Monday, December 31, 2012


In this article we will continue where we left off in last month's article by summarizing and retitling the next segment of episodes in Mark Frost and David Lynch's groundbreaking Twin Peaks (1990-91) TV series. As I mentioned before, I am writing these articles in anticipation of the show's eventual Blu-Ray release to offer my respectful suggestions, free of charge, on how to best summarize Twin Peaks' episodes in any and all future releases of the show. Since Twin Peaks is an important milestone in the development of the current golden age of modern TV dramas, we should pay particular care and attention to the way it will be presented to future viewers from here on out.
The network originally broadcasting Twin Peaks seemed uncertain how TV viewers were going to handle this bizarrely original and intelligent new show, but after a powerful screening of the pilot they tentatively ordered an additional seven episodes from co-creators David Lynch and Mark Frost. Perhaps the network thought that might be all that was needed to wrap up the Laura Palmer murder case entirely and end the show as an extended miniseries.
Twin Peaks Co-Creators David Lynch and Mark Frost
But rather than finish the story they created, Lynch and Frost ran with this opportunity to expand the scope of their story and deepen our understanding of, and appreciation for, these richly textured characters. And to their credit, the cast, crew, writers, and directors all brought their "A" game to this unique artistic endeavor unheard of on mainstream network television. And that first season of episodes were so engaging and entertaining they enraptured a global audience in a way few other shows have been able to match, before or since.
The quality in writing, directing, acting, and production value was at least on par with—if not superior to—what was being offered from the best films of the day, let alone what was being broadcast on TV at the time. In terms of artistry and craft, Twin Peaks absolutely surpassed anything else that had been done in the medium for decades. Twin Peaks represented a paradigm shift that would ripple across the TV landscape of serialized storytelling forever after. If interested in learning more on this topic, I go into a little more detail in my previous run of Twin Peaks articles.
Suffice it to say, the TV audience reactions were greater and more enthusiastic than anyone had imagined, ultimately leading to the network decision to renew the show for a full 22-episode-long second season. Although many critics and fans of the series later criticized the show for its descent in narrative quality and lack tonal integrity in Season 2, I argue that it is more accurate to aim those criticisms at the middle section of Season 2.
The first nine episodes of Season 2 contain many of the best episodes of the entire show. Of particular note, is Lynch and Frost's resolution of the central Laura Palmer murder mystery. which will certainly go down in history as one of the boldest, riskiest, and most audacious masterstrokes in TV history. This is doubly true when compared to other shows maintaining equivalent levels of popularity among mainstream audiences.
But even in these excellent early Season 2 episodes, it is fair to point out a minor realignment of the show's priorities, particularly a slightly darker tone than the previous season. Some of the melodramatic and satirical sheen of Season 1 is eschewed for more emphasis on the horror aspect of this world, its humor leaning more to the absurd than before. Gone are the light days of watching excerpts of the show within the show—or more aptly put, the Soap Opera within the Soap Opera—an "Invitation to Love." Some of the subtle tongue-in-cheek winks to the audience would be left behind in favor of emphasizing the characters' pathos and exploring the evolution of how these recent traumas have changed every character's personality.
While I can understand some viewers missing some of those comforting aspects now gone from the show, the majority of viewers seemed satisfied with the show's progress until their generally melancholic reactions to the identity of Laura's killer being revealed. A number of viewers at the time (and now, for that matter) were and are unable to cope with this shocking twist and its dark implications. And with the removal of the main narrative slingshot that had driven the story until now, the show would soon find itself in trouble.
As I mentioned in an earlier article, the Laura Palmer case was originally intended to remain open ended throughout the duration of the series. But co-creators Lynch and Frost received pressure from the network to resolve the mystery early in Season 2 in an attempt to satisfy the clamor of an audience eager for a quick resolution. But in spite of the superb quality and artistic integrity of these episodes, there will always be a slight sense of disappointment when the magician's tricks are revealed and the full truth of Laura's murder sinks in.
But whatever your opinion of the decision to reveal the killer this early in the show's run, nearly everyone can freely admit today that these Twin Peaks episodes are some of the most captivating hours to be found on television. Here, the Laura Palmer story line is driven to its inexorable conclusion with a relentless intensity that few thrillers or mysteries could ever hope to match. Since I came along to the series about 10 years after the show was already cancelled, I admit that my experience watching the show is probably very different than it was for the original viewers. But no matter how I try to place myself in contemporary audience's shoes, I still have difficulty understanding how someone who had been a fan of Twin Peaks up until now could suddenly fall away after these powerful episodes. 
But I concede, the shockingly horrific reveal of Laura's killer hits with a traumatic force not usually encountered on the airwaves, and it is certainly one of the most disturbing moments captured on television. But I still find it a little difficult to sympathize with those who jumped ship from the show during this golden phase of the show. The reveal is set up so well and the social lens brought to the underlying issues involved in these murders is so significant that to me the most surreal part of Twin Peaks is its mixed reception. How could so many balk at dramatic television at its best?
From days 1-8 and now 9-17 of the Laura Palmer murder investigation, Twin Peaks maintains a remarkably nuanced balance of drama, horror, and humor while captivating its audience with a taut level of suspense that Hitchcock would have been proud to achieve. In my opinion, the episodes summarized below stand among the very best hours of television. Here Twin Peaks strikes the perfect balance, combining the bizarre with the mundane for an unforgettable experience. A part of me wonders if Twin Peaks was simply too far ahead of its time for its own survival. How else can we explain such a remarkable show being cancelled after only 30 episodes?

DAY 9: MARCH 04, 1989
#8 MAIRZY DOATS: PART 1 a.k.a. "May the Giant Be with You" Synopsis: As Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) waits for medical assistance to treat his gunshot wounds, he encounters a decrepit elderly room service attendant and a seemingly mystical giant. The Giant (Carel Struckyen) shares a series of clues with Cooper to aid him in his investigation and to prove himself as a valuable guide on Cooper's quest to unravel the many mysteries surrounding Laura Palmer's murder.
Meanwhile, Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn) narrowly escapes a close encounter with her father when she meets the owner of the casino and brothel that hired Laura Palmer in the past: One-Eyed Jacks. The hair of Leland Palmer (Ray Wise) turned white overnight and he compulsively dances and sings classic show tunes to the consternation of his wife Sarah and his niece Maddy Ferguson (Sheryl Lee), and again later to the Horne brothers, Ben (Richard Beymer) and Jerry (David Patrick Kelly), when Leland expresses his desire to become actively involved in their joint business dealings again. Maddy experiences a strange waking vision reminiscent to her dream the night before. Maddy is disturbed to witness a pool of blood stain the carpet and then disappear again before her eyes.
When Agent Cooper regains consciousness from his surgery, he is shocked to discover the sheer number of disastrous events that took place in Twin Peaks last night, including the destruction of the Packard Sawmill and the brutal attacks on Shelly Johnson (Mädchen Amick), Leo Johnson (Eric DaRe), Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn), and the murder of Jacques Renault. Unsure of what to do next, Cooper begins following the Giant's clues, leading him to discover Leo Johnson had an alibi for the night Teresa Banks was murdered. Pressed by Cooper, James Hurley (James Marshall) reveals what he and Donna Hayward (Lara Flynn Boyle) learned of Jacoby's involvement with Laura, leading Cooper to visit and cajole the ailing Dr. Jacoby into revealing what his involvement has been in this case and what he has been holding back from the police up until now.
#8 MAIRZY DOATS: PART 2 a.k.a. "May the Giant Be with You" Synopsis: The townspeople recover from their various traumas from the night before and deal with the aftermath. Major Briggs (Don S. Davis) shares a dream he had with his son Bobby (Dana Ashbrook). Bobby begins to piece things together when he recognizes Hank Jennings (Chris Mulkey) as the man who shot Leo Johnson. And as more and more clues from the Giant pan out, Cooper assembles Agent Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer) and the Sheriff's staff to walk through the complete timeline of the night Laura Palmer was murdered. All the potentially useful witnesses from that night are either dead or in comas, leaving the investigation at a virtual standstill.
Hank Jennings meets with Ben and Jerry Horne to discuss the particulars of their business relationship, including Hank's failed execution of Leo Johnson. Meanwhile, Ben's daughter Audrey is disciplined for not performing up to expectations and is forced to stay at One-Eyed Jacks until she becomes more compliant. Confused by Agent Cooper's absence, Audrey desperately calls out to Cooper in a whispered prayer to report what she's learned from her time at the brothel and to cry out for rescue from her captors. The Giant returns to Cooper's bedside, confirming that he is indeed real. The Giant tells Cooper that Ronette Pulaski (Phoebe Augustine) is about to awake from her coma and hints that Cooper has forgotten something.

DAY 10: MARCH 05, 1989
#9 MEALS ON WHEELS a.k.a. "Coma" Synopsis: Following the advice of a mysterious note she received at the Double RR Diner yesterday, Donna Hayward looks into Laura Palmer's former Meals on Wheels route. She visits an elderly shut-in named Mrs. Tremond (Frances Bay) who is accompanied by her strange, young magician grandson Pierre (Austin Lynch). Donna learns from them of another neighbor named Harold Smith whom Laura had secretly befriended. Agent Cooper and Sheriff Truman visit a conscious but nearly catatonic Ronette Pulaski, who violently reacts to Deputy Andy's drawing of BOB, as described by Sarah Palmer. And back at the station, Andy confronts Lucy Moran (Kimmy Robertson) about the paternity of her baby. Leland Palmer becomes a nuisance for the Horne brothers when he steps out of line and informs the Icelandic investors about the sawmill burning to the ground.
In a chance meeting between Major Briggs and the Log Lady, her log informs him to "Deliver the message." Major Briggs complies with this odd advice and shares with Agent Cooper a message the air force received at its deep space listening outpost. The message repeats Cooper's name repeatedly before mimicking a phrase the Giant had spoken to Cooper yesterday. Donna begins to suspect an attraction developing between James and Maddy and her suspicions come to a head while the three sing together. Donna rushes off and James tries to comfort her, leaving Maddy alone to experiences a terrifying vision of BOB slowly approaching her. Audrey comes across her old boss from the perfume counter, Emory Battis (Don Amendolia), and interrogates him for information about Laura before finally calling Cooper for help on the phone. But Audrey's call is cut short before she can tell Cooper where she is being kept prisoner.

DAY 11: MARCH 06, 1989
#10 J'AI UN ALM SOLITAIRE a.k.a. "The Man Behind Glass" Synopsis: Now that Ronette Pulaski is awake from her coma, Laura's killer tries to silence her permanently. Narrowly escaping death, Agent Cooper discovers a piece of newsprint placed under Ronette's ring fingernail, just as with Teresa Banks and Laura Palmer. The killer has left the letters T, R, and now B under their fingernails, leading the Sheriff's staff to scramble to find all the words containing those letters. Donna Hayward finally meets Laura's secret friend Harold Smith (Lenny Von Dohlen), who turns out to be a sensitive man with acute agoraphobia, which is explains how he met Laura through the Meals on Wheels.
Harold already seems to know a great deal about Donna, leading Donna to discover Harold had been entrusted with the safekeeping of Laura's secret diary that she allegedly hid with him before she was killed. Laura seemed to confide an unusual amount to Harold, piquing Donna's interest in uncovering more missing pieces of this strange puzzle involving her murdered friend. Donna promptly explains what she learned about Harold with James and Maddy, but she grows uncontrollably jealous at detecting a growing sense of intimacy between the two of them. that sends her back to Harold for comfort.
Meanwhile, Leland Palmer recognizes the man on the police sketch of BOB, so he informs the police that he once met the man while visiting his family's Summer home at Pearl Lakes. Ben Horne's associates in charge of running One-Eyed Jacks have kidnapped his daughter Audrey and send him a ransom video of her tied to a chair, clearly high on drugs. Jean Renault (Michael Parks) helps facilitate the ransom drop and plans to ensnare Agent Cooper to avenge the deaths of his brothers Bernard and Jacques, who died in police custody. Desperate for any clues in Jacques Renault's murder, Cooper and Truman place Dr. Jacoby under hypnosis to relive his hazy memories of the night Jacques was murdered in a neighboring hospital bed. Jacoby's memory from that night implicates Laura's grieving father Leland, whom Cooper and Truman reluctantly take into custody.

DAY 12: MARCH 07, 1989
#11 LIVING NOVEL a.k.a. "Laura's Secret Diary" Synopsis: Leland Palmer confesses to killing Jacques Renault. Deputy Andy enlists the help of Doc Hayward (Warren Frost) in verifying his fertility before writing off the possibility of being the father of Lucy Moran's baby. Jean Renault delivers to Ben Horne the complete ransom demands of Audrey's kidnappers, but adds a few personal requests into the mix, including a limited partnership in the casino/brothel and his insistence that Ben send Agent Cooper with the ransom money so Jean can avenge the deaths of his brothers. Ben reluctantly agrees to the terms.
Donna's growing curiosity leads to another rendezvous with the reclusive Harold Smith, who shares a passage at random from Laura's secret diary that ends up being embarrassing for Donna. Donna questions why Laura would entrust her diary with Harold and why he does not give it to the police. Harold insists the police would not find anything useful in the diary and responds that one reason Laura confided in him is because he has always enjoyed collecting and writing down people's life stories. Harold invites Donna to share some of her life experiences with him someday. Josie Packard (Joan Chen) finally returns to Twin Peaks for the first time after the disastrous fire at the Packard Sawmill, piquing Sheriff Truman's suspicions.
Judge Sternwood (Royal Dano) arrives in Twin Peaks to adjudicate over Leo Johnson's competency hearing and Leland Palmer's bail proceedings. Lucy's likely baby-daddy Dick Tremayne (Ian Buchanan) offers her money to take care of their problem. Meanwhile, a mysterious Japanese gentleman referred to as Mr. Tojamura (Fumio Yamaguchi) arrives in Twin Peaks, and is assumed to be the mysterious Seattle-based food critic M.T. Wentz that everyone has been expecting. Meanwhile, Josie is troubled when she is summoned by her apparent crime boss in Hong Kong. Agent Cooper asks Sheriff Truman to assign his best Bookhouse Boy to help him do some extralegal activities to rescue Audrey Horne, leading Truman to assign himself.

DAY 13: MARCH 08, 1989
#12 RANSOMED HEARTS a.k.a. "The Orchid's Curse" Synopsis: Agent Cooper finally rediscovers Audrey Horne's note to him the night she left to One-Eyed Jacks, at last giving him the advantage in planning his next move. Judge Sternwood declares Leo Johnson unfit to stand trial. And at the recommendation of Sheriff Truman, Sternwood allows Leland Palmer to be set free on bail throughout the duration of the Jacques Renault murder trial. Jean Renault prepares the final steps in his plans to kill his partners, take control of One-Eyed Jacks, murder Audrey, and take his revenge on Cooper. But Cooper and Truman sneak across the Canadian border in a daring raid to rescue Audrey.
Meanwhile, Mr. Tojamura approaches Ben Horne with a lucrative offer to invest in Ghostwood Estates, an offer too good to refuse. Despite their recent differences, Donna Hayward and Maddy Ferguson team up to retrieve Laura's secret diary from under the nose of Harold Smith. Donna uses her feminine wiles to distract Harold Smith with the story of her first kiss while Maddy slips into his apartment to find and steal back the diary. Their plan backfires though as Harold catches them in the act and goes mad at discovering Donna's betrayal.

DAY 14: MARCH 09, 1989
#13 WITHOUT CHEMICALS, HE POINTS a.k.a. "Demons" Synopsis: Agent Cooper takes Audrey Horne to the Bookhouse as she recovers from the abuse and drugs forced on her at One-Eyed Jacks. Bobby and Shelly's attempts to defraud Leo Johnson's insurance policy backfires on them and they are left without enough money to live on, let alone party with. After Maddy Ferguson's disturbing encounter with the deranged Harold Smith the night before, she informs James that she is done with Twin Peaks and will return to her home in Missoula, Montana where things are not as complicated for her. Josie Packard and Ben Horne tie up the loose ends of their business partnership before Josie leaves not only the town but also a lovesick Sheriff Truman.
Bobby Briggs and Shelly Johnson make the best of their horrible circumstances with a birthday celebration for the recently returned vegetative Leo. But the two grow concerned when they detect possible signs that Leo's personality might still be active somewhere deep inside his motionless body. Agent Cooper's supervisor, Regional Bureau Chief Gordon Cole (David Lynch), arrives at Twin Peaks to assist Agent Cooper in his investigation and deliver the first move in a chess game from Cooper's deranged former partner Windom Earle, who recently escaped an insane asylum. Evidence suggests Philip Gerard (Al Strobel) may have an alternate personality disorder, so they force Gerard to withdraw from his self-made cocktail of pharmaceuticals for the opportunity to to discuss the case with Mike. Mike arrives and explains he and BOB were former murder partners and suggests they are of supernatural origin, beyond the scope of human understanding. And Mike claims to sense where BOB's human vessel is currently located.

DAY 15: MARCH 10, 1989
#14 HE IS BOB, EAGER FOR FUN a.k.a. "Lonely Souls" Synopsis: Agent Cooper and the Sheriff's department round up all the guests at the Great Northern Hotel and present them to Mike to identify BOB's human vessel. Apparently disturbed at the disruption, Ben Horne tries a put a stop it and Mike falls to the ground in his presence. Following on Donna Hayward's tip, Deputy Hawk (Michael Horse) searches for Laura's secret diary to discover Harold Smith apparently tore it to shreds just before killing himself. The Sheriff's department begins reconstructing Laura Palmer's secret diary, revealing incriminating passages about Ben Horne hiding secrets and that Laura intended one day to expose who he really is to the world.
Audrey Horne recovers sufficiently from her ordeal to interrogate her father Ben about his ownership of One-Eyed Jacks and his past relationship with Laura. Audrey then reluctantly reveals everything she knows to Agent Cooper, who remains somewhat skeptical about Ben's guilt. But Sheriff Truman is tired of half measures and insists on immediately taking Ben into custody. Later that night, the Log Lady invites Cooper and Truman to join  her at the Roadhouse where many of those who loved Laura most happen to find themselves that night. The full horrific weight of Laura's murder sinks in as the Giant visits Cooper to warn him that "It is happening again."

DAY 16: MARCH 11, 1989
#15 HE WEARS A SMILE, EVERYBODY RUN a.k.a. "Drive with a Dead Girl" Synopsis: Donna and James stop by the Palmer house to say goodbye to Maddy, but find they are too late. Jerry Horne returns to legally represent his brother Ben, who is now officially charged with Laura's murder. Agent Cooper and Sheriff Truman encounter the emotionally unstable Leland Palmer and tenderly inform him that they arrested his close friend and client Ben Horne for Laura's murder. Leland insists he will let the law take care of this from now on, having learned his lesson after killing Jacques.
A familiar face recently returned from the grave sets a plan in motion to take advantage of Ben Horne's arrest to take control of Ghostwood Estates. Norma Jennings (Peggy Lipton) begins to buckle under the pressures of mother's strange new marriage, her paroled husband Hank's shady activities, while still trying to maintain her highest level of service at the Double RR Diner in anticipation of that food critic rumored to be in town. Agent Cooper remains unsettled by recent events and is not yet certain they have caught the right man. Later that night, Cooper and Truman are called to a murder scene where they discover Maddy Ferguson was murdered and disposed of just as Teresa and Laura were.

DAY 17: MARCH 12, 1989
#16 THE GOLDEN CIRCLE a.k.a. "Arbitrary Law" Synopsis: The typically skeptical Agent Rosenfield is now desperate to find the serial killer, withdraws all his reservations about Agent Cooper's unusual investigative techniques, and encourages him to do anything within his power to stop this monster from striking again. Norma Jennings is disturbed by a bad review her diner received in the papers from the visiting food critic. James Hurley proposes to Donna Hayward and she enthusiastically accepts his ring. On their way out of the diner, Donna overhears Deputy Andy quoting Harold Smith's suicide note. Donna remembers the same French phrase spoken by the magician grandson of Mrs. Tremond from Laura's Meals on Wheels route.
After informing Agent Cooper of the strange connection between the Tremond's and Harold's suicide note, Cooper escorts Donna back to the Tremonds where they discover a missing page from Laura's secret diary. In this entry, Laura Palmer describes a dream identical to that of Cooper's involving a dwarf and a red room. Laura corroborates Cooper's claim that she indeed whispered the identity of her killer into Cooper's ear. Cooper is again frustrated that he could possess the identity of Laura's killer, and yet not remember it, so he consults with Mike one last time for additional insights. Mike assures Cooper that he already has the information he needs to solve the case, but that he will not just need to process it intellectually, but understand it emotionally as well.
Donna drops off a cassette at the Palmer residence for Maddy of the song they sang with James days earlier. Leland assures Donna he will send it to Maddy in Missoula when when he receives an alarming call from Maddy's worried mother, who says her daughter never arrived home. Donna feels something horrible must have happened to Maddy and she leaves to meet back up with James. When she tells James about Maddy most likely being killed, James collapses under the guilt of his romance and engagement with Donna in the midst of Laura's and Maddy's tragic murders. In an expression of futility, James skips town, leaving Donna with no assurance that he will ever return. On a hunch, Agent Cooper assembles together all the major murder suspects remaining at the Roadhouse. As the final key from his dream falls into place, Cooper experiences a flash of insight and remembers what Laura told him at the end of his dream two weeks earlier. Armed with the identity of Laura's killer, Cooper sets out to stop him once and for all.

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1 comment:

  1. All this is fine but number 10 would be "J'ai une âme solitaire" traduction : I have a lonely soul.