LostInTheMovies wrote:I really enjoy watching this episode; everything is still so fresh and it's fascinating to see the writers and actors adapt what by all rights should have been one-off experimental "pilot" into something ongoing. Watching this episode is like catching a whiff of when we first fell in love with Twin Peaks ourselves. That said, it's also probably the weakest season 1 episode (I used to feel that way about ep. 3 but it's grown on me).
It coasts quite a bit on the pilot without truly busting upon any new doors, the way the next episode will. And as mentioned in the ep. 18 thread, Duwayne Dunham just isn't great with atmosphere. There are some striking shots - like the one-armed man entering the blue room - but, other than that sizzling long take of Audrey dancing and maybe that first pan across Cooper's room, nothing much interesting in the way of camerawork. This is definitely the least stylish episode of season 1 (by comparison, Rathborne's and especially Deschanel's episodes has a very lush lighting/colors, Hunter is far more adventurous with lens and composition, and Glatter and Frost craft striking scene transitions/openings). Most of these scenes are just characters talking, without much going on visually.
That said, what the episode has going for it is precisely that: character. Many of the people just barely established in pilot really get fleshed out in this installment. We barely glimpse Leo - I think he had one 90-second scene - in the pilot whereas he emerges as the major villain in episode 1, and Audrey also transforms from a purely vixenish sex kitten (with almost no dialogue) to a more deeply developed individual (her relationship with her father and romance with Cooper emerge only in this episode). This is true across the cast but those are the two most notable examples. Of course this episode also has more quotable dialogue than any other. I do find myself wondering how much Lynch really contributed to the script, even though he's equally credited with Frost. It feels much more like a Frost episode, as does the next one (whose most Lynchian qualities - the dream sequence, Audrey in the diner - were improvised and not in the script).
The transition from the pilot to this episode fascinates me for a number of reasons but they can all essentially boiled down to the idea that Twin Peaks is now officially becoming a TV series with one foot in the strange, moody world of the pilot, the other in the demands of ongoing serialized storytelling. This is honestly one of the things that keeps me coming back to Twin Peaks over and over again, that both excites and, at times (especially in the second season), frustrates me: that Twin Peaks is divided in this way. I love stuff that's hard to pin down and that Twin Peaks can be at once a genuine nineties soap opera, an absorbing mystery yarn, an eccentric postmodern pastiche, a surreal experiment in mood and atmosphere, AND a truly deep and thematically profound work of art makes it more fascinating to me than if it was just any one of those things.
Episode 1 is where we see the humor emerge in a much more casual, engaging way than the pilot (where it is more aloof/tricky, we always kind of catch ourselves while we're laughing). Cooper seems more relaxed and personable, cementing his status as our beloved hero. And we also start to get the sense that maybe everyone in town isn't totally suspicious: we're beginning to trust certain characters (although not TOO much, there's still a thrilling intangibility/possibility to the whodunit).
- It doesn't seem like they've figured out how to incorporate Laura as an actual screen presence. James' flashback feels jarring in the full context of the show, which usually emphasizes intangible memories of Laura, just out of reach, rather than easily recalling her. (If I'm not mistaken, this is the ONLY flashback in the entire series, unless you count Cooper's dream re-emerging in ep. 3 & 16 - and it's certainly the only time we go back to witness something we didn't see the first time around.) And of course the gauzy, goofy quality of the flashback feels somewhat dissonant though many have interpreted this as James' own dopey take on "reality." It's kind of jolting to realize that Sheryl Lee actually played pre-murder Laura this long before Fire Walk With Me. If nothing else, I'm glad this scene exists just because it makes such a fascinating juxtaposition.
- On that same note, the whole "Help me" (Laura's slo-mo voice over the video flashback) thing feels unusually on-the-nose and further evidence that Lynch/Frost (and Dunham himself) really wanted to keep Laura "alive" in some sense but hadn't figured out how yet. I wonder when they came up with Maddy. Her appearance in ep. 3 does seem somewhat last-minute. Plus, the story goes that Lynch called Sheryl Lee in Seattle and said come on down, and she said I'm dead, and he said we'll figure something out. It seems like maybe they had committed to her before Maddy was fully developed? Dunno.
- If the girl in the window behind Ronette's parents was supposed to be Ronette, then it looks like they re-cast her as well as her dad (and Johnny Horne, if we want to jump families). Which I guess makes more sense than flying an actress down from Seattle for background extra work. This hammers home the idea that they thought they were done with her character. I knew that our glimpse of Phoebe Augustine in ep. 8 was our first in a while, but I never realized that she had ONLY appeared in the pilot up to that point! It really emphasizes how important it was for Lynch to continually touch base with the pilot; it seems like he always gets a lot of flack for being "random" but not enough credit for keeping his eye on that ball in a way that others did not. It's also interesting to me because I consider Ronette to be an immensely important element in Laura's - and ultimately Twin Peaks' - narrative arc.
- Leland is really, really low-key in this episode. I've sometimes wondered if Lynch/Frost didn't solidify the idea of him being the killer until after the dancing-with-Laura's-portrait scene in ep. 2 (maybe even after it was shot, although this would mean they actually didn't know until season 1 had been completed, since Lynch shot ep. 2 out-of-sequence near the end of production). He really does seem like the conventional/sturdy husband figure here, the anchor for his hysterical wife, and not even in a sly bait-and-switch sort of way. Then again, notice how Leland rushes in IMMEDIATELY after Sarah has seen Bob...
- I've been speculating about how the rest of season 1 was charted out when this episode was written (I know that Frost has said the story arc was really tight going into production, but I wonder to what extent everything was outlined before the actual scriptwork began, especially since Lynch's timeframe was limited by Wild at Heart). But it's definitely clear that they are setting the groundwork for Cooper's dream already, what with the appearance of BOTH the one-armed man and Bob. How fascinating that even at this early stage, Mike is established a person in the real world while Bob only appears in visions. Which definitely suggests they had the whole Leland/Bob-killer thing already established in their minds.
- I wonder if/when it the Cooper/Josie romance was nixed. In this episode Cooper does not seem to be into her the way he was in the pilot (at least I didn't catch it) plus he's already flirting with Audrey. I know it was supposedly because MacLachlan and Chen didn't have chemistry but when/how was that determined?
- Many have noted that Laura's tape at the end is different from ep. 7 (in performance, if not actual dialogue). I like this version better - the other feels too campy. Not only is her delivery more convincing than the later one, we get to cut off before those godawful lines near the end of the tape: "You'd be history, man!" and "really lights my F-I-R-E..." I like that this episode pushes Leo so hard as a suspect, and then twists to consider Jacoby right at the end.
Yeah it never bothered me to be honest. Think it highlights that it is a flashback or at least some sort of dream or vision. Love the shot of her and Donna dancing on the video. How it highlights Laura's face like its frozen in time is very powerful.
Didn't know that about Cooper and Josie. Thanks for pointing it out. Yeah they made the right call. The extremes of Dale and Audrey is why they work so well together. And I think Harry is a much better fit for Josie.