Welcome to our biweekly roundtable of Twin Peaks where we are working our way through every. Single. Episode. Some of us are regulars and some of us newbies, but none of our experiences are the same. So get yourself a damn fine cup of coffee, watch along with us, and feel free to chime in on the comments section. Say anything you like, our log does not judge.
Twin Peaks’ second, but no longer final, season begins! Interesting bit of trivia: Steven Spielberg was in early talks to direct this episode, but it didn’t work out. There are a lot of “what might have beens” in the world of Twin Peaks, but it’s difficult to imagine another major director working on a show that is so completely David Lynch’s vision.
The episode immediately picks up with Agent Cooper after he was shot in the last moments of season 1’s finale. As he lies bleeding on the floor, we’re treated to a long, strange, dreamlike scene in which Cooper is visited first by a doddering old waiter who is oblivious to Cooper’s injured state, and later, a mysterious, otherworldly giant.
Is this the hallucination of a dying man? No, because the Giant takes Cooper’s ring from his finger, which Cooper later realizes is gone. The supernatural elements of Twin Peaks have largely been absent since Cooper’s dream sequence several episodes ago, which makes this apparition all the more startling. The giant seems benevolent and offers Cooper several helpful clues, but it’s unnerving to note that not only can the spirits of Twin Peaks cross over into the material world, they can touch and even possess people. (Note that the little old waiter and the giant are wearing almost identical clothing.)
Kyle Maclachlan can’t be praised enough for this scene. He’s lying on the floor, injured and barely able to move, and he’s at different turns hilarious, polite, deadpan, and wistful. His strained yet sincere thumb’s up to the waiter is so completely, perfectly Cooper.
This is an episode of visions and transformations –some good, some bad. In addition to Cooper’s vision of the giant, Maddy Ferguson imagines the carpet of the Palmer home covered in blood. Like her aunt Sarah and her cousin Laura, Maddy has a very foreboding connection to the horrors of Twin Peaks.
Meanwhile, Major Briggs has a vision of being reunited with his troubled and estranged son. Bobby’s understated, tearful reaction to his father’s vision is some great acting by Dana Ashbrook. Bobby Briggs is a shittheel, the ultimate 90s bad boy — he has a leather jacket and flannel shirt tied around his waist, so you know he’s trouble — and with this scene he’s somehow more complex and likeable than the guy he just framed for cocaine possession. (Oh, James.)
Transformations: after killing Jacques Renault, Leland Palmer’s hair turns completely white, and his behavior switches from raw grief to giddy mania. His singing and dancing get better though. I crack up whenever I see Leland wearing a tuxedo at the Haywards’ casual dinner party, and yep, inviting Leland to your dinner party goes about as well as you’d expect. (Don’t invite Leland to your dinner party.)
Donna inexplicably discovers her inner femme fatale and–look, this is where I Just Can’t Anymore with Donna. Her overnight transformation into a hardboiled dame who smokes, wears dark sunglasses, and wants to fuck James in a holding cell, is really unbelievable. (Sherilyn Fenn throws a bit of shade at Lara Flynn Boyle’s performance in Reflections: An Oral History of Twin Peaks, implying that Boyle was jealous of the attention and nominations Fenn received for playing Audrey. So basically, Donna’s sudden turnaround this season is because she wanted to imitate Audrey, and in my opinion it does not work at all.) Not only does Donna come off as a little girl playing dress up in mommy’s clothing, but her cold, uncaring reaction when she hears about Dr. Jacoby torpedos my remaining sympathy for the character.
The season 2 premiere ends with poor Ronnette Pulaski remembering the night Laura Palmer died. Most of the violence in this scene is implied, with brief glimpses of the super creepy “BOB” attacking Laura intercut with Ronnette thrashing in her hospital bed. It’s one of the most disturbing scenes in the show so far, sadly suggesting that there’s much more horror ahead.
And remember: the owls are not what they seem.
Rewatching season two is even more exciting than the first season, because I barely remember it. I know how it ends and can recall several snippets, but the big picture is hazy. This will be like watching it for the first time.
That room service would not have received a tip from me. Not a penny. He wouldn’t have received that thumb’s up, either. Cooper is so courteous.
The song Leland is singing is Mairzy Doats, a little ditty from the 40s covered by several artists including Spike Jones and Stan Laurel.
Agent Rosenfield’s reaction to Andy getting hit with the plank is priceless.
I couldn’t agree more with Kayleigh about Donna’s unbelievable transformation. The performance felt forced and unnatural. It was an unnecessary side story for those characters and I wish it wasn’t included at all.
Also, thank you for clarifying Maddy’s reaction to her vision. I thought it was a coffee stain and that she was horrified by the experience of seeing a detail from a nightmare come into being. It being a bloodstain makes much more sense. Her later destruction of her eyeglasses might be a rejection of her vision — Maddy wants to unsee the horrors she knows exist.