Friday, August 14, 2009

Twin Peaks, Season 2 Episode 15 (or episode 22)

By Jill Duffy, girl reporter [Continuing her episode by episode look at Twin Peaks. I make a brief comment below.]

Diane Keaton directed this episode. She positions a lot of her shots to look through doors, doorways, windows, and other real-world frames. I can point to a couple of movies that use this trope, American Beauty for instance, but here, I’m not sure what the point of it is.

In at least one shot, the camerawork adds levity. Two people are seen talking somewhat heatedly, on the other side of a entryway where a swinging door continues to swings full tilt throughout their conversation.

I wonder who added the humor to Twin Peaks. Was it the writers? The episode director? Frost and Lynch? Was it the actors suggesting flourishes for their characters? Here, I’m pretty sure Diane Keaton is playing around with her direction, almost exercising herself as a director by trying to incorporate humor through direction alone. She lays down the funny stuff in tandem with serious and dark, audio, dialogue, and action.

She also uses a good amount of theatrical music, including an aria.

Albert returns, which always revives my interest in watching. One of the notable things about Twin Peaks’ sense of humor is the number and variety of ridiculously odd characters, like Albert, Pete, and Cooper.

Windom Earle is a sociopath, and we’re supposed to ponder whether Leo, who is now in Windom’s charge and is being brutally and sadistically beat by his captor, is getting what he deserves. The flip side would be to say that no one deserves this kind of treatment despite his previous actions in life. For me, I don’t care enough about Leo to think too long or too hard about this. What Leo suffers is traumatic, but I don’t have a close enough connection to his to care. He’s not a real person in my eyes. He’s a soap opera character, and who cares what a soap opera character suffers? I guess in a way, once Leo is established as a monster (both in how he treats Shelly and then more literally when he becomes “Franken-Leo,” as Bobby calls him), our ability to feel empathy for him is minimized.

Audrey, for once, isn’t in over her head. She’s actually in control and ready to take on her father’s estate now that he’s incapacitated, even though Jerry starts to make a grab for it. This is a refreshing change of pace for the younger female characters on the show, who sometimes seems to be taking on more than they can handle, and then clearly are taking on more than they can handle. Laura Palmer would have been someone who fit this bill, and the lesson we learn from her is that getting in over your head, or playing with fire, leads to death.

That’s not quite the same for the older female characters, or at least not for Catherine. In this episode, Catherine invites Thomas Eckhart, who supposedly killed her brother Andrew (though he’s really alive) to dinner, with Josie there in a demeaning French maid outfit to serve them. The scene reminds me of the movie Clue in that it has a completely staged air to it. Maybe that’s just more of Keaton’s direction, drawing out the over-the-top nature that’s become a signature of the show’s subplots.

[I have only the dimmest memory of this episode, but when you mention Diane Keaton and using the door as a frame for a shot, I cannot help but think of her in the doorway at the end of the first Godfather. The female characters taking charge thing is doubly interesting in this context, since Keaton herself is a woman taking charge (any other female directors on Twin Peaks? Lynch's daughter?). And David Lynch, for what it is worth, is all about weird doorways to other spaces that are right next to our own - most dramatically in Inland Empire, where a simple door literally takes you to this completely different reality. I don't know what to do with any of that, but there you go.]


RAB said...

I haven't watched this episode since it originally aired, but I remember wondering if Keaton might actually have been doing a deliberate tribute to/parody of Lynch himself with those sight gags. Not satire per se, but rather a subtle tweaking...taking some of the stylistic tricks he was known for and exaggerating them just enough to make them obvious. Anyway, that's how it seemed to me at the time; maybe a second viewing all these years later would give a completely different impression.

I haven't commented on Jill's posts before, not having much to add, but I did want to say I've been following them faithfully. When you write about the show, it's very definitely the same show I remember: my reaction to these posts has mostly been "Oh yeah, that was cool!" or "Yeah, she's right, that bit was a drag, no wonder I'd pushed it out of my thoughts." So it's been bringing back a lot of memories.

Jill Duffy said...

Thanks, RAB. I only saw this comment today. I am as out of date at reading comments as I am at watching television programs.