[Jill Duffy continues her episode by episode look at Twin Peaks]
Poor Sarah Palmer. Considering what she’s been through, you would think she would have had a bigger part in the show. Now, not only is her daughter dead, but so is her niece and her husband, and her husband (sort of) killed the two girls. Sarah also encountered Bob, and in the opening moments of this show, she describes him.
When Sarah Palmer is first introduced, it’s easy to see how quickly she will become an exhausted shell. Her hair is a huge frizz of curls. Her eyeliner rings her eyes with such weight, they seem to create the creases on her gaunt face. Cheekbones jut out, her frame is frail, she looks like someone whose hands shake at the suffering of everyday life.
There’s a gathering after the wake, in which all the characters are brought into one room. It allows everyone to mourn and share stories, as well as make new plans, so we can get a glimpse of how the characters (and the show) will move forward. We meet two new characters, too, the mayor and his brother.
Cooper explains to Audrey what happened with his lost love and Wyndam Earl. Bobby conspires to blackmail Horne, but Shelly doesn’t seem to be into it. Horne starts to go batty. The Lucy, Dick, and Andy web continues to tangle; Nadine re-enrolls in high school; Norma is still bickering with her mother; Hand and Norma’s step-father are still scheming; Audrey is still flirting with Cooper—basically all the minor plot lines that were set up earlier are just being drawn out, sometimes at a painfully slow crawl.
Catherine (Piper Laurie), who went missing for two weeks, tells Truman a crazy story about where she has been. We only know some of what happened to her, and that part that she recounts is partially true, so whether we decide to believe the rest of it is really up to us—but I buy it because Piper Laurie is awesome. Here’s a snippet:
Catherine: “Thank god we always kept a well-stocked pantry. I went in, and I opened a can of tuna fish, and I waited for whoever it was who was trying to kill me to finish the job. A loaded gun by my side, I was terrified that every moment was going to be my last.”
Truman: “What made you come back?”
Catherine: “I ran out of tuna fish.”
And that’s where the scene ends.
Cooper gets suspended from the FBI for crossing into Canada unlawfully and for his methods and motives, apparently.
What Could Happen Instead?
Television programming has changed so much since 1990, and it’s all changed drastically since 2000, when Survivor first aired. Knowing what we know now, we could take a page from The Wire by ending the season and starting a new season with some huge changes in the cast, scenery, investigations. We could follow the lead of many other shows by pushing the show into the future, say six months or a year, so that when the show begins again, we have all new recent history to uncover about all the characters, some thing to keep us guessing about their new motivations and changes to their lives. We could push the show out of Twin Peaks and follow Cooper to a new town, but that would create a problem in calling the show Twin Peaks.
What I’m looking for in the show at this point is a drastic change to give me something new. It’s hard to care about the old stuff now that the major plotline has been totally and completely resolved. But in 1990, this isn’t what television shows did.
I don’t want to give the impression that I’m trying to re-write a show that ended 20 years ago, but it is interested to consider how a great premise to a show could be improved based on the new techniques and tricks television writers and directors have at their disposal now.
What I like, and what seems to work most, is the hint of something new to come with Major Briggs, which only comes at the very end of this episode. Briggs disappears into thin air. It smacks of X-Files now, but it’s pretty cool nonetheless.
(Oh, and let’s ditch that senior portrait of Laura Palmer when the credits roll!)