Snowpiercer (TV series)
|Developed by||Josh Friedman and Graeme Manson|
|Music by||Bear McCreary|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||7 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||44–51 minutes|
|Original release||May 17, 2020 –|
Snowpiercer is an American post-apocalyptic dystopian thriller television drama series that premiered on TNT on May 17, 2020. It is based on both the 2013 South Korean-Czech film of the same name, directed by Bong Joon-ho, and the 1982 French graphic novel Le Transperceneige, from which the film was adapted, by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand, and Jean-Marc Rochette.
The series, a reboot of the film's continuity, follows the passengers of the Snowpiercer, a gigantic, perpetually moving train that circles the globe carrying the remnants of humanity seven years after the world becomes a frozen wasteland. The series questions class warfare, social injustice, and the politics of survival. Daveed Diggs and Jennifer Connelly star alongside Mickey Sumner, Annalise Basso, Sasha Frolova, Alison Wright, Benjamin Haigh, Roberto Urbina, Katie McGuinness, Susan Park, Lena Hall, Sheila Vand, Sam Otto, Iddo Goldberg, and Jaylin Fletcher. Rowan Blanchard, Steven Ogg, and Sean Bean will also join the main cast in the second season.
While in development at TNT for over three years, the series faced numerous production issues and delays arising from creative differences between the series' producers and the network. The series remained in development hell until May 2019, when it was announced that the series would instead air on TNT's sister network TBS for a release in the second quarter of 2020 and that it had already been renewed for a second season. However, in September 2019, the decision to change networks was reversed.
Snowpiercer is set in 2021, seven years after the world becomes a frozen wasteland, and follows the remnants of humanity, who inhabit a perpetually moving train consisting of 1001 carriages that circles the globe once a year. Built by billionaire Wilford, the train is rigidly separated by class, with passengers caught up in a revolutionary struggle against the strictly imposed social hierarchy and unbalanced allocation of limited resources. The show questions class warfare, social injustice, and the politics of survival.
Cast and characters
- Jennifer Connelly as Melanie Cavill: Melanie is the powerful head of Hospitality (the department responsible for smooth relations) and the Voice of the Train (responsible for making the PA system's daily announcements) aboard Snowpiercer. Though many of her peers are dismissive of the lower-class passengers, Melanie is curiously fascinated by them as she came from humble beginnings, explaining much of her sympathies. To the majority of the train, Melanie is believed to be Mr. Wilford's representative in relaying orders to the passengers and crew. It is later revealed Melanie has assumed his identity and position as Great Engineer of Snowpiercer, and was the original designer of the train. Melanie has been facing the crushing burden of directing Snowpiercer on its global journey, managing mounting resource and class issues, having her authority and decisions challenged and maintaining Wilford's iron order throughout the train to preserve the last of humanity. With few aware of her true identity, she is also desperate to maintain the myth of Wilford and keep her identity secret.
- Daveed Diggs as Andre Layton: Andre, a former detective, is a quiet thinker who spends his days tending to his cage of rats in the Tail, and a dangerous rebel who helps coordinate and lead a revolution against the oppressive First Class to improve the harsh living conditions in the tail end of the train. As he is the world's only surviving homicide detective, he is reluctantly deputized by Melanie to help solve a series of murders; involving him and those he cares about in a struggle that could upend life on the train. Layton uses his new position as train detective to investigate the killings, while gathering intelligence and support for the revolution.
- Mickey Sumner as Bess Francis Till: A thoughtful, empathetic, and savvy Brakeman who is part of the train's security force, she is a former Detroit PD first-year rookie officer who witnessed the department's self-destruction during the Freeze. She finds herself at the center of a series of murders that rocks the train's uneasy status quo. She is in a serious romantic relationship with Jinju, and later upgrades to Second Class to be with her after they get married.
- Alison Wright as Ruth Wardell: Melanie's deputy in Hospitality who helps look after First Class passengers, and oversees removal requests from the Tail, or delivering demands to them, activities she seems to feel are beneath her. Before the Freeze, she ran a bed and breakfast, and was personally recruited for Snowpiercer by Mr. Wilford when he was a guest.
- Iddo Goldberg as Bennett Knox: An engineer in Snowpiercer's engine room, and one of the few inside the knowledge of Melanie's identity as Mr. Wilford, he is one of the original engineers who helped design the train, making him one of the few passengers who knows the deepest secrets of the train. He is later revealed to be Melanie's love interest.
- Susan Park as Jinju Seong: The agricultural officer aboard Snowpiercer who lives in Second Class, she is also the finest chef at the train's finest restaurant, and a member of the train's elite. She is in a serious romantic relationship with Bess and is one of the few inside the knowledge of Melanie's identity as Mr. Wilford.
- Katie McGuinness as Josie Wellstead (season 1): A strong, no-nonsense Tailie, she cares for Miles and other children in the tail, and uses training from her time as a veterinarian before the Freeze to treat the sick or injured. She is Andre's love interest after Zarah's departure from the tail.
- Sam Otto as John "Oz" Osweiller: A young Brakeman and Bess' partner as a police-type figure of the train, he is more harsh and direct than Bess in dealing with passengers, but his behaviour could be from emotional trauma (he referenced to be in pain from "everything"), which he takes the street-drug Kronole to cope with.
- Sheila Vand as Zarah Ferami: Andre's ex-wife who, unable to adjust to the rigors of surviving in poverty on the train, left the Tail to become a bartender in the Nightcar, to the fury of other Tailies and Andre's heartbreak. With Andre's recruitment as train detective, she is now forced to confront her past.
- Mike O'Malley as Roche: The lead Brakeman in Snowpiercer's security force, he is a former police officer. Before boarding the Snowpiercer, he had the privilege of shaking hands with the real Wilford. He and his wife survived the Freeze due to his employment under Wilford Industries, however two of his three children did not survive.
- Annalise Basso as Lilah "LJ" Folger Jr.: The isolated teenage daughter of Lilah and Robert, she lives uptrain with her parents in First Class, surrounded by luxury. Appearing to be quiet and diligent, she is later revealed as a murderous psychopath and sadist, and the mastermind behind the serial murders on Snowpiercer committed by her bodyguard and boyfriend Erik Sotto.
- Jaylin Fletcher as Miles: A Tailie who is one of the few children in the tail, whose parents and sister were left behind to die in the Freeze when their refugee group invaded the train, leaving him to be raised primarily by Andre and Josie - the rest of the tail refer to him as "Miles and Miles" (implying no one is aware of his surname). Whip smart and talented, his intelligence wins him a coveted apprenticeship that allows him to move up the train to Second Class. He is later fast-track appointed an Engine Apprentice by Melanie. Gabriel Jacob-Cross plays Young Miles.
- Lena Hall as Miss Audrey: The lead madam of the Nightcar, a Third Class den of (mostly) platonic prostitution and spiritual healing. She represents Third Class before the rest of the train and is very vocal about the cruelty of the social differences aboard Snowpiercer, and pursues opportunities to demand more social conscience in the train, including supporting Layton's revolution.
- Roberto Urbina as Javier "Javi" de La Torre: An engineer in Snowpiercer's engine room, and one of the few inside the knowledge of Melanie's identity as Mr. Wilford, he often helps with the driving of the train. He uses advanced algorithms to predict the environment surrounding Snowpiercer at all times.
- Steven Ogg as Pike: A hardened and battle-scarred leader in the Tail and a warrior of his people. He was a career convict, serving time in Cook County Jail for armed robbery at the time of the Freeze, but escaped. Ogg is set to become a series regular in season 2.
- Timothy V. Murphy as Nolan Grey: The commander of Snowpiercer's security force, he is a brilliant tactician, hardened leader, and former Special Forces, British SAS who commanded men before the Freeze. He relishes keeping things in order and getting his hands dirty in combat.
- Happy Anderson as Henry Klimpt: A research scientist-turned-doctor living in Second Class. He oversees those unfortunate enough to be sentenced to the coffin-like Drawers.
- Jonathan Lloyd Walker as Big John: A Tailie who works in Sanitation along with others from the tail; work that is harsh slave-like labor.
- Aleks Paunovic as Bojan "Boki" Boscovic: A large and fearsome-looking Breachworker, one of the most dangerous jobs on the train, with frostbite scars and stumped ears who is used to the cold and jokes about the hazards of the job.
- Shaun Toub as Terence: The head janitor aboard Snowpiercer who lives in Third Class, he is a charming, conniving, and ultimately dangerous janitor-turned-gangster who rules the Black Market with an enigmatic power, inspiring fierce loyalty in his army of minions.
- Kerry O'Malley as Lilah Folger, Sr.: A former corporate lawyer from old money who is fiercely protective of her own, particularly her daughter LJ and the rest of first class with whom she shares a vested interest in maintaining their security and privilege.
- Aaron Glenane as the Last Australian: A scrappy Tailie charmer from Perth with an intense desire to survive and have children because, as far as he knows, he is the last Australian.
- Fiona Vroom as Mary-Elizabeth Gillies: A primary teacher aboard Snowpiercer who lives in Second Class, she is an encouraging and well-rounded school teacher who is responsible for educating Snowpiercer's next generation.
- Sean Bean as Mr. Wilford: A reclusive billionaire and genius inventor who used his company, Wilford Industries, to build Snowpiercer and its global railway to save a small population of humanity from the Freeze. He is believed to be the mysterious and near-mythical Great Engineer of the train and is worshipped by many as the visionary who protected the last remnants of humanity. It is later revealed Melanie has assumed his identity and position in charge of Snowpiercer. His current fate is unknown, but he is not believed to be on board or deceased. His (uncredited) voice is heard in a doctored recording in "Access Is Power" and he is set to appear in season 2.
- Mark Margolis as Old Ivan
- Renée Victor as Mama Grandé
- Madeleine Arthur as Nicolette "Nikki" Genêt
- Miranda Edwards as Lights
- Stephen Lobo as Martin Colvin
- Matt Murray as Erik Sotto
- Kurt Ostlund as Strong Boy
- Dylan Schmid as Patterson
- Manoj Sood as Rajiv Sharma
- Sarah Strange as Suzanne
- Kwasi Thomas as Z-Wreck
- Yee Jee Tso as York Lam
- Ian Collins as Tristan
- Ellie Harvey as the Notary
- Emma Oliver as Winnie
- Michel Issa Rubio as Santiago
- Milli Wilkinson as Mikala Mwanza
- Carolyn Yu as Mia Kaicheck
- Karin Konoval as Dr. Pelton
- Geraldine Chiu as Gabby
- Tom Kirk as Clay
- Benjamin Charles Watson as Fuller, a Brakeman
- Jane McGregor as Astrid
|No.||Title||Directed by||Teleplay by ||Original air date ||U.S. viewers|
|1||"First, the Weather Changed"||James Hawes||Graeme Manson|
Television story by : Josh Friedman and Graeme Manson
|May 17, 2020||1.94|
|Seven years after the world ended, the last remaining humans are on-board the train Snowpiercer, constructed by a mysterious Mr. Wilford. Passengers in the "tail end" plan a revolt due to constantly deteriorating conditions while Andre Layton is called by Melanie Cavill, the Voice of the Train, to help solve a murder due to Layton's former profession as a homicide detective. Layton, while trying to negotiate better conditions for his class, is reunited with his ex-wife who is one of the suspects. After Old Ivan hangs himself, the "Tailies" revolt, but are talked down by Layton who agrees to help solve the murder while secretly plotting to infiltrate the front of the train to better plan the next rebellion. At the end of the day, Melanie takes over driving the train and is revealed to be acting as Mr. Wilford.|
|2||"Prepare to Brace"||Sam Miller||Donald Joh||May 24, 2020||1.16|
|The leaders of the rebellion are put into stasis while a mother's arm is frozen off in punishment for the Tailies' actions; Nikki is removed from stasis but inexplicably has trouble waking up. With the help of Till, Layton begins investigating the murder, theorizing that the train's butchers have been cannibalizing the dead and serving them as food to the passengers. At the same time, the train passes through a rough set of mountainous tracks, resulting in a massive avalanche hitting the train. Although Snowpiercer survives, the windows in the car containing the last cows on Earth and the butchers are shattered, freezing the occupants solid. The damage and the loss of the cows creates serious supply chain issues, including a need to reduce speed by 12% percent, resulting in rolling blackouts and a rationing of supplies. Though Till suggests pinning the murder on the dead butchers, Layton is convinced that the murder and the cannibalism are two separate crimes and resolves to continue investigating; upset over how Nikki was treated, Till vows to join him. Layton continues planning a rebellion and realizes that the victim was an informant for Mr. Wilford; the train's staff is concerned about what he gave up under torture rather than the crime itself.|
|3||"Access Is Power"||Sam Miller||Lizzie Mickery||May 31, 2020||1.22|
|As unrest grows, Melanie organizes a fight night to let off some steam with a promise to upgrade the winner to second class; the fight ultimately turns into a riot and has to be broken up. Layton learns that the victim, Sean, was investigating the black market drug Kronole which has been present in the tail for some time; Layton discovers that the drug is a street variant of the drug used to keep people in stasis supplied by the train's doctor who is a part of the black market. With the help of Zarah, Layton arranges a meeting with Terrence, the head of the black market, who provides him with a description of a first class passenger who was with Sean right before the murder. Layton later visits and kisses Josie, passing her an implant that grants access to other parts of the train. The still-recovering and catatonic Nikki is visited by a man matching the description of the killer who realizes that she doesn't remember him but states that she knows who he is.|
|4||"Without Their Maker"||Frederick E.O. Toye||Hiram Martinez||June 7, 2020||1.19|
|Nikki is murdered by the killer who is stalking the train; with the border between classes closed due to the riot, he is trapped in third class. Layton begins enlisting the third class into his revolution while the killer is identified as Erik, the bodyguard for the Folger family. Though Layton fears that first class will protect Erik from justice, Melanie, who is revealed to also come from humble beginnings, urges him to pursue justice for the victims while she helps to clear the way for him. As Layton investigates Erik's connection to the Folger family, he realizes that LJ Folger is the true mastermind and Erik has simply been following her orders, and feigns an agreement with her to tell him what happened; after a chase, Erik is killed by the brakemen while LJ is arrested. At the same time, Josie uses the implant Layton gave her to slip forward and make contact with Astrid, a Tailie who moved forward years ago to ask for help with their revolution. Layton deduces Mr. Wilford's absence and as a result, Melanie drugs him and has him secretly placed into stasis with orders that he is not to be harmed.|
|5||"Justice Never Boarded"||Frederick E.O. Toye||Chinaka Hodge||June 14, 2020||1.18|
|6||"Trouble Comes Sideways"||Helen Shaver||Aubrey Nealon & Tina de la Torre||June 21, 2020||0.96|
|A recovering Layton is taken to Dr. Pelton by Josie; Dr. Pelton reveals that there is a blacklist for the Drawers, people she believes to be enemies of the state targeted for imprisonment, a list which contains Layton, Josie and the doctor. A short-circuit damages Snowpiercer's hydraulics and places the train in danger of derailing on a canyon bridge; Melanie manages to fix the problem just in time, saving the train from destruction. During these events, Layton confronts Melanie with the intention of killing her, but she reveals that the Drawers are not a prison but a lifeboat for four hundred specially selected people in case order breaks down and stasis is the only chance of the human race surviving; Layton is forced to let Melanie go so she can save the train and he ends up having sex with Josie to whom he reveals the truth about Melanie. Oz blackmails Till into giving him free reign to abuse the passengers, but their near-death experience causes her to refuse to follow his demands further; after the death of Suzanne, the Tail sets up a projector to see the outside world. Melanie takes an interest in Miles's developing skill as an engineer and states that Mr. Wilford needs a favor from him.|
|7||"The Universe Is Indifferent"||Helen Shaver||Donald Joh||June 28, 2020||1.20|
|Melanie promotes Miles to engineer to replace the man killed stopping the derailment; when Josie makes contact with him, Miles promises to do his part in the upcoming rebellion. The Folgers and Commander Grey enlist Ruth in their own revolution; though Ruth tries to warn Melanie, Melanie brushes her off, causing Ruth to change her mind. Melanie embarks on a brutal campaign to find Layton, threatening Zarah into revealing that Josie helped Layton escape. Melanie brutally tortures Josie for information before she escapes her bonds with the help of a sympathetic Till; during the fight that follows, Josie freezes to death when outside air fills the room while Melanie escapes and is shown to be struggling with her ruthless actions. Layton reveals the truth about Melanie to the leaders of Third that Audrey trusts, though Terrence refuses to help either Layton or Melanie. After learning of Josie's death from Till, Layton approaches LJ for help, offering to tell her the dirtiest secret on the train.|
|8||"These Are His Revolutions"||TBA||Tina de la Torre|
Television story by : Hiram Martinez & Tina de la Torre
|July 5, 2020||TBD|
|9||"The Train Demanded Blood"||TBA||Aubrey Nealon||July 12, 2020||TBD|
|10||"994 Cars Long"||TBA||Graeme Manson||July 12, 2020||TBD|
James Hawes will direct two further episodes of the first season's ten episodes.
In November 2015, Marty Adelstein's Tomorrow Studios optioned the rights to develop a television series based on the 2013 film Snowpiercer, which was adapted from the 1982 French graphic novel Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand, and Jean-Marc Rochette. The film's director Bong Joon-ho was attached as an executive producer alongside Adelstein and Josh Friedman, with the latter also set to write. A year later in November 2016, the project was ordered to pilot along with backup scripts by TNT with Friedman to serve as showrunner. In May 2017, it was announced that Scott Derrickson would direct the pilot written by Friedman. The pilot was picked up to series in January 2018. Later that month, Friedman was removed from the project by TNT due to "creative differences" with the network. Graeme Manson was appointed to replace Friedman as showrunner the following month. That June, Derrickson refused to return for reshoots on the pilot due to creative disputes with Manson, explaining via Twitter:
"The 72-page Snowpiercer TV pilot script by [Josh Friedman] is the best I’ve ever read. The feature-length pilot I made from that script may be my best work. The new showrunner has a radically different vision for the show. I am forgoing my option to direct the extreme reshoots."
Less than two weeks later, James Hawes joined the series in July as a co-executive producer and a director to oversee the reshoots for the pilot. According to Manson, nearly nothing of the original pilot's footage was used outside of one special-effect scene, and this reshooting was the primary cause for the year-long delay in the show's premiere. Later that month, Netflix picked up the international distribution rights to stream the series outside of the United States and China. In May 2019, it was announced that the series would air on TBS instead of TNT for a spring 2020 release, and that a second season had already been ordered by the network. That month, it was also announced that Huanxi Media Group had signed on to broadcast the first two seasons exclusively in China. Manson will return as showrunner for the second season. In September 2019, the decision to change networks was reversed, with the series once again set to air on TNT.
The series is designed to be a reboot of the original 2013 film's continuity. The story takes place seven years after a climate catastrophe rendered the outside world uninhabitable, forcing the remnants of humanity to live confined inside of a massive train that constantly circles the globe. The series investigates class struggle, as the passengers of the train are segregated by wealth. The series star Daveed Diggs said that the show would "broaden exponentially" the world established by the film and the 1982 graphic novel. "That's one of the advantages of TV, you have time" Diggs said, "so the politics that are hinted at in the film are explored in much more depth and the mechanism of the train [is explored further] — just the little things that create a world, world specificity". At the 2017 Television Critics Association press tour, TNT and TBS president Kevin Reilly revealed that the Snowpiercer series would be akin to a "space ship show" due to its contained setting and that it would feature a mystery during the first season.
In May 2017, Daveed Diggs was cast as Layton Well. The following month, Jennifer Connelly and Mickey Sumner landed the other lead roles of Melanie Cavill and Bess Till, respectively. Casting continued throughout the month of June with Annalise Basso as LJ Folger, Sasha Frolova as Pixi Aariak, Alison Wright as Lilah Anderson, Benjamin Haigh as Fergus McConnell, Roberto Urbina as Avi, and Katie McGuinness as Josie McConnell. That August, it was announced that Susan Park had joined the main cast as Jinju. In September, Lena Hall was cast as Sayori. The series order in January 2018 also revealed that Sheila Vand and Sam Otto had been cast in then-undisclosed roles as series regulars. Vand was reported to be playing Zarah, while Otto will play John "Oz" Osweiler. In August, Iddo Goldberg and Jaylin Fletcher were added as series regulars in the roles of Bennett and Miles, respectively.
Casting for a number of recurring roles were also announced during the month of August, including Steven Ogg as Pike, Timothy V. Murphy as Commander Grey, Happy Anderson as Klimpt, Jonathan Lloyd Walker as Big John, and Aleks Paunovic as Bojan Boscovic. The following month in September, Shaun Toub and Kerry O'Malley were added to the recurring cast as Terence and Lilah Folger, respectively. In October, Aaron Glenane was cast as The Last Australian alongside Fiona Vroom as Miss Gillies, both in recurring capacities. In March 2019, Rowan Blanchard was cast as Alexandra for a guest role with the option of becoming a series regular should the series be renewed for a second season. Blanchard's promotion to the main cast for the second season was confirmed with the series' renewal that May. In June, Ogg was also promoted to series regular status for the second season. In October, Chelsea Harris was announced in the recurring role of Sykes. Later that month, it was also announced that Sean Bean would be a series regular for the second season. In November, Tom Lipinski was added to the second season's recurring cast as Kevin. In December, Sakina Jaffrey and Damian Young joined the second season's recurring cast as Mrs. and Mr. Headwood, respectively.
In January 2017, it was reported that filming for the series was scheduled to begin in mid-March of that year. By September 25, pilot director Scott Derrickson indicated that production for the series had officially commenced. Reshoots for the pilot, overseen by new director James Hawes, began on August 20, 2018 in Vancouver, British Columbia and concluded on January 24, 2019. Principal photography for the second season began on October 21, 2019 in Langley, British Columbia and was originally expected to end on March 20, 2020. In March 2020, production was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The series will debut on TNT in the United States in the spring of 2020, while Netflix will air the series globally outside of the United States and China. Huanxi Media Group is set to broadcast the first two seasons exclusively in China.
The series had originally been planned to premiere on May 31, 2020, but was moved up to May 17, 2020 in early April. Brett Weitz, general manager for TNT, said that the earlier premiere was related to the COVID-19 pandemic as to bring the series to viewers earlier.
Cast members Connelly, Diggs, Wright, Sumner, Hall, and Ogg attended the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con International along with executive producers Manson, Adelstein, and Clements to promote the series and debut its first official trailer. As part of the promotion for the upcoming series, insect protein bars mimicking those from the film were made available at the event.
Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes collected 69 critic reviews, identified 61% of them as positive, and reported an average rating of 6.29/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "Snowpiercer takes a different route with its source material, crafting an ambitious sci-fi mystery with style to spare, but with little of the subversive bite of Bong Joon-ho's theatrical adaptation." Metacritic assigned the series a weighted average score of 55 out of 100, based on 23 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
|1||"First, the Weather Changed"||May 17, 2020||0.5||1.94||0.3||1.41||0.8||3.35|
|2||"Prepare to Brace"||May 24, 2020||0.3||1.16||0.2||0.87||0.5||2.03|
|3||"Access Is Power"||May 31, 2020||0.3||1.22||0.4||1.42||0.7||2.65|
|4||"Without Their Maker"||June 7, 2020||0.3||1.19||0.3||1.33||0.6||2.52|
|5||"Justice Never Boarded"||June 14, 2020||0.3||1.18||0.3||1.17||0.6||2.36|
|6||"Trouble Comes Sideways"||June 21, 2020||0.3||0.96||TBD||TBD||TBD||TBD|
|7||"The Universe Is Indifferent"||June 28, 2020||0.3||1.20||TBD||TBD||TBD||TBD|
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