The Blog Formerly Known as Rebel Prince

Cult TV, Gen Y rants, and endless opera.

Twin Peaks: Episode Seven Review

Posted by therebelprince on July 31, 2009

“One can never answer questions at the wrong moment. Life, like music, has a rhythm.”

– The Log Lady’s Introduction

This week on Twin Peaks, David Lynch and Mark Frost surprise the fans by not actually revealing anything. It’s also the last week that Twin Peaks will even vaguely resemble normal television, so sit back and pay attention.

Episode Seven (known internationally as “The Last Evening”) is actually the kind of television that’s incredibly hard to review: every single scene is plot development, and to lengthily recap the plot wouldn’t do anyone a service. In short: Cooper and Truman get proof that Jacques and Leo raped the girls, subsequently arresting Jacques; Bobby frames James for drug possession; Audrey finds her new job as a call girl getting pretty steamy… in a very bad way; and Leo orchestrates the burning of the mill, trapping Shelley and Catherine inside as the flames engulf the place.

Bullet points first, analysis second:

* We’ll never learn who the mysterious attacker of Jacoby was. Common belief – and, I think possibly official statements released after the show ended – point to Leland (possessed by BOB, perhaps?) It’s a fine assumption but the needlessly suspenseful inclusion of a balaclava on the assailant just raises the questions of why he has one of those lying around.

* Jacques’ (Walter Olkewicz) elaboration of Laura’s last night on Earth is pretty revolting, as he salivates over the memory. We know now that Jacques was knocked out by someone at the cabin, and missed out on wherever the gang went next. Of course, while Leo seems like a viable candidate for murderer, we can’t forget the third man whom the Log Lady mentioned.

* Jacques’ arrest is satisfying, since it gives us one of those rare moments where the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department actually appear to be legitimate cops. It’s good to see Truman taking the lead, and slightly comforting given how bumbling everyone appears to be in season two. (Truman and Hawk’s “catching the trout” analogy feels a bit forced after the first four metaphors. We get it, they’re cool cops with a rural vibe, move on!)

* Also, Jacques’ accent really seems to come and go. It’s nowhere near as thick as that of either Bernard or Jean Renault. Come to think of it, what a strange trio of brothers they are: the slimy blackjack dealer, the young rebellious drug runner, and the slick businessman. No wonder they only appear one at a time.

* Nadine’s suicide attempt is quite well done. After spending the entire season trying to get her silent drape runners patented, she now has been reduced to the point of depression. Ed shows in this moment the care he really has for her, but her fate is left up in the air.

* Hank, meanwhile, makes promises for a life with Norma. It is nice when we see his passionate streak (We’ll see it again when he redecorates the diner during M.T. Wentz’s visit) and it’s one of only a couple of moments when we can really believe Norma and Hank were a couple. But the music makes it pretty clear that we’re not supposed to trust this moment.

* I wonder if any of Blackie’s new girls ever pick, like, the four of clubs. Or a Jack. Why bother offering the 52 pick-up if they’re all inevitably going to pick queens? And I appreciate that Blackie keeps a wizened old crone on staff late at night to help sew. (Then again, they do have a pretty high turnover).

* Was Leland’s murder of Jacques his own doing, or BOB’s? While his manic “hospital…” seems to indicate he is not himself, it makes sense that the truly tormented Leland would kill the man he thought killed his daughter. Next season, we’ll finally get to see Ray Wise doing something other than just dancing and crying. (Well, we’ll get to see “dancing and insane” at least…)

* It’s no wonder Piper Laurie got an Emmy nomination this season, as all of Catherine’s scenes work well here. First, she has a sweet scene with Pete as her plans fall apart (although I don’t know why the mill is so well staffed in the middle of the night). Then, her meeting with Shelley as their lives are in danger is hilarious (to a gagged Shelley: “I can’t understand a word you’re saying; you have a thing in your mouth”). It’s a good reminder of how Twin Peaks is actually an entire town, regardless of whether the population is the producers’ 5200 or the network 52000. Catherine doesn’t know Shelley any more than Ben knows the Pulaski family, or Bobby knows Sylvia Horne.

* And possibly the stupidest moment thus far relates to Bobby’s impersonation of Leo. Operating under the assumption that Leo phoned from a public phone an hour ago, Truman pulls all the surveillance off of Leo’s home to surround the phone. Yeah. Right.

We end, of course, with the obligatory cliffhanger. Returning to his room at the Great Northern, Cooper delivers a lovely monologue to his tape recorder. He picks up Audrey’s note but doesn’t read it, acts strangely rude on the phone, and then opens a door to two gunshots in the stomach…

When the season finale aired, fans who thought they were in for a seven-episode murder mystery learned they were sorely mistaken. This ABC Primetime Special which I linked to last week captures the reaction of some of these fans. It’s a true pity that so many fans felt misled, and they wouldn’t be placated when the show returned with a two-hour season premiere featuring mysterious giants and numerous Leland Palmer dance sequences.

In fact though, in retrospect this episode just feels like a plot-heavy installment, and that’s the way that Frost and Lynch approached it. And it would only be another eight or nine episodes (and days in show time) until we would know the truth behind Laura’s death. Unfortunately, it would be too late.

Mark Frost wrote and directed this episode, which features some good moments but also is surprisingly heavy on subplots and lengthy conversations. Hank and Josie spend a full five minutes discussing their role in the late Andrew Packard’s boating accident. And Lucy and Andy continue to waste valuable time on their juveline relationship.

On the other hand, Leo and Bobby’s fight is effective, ending suddenly when Hank – unaware Bobby is in the room – conveniently shoots Leo and flees. There’s a great moment where Leo lies motionless, eyes glazing over as Invitation to Love plays on the TV screen opposite him.

Sherilyn Fenn continues to play the ingenue well. Here, Ben Horne – having signed the Ghostwood contract and (presumably) offed Catherine Martell – goes to meet, and seduce, the new girl, unaware he’s about to come face to face with his own daughter…

Cooper’s shooting provides an attention-grabbing act-out to the season, even if it feels slightly like a deliberate cliffhanger more than a genuine plot development (I’ll discuss the delicate role of soap opera and soap opera parody next season). Whodunnit? It’s a question that even the show isn’t very interested in addressing next year, and it will certainly pale relative to everything else Twin Peaks will bring back with it.

In the end, this episode fits in well when the series is viewed as a whole. But there’s a woeful lack of real-world understanding on the part of Frost and Lynch, in crafting a season finale that gave so few answers while also refuting every fan expectation. (Not that, admittedly, they had any way of knowing during filming what that fan reaction would be). Either way, next week we’ll cruise into the show’s second season, as events take a stylistic turn; as we’re introduced to a world of spirits, divine forces, and the evil that men do; and as audiences are forced to pick a side.

As The Log Lady says in her episode 4 introduction:

“I can see the smoke. I can smell the fire. The battle is drawing nigh.”

Until then, did you know that Invitation to Love was filmed inside Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House in LA? And check out Martin Tallstrom’s guitar rendition of the Twin Peaks theme (his Laura Palmer theme is also easily available on Youtube)

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