Have you started carrying the #TwinPeaksRewatch log? Check the schedule at the bottom of this post!
This week’s offering on episode 8 is by Marlon Moala-Knox. Marlon is a student in his third year of a Creative Writing degree at Whitireia, where he tries daily to avoid ripping off Twin Peaks, but only because everyone’s doing that now.
You’ll also find Paul Scoones’s info on the original NZ screenings (plural) of this episode (singular) below.
It’s a cheeky move, opening an episode like this. After jam-packing the first season’s finale with every cliffhanger they could muster, the creators of Twin Peaks kick off season two exactly where we left off, except not quite. If you’re paying attention, the tone of the episode is set before the opening credits have even finished. As we’re getting an exterior shot of the Great Northern Hotel at night, knowing that somewhere inside this place our heroic Agent Cooper has been shot in the chest, the floating words give tip off about what’s to come. ‘Directed by David Lynch.’
This is only the third episode of the show so far to have this distinction. The first one introduced us to the show itself and the second introduced us to a tiny, dancing dream man in a red tuxedo. So what’s in store this time? Well, this is the cheeky part. As watchers we know that on this night, all hell has broken loose across the town of Twin Peaks. We want to know how Audrey is going to escape her father’s unknowing advances. We want to know who’s dead. But this information gets put behind a wall. Instead of the answers we seek, we get five minutes of Cooper trying and failing to get a confused old waiter to call an ambulance, because of course we do.
The scene feels like it takes an hour. Not because it’s boring, but because it’s tense and unnerving. Exactly the qualities that David Lynch is at his best with. The little details are what makes it. Andy on the other side of the phone, endlessly repeating the same handful of what seem to be pre-recorded sound bites. The way the waiter disappears and reappears just as you think someone more helpful might be about to arrive. The (and I love this moment so much) double-take-inducing knowingness of the line, ‘That milk will get cool on you pretty soon.’
It’s hard to know what to expect when the waiter finally leaves. The door is open, so surely someone will see Cooper lying in a pool of his own blood and come to his rescue?
Oh shit. What in tarnation is that?
The first appearance of the Giant marks a turning point in the show. On the surface he might be just another surreal vision, but the way he interacts with Cooper is unlike anything we’ve seen before. ‘Think of me as a friend,’ he says, before rattling off a list of the clues he has prepared for Cooper. He may be speaking in riddles, but what he’s doing is direct in a way that no other vision has been.
There’s a potentially problematic convenience to an otherworldly entity whose only job seems to be producing information from thin air suddenly showing up in a murder mystery show. We see you there, Giant, leaning against the fourth wall with your arms folded and your legs crossed. You look cool right now, but if that wall breaks it’s not going to be pretty.
After Cooper’s trusty sidekicks finally show up and take him to hospital, we’re treated to the explanations we’ve been waiting for, but only after a recap of the last episode from Lucy. ‘Leo Johnson was shot. Jacques Renault was strangled. The mill burned. Shelly and Pete got smoke inhalation. Catherine and Josie are missing. Nadine is in a coma from taking sleeping pills.’ Thanks Lucy.
To summarise what we find out next, Audrey is avoiding the worst of her troubles, but there’s no opportunity for escape yet, Catherine is presumed dead, Josie has run away, probably wanting to keep a low profile while various messes get cleaned up, Pete and Shelly are mostly fine (thank goodness), Leland Palmer has undergone a transformation, and it’s the creepiest shit you’ve ever seen. (Contrast it with Donna’s transformation which is hilariously overdone, yet seems to run its course before the episode is even done.) Oh, and the one-armed man is back. Don’t think for a second that that’s not important.
In some ways, what’s happened to Leland mirrors what’s happened to the show’s central mystery. Having killed the man he believes killed his daughter, Leland has reached a milestone in his mourning, turning suddenly cheerful and energetic. The problem is that nothing about this milestone is natural. Having waded through the sludge of grief he’s come out the other side to find something far darker.
Meanwhile, Cooper has pieced together a compellingly elegant explanation for what happened the night Laura was killed. The quest to solve the murder mystery has reached a new phase. But this isn’t strictly positive either, because now that the main body of physical evidence has been sorted through, it’s time to go digging through the psychological muck to find who, or what, is to ultimately blame, and the things we’re going to find here will take the unpleasantness to a new level.
The penultimate scene is the Giant’s return. It’s not too different from the first scene, except this time Cooper doesn’t have the whole bleeding-to-death thing to distract him, so he’s free to ask some better questions. No real answers. That figures. What’s important is the knowledge that the Giant is here to stay, and so too are all the implications of his existence.
Perhaps the most significant effect of the Giant’s introduction is a seed planted by one of his clues. ‘The owls are not what they seem.’ Without spoiling too much, in future episodes, when things start to get a little hairy, it’ll be this seed that grows into a terrible mistake tree for the show to crash into and never recover from. I’m going to continue blaming everybody except David Lynch for that.
The episode caps off with a slow approach to Ronette Pulaski lying comatose in her hospital bed. Her arms drift upwards (and now this is the creepiest shit you’ve ever seen), her nightmare begins: a flashback to the night she was attacked and Laura was killed, with a special focus on the killing part. It’s over the top, but that’s part of what makes it terrifying. It doesn’t pull punches.
This season is going to be bigger, weirder, dumber, funnier, more violent, more sickening, much more supernatural, sometimes better and often so much worse than the first. Watching Twin Peaks is like watching a fruit ripen. Everybody has their own sweet spot where they decide they don’t want things to go any further, but unless you stop watching, further is where it’s going to go.
Episode 8 (part 1): ‘May the Giant Be with You’
NZ: 21 May 1991; Tuesday 8:30-9:30 (US: 30 September 1990)
Scorching questions remain in the mill fire’s aftermath; Jacques Renault is found dead; Audrey becomes a terrified prisoner and Donna puffs cigarettes.
(Notes: Episode 8 is the Season 2 premiere and was first broadcast in the US as a 90 minute double-length episode. In NZ it is split into two episodes. The Listener makes no mention of the fact that it is a new season or that it is a split episode.)
Episode 8 (part 2): ‘May the Giant Be with You’
NZ: 28 May 1991; Tuesday 8:30-9:30 (US: 30 September 1990)
The community is shattered as several lives hang in the balance, Audrey is taken prisoner and Donna receives a strange message.
(Notes: Second half of the Season 2 premiere episode. Feature article ‘Julee Cruise – Biker Chick – Ha, Ha’ by Shelley Howells, an interview with Cruise)
Join the hashtag #TwinPeaksRewatch
15 Jan: Pilot: Starting at the start
22 Jan: Eps 1 and 2: Damn fine cup of coffee
27 Jan: Eps 3 and 4: Laughing at prayers
5 Feb: Eps 5 and 6: Invitation to Love
12 Feb: Ep 7*: Biting the bullet
19 Feb: Ep 8: We want to help you
26 Feb: Eps 9 and 10: Bury her deep enough
5 Mar: Eps 11 and 12: Sometimes the Can-Do Girls Can’t
12 Mar: Eps 13 and 14
19 Mar: Eps 15 and 16
26 Mar: Eps 17 and 18
2 Apr: Eps 19 and 20
9 Apr: Eps 21 and 22
16 Apr: Eps 23 and 24
23 Apr: Eps 25 and 26
30 Apr: Eps 27 and 28
7 May: Ep 29**
14 May: Fire Walk With Me***
21 May: NEW TWIN PEAKS!
* optional: The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer and The Autobiography of Dale Cooper books
** optional: The Secret History of Twin Peaks book
*** optional: The Missing Pieces