We have been here before. The first season is the revolution. And the second season exposes the holes in the revolution. (The revolution, as Steven Soderbergh's Che made clear, always has the flavor of a heist narrative.) This was Mr. Robot. It's now also Snowpiercer, the TV show based on a movie of the same name by the director of Parasite, Bong Joon-ho. (This work was, in turn, based on a French comic book called Le Transperceneige.)
The TV show—which stars an actor and rapper made world famous by the musical, Hamilton, Daveed Diggs, and one of the saddest eyes in Hollywood, Jennifer Connelly—spent its first season building up the class structure and stress on the train, which is circulating an Earth snowballed by climate change. In the back of the train are the poor. The next set of carriages contain the working classes (some of which, like the janitors, are in a proto-unionized state), and the next contain the professionals, who provide health, security, and hospitality services to those in the front of the snow-piercing train, the rich.
In the first season, Connelly's character, Melanie Cavill, a technocrat/engineer who can be described as center-right and who maintained the social balance of the train by the perpetuation of a myth and the rigid management of the four classes, faced a resistance led by a former detective named Andre Layton (Diggs). [SPOILER ALERT] The resistance from the back of the train won that confrontation because the rich (searching for a far-right option to the crisis) forced the leader of the technocrats (a moderate) into an alliance with the lumpenproletariat.
So far, so good.
In the second season, Sean Bean's Mr. Wilford, the billionaire whose corporation built the post-apocalyptic train, appears for the first time. (He was a myth in the opening season.) Wilford commands a train called Big Alice. It latches onto the Snowpiercer and establishes a kind of Berlin Wall between those under Wilford's control and in those in the newly democratic train. Eventually it becomes clear that the leader of Big Alice wants a war to establish a totalitarian order on both trains.
And it is in this act of aggression and will to power that the key concept of the second season takes shape. Those paying close attention to the post-revolution season will certainly see how this concept is relevant to Donald Trump's second impeachment trial, which is happening in the Senate today.
The economy of Mr. Wilford's Big Alice is very different from that of pre- and democratic Snowpiercer. Though there are holes in the first train's revolution, the economy more or less functions as before. It's still capitalistic, it still has hospitals, it still has a police force, it has sections devoted to farming, and so on. The main issue of post-revolution Snowpiercer so far is the management of the transition from pure capitalism to social democracy.
Big Alice, on the other hand, is a hungry train. Everyone is starving except for Mr. Wilford and his daughter (an engineer), and his three or so scientists, and the monster he uses to maintain control over the hungry. In short, Big Alice is North Korea. And Wilford has the same authoritarian instincts as Kim Jong-un and Trump and Putin and Zimbabwe's Crocodile. Wilford's target? The new democracy. He wants to bring it down and impose an authoritarian order. But he has one problem. Thanks to Snowpiercer's clearly successful capitalist economy, it has the food that Wilford's workers want. And it's not just food but food that tastes good, food that is produced by agricultural experts and prepared by chefs. (All Wilford's train has is a lot of pot.) You do not just eat an apple Snowpiercer, you eat a delicious apple.
These luxuries prove to be powerful for the workers on Big Alice. The series is dealing with how Wilford's North Korean economy beats the abundance of Snowpiercer's capitalism.
In this way, the writers of the second season avoided dealing with what confounds all post-revolution shows and movies: the doldrums and contradictions of the long aftermath. How? By simply distracting the revolution. There are now other things to worry about (Big Alice/North Korea/MAGA). The consolidation of the classes can wait for now. Distributional issues must be put on hold. The new and hard-won democracy of Snowpiercer is under attack from none other than a Trump.