John Bruni reviews TWIN PEAKS: season 2, episodes 1-3

Twin PeaksEpisode 8: “May the Giant Be with You”
Originally broadcast September 30, 1990
Written by Mark Frost (story & teleplay), David Lynch (story only)
Directed by David Lynch

Episode 9: “Coma”
Originally broadcast October 6, 1990
Written by Harley Peyton
Directed by David Lynch

Episode 10: “The Man Behind Glass”
Originally broadcast October 13, 1990
Written by Robert Engels
Directed by Lesli Linka Glatter

My rating: ★★★★
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WHO SHOT COOPER?!

At the conclusion of last season, Special Agent Dale Cooper was shot three times in the stomach by an unseen assailant. Two of the bullets were stopped by his Kevlar vest, but he’d rolled it up because he was going after a tick, so the third one got him in the belly. Bleeding out on the floor, he has completely forgotten about Audrey’s note, which is now under his bed. As he feels himself slowly dying, he thinks about all the regrets of his life. He wishes he could have cracked the Lindbergh case. He’s always wanted to go to Tibet, and he hopes the Dalai Lama gets to go home one day. He wishes he could have treated people with more respect, and he also wishes he could have made love with a beautiful woman he has genuine affection for. Beautiful things.

He is visited by a tall, elderly room service gentleman bearing the warm milk he’d ordered before bed. In one of the most frustrating scenes in TV history, Cooper asks him to call for help. The old guy doesn’t seem to understand that Cooper has been shot. Instead, he thinks Cooper is asking him to hang up the phone (he’d been talking to Andy when he was shot). Then, Christ above all things! The old guy gets Cooper to sign for the milk! Including gratuity! But the insanity doesn’t stop there. No, the old guy keeps winking and giving him the thumbs up, telling Cooper that he’d heard about him. The old guy makes three exits, but he comes back each time to wink and give the thumbs up again. Holy fuck! What the hell is going on here? It’s very surreal, and it’s one of the most painfully uncomfortable scenes ever shot for anything. In other words, it was a perfect Lynchian moment.

Relax. For those patient enough to make it through, you are rewarded. This is the point in the series where the strangeness really kicks in. As soon as the room service guy is gone, a giant materializes in the room and says that he will tell Cooper three things.

–There’s a man in a smiling bag.
–The owls are not what they seem.
–Without chemicals, he points.

The giant then takes Cooper’s ring and says he’ll give it back when these things come to pass. Also, the giant says that there’s a clue at Leo’s house. As Cooper comes out of his daze, he realizes that his ring really is gone.

Now THAT’S how you get the supernatural ball rolling. Ladies and gentlemen, TWIN PEAKS has truly arrived!

Back in the real world, Ben almost discovers that the new girl at One Eyed Jack’s (which we now know he owns) is his daughter Audrey. He gets a few good feels in first, though. We also learn that Ben paid Hank to kill Leo.

Leland Palmer’s hair has gone pure white overnight, and he is now overly cheerful. He loves singing now.

Maddy starts seeing phantom bloodstains.

Cooper’s life is saved, and Albert the Asshole has returned. He’s still a cynical bastard, free with his derisive barbs, even though everyone in town is trying their best to cope with him. At Leo’s house, Andy steps on a board, which comes loose and slaps him in the face. Albert laughs at him, calling this a great moment in investigative history. It turns out that he’s right: under the board is a set of new boots and a lot of cocaine.

James remembers something about Laura, about how she sometimes said weird things like, “Would you like to play with fire, little boy? Would you like to play with Bob?”

Nadine is in a coma, and Big Ed explains to Cooper why they’re together. Apparently, Big Ed originally was with Norma, but Norma pulled some stunt with Hank, which broke his heart. Then, he took up with Nadine, and they got drunk and married right away. (Pay attention to Albert during this scene. He is bored off his tits, looking at his watch the whole time.) On their honeymoon, Big Ed accidentally shot her eye out. (Albert perks up at this point, the only moment in the series when he is actually surprised.) She never blamed him and never said anything about it. Big Ed, despite his dalliance with Norma later in life, loves the hell out of Nadine.

This is one of the more touching scenes in the series. No one expects true romance out of a guy like Big Ed, especially since it comes after we’ve known he was cheating on Nadine for quite some time. Oddly enough, even Albert doesn’t seem abrasive in this scene. He’s struggling not to laugh during the second half of Big Ed’s story and even brings himself to apologize for it, although he probably doesn’t mean it.

Cooper sees the body bag that once contained Jacques hanging up after being washed, and it looks like it’s smiling. But at the end of the day, he decides that the whole ordeal with the giant was a dream.

But he is immediately proven wrong when the giant returns in that very moment, and Cooper knows this time that he’s not dreaming.

At the hospital, Ronette dreams of that night in the box car, where Laura was murdered. She sees the greasy, hairy, maniacal Bob murder her before her very eyes. With so many people seeing Bob like this, it suddenly becomes very hard to explain him away as some kind of hallucination.

Albert confesses that he’s not just there for the Laura Palmer case, or for Cooper getting shot. He has to tell Cooper that his old partner, Windom Earle, has escaped from the loony bin. (Keep this in mind. It’s not going to be important for a while, though.)

Donna gets a message to keep an eye on Norma’s Meals on Wheels program for more clues into what may have happened to Laura. She takes over Laura’s old route, where she encounters an old lady with an unusual grandson. This is actually one of the most baffling moments in the series. It’s so surreal and odd, cementing the existence of the supernatural in TWIN PEAKS, but it’s a complete throwaway moment (for now, at least). The old lady didn’t want creamed corn, but she clearly got it. Donna sees it on her tray. But then she looks back down, and it’s gone. The grandson now holds it in his cupped hands. But this moment of magic is glossed over when the old lady suggests that Donna should talk to Harold Smith next door, who was a friend of Laura’s.

Interesting note: the grandson is played by Lynch’s son, Austin Jack Lynch. The kid’s a clone of his father.

Harry and Cooper go to visit Ronette in yet another example of an inaction scene. They want to show Ronette sketches to see her reaction, since she still can’t talk, but they have a lot of problems with the stools. They spend quite a majority of the scene adjusting the stools so they can sit on them comfortably. Harry even reads the instructions.

But as per usual, any time you may feel has been wasted by such inanity, is rewarded supremely. Ronette dismisses the sketch of Leo, but when Cooper shows her Bob, she freaks out, prompting Cooper to put up wanted posters with Bob’s picture on them all over town.

At the diner, the Log Lady has a message from her log for Maj. Briggs. She tells him to “deliver the message,” and she asks if he understands. In the major’s calm, calculated, ever-so-reasonable tone, he says he does.

Lucy tells Andy she’s pregnant. Unfortunately, Andy is sterile.

We learn from Harry that he grew up with Hank, and that Hank used to be a Bookhouse Boy.

Leland recognizes the wanted poster of Bob as someone he knew as a child.

Leo has not been killed. The bullet, however, lodged in his spine, and he is in a coma.

Maj. Briggs shows up at Cooper’s hotel room with the message he’s supposed to deliver. His occupation is classified, but he can tell Cooper this much: he monitors any messages the U.S. might get from space. Mostly it’s incomprehensible junk, but something recently came through clearly: THE OWLS ARE NOT WHAT THEY SEEM. Following this is Cooper’s name, over and over again.

Somehow, this is one of the most chilling moments of the series. Not because of the message, although that’s pretty jarring, to say the least. No, it comes from the most stable, normal, sane man on the show.

Bob starts haunting Cooper’s dreams. He also comes to Maddy in waking visions. But he comes to Ronette physically when he sneaks into the hospital to stab the letter B under her fingernail, matching up with Laura’s R and a previous victim’s T.

Harold Smith contacts Donna. He is a shut-in who met Laura through the Meals on Wheels program. He wants to meet with Donna.

Albert is an asshole yet again, and yet again, Harry threatens him with violence. This time, Albert takes the time to notify him that while he’s a cynic and abrasive, he is still on the side of law and order, and above all else, he is a pacifist. Most shockingly of all, Albert takes the time to tell Harry that he loves him.

Enter Dick Tremayne, Lucy’s new love interest, who is apparently the real father of her child. He’s urbane and more than a bit effeminate. He works in clothing at Horne’s.

Leland tells Cooper and Harry about the Bob from his childhood. He remembers that Bob used to flick matches at him and say, “Would you like to play with fire, little boy?”

Blackie discovers who Audrey really is and holds her prisoner after filling her veins with heroin.

Mike/Gerard comes to sell Harry shoes. While he’s there, he sees the sketch of Bob and starts suffering some kind of attack. He goes to the bathroom, hoping to inject himself with his anti-psychotic meds, but when he exits the stall, he really is Mike, and he knows he must hunt down Bob.

Bobby learns that Leo’s insurance payments could be as much as five grand a month. He convinces Shelly to not testify against Leo, because if Leo goes to prison, he doesn’t get the money. Instead, they need to get Leo home, which is fine, since he’ll be a vegetable anyway.

Jacques’s suave and menacing brother Jean has arrived at One Eyed Jack’s. He thinks Cooper killed his brother, so now he wants to kill Cooper. He also wants Ben’s money for Audrey, but he has no intention of letting her live. (Jean, by the way, is played supremely by Michael Parks.)

Nadine comes out of her coma, but she thinks she’s eighteen-years-old again, and she has super strength.

Donna visits Laura’s grave with a flower from Harold Smith, but it’s not a very touching scene. She screams at the grave about how everyone always had to deal with Laura’s problems, and even though she was dead, those problems still haunted the town. “It’s like they didn’t bury you deep enough!” Sure enough, she’s right. Laura haunts most of the series, hanging in the background like a dirty shadow. Without Laura Palmer, there is no TWIN PEAKS.

In a moment of weakness, James kisses Maddy, and Donna catches them.

Cooper and Harry hypnotize Dr. Jacoby in the hospital, since he’s the only possible witness to Jacques’s murder, even though he was unconscious at the time. Shortly thereafter, they arrest Leland for the crime.

Donna, grieved by James’s betrayal, rushes into Harold Smith’s arms, where she discovers that he has Laura Palmer’s secret diary.

See? Aren’t you glad you waited so long? Horror completely infuses this series from here on out. Lynch’s style is a testament to the old phrase about how all good things come to those who wait. This grouping of episodes pays off big time. Starting a season off with this kind of high octane horror is a shock to the system, especially for those who never saw it coming.

BOB. A palindrome. The same backwards as he is forwards: all evil. But what kind of evil is he? Is he even human? He’s proven that he has some kind of physical body, otherwise he wouldn’t have been able to attack Ronette in the hospital.

And what the hell is with those messages from space? And what about the giant? Where did Mike go? And who can point without chemicals? For the answers to these questions and more, stay tuned for more.

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About John Bruni

John Bruni is the author of DONG OF FRANKENSTEIN (New Kink), POOR BASTARDS AND RICH FUCKS and TALES OF QUESTIONABLE TASTE (StrangeHouse) and STRIP (Riot Forge). His short work has appeared in anthologies like A HACKED-UP HOLIDAY MASSACRE (Pill Hill), ZOMBIE! ZOMBIE! BRAIN BANG! (StrangeHouse) and the critically acclaimed VILE THINGS (Comet). He edited STRANGE SEX 3 for StrangeHouse, and he was the editor and publisher of TABARD INN: TALES OF QUESTIONABLE TASTE. Find out more at www.talesofquestionabletaste.com and www.talesofunspeakabletaste.blogspot.com.
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