Friday, June 19, 2009

Twin Peaks, Season 2, Episode 7 (or episode 14)

By Jill Duffy

[Jill Duffy, girl reporter, continues her episode by episode look at Twin Peaks. for more in this series see the toolbar on the right or the labels below]

“Woe to the ones who behold the pale horse,” the Log Lady says in her introduction.

I like the opening scene of this show, wherein, from left to right, Hawk, Gordon, Cooper, the one-armed man, Andy, and Truman are all neatly lined up against a wall in the police station, talking. I like the lineup and the long shot it takes to get them all in the frame. Seeing them from this distance gives the sense that they are somehow ordinary people, even though each is anything but normal.

This episode is slightly more stylized than some of the previous ones. For example, after the opening scene, Cooper and Gordon clink coffee cups to end the scene, and the audio put in over it is the echoing sound of a metal sledge hammer hitting a spike. It sounds like prison.

Hawk goes to Harold Smith’s house, lets himself in. There are plants all over the floor, cut, and we see a body hanging in the orchid room. Harold has hanged himself, neatly wrapping up that plot line. And thank goodness. Harold was quickly introduced and just as quickly taken out. Good riddance.

When the sheriff and his crew come over to investigate and take down Harold’s dead body, flash bulbs create an eerie over-exposed effect, lingering with a blue light. Again, it’s all highly stylized.

Maddy—The other Laura

In a scene with Maddy, Leland, and Sarah, the niece tells her aunt and uncle she’s ready to leave. Pictures of Laura are everywhere, all over the house. This is a slow, normal scene, much like the normalcy of that opening lineup shot. Nothing crazy or weird happens. But it has a hard cut ending, which is jarring.

It’s odd that Maddy has been staying with her aunt and uncle since her cousin died, leaving behind her own life for so long that she has become very close with Donna and James. I think this scene is meant to address this flaw, air it, and then move past it, though later, we find out there’s a plot reason to have Maddy preparing to go home.

Shelly, Leo, Bobby—The Odd Couple

Another odd thing, when you think about it, is that Bobby, who is more or less living with Shelly and Leo, is only in high school. So in this episode, the writers take care of that, too. Bobby tells Shelly he can’t keep telling his parents that he’s sleeping over at Mike’s house, and that’s he’s missing economics class at this very moment. Abruptly, to whisk on to a new topic, Leo is stirred from his otherwise comatose state, surprising the bejesus out of Shelly and Bobby. He makes noise, spits, and speaks almost like a parrot: “New shoes.” It’s totally funny. It’s just too bad that Bobby has to be in this scene because Shelly and Leo are great in it, but Bobby is not.

Audrey—Her Father’s Daughter

Audrey confronts her father so directly it’s uncomfortable, saying she knows about all the people at One-Eyed Jack’s and that she was Prudence, the girl wearing the little white mask. Audrey begins questioning her father, as if she were an investigator, about Laura. He admits to sleeping with Laura. And when asked point blank, “Did you kill her?” Horne says, “I loved her.”

Cooper—Voice of Explanation, But Not ‘Reason’

Cooper investigates Laura’s diary that was found in Harold’s place. He dictates into his recorder that Laura did mention Bob and also that Ben Horne has some kind of secret. Then Audrey comes in and tells Cooper that Laura and Horne were sleeping together and that Horne owns One-Eyed Jack’s. Audrey is stuck in the middle and it seems like she doesn’t quite know what she wants to happen next. Cooper tells Truman they need a warrant for the arrest of Benjamin Horne.

(I’m getting to the good stuff. Hang on.)

Horne and Tojamura—It’s Just Business

Tojamura, the stereotypical Chinese man who showed up one day, and Horne have a meeting about Ghostwood. As they are making a business deal, the sheriff, Cooper, Andy, and Hawk barge in and say Horne is wanted for questioning about the death of Laura Palmer. Horne struggles to get away while they cuff him and take him out.

‘The’ Moment Begins

Midway through the episode, at 29:40 on the DVD, we see a record at the end of its play cycle and the Palmer household washed in red light. Sarah is groping her way down the stairs on her belly. Spinning overhead is a ceiling fan, which viewers may remember from the film Fire Walk With Me, too.

Then, the log lady shows up at the sheriff’s office. She says ,”We don’t know what will happen or when, but there are owls at the Roadhouse.”
Cooper: “Something is happening, isn’t it Margaret?”
Log lady: “Yes.”

To draw out the suspense, we’re thrown back into a scene with Tojamura, who lays a big fat kiss on Pete. It is revealed that Tojamura is Catherine! I loved that moment.

Back to Sarah Palmer, still crawling through her house. She looks toward the windows and a white horse appears to her in a spotlight. She faints. We see Leland in just the other room straightening his tie.

At the Roadhouse, that weird blonde chick is singing with a band. It’s sappy and oddly uncomfortable. Donna and James are there. The log lady, Cooper, and Truman show up together. After a while, the performer sings a new song, a slower number. Everybody just watches the performance. To Cooper, the performance disappears and the Giant takes the stage, in the spotlight. With both a sense of urgency and the kind of calm demeanor that comes with acceptance, the Giant annunciates, “It is happening again. It is happening again.”

We cut to Leland, who is watching himself in the mirror. He sees Bob, and we know there is major trouble about to occur, but by golly, you have no idea how awful it’s going to be.

Really, I don’t know how this was every shown on a major television station.

First, it is made very clear that Bob is possessing Leland. Leland-as-Bob puts on surgical gloves. We hear Maddy’s voice, calling, saying it smells like something burning. When she enters the room, Leland-as-Bob goes after Maddy, chasing her manically. It’s slow and real, unlike an action film. There are no fast cuts here. All the movement is labored.

He strangles her, and she’s screaming, until he punches her in the face. She gets loose and runs around the room, trying to get away from him. It cuts between Leland being himself and being Bob. There is a lot of slow motion and the spotlight is on them, bathing them in a stark bluish light. The screaming slows and begins to sound like moaning beasts. Maddy’s teeth have blood all over them. She is shoved onto the couch, and Leland-as-Bob punches her in the face twice. The punches sound like dull thuds, which again is unlike what you would expect in a cinematic fight scene. It’s horrifically real. The scene is still highly stylized, but not how one might expect it to be.

Leland-as-Bob then lifts Maddy and drags her around the room in a dance. He is not a big man, and she is not a tiny girl. We see him heft the weight of a full-grown woman. She chokes and coughs blood. Sarah is still passed out on the floor. Creepy. Leland says Laura’s name a few times. We see Bob, in slow motion again, suck at Maddy’s chin and kiss her neck. Then Leland says you’re going back to Mezula Montana and smashes her, face first, into a glass-framed painting. Maddy collapses and is covered in blood. He holds her bloody finger and using an Xacto knife, places something under the nail. The whole scene is five minutes long, almost to the second. It’s unbearable.

The Giant and Cooper

The Giant fades, the singer and band reappear. The old man who came when Cooper was shot appears. He comes over to Cooper and pats his arm and says, “I’m so sorry.”

The camera moves around to Donna, James, Bobby, the Log lady. Donna begins crying, but we can’t hear it for the song. Cooper looks puzzled and like he’s thinking. Then the credits roll on a red curtain.


Dougie said...

I had forgotten about this episode. It was one of the most disturbing things I have ever seen on tv.

rob said...

the entire last sequence, including both roadhouse scenes and maddy's murder, are some of the best stuff that has ever aired on television. gripping, audacious, beautiful, horrifying, mystifying, sad, wonderfully filmed. donna crying is a stunning image to close out the scene. tv has never been better.

Anonymous said...

Everything from the appearance of the pale horse made no contextual sense to me. The entire back quarter of the episode was utter gibberish.

Anonymous said...

Well, Tojamura can't be too stereotypical as you see him then... because he's Japanese - not Chinese ;)