Twin Peaks: Variations on Relations   Rewatch 
November 18, 2014 3:26 PM - Season 2, Episode 19 - Subscribe

Cooper finds Earle's handiwork in Owl Cave, and we hear the story of the White and Black Lodges. A puzzle box is opened, only to reveal an even more puzzling box. Lana and the Mayor conspire to fix the Miss Twin Peaks pageant. Bopper and Snake are reunited at last, and the town's sole heavy metal youth (special guest star Ted Raimi) meets with an untimely fate.

Scheduling: new episodes posted every Tuesday and Thursday. Both re-watchers and new viewers are welcome.

Watching: available for streaming on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and for free on Hulu and CBS's site.

Previous Episode Threads:
Season One: Pilot, Traces to Nowhere, Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer, Rest in Pain, The One-armed Man, Cooper's Dreams, Realization Time, The Last Evening

Season Two: May the Giant Be With You, Coma, The Man Behind Glass, Laura's Secret Diary, The Orchid's Curse, Demons, Lonely Souls, Drive With a Dead Girl, Arbitrary Law, Dispute Between Brothers, Masked Ball, The Black Widow, Checkmate, Double Play, Slaves and Masters, The Condemned Woman, Wounds and Scars, On the Wings of Love

BONUS STUFF: Once upon a time, Sony hired David Lynch to make a commercial for the PlayStation 2. The results were of course utterly Lynchian, with a bit of added synergy for Twin Peaks fans. WELCOME TO THE THIRD PLACE.
posted by Strange Interlude (7 comments total)
Man, I really do wonder what they had in store for Donna's mom and Ben Horne. Donna and Audrey do have a sisterly relationship through the rest of the show as they're playing junior detective together, so I think that exploring that in S3 would have been an interesting angle (assuming that Audrey survives what's coming to her in the plot).

Earle's speech at the beginning is... blech, and the metal-head character is a strange digression from the faux 50s feel of the rest of the town. Maybe not necessarily bad though. Imagine you're the one normal 90s American family in a town full of greasers and bobby sox. I guess you would be an outcast. Overall, putting a corpse inside of a giant pawn piece is pretty proto CSI Miami.

I like the puzzle box storyline, though. It brings up a recurring theme that I like in the show, which is the idea of things being "solved" through accidents and mistakes. Like Andy finding Leo's boots by stepping on the loose board.

Bobby is back to being an asshole in this episode, an is behaving like Leo Jr. I like his character overall, so it's always disappointing to see him swinging back to self-involved jerk.
posted by codacorolla at 8:24 AM on November 19, 2014

I've got some further thoughts on this episode, but I will say that Bobby's wandering motivations from episode to episode or even scene to scene really confuse me. One minute, he's playing on-the-rise junior executive with Ben Horne, and the next he's concocting a bizarre get-rich-quick scheme with Shelly for a measly $2000 in prize money. (IIRC from the beginning of the show, he and Snake were moving way more than that in cocaine for Leo and Jacques.) I'll excuse his on-again/off-again flirtation with Audrey and him leaving Shelly in the lurch, since he was established at the outset as a cheating nogoodnik, but his character seems kind of disjointed at this point in the show.
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:06 AM on November 19, 2014

I think Bobby's relationship with Shelley is that they were mutually abused by their exes. Bobby only sold cocaine so that Laura could get access to it -- and it;s pretty clear she was holding the purse strings as well, and that Bobby wasn't enormously competent at it. As long as both were in pain, over the death of Laura and over Leo's ongoing viciousness, Shelley had a relationship, but once Leo was brain damaged, Shelley and Bobby's relationship started falling apart. Not only did Bobby's get-rich scheme fail to get anybody rich, it also left Shelley in the lurch playing babysitter to Leo.

Bobby is flailing, and certainly that is in part because the writer's were flailing. But I think some of that is indigenous -- they can't help but flail, because the thing that made Bobby tick had been taken away. Shelley also sort of sinks into nothingness as the show progresses, her only function to be one of the beauty contestants that Earl menaces. In the meanwhile, Audrey and Donna have been given entirely new plots.

It's too bad, because Mädchen Amick was really great on the show. But they only really wrote her to be an abused girl and, later, kind of dumb, and when they took away the former there was little to do with the latter. Another example of the show letting down its female characters.
posted by maxsparber at 10:43 AM on November 19, 2014

Bobby is flailing, and certainly that is in part because the writer's were flailing.

That's a good point, and it's something I've wondered about. How much of this did the writers actually have details for? To a certain extent it seems like they captured lightning in a bottle, and were surprised and unprepared for its wild success. Are there any interviews that talk about the dynamics in the writing room?
posted by codacorolla at 1:32 PM on November 19, 2014

There is a book that I've been curious about, Reflections: An Oral History of Twin Peaks, but based on the description I don't know if it goes too in-depth on the writing end of things. To be honest, a lot of the disjointedness in characterization and episode-to-episode continuity may just have more to do with the realities of TV series production at the time. Most mystery/crime shows of the time didn't really deal with a heavily serialized continuity, and most contemporary nighttime soaps didn't attempt to juggle this many characters and disparate subplots. I think the show might have been so sui generis for 1990-91 that it was like an alien life form that couldn't quite adjust to Earth's gravity or atmosphere.

Hands down my favorite thing in this episode and last is Gordon's final hurrah with Shelly. On paper, it sounds cringe-worthy -- the middle-aged creator of the show giving himself a subplot in which he romances one of the primary ingenues -- but the execution is unexpectedly delightful. When Gordon ambles up to the counter to shout sweet nothings at poor Shelly, his realization that he can actually hear her is such a wonderful turnabout. The scene stops being about a creepy old weirdo embarrassing a put-upon waitress, and transforms into this sweet little vignette of two people discovering a one-of-a-kind connection that might not be true love, but maybe just the satisfaction of finding someone who vibrates at your own offbeat frequency.
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:11 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Speaking of Reflections, I just stumbled across this in my Facebook feed: Gorbachev once asked President Bush to make David Lynch spoil ‘Twin Peaks’
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:23 PM on November 19, 2014

I read Reflections last month and enjoyed it a lot. As with most oral histories, it's kind of a grab-bag and can sometimes come off as more of a collection of trivia than a narrative. But I learned a lot of things that I found very interesting. Some of the writers do talk about the process but there's probably not as much of it as you would like. I would still recommend it to anyone with more than a passing interest in the show.
posted by dfan at 7:34 PM on November 20, 2014

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