Twin Peaks Revisited: 2.09
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…
Cooper and Donna find the last page of Laura Palmer's diary. Donna almost becomes Bob's next victim while Catherine wins against Ben. Cooper gathers the suspects in Laura's murder as the real culprit is revealed and Leyland remembers the true horrors of his actions under Bob.
This is the episode that Twin Peaks had been leading up to from the moment Laura Palmer's body was discovered wrapped in plastic and FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper arrived. Who killed Laura Palmer remains one of television's all time mysteries and in wrapping up that mystery, this episode absolutely delivers. Audiences had already discovered the shocking truth in the harrowing moments of episode seven, when Leyland, possessed by Bob, brutally killed Maddy Ferguson. But Cooper hadn't caught him yet.
The hero winning the day, defeating the villain and bringing him to justice, that's the core of what most good versus evil stories are all about. In this episode, an episode that could have in many ways been the finale of Twin Peaks, Agent Cooper does capture the killer, bringing an end to his murderous reign. But it feels more like a defeat than a victory, with David Lynch deliver a macabre twist on the story that makes the final death of Leyland Palmer a tragedy rather than a win for the good guys.
Like that infamous episode seven, there is a strong build up to the powerful, emotive ending, as several threads collide. Donna and Cooper search for the mysterious Mrs Tremond and her grandson with his magic and discover that the old lady Donna encountered on the meals on wheels route never lived at the house. The real Mrs Tremond is someone completely different, suggesting that the people Donna encountered might be linked to the spirit world that has become more prominent in season two.
That's not the big revelation though; it's the discovery of the final page of Laura Palmer's diary. Written in the day of her death, Laura wrote of her need to escape Bob by dying, the suggestion that she was trying to stop the spirits from possessing her later confirmed by Cooper's interrogation of Leyland / Bob. Even more surprising is the fact that she shared the same dream Cooper had in the third episode of first season, despite the act that she was already dead then. And by the episode's end we finally learn what Laura whispered in Cooper's ear.
But it is the scene where Donna arrives at the Palmer House that delivers a tense sequence, as Bob reemerges in Leyland. The record player is back and Leyland dancing with an unsuspecting Donna is a nerve wracking moment. Bob howls at the player, only the audience privy to the evil just a foot away from Donna and it is only the timely arrival of Truman as Leyland pulls her close that saves her life. Donna certainly goes through an emotional rollercoaster, getting engaged to James, learning about Maddy's death and then - stupidly - being dumped again as James realises he can't handle all the drama and quits town on his motorbike. It's a stupid moment for James but Lara Flynn Boyle is utterly engaging as she finally breaks down in the woods. What's more, she has no idea just how close to becoming Bob's latest victim.
The scene in the Roadhouse as the storm rages outside and Cooper gathers the suspects is a wonderful piece of Agatha Christie sleuthing with a supernatural twist. The old waiter makes a return, brought in by the always charming Major Briggs and the Giant confirms what Cooper has remembered; Laura's words "My father killed me." And the final bait, bringing Leyland to the Sheriff's station to act as the 'charged' Ben Horne's lawyer is a stunning final move. Leyland is tricked, thrown into a cell and Bob is unleashed, howling at being played.
The interrogation of Bob is another riveting scene, Ray Wise delivering a masterful interpretation of evil as he plays with his captors, revelling at the blood on his hands - Laura, Maddy and the oft mentioned Theresa Banks, whose murder prior to the events of the series brought Cooper to Twin Peaks and will form part of the prequel TV movie Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. But the cruellest part is that Leyland isn't really aware of his actions, certainly not the rape and brutal murder of his own daughter and Bob relishes - through Leyland's body - the joy at unleashing those memories.
And what a harrowing moment it is. If Wise acts evil well, his overwhelming sorrow as Bob releases those memories are as traumatic as the death of Maddy at his hands. The line "Oh my god, I killed my daughter" is heartbreaking. The stylistic nature of the burst sprinklers raininging in the cell as Leyland lies dying, his head bashed against the cell door, cradled in Cooper's hands with Rosenfield and Truman makes for a dramatic and brutal final act; Leyland's passing - Cooper guiding him to the light where Laura waits - is a sad but powerful end to his character.
It's an episode that feel that, barring a few loose ends, could have been the finale of Twin Peaks. In her own brief scene a Tojamura-disguised Catherine visits Ben in his cell and has the final laugh, forcing him to sign the Ghostwood Estate to her and ending their power play that ran through the entirety of season one. Even the storyline of Lucy and the two potential fathers reaches a head as she locks Andy and Dick in the room and lays down the law. It's a storyline that veers between endearingly amusing and plain irritating, but it is nice to see Lucy gain some some control.
The final scene in the woods as Truman, Briggs, Rosenfield and Cooper discuss Bob and the nature of evil even feels like an epilogue to the events they have witnessed. Truman may have trouble reconciling who and what Bob was, believing instead that Bob was a facet of Leyland's madness, though as Cooper points out, is Bob any more plausible than a man who would knowingly rape and murder his own daughter? Cooper's final comment that it is their duty to stop evil almost feels like a mission statement; it closes off everything that has transpired while setting up the next phase of Twin Peaks. With this episode, the show hit a crossroads; sadly for many it would lose its way before the end...
Special Agent Dale Cooper: “ Gentlemen, two days ago a young woman was found murdered by the same individual I believe responsible for the death of Laura Palmer. I have reason to believe that the killer is in this room. As a member of the Bureau, I spend most of my time seeking simple answers to difficult questions. In the pursuit of Laura's killer, I have employed Bureau guidelines, deductive technique, Tibetan method, instinct, and luck. But now I find myself in need of something new, which, for lack of a better word, we shall call... magic..”
Future episode observations – spoilers afoot…
This episode is so much an end to the story, that the show would need a reboot of sorts to keep going. The nature of Bob and the evil in the woods will be explored in the final episodes of season two, with the whereabouts of Bob leading to one of the most shocking cliffhangers of all time; Cooper's possession by Bob.
As for the characters, Ben will go through a phase of madness in the episodes ahead after the events that transpired, while James heading out of Twin Peaks will lead to his encounter with Evelyn Marsh. Both stories will become the nadir of Twin Peaks...