Insert a relevant snow pun here…. While the future of Snowpiercer is very much up in the air, the three series that have aired are arguably better than the 2013 film of the same name. Sorry Bong Joon Ho and Chris Evans…. Anyway, what better way to celebrate Snowpiercer’s brief run on television than to rank the best episodes? So, without any further ado here is some history about the show.
Snowpiercer first debuted on TNT in 2020 and has also aired more recently on Netflix where all three series currently reside. As mentioned above, Snowpiercer is based on the 2013 film of the same name but uses an entirely different cast but the same premise. The show is about a specially designed 1,001 car long train which keeps the remnants of humanity alive after an apocalyptic event causes the world to plunge into sub zero temperatures. Naturally the show explores themes of class as the poorest at the back end of the train just want an opportunity to improve their lives. Anyway, let’s get into the ten best episodes of Snowpiercer now.
10. Born to Bleed (S3, E6)
Well, it’s definitely nothing on Born to Rule… And yes that’s a Horrible Histories reference in a best episodes of Snowpiercer list. Anyway, what makes Born to Bleed so good? Well, it’s a thrilling episode that delves into the political intrigue and power struggles among the train’s factions. There’s also plenty of emotional development as the rivalry between Pike and Layton finally hits a peak, alongside Till’s investigation into them. There’s plenty of great stuff here to get the audience reinvested into the show.
9. The Tortoise and the Hare (S3, E1)
Well, I guess slow and steady may not win this race… With conditions under Wilford deteriorating, Pike begins organising the resistance in secret to rise up once more. There’s also the small matter of Josie and Layton, with Layton getting to be the character who has the obligatory visions to drive the show forward. Overall, the third season premiere introduces a new adversary and explores the precarious balance on the train so does a very good job of reintroducing the world of Snowpiercer.
8. Into the White (S2, E10)
A big reason for Snowpiercer’s success is how it manages to humanise even the most despicable characters. As you’ll see later on, Melanie Cavill is the perfect example of this. Because despite Layton and his team making a breakaway train to go back for her she ends up in the cold in a very emotional moment. Not only is the second season finale filled with intense action and revelations that set the stage for future conflicts. And there’s a great moment of hope for the members of Snowpiercer for Series 3.
7. Our Answer for Everything (S2, E7)
Like many dictators before him, Wilford’s plan to curb dissent involves violent suppression which will definitely not lead to a Tail reprisal later on. Also, there’s a really nice humanising moment for Ruth when she steps in to try and save Layton from having his arm frozen off. Now that takes a very cold blooded person to think of that. On top of Wilford’s plan becoming clearer, the passengers are forced to make difficult choices that could determine their survival. Overall, another very solid episode.
6. Keep Hope Alive (S2, E5)
Man, Melanie really might be the MVP of Series 2. Despite being despicable, her quest for survival is the constant throughline of Series 2 so massive credit to Jennifer Connolly there. Anyway, this episode sees everything start going full Game of Thrones with Layton assassinating Terrance, multiple new alliances and friendships being formed and Wilford lining up a plan with the Jackboots. So overall, there’s a lot of moving interconnecting parts which the episode manages really well.
5. The Time of Two Engines (S2, E1)
Melanie I can reveal that you are the mother…. Yes that segue would have worked better for the Series One finale but that’s not the point. What makes this season premiere so good? Well, we finally get to see out of the train with Melanie, exploring the post-apocalyptic landscape and facing new challenges. And yes, that involves trying to reconcile with the daughter she thought she’d lost forever while also dealing with Wilford’s bomb that threatens to destroy Snowpiercer and everyone on board. Now that’s how you start a new series to get the audience invested and you can also make Sean Bean survival jokes as well….
4. The Train Demanded Blood (S1, E9)
Well it turns out there’s only Cavill that people love and it’s not Melanie. Tenuous segue aside, until some last minute plot armour it seems like Melanie is about to face justice for impersonating Wilford and her many many brutal repressions. Also, there’s the small problem of Layton facing the Batman Forever problem: save one or save many because that’s not over done in the media. All that aside, this is a great climactic episode that brings the brewing revolution to a head, with major consequences for the characters.
3. Access Is Power (S1, E3)
As Layton finds out, it’s clearly very difficult maintaining control over a volatile Tail and aiding in a murder investigation. Sidenote, this is what Snowpiercer does really well: keeping multiple plot threads moving while connecting them into a larger overarching narrative. Case in point, the murder investigation revealing a Hannibal Lecter Industry on the train and a drugs smuggling operation. All of these difficult decisions are on top of negotiating with the Folgers and keeping the tail section united, so fair to say Layton’s got his work cut out for him.
2. Prepare to Brace (S1, E2)
Well, Snowpiercer got off to a pretty good start didn’t it? While there’s one better episode yet, Prepare to Brace drove it very close. Mostly because it’s a very tense episode that focuses on the brewing rebellion within the tail section and the repercussions of their actions. Also, it shows precisely why the Tail is constantly trying to revolt when they’re subjected to such barbaric punishments, which really show how cold blooded the Upper Classes are. Snow sorry for that pun… There’s also some great developments in Layton and Till’s relationship and a great moment of jeopardy when an avalanche hits Snowpiercer.
1. First, the Weather Changed (S1, E1)
And the best episode of Snowpiercer is… First, the Weather Changed. Now why is the pilot episode so good? Well it sets the stage for the series, introducing the social hierarchy and the initial conflict on the train. That’s not even taking into account the emotional groundwork being laid between certain characters like Layton and Till and the show’s long arc of the Tailies’ revolution. All of that is sandwiched between a really nice piece of dramatic irony surrounding Jennifer Connolly’s Melanie Cavill and her connection to Sopwiercer’s wealthy benefactor: Mr Wilford. Overall, a fantastic episode and not just as a pilot.