"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.