Twin Peaks: The Last Evening

“What kind of dangerous game have you been playing?”

Even though each episode—indeed, the entire show—weaves in and out of plots, bringing various disparate points together and then separating them, Twin Peaks tends to keep the characters rather separate. This season finale created most of its tension and horror by examining what happens when these separate characters bump up against each other, throwing everyone’s plans off-course.

If the bumper-car metaphor doesn’t work for you, try this one: card games. There’s strategy, but there’s also a lot of luck. You have to play the hand you’re dealt and deal with the new cards that pop up. Cooper is good at that sort of on-the-fly thinking (it took Big Ed a while longer in the previous episode), but even he can only see one hand at a time. (I’m belaboring the card-game idea because there’s a different game metaphor in the second season.)

Cooper bumped up against the evilly Rabelaisian Jacques Renault, whose appetites for brutal sex, drugs, and beer were brought into full light for our disgusted horror. Cooper, a stoic man who values active contemplation and the simplest of luxuries, was rightly horrified by Jacques’s explanation of what happened in the train car. Cooper pushed Jacques into the sheriff’s jurisdiction, which ultimately led to Jacques’s death at Leland’s hands.

And that’s yet another example of what happens when two separate characters bump up against each other: Leland so far has had no part the depravity that surrounded Laura: we haven’t seen him with Leo, with Ronette, with the perfume counter, and certainly not with Renault. But once he finds out (however mistakenly) that Jacques is Laura’s killer, he becomes a killer himself.

Leo and Shelly, of course, have been bumping up against each other for weeks now. (And how freaky was the hair-washing scene?) But the mill plot collided with the spousal-abuse plot quite neatly, and Shelly and Catherine encountered each other in the strangest of circumstances and for the strangest of reasons. Bobby’s attempts to frame James almost proved to be his, and Shelly’s, undoing: he was so busy causing trouble that Leo managed to abduct his wife, only to then be shot by Hank just as he (Leo) was attacking Bobby. Wow, that’s complicated.

Meanwhile, the ersatz-Laura plot had two results: Maddie, Donna, and James found the missing tape inside the “little coconut” in Dr. Jacoby’s office, and Dr. Jacoby got black-jacked in the park when he went to spy out his lost love. Maddie, Donna, and James realized that Dr. Jacoby wasn’t the killer (did we ever think he was?), and they seemed to be awfully accepting of Laura’s dark monologue about her own complicity in the danger that she so frequently took part it.

[Feminist sidebar. It’s damn hard for me to support a show that basically seems to be saying, “She got herself into this mess.” What I love about Twin Peaks is that it can show a young woman’s downfall with complete sympathy, yet doesn’t feel the need to make her into a saint. Yes, Laura was drawn to darkness and overwhelmed by the evil that surrounded her—frequently because she put herself in its midst. But she didn’t “deserve” what happened to her, and the show never makes that suggestion. It’s a fine line, and Twin Peaks stays just this side of perfect.]

Speaking of depravity, Josie is either tasting darkness for the first time, or falling off the goodness-wagon. The blood-oath scene with Hank was horrifying, especially in that Josie seems unwilling to fight back, ever. How complicit is she in the plot to kill Catherine. That is, would she choose to do what she’s doing, if people weren’t pushing her into it?

Bits and Pieces:

• Laura: “Hey, remember that mystery man I told you about? Well, if I tell you his name, then you’re gonna be in trouble. He wouldn’t be such a mystery man any more, but you might be history, man. I think a couple of times he’s tried to kill me. But guess what? As you know, I sure got off on it. Isn’t sex weird? This guy can really light my F-I-R-E. As in red Corvette.”

• Catherine: “I can’t understand a thing that you’re saying. You have a thing in your mouth.”

• I wound up fast-forwarding through the Lucy/Andy scene. This subplot is monumentally boring.

• The park where Maddie pretended to be Laura is Easter Park, which seems appropriately resurrectionist.

• The scene in the sheriff’s station at about the 35-minute mark was one long tracking shot that moved through three or four different conversations, and ended with a shot of Leland.

• The Icelanders signed the contract on Ghostwood Estates. Congratulations: you are now the owners of the development property with the creepiest name ever.

• Loved the hunchback seamstress!

Clues, Questions, and Answers:

• Jacques confirmed that he was with Laura the night she died, but the look on his face when Harry told him why he was being arrested seemed to indicate that Jacques really didn’t think the murder could be pinned on him.

• When Leland suffocated Jacques, he alternated between sobbing and a sort of cunning look.

As we left it: Catherine and Shelly may or may not be dead, and Pete may or may not be dead attempting to rescue them. Leo’s fate is also up in the air. Audrey’s at One-Eyed Jack’s, and she has a planned assignation with “the owner.” As the owner is her father, that can’t end well. And my beloved Special Agent Dale Cooper has been shot in cold blood by an unseen assailant.

There’s one more thing: we still don’t know who killed Laura Palmer. If I were writing these reviews with a feather pen on parchment, back when the episodes first aired, this would have made me crazy. But now that we have both seasons on DVD, I don’t mind. “Who Killed Laura Palmer?” was the tagline to pull us into this show, and there’s no reason they would answer that question when there are still episodes to come.

That answer does come, along with several new questions, a few new characters, and a whole lot more zany stuff. Looking back on the season, the spookiest moments still stand out the most: the red room, the log lady, Tibetan Method. But at heart this first season is a very well-done soap opera murder mystery. Season Two is…well, we’ll see soon enough.

Three and a half out of four easy riders.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A few things i jotted down about episode 8:

----Why does Shelly stay in that house?? Espeically after she shot her husband!! It is like asking to die....

---Big Andy finally learned to shoot a gun!

---Dr. Jacoby got even creepier with his crawling after "Laura".

---Last Scene.....EEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWW!!!!! Dad/daughter...yuk!!!