Twin Peaks Revisited: 2.11
More on The X Files
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…
Transvestite FBI agent Bryson arrives to investigate the charges against Cooper, Josie's past is revealed and Andrew Packard returns from the dead, James meets Evelyn Marsh on the road while Nadine tries to seduce Mike. Cooper learns about the White and Black Lodges and Windom Earle sends him a message...
Within a couple of episodes of solving Laura Palmer's murder, Twin Peaks already feel like it has lost its way. Cooper being suspended from the FBI only holds so much weight and while there are some good moments in this episode, there are so many subplots - many of them utterly ridiculous - that it makes the whole viewing experience tiresome at best and frustratingly bad at worse.
The episode starts off with James riding along the highway on his motorbike, searching for a direction after blaming himself for Maddy and Laura's murders. I wish he had kept on riding. But alas he stops off at a bar where he meets a cliche femme fatale Everly Marsh; nothing about this story is interesting. Her husband travels extensively and she wants James to fix his jaguar in exchange for bed, breakfast and 'sexy time'. It's all so cringeworthy to watch, particularly as James has no idea what he is getting himself into. Twin Peaks has always celebrated its own unique twist on soap opera plots but this is little more than risible drivel without David Lynch's surreal flair.
It doesn't help that other storylines seem to come out of nowhere and take up a lot of screen time. The wedding of old man Dougie to a woman old enough to be his great grand daughter is creepy and his feud with wizened brother and mayor Dwayne, that began at Leyland's wake last episode, takes the focus of a lot of bigger events trying to force their way to the surface.
The Nadine becomes a cheerleader plot is quickly becoming dire too. She's never been the most engaging character but her oddball nature has had its charm in the past. But now she's in high school, having completely regressed to a teenager and is chasing after boys. Trying to seduce Donna's ex boyfriend Mike in the gym by lifting 600lbs elicits a smirk at best perhaps, but it's largely painful to watch. And it doesn't end there. Dick Truman and Deputy Andy taking out evil orphan Nicky for an ice cream sundae' what the hell is all that about? The 'who is the father of Lucy's baby' sub plot has already outstayed its welcome and adding a bratty teenager so that Dick and Andy can try out being surrogate fathers is painful to watch. "Uncle Andy went funny boom boom, didn't he?" jokes the irritating Dick at one point and I had to ask myself, why is this story happening?
And there is some good stuff trying to get out, like Brigg's disappearance and the mysterious lodges. The missing major's wife tells Cooper and Truman that any communication Briggs might have been trying to have with beings in woods is deeply classified. Hawk in his mysterious manner gives a deeper description of the two spiritual locations that exist on the edge of Twin Peaks; the white lodge and its shadow, the Black lodge where you will meet your own shadow self and be annihilated if not faced with absolute courage. It's an intriguing storyline building on the supernatural presence of possessing spirits Mike and Bob in recent episodes. It feels as if Twin Peaks is starting to take the direction teased at the end of the episode which wrapped up Laura's murder. But there is too much getting at the way at this stage to really allow it to flourish.
The highlight of the episode has to be the debut of fellow FBI agent, played by future Fox Mulder himself David Duchovny. It's a joy to see Duchovny interact with Kyle MacLachlan's Dale Cooper, particularly when his entrance into Truman's office is not the suited Dennis Bryson that Cooper was expecting but a slightly effeminate transvestite Denise. Duchovny plays the role well, later revealing that he was on a case disguised as transvestite buyer, found he liked wearing women's clothes. I like to think this is actually an early Fox Mulder going through a phase!
The good thing is that, while amusing, the transvestite agent isn't played for laughs. Denise is charming and a really ally to Cooper as he / she investigates the allegations against him. Denise finds traces of cocaine in Cooper's car, used to frame him by the villainous Jean Renault but he wants to help clear his colleague's name.
Renault's shadow also hangs over Ben Horne, who finds through the traitorous Hank, that One Eyed Jacks has been stolen away from him at the very same time Catherine has cheated him out of the Mill and the Ghostwood Estate. This is a real fall for grace for Ben, coming off the back of being suspect number one in Laura's murder and Richard Beymer plays the rising madness well. However I have to say the sappy, twinkly version of the Twin Peaks theme as Ben watched old videos of him and his father founding the Great Northern Hotel were almost as unbearable as the James and Nadine moments this episode.
Talking of a fall from Grace, we have Josie Packard, who reveals (or lies?) to Harry Truman about her past, a prostitute from Hong Kong who worked for and slept with the mysterious Thomas Eckhardt. She found solace in Andrew Packard who was killed for talking her away from Eckhardt. It all seems plausible but the real twist is the reveal that Andrew is alive and in league with Catherine who has just cruelly taken Josie back not as a partner but a maid. The game is set for an intriguing powerplay between Eckhardt and Packard; the same could be said for Dale Cooper and Windom Earle. Cooper's former partner sends him another chess move and a recorded message. The imagery of pawns being sacrificed and the king must die is clear; this is a villain that will seek to destroy Cooper if he gets the chance. And as Cooper moves a chess piece in his room, you can't help but wonder if he is enjoying the game.
These moments save what is arguably the worst episode of Twin Peaks to date; for the second story in a row there is the sense that the show is floundering to find a new direction while relying too heavily of the comical and ridiculous soap opera moments that once complicated the darker mystery element of the show without overshadowing it. The James, Nadine and little Nicky storylines are terrible and even Ben's encroaching madness feels ill advised. But the Eckhardt versus Packard and Cooper versus Earle moments claw episode eleven from being a write off.
Deputy Tommy 'Hawk' Hill: “Cooper, you may be fearless in this world. But there are other worlds. Worlds beyond life and death. Worlds beyond scientific reality... My people believe that the White Lodge is a place where the spirits that rule man and nature reside. There is also a legend of a place called the Black Lodge. The shadow self of the White Lodge. Legend says that every spirit must pass through there on the way to perfection. There, you will meet your own shadow self. My people call it The Dweller on the Threshold... But it is said that if you confront the Black Lodge with imperfect courage, it will utterly annihilate your soul. .”
Future episode observations – spoilers afoot…
This episode ignites a lot of new storylines, not all of them good. Ben will continue to descend into madness, Evelyn will try to coerce James into killing her husband and Nadine will start a love affair with James.
Eckhardt and Packard's rivalry will lead to the death of Josie, Denise Bryson will be instrumental in helping Cooper defeat Jean Renault but it is Hawk's speech about the Black Lodge that sets up the finale. Cooper will wander there to save Annie and find his soul annihilated when Bob possesses him in season two's closing, tragic moments...