Skip to main content

Their motivation in search of the White Lodge is not ideologically pure.

Twin Peaks 
2.14: Double Play

The first in a brief run of name directors, as Uli Edel gets on board. This would be the shape of things to come for the director. He made the acclaimed slog Last Exit Brooklynprior to this, but next came the ridiculed Body of Evidence. TV heaven beckoned after that. Mark’s brother Scott handles scripting duties for the second and final time. There’s a definite uptick here; much dead wood prevails, but you can feel a re-ignition of drama and engagement.


Special Agent Cooper: Windom Earle is a genius. And he’s taken his first pawn in a very sick game.

Finally then, we meet Windom Earle. He’ll be a constant until series’ end but I’ll save comment on Kenneth Welsh’s uproariously demented performance until the next episode. Here he functions as little more than a reveal. One wonders how much the deathly seriousness with which Coop takes him is intended as misdirection, since when we do see him he’s the most welcoming of loons. Coop is full of dire warnings and over the onset of his evil (“Windom Earle has been in this room. I can still feel his presence”).


Special Agent Cooper: Windom Earle and I played a game everyday for three years.

Coop has been cleared of all criminal charges, but his suspension still stands. He unloads a swampful of exposition on Harry, including how he never beat his nemesis at chess, and“He felt that all of life could be found in the patterns and conflicts in the board”. Most particular is Coop laying bare what could be deduced already; Coop and Caroline, Earle’s wife, fell in love, she died at Earle’s hand.


Special Agent Cooper: I think he killed her and I think he committed the crime she originally witnessed. Windom Earle’s mind is like a diamond. It’s cold and hard and brilliant. I think he feigned the insanity that sent him away but at some point he lost the ability to distinguish between what’s right and what’s wrong.

It’s curious that Coop proffers “You don’t know what he’s capable of, Harry. You don’t know”. My recollection is that we don’t learn exactly what Earle did to earn such dread on Coop’s part. Surely most of this would be speculation on Coop’s part, Earle didn’t embark on a slaughter spree before ending up in the nut house.


Audrey: From now on Bobby, I’m the one you suck up to.
Bobby: What about Shelly?
Audrey: What about Shelly?

The Audrey-Bobby camaraderie is beginning to loose its initial flair, with her suggesting he should tag along if he wants to get rich. Far better when Bobby finally gets his arse into gear and (attempts to) comes to Shelly’s rescue. This scene has a tension not seen since Leland’s reveal, and there’s more than a touch of the slasher film villain to Leo rampaging through the window, stuck in the leg by Shelly (she ends up rescuing Bobby). Or Frankenstein’s monster, as Bobby succinctly notes next week. It’s after this that Leo finds Windom’s cabin in the woods (“It’s all right. I’m a friend. Come sit”).


Major Briggs: Their motivation in search of the White Lodge is not ideologically pure.

Major Briggs will feature in Windom’s personal mission, as the quests for lodge secrets dovetail. Here, we discover that Briggs has become disillusioned with his bosses, who are exhibiting “a degree of suspicion and control bordering on paranoia”. It’s nice to see the military man with a conscience decide his personal code takes priority over orders (even when “That’s classified”). Briggs believes he was taken to the White Lodge during his disappearance. Like Coop he is full of portents of doom, warning of much trouble ahead, and that he will return “But Until that time, I will be in the shadows if you need me”. He also, with Coop and Harry, drinks down a long glass of water.


Andy: We think Nicky murdered his parents.

The little Nicky plot continues to be second only to the Adam Sandler movie in edginess. Lucy announces Andy and Dick are “not fit to be fathers to a chimpanzee”. On the upside, Dr Hayward’s account of Nicky’s entrance into the world has an appealing air of over baked pulp fiction. His mother was a poor itinerant chambermaid and Nicky was conceived in an assault in a back alley. Even worse, she died giving birth to Nicky! The humanity.


Norma: People will find out.
Big Ed: Let ‘em.

A few of the other less than stellar plotlines also show a flicker of enthusiasm this week. It’s rather nice to have Ed and Norma find happiness, with the news that Hank has been booked for parole violation (he makes one more appearance in the show). Dr Hayward gets another humour-laced scene discussing Nadine’s sexual dynamism; Ed Wakes up every morning and feel like “I’ve been hit by a timber truck”. The doc’s advice to Ed is to “Be patient and have her home by 9 o’clock on school nights” which is perfectly useless advice but quite funny. Talking of timber, Hank claimed a tree fell on him (rather than Nadine).


Dr Jacobi: What he needs right now is both your understanding, and a Confederate victory.

As for the Ben/American Civil War saga, it could amount to dynamite viewing but with the arrival of Jerry and Dr Jacobi (sitting on a perch, taking notes), it actually has a bit of zest. Jacobi, in his only-in-the-movies manner, suggests Ben can regain his faculties through enacting a Confederate win, which requires the pitching in of his nearest and dearest.


Jacobi’s also on hand with Lana Budding Miflord, a subplot so slender they must have been really desperate to approve it. The mayor turns up at the police station with a gun, and refers to Jacobi, who has spent the last 24 hours with her and noted her heightened sexual drive, as a hippy. Rather satisfyingly, Coop plays clever cupid and shuts the mayor and the widow in a room together to talk things through. Presto, they are engaged and “We decided to adopt a child”.


Edel does his best, but he can’t inject drama into dozy James realising he has been set up for the murder of Evelyn’s hubby (brake failure). Luckily, Donna is on hand to help him escape (that wet, but curiously catchy song with a high pitched James singing is also on tap). No more electrifying is Pete reacquainting with Andrew, or the arrival of Thomas Eckhardt, coming to Twin Peaks “like a rat to cheese”.  The metaphor is as basic as they get and, despite the welcome appearance of David Warner, this plotline has some heavy lifting to do if it’s going to become engaging (that I can’t remember if it does suggests otherwise, although I readily recall Warner).


Next week makes good on the promise here and then some, as unlikely special guest director Diane Keaton throws everything into an episode brimming with pleasurable little asides. Even if no one else bother, she clearly took note of Lynch’s predilections and strange fascinations.



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

She was addicted to Tums for a while.

Marriage Story (2019)
(SPOILERS) I don’t tend to fall heavily for Noah Baumbach fare. He’s undoubtedly a distinctive voice – even if his collaborations with Wes Anderson are the least of that director’s efforts – but his devotion to an exclusive, rarefied New York bubble becomes ever more off-putting with each new project. And ever more identifiable as being a lesser chronicler of the city’s privileged quirks than his now disinherited forbear Woody Allen, who at his peak mastered a balancing act between the insightful, hilarious and self-effacing. Marriage Story finds Baumbach going yet again where Woody went before, this time brushing up against the director’s Ingmar Bergman fixation.

You're not only wrong. You're wrong at the top of your voice.

Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)
I’ve seen comments suggesting that John Sturges’ thriller hasn’t aged well, which I find rather mystifying. Sure, some of the characterisations border on the cardboard, but the director imbues the story with a taut, economical backbone. 

Poor Easy Breezy.

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019)
(SPOILERS) My initial reaction to Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood was mild disbelief that Tarantino managed to hoodwink studios into coming begging to make it, so wilfully perverse is it in disregarding any standard expectations of narrative or plotting. Then I remembered that studios, or studios that aren’t Disney, are desperate for product, and more especially, product that might guarantee them a hit. Quentin’s latest appears to be that, but whether it’s a sufficient one to justify the expense of his absurd vanity project remains to be seen.

He tasks me. He tasks me, and I shall have him.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
(1982)
(SPOILERS) I don’t love Star Trek, but I do love Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. That probably isn’t just me, but a common refrain of many a non-devotee of the series. Although, it used to apply to The Voyage Home (the funny one, with the whales, the Star Trek even the target audience for Three Men and a Baby could enjoy). Unfortunately, its high regard has also become the desperate, self-destructive, song-and-verse, be-all-and-end-all of the overlords of the franchise itself, in whichever iteration, it seems. This is understandable to an extent, as Khan is that rare movie sequel made to transcendent effect on almost every level, and one that stands the test of time every bit as well (better, even) as when it was first unveiled.

My name is Dr. King Schultz, this is my valet, Django, and these are our horses, Fritz, and Tony.

Django Unchained (2012)
(MINOR SPOILERS) Since the painful misstep of Grindhouse/Death Proof, Quentin Tarantino has regained the higher ground like never before. Pulp Fiction, his previous commercial and critical peak, has been at very least equalled by the back-to-back hits of Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained. Having been underwhelmed by his post Pulp Fiction efforts (albeit, I admired his technical advances as a director in Kill Bill), I was pleasantly surprised by Inglourious Basterds. It was no work of genius (so not Pulp Fiction) by any means, but there was a gleeful irreverence in its treatment of history and even to the nominal heroic status of its titular protagonists. Tonally, it was a good fit for the director’s “cool” aesthetic. As a purveyor of postmodern pastiche, where the surface level is the subtext, in some ways he was operating at his zenith. Django Unchained is a retreat from that position, the director caught in the tug between his all-important aesthetic pr…

Haven’t you ever heard of the healing power of laughter?

Batman (1989)
(SPOILERS) There’s Jaws, there’s Star Wars, and then there’s Batman in terms of defining the modern blockbuster. Jaws’ success was so profound, it changed the way movies were made and marketed. Batman’s marketing was so profound, it changed the way tentpoles would be perceived: as cash cows. Disney tried to reproduce the effect the following year with Dick Tracy, to markedly less enthusiastic response. None of this places Batman in the company of Jaws as a classic movie sold well, far from it. It just so happened to hit the spot. As Tim Burton put it, it was “more of a cultural phenomenon than a great movie”. It’s difficult to disagree with his verdict that the finished product (for that is what it is) is “mainly boring”.

Now, of course, the Burton bat has been usurped by the Nolan incarnation (and soon the Snyder). They have some things in common. Both take the character seriously and favour a sombre tone, which was much more of shock to the system when Burton did it (even…

All the way up! We’ll make it cold like winter used to be.

Soylent Green (1973)
(SPOILERS) The final entry in Chuck Heston’s mid-career sci-fi trilogy (I’m not counting his Beneath the Planet of the Apes extended cameo). He hadn’t so much as sniffed at the genre prior to 1967, but over the space of the next half decade or so, he blazed a trail for dystopian futures. Perhaps the bleakest of these came in Soylent Green. And it’s only a couple of years away. 2022 is just around the corner.

Once that first bullet goes past your head, politics and all that shit just goes right out the window.

Black Hawk Down (2001)
(SPOILERS) Black Hawk Down completed a trilogy of hits for Ridley Scott, a run of consistency he’d not seen even a glimmer of hitherto. He was now a brazenly commercial filmmaker, one who could boast big box office under his belt where previously such overt forays had seen mixed results (Black Rain, G.I. Jane). It also saw him strip away the last vestiges of artistic leanings from his persona, leaving behind, it seemed, only technical virtuosity. Scott was now given to the increasingly thick-headed soundbite (“every war movie is an anti-war movie”) in justification for whatever his latest carry-on carried in terms of controversial elements, and more than happy to bed down with the Pentagon (long-standing collaborators with producer Jerry Bruckheimer) to make a movie that, while depictinga less than auspicious intervention by the US military (“Based on an Actual Event” is a marvellous catch-all for wanton fabrication), managed to turn it into a parade of heroes pe…

Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in.

Do you read Sutter Cane?

In the Mouth of Madness (1994)
(SPOILERS) The concluding chapter of John Carpenter’s unofficial Apocalypse Trilogy (preceded by The Thing and Prince of Darkness) is also, sadly, his last great movie. Indeed, it stands apart in the qualitative wilderness that beset him during the ‘90s (not for want of output). Michael De Luca’s screenplay had been doing the rounds since the ‘80s, even turned down by Carpenter at one point, and it proves ideal fodder for the director, bringing out the best in him. Even cinematographer Gary K Kibbe seems inspired enough to rise to the occasion. It could do without the chugging rawk soundtrack, perhaps, but then, that was increasingly where Carpenter’s interests resided (as opposed to making decent movies).