Snowpiercer (TV series)

In Sunday's two-part season 1 finale of TNT's Snowpiercer, the revolutionary forces led by Daveed Diggs' ex-cop Andre Layton finally triumphed over the titular train's ruling class. But just as Layton and Jennifer Connelly's hospitality chief Melanie Cavill joined forces to help create a new democratic society, the passengers encountered a fresh problem in the form of another train apparently under the control of the mysterious Mr. Wilford (a season 2 teaser dropped by TNT on Sunday night confirmed that Wilford will be portrayed by Game of Thrones actor Sean Bean).

Below, Snowpiercer executive producer Graeme Manson talks about the finale and the difficulties of completing the show's second season in the age of the pandemic.

Credit: TNT

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The character of Wilford is presented in a very different way in the show than he was in the 2013 film. What was the thinking behind that?

GRAEME MANSON: We always wanted to build a season 1 mystery for Wilford in the writers' room and we had that sort of end point that the possibility that another train could appear. And what we’re going to find on that train really seemed like a great launch into season 2.

You promised that not everyone would survive to the end of the finale and so it proved. Most notably, Nolan Grey perished at the hands of Layton. Why did you decide to kill him off?

Yeah. It just seemed like the right move would be a hard death like that at the hands of his greatest nemesis. Much respect and RIP. [Laughs]

It’s interesting that Layton and Melanie team up given what Melanie has done to Layton in earlier episodes. Did you worry that might be pushing people's credibility?

I don’t think so. As time wore on, Layton understood how heavy the crown is that Melanie wears. In episode 9, when he has to pull that pin, that’s the moment he understands what it takes running this train, because that’s not about politics, that’s about survival. So, how far will you go to survive? When does the survival of the species outweigh the cruelty of the moment?

This is in large part down to the performance of Alison Wright, but I kind of felt sorry for Ruth.

[Laughs] Yeah. It’s easy to feel sorry for Ruth, isn’t it? You know, Alison Wright is so tremendous at playing that character’s that’s wound so tight with a belief system that’s hanging on by a thread. It’s a really fun performance to watch, isn’t it? The emotional scene between her and Melanie, when she comes to see Melanie in episode 9, I think is one of the high points of the season.

Absolutely. On the other hand — and again I think in part this is a tribute to the performance of Annalise Basso — but I have no sympathy for the Folgers’ daughter LJ at all.

Well good. You can’t love everyone!

At the end of the finale, we were introduced to the older version of Melanie's daughter Alexandra. Could you talk a little bit about her and the actress who plays the character, Rowan Blanchard?

Yes. [Leaving her daughter behind] is Melanie's personal moment of trauma, the thing that traumatized her at the end of the world most of all. Once the writers alighted on that, and dug their teeth in to the idea that we could embody the daughter and make that a plot point, something we could all work towards, we started looking. I was not familiar with Rowan, but I saw her work, and it was amazing. James Hawes (Manson's fellow EP, who directed several season 1 episodes) really liked her. We already have season 2 in the can and I can say for sure that Rowan is a really terrific young actor and we all have really enjoyed working with her.

What is the exact situation with season 2?

We were fortunate in some ways compared to many in that we were only seven or eight days from completing the season, so we’re looking at ways to pick things up and try and complete the season. I hope this doable. I mean, it would be a scheduling nightmare without COVID. We are looking for ways to finish the season because, yes, season 2, it’s a good one!

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