“Trouble Comes Sideways” finds the murder-mystery over and done with but a rebellion brewing in its wake, as an engineering fault threatens to derail everything.
This recap of Snowpiercer season 1, episode 6, “Trouble Comes Sideways”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Snowpiercer episode 6 claims that trouble comes sideways, but aboard the 1001 cars of the Snowpiercer, it seems to come from all angles. Following LJ’s sham trial last week, there is deep unrest among all classes, and a rebellion is brewing further and further up-train, but there might not be a train at all if an engineering calamity derails the whole thing – and it’s fittingly up to Melanie to ensure that doesn’t happen.
Since the class politics of the Snowpiercer are so prevalent, it’s often easy to forget that this thing is supposed to be a ceaseless locomotive lapping a frozen Earth – it’s only right that some technical issues would spring up now and again. This episode rightly devotes a big chunk of time to how a festering leak can become a disaster in this climate, and also wrings a great sequence of tension out of the whole affair.
But there are competing subplots to busy ourselves with too. For one thing, Layton has been reawakened by Josie, and the first thing on his mind is that Wilford isn’t aboard – he was put in the Drawers for figuring out that Melanie is running the show, but it has to be kept quiet for now, even among the tail. We also see the detestable Osweiller with newfound power over Till after she knocked him out during Layton’s rescue. This show has no shortage of awful characters, but it’s smart to show glimmers of their humanity now and again, as well as continuing to highlight how their personal circumstances and the politics of the train – which are often intertwined – either allow that humanity to be tamped down or encourage it to flourish.
The point of all this is that it’s more complicated than it seems, which is made explicit in Snowpiercer episode 6 when Layton is able to confront Melanie at knife-point but ends up letting her go because she’s so integral to the train’s continued motion. Yes, the locomotive is dying and yes, the idea of Mr. Wilford is all a ruse, but the latter might be what prevents the former. And the Drawers, seemingly a form of punishment for dissenters, might be the only way to keep humanity alive.
Melanie’s heroic fixing of the Snowpiercer is easily the highlight of “Trouble Comes Sideways”, but even though it positions her as the savior of the train, it’d be a mistake to see her that way. Miss Audrey isn’t buying into the jubilation, which she thinks will be over soon, leaving the same old grievances behind. And Snowpiercer season 1, episode 6 ends with Melanie summoning Miles to let him know that Mr. Wilford has a job for him. That can’t bode well.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.