Josie, throughout the entire run of Snowpiercer thus far, she’s been a woman of action, whether it was finding and rescuing Layton from the drawers, or going rogue during her work shifts as a means to get certain things in place for the Tailies’ revolution. And all of Josie’s efforts culminate in episode 7, after Zarah sells her out to Melanie as the one who helped Layton escape, a huge betrayal in more than one way. Melanie gags and bags Josie, taking her up to Hospitality, where she interrogates Layton’s lady love mercilessly.
And when I say mercilessly, I mean in a fashion that is totally and completely ruthless. Melanie ends up freezing and smashing one of Josie’s fingers to bits (she throws up afterwards, which means we’re supposed to feel some sympathy towards Melanie, but this viewer did not), and when that doesn’t work, Melanie gives Josie a choice: Layton or Miles. But while Melanie was away tossing her cookies, Josie froze her entire hand so she could break out of her restraints and a nasty fight ensues between the two of them. During the fracas, freezing air begins to seep into the room, which ends up killing Josie after Melanie nearly escapes. She callously orders Josie’s frozen corpse to be taken to compost. With Josie gone, Layton will definitely have some new fuel for his fire.
One huge highlight of episode 7 is that we get to know Ruth (Alison Wright) a bit more here, which is a good thing because Wright’s performance in the series is definitely one of the most intriguing thus far. We get to see Ruth enjoying her day off, out of her uniform, as she lets her hair down and tries to enjoy her time off the clock. At one point, she crosses paths with Commander Grey (Timothy V. Murphy), who tries to sweet talk her a bit into joining him for lunch later on that day.
During their date, we get more of Ruth’s backstory, as she talks about her relationship with Mr. Wilford before the freeze and just why she’s so devoted to him. But as it turns out, her date is just a means for the Folgers and Grey to confront her about Melanie’s power, as they want to stage a coup of sorts, pushing Melanie out of power. Ruth obviously feels conflicted, but as she tries to tell Melanie about the trouble brewing in First Class, Melanie is frustrated and all wrapped up in Josie’s interrogation, so she shuts Ruth down before she can say anything, which of course is probably going to end up being a bad idea.
“The Universe is Indifferent” wraps up with the scandalous LJ going in for her own Nightcar experience, but Layton is in the room waiting for her. And before the credits hit, he asks LJ: How would you like to know the dirtiest little secret on this whole damn train? Which of course, LJ definitely does.
Episode 7 definitely feels like it’s beginning to build towards some major conflicts, which was great, and I think the overall theme to this week is mirrored in a line uttered by Melanie at one point: “The needs of the train are more important than our own happiness.” We have seen that ideal reinforced time and time again over the course of these seven episodes, and it’s going to be interesting to see just how unhappy things get for the passengers aboard the Snowpiercer before season one wraps up in a few weeks.