Friday, July 7, 2017

It has been a pleasure speaking to you (Twin Peaks Episode 29)

Beyond Life and Death- Twin Peaks Episode 29 (Airdate July 10 1991)

Until "Twin peaks: The Return", I'd almost would have said this episode was possibly the most artistically ambitious hour of Television since the final episode of "The Prisoner". If I had been able to finish this series of posts before the new series premier, the first line of this post probably would have been that. Instead, the final episode of the troubled second season of Twin peaks is a clear sign post of the path ahead for the franchise. Not only do we get Coopers strange journey into the "Black Lodge", but we also get a series of rather dark endings for many of our characters...

It is as if, as soon as Windom takes Annie across that red curtained threshold, the whole series changes. To recap; Ben confronts the Haywoods on Donna's real parentage in an effort to "do good", and has his head bashed into the Haywood mantle piece during a struggle with Doc Haywood. Nadine is struck on the head during the chaos at the roadhouse, and recovers her memories becoming the old Nadine and dooming the chances of an Ed and Norma marriage. Leo is still tied up to a spider cage in the woods. Audrey, Pete and Andrew Packard are exploded by the bomb left in a safety deposit box by Thomas Eckhart. (Audrey whilst performing a peaceful protest at the Bank, another Horne felled by the impulse to do good) Annie and Cooper are left in an uncertain state just after their romance started, with THAT ending putting a darker tinge on the whole affair.

Cooper's journey into he Red Room, often referred to as the Black Lodge although it is unclear if it is or not, is a reflection of the series itself. It is a microcosm of the 28 episodes proceeding it, we see a dream (Cooper Dream from Episode 2) become a real, nightmarish place. We meet Laura, Lealand, The Giant, the Man from another place, Maddy and BOB once again. Laura transforms from the ethereal unknown she starts the series as, and into a terrifying Doppelganger, a mirror of the dual lives she lived. I always found the "evil" reflection of Laura utterly terrifying, from the stillness of her normal dream appearance to a shrieking phantom. While backwards laughter is unnerving at best, backwards screaming is moreso. Cooper finds himself moving from identical room to identical room, with the Man from another place introducing lost characters to him and warning him of Dopplegangers. As Hawk described when the Black Lodge is first mentioned, it is the place where a soul is tested before advancing to a "higher place" the White lodge. If your courage is not pure, you will be utterly destroyed.

So after a TV sensation, 2 years, 29 episodes we are left with this. Cooper escapes with Annie but as he goes to the bathroom to brush his teeth, he looks in the mirror and sees BOB. Ramming his head into the glass, the series ends on his mocking laughter as he says "How's Annie?"
The title says it all, this episode is an ending like death but it is also a crossing. We cross over from the cute, nostalgic, slightly comedic world of Twin Peaks into the deeps shadows that have been hinted at all the way through the series. We follow Cooper into the lodge and like our protagonist, we do not escape. Fire walk with me, and Twin Peaks: The Return are both entities that exist within this shadow realm. Lynch and Frost are almost telling us, the viewers, that our courage was imperfect and we cannot dwell in the perfect Americana that the town of Twin Peaks represents. No cherry pie, cute brunettes and 50's cars for us; we have shadows, fear and ashes.

Laura very much represents this episode, this message and the series, perfectly. When Cooper first sees her in the Lodge she is the Laura he met in his dream. Elegant, she finishes her conversation with him enigmatically. "See you in 25years. Meanwhile..." And she strikes a pose, freezing just like the prom photograph of her that is so famous to not only the characters but the viewers. Later Cooper encounters Laura's "Doppleganger" who starts from the same pose, but her "meanwhile" is a threat. The "good" Laura gives us an image of her alive, the "evil" Laura screams and looks like she wants to eat our souls. She makes no mention of a time period either we are stuck with this Laura till, and if, we find our way out of the shadows.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

You just lost me (Twin Peaks Episode 28)

Miss Twin Peaks - Episode 28 (Airdate June10 1991)

Like many of the great episodes of the show's original run, the penultimate episode of Twin Peaks is formed around a single set piece, the Miss Twin Peaks pageant. It's a much lighter event than lets say, the Mill fire or the raid on One Eyed Jacks, but it has no less of an ability to pull multiple strands of story together. Andy and Lucy, Cooper and Annie, Lana's manipulation of Dick, Bobby stage managing Shelly and discovering what she means to him, Audrey and Ben wanting to make the environmental case to stop Ghostwood, Nadine reliving her teen years, all come together in this event. The event itself is fun as well, with just the right amount of hokiness that a small town beauty pageant should have. We haven't quite gotten to the point in TV where every song and dance number is inexplicably Broadway quality for no good reason...

Meanwhile in the woods, Leo helps Major Briggs escape Windom Earle in an effort to save Shelly. I'm pretty unconvinced by good guy Leo, he was a pretty despicable individual as I have previously discussed. Drug dealer, violent criminal, domestic abuser, arsonist and attempted murderer; his post coma softness for Shelly isn't enough to solicit any sympathy. His final predicament, which ends up being the final thing we see of the character, is torturous. He is strung up by the tooth to a cage full of spiders, should he let the cage drop and break he could be done for, a convoluted trap by Earle to say the least. But I'm not sure anyone can think "poor Leo" in light of who the character is.

Of course it is Andy who works out that the Owl Cave painting is a map, allowing Cooper to make the leap that it is a map to the Black Lodge and finally work out Earle's scheme. Annie naturally wins the pageant and is kidnapped by Earle in a pretty cool strobe lit scene of confusion and chaos. Naturally Earle is dressed up as the Log lady, in the last of his crazy disguises to feature. We also have some small scenes to cap off certain plots, Lucy picks Andy to be Dad to her baby, Big Ed finally breaks it to Nadine that he is marrying Norma, Donna confronts Ben Horne about her parentage etc.

This is a solid plot motivating episode, no Frost or Lynch in sight either; although I am sure they were guiding the direction of things. Next up, the bizarre Lynch fuelled finale to the original series. Don't miss it.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Q: Garland, what do you fear most... in the world? A:The possibility that love is not enough. (Twin Peaks Episode 27)

The Path to the Black Lodge - Twin Peaks Episode 27 (Airdate-April 18 1991)

So yeah I lost that race and got a little ill so there has been a gap in coverage. I do apologise.
So yes I have seen the new series so far, and I like it! More on that soon as I don't want to spoil...

So Episode 27 continues to push towards the series finale at a startling pace, it's hard to believe that only a few episodes ago this series was in plot hibernation. (Apologies to any James and Evelyn fans out there) Miss Twin Peaks and the identity of Donna's biological feature amongst the B plots, and unlike the mid season drought they weave in with the main story well. (Even the Super Nadine story and Good Guy Ben fit in well here) As far as our heroes are concerned everything is leading up to Miss Twin Peaks, where Windom will attempt to kidnap/kill the winner, taking Cooper's Queen so to speak. The giant even appears to warn Cooper away from Annie entering the contest...

But what this episode really comes down to is establishing Windom's motivation and his actual goal as well as dig into the mythology around the Black Lodge a bit. It is revealed that Major Briggs and Windom worked together on Project Blue Book,  and in that time Windom became obsessed with The Black Lodge and sorcerers known as dugpas. (It is odd, I think this Episode is the only time that term is used) Cooper becomes convinced that Windom's true goal is to access the Black Lodge.

Realising via the bugged Bonsai that Major Briggs knows more than he is letting on, Windom kidnaps him while the Major is taking a walk in the woods. (In a bizarre pantomime horse costume) He drugs and interrogates the Major gaining key pieces of information about the doorway and the times it can be accessed. Windom has realised more about the glyphs at Owl Cave than Cooper and is just one step ahead of him. The race is very much on.

Monday, May 22, 2017

I have no idea where this will lead us. But I have a definite feeling it will be a place both wonderful and strange. (Twin Peaks episodes 25/26)

On the wings of love/Variations on Relations - Twin Peaks episodes 25-26 (Air Dates April 4, April 11 1991)

So with the premier almost here looks like I will not get the whole of the series covered beforehand. But anyway, we are so close to the end here now I will complete and then look at the new series; with luck before episode 2 airs.

Harry and Catherine deal with Eckhardt's legacy, for Harry it is Ms Jones attempting to kill him in bed over "sexual jealousy" of his relationship with Josie. For Catherine it is the mysterious box sent to Blue Pine Lodge. I can't help but think that if Eckhardt was a better established character these plot threads may have had more oomph to them. He appears kind of out of the blue in Season 2 and with little background outside being the man Josie was on the run from.

But the good news is the series at this point really starts to find itself again, we gain a real idea of where things are going. With a destination, the other elements all snap into place. Windom Earle is our antagonist, and he wants to get to the Black Lodge as well as kill the winner of the Miss Twin Peaks contest. Our heroes, naturally, move to prevent this. Windom takes some more pieces, Cooper goes to Owl Cave to see the mysterious petroglyphs. Lots of good stuff here. Even the B plots slot in and are fun asides, sometimes funny and sometimes dramatic but never distracting us from the main plot. Dick for example, is comic relief for a few scenes, Gordon becoming infatuated with Shelly is cute and fun to watch. We don't have drawn out scenes of James on the road, or little Nicky...

Cooper and Annie get closer, an obvious replacement for the Audrey romance especially as Audrey basically does the same thing with Jack in a much less plot eventful romance.
I do like the pre-x-files UFO stuff here as well, suggesting that what Major Briggs (and Earle) were investigating was akin to encounters with extraterrestrials which turned to the woods around twin peaks. The implication is that the people from "another place" maybe what we think of as aliens, and that opens some interesting doors. What it fixes the series on sharply is the Black Lodge as an end point of the current story arc, something the series needed after the Laura Palmer mystery was solved..

Saturday, May 20, 2017

How many drawer pulls exist in this world? (Twin Peaks Episode 23/24)

The Condemned woman/Wounds and Scars- Twin Peaks episodes 23/24 (Air dates Feb 16, March 28 1991)

So close to the deadline...
I even forgot at the time how long this "slump" in Season 2 goes for, like a broken down car going up a steep hill. In a metaphor appropriate for the series it is almost like you are driving from the top of one Peak to the other, the easy downward slope of the first season, going fine in the middle and then the massive climb to the top of the second. (And the nostalgia driven ride down for the third)
These two episode also sit each side of a mid season gap, over a month between episodes.

Earle continues his "public" scheme, he chess game with Cooper in which he declares he will take Cooper's Queen. Earle targets Shelly, Donna and Audrey by sending them 1/3 of a poem and arranging them to meet each other at the Roadhouse. He vows to Leo that he will take Cooper's queen, assumed to be payback for his wife Caroline. (Something I am unsure Earle is actually worried about by the end of all this) Cooper employs chess protege Pete Martel to play Earle's game to a stalemate whilst loosing a few pieces as possible. I do adore that Pete is chess genius, it just seems perfect for the character for reasons I can't put my finger on and gives us some great Jack Nance scenes.

Even this late in the series we manage to squeeze in a couple of extra characters, in particular Billy Zane as "Keep Audrey busy cause we got nothin for Sherilyn Fenn to do" Jack and Heather Graham and Norma's sister Annie.

This break in season 2 is marked by a series of break ups in the show, Audrey gets interested in Jack breaking her interest in Cooper. Big Ed and Nadine push towards divorce, Nadine and Mike are dating finishing off the almost non existent Mike/Donna thing. James and Donna take a break, with James riding off into the sunset never to be seen in this season again. Ben breaks with his beloved Ghostwood project, now recovered from his nervous breakdown he has become an insufferable goodguy. Ben is now an environmentalist, he exercises, dresses casual rather than a suit and eats healthy. I do like this Ben, as you are never really ever sure if this is all a scam to get everything he lost to the Packards back or if he really did turn over a new leaf after a mental crisis. (I also am unsure of Dr Jacoby's skills as a therapist at this point)

We also have the untimely end to Josie and the moving of the Eckhardt/Packard game to the next stage. Josie realises she has been found out by Cooper, that she is not only on the hook for shooting him but also killing her "cousin" Jonathan/Mr Lee. Eckhardt and Andrew have a confrontation in the elevator at the Great Northern and Josie heads there to perform the final act in her tragedy. Cooper heads to Eckhardt's suit after a tip from Catherine, when he gets their Josie has shot Eckhardt and she aims her gun at Cooper before collapsing as Harry enters. As he watches Harry rush to Josie, Cooper sees BOB gloating over the events. At the episode end we are shown Josie's soul becoming part of the bedside table in some 90s CGI which didn't age too bad. (it's still not fantastic)
These events drive Harry into a deep depression, drinking himself to sleep whilst held up in the Bookhouse. We end episode 24 with Cooper and Hawk talking down a violently depressed Harry and putting him to bed where he is later joined by Eckhardt's assistant Ms Jones.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Leo. Well, Leo... you can call me Windom. Windom Earle.- Twin Peaks 21/22

Double Play/Slaves and Masters - Twin Peaks Episodes 21/22 (Air dates Feb 2/Feb 9 1991)

Rewatches are fun, especially when you discover something you totally forgot about. In this case is just how amazing the Leo stalking around his house after Shelly, it's tense and terrifying. This series is really at it's best when it is expressing emotion/sensation in this manner , be it fear or confusion or dread, and this scene is a great example of that. Shelly gropes around in the dark trying to fend Leo off with a knife until Bobby arrives and distracts him, allowing her to slash her violent spouse with a knife; sending him fleeing.

Here we are getting to peak Season 2, Nadine at Highschool, Ben thinks he is reliving the civil war, more little Nicky and yes more James. We do get some important B plot shifts though with the long thought dead Andrew Packard revealed as being alive. This is a huge revelation as one of the important world building bits of the series is based around the death of Andrew Packard; Josie, Hank, Ben, Catherine all revolve around that pre series event. Now we learn it didn't actually happen, and was all part of a game between Andrew and his long time rival Eckhardt.

The main 2nd arc also starts to heat up with Leo stumbling upon a cabin the woods while fleeing his home, here we have the first glimpse of Cooper's Moriarty, Windom Earle. Earle starts to take a much less abstract role in the show from here, first in his chess game that results in real people being killed as pieces are taken and second with his manipulation of the townspeople. Earle is a fun character, he does stray a little bit across the line and becomes too whacky from time to time but he is shown to be a genuine threat to Cooper. (Unlike Jean) His disguises are probably the big thing I'd tone down, they tend to be a little too whacky and he still comes across as an odd stranger to the characters who encounter him which make him stick out in their mind. (Which kind of defeats the purpose of a disguise?) At his high points he plays the sinister Puck very well, and the two level nature (Seeking revenge on Cooper and seeking the Black Lodge) of his scheme mostly works.

Don't thank me. Thank Sheriff Truman. It was his idea. - Twin Peaks Episode 19/20

The Black Widow/Checkmate Twin Peaks Episodes 19/20 (Air dates Jan 12, Jan 13 1991)

This six or so episode stretch is full of faux quirkiness, so many of the B plots border on comedy it is easy to see how people were switching off. James is still being seduced by Evelyn, Ben is slowly going mad, Nadine joins the mens wrestling team and little Nicky is still.. well little Nicky.

There are chunks of B plot here that are fun though, I really like Dwayne and Dougie Milford; the feuding siblings who basically run the town. Dwayne is the antediluvian Mayor of the town and Dougie is the owner of the Town newspaper with multiple marriages under his belt. Ultimately it goes nowhere, but it's a fun bit of quirky world building and I loves me some world building. Episode 19 also sets Lana (Dougie's widow) up to be a much bigger deal than she ends up being, showing her to be some kind of siren able to capture the hearts of men. (Afterwards she is just a gold digger trying to get Dwayne to use his power as Mayor to win her a beauty pageant)
One of the highlights of the ep 17-20 run is of course pre-Xfiles David Duchovny as DEA Agent Denise Bryson. Now there is a little bit of unenlightened snickering in the script, quirky lines etc but on the whole the depiction of a Transgender woman here in 1991 is a very positive one. Denise is an agent that is fully capable and in control at all times, with her set to reappear in Season 3 there has been some more writing on the portrayal which I would direct people to read here and here. Denise is of course involved in the Jean Renault plot line which sadly kind of fizzles out here in Ep 20. The biggest issue is we quickly shit from the scheming and dangerous Jean Renault of the start of the season, to a pretty thick small time crook here. Cooper finds his hide out (A place ominously called Dead Dog Farm) at random while looking into buying a house in Twin Peaks. Not only that, rather than use the border to protect him from Law Enforcement he has meeting here with Hank Jennings and Norma's dodgy step father AS WELL AS THE MOUNTIE WHO IS CONSPIRING WITH HIM. You'd think leaving cocaine residue in the sink of a house for sale that screams "junkie den" would be the worst place to do you secret deals, then well you'd be right. Jean is undone by some clever thinking for Truman and Denise, as well as being about as dim as his two brothers ultimately. All this is a pretty sad end to a promising villain, while the bait and switch with Denise is cool and shows her to be a capable field agent, Jean ends up as a bit of a fizzer after a promising start. (One Eyed Jacks, such an iconic part of Season one is also now gone from the show)

Major Briggs comes back, and we get some nice and some somewhat dated bits of Alien abduction stuff including him returning dressed in an old timey aviators uniform for some reason. Some of the video effects date quite poorly but this is full of cool images as well, like the monks against the stars or the Major seated in a chair of vines. This combined with the Windom Earle teases sets up for the actual second arc of the series, the Black Lodge arc. This stuff is not as elegantly surreal as Season 1's BOB/MIKE or the red room, but its still a good little idea that ramps up slowly. It just needs to be packed in with better B plots...

Josie becomes Catherine's maid, having escaped her employer Thomas Eckhardt and returned to be with Harry. Josie's plot is another of these mid season plots that needed a little more development to become A+ material. We see hints at Josie's tragic past and her drive to keep her head above water whilst surrounded by terrible people who will use her or kill her. She is a scam artists, elevated from the streets to be a play thing between millionaires, is she playing Harry? It's hard to tell, she needed a little more meat on her as a character in my opinion but the moral ambiguity of her actions are intriguing if not underdeveloped. She is accessory in the murder of Andrew Packard, she is an accessory in the attempted murder of Catherine Martel, she is an accessory to the insurance fraud being carried out by Ben Horne, she murders Mr Lee and she is soon to be found out to be the person who shot a Federal Agent. That is a bigger wrap sheet than most people in this show. You get the feeling that she is constantly running from scam to scam, trying to get free of Eckhardt's control in the only way she knows how. (Eckhardt is also David Warner, who gets criminally little screen time)

What isn't underdeveloped is the constant tease in Season 2 of Leo waking up. Leo is a horrible character, and one shown in great effect in the first season. Even as a coma patient in a wheel chair they manage to make him threatening, each move or convulsion could have him awake and a threat to Shelly again. What I think makes this plot very effective is the two characters involved's totally divergent reactions. Shelly clearly sees Leo as still a threat to her life and freedom, even comatose he is able to keep her in the house and terrify her by twitching or mumbling or spitting up. For Bobby, he is what he always had been, a potential for making Money. At first Bobby made money off the Drugs Leo brought into town, next Bobby hoped to use the insurance money to make life easy for Shelly and he, finally Bobby decides to use Leo to blackmail Ben Horne. Leo is in Shelly's house still because of Bobby's greed, and yes Bobby is scared of Leo but not in the same way as Shelly is. At the end of Episode 20 we get the pay off as Leo finally awakens in a pretty scary scene that is continued very well next week...

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

There's nothing quite like urinating in the open air. (Twin Peaks Episode 17 and 18)

"Dispute between brothers"
and "Masked Ball" - Twin Peaks 17, 18 (Air dates Dec 8 and 15 1990)

Ok so time says I need to pull some double duty now if I am to get this done by the Season 3 premier in under a weeks time. (!) So I will be doing some double episode posts through the slow part of Season 2...

After the emotional tour de force of the previous three episodes, where do you go from here? It is probably for the best that this is the middle of the season and not the start of a new one as Episode 17 as a season opening would have been poison. In many ways it feels very much like the characters are going through the motions, without any direction or goal in mind. The main story thread we pick up is Cooper being disciplined for crossing the border, allegedly the raid on One eyed Jacks ruined a sting Canadian authorities had been planning. The fact that people died (Goons, Blackie, Emory) makes the situation even worse for him. Now, the fact that this is a set up by Jean Renault is a nice bit of plot, the Mountie making the complaint is in fact in Jean's pocket. Sadly this is revealed in Episode 17 and doesn't really work out as intrigue ridden as it could have been. I'll get into that more as we get to the arcs conclusion.

Now Mid Season 2 has a lot of Bad plots, these two episodes set them up with Little Nicky, crazy Ben Horne and of course "James without a cause". James gets moody and rides out of town, encountering a beautiful woman (Evelyn) who needs help with her husband's car. Of course, obvious dodgy situation is obvious as soon as she seduces him and attempts to frame him for murdering her husband in an automobile accident... and this is all pinned on James Marshall who as already discussed isn't the most charismatic actor. The plot get slightly better later on as Donna gets involved and they face some peril at the hands of Evelyn and her "brother who is really her lover and co-conspirator. Ultimately though it is average soap opera trash, and it is almost a metaphor for this part of the season, as soon as the storyline ends the series picks up and charges to the end. This is also Jame's last hurrah sadly, as he doesn't appear in the season climax episodes.

There is of course some good here, Episodes 17 and 18 start to set up the second arc of the series; the Black Lodge. Cooper begins to receive correspondence from his old partner Windom Earle, starting their chess game and setting up the real villain for the second half of the series. The concept of the Black and White lodges are introduced via Major Briggs's abduction in the woods while night fishing with Cooper. This is during a conversation where he brings the topic up, and is expanded upon by Hawk in Episode 18. The White lodge is the place where the spirits that rule man and nature reside, the Black is the White's shadow self which purifies souls of evil.
These are some good steps, but they are only very small parts of a pair of episodes that totally lack the energy and direction of the earlier series. Its as if the gas tank is empty, and all we get are some fumes. With Frost and Lynch largely absent during this section of the series we see the staff writers trying to keep the series going but with no real vision from the top and a colossally hard act to follow.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

That Gum you like is going to come back in style (Twin Peaks Episode 16)

Arbitrary Law - Twin Peaks episode 16 (Air date Dec 1 1990)

To many, this is the final episode of Twin Peaks. The resolution of the Laura Palmer arc and the solving of a mystery that got millions hooked on the show. The law enforcement officers of the town push on to charge and put Ben Horne away for the murder, while Agent Cooper asks for more time to find the real killer. Leland, convinced that he has gotten away with murder of Laura and Maddy continues to indulge his appetites, his attention shifting to Donna briefly.
Here we get the pay off from Coopers dream, in her secret diary Laura explains having the same dream and trying to tell BOB's secret to Cooper. Finally she whispered the secret in his ear "My Father, Killed me"

This information triggers Coopers memory and allows him to recall the solution he dreamt of many episodes ago. Triggered by Leland commenting on the old waiter's gum, the old waiter then advising. "That gum you like is going to come back in style"
Remarkably, this is not an episode directed or written by Lynch. It is known that Lynch and Frost had the identity of the killer established, and while Lynch directed the revelatory episode (Ep 14) the end of the arc is here directed by Tim Hunter who does very well capturing some of the surreal elements of the series here. Its a memorable episode, from the scene at the roadhouse to the final revelation of Leland as the killer.
This is where Peaks very much shows itself as an anti-mystery, Cooper's clues are in no way material. They are all behavioral , symbolic and coincidental. He draws his conclusion from his dream and the elements of it that appeared in reality as opposed to the material clues; such as the bloody shirt, the diary or the scene at Jacques cabin. Coincidentally my partner picked up on the undertones of domestic violence and fingered Leland as the killer very early on when I showed her the series for the first time a few years ago, because of the way he acted and related to Sarah Palmer and the rest of the town.

The big question at the end of this arc is , was Leland just mad? Was BOB real? Until the final episode of the series, there is a good case that BOB was just a personification of Leland's madness. Until that last scene, we see no one else who has been possessed by the malicious BOB, only the implication that he wanted to possess Laura but she resisted. (And even then, that is from Leland's mouth) What if BOB wasn't real? Sarah Palmer is the first to describe the long haired man, Laura talks about BOB but never describes him, and Cooper and Maddy only see him after Sarah does. Is he just a shared Psychic expression of Leland's dark half?

So now the first arc is over and there is about 8 days until the new series. I am unsure if I will be able to get all these episode recaps done on time, and I will be covering the new series here when it launches. We are about to drift into the dread "Downtime" section of Season 2, where is becomes a series without much of a direction and a deteriorating audience. Arbitrary law feels like the end of a series, despite several threads still being loose.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy. - Twin Peaks Episode 15

Drive with a Dead Girl - Twin peaks Episode 15 (Air date Nov 17 1990)

Needless to say, this episode belongs to Ray Wise. It is mostly focused on Leland and his strange manic behaviour the day after killing Maddy,  while the Sheriff and authorities are fixated on Ben Horne. Wise is able to effortlessly shift between happy dancing Leland, Leland the crying wreck of a man with some fringe knowledge of his actions, and Leland the cackling maniac.

Looking at the series and "Fire walk with me" as a whole, it actually is difficult to parse when we are seeing Leland and when we are seeing BOB. BOB as an agent seems highly skilled at manipulating those around him, a simple analysis would hold that season 1 Leland is Leland, He is mournful and crying at the loss of his daughter, he then kills Jacques and his hair goes white overnight. After that he is much more "together", he is joyful and eccentric but no longer an obsessively dancing wreck. This more in control Leland is BOB, or is it? You see I am not sure. BOB knows who killed Laura, so why would avenging her death by killing Jacques bring him calm? It may bring Leland calm, especially if he is tangentially aware that BOB has been doing things which he could blame on Laura falling in with Jacques and Leo in the first place. (Smoking, drugs etc) What if BOB is so integrated with Leland's personality that there is little difference? What if only Leland at his most childlike (Such as when he visits Laura in her room in tears in Fire walk with me, or after BOB leaves in the next episode) is the only "real" Leland and the rest is a mix of the two with BOB becoming dominant from time to time? Remember, darkhaired Leland had already killed two women before the series started (Laura and Teresa Banks). Maybe killing Jacques represented a pulling away from BOB's influence? (Killing a guilty and corrupt man who may have killed your daughter) Maybe Maddy's death pulled him back into line? (Killing an innocent) It gets more complicated the more you think about it, and maybe a killer's mind should be?

The rest of the episode is focused primarily on the incarcerated Ben Horne and his plucky barred from practising law in multiple states council Jerry. Ben is not having a good day, and it gets worse when Pete turns up with a message from Catherine. Good old Pete has made quite the heel turn since his wife has come back, and his joy at seeing Ben in jail is an insight into what Catherine saw in him when they married. He seems he would be a fine toady for a villian.

The episode ends with Maddy washing up just like Laura did, wrapped in plastic. Even in death, Maddy is just like her cousin, and sadly like an echo her death has much less impact than the original sound.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

It is happening again. It is happening again. (Twin Peaks Episode 14)

Lonely Souls - Twin Peaks Episode 14 (Air date Nov 10 1990)

Well it has all been leading to this huh?
As I said when I started doing these posts these are not recaps of the episodes, you can get those in 1001 other places on the web. These are my impressions of a series I loved 25 years ago after re-watching it today, so many things are going to be glossed over.
And there pretty much isn't anything in this episode that isn't overshadowed by this guy.

Ep 14 is what the series to this point has been heading towards, written by Frost and directed by Lynch it is perhaps the best of the whole series. It's tight, effective and gripping all the way through. It has great spoonfuls of Lynch's trademark surrealism atop the solid framework of Frost's script-writing. In a wonderfully two sided revelation, we the audience are given the real killer (Leland) while Harry and Cooper arrest their #1 suspect Ben Horne. The whole episode is full of great scenes and amazing, sometimes perplexing imagery. The scene with MIKE inspecting people at the Great Northern is great, with Ben bursting in at the right moment. AND WHY ARE ALL THE NAVY PEOPLE BOUNCING BALLS? Even the super Nadine scene is fine, understated and a little terrifying as she shatters a milkshake glass casually and doesn't notice the glass in her hand whilst telling everyone how happy she is. (Kind of shows where this plot could have gone with a little more care)

But the centre of the episode is the reveal and the murder of Maddy Ferguson. Sarah Palmer is drugged while the old time record player ticks at the end of the disk, crawling downstairs and seeing a Pale horse in a spotlight as she passes out. The horse has only appeared twice so far, each time when Sarah was drugged by Leland prior to murdering Laura and then Maddy. The Pale horse hasn't shown up enough to have much more meaning built into it besides Death or Drug use, but in the new series you never know...

So many of the shots in this episode are amazing, I could fill this post with just stills and it would still be a worthy post on the series. The mise en scene is great as well, great uses of pan shots and camera movements, use of light and shadow both in the murder scene and the roadhouse scene, the switch between the gritty mundane actions of Lealand and the slowed down surreal images of BOB killing Maddy whilst haloed by a spotlight. The scene is both amazing and terrible, few more brutal murders have been put on TV, it grips you with Maddy's fear and BOB's hunger for it. While many film gimmicks are used in it's depiction, the murder itself is simple, brutish and nasty, a vastly more significant event than any of the elaborate murders of a show like "Hannibal"or the CG laced gore of "The Walking Dead". As I noted last time, Maddy isn't really even much of a character but her death seems so real, sad and horrible all at the same time. 

A woman is murdered here, and we feel it. The whole town feels it in fact, as the psychic shockwaves of BOB fulfilling his promise seem to echo throughout the rest of the episode's scenes. This is not a beautiful death, or a puzzle to be solved. A woman is dead, and the script and production hammer that home in no uncertain terms, we watch a terrible act and not only witness it but feel it as well. Lynch's direction and flourishes do not glorify or dwell on the murder, they express the terrifying events of a domestic setting turned to evil. From the clacking of the turntable, to the picture frame Maddy's head is driven into.

Meanwhile the Log Lady tells Cooper that there are Owls at the Roadhouse. Cooper, the Log Lady and Harry go, and basically sit down and watch Julie Cruise perform. (Not a bad way to spend an evening tbh) Donna and James are there as well as Bobby and Jerry. Cooper then sees the Giant who tells him that "It is Happening again". It is almost as if the Log Lady and the woods are telling Cooper that they have the wrong man arrested...

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Cooper. You remind me today of a small Mexican Chihuahua. (Twin Peaks Episode 13)

Demons - Episode 13 (Air Date: Nov 3 1990)

That quote I have used as a tile should be spelt as Lynch, in his first appearance as FBI Regional Bureau chief Gordon Cole, pronounces it. "ChiWOWwow"
The hearing impaired boss of our strange federal agent Dale Cooper is a comedic and magnetic presence in the scenes he appears in right from the start. In many ways Cole is Lynch dialled up to 11 and appearing in his own world much the same way Vonnegut did to Kilgore Trout.

But I have jumped ahead a little, last weeks cliffhanger is resolved quickly and mercilessly to poor Harold as James bursts in and rescues the girls. This of course reaffirms his feelings for Donna and leads to him facing his feelings for Maddy; in that he had no feelings for Maddy really and was just imposing his unresolved feelings for Laura on her. (Did I mention how much I disliked Donna on this rewatch? As it seems that James picks the wrong gal)
It is at this point in the series rewatch where you do start to feel really bad for Maddy knowing what is to come for her. Maddy is just a less outgoing version of everything people thought Laura was, she seems genuinely nice and accomplished in her own right. Several years older than Laura almost every character in the series interacts with her based only on her resemblance to Laura, even Laura. Maddy tells stories of them swapping clothes and tricking people when they were young, also of her introducing Laura to cigarettes when she was 16. Even her uncle only ever relates to her as a proxy for Laura, especially at the bitter end...

For the most part "Demons" is a slower episode than the previous two, a calm before the flurry of events to come. Audrey is recovering from being given a near overdose of Heroin while in captivity across the border AND dealing with the knowledge her father owns One Eyed Jacks and had slept with Laura. Bobby and Shelly welcome Leo home, and Leo's recovery from the coma is teased. Leo in a Coma is just as scary as Leo awake, and the series does an amazing job of making his every twitch seem like a threat. Josie is preparing her end game, grabbing as much cash as she can from Ben and fleeing as her "boss" demands her return to Hong Kong. (More on that later) Nadine comes home and the great "Nadine thinks she's 18 again" plot begins and finally Catherine is sneaking around in the least convincing yellowface disguise one could imagine.
At the end of the episode Cooper and co finally are able to interrogate MIKE, who while repeating aspects of the story he told in Cooper's dream reveals that BOB has been for almost 40 years has been in a lodge house made of wood, surrounded by trees. A house with many rooms each alike, yet occupied by different souls night after night...
The Great Northern Hotel!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

There are things you can't get in books. (Twin Peaks Episode 12)

The Orchid's Curse (Airdate October 28 1990)

I have to say the new series is getting really close, I am going to need to hustle to get this recap done before we have a new series! Showtime have been dropping teasers for a while but this week we got the first that included new footage from the 2017 series. Here it is:

Anyway, back 25 years or so in the past the story is headed towards the end of it's first arc. Leland Palmer is allowed to go free pending trial for the murder of Jacques. Hawk also uncovers inconsistencies in Leland's memory of the grey haired man (BOB) that lived near his parents holiday home when he was a child.

The central action piece of this episode is the raid on One Eyed Jacks by Harry and Cooper. Cooper works out that Audrey is being held across the border, and as they plan Jean makes his plans to kill Cooper with a hidden blade when they do the ransom handoff. Harry and Cooper make a nighttime raid to take back Audrey, witnessing Jean kill Blackie in the process they make their escape with the unconscious Ms Horne. Hawk saves the two of them (and looks pretty dern cool in the process) after they are cornered by the casino's security. As they escape, Hank Jennings has been surveilling the place and  calls Ben to inform him that Audrey is safe. Hank is surprised by Jean who fishes the ID from the county prosecutor that Hank had stolen, believing him to be a law officer.

When I started this rewatch I discovered myself disliking Donna Hayward, not something I have done in the past. From the beginning of the series she is Laura's best friend and the leader of the alternate investigation into Laura's death. Right from the pilot she tells James they needed to solve the crime for Laura, because the authorities didn't care about Laura like they did. The games she plays are similar to Audrey's attempts to impress Cooper, but while Audrey is foolhardy in overestimating her own cleverness, Donna comes across as selfish and often callous. Not only does she persuade James to help in concealing evidence (the necklace, the tapes for Jacoby) but people actively get hurt due to her investigations. After Jacoby has a heart attack while in the park following Maddy/Laura, Cooper warns Donna to stop playing the dangerous game she is playing. But that does not dissuade Donna, and after taking up Laura's old meals on wheel route she meets Harold and finds out about Laura's Secret Diary. So she decides to get Maddy to help her break in and steal the diary from the shut in's home. In perfect Donna fashion, that does not go well and the normally calm and gentle Harold becoming upset and enraged by Donna's betrayal. This does not work out well for Harold, and we leave this episode with him confronting Donna and Maddy whilst cutting his own face with a garden fork. (In a pretty bad bit of sfx makeup tbh...)  While ultimately a clue is discovered and gotten to Cooper, it is only after Harold hangs himself. Donna has one heart attack, and one corpse under her belt as a result and she is unable to learn enough information about Laura's killer to protect Maddy...

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Heaven is a large and interesting place (Twin peaks Episode 11)

Laura's Secret Diary- Twin Peaks Episode 11 (October 20 1990)

You could say the first cracks in Season 2 occurred with the beginning of the Dick/Andy/Lucy plot, it's the first character subplot introduced that really starts to hit cringe levels. Like many series Twin Peaks has A plots and B plots, at this point the murder of Laura Palmer is still the A plot. The numerous B plots from season one are still quite strong; Audrey at One Eyed Jacks, The Ben/Catherine/Josie plot based around the mill etc. Some of the new B plots are weaker and the quality doesn't improve until the end of the season when most of them are killed off... (Some literally)
This week we get a little more of these developing B stories, Andy's infertility and M T Wentz the restaurant critic. I like the Andy and Lucy double act, and even like Dick as a melodramatic bit of comic relief, but from this point in they do push things a little far into the comedic realm.

We also get a little glimpse into some more world building, the visit of Judge Sternwood for the initial hearings into Leland's killing of Jacques and Leo's competency for trail. We learn that the town has no court house for example, the hearings are held in the Roadhouse and that the town is part of Sternwood's circuit. I honestly never understood this when I was younger, but seeing a real old fashioned travelling circuit judge gives you more of a feeling of the town's isolation from the "real" world. 

The last element of note is that which the episode is titled, Donna getting to know Harold in order to gain access to Laura's diary. There is some explanation for why Harold has not felt the need to hand it in to the Sheriff, he feels there is no answers within it. Harold's fear/inability to go outside probably also plays into this, a condition that is never fully explained. Donna starts to plot with Maddy to gain steal the diary from Harold, a series of events I am sure will go well...

Yes Maddy I am sure it is.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

She's ready for her close-up now. (Twin Peaks Episode 10)

The Man behind the Glass, Twin Peaks Episode 10 (Oct13 1990)

Episode 10 continues to develop several of the cliffhanger points from the end of Season one. Audrey is now directly imperilled by the powers that run One eye jacks. Blackie has called in Jacques' older brother Jean in an attempt to muscle Ben Horne out of the establishment using Audrey as a hostage. Jean wants the man who killed his brother as payment, and naturally he holds Cooper responsible. Jean brings the air of not being the small time crook his two brothers have been shown to be, and Michael Parks is able to bring alot of quiet dread to the character. We are quickly given the understanding the Jean is not the simpleton Bernard was, nor the drunken drug runner that Jacques was. (Pitty this all resolves in the.. spotty... part of season 2) A very dangerous man indeed.

We are also given another new character, one probably more connected to the whole central mystery of the series. Harold Smith, a charismatic shut in with a hint of Normal Bates. I have very mixed feelings about Harold, portrayed well by Lenny Von Dohlen but not always with the best material. (We will see that later...) Harold is a poetic man who grow Orchids whom Laura met while doing meals on wheels. She entrusted in him the legendary "Secret diary" to go along with the lives he chronicles in his notebooks. Donna, taking over Laura's meals on wheels rounds, encounters Harold and discovers his intimate connection with her best friend. (Spoiler: It doesn't go well and is all Donna's fault) 

For our third trick we have another well acted character who is let down by the mid Season 2 slump. Richard Tremayn is the third wheel in the Lucy and Andy love bicycle, a man who shared a night on a bed in Horne's Home furnishings with Lucy and possible father of her child. Ian Buchanan is a soap opera actor who has appeared in both "The Bold and the Beautiful" and "Days of our Lives" and his presence is a subtle nod to that part of Twin Peak's DNA. After his initial appearance as a potential spoiler to Andy and Lucy's romance he is relegated to some terrible comedy mid season. But Ian Buchanan manages to work with anything he is given with the gusto of a skilled character actor, some of his scenes are a little cringe 25 years on but he is always entertaining. 

Some, including some of the cast, have criticised the influx of new characters that Season 2 brings. This is a valid criticism, especially since the last season cliff hanger only really removed one character from the mix (Jacques) permanently. Bringing in new characters is an often occurring event for a new TV season, and this sometimes results in a reduction of screen time for existing characters. This doesn't happen alot in Twin Peaks, but as we will talk about in the so called mid season drought we will see some of these characters have almost nothing to do (Dick) or unsatisfactory resolutions (Jean)