"Episode 5"/"Episode 6"



Episode 5

A couple of posts back I suggested that the problem with Twin Peaks is that after the pilot and the whacked brilliance of the dream sequence that ends Episode 2 there's nowhere to go but down. But after watching the fifth and sixth episodes of the first season again I realized I was wrong. Those first episodes are the TV equivalent of an overpowering infatuation. It's episodes like these that lead to a sustained love. If memory serves, I know that love is going to get frustrating further down the line, but rewatching these hours filled me with nothing but affection and admiration for Twin Peaks. The plot keeps chugging forward, the characters get more complex, and the weirdness deepens without drawing down everything around it. These episodes confirm that it wasn't just a fleeting phenomenon but an honest-to-goodness great show.

Episode 5 brings us a little further along in the Laura Palmer mystery and much further along in the Ben Horne-wants-to-burn-the-mill subplot. Hank puts on a friendly face to the outside world but we know he's up to no good. We discover that Josie can smoke a cigarette to sinister effect and that she may not be what she seems either. (A side note: For an unrepentant smoker, Lynch almost never fails to make smoking serve as shorthand for some deeper sin.) It's hardly the most important scene to the series in terms of plot, but there's an exchange between James and Donna that's pretty key to its themes. After James tells Donna about his mother's alcoholism he says, "It's the secrets people keep that destroy any chance they have of happiness and I don't want us to be like that." In the next episode, Cooper, always a force for good, tells Audrey he has no secrets. In Twin Peaks, if not the real world, it's the ability to be forthright and true that keeps people on the side of the angels. (At times literally.)

But this isn't a universe dominated by goodness and that fact necessitates a lot of sneaking around. There are two knockout sequences here. In one Audrey, slipping between the cracks of the Great Northern, spies on her father cheating and planning evil deeds, then joins an in-progress party where Leland has begun freaking out to "Pennsylvania 6-5000." Others start to comically imitate his sad dance but when we see Audrey again she's in tears. She may be the show's least mature character but, for this instant at least, she knows the score and is undone by it.

In the other, Bobby has a talk with Dr. Jacoby, who chips through his protective meanness to find a scared kid. His confession makes it sound Laura drew him into the dark side of life, not the other way around. "She said people try to be good but they're really sick and rotten, her most of all," Bobby says. "And every time she tried to make the world a better place, something terrible came up inside her and pulled her back down into hell." For all its endearing quirks, Twin Peaks is the kind of place where that sort of thing happens.

Grade: A-

Episode 6

"When a man joins the bureau he takes an oath to uphold certain values," Cooper tells Audrey, who's turned up naked and sobbing in his bed. Clearly attracted to his new barely legal friend, he resists her temptation. He's a man made of steel, or at least more solid stuff than most people. Is Cooper ever wrong? I remember his ultimate fate on this show, but if I recall correctly, it's not succumbing to temptation that leaves him there. Later, Sheriff Truman will ask him Cooper if he thinks people really change. We never hear the answer but my guess would be he thinks they can. He wants goodness to work its way in the world and has given himself over to the cause. (That said, if he'd seen what Audrey could do with a cherry stem, would he still have excused himself to get some malts?)

There's a lot going on in this episode and, as usual, I could take up the whole space just recapping it. So let's hit some highlights. Maddie's become a real presence here. She seems completely oblivious to what her resemblance to Laura does to people but she's not above letting that resemblance be used in the search for Laura's killer. There are side effects, however. Note the wary look Donna gives James when she sees him looking at Maddie in Laura drag. We're deep into Vertigo territory, only it seems like half the town could be cast in the Jimmy Stewart part. Actually, we're pretty deep into voyeuristic Hitchcock territory in general. Maddie tricks Dr. Jacoby as Bobby watches from a distance while further in the distance someone watches Bobby and Maddie. It's a scene I can imagine Brian DePalma watching and wishing he'd thought of first.

Poor Waldo. Cooper may not like birds but I doubt he'd wish such an inglorious death on one. And he had to go and ruin the doughnuts in the process. In another instance of the show making a laugh stick in the throat, Waldo's last words, caught by Cooper's tape recorder, find him re-enacting Laura being tortured. It should be goofy but it's completely chilling. But that's the show.

Grade: A-

Stray observations:

- What time is Invitation To Love on? Answer: Always.

- Kyle MacLachlan certainly wears a tux well, doesn't he?

- Where does Dr. Jacoby live? It would seem to be his office , but where is his office?

- Tried and true Lynch device: Sneaking into a house while the owners are out. You'll find it in Blue Velvet, Lost Highway, and here and it's a neat little extension of the everyday violations that dominate his work.

- Blood on the doughnuts: Is there a single image that better sums up this show?

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