Ruth being Ruth, which is to say judgmental.
Ruth being Ruth, which is to say judgmental.
Image: TNT

Do you remember the unsettling Folgers commercial in which a brother and sister seemed to have some sort of sexual relationship with one another? Snowpiercer remembers. No, the TNT show didn’t quite get around to aping the commercial full-on, because it was too busy making clear that it had a monster of its own to explore.

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Illustration for article titled iSnowpiercer/i Suddenly Got Interesting By Getting Intensely Disgusting

What has become blindingly clear to Snowpiercer’s upper-class citizens is that one of their peers is a straight-up murderer. And not just any murderer, but one who likes collecting body parts—the kind of wildly out of pocket, insane shit that serial killers do. Though the show commits a fair amount of screen time to illustrate this, giving the characters in question a chance to argue for themselves, the focus that’s put on LJ (Annalise Basso), the young killer at the center of this whole mess, in the aptly named “Justice Never Boarded” speaks to a deeper kind of evil.

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When it becomes clear to Layton (Daveed Diggs) and Snowpiercer’s upper-class passengers that the Folger child is more likely than not the architect of multiple murders, he wants to make sure that she’s brought to justice. But because actual justice barely exists on the train, LJ is afforded a level of comfort that’s truly galling to witness. As the Folger family tries to figure out how to wield their social power in a way that will save the young murderer, there’s a truly disturbing moment in which Snowpiercer insists upon making sure that you understand just how deeply fucked up the family is.

LJ, her mother (Kerry O’Malley), and her father (Vincent Gale) all know that LJ is a monster, and because of that, there’s a very good chance (one hopes) that she’ll be pushed off the train and left to freeze to death as she deserves. But rather than encouraging their daughter to steel herself against the punishment she’s earned, the Folgers instead take a moment to comfort LJ in the most disgusting of ways.

There’s really no way of elegantly putting this, and so to be quite direct about it: LJ specifically asks to be comforted by her father taking his fake eyeball out so that she can suck on it. Alarming as that act is in and of itself, the disturbing bit is that LJ’s parents are both very aware that the only reason her father lacks one eyeball is that she stabbed him in the face when she was much younger, something that speaks to the fact that she’s a whole ass threat to the entire train.

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All of this is truly terrifying for Layton because it demonstrates that not only are the upper-class passengers held to a different standard than everyone else, but their privilege gives them the freedom to engage in some truly evil practices that, when told to reflect on them, they’re all more than willing to look away from instead.

More so than anything else, that kind of nefariousness is what makes Snowpiercer terrifying, because it encapsulates how privilege can be (and often is) weaponized to hurt people who don’t have it. Though the show often misses opportunities to really emphasize this point, with LJ the nail is hit squarely on the head, and truly it’s one of Snowpiercer’s few shining moments of social commentary so far.

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io9 Culture Critic and Staff Writer. Cyclops was right.

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