Twin Peaks 2.1

2.1 May the Giant Be with You

“The woods were our sadness.”

This season brings us right back where it left us: Cooper bleeding on the floor of his hotel room. The opening is a delightful sequence of dark comedy. An old man comes in as room service and doesn’t comprehend that Cooper is bleeding out. It’s slowly paced, yet the gag only gets funnier as the sequence gets longer. It’s a masterful piece of timing and tone that can get us to laugh in a moment when a beloved character is near death.

This episode amps up the comedy. The show has certainly had some wry humor, but this one goes for jokes that are maybe a bit too broad in tone for the show. Andy falls for the old slapstick gag of stepping on a loose board that smacks him in the face. Mr. Palmer also starts singing everywhere he goes. There’s also some awkward comedy when Lucy and Andy, who aren’t on good terms, have to scan through issues of Flesh World to look for clues.

This season also cranks up the supernatural elements. While bleeding out, Cooper receives a vision from The Giant (Carel Stuycken) who tells him of three signs to come. Leland’s hair goes completely white. His niece, Maddy, sees a premonition of an ominous stain she doesn’t quite understand. These visions of things to come set up a dread, but also give the show a bit of setup that the astute viewer might be able to tune into and understand. These are strange happenings, but not inscrutable.

And speaking of strange, Donna’s character takes a weird turn. She starts smoking, picks up a pair of Laura’s sunglasses and then sexually teases James when she visits him in his jail cell. She seems to be trying her hand at playing the bad girl, but it doesn’t have any psychological plausibility. There are some strange characters in Twin Peaks, but after getting to know Donna, this turn feels out of character.

This episode does give a great evolution to a different character. Bobby has an amazing moment of self-discovery when Shelly tells him she loves him and he finds himself in love as well. He’s amazed he can feel such a thing. There’s also a great scene where Major Briggs (Dana Ashbrook), Bobby’s father, tells him of a vision he received about Bobby’s future and it brings Bobby to tears. Bobby has been one of the more abrasive characters in the show, but Twin Peaks has been able to tease out that there’s a sweetness he has that even he doesn’t realize.

Once Cooper awakes in the hospital, he gets back up to work on the case. It’s interesting that Cooper is constantly a step behind the audience. He just now finds the locket connection that we’ve know about for episodes. The show places us a place of knowing more than its characters, the audience gets this bigger, more complete picture and must watch the characters work through limited knowledge. This could be frustrating, but so far Twin Peaks has held back the greater mysteries and its likely the audience will have to discover these alongside the characters.

This entire episode takes place in the course of a day, and this made me realize that the show has been structuring itself after that model. It doesn’t do it in a showy way. Therefore, unlike 24 where the conceit can feel forced, here it’s never brought to as an overarching structural technique, something that just happens to be how the show unfolds if you pay attention. It’s a clear structure, one you’ll only notice if you look for it. Once observed, it adds another rich layer to the show.

© 2014 James Blake Ewing