Skip to main content

Andy, I believe that little Nicky, incredible as it may seem, may in fact be the devil.

Twin Peaks
2.12: The Black Widow

This one, directed by Caleb Deschanel and written by Harley Peyton and Robert Engels, continue the largely antiseptic trend of the last couple. It will remain that way until Jean Renault (well played by Michael Parks, but not used well beyond his first couple of appearances) is despatched and Windom Earle takes centre stage.


Dick Tremayne: Andy, I believe that little Nicky, incredible as it may seem, may in fact be the devil.

The Black Widow is more of the less engaging/haven’t a clue what to do filler plotlines, basically. Even in these, there’s the occasional quirk; it just isn’t enough. Ian Buchanan continues to make silk purses out of sow’s ears as Dick Tremayne. Here, he takes Nicky on a picnic; they are dressed identically (and ridiculously). Following a mishap with a jack, he becomes convinced the lad is demonic, concerned at the “persistent random misfortune” occurring to those coming into contact with him. 


At which point Deschanel fully embraces the series’ more cartoonish aspects by giving Andy a cartoon thought bubble showing the child dressed in a devil costume. Andy is typically moronic, of course (on learning Nick is an orphan, he asks “Really, what happened did his parents die?” Dick replies, “Nicely deduced”).


Mayor Milford: You sexual adventuress! You’ll burn in hell for this.

This is slim stuff, barely worth a mention really, but one has to scratch for nuggets at this point in the show. So we have the mass swoon for the widow of Dougie Milford (a heart attack in flagrante). First Hawk, then the entire sheriff’s office succumb to hear extravagant charms, launching into a soliloquy from Romeo and Juliet (“Oh, she doth teach the torches to burn bright…”)


There’s naught to muster in enthusiasm for James’ soporific sojourn as a mechanic. He meets Evelyn’s brother Malcolm (Nicholas Love) and we learn her hubby beats her.


Elsewhere, Audrey proposes a partnership with Bobby, who has finally encouraged Ben to listen to him. Bobby is packed off to photograph Hank, while Ben begins his re-enactment of Gettysburg. Still, Ben’s line about Leo recording a tape gets a smile (“Frankly, I’m surprised he could master the technology”).


On a similarly tedious note, Catherine is still lording it over poor little maid Josie (“She’s lucky she’s not hanging from a tree”) while Nadine is trying out for the wrestling team. The Big Ed/Norma developments by rights ought to follow this rather tiresome path, but they manage to be quite touching; halfway through life and making an attempt to grasp at missed opportunities.


Special Agent Cooper: Might this have something to do with a place called the White Lodge?
Colonel Riley: That’s classified.

The Major Briggs plotline continues to be one of the bright spots of this section of the series. Colonel Riley (Tony Burton) provides clarification regarding the signals picked up from space; they are actually intercepting them “from right here in these woods, but where sent to is another question”. He also asks specifically about sightings of birds or owls during Briggs’ vanishing, before clamming up with the usual refrain of “That’s classified”.


Colonel Riley: His disappearance has implications that go so far beyond national security, the cold war seems like a case of the snivels.

Military fascination with occult forces is nothing new as a concept, but Twin Peaks is notable for how seamlessly it has segued there. The blending of UFO lore and the more traditionally supernatural recurs when Briggs returns in the last scene (dressed as if he has been riding a 1940s motorbike); he appears to have lost time (“Strange, it seemed much shorter”, when told that he has been gone two days). It’s nice to have a call back to Bobby’s talk with his dad, even if highlights how poorly he is being used currently (“My father is a deeply weird individual, but he has a lot more going on in his head than most people”).


 Special Agent Cooper: Audrey, you did better than good you may have save my life.

Coop is also engaged in non-linear thinking. He takes a look at a property on a whim of where his tossed coin falls. It leads him to Dead Dog Farm, where Renault and company had a drugs meet. En route, Irene Littlehouse (Geraldine Keams) gives him a little folkloric background pertaining to dead dogs (only the purest of hear can feel the pain of dead dogs, and the best and worst are drawn to them). Not sure it makes a whole lot of sense. On the subject of the same location – highly coincidental, but that’s okay, it’s Twin Peaks – Audrey delivers photos of the meet to him, the ones Bobby has taken.


Special Agent Cooper: He anticipated my response to his opening move perfectly.

The rest of the Coop storyline sees more laying of the groundwork for Earle’s unveiling. Some of this is smart – Earle can predict Coop’s moves in advance – some less so (Coop’s rather self-indulgent pondering that he might be able to raise a family one day, even with his past).


Audrey: Do they have women agents?
Denise: More or less.

It’s also Denise’s second of three appearances and, while the set ups and dialogue can be patchy, Duchovny is consistently good value. Audrey’s ignorance of the DEA having female agents seems designed purely to allow Denise to deliver a gag (Audrey can’t be that ignorant). Sherilyn Fenn plays her fascination/delight with realising Denise is a guy superbly, however. She also plants a smacker on Coop, presumably as some kind of territorial claim.


Denise: Now, can we talk about something more important? Exactly how old is that girl?
Special Agent Cooper: Denise, I would assume you are no longer interested in girls.
Denise: Coop, I may be wearing a dress, but I still pull my panties on one leg at a time, if you know what I mean.
Special Agent Cooper: Not really.

It’s easy to see why Duchovny got bored with Mulder after a while; there’s so much more to play with here. His scene with Ernie Niles in the diner is essentially the DEA putting the squeeze on the con, but it plays with a very amusing layer of Ernie’s consternation over the gender choices of his interrogator.


2.12 keeps things ticking over, just about, but it’s mostly tepid. The next episode will continue in that vein, but at least it signals an end to the holding pattern of Coop’s suspension (not that it’s lifted, but the related and less than scintillating subplot will fall away).






Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Who’s got the Figgy Port?

Loki (2021) (SPOILERS) Can something be of redeemable value and shot through with woke (the answer is: Mad Max: Fury Road )? The two attributes certainly sound essentially irreconcilable, and Loki ’s tendencies – obviously, with new improved super-progressive Kevin Feige touting Disney’s uber-agenda – undeniably get in the way of what might have been a top-tier MCU entry from realising its full potential. But there are nevertheless solid bursts of highly engaging storytelling in the mix here, for all its less cherishable motivations. It also boasts an effortlessly commanding lead performance from Tom Hiddleston; that alone puts Loki head and shoulders above the other limited series thus far.

As in the hokey kids’ show guy?

A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood (2019) (SPOILERS) I don’t think Mr Rogers could have been any creepier had Kevin Spacey played him. It isn’t just the baggage Tom Hanks brings, and whether or not he’s the adrenochrome lord to the stars and/or in Guantanamo and/or dead and/or going to make a perfectly dreadful Colonel Tom Parker and an equally awful Geppetto; it’s that his performance is so constipated and mannered an imitation of Mr Rogers’ genuineness that this “biopic” takes on a fundamentally sinister turn. His every scene with a youngster isn’t so much exuding benevolent empathy as suggestive of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang ’s Child Catcher let loose in a TV studio (and again, this bodes well for Geppetto). Extend that to A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood ’s conceit, that Mr Rogers’ life is one of a sociopathic shrink milking angst from his victims/patients in order to get some kind of satiating high – a bit like a rejuvenating drug, on that score – and you have a deeply unsettli

It’ll be like living in the top drawer of a glass box.

Someone’s Watching Me! (1978) (SPOILERS) The first of a pair of TV movies John Carpenter directed in the 1970s, but Someone’s Watching Me! is more affiliated, in genre terms, to his breakout hit ( Halloween ) and reasonably successful writing job ( The Eyes of Laura Mars ) of the same year than the also-small-screen Elvis . Carpenter wrote a slew of gun-for-hire scripts during this period – some of which went on to see the twilight of day during the 1990s – so directing Someone’s Watching Me! was not a given. It’s well-enough made and has its moments of suspense, but you sorely miss a signature Carpenter theme – it was by Harry Sukman, his penultimate work, the final being Salem’s Lot – and it really does feel very TV movie-ish.

You nicknamed my daughter after the Loch Ness Monster?

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (2012) The final finale of the Twilight saga, in which pig-boy Jacob tells Bella that, “No, it's not like that at all!” after she accuses him of being a paedo. But then she comes around to his viewpoint, doubtless displaying the kind of denial many parents did who let their kids spend time with Jimmy Savile or Gary Glitter during the ‘70s. It's lucky little Renesmee will be an adult by the age of seven, right? Right... Jacob even jokes that he should start calling Edward, “Dad”. And all the while they smile and smile.

What's a movie star need a rocket for anyway?

The Rocketeer (1991) (SPOILERS) The Rocketeer has a fantastic poster. One of the best of the last thirty years (and while that may seem like faint praise, what with poster design being a dying art – I’m looking at you Marvel, or Amazon and the recent The Tomorrow War – it isn’t meant to be). The movie itself, however, tends towards stodge. Unremarkable pictures with a wide/cult fanbase, conditioned by childhood nostalgia, are ten-a-penny – Willow for example – and in this case, there was also a reasonably warm critical reception. But such an embrace can’t alter that Joe Johnston makes an inveterately bland, tepid movie director. His “feel” for period here got him The First Avenger: Captain America gig, a bland, tepid movie tending towards stodge. So at least he’s consistent.

Here’s Bloody Justice for you.

Laughter in Paradise (1951) (SPOILERS) The beginning of a comedic run for director-producer Mario Zampa that spanned much of the 1950s, invariably aided by writers Michael Pertwee and Jack Davies (the latter went on to pen a spate of Norman Wisdom pictures including The Early Bird , and also comedy rally classic Monte Carlo or Bust! ) As usual with these Pertwee jaunts, Laughter in Paradise boasts a sparky premise – renowned practical joker bequeaths a fortune to four relatives, on condition they complete selected tasks that tickle him – and more than enough resultant situational humour.

I'm offering you a half-share in the universe.

Doctor Who Season 8 – Worst to Best I’m not sure I’d watched Season Eight chronologically before. While I have no hesitation in placing it as the second-best Pertwee season, based on its stories, I’m not sure it pays the same dividends watched as a unit. Simply, there’s too much Master, even as Roger Delgado never gets boring to watch and the stories themselves offer sufficient variety. His presence, turning up like clockwork, is inevitably repetitive. There were no particular revelatory reassessments resulting from this visit, then, except that, taken together – and as The Directing Route extra on the Blu-ray set highlights – it’s often much more visually inventive than what would follow. And that Michael Ferguson should probably have been on permanent attachment throughout this era.

Somewhere out there is a lady who I think will never be a nun.

The Sound of Music (1965) (SPOILERS) One of the most successful movies ever made – and the most successful musical – The Sound of Music has earned probably quite enough unfiltered adulation over the years to drown out the dissenting voices, those that denounce it as an inveterately saccharine, hollow confection warranting no truck. It’s certainly true that there are impossibly nice and wholesome elements here, from Julie Andrews’ career-dooming stereotype governess to the seven sonorous children more than willing to dress up in old curtains and join her gallivanting troupe. Whether the consequence is something insidious in its infectious spirit is debatable, but I’ll admit that it manages to ensnare me. I don’t think I’d seen the movie in its entirety since I was a kid, and maybe that formativeness is a key brainwashing facet of its appeal, but it retains its essential lustre just the same.

I’m just glad Will Smith isn’t alive to see this.

The Tomorrow War (2021) (SPOILERS). Not so much tomorrow as yesterday. There’s a strong sense of déjà vu watching The Tomorrow War , so doggedly derivative is it of every time-travel/alien war/apocalyptic sci-fi movie of the past forty years. Not helping it stand out from the pack are doughy lead Chris Pratt, damned to look forever on the beefy side no matter how ripped he is and lacking the chops or gravitas for straight roles, and debut live-action director Chris McKay, who manages to deliver the goods in a serviceably anonymous fashion.

When I barked, I was enormous.

Dean Spanley (2008) (SPOILERS) There is such a profusion of average, respectable – but immaculately made – British period drama held up for instant adulation, it’s hardly surprising that, when something truly worthy of acclaim comes along, it should be singularly ignored. To be fair, Dean Spanley was well liked by critics upon its release, but its subsequent impact has proved disappointingly slight. Based on Lord Dunsany’s 1939 novella, My Talks with Dean Spanley , our narrator relates how the titular Dean’s imbibification of a moderate quantity of Imperial Tokay (“ too syrupy ”, is the conclusion reached by both members of the Fisk family regarding this Hungarian wine) precludes his recollection of a past life as a dog.  Inevitably, reviews pounced on the chance to reference Dean Spanley as a literal shaggy dog story, so I shall get that out of the way now. While the phrase is more than fitting, it serves to underrepresent how affecting the picture is when it has c