Intellectually, I see the purpose of Snowpiercer Season 3 Episode 8 in simultaneously redeeming Asha and making Layton realize that his choices have consequences.
However, as a fan of the show and Archie Panjabi, I feel let down.
Even putting Melanie’s potential return on hold doesn’t make up for spending most of the season investing in Last Survivor’s survival to have her backstory and demise cut to an hour.
Deep down, it feels like a waste – a waste of character potential, as well as known talent.
Asha’s idea is so inspiring. Its existence sparks hope that there are others, that life is possible without the Eternal Engine, that humanity can return from The Freeze.
Asha’s reality is a stark contrast to those who survived on Snowpiercer.
Ruth: Layton told me about your time in the reactor, and I can’t even imagine, but that’s all behind you now, Asha.
Asha: You think you’re safe here, don’t you, Ruth? But you are not. André, he didn’t know the whole story. You know, after… after the marauders died, we turned around. I was desperate to protect my nephew, so I poisoned everyone else. And then cancer took my nephew, and I was left on my own. Once you’ve chosen survival at all costs, there’s no turning back.
Ruth: Except there are. I saw it. We all find our place here, working together as one train.
We have always suspected that she harbors deep trauma from having lived at the nuclear power plant. We knew a child was involved in how she accused Layton of having impaired judgment on Snowpiercer Season 3 Episode 3.
If you do this for a child, you will do things you will regret.
The citizens of Snowpiercer know what they have endured and what they had to do to survive. But, even in the darkest times, they held each other.
I still don’t know what drove Asha to survive after her nephew died.
Was it penance for poisoning others or for not being able to save him from cancer?
I took it for granted that the family would always be there. And then the reactor felt like karma. My life would end alone at the bottom of a black hole.
She knew about Snowpiercer. Did she have any hope that she would one day fall on her?
Did she expect to survive until the world warmed up again and hope she wasn’t the only person in the world to get out of a bunker?
In addition to depriving us of a character who would have made a significant contribution to the community as a scientist and survivor of trauma, I wonder about the message of his sacrifice.
Can we read there that his sole purpose of surviving is to spare Layton from martyrdom?
Or has his penance been served? She can finally let herself die because her death serves a higher purpose and atones for her sin of murder?
Layton: I made it all up.
Asha: Don’t say that. I’m on this branch with you, I finally feel like I’m part of the train.
Archie Panjabi’s career has showcased the range and depth of the actress’ talent. In the character of Asha, strength, determination and intelligence fought through physical trauma and mental anguish.
Panjabi was a master at showing rather than telling — clinging to her jumpsuit helmet as a token of comfort, seeking an escape into the Night Car rave — and viewers could follow the micro-expressions of fear, confusion and distrust that gradually turned into a semblance of trust.
Asha is one of the most versatile characters ever introduced, and it’s overwhelming that her story ends here.
I wonder if his death before Melanie’s (presumed) return is intentional.
As Zarah realizes, Wilford sees Melanie as a wildcard, something to trip up Layton’s New Eden plan.
I happen to think New Eden is a terrible idea, but if that’s where we’re headed, our chances of survival are better with Melanie.
How would Melanie have reacted to Asha’s presence? Both are women of science, survivors who have done terrible things to protect those they love. It would have been an interesting encounter, but now we’ll never know.
The theme of the episode is course correction and how it is often painful, such as fixing a dislocated joint or a broken bone.
Asha’s voiceover talks about it.
Here among the plants, I am again six, running through the forest of my grandparents’ farm in the Western Ghats. Pepper, cardamom and ginger, boiled together by humidity like a cup of chai. When someone got angry, my grandmother would say: ‘When everything goes wrong, maybe it’s getting better’. For a very long time, I couldn’t find the truth in his words. How, after so many losses, she was able to regain hope. But now I think I see it. Here with them, uniting for something more than mere survival. On Snowpiercer, one thousand twenty-nine cars long.
Audrey taking Till through her worst self-loathings and insecurities points this out.
Sykes taking Javi to confront Jupiter echoes this.
Javi: I’m supposed to help us get off the train. How am I supposed to do this if I shit my pants on a barking dog?
Sykes: Well, there’s only two or three dogs left. So change your pants.
Even Roche and Carly’s speech about Anne metaphorically rips the bandage to let air in to heal the wound.
Speaking of scamming things, was it really necessary for LJ to buy her place in Dr. Headwood’s trust with a piece of skin? Drs. Headwood set up a whole synthetic skin thing? What will Oz say when he finds out?
The whole thing gave me flashbacks to the days when Alice wore the face on The CW’s Batwoman.
To be fair, LJ’s determination to join Wilford’s crew once again remains true to the “set things up” part. She was never a good fence-sitter, our LJ. She clearly chooses her side and sets up her camp there.
LJ: Did you hear the announcement? We’re going to get Melanie.
Oz: If that’s true, that’s great news.
LJ: Oz is my nemesis. Law? What do you think she’ll do when she finds us leading the night car?
Of course, Melanie might be surprised to learn that LJ considers her his nemesis. It was probably my only moment of laughter this week.
Full disclosure: Oz’s pickle dance and Roche and Carly’s dance montage to Roxy Music’s “More Than This” came close, but it was a fonder laugh against WTAH’s disbelief at the claim by LJ.
So what is Wilford’s game? How does bringing Melanie back on the train help her cause?
Does he want to take up the torch? Or is he just looking to wreak havoc to bring down Layton?
It’s more like that. He’s a man of action all of a sudden. Either you got your mojo back, or you’re overcompensating for not having any more.
As you watch Snowpiercer online, think about next week or even the week after when the finale airs.
If Melanie returns, she will have no context from the days of the Pirate Train or the campaign for New Eden. She will return on a modified train. There was a baby born, flu deaths, a Resistance led by Ruth.
She will have to rebuild her relationship with Alex and with Ben.
What if Melanie is not alive in this track-grooming vehicle, from dollars to donuts, showrunners will have a whole new revolution to contend with among viewers.
They will burn everything.
What do you think of Asha’s latest mission? The resurrection of Melanie? Layton’s feet of clay?
Will all the dreams of New Eden come crashing down? Can Layton’s conspiracy of hope survive the light of the truth?
Check your thoughts and theories in our comments below!
Diana Keng is an editor for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.