War is an agent of change. Always chaotic, usually destructive, sometimes justified, rarely fair.
Snowpiercer Season 1 Episode 8 delivers the conflict we knew was coming -- the revolt from The Tail -- wrapped into a situation that has the potential to be far more deadly -- the power struggle in First Class.
The unique nature of fighting a war that can only move in two directions -- uptrain or downtrain -- makes for particularly brutal clashes and some damned fine ingenuity.
Layton's plan is brilliant for using the Firsties' in-fighting to draw the military forces out of The Tail. I guess the credit for that goes to LJ and her ability to push buttons and manipulate those around her.
Using the mentally-unstable and convicted murderess still seems like a bad idea to me. It's a bit like trying to hit a home run with a hand grenade in place of the baseball.
Look, I know y'all got trust issues. I got 'em, too. People uptrain shuttin' us down here in the dark to fend for ourselves. We learned how to survive in the shadows. Well, today... today, let's leave this hell behind! We will fight with everything we've got because out there, right outside that door, there is a future that does not include us! Today, we take this train and we remind them exactly who it is they locked up back here!Layton
Proof of that is seen when Miles lets her into The Engine only to have her dance within steps of the oblivious Javi. Her ransacking of Cavill's belongings and theft of the photograph is even more short-sighted than usual.
But knowing that her word would never be questioned -- and there are SO many questions that should've been asked -- Layton calculates correctly that providing her with the opportunity to see for herself that Mr. Wilford is not on board will be the spark to light the fuse in First.
Cavill's downfall is crucial to disrupting the order of the train, and Ruth is ill-prepared for the double blow of learning her boss and friend has been lying to her all these years AND the upending of order.
In a nutshell, Ruth is a zealot to her core. Beyond doing her job for its prestige and status, she has bought into the mythology of Mr. Wilford and his Engine Eternal, heart and soul.
It's Wilford who runs our sacred engine. It's Wilford who has his finger on our pulse, who knows exactly what we need, how much food and water, how much heat and space, how much discipline. It's Wilford that saved us from the bitter cold. He's the only reason we're alive.Ruth
So, to have the curtain stripped away in such an ignoble manner and confronted with the humiliating truth of being fooled for so long, her collected cool is smashed, and her rage is solely directed at Cavill.
Cavill: Wilford wasn't who you thought he was, Ruth. He was a fraud.
Ruth: He built the Eternal Engine.
Cavill: No, he didn't. I did. I built this train, Ruth. I put everything I had into it. Everything. And Wilford sold tickets! He didn't believe it was possible to save humankind and he was never even going to try. He was going to waste it. All he wanted was to live as well as he could, for as long as he could, surrounded by accolades and booze and whores in the Night Car. We wouldn't have made it one revolution.
Never mind that Cavill has been the source of all the governance guidance over the years that Ruth has carried out in an unquestioning manner because she believed it came from Mr. Wilford.
Never mind that Cavill knows the train better than anyone.
Seriously, did Ruth think all Heads of Hospitality were trained to hang out the undertrain to repair wiring or venture into breached cattle cars? If she did, she should probably realize that she is incredibly ill-prepared to step into Cavill's shoes.
Although her story about meeting Mr. Wilford makes him out to be just a man, it's clear that his dream of Snowpiercer made him into something else in her eyes.
To Ruth, his Order is canon. His Word is the law. The simple idea of his presence on board the train is a comfort in a world where she feels that she has nothing else.
She was willing to toe the line and keep the order, accepting the right of First Class to be more privileged and entitled than everyone else on the train.
In Wilford's name, she took ARMS off of Tailies. She was prepared to take Winnie's arm. Riddle me this: if the Tailies were truly never meant to board Snowpiercer, how could Wilford's Order have had a punishment ready for them?
And that being said, why were the Jackboots even necessary on a train that already had a police force in the form of the Brakemen?
One would think a military force is meant for defending a population from an outside aggressor. So if the Jackboots were part of Snowpiercer's staffing plans from the beginning, it stands to reason they planned for having Tailies aboard from the beginning.
To everyone that we have lost to hunger and to sickness, to all the failed rebellions. We've got people who are willing to lay down their lives for us because they believe like we know that it is time for this train to work for all of its passengers!Layton
What is there to say about the battles, specifically the Battle of the Night Car? They were bloody and violent and incredibly hard to watch.
There is no elegance in fighting hand-to-hand and face-to-face with sledgehammers and DIY blades and pickaxes.
There is no satisfaction in seeing Patterson struck down, leaving Winnie with no family alive.
And the kicker is that, despite all the belief and pretty speeches and mathematical numbers, there are no clear winners when the credits roll here.
The Jackboots were forced into retreat, but they immediately forced the rebels to run with their smoke bombs.
Layton has never wavered from his goal of equality among the classes, but the trauma of losing Josie and then watching Patterson and other Tailies and Thirdies cut down may have him questioning himself.
The thing about Layton is he's an idealist. The good cop. Doesn't have the stomach for sustained cruelty. He took a big risk today and he lost. Keep grinding, he'll crumble.Pike
And to see Pike lapping up his desserts in the Dining Car, watched by the blood-drenched Commander and the Firsties, in that final scene is to sense a possible change in the wind.
(Don't get me started on the speculative timeline of how they got him up and revived. It makes my brain hurt. #PlotHoles)
Pike: You know what I think, Layton? I don't think you got the guts to stand with us.
Layton: Pike, you can question my plan if you want. You question my fight and we got a serious problem.
But does Pike really know Layton that well? He's missed a lot while he's been in the Drawers. And despite what he says to the Firsties, he and Layton knew each other as rivals and adversaries, which doesn't always lend itself to clear insights.
Beyond his dislike of Layton, the question really is whether Pike is willing to sell out The Tail for chocolate cake?
I'd like to think Pike is still loyal to The Tail (and smart enough to realize the Firsties will never accept him uptrain), but that's a bit idealistic for the landscape of characters we're getting to know.
If you couldn't watch without looking away (no judgment, I had to myself at times), you can always watch Snowpiercer online and place your bets on how and who survival will be bestowed on.
I worry about Winnie and Miles. I'm comfortable with Layton and Cavill surviving. Everyone else? It's War and, on this train, anyone could be killed by design or disaster.
Layton: Hey, nice day for a walk, Mr. Riggs?
Mr. Riggs: Yes, it is, son. Let's make it a long one.
How do you think this war will end?
Is there any way to restore Ruth's beloved Order?
Let's hear your thoughts in the comments!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.