Seriable’s Mark Jones reviews Twin Peaks Episode 2 – “Zen, Or The Skill To Catch A Killer”
The pilot and the first episode of Twin Peaks were damn fine pieces of television, but it’s in Episode 2 that the series starts to come into its own. If the first two episodes were setting up bottles then Episode 2 is the one which starts throwing rocks.
From the offset things start to move a little quicker in this episode. After the Horne’s family meal which is interrupted by Ben‘s brother Jerry we are swiftly introduced to One Eyed Jacks, a casino and whore house which will become an important part of the series. Scenes like the short one between Donna and James establish a sense of pace as when we cut back to them, after Ben and Jerry’s scene at One Eyed Jacks, the time elapsed on the clock in the background indicates that events are happening in parallel.
While the episode is chock full of memorable scenes there are three in particular that are worth singling out, a trio of Twin Peaks defining moments.
Firstly there’s the scene where we first learn of Dale Cooper‘s obsession with Tibet and his belief in his dreams. The funniest of the memorable scenes in this episode but one that is no less surreal than the others, it really sets up Cooper’s working methods for the rest of the series, where a deep level of intuition will help him with his deductive reasoning. The great thing about it is is the belief that the other members of the sheriff’s office have in him. He’s only been there two days but they already respect him enough to go along with his method of throwing rocks at bottles in order to determine which suspect to question next. Lucy’s interest and excitement in this scene is extremely cute and amusing, as is the moment when Andy gets hit by one of the rocks. Some people might not enjoy this broad kind of slapstick comedy but it works with Andy, who often comes across as a slightly Stan Laurel-esque figure. Other moments like Cooper’s insistence that Hawk holds the bucket wearing kitchen mitts are also smile inducing.
Then there’s Audrey‘s dance in the Double R Diner, sure it doesn’t do much to progress to the story but it’s exactly because of that reason it sticks in the mind. It’s just something that happens and the odd glances from the other diners indicate that this kind of behaviour isn’t unusual. Before Audrey begins to dance in the scene her and Donna have been having a conversation including the topic of her crush on Agent Cooper and if Laura Palmer ever mentioned her father. And then after saying “God I love this music, isn’t it too dreamy” Audrey gets up to dance. The combination of the music (known as ‘Audrey’s Dance’ and just one very good reason to get the Twin Peaks Soundtrack), her slow swaying moves and Donna’s amused glances all add up to something that’s hard to define but also hard to forget.
Finally there’s the cherry on the cake, the Red Room dream sequence. Possibly the weirdest thing ever broadcast on TV back when it was first aired and now as well, the sequence is part of a dream of Dale Cooper’s. In it the one-armed man, revealed to be called Mike, speaks to him giving him information about the mysterious Bob who he also sees. After this though it cuts to an aged Agent Cooper sitting in a chair in a room surrounded by a red curtain. A dancing dwarf and Laura Palmer are also in the room. Laden with clues and hidden meaning the dream indicates an exciting shift in the Twin Peaks story as afterwards Cooper will be eagerly following the clues delivered to him in his sleep.
Everything in red room seems to have a certain significance; the pattern on the floor may be familiar to anyone who has seen David Lynch‘s Eraserhead (it’s also used in the lobby of the apartment block in that film), there’s a mysterious shadow that flits by in the background and the weird way the dwarf and Laura Palmer talk (achieved by the actors learning their lines phonetically backwards and then having the audio reversed) and it all creates a sense of atmosphere and strangeness that’s so strong it’s hard to think of anything that has topped it since.
The red room sequence is another example of how the weird music is used to great effect and to show that it wasn’t just the audience who heard it, the music once again makes that transition from being a part of the soundtrack to being a part of Twin Peaks as Cooper starts clicking his fingers to it after he makes the phone call to Harry.
After his statement on the phone that he now knows who killed Laura Palmer, though things are never that straight forward, the show now feels like it has gained a lot of momentum and is much more than the intriguing and slightly strange soap/detective drama that it was before.
It’s also worth mentioning that we meet another memorable character for the first time in this episode, Albert Rosenfield. The brutally honest forensic detective makes quite an impression not holding back his disdain for the sheriff’s office of such a small town and it’s funny to see how amused Cooper is by this. Although at first not hugely likeable Albert does remind the viewer that there’s a real world outside of Twin Peaks, a world where scientific analysis still trumps intuitive methods derived from dreams.
Episode 2 is something very special indeed and worthy of 10/10 Seriable Stars.