TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.19 “Variations on Relations” (dir by Jonathan Sanger)


“Butterfingers!”

— Catherine Martell (Piper Laurie) in Twin Peaks 2. 19 “Variations on Relations”

“Tastes kind of woody.”

— Lucy Moran (Kimmy Robertson), same episode

Well, everyone, we’re coming towards the end.

There’s only a few more episodes to go and then Leonard, Jeff, and I will be finished with our look back at Twin Peaks.  Have you been enjoying it?  I hope so!  And, before you feel too sad about the end of our look back, remember that, on May 21st, a new season of Twin Peaks will premiere on Showtime!  Who knows?  Maybe we’ll even review it on this site.

Today’s episode is the 19th of season 2.  It was the first episode, since Arbitrary Law, to be written by the show’s co-creator, Mark Frost.  It was directed by Jonathan Sanger, who in 1980 produced a film called The Elephant Man.  The Elephant Man was, of course, directed by David Lynch.  It was Lynch’s first mainstream success and it’s totally reasonable to say that, if not for The Elephant Man, Lynch would probably never had a chance to put a show on American television.

We start with the opening credits.  Knowing that the show is nearly over and that this latest review series is about to come an end, Angelo Badalamenti’s opening theme music sounds even more ominous than usual.  Both Joan Chen and James Marshall are still listed in the opening credits, despite no longer being on the show.  Not listed: Heather Graham, Billy Zane, or Kenneth Welsh, despite the fact that the last few episodes have revolved around them.

Harry (Michael Ontkean), Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), Andy (Harry Goaz), and Hawk (Michael Horse) return to the Owl Cave and discover that someone has already turned the lever and caused the cave to collapse.  “Someone’s been here already,” Cooper says, “they did our work for us.”  Because Hawk can basically do anything, he notices a footprint and immediately recognizes it as being the same footprint that was found outside the power station.

“Windom Earle,” Cooper says.

“What would Windom Earle be doing here?” Harry asks.

Hey, here’s a better question — why did they leave the Owl Cave unguarded?  Why didn’t they try to turn the lever themselves?  Why didn’t they at least try to replace the part of the wall that fell off so that the lever wouldn’t just be out there in the open?  I realize that Cooper is supposed to be silly in love with Annie right now but this is still a mistake that he wouldn’t have made during the first season.

(One of the more annoying things about the latter half of the second season is that the characters are much more inconsistent.  Cooper’s level of competence changes from scene to scene.)

Cooper orders Andy to copy the drawing on the cave wall.  (To me, the drawing looks a lot like the mountains around Twin Peaks.)

We fade to Windom Earle (Kenneth Welsh) taking about how there was once a place of goodness called The White Lodge.  As Windom speaks, he smokes a pipe and, not for the first time, I find myself wondering if maybe Windom’s actually a hobbit.  Windom explains that the White Lodge was a ghastly place and then, literally, says “Heh heh.”  I know Windom’s supposed to be some sort of supergenius villain but he’s no Killer BOB.

Leo (Eric Da Re) listens as Windom explains that there was also a Black Lodge and the Black Lodge was a place of pure evil.  Windom intends to find it.  As the camera pans across the cabin, we see that Leo and Windom have a visitor.  We’ll call him Heavy Metal Stoner Dude (HMSD for short) and he’s played by Sam Raimi’s brother, Ted.  HMSD says the story’s cool but he was promised beer and a party.

“In time, young man,” Windom says, “Everything in time.”

Then, Windom starts to play that damn flute of his again.

At the Martell house, Pete (Jack Nance) is staring at a chess board and talking (to himself) about how much he loved Josie.  He even recites a poem or two.  Catherine (Piper Laurie) comes in the room and tells him to stop feeling sorry for himself.  Catherine wants to open the box that Eckhardt left behind but, as Pete quickly notices, there’s no keyhole.  It’s a puzzle box!  Pete tells a long anecdote about going on a date with two twins in Guam and then says that it could take years to open up the box.

At the Double R Diner, Bobby (Dana Ashbrook) tells Shelly (Madchen Amick) that he’s figured out the secret of success.  “Beautiful people get whatever they want,” Bobby says.  (It’s true.  We do.)  “When was the last time you saw a hot blonde go to the electric chair?” Bobby asks.  (Again, Bobby is correct but he’s Bobby so we won’t give him too much credit.)  Bobby has decided that Shelly needs to enter the Miss Twin Peaks Contest.  When Shelly tells Bobby that he’s being ridiculous, Bobby grabs her wrist and says, “Bobby’s in charge!”

Meanwhile, the Mayor (John Boylan) and Lana (Robyn Lively) sit in a booth, letting us know that, despite being with the town’s lethal sex goddess, the Mayor hasn’t had a heart attack yet.  Lana says that she wants to be Miss Twin Peaks.  I just remembered that Robyn Lively starred in Teen Witch.  Top that!

Cooper comes in and, of course, immediately goes to the counter and tells Annie (Heather Graham) that he needs doughnuts and coffee.  Cooper also asks Annie to accompany him on a nature study.  Cooper says he gets a tingling sensation when he talks to Annie.  “Interesting,” Annie says.

Considering that I happen to like both Heather Graham and Kyle MacLachlan, I never thought I would say this but Cooper and Annie have got to be the most annoying couple ever.  First off, MacLachlan — whose performance is usually perfect — goes overboard with Cooper’s awkward shyness.  It’s as if the show is so desperate to convince us that he and Audrey actually don’t belong together that Cooper is now being written like an idiot in an effort to make us go, “So that’s what true love looks like!  People in love don’t have chemistry or intelligent conversations like Cooper and Audrey did!  Instead, they get a blank look in their eyes, grin an empty grin, and talk about nature studies!”

As for Annie, it’s obvious that she was a hastily created character.  Much as Cooper’s competence changes from scene to scene, the same can be said of Annie’s innocence.  Yesterday, Jeff compared Annie to an Amish girl on rumspringa and I think that’s the perfect way to put it.  She didn’t spend the last few years on Mars, after all.  She was just in a convent.

Anyway, back to the show:

As Cooper pays for the doughnuts, Shelly recites the poem that was left for her by Windom Earle.  Cooper recognizes the poem and says that he needs to see it immediately.  Shelly hands over the poem and Cooper leaves but not before promising to pick Annie up at 4:00 sharp.

At the station, Harry reads over the poem and Cooper explains that Audrey, Donna, and Shelly have all been contacted and presumably targeted by Windom Earle.  Cooper also explains that he once sent the same poem to Caroline.  If Windom’s goal is to hurt Cooper, I can understand targeting Audrey but why Donna and Shelly?  Neither one of them has really had anything to do with Cooper.

In the Conference Room, Maj. Briggs (Don S. Davis) watches as Andy draws the cave symbol on the chalk board.  The Major correct Andy’s drawing as Cooper steps into the room.  Cooper says that he needs the Major’s help but that he can’t tell him how or why.

“Go on,” Major Briggs nods.

(It’s interesting how Briggs has gone from being Bobby’s abusive, ultra-strict father to being some sort of seer.  I like the change, though.  Don S. Davis, who died just recently, was far too good an actor to be wasted as just another abusive father figure.  His simple but firm delivery of “Go on,” is a masterclass in great acting.)

Cooper explains that the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department is investigating three separate cases: the disappearance of Leo Johnson, the appearance of Windom Earle, and the drawings found in Owl Cave.  (Why would the sheriff’s department investigate cave drawings?  Isn’t that a job for Werner Herzog?)  Cooper says that logic would say the three are unrelated but he disagrees.  Cooper calls them three notes in one big song.

“What can I do to help?” Briggs asks, wonderfully nonplussed.

Cooper says that he needs to know exactly what Windom Earle was doing with Project Blue Book.  Briggs explains that, after his disappearance, his security clearance was revoked.  He also says that there are certain moral values that must be taken into consideration.

“Yes, sir,” Cooper says, “I understand.”

Briggs asks if this information will help to save lives.  Cooper says that it will.  Briggs than asks if the drawing is a copy of what was found in Owl Cave.  Briggs explains that he once saw the same thing in a dream.  Briefly, a monk-like figure wanders across the screen, followed by an owl flying through outer space.

Back in reality, Maj. Briggs says, “I will do what you ask.”

Hawk enters with Leo’s arrest report.  Cooper looks over Leo’s confession and then announces that the poem was transcribed by Leo Johnson.

Menawhile, at the Great Northern, the Stop Ghostwood Estates campaign continues with a charity wine tasting.  Ben (Richard Beymer) explains to Dick (Ian Buchanan) that Audrey will not be around to help because she has, quite conveniently, been sent to Seattle.  (This also means that Audrey won’t be around to get in the way of the Cooper/Annie romance.)  Dick is wearing an oversized bandage on his nose.  Ben says that they will also be paying Dick’s medical bills and they’ll be providing him worker’s comp.

“Capital!” Dick says, “I’ll alert my attorney.”

As Dick walks away, Ben mutters that the urge to be bad is hard to resist.  Personally, I prefer evil Ben to this Ben but I do like the fact that, even when Ben tries to be good, he still comes across as being sinister.

At the cabin, Windom Earle is still acting like a cartoonish super villain.  (This is to be expected since Windom is a cartoonish super villain but it’s still hard not to be disappointed that he’s not the calculating genius that Cooper originally described.)  Windom has got HMSD wrapped up in some sort of big paper mache thing.  HMSD thinks that it’s a float for the Lilac Parade so he’s shocked when Windom shoots him with an arrow.  Or, he would be shocked if not for the fact that he’s dead.

(Sadly, HMSD’s last words are: “What’s with the arrow, man?  This isn’t funny.”)

Meanwhile, at the Roadhouse, the Judging and Rules Committee of the Miss Twin Peaks Pageant is meeting.  The committee is made up of Doc Hayward (Warren Frost), the Mayor, and Pete.  (I assume that Laura Palmer was last year’s Miss Twin Peaks since she was everything else in town.)  Ben has asked to address the committee.  Ben suggests that this pageant should have a pro-environmental theme.  Ben says that this year’s question-and-answer session should deal with how to save the forests.

“We’ll take it under advisement,” Doc Hayward says.

The various candidates for Miss Twin Peaks are asked to approach the committee.  There’s Lana and Donna and Shelly and Nadine (Wendy Robie).  Nadine shows up with Mike (Gary Hershberger).  When Bobby (who is there with Shelley) asks Mike what he sees in Nadine, Mike whispers something about the combination of sexual maturity and super human strength in Bobby’s ear that is apparently so impressive that all Bobby can do is shout, “WHOA!”

(Remember when Mike and Bobby were drug dealers who killed people?  A lot has changed since the first season.)

Meanwhile, at the Martell house, Harry is trying to get answers from Catherine.  He’s trying to understand who Josie was.  Catherine gets the puzzle box and says that it might have something to do with Josie.  As Harry looks at the box, Pete comes in the room and says that every beautiful woman in Twin Peaks is competing for Miss Twin Peaks.  Except, of course, for all the ones have died over the past month…

Anyway, Pete takes the box from Harry and accidentally drops it on the floor.  Catherine snaps, in the worst line in the history of Twin Peaks, “Butterfingers!”  However, the box opens as soon as it is dropped.  And what’s inside?  Another box, this one with a weird lunar pattern design on it.

(Maybe the blue key from Mulholland Drive is inside that one.  Who knows?)

Meanwhile, Cooper and Annie are sitting in a rowboat in the middle of the lake.  Annie says that she always struggled to make friends when she was younger.  Annie says that she’s had one serious boyfriend but doesn’t want to talk about him.  Annie explains that she left the convent and returned to Twin Peaks so she could face her fears “where everything went so wrong.”

Obviously, Annie is a lot of fun at parties.

Watching this scene, I again marveled at the total lack of chemistry between Heather Graham and Kyle MacLachlan.  If the Annie/Cooper relationship was meant to make us forget about the fact that Cooper and Audrey were meant to be together, scenes like this one didn’t help.  Even when Cooper and Annie kiss, it’s like watching two mannequin collide.  That’s not meant as an insult to either Kyle MacLachlan and Heather Graham.  I’ve raved about both of them on this very site.  It’s just that the Annie and Cooper scenes are incredibly awkward and unconvincing.

Anyway, after Cooper and Annie kiss, we see that they are being watched by Windom Earle, who is not even bothering to wear a disguise at this point.

At the Great Northern wine tasting, snobby people are drinking wine and Dick is serving as their host.  That this scene works is due almost entirely to Ian Buchanan.  It’s a lot of fun to watch and listen to him as Dick pretentiously describes each wine.  The fact that I don’t drink wine and consider wine tastings to be the height of bourgeois snobbery only served to make me enjoy this scene even more.

(And, of course, I love Dick but you already knew that.)

Andy and Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) are at the wine tasting,  Andy attempts to show off his knowledge by pointing out that, along with red wine, there are also white wines and sparkling wines.  Andy also makes the mistake of tasting his wine before he was supposed to, leading to Dick yelling, “Spit out!”

(I’m resisting the temptation to make a certain joke at this point.  You will thank me later.)

At the diner, Gordon Cole (David Lynch) is out on a date with Shelly.  It’s sweet little scene, actually.  Cole can actually speak in his normal voice and, while he may not be the world’s greatest actor, David Lynch has an oddly likable screen presence.  Interestingly, David Lynch and Madchen Amick have more chemistry than Heather Graham and Kyle MacLachlan.  If the Showtime revival opens with Shelly and Gordon married and living in Portland, I wouldn’t be upset.  (If the show opens with the Mayor of Portland talking about his strange younger brother, Dale Cooper, I’ll be even happier.)

Cooper comes in with Annie so, of course, Cole starts shouting again.  “THIS WORLD OF TWIN PEAKS SEEMS TO BE FULL OF BEAUTIFUL WOMEN!” he announces.  Cole also adds that “PEOPLE WHO NEED PEOPLE ARE THE LUCKIEST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD!”  Cole says that he doesn’t know when he’ll be returning to Twin Peaks, a line that’s extra poignant because, by this point, I imagine David Lynch probably knew his show wouldn’t be returning for a third season.

Just as Cole leans in to kiss Shelly, Bobby walks into the diner, demanding to know what’s going on.

“YOU ARE WITNESSING A FRONT 3/4 VIEW OF 2 ADULTS SHARING A TENDER MOMENT!” Cole replies.

Seriously, they’re so cute together!

Back at the wine tasting, Dick asks everyone what flavor of wine they just tasted.

“Tastes kind of woody,” Lucy says.

“No,” Dick says with a condescending smile.  “Lana?”

“Banana?” Lana suggests.

Yes, Dick says, there is a hit of banana.  At this point, Dick’s nose bandage has become soaked in wine.

From the back of the room, Andy shouts out that he tasted chocolate.

“Why don’t we just skip the wine and have a banana split!?” Lucy shouts.

Way to go, Lucy!  TOP THAT!

Later, Lucy does top that by spitting her wine in Dick’s face, explaining that she’s pregnant and not supposed to drink.

In the Great Northern lobby, Cooper and Wheeler (Billy Zane) stare into the fireplace.  Cooper is thinking about Annie.  Wheeler is thinking about Audrey and it just feels so wrong.  Wheeler says love is Hell.  Cooper replies that “(t)he Hindus say love is a ladder to Heaven.”  Shut up, Cooper.  I never thought I’d say that but I’ve lost a lot of respect for him now that, after making such a big deal about not allowing himself to get emotionally involved with anyone, he has managed to fall madly in love with a blank slate who has only been in town for three days.

(I mean, seriously, Audrey nearly died trying to help Cooper.  Annie just pours coffee and acts as if living in a convent was the equivalent of getting stuck on Mars with Matt Damon.)

Meanwhile, it’s an awkward dinner at the Hayward house, where Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle) wonders about her mother’s relationship with Ben Horne.  What about happened to Donna’s sister?  She hasn’t been seen since the first season.  Maybe she ran away when it became obvious that everyone who knows Donna eventually ends up either dead (Laura, Harold, Maddy, Leland) or, like James, in San Francisco.

Donna asks her mother (Mary Jo Deschanel) how she knows Ben Horne.  Doc Hayward immediately says, “I told Donna about that benefit that you’re working on….”

(OH MY GOD, DONNA IS BEN’S DAUGHTER!  Which means that she is Audrey’s half-sister.  After reading all the stories about Lara Flynn Boyle and Sherilyn Fenn not getting along behind the scenes, this amuses me.)

Anyway, Donna gives her mother a hard time about seeing Ben while both of her parents try to change the subject.  If only Donna was as concerned about her suddenly missing sister.

That night, the police discover a huge crate has been left in the gazebo.  When Cooper and Harry open it, they discover a giant paper mache chess piece.  And inside the chess piece is the dead body of Stoner Heavy Metal Dude.  A note from Windom Earle is also found, announcing that the next victim will be someone who Dale knows.

Cooper says that Windom appears to be changing the way he plays the game, which is a polite way of saying that he’s a bit of an inconsistent character.

This episode wasn’t bad, though I still find myself cringing whenever Cooper and Annie start flirting.  But the scene with Cole and Shelly were fun and I’m really growing to appreciate Richard Beymer’s performance as the new, conflicted Ben Horne.  Two of my favorite Twin Peaks supporting actors, Ian Buchanan and Don S. Davis, got some good scenes as well.  While this episode can in no way match anything from the 1st season, it’s not bad for a 2nd season episode.

Well, there’s only three more episodes left and then the movie!  Jeff has tomorrow’s episode.  Then Leonard will be covering Sunday and then I’ll be back for the finale.  As for the movie — we’re still playing rock scissors paper to figure out who gets to play it.  We’re doing best out of a 1,000.  It could take a while.

While we figure it out, check out what led us to this point!

Previous Entries in The TSL’s Look At Twin Peaks:

  1. Twin Peaks: In the Beginning by Jedadiah Leland
  2. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.1 — The Pilot (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  3. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.2 — Traces To Nowhere (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Jedadiah Leland
  4. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.3 — Zen, or the Skill To Catch A Killer (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  5. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.4 “Rest in Pain” (dir by Tina Rathbone) by Leonard Wilson
  6. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.5 “The One-Armed Man” (directed by Tim Hunter) by Jedadiah Leland
  7. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.6 “Cooper’s Dreams” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  8. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.7 “Realization Time” (directed by Caleb Deschanel) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  9. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.8 “The Last Evening” (directed by Mark Frost) by Leonard Wilson
  10. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.1 “May the Giant Be With You” (dir by David Lynch) by Leonard Wilson
  11. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.2 “Coma” (directed by David Lynch) by Jedadiah Leland
  12. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.3 “The Man Behind The Glass” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Jedadiah Leland
  13. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.4 “Laura’s Secret Diary” (dir by Todd Holland) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  14. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.5 “The Orchid’s Curse” (dir by Graeme Clifford) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  15. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.6 “Demons” (dir by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Leonard Wilson
  16. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.7 “Lonely Souls” (directed by David Lynch) by Jedadiah Leland
  17. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.8 “Drive With A Dead Girl” (dir by Caleb Deschanel) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  18. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.9 “Arbitrary Law” (dir by Tim Hunter) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  19. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.10 “Dispute Between Brothers” (directed by Tina Rathbone) by Jedadiah Leland
  20. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.11 “Masked Ball” (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Leonard Wilson
  21. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.12 “The Black Widow” (directed by Caleb Deschanel) by Leonard Wilson
  22. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.13 “Checkmate” (directed by Todd Holland) by Jedadiah Leland
  23. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.14 “Double Play” (directed by Uli Edel) by Jedadiah Leland
  24. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.15 “Slaves and Masters” (directed by Diane Keaton) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  25. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.16 “The Condemned Woman” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Leonard Wilson
  26. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.17 “Wounds and Scars” (directed by James Foley) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  27. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.18 “On The Wings of Love” (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Jedadiah Leland

TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.17 “Wounds and Scars” (dir by James Foley)


“It was like taking a hike to your favorite spot and finding a hole where the lake used to be.”

— Deputy Hawk (Michael Horse) in Twin Peaks 2.17 “Wounds and Scars”

The year was 1991 and all was not well in the world of Twin Peaks.  While, on the show, Leland Palmer murdered his daughter and Josie Packard died after killing Thomas Eckhardt, there was even more drama occurring behind-the-scenes.

Since the first season, the plan had always been for Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) and Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn) to end up together.  MacLachlan and Fenn had serious chemistry in their scenes together.  As characters, Cooper and Audrey seemed like they belonged together.  Even Cooper’s concerns about the age difference didn’t seem like that much of a problem.  (After all, Audrey may have been a teenager but Sherilyn Fenn was not.)  The show’s audience wanted them to end up together.

However, there was one problem.

Lara Flynn Boyle.

Kyle MacLachlan was dating Lara Flynn Boyle and, according to several people who worked on the show, Fenn and Boyle did not get along.  With Boyle not particularly excited about the prospect of watching her boyfriend play love scenes with her rival, Kyle MacLachlan complained to the show’s producers that Cooper would never get together with Audrey because of their age difference.  As a result, Billy Zane was hastily brought in to replace Cooper as Audrey’s love interest.

Personally, I’m not really sure that Cooper needed a love interest.  During the first season, he was written as being so old-fashioned and upright that he was nearly asexual.  (The only indication that Cooper even had a sex drive came when Laura kissed him in his dream and he smiled.)  In the second season, Cooper became a little more, for lack of a better word, “human.”  But he was still traumatized by the death of Caroline and he put his devotion to the Bureau above all else.  Ideally, Cooper would have spent the entire show as a chaste Galahad.

Obviously, ABC disagreed.  They wanted Cooper to have a girlfriend.  We’ll see how this was handled in today’s episode.

So, without any further ado, let’s look at “Wounds and Scar!”

Following the opening credits, we get an extreme close-up of Harry Truman’s (Michael Ontkean) bloodshot eyes.  He’s drinking at the Bookhouse.  A saxophone wails on the soundtrack.  That’s never a good sign.  He’s having flashbacks to his time with the now dead Josie.  Deputy Hawk (Michael Horse) brings Harry a breakfast from the diner.  Hawk tells Harry that everyone at the station is concerned.

“You and Cooper can handle it,” Harry says, “It’s a pretty simple town.”

Really?  Twin Peaks is a simple town?  What show have you been watching, Harry?

At the Diner, a new character steps through the front doors and — OH MY GOD!  IT’S HEATHER GRAHAM!  She’s playing Annie.  It turns out that she’s Norma’s (Peggy Lipton) sister and she has just left a convent.  Annie is going to be working at the diner.  Heather Graham has really pretty hair.

Meanwhile, Major Briggs (Don S. Davis) is finishing his breakfast when the Log Lady (Catherine Coulson) walks up to him and touches the marks on his neck.

Back at the sheriff’s station, Hawk tells Cooper that Harry is about hit bottom.  Cooper is frustrated with his lack of success in tracking down Windom Earle.  Luckily, Hawk speaks exclusively in wise sayings.  He suggests letting the rain fall where it may.

At the cabin (which, somehow, no one else seems to have stumbled across), Windom (Kenneth Welsh) sniffs the country air and tells his slave, Leo (Eric Da Re), that you can’t understand how wonderful country life is until you’ve lived it.  It plays like a nice little parody of Cooper and Harry’s conversation about whittling in the pilot.

Windom checks the newspaper and gets upset over Cooper’s latest move.  He says that Cooper is playing a stalemate game but he doesn’t know the meaning of stalemate.  Neither do I, to be honest.  I prefer checkers to chess.  Windom then realizes that Cooper must be getting help and he throws a fit because he cannot stand people who don’t play by the rules.  “Many people are going to regret this!”

Meanwhile, at the Great Northern, Audrey is demonstrating a proper runway walk while Dick (Ian Buchanan) hits on the models.  Mr. Pinkle (David L. Lander) — the same guy who sold Bobby and Shelly the porto-patient device that didn’t really work out that well — shows up to tell Dick about the pine weasel.  Mr. Pinkle is carrying a stuffed pine weasel but Dick says that they need a living pine weasel.  Showing a stuffed animal at a benefit for an endangered species?  That would be totally gauche.

Wheeler (Billy Zane) shows up to talk to Audrey about their dinner.  They both try to apologize at the same time.  Wheeler asks her to go on a picnic with him.  And, hey — Billy Zane is cute and all but the Wheeler/Audrey romance feels totally forced.  We all know that Audrey should either be with Cooper or killing ninjas in Hong Kong.  Those are really the only two options.

Harry is still drinking at the Bookhouse.  Cooper approaches and tells him about Josie’s sordid past.  He says that Harry has to understand that Josie was a hardened killer.  Harry yells at Cooper to go.

In her office, Catherine (Piper Laurie) looks over the plans for the Ghostwood Estatea when Jones (Brenda Strong) suddenly steps into the office and says that she’s there to expedite the transfer of Thomas and Josie’s bodies to Hong Kong.  Jones says she has a gift from Thomas, so Catherine promptly pulls a gun.  Calmly, Jones hands over a black box.

At the Hayward house, someone knocks on the door.  Donna answer, only to find a friendly old man who claims to be named Dr. Gerald Craig.  Dr. Craig says that he is an old friend of her father’s and he was just stopping by to see if old Doc Hayward was around and — wait a minute!  That’s not Gerald Craig!  That’s Windom Earle in disguise!

Donna asks Dr. Craig if he’d like to come inside and — DONNA, YOU IDIOT!  DON’T JUST INVITE STRANGE MEN INTO YOUR HOUSE!  In less than a month, a dozen people have died in Twin Peaks and Donna is still letting strange men into her house.  Anyway, Dr. Craig gives Donna a small gift for her dad, makes her promise not to open it, and then leaves.

Meanwhile, Pete Martell (Jack Nance) is studying a dozen or so chess boards.  Cooper comes in and Pete tells him that he’s studied every stalemate game in history but that there’s no way to play chess without losing at least a few pieces.  No matter what happens, Pete says, at least six people are going to die.  Cooper tells Pete to stick with it.

In the lobby, Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) and Andy (Harry Goaz) play chess.  Lucy gets mad because Andy moved his knight “without doing the little hook thing.”  “You don’t have to the little hook thing, that’s optional,” Andy says.  Sound good to me, Andy!  But, no, Pete explains that the hook thing is not optional.

Suddenly, Maj. Briggs and the Log Lady both step into the station.  They’re concerned because both of them have the same three triangle pattern, Briggs on his neck and the Log Lady on the back of her leg.  The Log Lady says that she got her mark when she was seven years old.  She was walking in the woods when she saw a flash of light and heard an owl.  When she returned home, she was told that she had been missing for a day.

Audrey and Wheeler are at their picnic.  Wheeler is singing.  C’mon, Audrey, are you actually falling for this?  Go see Cooper before he meets Annie…

At the Hayward House, Doc Hayward (Warren Frost) returns home with Mrs. Hayward (Mary Jo Deschanel) rolling along beside him.  Donna tells them that Gerald Craig visited.  Doc Hayward says that’s not possible.  Gerald Craig was Doc’s roommmate.  He drowned after a rafting accident.  (So?  Drowning never stopped Andrew Packard.)  Mrs. Hayward calls the contact number that Dr. Craig left and it turns out to be the number of a cemetery.  Doc Hayward unwraps Dr. Craig’s gift and it’s a chess piece!

At the gas station, Ed (Everett McGill) tries to talk to Nadine (Wendy Robie) about breaking up.  Unfortunately, Ed needs a divorce but Nadine still thinks they’re in high school.  Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) is there to try to help her understand what’s happening but he’s not much help.  Nadine is more concerned about the fact that she just now noticed that she’s missing an eye.

Back at the Hayward House, someone else knocks on the door.  This time, Mrs. Hayward answers and it’s Ben Horne (Richard Beymer).  As Donna watches from the stairs, Ben whispers something in her mother’s ear and then kisses her.

At the diner, Peggy encourages Shelly (Madchen Amick) to enter the Miss Twin Peaks pageant.  Meanwhile, Cooper has entered the diner and seen Annie and he’s immediately so overwhelmed by her attraction to him that he actually stammers.  No, Cooper — AUDREY!

Before Cooper can fall any further in love, Hawk enters and tells him that they have a problem at the Bookhouse.  Harry is destroying all of the furniture!  When Cooper shows up, Harry calls him Deputy Dale and yells at him some more.  This is the most emotion we’ve seen from Harry since the series began.

Uh-oh, Harry’s holding a gun and he doesn’t want to give it to Cooper.  However, Harry eventually breaks down, shouts that Josie didn’t have to die, and then falls into Cooper’s arms.  Cooper and Hawk put Harry to bed.  Hawk says that Harry has never been like this before.

At the Great Northern, Mike (Gary Hershberger) and Nadine are getting a room under the name “Mr. and Mrs. Hinkman.”  Seriously, the Great Northern looks way too expensive for just a one night stay.  They should have gone to the motel and gotten an hourly room.  Knowing Mike, they probably would have only needed it for 8 minutes or so.

In the ballroom, Ben Horne is thanking everyone for showing up at this charity fashion show.  This is one of those plotlines that you’d never see today.  Nobody has the guts to make fun of rich (and fake) environmentalists anymore.  It’s a shame.

Anyway, the fashion show starts and there’s Dick describing each outfit.  (I really love Ian Buchanan’s performance in this episode.  He makes Dick into such a likable phony.)  Lucy and Andy are two of the models.  Good for them!

While the model walk the runway, Catherine approaches Ben and tells him that she knows he’s a just faking all of his environmental concern.  Ben says that the experience of being accused of Laura’s murder and his subsequent bout with insanity have truly changed him.

Dick has Mr. Pinkle bring out a living pine weasel.  Pinkle explains that the pine weasel is attracted to certain sells, like very cheap cologne.  Of course, this immediately leads to the pine weasel leaping at Dick and biting down on his nose.  Panic breaks out!  Audrey nearly gets run over but luckily, Wheeler is there to literally sweep her off her feet and kiss her.

Meanwhile, at the Bookhouse, one deputy looks over the sleeping Harry.  Jones sneaks up behind him and quickly knocks him unconscious.  She places a gun on the nightstand beside Harry’s bed.  She then undresses, lets down her hair, and lay down beside him…

End credits.

Overall, this was a pretty good episode except for the fact that we all know that Cooper and Audrey belong together.  While I can understand Audrey’s flirtation with Wheeler, Cooper’s sudden attraction to Annie felt a bit out of character, a case of Twin Peaks trying a bit too hard.

Some would probably argue that the bit with the Pine Weasel was a bit overboard as well but I actually enjoyed that.  Ian Buchanan’s performance saved that bit for me.  Plus, wealthy environmentalists tend to be kind of smug so it’s always fun to see them satirized.

Up until this episode, I’ve had mixed feeling about Windom Earle but his scene with Donna was brilliantly creepy.

Tomorrow, we have “On the Wings of Love.”

Previous Entries in The TSL’s Look At Twin Peaks:

  1. Twin Peaks: In the Beginning by Jedadiah Leland
  2. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.1 — The Pilot (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  3. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.2 — Traces To Nowhere (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Jedadiah Leland
  4. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.3 — Zen, or the Skill To Catch A Killer (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  5. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.4 “Rest in Pain” (dir by Tina Rathbone) by Leonard Wilson
  6. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.5 “The One-Armed Man” (directed by Tim Hunter) by Jedadiah Leland
  7. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.6 “Cooper’s Dreams” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  8. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.7 “Realization Time” (directed by Caleb Deschanel) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  9. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.8 “The Last Evening” (directed by Mark Frost) by Leonard Wilson
  10. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.1 “May the Giant Be With You” (dir by David Lynch) by Leonard Wilson
  11. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.2 “Coma” (directed by David Lynch) by Jedadiah Leland
  12. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.3 “The Man Behind The Glass” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Jedadiah Leland
  13. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.4 “Laura’s Secret Diary” (dir by Todd Holland) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  14. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.5 “The Orchid’s Curse” (dir by Graeme Clifford) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  15. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.6 “Demons” (dir by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Leonard Wilson
  16. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.7 “Lonely Souls” (directed by David Lynch) by Jedadiah Leland
  17. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.8 “Drive With A Dead Girl” (dir by Caleb Deschanel) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  18. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.9 “Arbitrary Law” (dir by Tim Hunter) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  19. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.10 “Dispute Between Brothers” (directed by Tina Rathbone) by Jedadiah Leland
  20. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.11 “Masked Ball” (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Leonard Wilson
  21. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.12 “The Black Widow” (directed by Caleb Deschanel) by Leonard Wilson
  22. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.13 “Checkmate” (directed by Todd Holland) by Jedadiah Leland
  23. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.14 “Double Play” (directed by Uli Edel) by Jedadiah Leland
  24. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.15 “Slaves and Masters” (directed by Diane Keaton) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  25. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.16 “The Condemned Woman” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Leonard Wilson

 

Insomnia File #24: A Star is Born (dir by Frank Pierson)


What’s an Insomnia File? You know how some times you just can’t get any sleep and, at about three in the morning, you’ll find yourself watching whatever you can find on cable? This feature is all about those insomnia-inspired discoveries!

If you found yourself awake and unable to sleep at 2:30 this morning, you could have always turned over to TCM and watched the 1976 film, A Star is Born. 

A Star is Born gets off to a good start by having Gary Busey give Kris Kristofferson a hit of cocaine.  As I pointed out on twitter, no movie that starts with Gary Busey offering cocaine to Kris Kristofferson can be all bad.

Anyway, Kris is playing John Norman Howard.  John Norman Howard is a big 70s rock star, which means that he has a beard and a bad case of ennui.  Despite all of the cocaine and whiskey, his career is on a downward spiral.  Part of the problem appears to be that he only sings one song and, half the time, he still can’t bring himself to remember all of the lyrics.  The song opens with John growling, “Are you a figment of my imagination or am I one of yours?” and John always ends up storming off stage before we can hear the rest of it.

Anyway, John ends up at this club in Hollywood that looks a lot like the place that Ryan Gosling opened up at the end of La La Land.  While at the club, John gets into a fight with Robert Englund (who I assume was playing a young Freddy Krueger) and totally interrupts the performance of the Oreos.

Who are the Oreos?   They’re a folk-singin’ power trio.  There’s One (Venetta Fields) and Two (Clydie King).  (According to the credits, that’s actually their names.)  And then there’s Esther Hoffman, who has a truly horrid perm and who is played by Barbra Streisand.  One and Two are black.  Esther, who stands right in the middle whenever they perform, is white.  And they’re called The Oreos!

Uhmmm, yeah…

Anyway, we really don’t learn anything about One or Two, beyond the fact that they are totally and completely devoted to Esther.  When Esther gets them fired from recording a cat food jingle, they just smile and laugh.  Sure, why not!?  After all, it’s not like struggling musicians need money or anything.  When Esther interrupts a performance to yell at John, One and Two smile and laugh.  When Esther, under John’s tutelage, becomes a big star and basically abandons the Oreos, One and Two show up at a recording session and smile and laugh.

Last night was my first time to actually see A Star is Born, though I had heard and read quite a bit about it.  Of all the versions of A Star is Born, this one made the most money at the box office but it also got the worst reviews.  Reportedly, the film’s production was a trainwreck with Barbra Streisand and then-boyfriend Jon Peters fighting with … well, everyone.

And yet, like so many cinematic trainwrecks, you simply cannot look away from it.  This version of A Star is Born gets so many things wrong that it becomes rather fascinating to watch.  Perhaps the scene that epitomizes A Star is Born comes when John refuses to perform his one song at a benefit concert and instead, brings out Esther and has her perform her songs.  First off, John’s hard rock band suddenly transforms into a Broadway orchestra and John’s audience — who presumably had paid money to hear that growling song about imagination — is overjoyed to instead have to listen to Esther’s style of lite pop/rock.  (Actually, to even call it rock is to needlessly stretch the definition of rock to its breaking point.)  Making the scene even more bizarre is that 1) John is basically exploiting a benefit concert to launch Esther’s career and 2) since the concert was being performed to support the American Indian Movement, the disembodied head of a Native American woman keeps appearing over Esther’s shoulder while she’s performing songs that have absolutely nothing to do with the cause that the concert is supposedly supporting.  It’s kind of the cinematic equivalent of that Kendall Jenner Pepsi commercial.

Anyway, things get even better when John buys an empty field and, in a ten minute montage, John and Esther literally build a house.  Seriously, I’m not kidding.  At no point do we see anyone other than John and Esther working on that house and yet, within a matter of minutes, they have an adobe mansion to live in.  I had no idea it was so easy to build a house.  It makes me wonder why people waste money buying houses when they can just buy an empty field and build their own.

(Maybe they’re scared of the poltergeists.  Imagine how different this version of A Star Is Born would have been if it ended with Esther grabbing John and screaming, “YOU MOVED THE HEADSTONES BUT YOU LEFT THE BODIES, DIDN’T YOU!?  YOU LEFT THE BODIES!”)

Kris Kristofferson is well-cast as John Norman Howard but the film is pretty much centered around Barbra.  That, in itself, wouldn’t be a problem if not for the fact that Barbra is completely miscast.  She’s a great singer but she’s not a rock singer.  You never believe that the same people who want to hear John sing his one song would also want to hear any of Esther’s songs.  The fact that the film is basically 140 minutes of everyone insisting that Esther is the future of music only reminds us of the fact that she’s not.  Her style is throwback to the past, which is one reason why everyone’s grandmother loves Barbra Streisand.

This wouldn’t be such a big deal if Barbra and Kris actually had any chemistry but they really don’t.  There’s a scene where Barbra and Kris take a bath together and Barbra puts makeup on Kris’s face.  Between two people who have chemistry, that would be sexy and sweet.  Between Kris and Barbra, it’s just kind of icky and you find yourself wondering who took the time to light the hundreds of candles surrounding them.  Whenever Barbra and Kris kissed, I worried for her just because all I could think of was the stubble burn that Esther would have to deal with later.

Yet, in the end, the film makes so many mistakes that it becomes one of the most watchable movies ever made.  It may not be good but it sure is entertaining.

Previous Insomnia Files:

  1. Story of Mankind
  2. Stag
  3. Love Is A Gun
  4. Nina Takes A Lover
  5. Black Ice
  6. Frogs For Snakes
  7. Fair Game
  8. From The Hip
  9. Born Killers
  10. Eye For An Eye
  11. Summer Catch
  12. Beyond the Law
  13. Spring Broke
  14. Promise
  15. George Wallace
  16. Kill The Messenger
  17. The Suburbans
  18. Only The Strong
  19. Great Expectations
  20. Casual Sex?
  21. Truth
  22. Insomina
  23. Death Do Us Part

Lisa Cleans Out Her DVR: Stick It (dir by Jessica Bendinger)


With our look back at Twin Peaks now entering its final week, it’s time for me to get back to trying to clean out my DVR.  When last we checked on the DVR, I had about 187 movies that I needed to watch.  At the end of March, I started in on them but then I got distracted by a number of things.  I put the clean-up on hold for a month and I even recorded some more films.

So, now, as April comes to a close, I have 200 movies on my DVR.

(The writer Derrick Ferguson once asked me just how much space I have on my DVR.  To be honest, I’m really not sure.  All I know is that I’ve got 200 movies recorded and 20% of the DVR is still free.)

If I’m going to have my DVR cleaned out by the end of May, then I better get back to watching all of this stuff.  I got things off to a good start, on Monday night, by watching a film about gymnastics in Texas, Stick It.

I think I may have actually seen Stick It when it was originally released in 2006.  I can’t say for sure because I spent most of 2006 in a daze but it seems like the type of movie that I would have gone to see back then.  The film itself felt familiar but that could just be because I’ve seen a lot of movies about gymnasts.

Anyway, Stick It is one of those movies that’s set in Texas but was filmed in California.  This leads to several unintentional laughs.  For instance, the movie opens in Plano, Texas.  Plano is a suburb of Dallas.  For some reason, Plano seems to show up in a lot of random movies.  (When Ed Helms visits his sister and Chris Hemsworth in Vacation, we are specifically told that they live in Plano.)  The movies, of course, never get Plano right.  Plano is not a rural community nor is it a junior version of the Park Cities.  Instead, it’s a typical suburb, one that is somewhat infamous for being home to a lot of people who have moved down to Texas from up north.

In Stick It, Plano is portrayed as being surrounded by mountains.  When the action later moves down to Houston, there are even more mountains in the background.  Of course, any true Texan knows that there aren’t any mountains near either Dallas or Houston.  Dallas sits on the plains.  Houston is known as the Bayou City.  If you want to make a movie about Texas with mountains, go film in El Paso.

As for the rest of the film, it tells the story of Haley Graham (Missy Peregrym), who was one of the top ranked gymnasts in America until she walked out during the World Gymnastics Championship, costing her team a gold medal and making her one of the most hated people in America.  Having abandoned gymnastics, Haley spends her time hanging out with skaters in Plano.  (I used to do the same thing.  Plano skaters are wild and rich.)  One day, Haley and the skaters get caught breaking into an abandoned building.  The judge gives Haley a choice.  Either go to military school or enroll at the prestigious but tough Vickerman Gymnastics Academy.  Haley picks military school so, of course, the judge sends her to VGA.

And here’s the thing.  It’s easy to be dismissive of a character like Haley but Missy Peregrym gives such a sincere performance and is so committed to the role that you’re on her side even when she seems like a privileged brat.  Haley’s parents are bitterly divorced and, even though they’re presented as being cartoonish caricatures, I could immediately relate to Haley.  When my parents got divorced, I acted out too.  I even hung out with wild skaters in Plano.

Anyway, Haley ends up in Houston.  Her new coach is Burt Veckerman (Jeff Bridges) who convinces her to start competing again, just so she can win enough money to pay off all of that Plano property damage.  She agrees, reluctantly.  Haley may love gymnastics but she hates all of the little rules that come along with competition.  Interestingly enough, that’s the way I’ve always felt about dancing.  Haley might as well have just been named Lisa.

Haley returns to the competition world and, while she’s obviously talented, she struggles to prove that she’s better than her reputation.  Even worse, she has to deal with judges who are obsessed with minutiae and who are biased towards their pre-determined favorites.  It doesn’t matter how talented you are or how well you compete.  All that matters is that you follow the rules and that you have the “right” attitude.

The movie ends with Haley taking a stand against the unfair judging system and humiliating the clueless judges.  It’s a great moment, even though it would never happen in real life.  For one thing, it involves convincing all the other gymnasts to give up their chance to win just so they can do the right thing.  Myself, I would never go along with that.  I may hate following rules but I love winning trophies.

But still, it’s a nice little fantasy.  Stick It is one of those films that got terrible reviews when it was released but it’s a real crowd pleaser.  This is a fun movie and, while it doesn’t tell a particularly deep story, it’s message of ignoring rules is one that’s needed in this increasingly authoritarian society.  Both Missy Peregrym and Jeff Bridges gave good performances and director Jessica Bendinger did a good job of keeping the action moving quickly.  (Bendiner also wrote the greatest of all cheerleading movies, Bring It On.)

How entertaining was Stick It?

Entertaining enough to survive mountains in Plano.

TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.15 “Slaves and Masters” (dir by Diane Keaton)


“Get a life, punk!”

— Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer) in Twin Peaks 2.15 “Slaves and Masters”

Well, it had to happen some time.

We have reached the “Slave and Masters” episode of Twin Peaks.  Judging from what I’ve read online, most fans seem feel that this episoode was the worst in the show’s history.  Myself, I don’t know whether it is or isn’t.  I’m writing this introduction before watching the episode.  I guess I’ll know soon enough.

Interestingly enough, this episode was directed by actress Diane Keaton.  When I first saw Keaton’s name listed as director, I assumes that she must have been a fan of the show and that she lobbied for the chance to direct an episode.  However, according to Relections: An Oral History of Twin Peaks by Brad Dukes, the opposite was true.  While the cast all liked and respected Keaton as a director, there was also a feeling that she didn’t seem to actually know much about the show.  Considering that the show had suffered a severe ratings decline during the 2nd season, it seems probable that Keaton was hired to direct in an attempt to generate some new interest in the once hot show.

If that was the plan, it didn’t work.  Apparently, the ratings for this episode were so low that Twin Peaks was put on hiatus a week after it aired.  It was only due to a letter-writing campaign that ABC decided to air the last six episodes of the season.  In short, it can be argued that this episode was truly the beginning of the end for Twin Peaks‘s original network run.

So, with all that in mind, let’s take a look at the 23rd episode of Twin Peaks, “Slaves and Masters.”

As always, we begin with the haunting opening credits and Angelo Badalamenti’s lushly romantic (yet ominously threatening) score.  The mood has been set.  We have returned to the world of Twin Peaks.

After the credits, we immediately cut to a close-up of a chess board.  In slow motion, the camera glides over all of the pieces.  The Queen, The pawns, the King, the Bishop, the little horsey guy.  (I don’t know much about chess, sorry.)

Suddenly, we’re no longer looking at chess pieces.  Instead, the camera is panning up the legs of Evelyn Marsh (Annette McCarthy), who is dressed in black and even wearing a black veil and — OH MY GOD, HAS THIS STORYLINE NOT BEEN RESOLVED YET!?  Seriously, when people talk about Season 2 not being as inspired as Season 1, they’re talking about this half-assed film noir rip-off that James (James Marshall) rode into after he hopped on his motorcycle and left Twin Peaks.  From the minute that Evelyn first showed up, I knew exactly what was going to happen with her, James, and her husband.  Much like the whole Audrey kidnapping subplot, the Evelyn Marsh subplot should not have lasted any longer than an episode and a half.  Instead, it’s still going on!

Anyway, the cops are talking to Evelyn and Malcolm (Nicholas Love) about how someone might have killed her husband.  Malcolm is quick to blame James but Evelyn seems a little bit more conflicted about it.  There is a funny moment when Malcolm says that James was hired to fix the Jaguar and the cop can’t figure out how to spell Jaguar.  That made me laugh but, otherwise, this whole scene felt predictable and unnecessary.

Meanwhile, at Wallie’s Bar, a dozen cops are sitting at the bar, smoking cigars and listening to opera music.  (Weird image is weird but it’s just weirdness for the sake of weirdness.)  James and Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle) are in a corner of the bar.  Donna says that they need to get help but James is all like, “I don’t need nobody!”  He says that Malcolm framed him and that he just needs to talk to Evelyn.

Donna goes to call Ed but ends up having to talk to Nadine instead.  Though we only hear Donna’s side of the conversation, it sounds like Nadine is talking about her new boyfriend.  If her new boyfriend is Mike (Gary Hershberger) than that means that Nadine is now dating Donna’s ex and yet, Donna seems to be remarkably okay with that.

Back at the Sheriff’s station, Harry (Michael Ontkean) and Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) are interrogating Bobby (Dana Ashbrook) and Shelly (Madchen Amick).  Bobby wants to know why Harry and Cooper aren’t making more of an effort to track down Leo.  Cooper asks Bobby about the night that the mill burned down.  Bobby lies and says that Hank Jennings shot Leo.

Harry says that he’ll have some deputies watch the house.  Bobby claims that he’s all the protection that Shelly needs.  (For some reason, Bobby is acting like a methhead in this scene.)  When Bobby and Shelly leave, they pass Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer), who takes one look at Bobby and shouts, “Get a life, punk!”

(We love you, Albert!)

After giving Harry an out-of-character bear hug (but that’s okay because I like it when dudes hug it out), Albert explains that he’s been sent to Twin Peaks by Gordon Cole.  He has brought with him a picture of Windom Earle, in which Windom looks like an extra in a 1930s gangster movie.  He also brings the news that Windom has been mailing different pieces of clothing to police agencies across the country.

Windom has mailed:

1. A white veil

2. A garter

3. A pair of white slippers

4. A peal necklace

5. A wedding dress

Oh my God, I said as Albert listed the items, Windom Earle is marrying Pippa Middleton!

Cooper says that the clothing belonged to Windom’s dead wife (and Cooper’s ex-lover), Caroline.  Albert says that Windom is definitely making his move and then says that Cooper looks good in the muted earth tones of a flannel shirt.  That was nice of Albert.

Meanwhile, in his cabin, Windom Earle (Kenneth Welsh) plays a flute while Leo (Eric Da Re) lies on the floor.  (I have to be honest that these cabin scenes between Windom and Leo made me think about Peter Boyle burning down Gene Hackman’s hut in Young Frankenstein.)  Once Leo wakes up, Windom — who was previously described as having a mind like a diamond, cold and precise — starts acting like a Satanic little wood sprite.  He jumps around the cabin.  He says a lot of evil quips.  He beats Leo with a flute and then reveals that he’s placed a collar around Leo’s neck.  Windom can electrocute Leo whenever he feels like it.  Windom forces Leo to eat gruel while Windom pretends to be a kitty cat.  “Purrrr,” he says.

(Windom’s a genius so why is he acting like a sadistic towel manager?)

We cut to Ed (Everett McGill) laying in bed with Norma (Peggy Lipton) and talking about how it’s been twenty years since they first fell in love.  They agree that it’s sucked not being together.  Suddenly, they hear Nadine (Wendy Robie) arriving home.  Norma starts to leave but Ed says, “No, no.  We may as well talk to her now.”  Sure, Ed — have this conversation with Nadine while you and Norma are laying in bed in your underwear.  That’ll really avoid any hurt feelings.

Suddenly, Nadine rips the bedroom door off of its hinges.  She comes into the room, carrying a wrestling trophy, and then jumps into bed with Ed and Norma.  Nadine apologizes for beating up Hank and then says that she knows about the two of them.  Nadine says it’s okay because she’s in love with Mike now.

Cut to the Martell house, where Harry and Cooper are talking to Josie (Joan Chen) about what happened to her in Seattle.  Josie says she doesn’t know who killed Jonathan.  Harry begs Josie to tell him the truth.  Out of nowhere, a surprisingly cheerful Cooper announces, “I think I’ll get another cup of Joe!”

(Somewhere, Joe Biden looks up and says, “Oh my God, they’re talking about me in an old episode of Twin Peaks!”  No, Joe, they’re not.  Sorry.  Maybe later.)

While Cooper’s getting more coffee, Pete (Jack Nance) stumbles in.  He has picked up the dry cleaning and can barely see above all of the clothes that he’s holding.  He and Cooper do that thing where, instead of being smart and putting the clothes somewhere first, they stand around and attempt to have a conversation, despite the fact that Pete is about fall over backwards.  When the phone rings, Pete gives the clothes to Cooper and now its Cooper’s turn to struggle to remain standing.  Eventually, Cooper puts the clothes on a chair (was that so hard!?) and then picks one thread off of a jacket.

Speaking of Josie, the phone call was for her.  It turns out that the call is from Thomas Eckhardt (David Warner) and he is wondering if he and Josie could get together.  Thomas reveals that he is responsible for Jonathan’s death.

After hanging up the phone, Thomas and his assistant, Jones (Brenda Strong), stare at a black trunk.

Meanwhile, Ben Horne (Richard Beymer) is apparently still convinced that he’s a Civil War general because he’s talking to Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) about Stonewall Jackson.  Much like all that stuff with Evelyn Marsh, this is a plotline that should have been resolved after an episode and a half.  Instead, it’s been dragged out way past the point of being amusing.  The Ben-Goes-Crazy storyline is the epitome of how Season 2 abandoned surrealism in favor of just being weird for the sake of being weird.

It turns out that Ben and Jacoby have an audience.  Audrey (Sherilyn Fenn) and Jerry (David Patrick Kelly) are listening.  Johnny Horne (Robert Bauer) is rocking back and forth while wearing a Native American headdress.  And there’s a few members of the Hotel Staff, who have been transformed into some sort of marching band.

While Ben rants in his really crummy Southern accent, Jerry and Audrey leave the office.  Audrey is worried about her father but Jerry seems to be fairly indifferent.  (Needless to say, this goes against everything that we’ve previously seen about Jerry and his relationship with Ben.)  Audrey points out that, conveniently enough, she is set to inherit the entire Horne business empire if anything happens to Ben and that Jerry better do what she says or she’ll cut him off.

Audrey returns to Ben’s office, where Dr. Jacoby looks perplexed.  Audrey walks up to him and says she wants her father to turn back to normal. Jacoby says that he’s got it all taken care of.  Bobby shows up, dressed like a Confederate soldier.  Ben sings Dixie.  Can this storyline just end, please!?

Meanwhile, at Walli’s, Evelyn is still dressed in black.  Though the bar appears to be closed (there are chairs on the tables and everything), Evelyn is drinking.  Suddenly, Donna walks up to her.  Why is Donna still there?  How much school can you miss in Twin Peaks?  Why are Evelyn and Donna both hanging out in a bar that appears to be closed?

Suddenly, the bartender wanders by, lingering just long enough for Evelyn to order Donna a drink, “one that has a little umbrella in it.”  Okay, is this bar closed or open?  If it’s open, why are the tables covered in chairs?  This stuff is confusing, especially for a non-drinker like me.

Anyway, Donna gets mad when Evelyn says that she won’t help James.  Evelyn explains that life is crap.  (Her words.)  Suddenly, Malcolm (Nicholas Love) shows up and tells Evelyn to go home.  He then threatens Donna and Donna reacts by yelling and then crying.

Back at the station, Albert reveals that the thread that Cooper found was from the carpet outside of Cooper’s hotel room.  Apparently, this proves that it was Josie who shot Cooper at the end of Season 1.  Bad Josie!

After swearing Albert to secrecy, Cooper heads to Harry’s office, where Harry is playing darts.  Harry tells Cooper that the dead vagrant has been identified as being Eric Powell, a former member of the Merchant Marines.

“Powell was Caroline’s maiden name!” Cooper says.

Cooper says that this is all a big chess game to Windom.  Harry says that, if Cooper needs a chess expert, they have one of the best right in town.  And his name is Pete Martell!

At the diner, Pete shows of his mad chess skills by playing and winning four games at once.  Cooper is impressed and invites Pete to help him play Windom’s chess game.  Pete better be good because, every time that Cooper loses a piece, Windom is going to kill an innocent person.

Shelly walks into the diner and asks Norma if she needs any help.  Norma hires her back.  Then Harry shows up and says that he needs to talk to Norma.  They slip into the kitchen where Harry explains that Hank is going away for a long time.  Norma’s okay with that but I’m not.  Hank may be a sociopath but he’s hella charming.

That night, Thomas shows up at the Martell house, where he is greeted by Catherine (Piper Laurie).  Thomas appears to be slightly surprised by the sight of Josie in her maid’s uniform.  Thomas and Catherine drink wine, eat dinner, and discuss art and killing.  It quickly becomes apparent that Thomas has shown up to take Josie and that Catherine is more than willing to allow him to do that, for a price.

Meanwhile, at the Marsh house, Evelyn is stunned when James shows up in the living room and demands to know why Evelyn killed her husband and attempted to frame him.  James says that it was hella lame to manipulate him with everything that he’s been going through.  Evelyn confesses to everything.  She says that she set James up.  She says she did it for the money and also just because she felt like doing it.

Suddenly, Malcolm barges into the room and knocks James out.  Malcolm says that they can now kill James and claim that it was self-defense.   And you know what?  He has a point.  Bye, James.

Meanwhile, Ben and the gang recreate another Civil War battle.  This whole Civil War subplot is so freaking stupid that I don’t even feel like talking about it anymore.  While pretending to be General U.S. Grant, Dr. Jacoby announces that he’s surrendering.  Having won the Civil War, Ben proceeds to faint.  When he wakes up, Ben says that he had the strangest dream about being a general during the Civil War.  He even does the whole “And you were there …. and you … and you!” thing.  Anyway, Ben appears to be back to normal.

At the cabin, Windom is putting on a disguise.  He continues to torment Leo with the electroshock collar.

At the Marsh mansion, James is still unconscious on the floor while Malcolm and Evelyn look down on him.  Donna watches from outside the window.  When Malcolm repeats that they can kill James and make it look like self-defense, Donna runs into the living room and screams, “NO!”

As Evelyn watches Donna cry over a motionless James, she stands up.  Uh-oh, she’s got a gun.  Evelyn shoots Malcolm and then says that she’ll frame Malcolm for her husband’s death though I don’t think it’ll be that difficult a frame-up because Malcolm is actually guilty.

At the Great Northern, Cooper walks down a hallway and stops in front of an elevator.  He looks at a picture of Caroline that he has in his wallet.  As he does this, a poorly disguised Windom Earle steps off the elevator.  Windom goes to the front desk an drops off a note for Audrey.  (Oh, goddamnit, is this going to be the start of yet another Audrey-gets-kidnapped storyline?)  He also notices several postcards that all feature owls.  “Owls,” he says.

Cooper arrives back at his room.  He finds a white mask on his bed.  Windom Earle has been there and he’s left a taunting message.  The episode ends with Windom’s line: “It’s your move.”

Agck!

As for this episode, it definitely felt a bit off.  The main problem is that it focused on two largely uninteresting subplots — Evelyn Marsh and the Civil War — and portrayed Windom Earle as so cartoonishly evil that it’s hard to believe that he could also be the villainous mastermind that Cooper’s spent the last few episodes describing.  It was a weak episode but at least it finished off the whole Evelyn Marsh thing.

Always look on the bright side of life.

Previous Entries in The TSL’s Look At Twin Peaks:

  1. Twin Peaks: In the Beginning by Jedadiah Leland
  2. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.1 — The Pilot (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  3. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.2 — Traces To Nowhere (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Jedadiah Leland
  4. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.3 — Zen, or the Skill To Catch A Killer (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  5. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.4 “Rest in Pain” (dir by Tina Rathbone) by Leonard Wilson
  6. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.5 “The One-Armed Man” (directed by Tim Hunter) by Jedadiah Leland
  7. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.6 “Cooper’s Dreams” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  8. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.7 “Realization Time” (directed by Caleb Deschanel) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  9. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.8 “The Last Evening” (directed by Mark Frost) by Leonard Wilson
  10. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.1 “May the Giant Be With You” (dir by David Lynch) by Leonard Wilson
  11. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.2 “Coma” (directed by David Lynch) by Jedadiah Leland
  12. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.3 “The Man Behind The Glass” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Jedadiah Leland
  13. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.4 “Laura’s Secret Diary” (dir by Todd Holland) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  14. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.5 “The Orchid’s Curse” (dir by Graeme Clifford) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  15. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.6 “Demons” (dir by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Leonard Wilson
  16. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.7 “Lonely Souls” (directed by David Lynch) by Jedadiah Leland
  17. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.8 “Drive With A Dead Girl” (dir by Caleb Deschanel) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  18. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.9 “Arbitrary Law” (dir by Tim Hunter) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  19. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.10 “Dispute Between Brothers” (directed by Tina Rathbone) by Jedadiah Leland
  20. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.11 “Masked Ball” (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Leonard Wilson
  21. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.12 “The Black Widow” (directed by Caleb Deschanel) by Leonard Wilson
  22. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.13 “Checkmate” (directed by Todd Holland) by Jedadiah Leland
  23. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.14 “Double Play” (directed by Uli Edel) by Jedadiah Leland

 

 

 

Film Review: Free Fire (dir by Ben Wheatley)


Last night, I saw Free Fire, the latest film from the visionary British directing-and-screenwriting team of Ben Wheatley and Amy Jump.

Free Fire takes place in Boston in the 1970s.  We know it’s the 70s because of all the wide lapels, the flared jeans, and the impressive facial hair.  In short, everyone looks like an extra from Thank God, It’s Friday.  Note that I said Thank God, It’s Friday and not Saturday Night Fever.  None of the characters in Free Fire could pull off John Travolta’s white suit.  As much as they try to pretend otherwise, everyone in this film is low rent.  No one is as clever or street smart as they believe themselves to be.  Even more importantly, no one is as good a shot as they think.

The film takes place in a decrepit warehouse, the type of place that is strewn with rats and hypodermic needles.  Chris (Cillian Murphy), Frank (Michael Smiley), Steve-O (Sam Riley), and Bernie (Enzo Cilenti) are members of the Irish Republican Army and they’ve come to the U.S. to purchases weapons.  Chris and Frank are no-nonsense professionals.  Bernie is a well-meaning moron.  Steve-O is a drug addict who, the previous night, got beaten up after he smashed a bottle across the face of a 17 year-old girl.

Working as intermediaries are Justine (Brie Larson) and Ord (Armie Hammer).  Justine specializes in keeping jumpy people calm.  She and Chris flirt as they wait for the guns to arrive.  As for Ord — well, let’s just say that Ord was my favorite character in the film.  He’s always calm.  He looks really good in a suit.  And, whenever things get intense, he’s always quick to light up a joint and make a sarcastic comment.  This is probably the best performance of Armie Hammer’s career so far.  (Or, at the very least, it’s the best performance of his that I’ve seen.  I hear that he gives an excellent performance in the upcoming Call Me By Your Name.)  Certainly, this is the first film that I’ve seen, since The Social Network, in which Hammer seemed to be truly worthy of the hype that has surrounded his career.

Finally, there’s the gun dealers themselves.  There’s Martin (Babou Ceesay), who seems to be fairly low-key professional.  There’s Gordon (Noah Taylor), who is a henchman who looks disconcertingly similar to Chris.  And then there’s Vernon, who is from South Africa and who is constantly talking and smiling.  Not surprisingly, Vernon is played by Sharlto Copley.  Finally, Harry (Jack Reynor) is a driver who desperately wants to impress Ord.  Harry loves John Denver and he also loves his cousin.  In fact, he loves his cousin so much that, when he recognizes Steve-O as the junkie who smashed a bottle across her face, Harry pulls a gun and starts firing.

The rest of the film deals with the resulting gun fight, which is complicated with two mysterious snipers (Patrick Bergin and Mark Monero) suddenly open fire on both of the groups.  Who hired them and why?  That’s a mystery that could be solved if everyone stops shooting and yelling at each other.  Of course, that’s not going to happen because 1) no one is a good enough shot to actually get the upper hand and 2) almost everyone in the warehouse is an idiot.

At it’s best, Free Fire mercilessly parodies the excessive violence of modern crime cinema.  When it comes to crime films, most people just remember the shoot outs so Free Fire takes things to their logical extreme by just being a 90-minute gun fight.  At its weakest, Free Fire occasionally becomes exactly what it’s parodying.  The film’s structure — one night in one location — proves to be limiting.  At times, you find yourself really wishing for a flashback or at least a little exposition to explain who everyone is outside of that warehouse.  The cast is full of good actors and they all give good performances but the characters are, at best, thinly drawn.  At times, it was difficult to keep track who was who.  I especially found myself mixing up Michel Smiley and Sharlto Copely.  It was all the facial hair.

About 30 minutes into Free Fire, I was already composing a bad review in my head but, by the final shot (and yes, the double meaning is totally intentional), Free Fire had won me over.  It’s an experiment that doesn’t really work but it’s so relentless and dedicated to seeing its story to its conclusion that I couldn’t help but appreciate the film’s efforts.  When the guns finally did stop firing and the end credits started, I was shocked to discover that, without even realizing it, I actually had gotten just a little caught up in the film’s story.

Ben Wheatley and Amy Jump previously gave us one of the most memorable films of the decade (so far), A Field in England.  Free Fire might not quite work but I’ll always make the time to see the latest from Wheatley and Jump.

 

Lifetime Film Review: Mommy, I Didn’t Do It (dir by Richard Gabai)


If there’s an Eye Rolling Hall of Fame, the recent Lifetime film Mommy, I Didn’t Do It definitely has earned inclusion.

Seriously, this film was full of some championship-level eye rolling.  It’s a courtroom drama and a murder mystery.  Ellen Plainview (Danica McKellar) is an attorney whose teenager daughter, Julie (Paige Searcy) is on trail for murdering one of her former teachers.  When Julie is first arrested, Ellen rolls her eyes.  When Ellen visits Julie in jail and explains that they don’t have the money to bail her out, Julie rolls her eyes and sighs.  You can just tell she’s thinking, “My God, mom, you’re so lame!”  When Detective Hamer (Jaleel White) explains why all the evidence points to Julie, Ellen again rolls her eyes and Detective Hamer counters her by rolling his own eyes.  When Ellen approaches the dead man’s wife (Jamie-Lynn Sigler), the wife not only rolls her eyes but narrows them as well.

It gets even better once the trial begins.  The prosecutor, Kimberly Bains (Jen Lilley), rolls her eyes whenever Ellen makes an objection.  Whenever a witness testifies that Julie was obsessed with the victim, Ellen rolls her eyes and then Julie rolls her eyes at her mother rolling her eyes and then Kimberly rolls her eyes at both of them.  When the weird boy who is obsessed with her tries to save Julie by confessing to the murder, the amount of eye rolling probably sets a world record.  In the real world, of course, this type of courtroom behavior gets people cited for contempt but, in the world of Lifetime, it’s just the way that people communicate.

Don’t get me wrong.  The film itself did not make me roll my eyes.  Yes, it was totally implausible and it was full of silly scenes but it’s a Lifetime film.  That’s what we expect Lifetime.  Even more importantly, that’s what we want from Lifetime.  When it comes to a quality Lifetime film, there’s really only two rules: 1) the more ludicrous, the better and 2) the more melodramatic, the more entertaining.

While the film’s story might be ludicrous, the mother-daughter relationship between Ellen and Julie felt very real and both Danica McKellar and Paige Searcy gave sincere and believable performances as mother and daughter, which went a long way towards explaining all the eye rolling.  Seriously, when I was Julie Plainview’s age, I rolled my eyes for 24 hours a day and I wasn’t even accused of murder.

Mommy, I Didn’t Do It is actually a sequel to a previous Lifetime movie, The Wrong Woman.  In that one, Ellen was wrongly accused of murder and was arrested by the same idiot detective who arrests her daughter in Mommy, I Didn’t Do It.  (If nothing else, these two films show how vindictive authority figures can be.)  As long as this is going to be a franchise, I’d like to suggest that the next installment could feature Eric Roberts, recreating his role from Stalked By My Doctor and its sequel. Maybe he could treat Julie while Ellen defend him in court.

Seriously, it sounds like a great idea to me.