The minute the opening credits end, the shift in tone grabs you tightly by the arms, shakes you and whispers “Be scared” into your ears.
S2 Episode One
Cooper, after being shot in the final episode of season one, lies, bleeding on the floor of his room at the Great Northern. The most significant alteration between episodes is the physical shape of Agent Cooper, his face has filled out and his hair looks like a plastic wig. Altogether he looks about ten years older. He is then visited by room service, a very frail and elderly man, not unlike the entire cast of The Straight Story (1999) and the dilatory cleaner in Mulholland Drive (2001). He raises his thumb and winks at Cooper as he leaves. He repeats his actions and says “I heard about you”. Is he real or a figment of Cooper’s almost overbearingly active imagination? The fact that he brought him “warm milk” would suggest he isn’t. He is presenting Cooper with the idea of sleep. Warm milk is a beverage best enjoyed at bedtime for a good nights sleep. His pace and the milk are soporific and lull Cooper into a deeper trance.
The Giant then appears before him in a vision. In his previous dream, Cooper met with a dwarf and now we are presented with the direct opposite. Previously Cooper had visited the Black Lodge in his dream. In the vision he is being visited by an otherworldly character, one that gives him direct clues in a succinct linear language as opposed to the backward/forward subtitled vernacular of the Black Lodge. The Clues he is presented with are…
- There’s a man in a smiling bag
- The owls are not what they seem
- Without chemicals he points
One Eyed Jack’s becomes more fairytale-like on each visit. Audrey, in her cat mask, avoiding the advances of her father, suggests she has the nine lives of a cat. She is willing to take risks. Her costume, the décor and the scenario falls somewhere in between, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Three Little Pigs and The Wizard of Oz. The storyline is crammed with ogres with Blackie representing the Wicked Witch.
The burning of the mill now gives Twin Peaks a background of industrial wasteland as previously explored in Eraserhead (1976)
Maddy keeps staring at the floor and tells Sarah that she had a dream the night before about a patch of the carpet. Leland walks in singing (“always music in the air”) his hair turned completely white following the murder of Jacques Renault. When Maddy is left alone in the room she has a vision. Maddy has her aunt Sarah’s psychic gift and visualises blood slowly smear itself across the carpet - a premonition of her forthcoming murder?
James mentions something Laura said to him, “Would you like to play with fire little boy? Would you like to play with BOB?” we see in FWWM that Laura has momentary bouts of otherworldly possession (the scene in which she roars at Harold Smith), Could BOB have possessed her at any point? There is a brutally apparent difference between her public and private persona.
Laura’s sunglasses inhabit unusual powers that bring out strange characteristics in those who wear them. An unusual scene featuring Donna and Maddy in the RR sees them conversing like femme fatales in a Film Noir. Maddy removes her massive 80’s secretary specs and screws them up, possibly because with the glasses, she is able to see too much (the vision). This is followed shortly by an embarrassingly awkward seduction of James who is behind bars. The blatant shift in characteristics suggests that dual personality is not exclusive to Laura Palmer.
The smell of scorched engine oil is mentioned by Dr Jacobi, who smelt it the night of Jacques Renalt’s murder. The smell, as we will come to know, exists at the point of entry for the Black Lodge in the woods.
Norma visits Shelly in the hospital. Upon leaving she witnesses Ed with Nadine. As she resigns herself to the secondary position in the relationship we are presented with visual confirmation – a giant number 2 painted on the wall behind her.
At Donna’s house, her sister, played by Alicia Witt (above), who showed great promise in Fun (1994) and debuted in David Lynch's Dune (1984), plays the piano whilst her other sister Harriet reads a poem to the Palmers who are seated at their dining table…
It was Laura and I saw her glowing in the dark woods.
I saw her smiling
We were crying and I saw her laughing
In our sadness I saw her dancing
It was Laura living in my dreams
It was Laura--the glow of life
Her smile was to say it was alright to cry
The woods was our sadness
The dance was her calling
It was Laura and she came to kiss me goodbye.
Lynch’s directorial style in this scene is very similar to the one adopted by Werner Herzog in the Lynch collaboration My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (2010). The hand-held motion generates a great sense of unease and places the viewer, unsteadily and unknowingly in the centre of the Heyward’s room. Again, there’s “always music in the air” as Leland sings himself into an unconscious state with a rendition of “Get Happy”. When he regains consciousness he states “I feel happy.” Unusual behaviour for a man whose daughter has just been brutally raped and murdered – it suggests a struggle within, a battle to bring forth the former pre-Bob Leland.
The Giant re-visits Cooper and affirms his role “The things I tell you will not be wrong. Better to listen than to talk”.
And then the horror begins… In the hospital, we are forced through long, dark and empty corridors Ronette’s room gets nearer, she is dreaming again. Her arms start to rise up it cuts to images of the murder scene. Fragmented strobe-like flashes reveal Laura and the disused train carriage. She sees BOB running. Laura screams and Bob brings something down upon her. Laura screams are cut with images of BOB. The sound is distorted and Ronette screams Laura's name.
The episode ends with the note FIRE WALK WITH ME and Laura's lifeless body. BOB kneels down and then screams in multiple voices, he is either laughing, in agony or battling with the two. The fragmentation of the scene is responsible for generating the fear within the viewers. It is not necessarily the visuals available to us but the mystery we are left with. What was happening to Laura? There was blood on her teeth as she screamed? What were they doing in the abandoned train carriage and how did they get there? What was BOB holding when it appears he is beating Laura? Was he laughing, crying, in pain? Who is BOB? Who killed Laura Palmer? These are the questions you are left with. Lynch (who also directed this episode) presents us with small pieces of the puzzle and leaves us with a head full of missing pieces which, in their absence, will haunt you for days, for nights, forever.
More coming soon.
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