Skip to main content

Your former partner flew the coop, Coop.

Twin Peaks
2.2: Coma

Lynch’s pre-penultimate episode in the director’s chair, penned by Harley Peyton, continues with the high standard set by the opener, and you have to think that’s mostly down to the extra quirk instilled by the show’s co-creator.


Albert: Your former partner flew the coop, Coop. He escaped. Vanished into thin air.
Agent Cooper: That’s not good.

On the other hand, there are significant advances in the show’s mythology to help the episode along. Top of the heap is the first mention of Windom Earle, who won’t be seen in the flesh for another nine episodes. But, with the Lynch and Frost under a directive to wrap up the murder of Laura Palmer, they need to be seeding the next plotline as soon as possible. Earle was dispatched to the funny farm for reasons as yet unrevealed (although Cooper believed he had retired), and Coop finds his escape “extremely troubling”; it’s one of the reasons Albert has retuned to Twin Peaks, so he clearly sees it as just as worrisome.


Albert: Agent Cooper, I am thrilled to pieces that that Dharma came to King Ho-ho-ho, I really am, but right now I’m trying to focus on the more immediate problems of our own century, right here in Twin Peaks.

If they end on a moment of sobriety with the Earle revelation, the first five minutes of the episode feature Albert at his withering and pithy best. The slightly noticeable consequence is to frontload 2.2 with mirthful goodness, but Lynch ensures that the remainder is at least steeped in the peculiar. Albert and Coop’s breakfast discussion is set to the backing track of a barbershop quartet, as Albert chooses to avoid indulging Coop’s capacity for abstruse thinking (“Has anyone seen Bob on Earth in the last few weeks?” is his response on learning Coop saw the killer in a dream) and interest in the history of Tibet. He also – expectedly – resorts to denigrating the locals who have been questioned over Coop’s shooting. These include “the World’s most decrepit room service waiter” and “the usual bumper crop of rural know-nothings and drunken fly fishermen”.


Albert: Let’s see, beer cans, a Maryland licence plate, half a bicycle tyre, a goat, and a small wooden puppet. Goes by the name of Pinocchio.
Agent Cooper: You’re making a joke.
Albert: I like to think of myself as one of the happy generations.

Then there’s the marvellously deadpan summation of Jacques Renault’s stomach contents (above). There’s a further Albert appearance in the next episode and then we have to wait another five for more pearls of sarcasm.


Major Briggs: Any bureaucracy that functions in secret inevitably lends itself to corruption matter of fact logical mind.

Major Briggs delivers the second most vital element of the episode, in terms of what is to come. I’d entirely forgotten that he’s (at this point at least) such a great character in the series. Indeed, I probably think of Don S Davis more as Scully’s dad than for this. Briggs’ presence here ties appropriately into all things X-Files, what with its talk of deep space monitors aimed at galaxies beyond our own (suggestive of the first season episode Conduit). We learn that, at the same time Coop was shot, the message “THE OWLS ARE NOT WHAT THEY SEEM” appeared amid rows of gibberish, followed by “COOPER” repeated several times. This occult strain is very different to The X-Files ET soup, however. Anyone would think Lynch, Frost and Peyton had been watching Children of the Stones, what with with the link between primal forces and messages from the stars.


The Log Lady: You have shiny objects on your chest. Are you proud?
Major Briggs: No, achievement is its own reward. Pride obscures it.

Briggs’ straight talking is very funny, from his logical breakdown of why the government should not be trusted, to his failure to rise to the Log Lady’s impugning of his medals. Margaret is called out for last episode’s spitting of pitch gum, but the best part of the scene is how Briggs completely doesn’t treat her like a loony; indeed, he is very much open to her non-local advice (requesting him to deliver the message and asking if he understands, he replies “Yes ma’am, as a matter of fact I do”).


All this is rather unexpected and cosmic, suggesting that the goings on in Twin Peaks are connected to the wider universe (and, with owls not only masonically entwined but also a feature of ET cases, it makes for a cryptic little tease).


With regard to those owls, Lynch also references them in a montage dream sequence at the episode’s conclusion, in which Coop sees the giant, Ronette, Sarah Palmer, and both a blurry-faced Bob becoming clear and then one with the design of an owl superimposed on his face.


Lynch keeps the on-going Laura mystery effectively off-balance throughout. He confounds expectations by turning the interview with the awoken Ronette (very soapy to have one character wake from a coma just as another to goes into one) in a piece of physical farce as Coop and Harry attempt to adjust the unhelpful hospital stools to an appropriate height. When she sees the artist’s rendition of Leo she doesn’t react, but Bob is unsurprisingly convulsive.


Leland Palmer: My grandfather’s house on Pearl Lakes. He lived right next door. I was just a little boy, but I know him.

Others are also responding to Bob. Leland, who has caused further problems for Ben and Jerry by talking to business partners about the fire at the mill, recalls how he met Bob when as a boy; again, this is setting up the reveal of Laura’s murderer, towards the end of the first half of the season.


The other identifier is poor Maddy, living in the same house as a murderer. First it was besmirched carpets, now it’s the unnerving sight of Bob descending into the living room and stalking towards her. I’ve said that Bob isn’t nearly as scary outside of a shot lasting more than a couple of seconds, but this sequence is outstanding. The manner in which Lynch simply, almost casually, allows him to intrude upon the living room is unnerving.


And how great is Sheryl Lee? Very, transitioning her from innocent girl smitten with crooning doofus James (goodness knows why), to abject sadness when Donna and James embrace, to abject terror at the arrival of Bob.


This whole scene is bizarrely brilliant, but should be absolutely awful. James croons a love song like he’s on electro-helium, but set as it is to that slightly haunting Badalementi rhythm, it becomes hypnotic. Lynch just lets it play out, drinking in the various realisations between the ménage a trois; James responding to Maddy, who is making eyes at him, and Donna taking charge when she thinks her boy’s straying from the fold.


Mrs Tremond: Cream corn? Do you see cream corn on that plate?
Donna: Yes.
Mrs Tremond: I requested no cream corn.

I don’t think there’s a scene here that doesn’t have some kind off Lynch craziness, but the one that most looks like he made it up on the spot is Donna’s meals-on-wheels visit to Mrs Tremond (Frances Bay, best known as the victim of Jerry’s bread-snatching in the Seinfeld episode The Rye; “Gimme the bread, you old bag”).


Lynch’s son Austin Jack Lynch plays the lady’s grandson, made up as a miniature of his dad and keen student of magic, such that he enables cream corn to vanish from his gran’s plate (“Sometimes things can happen just like this”). There’s also (obviously, Lynch is obsessed with food) a shout out to last week’s hospital food nightmare (“They used to bring me hospital food. Imagine that”) and junior’s endorsement of Donna (“She seemed like a very nice girl”). Fortunately we don’t have to suffer Mr Smith yet, but he’s imminent.


Jerry Horne: Is this real, Ben, or some strange and twisted dream?

Also offbeat, but just about keeping the plot moving, are Ben and Jelly debating whether to burn Catherine’s fake or accurate ledgers (“It looks like we’re 100% certain that we’re not sure”), but not Jerry’s smoked cheese pig. Then there’s Andy covered in tape attempting to put up Bob pictures and his (yawn) suspicion of Lucy being up to no good because he’s sterile (“Sure, I thought it meant I didn’t have to take a bath”), Bobby and Shelly discussing nursing Leo in order to take home the insurance money (“You could stick him in a corner and hang donuts from his ears”) and the deer’s head in Harry’s office with a “The Buck Stopped Here” sign below it (“You know, that’s an awfully cute buck, Harry”). The reveal in the same scene that Hank used to be a Bookhouse Boy takes some swallowing, however.


Agent Cooper: Audrey’s absence touches me in ways I could not predict. I find myself thinking not clues or of evidence but of the content of her smile.

We finally get back round to focusing on Audrey, but by this point it feels like the writers have run out of ideas for her, particularly with the hindsight that Coop mooning over her will come to nothing. 


There’s an amusingly composed scene of fetishism with Emory Battis is blindfolded and tied up, his painted toenails drying, while a lovely does the hoovering around him (“I’m Audrey Horne and I get what I want”), but if the some total of Audrey’s investigations is what she knew already (Laura worked there) it’s not exactly a dynamite plot thread. Likewise, the cliffhanger, another where she is in trouble at One Eyed Jacks, is treading familiar water.


This is relatively minor complaining though. Twin Peaks starts off it’s second season at least as effectively as it does its first, and shows no inclination to run out of steam just yet. It’s also evidence that the Lynch touch will be sorely missed if he isn’t going to be directing the new series, already written or otherwise. Just that Lynch factor on set brings about alchemy.








Comments

Popular posts from this blog

She writes Twilight fan fiction.

Vampire Academy (2014)
My willingness to give writer Daniel Waters some slack on the grounds of early glories sometimes pays off (Sex and Death 101) and sometimes, as with this messy and indistinct Young Adult adaptation, it doesn’t. If Vampire Academy plods along as a less than innovative smart-mouthed Buffy rip-off that might be because, if you added vampires to Heathers, you would probably get something not so far from the world of Joss Whedon. Unfortunately inspiration is a low ebb throughout, not helped any by tepid direction from Daniel’s sometimes-reliable brother Mark and a couple of hopelessly plankish leads who do their best to dampen down any wit that occasionally attempts to surface.

I can only presume there’s a never-ending pile of Young Adult fiction poised for big screen failure, all of it comprising multi-novel storylines just begging for a moment in the Sun. Every time an adaptation crashes and burns (and the odds are that they will) another one rises, hydra-like, hoping…

What ho, Brinkley. So, do you think we’re going to get along, what?

Jeeves and Wooster 2.4: Jeeves in the Country  (aka Chuffy)
The plundering of Thank You, Jeeves elicits two more of the series’ best episodes, the first of which finds Bertie retiring to the country with a new valet, the insolent, incompetent and inebriate Brinkley (a wonderfully sour, sullen performance from Fred Evans, who would receive an encore in the final season), owing to Jeeves being forced to resign over his master’s refusal to give up the trumpet (“not an instrument for a gentleman”; in the book, it’s a banjulele).

Chuffnall Hall is the setting (filmed at Wrotham Park in Hertfordshire), although the best of the action takes place around Bertie’s digs in Chuffnall Regis (Clovelly, Devon), which old pal Reginald “Chuffy” Chuffnell (Marmaduke Lord Chuffnell) has obligingly rented him, much to the grievance of the villagers, who have to endure his trumpeting disrupting the beatific beach (it’s a lovely spot, one of the most evocative in the series).

Jeeves is snapped up into the e…

Exit bear, pursued by an actor.

Paddington 2 (2017)
(SPOILERS) Paddington 2 is every bit as upbeat and well-meaning as its predecessor. It also has more money thrown at it, a much better villain (an infinitely better villain) and, in terms of plotting, is more developed, offering greater variety and a more satisfying structure. Additionally, crucially, it succeeds in offering continued emotional heft and heart to the Peruvian bear’s further adventures. It isn’t, however, quite as funny.

Even suggesting such a thing sounds curmudgeonly, given the universal applause greeting the movie, but I say that having revisited the original a couple of days prior and found myself enjoying it even more than on first viewing. Writer-director Paul King and co-writer Simon Farnaby introduce a highly impressive array of set-ups with huge potential to milk their absurdity to comic ends, but don’t so much squander as frequently leave them undertapped.

Paddington’s succession of odd jobs don’t quite escalate as uproariously as they migh…

Rejoice! The broken are the more evolved. Rejoice.

Split (2016)
(SPOILERS) M Night Shyamalan went from the toast of twist-based filmmaking to a one-trick pony to the object of abject ridicule in the space of only a couple of pictures: quite a feat. Along the way, I’ve managed to miss several of his pictures, including his last, The Visit, regarded as something of a re-locating of his footing in the low budget horror arena. Split continues that genre readjustment, another Blumhouse production, one that also manages to bridge the gap with the fare that made him famous. But it’s a thematically uneasy film, marrying shlock and serious subject matter in ways that don’t always quite gel.

Shyamalan has seized on a horror staple – nubile teenage girls in peril, prey to a psychotic antagonist – and, no doubt with the best intentions, attempted to warp it. But, in so doing, he has dragged in themes and threads from other, more meritable fare, with the consequence that, in the end, the conflicting positions rather subvert his attempts at subversion…

Don't give me any of that intelligent life crap, just give me something I can blow up.

Dark Star (1974)
(SPOILERS) Is Dark Star more a John Carpenter film or more a Dan O’Bannon one? Until the mid ‘80s it might have seemed atypical of either of them, since they had both subsequently eschewed comedy in favour of horror (or thriller). And then they made Big Trouble in Little China and Return of the Living Dead respectively, and you’d have been none-the-wiser again. I think it’s probably fair to suggest it was a more personal film to O’Bannon, who took its commercial failure harder, and Carpenter certainly didn’t relish the tension their creative collaboration brought (“a duel of control” as he put it), as he elected not to work with his co-writer/ actor/ editor/ production designer/ special effects supervisor again. Which is a shame, as, while no one is ever going to label Dark Star a masterpiece, their meeting of minds resulted in one of the decade’s most enduring cult classics, and for all that they may have dismissed it/ seen only its negatives since, one of the best mo…

Ruination to all men!

The Avengers 24: How to Succeed…. At Murder
On the one hand, this episode has a distinctly reactionary whiff about it, pricking the bubble of the feminist movement, with Steed putting a female assassin over his knee and tickling her into submission. On the other, it has Steed putting a female assassin over his knee and tickling her into submission. How to Succeed… At Murder (a title play on How to Succeed at Business Without Really Trying, perhaps) is often very funny, even if you’re more than a little aware of the “wacky” formula that has been steadily honed over the course of the fourth season.

You just keep on drilling, sir, and we'll keep on killing.

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2016)
(SPOILERS) The drubbing Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk received really wasn’t unfair. I can’t even offer it the “brave experiment” consolation on the basis of its use of a different frame rate – not evident in itself on 24fps Blu ray, but the neutering effect of the actual compositions is, and quite tellingly in places – since the material itself is so lacking. It’s yet another misguided (to be generous to its motives) War on Terror movie, and one that manages to be both formulaic and at times fatuous in its presentation.

The irony is that Ang Lee, who wanted Billy Lynn to feel immersive and realistic, has made a movie where nothing seems real. Jean-Christophe Castelli’s adaptation of Ben Fountain’s novel is careful to tread heavily on every war movie cliché it can muster – and Vietnam War movie cliché at that – as it follows Billy Lynn (British actor Joe Alwyn) and his unit (“Bravo Squad”) on a media blitz celebrating their heroism in 2004 Iraq …

The wolves are running. Perhaps you would do something to stop their bite?

The Box of Delights (1984)
If you were at a formative age when it was first broadcast, a festive viewing of The Box of Delightsmay well have become an annual ritual. The BBC adaptation of John Masefield’s 1935 novel is perhaps the ultimate cosy yuletide treat. On a TV screen, at any rate. To an extent, this is exactly the kind of unashamedly middle class-orientated bread-and-butter period production the corporation now thinks twice about; ever so posh kids having jolly adventures in a nostalgic netherworld of Interwar Britannia. Fortunately, there’s more to it than that. There is something genuinely evocative about Box’s mythic landscape, a place where dream and reality and time and place are unfixed and where Christmas is guaranteed a blanket of thick snow. Key to this is the atmosphere instilled by director Renny Rye. Most BBC fantasy fare doe not age well but The Box of Delights is blessed with a sinister-yet-familiar charm, such that even the creakier production decisions may be vie…

In a few moments, you will have an experience that will seem completely real. It will be the result of your subconscious fears transformed into your conscious awareness.

Brainstorm (1983)
(SPOILERS) Might Brainstorm have been the next big thing – a ground-breaking, game-changing cinematic spectacle that had as far reaching consequences as Star Wars (special effects) or Avatar (3D) – if only Douglas Trumbull had been allowed to persevere with his patented “Showscan” process (70mm film photographed and projected at 60 frames per second)? I suspect not; one only has to look at the not-so-far-removed experiment of Ang Lee with Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, and how that went down like a bag of cold sick, to doubt that any innovation will necessarily catch on (although Trumbull at least had a narrative hinge on which to turn his “more real than real” imagery, whereas Lee’s pretty much boiled down to “because it was there”). Brainstorm’s story is, though, like its title, possibly too cerebral, too much concerned with the consciousness and touting too little of the cloyingly affirmative that Bruce Rubin inevitably brings to his screenplays. That doesn’t mea…

You keep a horse in the basement?

The ‘Burbs (1989)
(SPOILERS) The ‘Burbs is Joe Dante’s masterpiece. Or at least, his masterpiece that isn’t his bite-the-hand-that-feeds-you masterpiece Gremlins 2: The New Batch, or his high profile masterpiece Gremlins. Unlike those two, the latter of which bolted out of the gate and took audiences by surprise with it’s black wit subverting the expected Spielberg melange, and the first which was roundly shunned by viewers and critics for being absolutely nothing like the first and waving that fact gleefully under their noses, The ‘Burbs took a while to gain its foothold in the Dante pantheon. 

It came out at a time when there had been a good few movies (not least Dante’s) taking a poke at small town Americana, and it was a Tom Hanks movie when Hanks was still a broad strokes comedy guy (Big had just made him big, Turner and Hooch was a few months away; you know you’ve really made it when you co-star with a pooch). It’s true to say that some, as with say The Big Lebowski, “got it” on fi…