As many have noted, this one is such a mixed bag. I find myself liking it less and less with each viewing.
I do really like the opening scene. Albert’s little motivational speech really sets the stakes (and makes me believe he could be part of Blue Rose at this point despite his skepticism in Episode 10). Even Hawk appears to openly side with Cooper over Harry (who still believes Ben is their man). Note that Hawk’s advice about following the path echoes the Giant’s advice from Episode 8. Cooper also speaks to Leland about being on the path at the end when he ushers him to the afterlife.
Geez, Tim Hunter, give it a rest with the canted angles! And did that scene of Vivian critiquing an omelette really merit being shot with absurdly high and low angles a la Welles? I will admit I like the subjective dark romantic lighting in the Donna/James scene, even though it makes no rational sense in the context of the surrounding scenes.
I also love the ’60s mod aesthetic of Mrs. Tremond’s pad! She seems like a cool lady.
This is where the deeper connection between Dale and Laura is really cemented for me, and, I think for him too—when he learns that she dreamed about him. I think this is when he starts to get unhealthily invested, ultimately leading to the events of TR.
At some point (probably when I get to FWWM), I’m going to break down all the funky inconsistencies with Laura’s diary entries after the date she left the diary with Harold. I already dealt with this throughout my Timeline, but I want to lay it out in one place concisely, for my own peace of mind, and maybe to inspire a discussion trying to make sense of it.
I like Mike’s response to Cooper mentioning the Giant: “He is known to us here.” One gets the sense that Mike and the Fireman come from different places, but end up as unlikely allies in the sense that both are helping Cooper, particularly throughout TR. Also, his line to Cooper, “So much responsibility,” which takes on greater weight knowing all that Cooper will go through in the years to come.
It’s still not at all clear what becomes of Phillip Michael Gerard after this episode, especially in light of the fact that his mortal form seems to be bound to the Red Room by the time of TR. But for what it’s worth, he appears to be visibly breathing in the last shot we see of him. The script is pretty ambiguous: “Gerard goes slack in [Cooper’s] arms. ‘Mike’ is gone. Cooper holds Gerard's limp body. He looks at Doc.”
A better lawyer would tell Ben that he could easily void his contract with Catherine and get Ghostwood back, as the contract was clearly signed under duress, and as a result of bribery (offering legal testimony in exchange for the signing).
Just as she remained hidden upstairs in the prior episode, Sarah is conspicuously absent for all of this one. I get the sense that she is in denial about what is going on in the house, and struggling to cope by staying as isolated as possible (she’s also probably terrified of Leland and is staying out of his way). It’s a tragically realistic portrait in a lot of ways. She’s such a sad character. Just as the Bob/Leland dynamic is on one level a metaphor for the cycle of abuse, whatever is inside Sarah represents the guilt of being tacitly complicit in Leland’s crimes, which morphs into resentful anger by the time of TR.
It still really bothers me that the “lemonade” Leland gives Donna is a murky orange color.
It goes without saying that Ray Wise is really marvelous throughout. Truly a tour de force performance. I do like the mood of the Roadhouse scene too, at least before it devolves into an overly-literal answer-fest. The odd combination of characters is fun. At this point in the series, it’s almost shocking to see Ed in a serious scene related to the broader storyline. I could watch Beymer munching walnuts for hours.
Interesting to see Cooper using the word “magic”...embracing his role as the Magician? (Leland even recites the “Fire Walk with Me” poem later, to keep it fresh in our memories.)
I also love that the Waiter chose Garland as the one to bring him, given the alliance that will soon develop between Dale, Garland and the Fireman.
The shots of Leland and the Waiter joyfully bonding about gum are pretty odd when you realize that these two are really Bob and the Fireman. As strange as it is, I weirdly like it. I’m guessing Bob is pretty deep in Leland’s subconscious in this moment, and it almost comes across as the Waiter/Giant/Fireman toying with him.
It’s SO weird that, in the midst of what should be the biggest moment of the series (the killer caught), with less than ten minutes to go in the episode, Dick Tremayne pops up to talk about paternity! Why on Earth did ANYONE think that was the right choice? One of several flat-out bizarre writing decisions in this one.
Also weird that no one stops Dick OR Albert from smoking (even Hawk, who was very conscious of the policy in Episode 10!). Also, I hate Mr. Zipper, the mugging sprinkler repairman. (In the scripts, he’s actually in Episode 14 too!)
I’ve discussed my complicated feelings about the closing scenes at length elsewhere (there’s a whole thread about Leland’s relationship with Bob that deals largely with that scene in the interrogation room), so I won’t bother getting into it here. Wise is phenomenal, I’ve sort of made my peace with the forgiving nature of the scene by assuming that Leland is in denial and making excuses for himself. Certainly, he is sympathetic when he talks about Bob opening him. Margaret sums it up best in her intro to Episode 14: “The dream of suffering and pain; pain for the victim, pain for the inflicter of pain – a circle of pain, a circle of suffering.” Is the “golden circle” of appetite and satisfaction Mike mentions actually this circle of pain, wherein the abused abuse others?
On a lighter note, Dale’s Diet for this episode...
— In the Roadhouse, Albert has a flask with a clear liquor. He pours a bit into a glass, then offers the flask to Cooper. Although the camera moves mostly off Cooper at this moment, it does not appear that he takes it
— As he walks with Harry and Albert, Cooper has coffee in a paper to-go cup and something in a paper bag