Warning: SPOILERS for Snowpiercer season 1, episode 3 – “Access Is Power”
There’s a drug problem in Snowpiercer, and it has even more far-reaching ramifications than the murder mystery Melanie Cavill (Jennifer Connelly) enlisted Andre Layton (Daveed Diggs) to solve. Though it’s based upon the 2013 film directed by Bong Joon-Ho (which in turn was based on French graphic novel Le Transperceneige), TNT’s Snowpiercer TV series is set in a different continuity. Season 1 takes place almost seven years after the Great Ark Train departed from Chicago harboring the last 3,000 survivors of the human race after the Earth’s climate froze the planet to the core.
Snowpiercer is a super train 1,001 cars long that can never stop circumnavigating the globe on 200,000 miles of track. While the millionaires live in the lap of luxury in First Class, 70% of the train’s population lives in Third Class and 400 stowaways are imprisoned in squalor within the Tail. Third Class are the people who keep Snowpiercer running; they are the workforce of the train who handle repairs, maintain the agricultural and food cars, hold entertainment spectacles like Fight Night inside the Nightcar, and also provide much needed janitorial services. With luxuries and contraband at a premium, it’s not surprising that a black market sprang up in Third Class that stretches all throughout Snowpiercer’s 1,001 cars. The black market is run by Terrence (Shaun Toub), who heads up the Janitorial staff, and it facilitates the spread of one of Snowpiercer’s biggest problems: the widespread use of a narcotic called Kronol.
Kronol is a highly addictive drug derived as a bootleg of the suspension drug used to put people in under when they’re encased in the Drawers. The Drawers, located in Second Class, are overseen by Dr. Henry Klimt (Happy Anderson), and he has been secretly distributing Kronol in exchange for premium items (like the implants that open the train’s border doors) through the black market, usually with one of the Brakemen, John Osweiller (Sam Otto), serving as the courier. Kronol is deadly; it turns the user’s gums black and it can cause necrosis – something that Klimt has seen happen to the people in the Drawers who have been injected with the suspension drug. Not only is Kronol addiction becoming an epidemic in Third and the Tail, but Kronol is also tied to the gruesome murder that Layton, the Train Detective, is investigating alongside Brakeman Bess Till (Mickey Sumner).
Two years ago, a Third Class passenger named Nikki Genet was tried and sentenced to the Drawers as the only witness to an identical murder, where the victim was dismembered and had his penis cut off. The new murder Layton was recruited to solve led to Nikki being revived, but she’s suffering debilitating after-effects from the Kronol in the suspension drug, including necrosis. Layton’s murder victim is a man named Sean Wise, who was a friend of Nikki’s and was intimate with Zarah Ferami (Shiela Vand), Layton’s ex-wife.
In Snowpiercer episode 3, “Access is Power”, Klimt’s role as the source of Kronol distribution was discovered by Melanie Cavill, Layton, and Till. But even more shocking, the murderer of Sean Wise (and the earlier victim) revealed himself: It’s Erik (Matt Murray), the bodyguard of the Folgers, one of the most powerful and influential families in First Class. When Nikki unexpectedly left the medical car and showed up at the Nightcar during Fight Night, Erik and the Folgers spotted her, which led to Erik going on a new killing spree to get rid of Nikki before she could I.D. him as the killer. And it’s also possible the Folgers are even more directly involved in Erik’s murders, including their teenage daughter L.J. (Annalise Basso).
By the end of Snowpiercer episode 3, Layton and Till still haven’t learned Erik is the murderer, and he showed up at the medical car to kill Nikki. Yet even if Nikki dies and Erik is apprehended, the Kronol problem could persist. Even though Klimt has been cut off as Kronol’s provider, there are now an untold number of addicts throughout Snowpiercer‘s 1,001 cars who won’t get their fix. They could now die because of it, which would add more fuel to the burgeoning revolution being plotted against the train’s class-based order.
Next: Snowpiercer: What Layton’s Train Plan Really Is
Snowpiercer airs Sundays @ 9pm on TNT.