Welcome back to TV Timewarp, in which we spend Wednesdays revisiting each episode of a late, beloved series. Join us as we journey back in TV time to examine Twin Peaks, the wonderfully weird, cerebral murder mystery and quirky townie exercise from David Lynch and Mark Frost. Twin Peaks aired on ABC from 1990-91.
Brian Collins, Evan Saathoff (aka Sam Strange) and I are discussing the twelfth and thirteenth episodes of Season Two. Follow along the entire series here.
Hey, not so bad, right? Well, here’s the thing. There are a couple of storylines that I think I’m just going to flat out refuse to write about anymore. If I do that, and squint my eyes and tilt my head, and drink six beers and smoke two bowls, and drop some acid and give myself a lobotomy, I can almost convince myself that I’m watching Twin Peaks Season One! We may still to have watch these storylines, but we don’t have to write about them, and you sure as shit don’t need to read about them anymore.
Those two storylines are, of course, James and Evelyn’s stupid twisty noir romance thing, and anything having to do with Little Nicky and Dick Tremayne. Except Dick’s outfits. I might still report on his outfits.
Also: Molly Shannon.
So, that tomfuckery aside, we’re left with some fun little gems of old school Twin Peaks business.
Starting with - Major Briggs! He’s already back so we don’t have to mourn his absence for too long, and instead we get to see him sitting in the mossy forest throne of hypnosis, recalling bits and pieces of his abduction.
I remember stepping from the flames, a vague shape
in the dark - then nothing. Until I found myself standing
by the cold remains of our campfire. Two days later....
My memories are immune to regression. I can feel
them, they are palpable. The smell and sensations...
everything is known to me. Yet somehow beyond my
He remembers a giant owl, and all of this is very classified and somehow having to do with the stars and the White Lodge and Cooper, and while I don’t remember if/am not convinced that this mystery actually leads to anything, I still dig it. It’s weird, poetic, enigmatic. Old school TP.
Also great: Nadine’s wrestling endeavors and attempts to woo Mike Nelson. Wendy Robie is just so funny and cute in these scenes, infinitely preferable to her maudlin arc of S1. I’m happy to have Ed and Norma flirting again, and listen - WE GET TO WATCH NADINE KICK HANK’S ASS. So whatever complaints you might have about Nadine’s storyline or the recurrence of Ed and Norma’s star-crossed love affair should be drowned in the pure joy of watching Hank Jennings get his ass beat by a woman in a cheerleading uniform.
Also - does she really pick up Gary Hershberger, the actor who plays Mike? It seems as if she does. That’s impressive.
While Ben’s descent into madness is kind of whatever, I do dig his Civil War coat. Bobby’s now “Ben Horne’s boy,” which he seems to think is a signal of his importance and not further indication of Ben’s insanity. Bobby’s totally over poor Shelly and flirting with Audrey, which Audrey uses to get information about Cooper’s frame up job. She finds pictures of Jean Renault, Norma’s father-in-law, Hank and the Mountie doing something vaguely nefarious together, which leads to a rather fun caper between the annoying father-in-law, Cooper, Jean Renault and David Duchovny’s Denise, who is still totally wonderful. “Hey, I may be wearing a dress but I still put my panties on one leg at a time, if you know what I mean.” I actually don’t know what you mean, Denise, but I’m intrigued. Tell me more! Also: nice stems.
And by the by - I’m still totally Team Audrey and Coop. I’m just going to be honest here and say I really, really want them to do it. And then they can get married and raise a family in Coop’s new Twin Peaks fixer-upper real estate investment! Coop definitely seems like himself again, charming the pants off everyone, giving beautiful profile shot soliloquies to Diane, investigating into his own frame job and the escalating chess game of Windom Earle. And the Windom Earle mystery is finally ratcheted up to 11 with the ghastly tableau Earle left in Truman’s office - a hideous corpse playing chess. Pretty cool, right? I could watch a lot more of that.
While I couldn’t give two shits about Josie the Maid, Catherine had a great week, seducing Ben the Madman and downing a glass of champagne just to get through Pete’s terrible toasts. “It’s Yeats. He’s a poet.” “Yes, I know.” And Josie’s maid cap is hilarious, so there’s that.
Of course, even putting aside the Two Storylines That Shall Go Unnamed, there was some stupidity, but nothing I really minded. I kind of liked the random Black Widow plot as she enchants the entire Twin Peaks Sheriff Department (even Hawk, who’s supposed to be madly in love!) and annoys Lucy. I don’t know why, but I like it. And while it’s more of the same-old-same-old with Bobby, Shelly and Leo, Leo finally wakes up and gets SUPER creepy, so maybe something will happen with that.
Yeah, okay. This is pretty good! We have nine more eps - we can do it, guys! Guys?
Well, I can get behind your summation of Cooper this week. He does seem like his old self again. But does it matter? And how long can it last before the next lapse? And who the fuck shot him? I’m way past the point where I can give Twin Peaks any benefit of doubt. It’s all cynicism all the time from here on out.
Major Briggs’ reappearance offers a perfect example. I thought it was great, as is pretty much any time we get to spend with this character. But I in no way expect it to matter. I know that any excitement brought up by Briggs’ White Lodge teases will amount to very little moments of satisfying storytelling. And I’m not saying that from a knowing position. From here to the end, I have very little memory of this what happens with this show.
But think about all the stupid shit we’ve gone through with Bobby. When he tells his mother of Major Briggs’ dream it’s supposed to be a really emotional moment, but I barely have any concept of who Bobby is as a character anymore, so who cares? Plus that scene between father and son the diner was a whole season ago. You can’t just do that, show.
One thing I like about Bad Twin Peaks is how nonsensical it gets. It’s nearly operating on pure non-sequitur at this point, and I guess I can get behind that. For instance, Random Old Man #2 died. What a tragedy. New Girl that Killed Him with Sex has some backstory to get off her boring chest. Everyone’s in love with her. Even Hawke, Twin Peaks’ sole remaining unadulterated character (save for Briggs). Lucy hates her. Well, I guess we’re done here.
Actually, the more I think about it, the more I love this idea. The much hated James storyline gets new energy if you just view it as sarcasm. James is just an idiot. He gets more ass than a toilet seat, but that also means he routinely gets covered with trucker asshair. I appreciate how much he smiled this week because James cannot smile and have an I.Q. above 75 at the same time.
You might as well have James on some kind of adventure. He’s all done with Donna. Even Donna’s all done with Donna. She’s back at school now. She talked to Nadine. Well, I guess we’re done here, too.
From this perspective, I suddenly look forward to more moments of Josie in her stupid maid outfit, and Hank’s bullshit sad/menace face. That’s a perfect get-up for Josie’s obvious self pity. And if Hank’s going to slink around being unconvincingly dangerous, he might as well get beaten up by Nadine, although I am upset that when she’s pounding his face, her superhuman strength ought to knock his stupid head right off.
This leads me to my new favorite storyline. Screw Windom Earle - I want to spend more time on this Devil Child Dick and Andy find themselves dealing with. First off, Little Nicky and Dick have matching gay outfits. +10pts. The kid may eventually kill Dick. +20pts. When going through the kid’s adoption files, Dick and Andy have to pretend they’re adoption officials when a couple of gay dudes come in to purchase a baby. +100pts. I believe this is the greatest Twin Peaks has ever been.
I am sorry to say goodbye to Michael Parks this episode, but I really liked the way all that played out, especially how he left the room only to walk back in and fall down, like he needed that tiny extra bit of screentime. By the way, has anyone ever looked more Canadian that the dude playing his Mountie drug partner? The guy looks like he sweats poutine.
It appears the show may find a new direction soon with the Windom Earle storyline. But we all know that just means part of it will find direction. A handful of characters may get involved, but the multitude who don’t will likely continue to wallow in silliness that offers only minor pleasures, like when the guy torturing you finally leaves your testicles alone to do a little fingernail work.
I knew we were in for trouble this week when Dick Tremayne was mentioned in the two line episode synopsis on Netflix. I’m sorry, why is Dick Treymayne, the second worst character ever on this show (which, as of late, is saying quite a bit), such a prominent figure in this or any other episode to warrant mention in the synopsis? It should always be “Cooper and Truman do something interesting. One of the female leads gets in trouble," more or less. I mean, if I’m watching The Office and the synopsis mentions Dwight’s cousin Mose, it’s probably not worth my effort.
Then again, it was ALMOST worth the incredibly unnecessary amount of screentime this subplot has gotten for the bit where they get caught in the adoption place and Tremayne’s best plan is to tell the would-be couple that the kid they want to adopt has died. I actually laughed out loud at that AND at the random, rambling speech from the coach re: Nadine and her school spirit or whatever. Plotwise these two episodes are about as useless as you can get (save for the reappearance of Briggs and the minor Windom Earle bits), but they’re not without some amusement. Hell, someone even eats pie!
The second episode also offers one of the best sight gags ever, even better than the random tennis players from S1. Coop is looking at Denise and Ernie Niles as they carry out their operation, via binoculars. And the shot plays out like it does in every movie ever, where the person somehow scans a bit past what they’re looking for and then jerks back, a sort of binocular POV double take. Except this is Twin Peaks, so Coop goes about 100 feet past his target, THEN shifts back. It makes Coop look like an idiot if you think about it, but why do that? The writers on the show clearly aren’t anymore, or else they would have realized that no one gives a flying fuck about James fixing a car for some lady who manages to make Josie look interesting.
Since the episodes didn’t demand close attention, I started thinking of a very easy way that the show could have been saved - dropping the long term cases and simply having Coop join the force there (or at least constantly hang out with them, like the guy on Castle or whatever) and help out on “case of the week” stuff that would last an episode or two. They could be as weird as anyone wanted, long as they didn’t drag out for infinity. And then there would be less need for all this other bullshit no one cares about. It’s obvious that they were trying to slowly build up Windom Earle but didn’t have much else to fall back on in the meantime, which is why we get supporting characters like Nadine and Andy getting their own major plots. If you look at the credits, you might think they’re backwards at this point; Lara Flynn Boyle and Madchen Amick are main stars but barely appear, but the “Also Starring” folks like Chris Mulkey (Hank) and Ian Buchanan (Dick) make up half the episode!
And then for the season finale they could do something more exciting, like find out who shot Coop or maybe have James drive his motorcycle into Dick Tremayne, killing them both.
Oh well. Earle is stepping up his game, and killer clown Leo is pretty awesome, so maybe things will start getting marginally better? And there’s still at least one more Albert appearance, right? RIGHT?
Just one question to leave you with this week, dear readers. Seriously - did Wendy Robie really pick up Gary Hershberger? That seems hard.
Next week! Leo's on a rampage, Windom Earle's deadly chess game escalates and - yes, Brian - ALBERT RETURNS!