Twin Peaks Revisited: 2.14
TV revivals are a big thing. In 2016, The X Files returned to our screens after a 14-year absence and here at The Digital Fix, we revisited key episodes across its ten seasons and two movies. But there is one revival that is surely bigger than that; Twin Peaks will be returning for an unprecedented third season, directed by David Lynch and set twenty-five years after season two’s shocking ending. It is a revival that has everyone excited and anxious in equal measure. With a phenomenal cast, including nearly every original actor there is hope that Twin Peaks’ new season can recapture the magic of the first year and a half. So, like The X Files, we’ve decided to revisit each episode in the build up to the show’s return. We’ll treat each revisit fresh and try to keep major conjecture to future episodes separate. So whether you’re seeking to revisit an old classic or ready to find out what all the fuss is about, let’s return to the world of Twin Peaks…
James tries to escape Evelyn's clutches as her husband is killed, the truth about Little Nicky is revealed, Thomas Eckhardt arrives at Twin Peaks as Andrew Packhard reveals himself to Pete. Leo stalks Shelley and encounters Windom Earle as Dale Cooper reveals the truth about his ex partner to Sheriff Truman.
After clawing back some semblance of greatness in the last episode, that trend continues in episode 14, an entry that makes attempts to bring closure to a couple of frustrating storylines while accelerating Windom Earle's. It's telling that Dale Cooper's nemesis finally makes his entrance in the episode's closing moments; those worried that Twin Peaks had completely lost the plot after Laura Palmer's murder was solved can rest assured that there is still life in the show yet.
Of course the damage was already done; the show originally lost viewers after Leyland Palmer's death - the subsequent three episodes proving to be the worst in the show's history - and while this episode continues to mark improvements in the latter half of the second season, it is easy to see why so many had already switched off. After all, episode nine could have, with a couple of minor adjustments, served as a satisfying resolution to the show. Now that things are hotting up again, it's gratifying to see that the show has built up Earle's storyline nicely; the seeds laid since the early days of season two, and his reveals at the end feels earned. It's just unfortunate that there was so much dirge in recent weeks before we got to that point. Could audiences have been given something better than James and Evelyn, schoolgirl Nadine and the little Nicky storylines?
The biggest success of the episode is that it puts to be the third and most awful plot in the show's history. Watching the god awful Dick Truman and the sappy deputy Andy drag Lucy into the sordid mystery of Little Nicky remains painful to watch, so Doc Hayward bringing them together - and telling them to shut up - is a great moment. The reveal is a mind numbing, sordid affair. Nicky's mother was an immigrant chambermaid who was raped and died in childbirth. Little Nicky grew up in an orphanage and was adopted before his new parents died in a car accident. And that's it. There is no satisfying pay off, just the unbearable weeping of Dick and Andy as the story is told. The only success is that we don't have to put up with the story any more.
After redeeming herself (a little) last week, Nadine is absent this week thankfully, leaving the latest melodrama that is James and Evelyn to unfold. Donna goes in search of James (I don't know why she bothers) and meets Evelyn at the bar where she is told James headed off to Mexico. James meanwhile meets Evelyn's husband Jeffrey who is not the monster he is made out to be. But that doesn't stop a terribly fatal accident happening off screen (the use of the car screeching sound effects as it happens off screen in incredibly cheap). Annette McCarthy delivers a cliched performance as a woman afraid for her life and confessing her passionate love to James to keep him to stay. There's nothing believable about her performance and even the revelation that her brother Malcolm is not actually her brother fails to save this sorry storyline. Thankfully James shows an ounce of common sense for the first time ever as makes his escape, running into Donna as he makes his exit - though the arrival of the police means he's probably going to find himself framed for murder before this storyline reaches its end.
The melodrama doesn't end there, though director Uli Edel makes good use with what he was given. Ben Horne's madness is complete, locking himself in a civil war reenactment that an observing - and participating - Doctor Jacoby notes is his way to reverse his own setbacks by reversing the outcome of a major civil war battle. I would probably have found it painful to watch had we not had worse storylines - which isn't exactly an endorsement - but at least it makes sense and has some amusing moments, not least Audrey and Jerry's utter disbelief at what Ben has become. The 'black widow' Lana story is also a little bizarre - particularly every male character's infatuation with her but I loved the twist of Mayor Wayne Milford deciding to marry the woman after recently accusing his brother's widow of sexual witchcraft.
The use of Grieg's Piano Concerto in A minor as Catherine reveals to Pete that her brother Andrew is alive feels a little over the top but it does set the second big powerplay in the show as Andrew reveals that his rival Thomas Eckhardt hired Josie to kill him. Now poor Josie is being used as bait and the arrival of Thomas really ups the deadly game between them. Not only that, Thomas Eckhardt is played by David Warner, whose first scene wearing sunglasses and staring into the fire, is delightfully villainous. Dan O'Herlihy's Andrew is the perfect actor with gravitas to bounce off Warner and I'm looking forward to seeing this play out. There are some moments I still remember but it's thrilling to see the show build to their deadly confrontation.
The best moment of the episode is probably the opening and Uli Edel really directs the hell out of the scene as an awakened Leo stalks Shelley. Leo bathed in shadow, the axe in his hand while Shelley frantically tries to escape the locked house is something out of a slasher movie and the violent struggle with a returning Bobby, Shelley stabbing Leo in the leg and Leo bursting through the plastic sheeting and howling into the night is one of Twin Peaks' most tense and atmospheric moments - at least after Maddy's death. Stumbling on Windom Earle at the cabin as the storm rages outside, Leo encounters the one man more evil than him and their alliance promises and great and terrible things ahead.
As for Windom Earle, there are some intriguing twists as the audience learns more about his character. Cooper reveals the truth to Truman; at first it is the same story he told Audrey, that Earle was his partner, that the woman he loved and was trying to protect died and Earle went mad, but Cooper's halo is tarnished by the reveal that the woman he loved - Caroline - was Earle's wife. But any sympathy for Earle is quickly brushed aside with the added reveal that Earle likely killed her and was feigning the madness that had him institutionalized all this time. Earle is a ruthless, evil killer and in those closing moments Kenneth Welsh delivers a quiet menace as he greets Leo as he stands over the chess board, biding his time.
Episode 14 certainly continues the upward trend as the terrible Little Nicky storyline is wrapped up and even the frustrating Ben Horne's madness and the James and Evelyn plotlines start to come to an end. The rivalry between Andrew Packhard and Thomas Eckhardt is adding another thrilling dimension to the show. The Windom Earle story is really hotting up and Kenneth Welsh's debut is intriguing. There are moments of pure horror in Leo's awakening and the supernatural elements come to the fore again as a returning Briggs reveals he was abducted and taken to the white lodge. Twin Peaks season two is still one with a number of issues; fortunately the good moments are starting to take precedent again.
Mayor Dwayne Milford: “Anybody moves and I'll blast her into kingdom come!.”
[Points to Dr. Jacoby]
“And the hippie too!.”
Future episode observations – spoilers afoot…
Leo will be a pawn in Windom Earle's game as he becomes a major villain in the final run of episodes. James will find himself framed for Jeffrey's murder. Josie will be killed as the rivalry between Andrew Packhard and Thomas heats up. The eventual arrive of new love interest Annie will follow a similar path to Cooper's lost love Caroline...