Friday, May 22, 2009

Twin Peaks: Season 2 Episode 3 (or episode 10)

By Jill Duffy

[After a six-month hiatus, Jill Duffy, girl reporter, resumes her episode-by-episode review of Twin Peaks, the 1990 television series from Mark Frost and David Lynch. To any of you out there that promised me writing, I will tell you what I tell my students about their writing: don't not submit it because you feel bad it is late. We here at Geoff Klock's blog are generous, and will welcome you with open arms. ]


In November, I was writing episode-by-episode responses (in a “reader response theory” style) to the television series Twin Peaks on this site. I stopped abruptly, not because I lost interest in the show, but because I started plowing through the show faster than I could gather thoughts about what had happened in each episode.

My boyfriend and I had been routinely watching the show together, and at some point early in the second season, our mentality about getting to the final episode changed: While at first we clung to the edges of our seats, eager to find out what would happen next, we later became fatigued viewers who pushed through episode after episode simply to get through it as fast as we could. Our commitment to watching the show through to the end superceded my writing about it.

For a week or so, I thought I could catch up by reviewing some of the episodes on fast-forward. I’d pop a DVD into my computer, slap on some headphones, and watch the little screen-within-a-screen in the corner while keeping Microsoft Word panel open, too.

That worked for one or two episodes, but I never really caught up. By January, quite frankly, I needed some distance from the show.

But now, I’ve managed to carve out some time, and patience, to re-watch season 2.

The Episode (no. 10)

In season 2, Twin Peaks becomes very plot-focused. There are still some elements of mysticism and mystery, but the emphasis is definitely on subplots in development, like the love triangle of Maddy, James, and Donna, complicated by the jealousy of a new character, Harold, the shut-in orchid grower. Audrey has been kidnapped, creating another clear subplot: How will she be saved, and will it be Agent Cooper who saves her? Shelly, Leo, and Bobby are the subjects of yet another subplot, while Lucy finds out she’s knocked-up by Dick, the salesman—although Andy is still hoping to win her back. The one-armed man is acting very strange, as is Leland Palmer. Nadine has superhuman strength and continues to slip in and out of consciousness, and when she fully awakens in this episode, she believes she is 18 years old again.

More and more, the layering of subplots seems more like a soap opera than a TV drama. Pieces of each plot are acted out, and then the camera cuts to a different plot entirely, skipping among them rather than lacing them together. At times, it feels like the writers are throwing plots at a wall and waiting to see which ones stick.

The most stunning characters are still Cooper, Truman, Albert (the FBI agent sent to follow up on Cooper), and Hawk. Shelly, played by Mädchen Amick, seems to be a great actress, but her role in this show feels limiting. Shelly is a weak young woman, in love with the reckless and immature Bobby, while never fully rejecting her abusive husband Leo.

Donna, Lara Flynn Boyle’s character, irks me more and more as the show moves forward, although there is a great scene toward the end of this episode when she goes to Laura’s grave and delivers a pretty grand soliloquy, yelling at Laura that, even though she’s dead, her problems are still very much present, and that Donna is tired of always trying to solve them.

1 comment:

Andy said...

Jill, I'm glad to see your segments back on the blog. Twin peaks haunts me and will continue to till my dying day. I'll be very interested in the conversations we get episodes 15- on.
They did an analysis over at the Onion AV. club a while back as well,29/?utm_source=tvclub_listing_show

Re: soap opera element: The show is absolutely a soap opera through the eyes of Frost/Lynch. Remember in season 1 the soap within a soap, Invitation to Love? It seems like a parody from the few times we are allowed to see it, but Peaks has moments in season 2 where it veers of parody into actual representation.

For many, season 2 is a mix bag and having a background on the series is almost required now that we’re approximately 20 years past it’s air date. The 1st season was a smash success out of nowhere and many of the staff where taken by surprise. Season 2 has a very high standard to maintain, however Lynch isn't at full attention. Wild at Heart, a film I don't particularly care for, is being released in between season one and two and Lynch’s priorities still remain with film. ABC executives aren’t helping the cause as they’ve now mandated that the killer of Laura Palmer must be revealed within the next few shows. Add in a few disgruntled cast members and you have a recipe for disaster. However I maintain that the second season survives these hardships and comes up with a many memorable moments which I’ve yet to see topped in surreal and poignant quality in television.