Seriable’s Mark Jones reviews Twin Peaks Episode 9 — “Coma”
Another day begins in Twin Peaks and Dale Cooper is joined by Albert Rosenfield at breakfast in the first of several superbly strange scenes. It’s not weird in the supernatural sense but for the fact that the duo’s conversation is accompanied by a barbershop quartet rehearsing in the background. As well as offering some classic Rosenfield lines, quipping about the contents of Jacques Renault‘s stomach he also mentions Windom Earle, the first time the name has come up in the show. Earle’s presence will become significant later in season 2, but for now just the mention of his name has a profound effect on Cooper. He’s got more pressing matters to worry about however, including the questioning of Ronette Pulaski who has just woken up from her coma.
The scene where Harry and Cooper interview Ronette Pulaski starts with the pair not being able to lower the adjustable chairs by her bedside. This is one of many times in Twin Peaks where an otherwise serious scene begins or end with some irrelevant and usually humourous interaction which is often quite funny and helps to make the show feel more real. Once they get going with the questioning however, Ronette isn’t saying much but has a violent reaction to the picture she is shown of Bob. Though she is little help, Leland Palmer sees the sketch later in the episode and realises that the face is familiar. At this point Bob is really starting to become a more menacing presence in the show and a more immediate danger, appearing to Maddy for the second time towards the end of the episode.
There are two important scenes which expand the supernatural element of the show, introducing more unexplainable weirdness which still has people theorising. Early on Donna visits the first home on her meals on wheels mission but instead, as we discover later, of delivering food to the actual owner of the house she is greeted by a bedridden woman and her grandson. The boy, played by David Lynch’s son, is dressed like a magician and the grandmother tells Donna that he is studying magic after he manages to conjure the creamed corn from his her plate.
Deeply mysterious it would seem there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye and for those watching on the DVD the Log Lady‘s intros hint that the creamed corn is symbolic of something, but we’re left to guess what. The old lady also points Donna in the direction of Harold Smith, the shut in who lives next door, in her quest for more information about Laura. Before she leaves the grandson foreshadows Harold’s death in a later episode by quoting “J’ai une âme solitaire” which is what Harold writes on his suicide note.
The second significant piece of oddness is the message Major Briggs has for Agent Cooper. Interestingly he seems convinced to deliver the message by the Log Lady who he meets in the Double R Diner. Their conversation is preceded by Norma telling her to spit out her pitch gum and leave it on the walls or the tables, which she was seen doing in the previous episode after Donna received the note to look into the meals on wheels program. She then tells the Major that her log has something to tell him, that he must “deliver the message”.
He seems to understand what she means and later informs Cooper that the message “the owls are not what they seem” and his name was found in a collection of data from a monitoring station that was studying radio waves from outer space. This resonates with Cooper as it is one of the things that he was told by the giant he would find to be true and was received around the time he was lying on the floor wounded. Not only do these scenes create more mystery around the Major and his work but suggests that the Log Lady’s log really does have some insight about what’s going on in Twin Peaks and that she was the one who sent the note to Donna.
Falling into the category of weird but not one of Twin Peaks‘ greatest moments is James, Donna and Maddy recording a song on the floor of the Hayward’s living room. It seems fairly random and ultimately serves as a way for Donna to realise that Maddy has feelings for James. While the song itself isn’t bad, if you don’t mind James’s singing, and fits in with the other fifties inspired parts of the soundtrack, it feels like it goes on a little too long and is the first and last time we’ll see James wielding a guitar.
The comedic pairing of Ben and Jerry really gets to shine in this episode especially when they’re deciding which ledger to burn. Deciding that whatever course of action they take (apart from burning Jerry’s smoked cheese pig of course) has its merits they postpone the ledger burning and are left with nothing to burn, until Ben bizarrely pulls a bag of marshmallows out of his desk to which Jerry enthusiastically asks where the hickory sticks are. He also echoes one of Donna’s lines from Season One in another scene, where Leland leaves the office after interfering in Ben’s dealings with the Icelandic businessmen, by asking his brother “is this real Ben or some strange and twisted dream?”
One of the big developments in this episode is the realisation that Audrey is missing. This amusingly begins by Benjamin Horne coolly ringing up the sheriff’s office to tell them that she’s missing but later on Audrey contacts cooper directly. Unfortunately she’s caught by Blackie and the episode ends before we see the outcome. The time it takes for Cooper to realise that she’s gone, even though the note explaining her absence has been under his bed the whole time, is frustrating but will lead to an exciting rescue attempt.
On the list of developments in amusing subplot territory is the news that Lucy’s baby may not be Andy’s, a storyline which will deliver a mixed bag of comedic moments.
With two classic mythology expanding scenes and plenty of great humour, Episode 9 is a strong instalment even if it does have that slightly awkward scene with James crooning over Donna and Maddy.
Rating: 8/10 Seriable Stars