Twin Peaks: Episode Four Review
Posted by therebelprince on July 20, 2009
Welcome back to our Twin Peaks retrospective reviews. This week, we review “Episode Four”, known internationally as “The One-Armed Man”.
“Darling, one crosses the border into arson cautiously or not at all. When the mill goes up in smoke, the headline we’re after is “Josie Packard torches bankrupt mill in insurance fraud”. Not “Giant Weinie Roast in the Woods”.
– Benjamin Horne
This week, we get a lot of plot and intrigue, but very little in the way of classic Twin Peaks, written and directed by newcomers Robert Engels and Tim Hunter respectively.
The plot moves along at a steamroller pace this week, with various clues and plot developments. Sarah Palmer’s vision, coming on the heels of Cooper’s dream, leads Hawk and Truman to the One-Armed Man, Philip Michael Gerard (Al Strobel). He seems to know nothing about BOB or the visions, and is just a travelling shoe salesman. However he does point them to his sick friend, Dr. Bob Lydecker, and one of his patients: a mynah bird named Waldo. Meanwhile, there’s a piece of a poker chip in Laura’s stomach, and Leo Johnson’s bloody shirt at Jean Renault’s home (neatly planted by Bobby). What it all means is anybody’s guess at this stage, but it’s a lot to go on.
It’s nice to see everyone’s investigative skills playing in sync at this point: Truman’s knowledge of the town, Hawk’s tracking skills and Cooper’s investigative acumen all lead them from point A to point B to point C. (They’re a few letters short of an alphabet at this point, though.) Through Albert’s brash actions, we also get to meet Gordon Cole (David Lynch himself), the FBI Regional Supervisor who – although so far only heard on the phone – speaks in ALL CAPS.
Other things do happen in this episode that push the plot along, but none of them are all that interesting on their own. Leland is growing tired of Sarah’s visions (maybe an indicator of the other side of him coming to the fore?) and it’s nice to see Ray Wise get to express something other than utter depression. I adore Wise, and he’s going to get some good material in coming weeks, but I’m glad he cries well because that’s really what they hired him for thus far.
Bobby plants evidence at Leo’s, in a plot with Shelley to bring her husband down. Dana Ashbrook and Mädchen Amick are both very attractive, but so far their plot line is on a very slow simmer at best.
Elsewhere, Ben and Catherine continue to plot against Josie ( don’t they always?); Donna and James confess their feelings for one another; Audrey – in an effort to join Cooper’s investigation – goes undercover by convincing her father to give her a job at Horne’s Department Store; and Andy and Lucy find themselves on the outs.
Probably the strongest B storyline in this episode is the parole hearing of Hank Jennings (Chris Mulkey). Hank is a notoriously hit-or-miss character, but every beat is correct here. Peggy Lipton is really in her prime here, as Norma struggles with the fact that her relationship with Ed – so close to finally being public – is now another step back with the release of her dangerous husband. And Mulkey has a great glazed-over killer look, which adds to the fear when he threatens Josie at episode’s end. (The Josie stuff, incidentally, is laid on thick in this episode: it’s far from subtle that she’s somehow involved in what’s going on!)
Standout performances this episode are Jack Nance (above), who I find effortlessly watchable and who shares an affable chemistry with Joan Chen; and Lara Flynn Boyle, who struggles valiantly in her scenes with James Marshall. Marshall is likeable enough in his lighter stuff (he has a nice smile which is rarely used in Twin Peaks) but he rarely pulls off the more emotional material, and this episode is no exception.
We also see our first terrifying owl since the pilot, and get our first Hawk monologue! The use of Hawk’s ethnicity to flood our minds with dubious cultural monologues, is one of the most cringe-worthy elements of the show. Here, however, in a very Twin Peaks kind of way, his “One woman can make you fly like an eagle…” speech is revealed to be poetry he wrote for his girlfriend!
It’s still a good episode, but it’s plot-heavy and doesn’t have the rewatch factor that its predecessors have.
* Andy drops his gun while waiting for The One-Armed Man, a tiny story arc that will reach its conclhusion in Episode Seven.
* Ben gives his (literal) “Little Elvis” a bath. It’s not exactly plot-worthy, but it’s one of my favourite moments!
* We hear about the impending Icelandic delegation, and Maddy meets James, storylines that will develop in coming weeks.
* And there’s an implication from Donna that Laura inherited her psychic dreaming abilities from her psychic mother. I know it seems obvious, but I’m embarrassed to say I’d never made the connection before!
Next week: Cooper has tea with the Log Lady; Ben entertains the Icelanders; and Audrey gets in over her head…and into bed