Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Twin Peaks, Season Two, episode one

David Lynch, Los Angeles, California, September 1990

In celebration of David Lynch’s seventieth birthday, I considered constructing a post using images from his film about old age and family, the Straight Story, but, despite my admiration for its distinctive slow rhythms and the quiet and heartfelt performances of Richard Farnsworth, Sissy Spacek and Harry Dean Stanton, it strikes me as being far from his best work; and it has a precursor within one of his best works (an episode that he directed for the television series Twin Peaks,) which is more characteristic of his work as a whole.  The beginning of the second season of the series was the opposite in tone and structure to that of the season one finale written and directed by Mark Frost, the co-creator of the series.  Where Frost did his best to follow all the rules of conventional television drama in delivering a series of cliff hangers that would serve to draw the audience back in when the series resumed after its summer hiatus, Lynch seems to have done everything in his power to forestall the answers that its antecedent promised.  Of course he did a great deal more.  This particular episode shows respect for some of Lynch’s antecedents, especially in the casting of Hank Worden, who worked so often and memorably for John Ford, as the world’s slowest room service waiter, and reinforces that respect in the patience with which the injured Agent Cooper accepts his delivery. (Hallelujah!)  It also deals with that very sticky issue of family, and in a far less sentimental and, yet, no less heartfelt manner than the Straight Story.  Audrey’s unexpected meeting with her father in the brothel (which he owns,) and her strategic use of a mask, anticipates the revelations yet to come in the series concerning the identity of Laura’s murderer.  Lastly, there is the matter of Major Briggs’s Vision that he reveals to his resistant son, Bobby.  It’s one of the most moving scenes in all of Lynch’s oeuvre and, again, wholly unexpected.

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