Twin Peaks Revisited: 2.16
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…
Andrew and Catherine Packard set their trap for Thomas Eckhardt, leading to his murder at Josie's hands and her subsequent death. Norma finally leaves Hank and accepts Ed's marriage proposal, Donna and James say goodbye and Audrey meets the dashing John Wheeler. And Shelley, Audrey and Donna receive mysterious messages from Windom Earle.
Poor Josie Packard. After playing the femme fatale of season one - innocent to the public, Sheriff Truman's lover and schemer with Ben Horne - her path has taken a sorry state in the second season and this episode ends her life in a tragic fashion. It's a horrible ending to a character that has remained largely sympathetic to the audience thanks to the sweet performance from Joan Chen and she delivers a great final act this episode as her world falls apart around her.
It begins with the cruel discovery of her 'dead' husband Andrew calmly sitting eating breakfast as she walks into the room and this leaves her vulnerable to Catherine's machinations as she is manipulated into giving her a gun to kill Thomas Eckhardt. And with Dale Cooper and Albert Rosenfield (the brilliant Miguel Ferrer in his last original performance on the show) out to catch her for her crimes in shooting Cooper and being complicit in Jonathan's death, there really is nowhere for her to run. Her panic as she is forced to dress up and sip champagne with Andrew before she is shipped off to her former mentor is heartbreaking to watch, Dan O'Herlihy proving delivering a quiet ruthlessness to Piper Laurie's overt cruelty as Catherine.
The lead up to the deaths of Thomas and Josie is wonderfully tense and tragic and the scene where Thomas walks into the lift and is greeted by Andrew is the highlight. O'Herlihy and David Warner spar off each other immensely and it's a shame we only get this one scene between them in the whole show. Of all the sub plots that have arisen post the Laura Palmer murderer reveal, this has been the most intriguing and it feels as if it is only just getting going as soon as it is over.
The death of Josie taps right back into the supernatural elements of the show. Cooper rushes to confront her and Harry arrives feel with rage as Josie holds the gun over the murdered Thomas. Her death is weird - a sudden heart attack or something more bizarre? - as she collapses on the bed and Cooper has a vision of a screaming Bob and the dancing dwarf from his dream as she lies in Harry's arms. The ending suggests her soul, rather bizarrely has been trapped in the handle of the bedside drawer; what should have been horrifying comes across as a little silly, even in the context of the show. Still, everything up to that moment is well directed and provides some real tension missing from the show as of late.
It's not just Harry and Josie's relationship that ends this episode. In a very satisfying moment Norma breaks free of Hank as he lies languishing in the prison cell and Ed's marriage proposal was a lovely moment. Yes the 'break up with teenager / estranged wife Nadine was a little silly though but as long as she's used in small doses she's tolerable, almost endearing. And this episode also marks the end of James Marshall's time on the show as James shares a farewell picnic with Donna before leaving for good. Marshall has never been a good actor and after the terrible Evelyn Marsh storyline it's good riddance for the blank-faced biker, freeing up Donna to have a much meatier storyline.
Windom Earle's schemes are really intriguing - I remember the big points of the finale - but a lot of the detail up to then is hazy. Here Donna, Audrey and Shelley (finally brought into the bigger plot) are given pieces of a torn poem and instructions to meet at a bar where they are observed by Earle disguised as a trucker. It brings back that element of danger lost after Leyland Palmer was caught; there is the sense that someone we know is going to be the next victim of this deranged killer.
There are also set ups for future relationships now that the potential Cooper / Audrey romance has been put to bed. Billy Zane makes his debut as charming family friend John Justice Wheeler. There isn't quite the chemistry that Kyle MacLachlan and Sherilyn Fenn had, but Zane and Fenn have a bit of a spark as she spars off against his winning smile. And we also hear about Norma's sister Annie, a woman who recently left a convent, who will have a significant role in the final run of episodes.
With the terrible storylines that have burdened recent episodes, Twin Peaks feels like it is finally getting back on form; is it a coincidence that this is the first appearance of Bob since Leyland Palmer's death? While her actual 'death' is bizarre, the lead up to poor Josie's demise is tense and tragic, even if the Andrew / Thomas feud seems over before it has really got going. And the Windom Earle storyline gets better as Audrey, Donna and Shelley are drawn into his web. There is a sense of momentum as the show heads into its final six episodes and a danger to these characters that has been missing from the show for some time...
Every description about Josie from Albert Rosenfield, who is less than sympathetic to Harry Truman's girlfriend...
Rosenfield: “Coop, I appreciate any reluctance you have for busting your pal's old lady, but the woman ventilated you and Ieft you for dead....
"All right, fine, you're not mad, but there's an epidemic of multiple gunshot wounds following this chick around.
"If you ain't gonna bust this bitch....”
Future episode observations – spoilers afoot…
There's a lot of set up for the final run of episodes. Norma's sister Annie will quickly become a new love interest for Cooper which will put her in the firing line of Windom Earle in the finale. The mention that she always seemed be from another place could also be alluding to the White and Black lodges, though perhaps I'm reading too much into it.
The death of Thomas Eckhardt will allow Andrew Packard to return to life in public, but his former partner will have one final trick from beyond the grave that will also have tragic consequences in the finale for him and Pete.