By your steady hand, we will ride out this hardship and outlive the ice, bound by our cause and our need.
— Melanie in Access Is Power

Melanie Cavill is the female protagonist in TNT's Snowpiercer. She is portrayed by Jennifer Connelly.

She is the Voice of the Train, who makes the PA system's daily announcements. Though many of her peers are dismissive of the lower class passengers, Melanie is curiously fascinated by them. In secret, Melanie is in fact the pretending to be the mysterious Mr. Wilford, who although mentioned has not been seen yet. She is one of the engineers that designed and created Snowpiercer in the first place[1] and is the true mastermind behind the train's design. She abandoned the real Wilford to die when the journey began, believing that Snowpiercer wouldn't survive with him in charge.[2]

After escaping execution, Melanie aids Layton in taking control of the train,[3] returning to her former job as an Engineer before the arrival of Big Alice brought back the real Mr. Wilford and Melanie's daughter Alexandra, whom she had believed to be dead.[4]

History[edit | edit source]

Background[edit | edit source]

According to Melanie, she grew up on a dirt farm in eastern Pennsylvania and came from nothing. As a result, she has a sympathy for the lower classes and their struggles. At some point, she secretly took on the identity of Mr. Wilford, the head of Wilford Industries who came up with Snowpiercer when the Freeze came. Melanie lost her daughter Allie when the Freeze came. Allie was with her parents who were supposed to board the train together, but they never made it aboard.

When Snowpiercer began its journey, Melanie, believing that Mr. Wilford's selfish desires would doom humanity, "took the train" and abandoned him to die in Chicago. Melanie subsequently posed as the real Mr. Wilford to maintain order.[2]

Throughout The Series[edit | edit source]

Hiring Layton[edit | edit source]

Melanie is the voice of the train aboard Snowpiercer, and also the head of hospitality. She receives numerous complaints from passengers that they have heard of uprisings on the train. Melanie sends Ruth Wardell to remove Andre Layton from the Tail in a bid to help with the investigations into the murder that has caused the widespread panic; it is revealed that Layton was a homicide detective before Snowpiercer departed.

Layton enters numerous negotiations with Melanie, outlining his terms for working the murder case — third class immigration and rations for the Tailies. Melanie refuses each of his demands, however, remarking that it would do him well to help catch the murderer; she gives him a chance to escape the Tail of the train. Layton is told that if he can clear Nikki's name and solve the case they will make him Train Detective and move him to Third Class, he refuses, however, citing that he wants his demands met.

After the revolt of the Tailies, Melanie enlists Layton to calm them. When he is successful, Ruth reveals that Wilford will demand six of the Tailies lives in exchange for the security guards lost. Layton pleads with Melanie, agreeing to work for her and solve the murder if she spares the lives of his friends; she reluctantly agrees. She later returns to the front of the train where she takes over as driver, and it is revealed that she is in fact the mysterious Mr. Wilford.[1]

The following day, Melanie is surprised to see Layton has been beat up after causing a scene with the guards. She becomes increasingly angry and remarks that he is only in his position because "Mr. Wilford" needs him to solve the murder. She is impressed, however, when Layton figures out that Sean — the recent murder victim — was an informant for Wilford, hence why "he" wants the case solved to figure out what secrets were spilled.[5]

Difficult decisions and choices[edit | edit source]

Melanie is faced with a difficult decision when Javi reveals that they are unlikely to pass through the upcoming glacial collapse without damage. Javi recommends that they scale back the power 12%, however Melanie cites that they cannot afford any blackouts — especially with the current concerns of the passengers — and that they should push ahead.

Later, Melanie realizes that this was the wrong decision when the cliff collapses and one of the Ag-Sec carriages is damaged, freezing everything inside. Melanie agrees to scale back 12% whilst the damage is fixed. Later, amidst concerns by Jinju and Bennett, Melanie decides that water and other essentials will be rationed per class; Bennett remarks that this is killing the passengers from the tail up.[5]

Melanie is faced with a further difficult decision when Layton begins to find out details surrounding Sean's death. Layton refuses to reveal any of the information unless he is allowed to visit Josie Wellstead in the Tail. Eventually, Melanie reluctantly agrees but is oblivious to the fact that Layton is exchanging details about the Train's security with Josie.[6]

After Niiki is murdered, Melanie faces anger and suspicion as she helps Layton look into the first class passengers. Though Layton suspects first class will prevent any of their own from facing justice and expresses outrage at the luxuries they enjoy, Melanie assures him that she is on his side, revealing her own humble origins. Melanie orders Layton to be first class' "worst nightmare from the Tail" while she will help clear the way for him. As they work together, Layton notices Melanie's level of power and becomes suspicious of her true identity.

After Erik is identified as the killer, Melanie, acting as Layton's partner due to Bess Till being busy chasing Erik, interrogates the Folger parents as Layton interrogates LJ Folger. After Erik is killed by the Jackboots, Layton signals to Melanie that LJ is responsible and she has Jackboots brought in who arrest LJ after a struggle when Layton announces her guilt. Melanie makes a train-wide announcement that the killer is dead and that the second suspect has been arrested before bringing Layton for a drink. By now, Melanie has realized that Layton knows who she really is which he confirms, stating that "a myth is a powerful thing." Melanie is revealed to have drugged Layton, apologizing to him and stating that she hopes that he never knows the weight that comes with being a myth. Melanie has Layton secretly put into the Drawers, keeping it off-the-books so that no one else knows about it. However, Melanie, not wanting Layton to get hurt, orders that Layton is not to be damaged.[7]

Identity Crisis[edit | edit source]

Following the revelation that LJ Folger is partly responsible for Sean Wise's murder (and the first murder), Melanie convenes a tribunal to decide her fate. Things become difficult, however, when Third — specifically Miss Audrey and the Nightcar — begins causing trouble due to lack of representation on the tribunal. When Melanie confronts Audrey, the latter threatens Melanie, remarking that Third touches most of the train and will be heard one way or another.

Melanie heeds the warning and reselects the tribunal with one representative from each class — the Tail is not represented as they are not considered passengers. This move is not popular in First and Second and, when she LJ is found guilty — and reveals that Sean Wise was a Wilford Informant — she commutes her sentence as she fears LJ may be aware of her identity as the mysterious Mr. Wilford. Before reuniting LJ with her parents, she talks with her, and LJ promises to keep "Mr. Wilford's" secret as a thank you for commuting her sentence.[8]

Layton holds Melanie at knifepoint

Melanie's situation is later amplified when Andre Layton is rescued from the Drawers by his girlfriend, Josie Wellstead, and comes after Melanie. He holds her at knifepoint whilst she is trying to fix the hydraulic system on Snowpiercer, and tells her that he knows the drawers are experimental and not working properly. Melanie tells him that he has it wrong and that the drawers are a lifeboat, containing the very best part of humanity in an effort to save them from the freeze. Melanie warns Layton that the social order on Snowpiercer relies on the myth of Mr. Wilford, and that the society would collapse should her secret be revealed; Layton reluctantly allows her to leave to fix the hydraulics with the train in danger of derailment. With seconds to spare, Melanie saves the train. She later gifts Miles a caliper given to Melanie by Mr. Wilford himself and tells the boy that Mr. Wilford needs something from him.[9]

Search for Layton[edit | edit source]

Melanie desperately searches for Layton, threatening Zarah Ferami and torturing Josie Wellstead for information. Melanie admits to Josie that she took on Mr. Wilford's identity and claims that if it had been up to her, things on the train would've been done very differently. Melanie personally tortures Josie by freezing her pinkie finger off using outside air, but becomes sick at her actions. When Melanie returns, she finds Josie's whole hand frozen, done by Bess Till at Josie's request and Josie breaks free. The two women fight, resulting in outside air filling Hospitality. Melanie manages to escape while Josie freezes to death. During this time, Ruth Wardell tries to warn Melanie that the Folgers are planning their own revolution, but Melanie rudely brushes her off.

Melanie, showing signs of guilt over her actions, later promotes Miles to the engine and reassures herself that as engineers they must do whatever it takes to ensure humanity's survival.[10]

Revolution[edit | edit source]

At Layton's request, Miles reveals to LJ Folger the truth about Melanie. Melanie later coaches Miles through driving the train himself and the two discuss their lost families. When Miles brings up still having his Tail mom Josie, Melanie shows a moment of guilt before they are interrupted by First demanding answers after LJ reveals to her parents what she has learned. Melanie is arrested and imprisoned in Hospitality, but manages to trip an alarm warning Bennett to lock down the engine room. Javi abandons the engine while Bennett locks himself inside and tells Commander Grey, his me,n and Ruth that the real Mr. Wilford has been dead since boarding and that Melanie "took the train."

Ruth later visits her imprisoned friend in Hospitality for answers and Melanie admits that she abandoned the real Mr. Wilford to die in Chicago at departure. Melanie explains that she is the true visionary behind Snowpiercer while the real Mr. Wilford "sold tickets" and didn't believe in the survival of the human race, instead desiring to spend the rest of his life surrounded by opulence. Believing that the train wouldn't survive one revolution with him in charge, Melanie abandoned Mr. Wilford to die and took his place and identity to ensure the survival of humanity. Upset, Ruth announces that Melanie will be executed for her crimes the next day before leaving Melanie alone.[2]

Melanie is subsequently imprisoned with captured revolutionaries awaiting their executions. However, she is rescued by Javi and Jinju and makes her way down train where Melanie is captured by Layton's people. Donning more casual clothes for once, Melanie offers a solution to the problem: disconnect several cars containing the Jackboot army and the Folgers. Having only ever intended to keep the last of humanity safe, Melanie knows that her way didn't work and wants to try Layton's way with him in charge. With little other choice and Miss Audrey believing her, Layton agrees to Melanie's plan.

Melanie gives Layton her access implant and contacts Bennett in the Engine to fill him in on the plan. Melanie explains to Layton that they must disconnect safety switches on either side of the planned disconnection, requiring Layton to infiltrate the forward section. When the time comes, Melanie pulls her switch down train and watches as the forward part of the train pulls ahead. Layton eventually pulls the other switch, allowing Bennett and Miles to disconnect seven cars containing the Folgers, aside from LJ, Grey, the Jackboot army, and the prisoners. After the train is reconnected, Layton confronts Melanie, realizing that she knew he'd have to cut the prisoners loose. Melanie confirms it, stating that she knew he'd have to make the choice and that these are the decisions that they have to live with everyday. Melanie then declares that Snowpiercer is Layton's.[3]

A surprising return[edit | edit source]

Returning to Hospitality, Melanie broadcasts a message officially handing control of the train to Layton. Consumed with guilt over leaving her daughter behind to die, Melanie visits Miss Audrey to get some solace.

After a confrontation with Ruth, Melanie returns to work as an Engineer investigating a strange signal that proves to come from Big Alice, a Wilford supply train with a prototype of the Eternal Engine. As Big Alice clamps onto Snowpiercer and begins taking control, Melanie, worried that the other train contains the real Mr. Wilford, chooses to climb outside and cut the uplink. After angrily realizing that Bennett covered up the approach of Big Alice, Melanie heads outside alone, cutting Bennett's air supply so that he can't follow her. However, Big Alice brings Snowpiercer to a stop in the middle of Chicago, throwing Melanie from the train. Surviving the fall, Melanie begins making way along the stopped trains, unaware that her daughter had just boarded Snowpiercer from Big Alice as Wilford's diplomatic envoy.[4]

Personality[edit | edit source]

She is cunning and if anything brings her down she always finds a loophole to get around it. Aboard the train she takes the position of Head of Hospitality which gains her a great reputation aboard the train as well as making new or keeping friends.

Relationships[edit | edit source]

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Season One

Memorable Quotes[edit | edit source]

Layton, I was born on a dirt farm in eastern Pennsylvania. I came from nothing. I know a thing or two about class. That anger that you feel when you look at all of this? It's justified. Let's use it. Whoever the killer is, First is going to protect their own, so you be their worst nightmare from the Tail. I'll do the rest.
— Melanie to Layton[7]
Melanie: "You figured it out, Layton. I know you did."
Layton: "A myth's a powerful thing."
Melanie: "Pray you never know the weight of it. I'm sorry, Layton."
―  Melanie and Layton discuss her true identity[7]


Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Melanie attended — and presumably graduated from — MIT. She also wears a Yale Engineering hat suggesting a connection to that university as well.
  • Only a limited number of people are aware that Melanie is the mysterious "Mr. Wilford". Presumably, these are: Bennett Knox, Javier De La Torre, Jinju Seong, Andre Layton, Josie Wellstead, Miles, Ruth and LJ Folger.
  • She grew up in a rural home from East Pennsylvania.
  • She designed Snowpiercer and according to Melanie herself, is the true visionary behind the train, not Mr. Wilford.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

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