Twin Peaks Revisited: 2.15
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…
Windom Earle tortures Leo and plans his next victims, Ben Horne's madness comes to a dramatic end while James and Donna face Evelyn and Malcolm one last time. Catherine and Thomas plot Josie's future and Albert returns to aid Cooper.
Actress Diane Keaton directed this latest episode of Twin Peaks and there are certainly some notable artistic flourishes throughout the episode that suits the dramatic, surreal, oddball nature of the show. This is evident from the opening shot of the episode, with the close up on the chess pieces that appear throughout the episode as Windom Earle and Dale Cooper's story gains momentum.
Kenneth Welsh is a great addition to the show as Cooper's villainous ex-partner. His opening scene with Leo shows him as a deranged madman, leaping about the cabin with his bamboo pipe as he reads out Leo's list of crimes with elation. Any suggestion that Leo had gained full control of his senses and would become Earle's partner are quickly dismissed as Earle beats him with the pipe, locks a metal collar around his neck and electrifies him. While highly disturbing, there is something rather satisfying about seeing Leo fall so far; though given his mental state I doubt we would see anything so cruel on today's television.
We also see him as a master of disguise, walking right past an unsuspecting Cooper at the Great Northern Hotel and leaving a chilling gift hin Cooper's room, a white mask - possibly in the visage of their dead love Caroline - with a dictaphone message to his rival. Shot through the eyes of the mask, it delivers a final, eerie shot to end the episode on. Even more disturbingly, Earle has picked out three potential new victims, Donna, Shelley and Audrey and leaving a message for Audrey at the hotel suggests her life may be in danger yet again. I suspect this would have had greater prominence had Kyle MacLachlan not shot down the show's original plan to have Audrey and Cooper become a romantic couple in the latter half of the season. It's also worth noting that Earle picks up the postcard with the owl's face, the animal familiar of the evil spirit Bob...
Keaton really makes good use of the excruciatingly bad James and Evelyn plot which, like the equally terrible Little Nicky story in the previous episode, comes to an end here. Throughout the episode we see the veiled face of Evelyn talking to the police, which is finally revealed to be her confession that her non-brother Malcolm killed her husband, not James. Unfortunately for poor James we have to witness more painful melodrama before we get to the conclusion of this sorry tale and he drags poor Donna into it too. But I like how Keaton presents this story with just the right balance of surrealism to reflect the ridiculous nature of it all. The trio of deputies marching out of the house as Evelyn frames James and the row of smoking officers in the bar as Donna confronts Evelyn and is threatened by Malcolm all feel highly Lynch in style.
But nothing can redeem the terrible performances from Annette McCarthy's Evelyn Marsh and James Marshall's James Hurley. She takes up too much of the episode sitting drunk in her black widow outfit (we get it) blowing smoke rings and withering before her latest abusive partner Malcolm. James seems to do nothing for most of the episode (only Donna seems to be taking action to clear his name) before the incredibly hokey moment James bursts into the house to confront Evelyn. She wails that she kind of loved him while James conveys his one emotion - blank - before he is knocked out by Malcolm.
Only when Donna arrives to stop Malcolm convincing Evelyn to shoot James, framing his as in intruder, does this finally draw to a close. Malcolm strides towards Evelyn in slow motion and she shoots him; their final slowed down embrace feels a little reminiscent of Maddy's death. But with Malcolm dead and complicit in the crimes and Evelyn scott free at least Donna and James can get out that storyline quickly.
We also see an end to Ben Horne's madness with Jacoby's plan to have him re enact a Confederate American Civil War victory. In the context of other storylines I've struggled to determine whether this was a fun or plain ridiculous plot and this was epitomised by the conclusion in this episode. Ben bounding around the room in a confederate general's uniform while Bobby in uniform played a horn and hotel employees played the drums was silly indeed but nothing beat the 'high school play' reenactment as Audrey, Jerry, Bobby and Jacoby acted out their roles in Ben's sweeping victory. I think I rather enjoyed the silliness on rewatch but I'm glad it's another story that was brought to a close. I'm certainly eager to see Richard Beymer back to playing the ruthless villain we've always known.
It was also great to see the scene stealing FBI Agent Albert Rosenfield back for his penultimate appearance on the original show (though the late Miguel Ferrer was able to return for the upcoming revival). This was a very different Rosenfield to the one from season one; it was wonderful to see his best buds hug with Truman and giving Cooper fashion advice. His return was linked to Windom Earle, revealing that Caroline's wedding garments were being posted to Sheriff stations in different states. He gave a fantastic impersonation of their deaf boss Gordon Cole "I'm worried about Cooper!" while tying up the cliffhanger of season one - Josie shot Cooper.
This is also a very different Josie to the powerful widow we saw in season one. With questions over involvement in the sudden death of her abductor Jonathan (revealed to be an interpol agent) and now Cooper's shooting her innocence has been shattered but it was still sad to see her broken down and quivering at Catherine's feet. The scene where she served Catherine and her guest Thomas Eckhardt dinner was deeply uncomfortable, Josie a nervous wreck as Catherine essentially 'sold' Josie back to her former employer. And talking of Thomas; who would have thought David Warner's villain was a cockney geezer? It's a little disappointing not to see Warner use his usual forbidding voice but I kind of like how it adds a roughness to his character.
There were some other nice moments; Ed and Norma in the bed, sharing their regrets and hopes for the future was a touching scene, broken by the arrival of Nadine, crawling into the bed and wishing them the best. I think is small doses, teenager Nadine is rather endearing, particularly after her spectacular takedown of Hank. I also liked Cooper recruiting the loveable Pete to help him in his deadly chess game with Windom Earle. Jack Nance has always delivered one of the most loveable performances on the show but Pete Martell has largely sat on the periphery of the main events so it was nice to bring him the new big mystery.
Twin Peaks lost its direction after the resolution of the Laura Palmer murder mystery but this episode feels like the show emerging out of the wilderness of recent episodes. With the James and Evelyn and Ben's madness storylines wrapped up and Windom Earle taking on a larger role, it's exciting to see where the show goes once again.
Proving how much of a badass Audrey has become...
Jerry Horne: “Now, Audrey, you know I was upset too, but there's some projects, both domestic and international, that *I*'d like a chance to develop. I mean, one man's crisis is another man's opportunity..”
Audrey Horne: “Let me tell you something, Uncle Jerry. We leave him the way he is, and I become executor of the estate...”
Jerry Horne: “Oh, Audrey, it's a little more complicated than that, sweetheart...”
Audrey Horne: “No it isn't. I examined his will, Jerry. If my father becomes incapacitated, it all goes to me when I'm old enough. And I *am* old enough, Jer, and he *is* incapacitated. I have my way either way. Where the only project you'll be developing is selling baseboard heaters at the local Cash 'n' Carry..”
Future episode observations – spoilers afoot…
Josie Packard will find herself the property Thomas Eckhardt, leading to her death soon after. Audrey's power play will continue to see her grow in the weeks ahead. Audrey, Shelley and Donna becoming the potential next victim of Earle will prove to be a double bluff with the arrival of new love interest for Cooper - Annie - ahead of the finale...