Seriable’s Mark Jones reviews the Season 2 Twin Peaks opener — Episode 8 — “May The Giant Be With You”
Season 2 of Twin Peaks gets off to a great start with Episode 8, a feature-length double episode which is one of the series’ best. The action picks up right where Episode 7 left off in Dale Cooper‘s hotel room where he has been left badly wounded after being shot by a mysterious assailant.
The first scenes are deliberately slow and ponderous which, coupled with the eerie score, helps to create a deep sense of unease and surreality. It’s funny and weird at the same time as the ageing waiter who’s delivering Cooper’s milk seems to be unphased by his condition and continues to get the detective’s signature on the bill. The repetition of the old man’s dialogue “I’ve heard about you” and his thumbs up gesture, as well as the time it takes before anything happens, really tries the viewers’ patience but for me this is Twin Peaks at its best. Unlike most TV shows, especially in the Lynch directed episodes like this one, it takes the audience right to the edge creating a tense and strange atmosphere that’s unrivalled.
While Cooper is lying on the floor he also encounters The Giant for the first time. He will reappear later in the series but for now serves as a great way to expand the supernatural element of the show. Apart from the red room sequence and hints at a darkness in the woods there’s not been a lot in terms of really weird and unexplainable occurrences, at least not this weird on unexplainable. A giant fading into Cooper’s room and delivering three cryptic messages before removing his ring and disappearing again bridges the gap from strange things happening in people’s dreams and visions to strange things happening in the real world. He tells Cooper that there’s a “man in a smiling bag”, that the “owls are not what they seem”, and “without chemicals he points”, as proof that the vision is real, and that when he finds all three things to be true he will return Cooper’s ring.
More importantly than creating such a great atmosphere and making things even more mysterious, the arrival of the Giant suggests that there’s something bigger going on in Twin Peaks than Laura’s murder.
Before Cooper is rescued, the action switches to One Eyed Jacks where Audrey is trying to avoid her father’s advances. This slightly disturbing scene sees her manage to evade him before finding a mask to hide behind. With her face completely covered Ben doesn’t recognise her but clearly indicates that he finds her attractive. We don’t get to see his reaction when he uncovers the truth, we assume Audrey would have had to reveal her face, as he is interrupted by his brother Jerry informing him that things have gone awry with Leo’s assassination.
Back in room 315 at the Great Northern things are a bit less weird and as Cooper awaits help he exposes more of his soul as he records a message for Diane. Among other things he reveals, “I would very much like to make love to a beautiful woman I have genuine affection for and of course it goes without saying I would like to visit Tibet”. It’s moments like this that add real depth to his character and prevent from having a purely quirky value.
Harry, Hawk and Andy turn up and the action cuts quickly to the hospital. In one of the series’ great macro shots we get to see a close-up of the wood tick that got impaled on a bullet that was fired at Cooper. The insect hasn’t fared so well as the detective himself and despite appearing to be in copius amounts of pain continues to go about his duties. This leads to another memorable Cooper quotable; “When the will is invoked, the recuperative power of the physical body are simply extraordinary”. He is brought up to speed by Lucy about what has happened while he has been lying on his hotel room floor, which helps him and reminds the audience of what happened in the last episode.
After Audrey successfully avoids being discovered by her father things go from bad to worse for her at One Eyed Jacks. Blackie is not happy with her performance and she can’t win the boss over this time with her charms. Towards the end she pours her heart out in a monologue which is almost a prayer to Agent Cooper where she realises that she’s in over her head. It’s another fairly long scene where just one character is talking, which probably wouldn’t work if the actors weren’t so compelling and right for their parts or the writing wasn’t so good.
A lot of the action is centred around the hospital, which is visited by many of the main characters, as a patient or a visitor, at some point in the episode. Another classic moment occurs when Cooper, Harry and Albert find Ed outside of Nadine’s room. The mystery of why she wears an eye patch is finally revealed and the inappropriate laughter of Rosenfield when Ed reveals the bad piece of luck that caused it is hard to dislike, as it’s difficult not to laugh at the thoughtful, straight-faced reaction of Cooper.
Even with all the supernatural and dark elements there are some great funny and light-hearted moments in this show to contrast with them and create a classic slice of Twin Peaks. Parts that stick in the mind include the first time we see Leland with his newly whitened hair. Not only is this disconcerting in itself but his infectious singing makes things feel even more odd, however it can’t fail to put a smile on the viewers’ face.
This is even more true when the scene cuts from the Palmer’s house to Benjamin Horne’s office, where he continues with his rousing rendition of “Mairzy Doats”. With the brothers gleefully joining in with the merriment Ben gets up on his desk to tap dance to it. His sudden interruption distracts Maddy and Sarah’s conversation and after he leaves she sees a blood stain on the carpet (which appears with the aid of a less than spectacular special effect, which was replaced by a worse special effect of Bob’s face in foreign versions) after telling Sarah Palmer about a dream she had the night before.
There are also comic moments that seem slightly unnecessary like the run of jokes about hospital food, which doesn’t do much of any use apart from remind us that Pete is in the hospital too.
Andy’s staggering after being whacked on the face by a loose plank may be a little overdone as well but it’s still entertaining and does help to move the story forward as he uncovers an important clue. It’s also funnier for the fact that it’s caused by Albert Rosenfield‘s arrival and Cooper puts a button on it by giving the Andy a slightly concerned thumbs up. It doesn’t help Andy in the eyes of Rosenfield and he continues to be target of many quips including the classic “it’s what we call a real three hanky crime” line (and another nod to Sherlock Holmes) after he cries at the evidence of Laura’s murder.
One of my favourite scenes is the meeting of Major and Bobby Briggs in the Double R Diner. Up until now the Major hasn’t had a lot to say but thanks to the solid performance of Don S Davis, the retelling of a vision he had in his sleep to his son is emotionally touching and makes him a much more interesting character. In it he describes revisiting a place he lived in as a child and feeling and overwhelming sense that Bobby’s future was a bright one. Given Bobby’s dark secrets it’s unclear how he will redeem himself, and we never find out, but the speech is just one example of the well written dialogue and serves to make the proceedings even eerier.
While the Major is going on about Bobby’s future, James is still stewing in a jail cell thanks to Bobby’s plotting. He doesn’t really have much to do in this episode, but Donna continues her investigations and is given a mysterious note (we’re not sure from who but there’s a suggestion that it may have been the Log Lady) that tells her to look into the Meals on Wheels program that Laura used to run. She also pays James a visit in jail, wearing Laura’s sunglasses given to her by Maddy, in a scene brimming with sexual tension that could give Audrey’s cherry stalk tying a run for its money.
Later on we see Donna and Maddy at a Dinner party given by her father. Leland and Sarah Palmer are there too, as well as Donna’s sister, who has only been seen once before in the pilot, and another sister who hasn’t been seen before. Once again he gets up again to sing and his exuberant performance, which ends with him collapsing on the floor, shows that he is far from fine.
As the 90 minute instalment nears the end, the investigation into Laura’s death has progressed nicely. As Cooper puts it he’s “ready to lay out all the pieces on the table”. With all the evidence on her murder assembled it appears there’s only one mystery remaining, the third man who killed Laura in the train car. This is great as it gives the show a sense of momentum, even though it’s a question that doesn’t need to be answered. It will unfortunately be answered but for now Twin Peaks is in fine form and for the most part shows an improvement over the first season. Near the end, as Cooper settles down for the night, the Giant returns again to give him further guidance, and to remind him that he forgot something. It will be a while before he rediscovers Audrey’s note which had been dropped under his bed.
Throughout it becomes clear that Ronette Pulaski is on the verge of waking up from her coma and she comes to just before the end. Nobody’s around to see her but as she struggles in her hospital bed she has flashbacks to the night Laura died revealing glimpses of what happened that night. Some of the imagery is already familiar but Laura’s screaming and the shots of Bob are possibly the most disturbing images seen in Twin Peaks yet. If the final frozen shot of Bob screaming is too much, the mood is lightened by the usual end credits being replaced by the girl from the Hayward’s house playing the piano.
There’s some really dynamic cinematography at work throughout and not one moment fails when things are meant to feel creepy or dark. The composition of some the shots is just perfect and admist all the talking heads there are plenty of times when it’s worth pressing the pause button. The Lynch directed episodes always seem to craft the strongest images and something which is certainly true of this instalment.
What is so great about Episode 8 is that it sheds some of the soap opera elements that are to be found earlier in the series and is more like a noirish thriller. Sharp dialogue, hints at a much more complex, interesting story and plenty of humourous as well as horrific moments all combine to make one hell of an episode. Twin Peaks may sag in the middle of Season 2, but it was rarely better than the season’s opener.
Rating: 10/10 Seriable Stars