Twin Peaks Revisited: 2.04
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…
Donna continues her friendship with Harold in order to gain access to Laura's secret diary, Lucy's baby drama continues, Josie returns to Twin Peaks, Leyland is questioned over the murder of Jacques Renault and his Jean Renault starts to make his move.
So far in season two there has been a sense of everything being amped up, more clues to Laura Palmer's murder unfolding, the supernatural elements of the show becoming more prevalent and several plot threads coming together. But that all comes to a grounding halt in the fourth episode, which, for the first time in Twin Peaks so far, makes the episode a sluggish, meandering affair. Of course things would get more drawn out once a number of big stories were resolved in the coming handful of episodes but the first noticeable signs of the show's decline feel a little apparent here.
Let's consider the large number of storylines vying for attention at this point, none of them essential to the Laura Palmer mystery of the machinations of Ben Horne, Josie Packard et all. The Lumber Queen Paegent taking place at the Great Northern Hotel, the flurry of excitement over the impending arrival of food critic MR Wentz...even the adorable Lucy and Andy and the pregnancy storyline starts to feel uninvited. I've always appreciated the goofy charm of the show alongside the darker, dramatic elements but Andy losing his sperm sample, the ridiculous Dick Trumane and his sense of importance and even Lucy's emotional outbursts feel tired.
Fortunately it is not all slapstick. The growing Chinese presence suggests a darker fate for the returning Josie. Questioned by Harry Truman over the fire at the Packard Mill, she diverts the subject by seducing the sheriff, all the while watched by a man who turns out to be her cousin from Hong Kong, demanding her return. It seems this innocent widow is not what she seems. And Hank, the new bad boy in town since his release from prison last season, finds himself on the receiving end of the stranger's fists in a violent cliffhanger to the episode.
Jean Renault certainly seems to be a more intriguing villain than his two dead brothers, revealing Audrey is a hostage at One Eyed Jacks to Ben and demanding her return in exchange for Agent Cooper, the man responsible for the other deceased Renaults. There is a real sense that the situation is unraveling quickly; Jean shooting Horne's department store manager Emory in front of Audrey reveals just how much danger she is in. Fortunately the great bromance between Truman and Cooper might save the day as the sheriff joins Cooper at the Roadhouse, both realising that it might very well be a trap anyway.
Laura Palmer isn't forgotten though, Donna making her attempts to steal the secret diary Laura kept from recluse Harold Smith. The sordid sex affairs suggest an even darker past, adding to the mystery of Laura Palmer herself. One of the most interesting aspects of Twin Peaks is that the victim isn't just an innocent schoolgirl but a character with depth and mystery herself. In an great case of tie in marketing, The Secret Diary Of Laura Palmer was released in bookshops during season two and remains a captivating if twisted read. It's debut in this episode, Smith reading the first passage, only adds to the drama around her character.
Finally Leyland Palmer faces the consequences of killing Jaques Renault. Ray Wise continues to get better and better as his character enters the limelight and his regret over his actions adds some real depth to the episode. Similarly the entrance of Royal Dano as cowboy Judge Clinton Sternwood (it's all part of Twin Peak's eccentric charm) conveys great humility amid all the dark events unfolding. Sternwood is another great character too; while the random side plots threaten to overwhelm the episode, his debut and his evocative speech that demonstrates the show's ability to balance quirkiness with drama.
Episode four has some good moments but remains the weakest episode to date. There is very much a sense that the episode is placing all the plots in a holding pattern, while teasing more dramatic events to come. Fortunately those big moments are just around the corner...
Judge Clinton Sternwood: "The law provides us structure to guide us through paralyzing and trying times. But it requires us a vision to its procedures and higher purposes. Before we assume our respective roles in this enduring drama just let me say that when these frail shadows we inhabit now have quit the stage we'll meet and raise a glass again together in Walhalla."
Future episode observations – spoilers afoot…
Jean Renault will be a major player in upcoming episodes as he exacts his revenge on Agent Cooper. The diary of Laura Palmer will soon reveal more sordid secrets about her past, including an insidious connection to Ben Horne. And Josie's return will be short lived; her connection to Hank in her husband Andrew's murder will soon be revealed and her tragic death not long after that...