Skip to main content

You’re standing on General Stuart.

Twin Peaks
2.13: Checkmate

A solo script credit to Harley Peyton and Todd Holland’s last of two directorial stints, Checkmatefeatures several significant developments tipping the wink that the show will soon begin to struggle out of its season two morass.


Special Agent Cooper: Is my death so important to you?

As ever, the main Coop plotline is the most diverting, even if the execution (literally) of the Jean Renault revenge storyline’s finale is slightly rickety. Sweaty Ernie blows his wire at their Renault drugs meet, endangering him and a duded-up Denise (“You can call me Dennis”). Deputised Coop offers barters himself and, if the confrontation isn’t all it might be, that’s merely a reflection of a less than riveting Jean plot in the first place.


Jean Renault: Maybe you brought the nightmare with you, and maybe the nightmare will die with you.

Renault certainly reveals himself to be not such a mastermind. Against all common sense a reconstituted Denise (it’s like Big John Little John; Dennis and Denise are never in the same room at the same time) is allowed to deliver pizza (“Let her come, it’s just a girl”). Coop snatches a cunningly placed gun from Denise’s garter, and Jean is toast. It’s also goodbye to Duchovny, who did good in a trio of episodes that unfortunately came at the series’ nadir (“It was just my legs”).


Special Agent Cooper: It’s a chess game. Windom Earle’s next move.

No sooner has that plotline been exited than Windom Earle’s gathers pace, with the ex-Fed causing confusion by lighting fires. His objective: to deliver a human chess piece/victim. It’s notable that this is early ’91, and Lynch the series has the jump on the serial killer victim variations-on-a-theme premise that would inform a ‘90s subgenre.


Major Briggs: Everything is known to me, but somehow beyond my reach.

That’s about it for Coop in this one, aside from the dismayed look he gives a donut with a bite taken out of it (by someone else). And the opening interrogation of the returned Major Briggs. We learn that, amongst his many skills, he is immune from regression.


He can’t quite recall what transpired during his missing time, but a giant owl featured. And, very X-Files, he has three triangular scars behind his right ear in perfect proportion. Briggs trots out the “That’s classified” mantra (at least one an episode wouldn’t be the same) but drops some clues about how project Blue Book was disbanded in 1969 (one can hear Mulder scoffing) yet continued in an unofficial capacity; one aspect of this was the “search for a place called the White Lodge”.


Elsewhere we’re witness to the much-deserved doing for of Hank. Owing to his following of Norma, who finally consummated her passion with Ed, Hank misses arrest at the bust. He begins wailing on Big Ed, only for Nadine to arrive at beat the shit out of the rotter. This, after planting one (a kiss) on Mike in the diner. There’s something a little female gremlin in Gremlins 2 about her seduction of Mike.


The rest is the (now) usual less than scintillating business. Andy and Dick visit the orphanage to investigate the Satan child. James is all mopey-dopey, and then quite shameless as he takes Evelyn Marsh in the harsh courtyard daylight. Powerful aphrodisiac, champagne. “Brother” Malcolm looks on, the perv. Although you could hardly miss them.


There’s more Josie and Harry, more Catherine and Ben, although the best line in his weak swill aberrant mind plotline is “You’re standing on general Stuart” when Audrey doesn’t look where she’s going.


Bobby is being a right little prick, and fully deserves his slap when he announces to Shelly she can look after Leo as he’s got better things to do. Leo has woken up, however, and Holland over stokes the double climax (the other being the discover of the chess piece) with Leo looking like some kind of clown while a clockwork doll freaks out Shelly.


Leo may be awake, but he’s not going to turn the tide his way; the extent to which the character is turned into a punching bag for whatever steam the writers want to let off next is a constant source of mirth, and credit is due to Eric DaRe for being so stoic/deadpan. His encounter with Windom Earle will open up a whole new world of pain.






Comments

Popular posts from this blog

I think I’m Pablo Picasso!

Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021) (SPOILERS) I get the impression that, whatever it is stalwart Venom fans want from a Venom movie, this iteration isn’t it. The highlight here for me is absolutely the wacky, love-hate, buddy-movie antics of Tom Hardy and his symbiote alter. That was the best part of the original, before it locked into plot “progression” and teetered towards a climax where one CGI monster with gnarly teeth had at another CGI monster with gnarly teeth. And so it is for Venom: Let There Be Carnage . But cutting quicker to the chase.

Are you, by any chance, in a trance now, Mr Morrison?

The Doors (1991) (SPOILERS) Oliver Stone’s mammoth, mythologising paean to Jim Morrison is as much about seeing himself in the self-styled, self-destructive rebel figurehead, and I suspect it’s this lack of distance that rather quickly leads to The Doors becoming a turgid bore. It’s strange – people are , you know, films equally so – but I’d hitherto considered the epic opus patchy but worthwhile, a take that disintegrated on this viewing. The picture’s populated with all the stars it could possibly wish for, tremendous visuals (courtesy of DP Robert Richardson) and its director operating at the height of his powers, but his vision, or the incoherence thereof, is the movie’s undoing. The Doors is an indulgent, sprawling mess, with no internal glue to hold it together dramatically. “Jim gets fat and dies” isn’t really a riveting narrative through line.

Maybe the dingo ate your baby.

Seinfeld 2.9: The Stranded The Premise George and Elaine are stranded at a party in Long Island, with a disgruntled hostess.

These are not soda cans you asked me to get for you.

The Devil’s Own (1997) (SPOILERS) Naturally, a Hollywood movie taking the Troubles as a backdrop is sure to encounter difficulties. It’s the push-pull of wanting to make a big meaningful statement about something weighty, sobering and significant in the real world and bottling it when it comes to the messy intricacies of the same. So inevitably, the results invariably tend to the facile and trite. I’m entirely sure The Devil’s Own would have floundered even if Harrison Ford hadn’t come on board and demanded rewrites, but as it is, the finished movie packs a lot of talent to largely redundant end.

Fifty medications didn’t work because I’m really a reincarnated Russian blacksmith?

Infinite (2021) (SPOILERS) It’s as if Mark Wahlberg, his lined visage increasingly resembling a perplexed potato, learned nothing from the blank ignominy of his “performances” in previous big-budget sci-fi spectacles Planet of the Apes and, er, Max Payne . And maybe include The Happening in that too ( Transformers doesn’t count, since even all-round reprobate Shia La Boeuf made no visible dent on their appeal either way). As such, pairing him with the blandest of journeyman action directors on Infinite was never going to seem like a sterling idea, particularly with a concept so far removed from of either’s wheelhouse.

I can do in two weeks what you can only wish to do in twenty years.

Wrath of Man (2021) (SPOILERS) Guy Ritchie’s stripped-down remake of Le Convoyeur (or Cash Truck , also the working title for this movie) feels like an intentional acceleration in the opposite direction to 2019’s return-to-form The Gentleman , his best movie in years. Ritchie seems to want to prove he can make a straight thriller, devoid of his characteristic winks, nods, playfulness and outright broad (read: often extremely crude) sense of humour. Even King Arthur: Legend of the Sword has its fair share of laughs. Wrath of Man is determinedly grim, though, almost Jacobean in its doom-laden trajectory, and Ritchie casts his movie accordingly, opting for more restrained performers, less likely to summon more flamboyant reflexes.

Five people make a conspiracy, right?

Snake Eyes (1998) (SPOILERS) The best De Palma movies offer a synthesis of plot and aesthetic, such that the director’s meticulously crafted shots and set pieces are underpinned by a solid foundation. That isn’t to say, however, that there isn’t a sheer pleasure to be had from the simple act of observing, from De Palma movies where there isn’t really a whole lot more than the seduction of sound, image and movement. Snake Eyes has the intention to be both scrupulously written and beautifully composed, coming after a decade when the director was – mostly – exploring his oeuvre more commercially than before, which most often meant working from others’ material. If it ultimately collapses in upon itself, then, it nevertheless delivers a ream of positives in both departments along the way.

I’ll look in Bostock’s pocket.

Doctor Who Revelation of the Daleks Lovely, lovely, lovely. I can quite see why Revelation of the Daleks doesn’t receive the same acclaim as the absurdly – absurdly, because it’s terrible – overrated Remembrance of the Daleks . It is, after all, grim, grisly and exemplifies most of the virtues for which the Saward era is commonly decried. I’d suggest it’s an all-time classic, however, one of the few times 1980s Who gets everything, or nearly everything, right. If it has a fault, besides Eric’s self-prescribed “Kill everyone” remit, it’s that it tries too much. It’s rich, layered and very funny. It has enough material and ideas to go off in about a dozen different directions, which may be why it always felt to me like it was waiting for a trilogy capper.

Madam, the chances of bagging an elephant on the Moon are remote.

First Men in the Moon (1964) (SPOILERS) Ray Harryhausen swaps fantasy for science fiction and stumbles somewhat. The problem with his adaptation of popular eugenicist HG Wells’ 1901 novel isn’t so much that it opts for a quirky storytelling approach over an overtly dramatic one, but that it’s insufficiently dedicated to pursuing that choice. Which means First Men in the Moon , despite a Nigel Kneale screenplay, rather squanders its potential. It does have Lionel Jeffries, though.

Beer is for breakfast around here. Drink or begone.

Cocktail (1988) (SPOILERS) When Tarantino claims the 1980s (and 1950s) as the worst movie decade, I’m inclined to invite him to shut his butt down. But should he then flourish Cocktail as Exhibit A, I’d be forced to admit he has a point. Cocktail is a horrifying, malignant piece of dreck, a testament to the efficacy of persuasive star power on a blithely rapt and undiscerning audience. Not only is it morally vacuous, it’s dramatically inert. And it relies on Tom’s toothy charms to a degree that would have any sensitive soul rushed to the A&E suffering from toxic shock (Tom’s most recently displayed toothy charms will likely have even his staunchest devotees less than sure of themselves, however, as he metamorphoses into your favourite grandma). And it was a huge box office hit.