My first viewing of this episode with Nick and the rest of the Haggett Hall Twin Peaks-watchin’ folk took place in a dorm room instead of our usual location of the dorm lounge. It was a bit cramped, but Nick insisted that it was probably better to watch in a more private place. He wouldn’t say why. All I knew going in was that there was probably something messed up going to happen that he didn’t want to have to explain to people walking by. (Or, ya know, maybe it was just that other people were using the lounge and he just considered it a good episode to watch out of the lounge anyway?)
We were about to witness the reveal of who actually killed Laura Palmer via a vivid, extended scene of the killer striking again. As you might remember, I already knew who killed her, but I wasn’t prepared for the way Frost and Lynch chose to show it. I’m not big on watching people suffer in my entertainment (though there are exceptions if it’s done in ways like Cabin in the Woods or Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, for example), so I was not prepared. (It’s also why I still don’t enjoy Fire Walk With Me, because at least half of it is just watching Laura spiral down and down and down.)
One last thing: I’m writing this intro after re-watching the episode, so my uncertainty in the first few paragraphs of the re-watch is genuine. Poor Maddy. 🙁
I’m trying to remember if this is the episode where the audience learns who killed Laura. Is it? I’m not looking forward to that scene, if so, but maybe it’s the next one. It’s written by Frost and directed by Lynch, though, so it might be…
Gordon Cole takes his leave of the town, and soon Coop and the others are at the Great Northern lobby so Mike can do a sniff-test of everyone for BOB’s host. I always look for Leland when Mike yells out and grabs his arm when Ben walks in–somewhere in the background, maybe?–but I’m pretty sure he’s not there. So what gives with that? Was Leland just supposed to be off screen and they were purposely messing with the audience? Or is it just that Ben was close enough to Leland lately that he smelled of BOB?
Oh, yep. What a Wonderful World is playing on the Palmer’s stereo and Maddy is about to tell the Palmers she’s going home. This is it. The way Leland just DROPS his newspaper down as soon as she says she’s going is a moment I’ve always liked.
Hawk goes to check out Harold Smith’s place, only to find that Harold has committed suicide. (Or, as some fans suggested, someone made it to LOOK like suicide. I’ve never bought that theory, though.) No word on how the orchids are doing. They find Laura’s diary, which mentions BOB being in her life since early adolescence, and a history of molestation. Laura’s language also points heavily toward Ben as a likely killer or host for BOB.
In the happy Johnson household, Bobby and Shelly argue over money, especially as Bobby tries to divorce himself from Shelly’s financial troubles. “Shelly, I can’t keep telling my parents that I’m spending the night at Mike’s.” (Oh, yeah! Mike exists! He even shows up later in the ep.) Before they can argue much more, Leo starts screaming and then stops just as abruptly to spit out my very favorite Leo line:
Bobby, with Mike’s help (Mike Nelson, not Mike MIKE) later finds a micro-cassette tape in a pair of Leo’s boots, and thus comes the first spark of Stupid Bobby Plan #4! But before Stupid Bobby Plan #4 is hatched, Shelly has to quit her job at the diner, which Norma handles in an understanding, supportive manner. Good BossPoints™ for Norma.
Of course I can’t leave out the awkward moments with Nadine, Big Ed, and Norma that follow, which end with Nadine accidentally smashing a shake glass.
Meanwhile, Audrey tells Ben about what she knows of One-Eyed Jack’s and tells him she was behind the mask. Ben, to his very minuscule credit, answers Audrey’s questions honestly, including how long he’d owned the place, if he slept with Laura, and if he killed her. Well, okay, he kind of dodges that last question by just saying he loved her, but…still truthful, right? Maybe he should have answered the question more directly, because once Audrey tells Cooper what she’s learned from, Ben is swiftly arrested, and right before he can complete the sale of the Packard lands to “Mister Tojamura.”
And now it’s time for this episode to get intense, starting at the Palmer house. Twin Peaks has never been this creepy. Just the record player spinning is frightening, that endless motion, that repeating sound, with nothing else… Until we get Sarah crawling down the stairs, moaning for Leland, and clearly, somehow, messed up. Then the spinning fan, calling the viewer’s memory back to the pilot episode, just after Laura was murdered.
Further building on this sense of dread and anticipation, the Log Lady appears at the Sheriff’s station…
Oh, hey, the moon is full now. (It took, what, three days to get there from half-full?) Lynch takes advantage of the already creepy atmosphere to make Tojamura’s appearance in Pete’s kitchen just a little more effective. When Catherine reveals herself to Pete, and to the audience, the relative lightness of the moment gets a little surreal tinge to it.
The juxtaposition of Catherine’s return with the scene at the Palmers’ serves to make the latter subtly more disturbing by contrast. Sarah sees the now iconic image of the white horse appearing in the living room, then fading away. The fact that Sarah’s been crawling across the floor and moaning for help makes it that much more frightening when Leland is just standing across the room, calmly fixing his tie in the mirror.
But hey, Julie Cruise is singing at the Roadhouse! And everybody’s there! Donna, James, Harry, Coop, The Log Lady. Bobby’s even sitting at the bar near the world’s most decrepit room service waiter. And even the Giant pops in to say hi! And to give Cooper a very…um…unhelpful message for the moment.
And then, as Leland fixes his tie, BOB appears in his reflection, and all the viewers freak out. Maddy comes down stairs, and, well, pretty much the most brutal, vivid murder I’ve ever seen portrayed on TV unfolds. This scene pulls no punches. We’re forced to watch every moment as BOB–in a mix of his own sadism and Leland’s grief–terrifies, abuses, torments, beats, and finally murders Maddy. It’s violent, both physically and psychologically.
After it’s over, in the Roadhouse again, Cooper has a sense of tragedy, the source of which he can’t quite seem to be sure of. A profound sadness falls upon Bobby, and Donna, as if they somehow now what’s happened as well. Yet why these two? Donna I can of course understand. Bobby, well, he did have his connections with Laura. But then why not James also?
BOB’s first appearance in Leland’s reflection, mostly because that’s the moment I get to look at anyone I’m showing the series for the first time and feast on their reaction. 😀
Least Favorite Moment:
The murder. But that’s really as it should be, isn’t it? Murder shouldn’t be comfortable, or entertaining.
All of the bouncing balls at the beginning. Or, I dunno, maybe the Giant showing up on stage? That sort of thing doesn’t usually happen in most musical performances. Or perhaps this:
“Pppt! …new shoes.”
Leland “We are going to miss you very much, but we also understand completely.”
Maddy: “You do?”
Sarah: “We do?”
“It is happening…again…”
Things I noticed for the first time:
The lyrics to Cruise’s song go “…rockin’ back inside my heart” rather than “…right back inside my heart” as I first thought.
Sparkwood & 21 traffic light count: 6
Waterfall close-up shot count: 4
Windblown trees shot count: 9