I’ve decided to go off-piste and review a TV episode because it’s that good.
I watched the Twin Peaks series in its entirety for the first time a couple of years ago, and was in a very lucky position as I didn’t know who the killer was! It’s rare not to get something spoiled for an old film or TV series when you’re looking around on the interweb, especially if it’s for such a popular show like Twin Peaks. People think, ‘oh well it came out 50 years ago, everyone knows the twist!’ when actually, there are still young people (ala me) interested in older pop culture and don’t want things spoiled!
Obviously being such a massive David Lynch fan, I was loving the series. I was especially loving the episodes which David himself directed because they were full of such classic Lynchian moments. The dancing dwarf, the red curtains, the strange music, the giant, the log lady etc. I also genuinely had no idea who the killer would be. No one in Twin Peaks seem to fit the bill of a serial-killing rapist. The reveal itself, however has to be the most shocking moment in television history. Not just because who it is, but how it’s revealed with such a horrifying and bemusing way.
I’m currently re-watching the whole series again in the wake of a third series being commissioned (although that looks dead in the water now that David has said he won’t be directing anymore) and last night saw the episode where the killer is revealed again. It lost none of its shocking ferocity as when I saw it for the first time. I’d very much like to delve into the episode so please be aware that there will be heavy spoilers from here in.
From the moment the episode starts you can tell that David’s behind the camera, just by the odd choices of camera angles and movements. In fact, the episode opens with Gordon Cole leaving Dale and the gang. I’m wondering if this is a postmodern element, as David Lynch himself pretty much abandoned the show after this episode. It reminds me of the opening of Fire Walk With Me where David Lynch basically opens the film shouting ‘ACTION!’ as a director.
Things get Lynchy pretty much from the start with a load of people bouncing balls in the Great Northern for no apparent reason, and then the one armed man having a fit as Ben Horne walks in. Pretty much everything in this episode is more bizarre than usual! I love the scene where Maddie announces to uncle Leland and aunt Sarah that she’s leaving, along with a strange version of ‘What a Wonderful World’ playing in the background. Things seem quite optimistic here on the surface, but you just know that underneath it all there’s something sinister lurking.
Much of the episode concerns all the other Peak crew doing weirder things. A vegetable-like Leo randomly calls out for new shoes, Audrey rats out her Dad after he oddly confesses to having loved Laura and Nadine demonstrates more of her superhuman strength and hilarious delusions. I must also mention the other shocking revelation in this episode that the peculiar Mr. Tojamura is in fact Piper Laurie!
Things turn really sinister when we see Sarah Palmer crawling down the stairs. The music turns dark and ominous, whilst the log lady beckons Dale over to The Roadhouse. Lo and behold, Julee Cruise is performing again with her fantastically haunting voice! David Lynch even penned the lyrics to the two songs she sings and Angelo Badalamenti composed them beautifully. It’s the classic David Lynch motif of a woman singing on stage in front of a red curtain. It symbolises that something will be revealed. There’s also the lingering image of a white horse standing in the Palmer’s sitting room. This symbolises death.
The horror really begins when a bright spotlight shines on Dale’s bemused face as he sees the giant appear on stage repeating the eerie words, “It is happening again.” We then see exactly what is happening, as it cuts to Leland grinning in the mirror and the horrifying BOB grinning back at him. The first time I saw this, I gasped. Leland killed Laura? But he was so hysterical throughout the whole two seasons! He was always dancing, singing and crying feverishly in every scene (often all at the same time) it just can’t be him. The fact that he killed and raped his own daughter is all the more disturbing.
The scariest moment in this episode though (and arguably the entire series) is when Maddy enters and screams as Leland runs towards her. He grabs her and swings her around the living room like some sort of animal playing with its prey. It’s all done in a weird slow motion though and changes between BOB in the spotlight, screaming like a beast and Leland. As with most projects by David Lynch, it’s very difficult to put into words and something you need to really experience for yourself.
The murder itself is pretty violent as Maddy smashes her head on a picture frame after Leland beats her to death in a similar way to Frank Booth four years earlier in Blue Velvet. He then grotesquely shoves a letter up her fingernail as previously found in Laura, Ronnette and Teresa. It then cuts back to The Roadhouse with Julee now singing a much slower and sadder song as Dale looks on in melancholy. Everyone in The Roadhouse seems to recognise that a tragedy has occurred and it feels just like a dream.
There ends one of the greatest television episodes in the universe. It’s pure Lynch magic. What’s remarkable is that this isn’t even the best episode in the series. That accolade would go the nightmarish madness of the very final episode, which would easily be the very best television episode in the universe. I don’t normally rate TV episodes, but if I did then this would certainly be a: