The Blog Formerly Known as Rebel Prince

Cult TV, Gen Y rants, and endless opera.

Twin Peaks: Episode Nine Review

Posted by therebelprince on August 15, 2009


“Where does creamed corn figure into the workings of the universe? What really *is* creamed corn? Is it a symbol for something else?”

– The Log Lady’s Introduction

This week on Twin Peaks, plenty of clues and exposition, as well as some genuine weirdness; in fact, it feels like we’re still in season one.

(Now’s the time to point out that I’ll be pretty fast and loose with plot details about the series from here on: if you haven’t watched the rest of the show, think twice about reading further!)

The pressure of the networks, the critics and the audiences had prevailed, and David Lynch and Mark Frost relucantly began the march toward the revelation of Laura’s killer. It’s actually confirmed in this episode, but the audience weren’t to know that…

In one of the most Twin Peaks-esque scenes, Coop and Truman visit Ronnette Pulaski, who has awoken from her coma. The entire scene treads the line between humour and pain as Coop and Truman struggle with a broken chair even as the dazed, disoriented Ronnette is forced to recall her brutal rape and abduction. This delicate connection of styles would separate once David Lynch left the series, and leave us with a pale shadow of what Twin Peaks once was. But that’s for the future: what Ronnette does recall is BOB: the sleazy, grey-haired man who has been seen in visions by Coop, Sarah Palmer and Maddy, and in real life (as a child) by Leland.

Unbeknownst to most of the audience, Ronnette has just confirmed the killer. As far as Coop (and Lynch) is concerned, we’re now watching a chase show rather than a mystery one. In a Giant-induced dream at the end, Coop’s mind connects BOB explicity with owls and that first morning when Sarah Palmer discovered her daughter missing. The owls are of course, not what they seem (interestingly, in Mark Frost‘s original script for episode 8, the Giant said “the owls are not what you think”.) These dark spies lurk everywhere in the woods of Twin Peaks. The Log Lady is one of the few to know their secrets, and so she stays inside her cabin when possible.

What is their endgame, and how does Laura Palmer figure in? Why do these good spirits want Cooper’s help so badly? After years of tracking nonsensical words, or “space junk”, Major Briggs and Project Bluebook intercept messages from the woods: “The owls are not what they seem” and “Cooper Cooper Cooper”. That’s something we’ll discuss later on in the season’s run, but clearly the FBI agent’s fate is tied in with that of the citizens of Twin Peaks.

For now, though, the rest of the episode is surprisingly tied to the case of Laura and the mystery of the woods. Donna takes over Laura’s meals-on-wheels route and meets invalid Mrs. Tremond (Frances Bay) and her grandson Pierre (Austin Lynch). I’ve never entirely understood why the Tremonds appear in that home for this short while. They knew Laura, as we’ll see in Fire Walk With Me, but they disappear shortly after Donna’s visit here. If they stayed around so that they could link Donna to their neighbour Harold Smith (Lenny Von Dohlen), surely that makes them evil: Harold will ultimately contribute little to the overall mystery other than to lose his life. (Perhaps most importantly, the shooting script shows us that the Tremonds were just slightly weird characters in the script: the magical creamed corn business was added by director Lynch.)

Audrey’s plotline continues on unnecessarily. There’s plenty of exposition from Emory Battis (Don Amendolia) who informs us about how Laura temporarily worked at One-Eyed Jack’s, and may have slept with Ben Horne. It’s the start of a series of red herrings that will implicate Ben.

Oddly, the original scripts for these episodes imply that Audrey’s treatment is the same for all new girls. With this removed, it’s pretty clear she’s being held captive but we won’t find out why until next week (when it will be just as stupid). Coop is evidently romantically interested in Audrey here, as shown by a blatant message to Diane. It wouldn’t be too long before Kyle MacLachlan‘s real-life girlfriend Lara Flynn Boyle put the kibosh on that storyline. Probably for the best, as it allowed them to introduce some real love into Cooper’s life.

Albert Rosenfield gives us the first mention of Windom Earle, Cooper’s former partner who has escaped from a mental institution. Wonderfully, the barbershop quartet in the background transpose into a minor key at this news. (It became a running joke among the Twin Peaks directors to have some unlikely group staying at the Great Northern in each episode).

And last, and probably least, the needless love triangle of Donna, James and Maddy continues. You know, I’ve been saying a similar thing about Lost – the love triangle of Sawyer, Jack and Kate becomes less and less remarkable every time we see a flashback in which one of them falls in love with someone. James was in love with Laura, but now he switched to Donna: okay I accept that. But now within days, he’s switching back again? I understand the show’s motif of duality, and that Maddy equals Laura (we’ll discuss this in detail next week) but James is ridiculously fickle here.

The trio’s recording session of the ’50s inspired song “Just You” has always been one of those moments that I find strangely mockable, I’m not sure why. It seems to come out of nowhere, I suppose. I guess between this, and Audrey’s dance to the “Dreamy” jukebox music back in season one, it’s pretty clear that the kids of Twin Peaks sure did get their musical taste from their grandparents!

All in all, it’s certainly a very Lynchian outing, and it actually sets up a lot of details of the Laura Palmer denouement that we couldn’t have known at the time. The show was still the talk of television, but in just five episodes the killer would be revealed – and then Twin Peaks was headed for oblivion.

Diverse observations:

* Maddy’s vision of BOB on the couch is pretty frakking creepy. In the shooting script she had another in which he appears opposite her at the dinner table, explaining Cooper’s later line that she saw him twice.

* On the subject of Maddy, I always assumed from the first season that she was a bit older than Laura and the gang. Here though, she seems to be about the same age. In another deleted scene, Leland creepily invites her to live with them: the first sign of his growing obsession.

* Pierre’s line “J’ai une âme solitaire” prefigures Harold’s suicide note. Does this imply he is evil? I’m not sure I can answer this, at least not until I review Fire Walk With Me.

* There’s a deleted scene in which Pete punches Albert, which adds to a theme of violence against him which will “pay off” next week.

* Andy continues to be really really annoying this week, but Lucy is surprisingly adorable.

* Who called the sheriff’s station and then refused to leave their name? I don’t think we ever find out, but there’s no one who evidently makes sense: Leland? No, he’s apparently walking over there already. Audrey? No, she’d give her name wouldn’t she?. Was it Josie perhaps? I’ll have to keep an eye on this.

* And let’s keep an eye on Hank’s domino. Apparently, it was supposed to reflect how many people he’s killed. Currently it stands at “6”. (I wonder if he scratches one number off when Andrew Packard turns up alive?) Hank actually remains quite ambiguous despite all this, almost as if the show doesn’t want to make him evil just yet.

* And I never realised before how self-centered Bobby is here. Despite his proclamations of love and protection for Shelley, he’s more than willing to have Leo stay in the house (albeit as a vegetable) to collect the disability money. She hasn’t realised, and I don’t think she ever realises, this about him.

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One Response to “Twin Peaks: Episode Nine Review”

  1. Chip said

    I just stumbled across your great reviews; thanks for them. I think you’re missing the point with the character of James. The major writers (Lynch, Frost, Peyton, et al.) seemingly delighted in making him the weakest-willed character on the show. One of the show’s many (intentional) ironies is that the supposed James Dean-like character is regularly abused and taken for granted by the many women to whom he’s attracted. When he keeps declaring love for women (going from one to another with little-to-no reason) when it’s clearly nothing more than lust and when they’re clearly using him, he really comes across as pathetic.

    There’s one caveat. Despite the female characters’ (sometimes admiring, sometimes mocking) description of him as “innocent,” we also see a dark side of the character, at least when he coldly, harshly slaps Laura in FWWM. Weak-willed characters often have very angry and/or fear-driven sides, and, although this was not the case with James, they are easy prey for “Bob.”

    And yes, the recording session is hideous.

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