John Bruni reviews TWIN PEAKS: season 2, episodes 8-11

Twin PeaksEpisode 15: “Drive with a Dead Girl”
Originally broadcast November 17, 1990
Written by Scott Frost
Directed by Caleb Deschanel

Episode 16: “Arbitrary Law”
Originally broadcast December 1, 1990
Written by Mark Frost, Harley Peyton & Robert Engels
Directed by Tim Hunter

Episode 17: “Dispute Between Brothers”
Originally broadcast December 8, 1990
Written by Tricia Brock
Directed by Tina Rathborne

Episode 18: “Masked Ball”
Originally broadcast December 15, 1990
Written by Barry Pullman
Directed by Duwayne Dunham

My rating: ★★★★
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My father killed me.

So there you have it. Leland Palmer, inhabited by some evil spirit named Bob, killed Laura Palmer, and now he has killed Laura’s cousin Maddy. James and Donna come by to say goodbye to Maddy before she goes home, but Leland tells them that they just missed her; he brought her to the train station just twenty minutes ago. In all actuality, Maddy is in Leland’s golf bag.

Jer visits Ben in jail and tells his brother that he’s going to be his lawyer. He doesn’t seem to know much about it, though. Ben tells Jer that he was fucking Catherine the night of Laura’s murder, which can’t very well be used as an alibi. No matter. Jer seems more impressed with the bunk bed in the cell than the case against his brother. In one of the more oddly beautiful moments of the show, both brothers reminisce about their first bedroom when they were kids. We are given a perfectly framed shot of Ben, squatting down on the lower bed, wistfully smiling while Jer rests on the top bunk, lost in a newly remembered memory.

Cooper and Harry find Leland dancing with his golf club at the Great Northern, and they break the news to him about Ben Horne. Leland pretends to be shocked that he killed the wrong guy, Jacques, and he breaks down. But as soon as Cooper and Harry are gone, his tears turn to crazed laughter.

Lucy’s sister Gwen comes to town with her baby. She makes Lucy seem normal, and she exhibits an uncomfortable white guilt when she meets Hawk and tells him that she bets he wished all white people were dead. Hawk takes it as best he can: “Some of my best friends are white.” In the meantime, Andy sees Lucy holding Gwen’s baby, and he faints at the thought.

Bobby listens to Leo’s secret tape and discovers that it’s of Leo and Ben, working out the details of the arson of Josie’s mill. Bobby decides to blackmail Ben.

Norma’s mom Vivian and her new husband Ernie show up at the RR as Mike wakes up in the hotel room and makes his escape.

Hank, who we last saw being held at gunpoint by Jean, returns to Twin Peaks with no explanation.

Pete talks to Harry about Josie, and as they compare notes, they realize something is wrong. Josie told Harry that the stranger was her assistant, but she told Pete that he was her cousin. While Pete’s at the station, he sneaks into the jail and gives Ben a message from Catherine. She wants Ghostwood and the mill in exchange for her testimony to get him out of jail.

The police find Mike, but he doesn’t find Bob in Ben. However, he acknowledges that Ben has been very close to Bob. Angry, Harry officially charges Ben with the murder of Laura Palmer. This is actually one of the more uncomfortable scenes in the series, not because of any weirdness, but because of the character interaction. Harry is very good at keeping his temper, but he’s sick of the visions and dreams and giants and Tibet. He lashes out at Cooper because they now have actual evidence, and Harry wants to use it. You can see the discomfort in Cooper’s face. He knows he’s on the right track, but at the same time, he also realizes he’s here to help Harry, not the other way around. Even though he knows he’s right, he apologizes to Harry and steps aside.

It turns out that Hank and Ernie know each other. They did time together. Ernie is a heavy gambler, and he used to handle finances for several disreputable people.

Maddy’s body is found in the woods, wrapped in plastic.

At the RR, Andy keeps repeating Harold’s suicide message in the original French. “I am a lonely soul.” Donna overhears him and remembers it’s the exact phrase she heard the mysterious old woman’s magical grandson say before she met Harold. But when she goes back to the house with Cooper, a middle-aged woman lives there. Her mother has been dead for three years. Very creepy. She does have one final message from Harold for Donna, though. It’s a passage from Laura Palmer’s secret diary, and it talks about the Red Room and the dwarf, and an old man that she tells a secret to. Cooper recognizes this as the dream he had at the beginning of the first season, and in it, he was the old man Laura told the secret to. If only he could remember what it was. Laura also mentions Bob and how badly he wants Mike. She says, “Tonight is the night that I die.” It is the only way to escape Bob and his fire.

Mike confirms the giant’s existence. The giant can help Cooper find Bob. However, Mike says Cooper has all the clues he needs.

Catherine reveals herself to Ben, who signs Ghostwood and the mill over to her. She does not, however, supply the much needed testimony.

Donna goes to Leland to have him mail something to Maddy, but Leland wants Donna for his next victim. He dances with her as he flashes back and forth between himself and Bob. Then, just as he gets ready for the kill, Harry arrives because he needs Leland’s help concerning Maddy’s death.

Cooper calls Ben, Leland, Leo, Bobby and Big Ed together at the Bang Bang Bar, ready for his end-of-mystery summation. Maj. Briggs and the elderly room service guy show up at the last minute, and Cooper says that the killer is in this room. Ah, a classic! But there is nothing classic about how this scene unfolds. Cooper sees a vision, and then he remembers what Laura told him in his dream: MY FATHER KILLED ME. And out of the blue, Cooper’s ring materializes. He puts it on and gives the thumbs up to the elderly room service guy. But he’s a cagey man. He tells the officers to bring Ben back to the station and asks Leland along as Ben’s attorney. However, when they get to the station, Cooper tricks Leland and locks him in a room, where Leland reacts like a beast. He starts screaming and whooping and throwing shit around. He runs back and forth, batting his head against the walls.

They restrain Leland, but it’s not really Leland. It’s Bob. Bob is very clearly in charge. Ray Wise is at his absolute creepiest in this scene. It’s enough to send chills down your spine. He really is one of the finest actors on this show. Wise didn’t know through the first season that he was the killer, but he still managed to be a scary guy even back then. There’s just something off about Leland the entire time, and this can all be credited to Wise.

In a moment reminiscent of THE EXORCIST, Bob comments on Cooper’s past, something that no one should know. He knows about an incident in Pittsburgh. All we know about it was that Cooper had been shot, and it gave Albert and Gordon enough reason to think that Cooper’s in over his head here, just like back then.

Upstairs, Andy and Dick enter into some odd competition for Lucy’s hand and rights to her baby. The station recently became a non-smoking environment, but Dick is not aware of this. He lights a cigarette, and this sets off the smoke alarm, which also sets off the sprinklers.

Downstairs, Bob is drenched, and he starts howling in pain. After all, he’s a creature of fire, no? The sprinklers douse Bob, leaving only Leland and his crippling guilt. Leland weeps his eyes out, moaning about all the bad things Bob made him do. His head in Cooper’s lap, he tells all, about how he didn’t know what Bob was when he accidentally invited the spirit into his body as a child. Leland dies, and Harry and Albert, enemies for as long as they’ve known each other, stand side by side in awe, their enmity forgotten in this moment of sheer, raw emotion.

And that’s it. The end of the show. Laura Palmer’s killer has been discovered, and it’s time for Cooper to go back home. Wait, what? There’s 13 more episodes left? Okay, there are a few unresolved storylines, but where can they possibly go after the entire point of the series has been resolved? Let’s see what they’ve got.

Cooper packs up, ready to go back home after he goes on a fishing trip with Maj. Briggs. Audrey stops to say goodbye, and we learn what happened in Pittsburgh: Cooper and his partner at the time, Windom Earle, were charged to protect a witness. However, Cooper fell in love with the witness, and when an attempt was made on her life, it succeeded because he let his guard down. He got shot, and Windom Earle went crazy.

Catherine stops by Harry’s office to let him know that she’s still alive. Harry decides to make Cooper an official Bookhouse Boy. Hawk, Andy and Lucy all line up to say bye to Cooper, and in a scene like the one where Dorothy says goodbye to all of her friends in Oz, he tells them each what they mean to him and wishes them the best. However, before he can leave, Roger Hardy (played with officiousness by Clarence Williams III) arrives and suspends Cooper from the FBI for crossing into Canada. It turns out that when he went to rescue Audrey from One Eyed Jack’s, there was a Canadian sting in place to capture Jean. Cooper fucked that up, and somehow, a briefcase of cocaine went missing.

Ben doesn’t give in to Bobby’s blackmail attempt. Instead, Bobby goes for ice cream with Audrey.

Nadine tries out for cheerleading. That’s right, a 35-year-old, one-eyed woman with super strength tried out for high school cheerleading.

Hank and Ernie go on whorehopping on a “hunting” trip, where Hank introduces Ernie to Jean. All three get along swimmingly.

Josie comes back to Harry badly hurt.

Cooper and Maj. Briggs finally go on their fishing/camping trip, and they discuss Bob and the evil out in the woods. The major mentions something about the White Lodge, but before he can continue, a bright light fills the area, and he vanishes. Could this be an alien abduction? In Twin Peaks, well, yeah. Probably. After all, the owls aren’t what they seem around here.

Nadine’s attention wanders from Big Ed to Bobby’s friend, Mike Nelson, but Mike wants nothing to do with her.

James, trying to get away from Twin Peaks, meets Evelyn at a bar outside of town. She is very beautiful, very rich and she has a husband who doesn’t care much for her.

Andy’s trying to be civil with Dick, but Dick’s too much of a dick. He’s doing a big brother kind of thing that he absolutely hates in an attempt to show Lucy that he’s better than Andy.

The Bookhouse Boys know what the White Lodge is. Hawk tells Cooper that it’s a place where the spirits who run the human race dwell. There is also a Black Lodge, and every spirit must pass through it on the way to perfection. Here, you will meet your shadow self. If you go to the Black Lodge with imperfect courage, it will destroy your soul.

A DEA agent is assigned to investigate Cooper: Dennis Bryson. Well, he’s actually a cross-dresser, and he prefers to be called Denise. Ladies and gentlemen and everyone in between, please welcome David Duchovny to TWIN PEAKS. He plays Denise wonderfully, complete with a playful smile.

Josie finally tells Harry the truth about Hong Kong, about her boss, who wants her back like she was his property. She’s afraid that her boss will kill both her and Harry. Harry’s ready for the challenge.

Ben gets nostalgic for his childhood. He watches a film of his father breaking ground on the Great Northern, but he’s starting to lose his mind. He’s starting to think expansively about feng shui. Hank pays him a visit to tell him that he no longer has a say in One Eyed Jack’s. In fact, Hank doesn’t work for him anymore. He works for Jean.

Windom Earle sends his next chess move to Cooper. Patience, now. It’s almost time for that to be important.

Josie goes to Catherine to warn her about her boss. Catherine knows what Josie tried to do, and she has the proof. If Josie wants to avoid going to jail (and also being killed by her boss), she now has to work for Catherine as a personal maid.

Wow. Even after the main mystery of the series has been solved, it looks like there are plenty of places for the writers to go. The characters certainly offer a lot of opportunities. The only problem is, without the question of who killed Laura Palmer, a lot of the forward momentum of the show is gone. Have you ever wondered what happens in the lives of the characters of a novel you’ve just finished? Well, this is it. Life goes on, and there really isn’t much to hold everything together.

That’s not to belittle a lot of the remaining mystery. We still have Bob out there, and the introduction of the White and Black Lodges spices things up and keeps up interest. And in case you couldn’t figure it out, Windom Earle is coming to Twin Peaks, and that’s going to add a lot more flavor.

But without Laura Palmer . . . it’s just not the same. It’s easy to see why David Lynch and Mark Frost drifted away from the series at about this point. They lost interest because they figured the real story was over.

But let’s give the remaining writers a fair chance. There are 11 episodes to go, and they can fit a lot of action into that, all leading up to that glorious final episode. 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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One Response to John Bruni reviews TWIN PEAKS: season 2, episodes 8-11

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