Spoilers for every episode of Snowpiercer season 2 follow.
Snowpiercer season 3 is officially on the way – and season 4 has been confirmed, too, ensuring this sci-fi adventure has a long future. Season 2 was an absurd ride. From the introduction of Sean Bean's Mr Wilford and life on Big Alice to the discovery of a warming Earth and Melanie’s presumed death in the finale, tensions are high on the train ahead of the third season.
By the end of season 2, Layton was travelling on a pirate train with some of his closest allies and his enemy’s confidants, while on Snowpiercer, Wilford was trying to hold onto his power while dealing with his train uncoupling and almost getting killed.
The future of this TNT and Netflix show seems promising, then, and below we'll explain everything we know about the show's upcoming return.
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Snowpiercer season 3 release date: when can we expect it to be back?
Snowpiercer was renewed for a third season even before season 2 started airing. Something similar also happened last season, showing just how much faith TNT has in its show and in the fans who keep it running. The series' popularity overseas on Netflix probably helps seal the deal.
So far, the show has had a pretty quick turnaround, with less than a full year between seasons as the first series released in May 2020 and the second made it to screens in January 2021, with filming going ahead despite the pandemic.
Production on Snowpiercer season 3 reportedly started in early March in Canada and wrapped up back in late July 2021, according to Deadline, which is when season 4 was confirmed. No official release date exists for season 3 yet, but we're expecting to see it in early 2022 at this point.
Snowpiercer season 3 cast: is Melanie returning?
Season 2 of Snowpiercer introduced us to many new faces from the Big Alice, including Sean Bean’s character Mr Wilford, Rowan Blanchard's Alex (even though she made her debut in the season 1 finale), and head of hospitality Kevin played by Tom Lipinski. Alongside those we had the Headwoods (Damian Young and Sakina Jeffrey) and Sykes (Chelsea Harris).
We expect all of them to return next season, alongside the Snowpiercer regulars Daveed Diggs as Andre Layton, Alison Wright as Ruth, Mickey Sumner as Till, Lena Hall as Miss Audrey and Katie McGuinness as Josie.
The fate of Melanie Cavill, played by Jennifer Connelly, is still uncertain, but her return for season 3 is not. In the second season’s finale, when Layton and Alex arrive at the research station, they find Melanie is gone. We are led to presume that she is dead, though any TV drama fan will know that no character is ever dead until there is a body.
Speaking to TV Line, executive producer Becky Clements addressed this ambiguity, and was asked about the possibility that she might've been rescued off-screen by some unseen nomads. “She could; that might be ‘jumping the shark’ a bit based on everything we expressed thus far, but… I don’t know if I’m going on record that she is ‘done for,’ but I don’t know that she is alive.” She continued, though, confirming Connelly will return for Snowpiercer next season. “We are pleased that Jennifer will join us for season 3.”
The season 2 finale also suggests that Javi (played by Roberto Urbina) has been killed. But addressing the engineer’s death, Clements' vagueness also seemed to hint at a possible return for him. “You’re going to be surprised. [Laughs] That’s all I’m going to say,” she teased.
One character fans were expecting to see die was Wilford, especially since Sean Bean is famous for portraying characters who die prematurely, such as Boromir in Lord of the Rings or Ned Stark in Game of Thrones. Yet, despite getting his throat slashed by Alex in the season 2 finale, Wilford made it to the credits alive. And since Bean is reportedly trying to reverse his curse by avoiding roles where his characters die, Wilford might be here to stay.
As for new additions to the cast, The Good Wife actress Archie Panjabi is boarding the Snowpiercer train in the role of Asha (via TV Line). Still, it's unclear exactly how she'll be written into the show – since all that's left of humanity is on the train already. Why wouldn't we have seen her before, then? “Ohhh, that will make Season 3 super-exciting – definitely a reason to tune in,” teased Clements.
More casting announcements are expected to arrive in the coming months, since Clements told Deadline that Panjabi won’t be the only new addition to the cast. “We have a big, new character in season 3, and a couple of smaller characters, which will bring new information into our world.”
Snowpiercer season 3 story: what will happen next?
The second season ended on a cliffhanger: Layton and Alex stole a ten-car pirate train alongside Bennett, Till, Josie, a captive Miss Audrey and Sykes. Ruth, on the other hand, is still on the main train with Wilford, who knows about her betrayal – a still-pregnant Zarah is also present.
While Wilford is still holding on to 1024 cars, "everyone is trying to find their place in their new world," said Clements of the upcoming season. She also teased that we might see a time skip for Snowpiercer season 3. "There’ll be a bit of a time jump in season 3 – not significant, but enough to really show the audience, in an efficient and interesting way, what the new world order looks like."
This transition will focus on "the character relationships and dynamic", according to Clements. "It's a lot of fun in season 3, how we have new alliances and new foes. It's been fun to watch the scene work, putting new people together."
While Melanie is still missing or dead, her research proved to be fruitful, as she found proof that the world is actually warming up and might become habitable again sooner than expected – that's worth keeping in mind if a time jump comes into play.
For the fans watching Snowpiercer for the futuristic technology, season 3 will provide some interesting challenges, since the warming weather will require the train to operate differently. "It's a really transitional moment for Snowpiercer and the pirate train, as well as with regards to what can exist out in the world," Clements told TV Line.
Sean Bean also spoke to the New York Times about his own hopes for Mr Wilford, now that his biggest foe has fled the train. "Maybe we'll get to see him in a more reasonable light," said the actor. "There are moments where he has to bargain with people, comply with some of their demands and try to be diplomatic. He's in such a dire situation, so he does have to work with Layton. This might give the audience the impression that Wilford’s folding, but there’s always an ulterior motive – it's never simple. That’s how cunning he is, how good he is at scheming."
A Deadline report in July 2021 shed more light on what's coming up in the third season, with Mr Wilford apparently "consolidating power", while Layton and company search for Melanie and a way to kick civilization off again.
Snowpiercer season 3 trailer: when will it be released?
For season 2, TNT and Netflix shared the trailer two weeks before the season premiere. A shorter teaser was also shared at New York Comic Con a whole three months ahead of the new season’s release.
We'd expect something similar for Snowpiercer season 3 – perhaps we'll catch our first look towards the end of 2021.
How many seasons of Snowpiercer will there be?
Season 4 is officially going ahead, as mentioned, but that's unlikely to be the end of the story.
Clements told Deadline that the team "definitely have a season 4 in mind, and we could go on and on. It just comes down to the networks." Considering the big changes that the warming planet could bring to the show, we're keen to see how far the writers can take this compelling sci-fi series.