Season 2 of Snowpiercer introduced us to a face we thought we would never see – Mr Wilford. Sean Bean joined the cast this season as the elusive CEO of Snowpiercer, who throughout season 1 we were first led to believe was alive – except, not really. Then alive again, then not really again.
With Sean Bean portraying the character, many believe Wilford’s tenure on the show won’t last long, since the actor is synonymous with playing figures who are quickly killed off – see Ned Stark on Game of Thrones, or Boromir in Lord of the Rings.
But while Wilford has already surprised viewers in more than one horrific way – be it by forcing his loyal crew member to commit suicide, or revealing just how deeply rooted his manipulation of Audrey really is – fans of the show are trying to dig deeper and figure out just how far his moral corruption goes.
And as the episodes go by, more and more evidence seems to be stacking up pointing at Wilford’s involvement in the most heinous act of all: causing the apocalypse.
This fan theory first came about in the YouTube comments for the Snowpiercer season 2 trailer. There, some people spotted weather balloons with the huge Wilford trademark that have become so crucial in the most recent episodes, as Melanie has ventured outside for the first time. User Aaron Carpenter was the first one to comment: “Holdup, so that balloon thing in the air was possibly one of the rockets used for CW-7, and it has a big W.”
For those who may not have paid attention to every story beat of the show so far, CW-7 refers to the chemical agent that was launched into the air to cool down the temperatures of the planet in response to climate change. However, CW-7 was too effective and instead froze the entire planet, starting what is referred to as the Freeze.
Throughout the first season, we're led to understand that Mr Wilford was wary of the repercussions of CW-7 before they appeared to the rest of the world, which is why he managed to build the Snowpiercer in time to save a small portion of humanity.
“Does this mean Mr Wilford purposely created CW-7 for the goal of causing the apocalypse... woah,” said another fan online. User The Bored Poster added: “What if Mr Wilford created the trains and destroyed the world just so he could have a lavish life?”
Could it be that he wasn’t as much of a luminary as he was hungry for power? Would he go so far that he'd cause the end of the world and build the Ark just to live out his life in luxury?
We now know that the weather balloons aren’t missiles, though, but data collectors and transmission devices – this pours a bit of cold water on the theory. That said, it's still possible that Wilford has something to do with the apocalypse humanity experienced.
Since we first met him, Wilford has clearly been painted as a man who likes his luxuries. One of the first things we hear about him is that he requests a set of First Class tableware, since who knows what he's been forced to eat with after travelling on the Big Alice for the past seven years. But even as he found himself stranded on the service train, he did find a way to acquire a fancy bathtub, and he definitely didn’t care about expenses when he had his quarters retrofitted.
It’s also clear that after his time apart from the Snowpiercer, Wilford hasn’t lost his desire to control all that is left of humanity. His war against Layton and his reign is as heightened as ever, with a recent episode seeing Wilford closing the border and taking Audrey with him.
Most significantly, though, episode 6 of season 2 gave us a lot of insight into the Snowpiercer’s origin. As we flashback to an Old Time Chicago, on a sunny day with a clear sky, the train is already built. Wilford and Melanie are toasting to its completion and the engineer is excited to “finally get to drive her.”
There doesn’t seem to be an apocalypse going on just yet, but in the following flashback scene, we get confirmation that the Snowpiercer’s original mission didn’t seem to be that of an ark for humanity. As Wilford is busy giving the final touches to the Nightcar, “his brothel” as Melanie calls it, she complains: “This train is now an ark for humanity, not your personal indulgences.” Now? What was it before?
Why would you agree to build a 10-mile long train that can host 3000 people, livestock, cultivate food and that most importantly has an Engine Eternal, if you didn’t think you would need it to outlive the end of the world?
If nothing else, it's a fun theory about Wilford's role in the show.
Snowpiercer continues Mondays on TNT in the US and the following Tuesday on Netflix in the UK.