Friday, July 31, 2009

Twin Peaks, Season 2 Episode 13 (or episode 20)

By Jill Duffy, girl reporter

[Jill Duffy continues her episode by episode look at Twin Peaks.]

What happens when you are 13 episodes into a season, and the show you’ve been following just isn’t the same one you started with?

I make a lot of comparisons between Twin Peaks and the other serial shows I watch, notably The Wire and Lost. Most of the time I’m looking at the larger planning aspects, wondering how much of a season or series the writers and creators have mapped out ahead of time. I wonder whether television series writers even have the authority or job security to plan the major movements of a show one or two seasons into its future.

With Twin Peaks, I wonder how, or rather when, the writers got to the point where they knew they would be writing this whole new thing, this show that was no longer about solving the death of a high school girl.

The new main plotline is about Major Briggs, father of Bobby Briggs (which is easy to forget; they’re almost never shown together and they have nothing in common). We don’t know what’s happening with Briggs, but it appears to deal with aliens, or at least outer space and some such supernatural being or force. We see Briggs at the opening in a weird montage, fire overlaid, and a cheesy, swirling image of a biohazard symbol, the same symbol that has shown up as a scar on Brigg’s neck.

Just as Briggs tells Harry and Cooper about the “unofficial work” he and a few people have been doing investigating UFOs and “the heavens,” and “in the case of Twin Peaks, below,” some uniformed service guys barge in and whisk him away. He goes without a fight.

In a way, I like that Briggs doesn’t stick around long enough to tell us anything of substance, not now and not at the moment of his disappearance a few episodes ago. Stringing out his plotline does indeed keep me interested and curious to know what will happen next.

Meanwhile (cue spinning bat emblem and music) . . . Ben Horne is going crazy, setting himself up as a general in the Civil War for the South, setting himself up for failure in the process. Audrey calls in Jerry and Dr. Jacoby to help, but Catherine shows up before they can get there. Catherine is then trying to seduce Ben, which I don’t quite understand. She makes it seems as if she can’t resist him and can’t stay away, but I’m definitely thinking that there is a catch to it and that she’s going to use him for something.

Other than Briggs, the memorable moment happens when Cooper, Truman, and the other lawmen set up a drug bust. The whole drug bust isn’t really set up too well. It’s rushed rather than developed, and Renault, on the drug side, is dropped in rather than introduced slowly.

We do see and hear a lot of planting before the moment, but it’s kind of fun to watch, pay attention, and try to figure out the logical snags that will happen based on the clues given via planting, sort of like reading a classic detective novel, the kind that gives the reader just enough clues to piece together and solve the crime.

As the drug bust starts, Ernie, the mole, is sweating profusely (a condition that was established earlier), causing the wires taped to his body to sizzle and smoke. Ernie and David Duchovny’s character, who in this scene is “Denis,” are found out. Cooper trades himself for those two hostages.

Renault and Cooper’s situation turns into a standoff. Coop and Renault have an exchange as they are waiting out the standoff and trying to figure out what to do. Renault has a monologue that is really good (Renault is French-Canadian, so his English is intentionally full of errors):

Renault: “…first we must decide to give up quietly or to kill him.”
Cooper: “Then we both die.”
Renault: “I know.”
Cooper: “Is my death so important to you?”
Renault: “My two brother died. I hold you responsible.”
Cooper: “Why?”
Renault: “Why? Before you came here, Twin Peak was a simple place. My brothers deal up to the teenagers and truck drivers. When I check welcome to businessmen they tell us quiet people live the quiet life. Then, a pretty girl die, then you arrive, then everything change. My brother Bernardo, shot, then left to die in the woods. The grieving father smother my remaining brother with the pillow. Kidnapping. Death. Suddenly, the quiet people, they quiet no more. Suddenly the simple dream become the nightmare. So, if you die, maybe you will be the last to die. Maybe you brought the nightmare with you. And maybe the nightmare will die with you.”

At that moment, Denise/Denis, now dressed in an R&R waitress uniform, approaches the house carrying a tray of food. She saunters in to deliver the food, hikes up her skirt a little to show a gun in her garder, which Cooper grabs and fires at Renault. The sheriff and Andy storm the building. Renault dies.

In the very last scene, a tied up dead body is left in the Sheriff’s office in front of a chessboard. It should be a very dramatic moment, but it falls flat because it’s a cliffhanger that hasn’t been set up. It’s just introduced out of nowhere and is meant to be shocking, but with no build up.

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