Thursday, May 3, 2018

Something Else: My Five Favorite Characters From Twin Peaks TV Series (Who Are Not Dale Cooper)


First things first:

1. I decided to write that post because after watching all the Twin Peaks-related material in existence, reading innumerable threads on Reddit, The Secret History of Twin Peaks and Secret Diary of Laura Palmer I came to a conclusion that it's still almost impossible to completely parrot what the others said about this amazing series so I should prepare my own tribute to the show that means so much to me. I was holding its contents in my head for many days so be prepared for stream-of-consciousness writing. Therefore, the title may not be exactly compatible with the rest of the post. I just thought that after seven years of blogging, one little clickbait wouldn't hurt nobody.

2. If you haven't seen Original Series so far, do yourself a favour and start watching immediately. Also, don't read this post with its abundance of spoilers.

3. I will try to be more ambiguous about third season, so-called Twin Peaks: The Return but you can expect spoilers of that kind, too.

4. You can also expect spoilers for The Avengers: Infinity War.

5. Actually, my writing is so unorganized now that you can even expect spoilers for The Room...

Introduction

Twin Peaks - almost everybody knows that such TV series exists. The name itself evokes many images and associations but after all those years the show still escapes strict definition and categorization. Even mundane question: Was it any good? makes many people scratch their heads. The consensus now seems to be that all the episodes written and supervised by David Lynch and Mark Frost (the whole Laura Palmer murder mistery arc, finale of Season 2) are masterpiece and the episodes written and directed by the other guys (including Diane Keaton of all people) are mostly a mess. Its' unlikely success story is rather well-nown although I'm quite surprised with the claims that it was the first good TV series ever. That's probably purely Northern American perspective - e.g. British The Prisoner is universally praised and it's from the 60s. Polish audience also had quite high expectations regarding TV shows in the early 90s - we were used to classic literature adaptations shot along with cinematic features. We also had a series about doppelgangers in the 80s but it was a comedy :) (Funny thing is that someone in Poland made fanart about both).

Chinchillas over weasels, everytime.

Almost a year after its premiere, there is still no consensus on The Return. This fact touches on another baffling question: What is Twin Peaks? Is the original run crime story? Supernatural story? Soap opera? Parody of soap operas? Everything at once? (yeah, probably) And what about The Return? Is this a middle finger to the expectations of nostalgia-driven audience or something more? Lynch's magnum opus and farewell to the fans? A key to Lynch Cinematic Universe? (tempting suggestion but probably far-fetched) Pure escapism or moral lecture? A mosaic of random bits or linear story we are too dumb to comprehend? For some watchers, Season 3 was a betrayal of the original run, its' tone and characters. For the others, it was something they were waiting for since 1991, sometimes subconsciously. The music was also a bone of contention. Forgive me, if I 'm oversimplifying things but Lynch's collaboration with Julee Cruise that started around Blue Velvet basically invented dream pop. I also already wrote on my FB profile that Laura's theme written by Angelo Badalamenti is probably the most beautiful and moving piece I know (and I even don't like instrumental music that much). Therefore, I understand the people who were disappointed with new series dominated by silence and Ominous Whooshing that became running joke on Reddit. On the other hand, The Return had very interesting selection of guest musicians - some very famous (Eddie Vedder, Nine Inch Nails called for some reason The Nine Inch Nails), some among my favorites (Chromatics, The Veils).


Review and interpretation - my two cents

I don't claim to read every professional and/or message board review, but I feel that The Return backlash was less substantial than in the case of Fire Walk With Me - cinematic prequel to the original run and - as in the case of this 1992 movie - doubters would be won over later. I'm not ashamed of liking many 'popcorn movies' (shut up and take my money, Marvel Studios!) but I like to be challenged, too. I enjoyed the contrast between 'old' and 'new' Peaks: the assault on the senses with all the nudity, sex, gore and horror (and gorgeous aerial shots - something absent from the first seasons, too). You can almost hear the sigh of relief that Lynch uttered when he realized the difference between the constraints of working for ABC and creative freedom provided by Showtime who reportedly were satisfied anyway with The Return's ratings though it's hard to call it commercial success.

The other undisputable fact is that Season Three stresses something that was always very important for Lynch (and I guess Frost, too) - that Twin Peaks is not really a story about who killed Laura Palmer. The main theme is cosmic fight between good and evil and how (and which) people could be a factor in this struggle. Again, it may sound like Marvel (or my favorite Master and Margarita) but execution is very different. Maybe except for the one significant detail in the Part 17 (the glove). 

Lynch was always encouraging people to interpret his works in their own way. Probably it's impossible to create one sound theory wholly explaining everything that happens on screen. If you've seen the series, you can read the one I found yesterday. TL;DR version - the main villain in the aforementioned fight is (mostly?) off-screen (or is s/he?). The finale is a tragedy to the remaining characters but happy ending for the whole world. Before reading this and subscribing to Twin Peaks-themed subreddit, I had my own half-baked theories. 

Theory 1. Cooper's smarts defeated his loyalty to FBI. He decided he didn't want to fall into a void like Agents Jeffries and Desmond. For that reason, he reprised his new role as ordinary citizen and loving husband Dougie Jones. He also created his doppelgaenger to erase Laura Palmer's death but the double screwed things up.

Theory 2. There is no White or Black Lodge. There was fairly ordinary murder of Laura Palmer. Agent Cooper fell in love with the stories of the people describing Laura as the perfect girl. He started making up the paranormal story because he wanted his imagination to give him illusion of saving Laura.

Theory 3 (my favorite). The show is really satire of incompetent (or maybe just corrupt?) police force (Andy! Chad!) that can't deal with drug and prostitution rings in the neighborhood. They blame their failures on unspecified 'evil in the woods', aliens and whatnot.

And even if we can't see big picture or cynically suppose that there isn't any, we can't argue that Twin Peaks covers astonishing range of topics like...

school reunions!


distaste of school reunions!


commercialization of Easter!

perks of being Harry Styles!


and, you guessed it, the ending of Avengers: Infinity War!


Countdown

As you already realized, we're not gonna talk about Judy at all, but it would be hard not to mention the guy whom I'm usually calling my Eternal Role Model: FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper. There is a Polish alternative model on Instagram who had a bio once "Looking for my personal Dave Gahan or Agent Cooper" (go follow her, she's cool) Taking into account that Depeche Mode singer looks like he could play Bobby Peru or Frank Booth in Lynch's film, this makes sense. But this Cooper guy... Audrey Horne once said to him in Season 2: "There's only one problem with you. You're perfect". Enough said.


Being a hipster/hardened supporter of the underdogs, I ranked Coop only 4th in Favorite Characters' Poll on r/twinpeaks. Thus we start with my no. 6 selection...

The Giant aka the Fireman



The otherwordly character played by Carel Struycken (known also from The Addams Family) plays important part in two episodes I love: May the Giant Be With You and Lonely Souls. I find the latter  the most heartbreaking picture of sadness and hopelesness I ever saw on screen. I like how the Giant as a (presumably) White Lodge entity balances the more sinister spirits like Man from Another Place or MIKE. His role increases in The Return where he's got new nickname. Whether he orchestrated all the events in Season 3 and is it good for the humanity, is still up to debate.

Janey-E Jones



Is the wife of Dougie Jones and mother of Sonny Jim the most memorable character introduced in Season 3? It would be nigh impossible in the show with two new faces so repulsive they made Windom Earle look like a sock puppet. Naomi Watts may overact in order to stress the absurdity of Dougie's plight (or maybe she's just good at conveying enthusiasm - she certainly was in Mulholland Drive) but you just have to admire (and copy!) her no-nonsense attitude in life. No wonder local thugs after the confrontation with Janey-E call her "tough lady"!

Tommy "Hawk" Hill



Be honest - if you've seen Season 3, you also expected Hawk to become Twin Peaks sheriff, did you? I still don't know why didn't get a promotion. Was it institutional racism or is he bad at anything else but tracking? C'mon, it just sounds absurd (welcome to TP, ha). I love him as one of the most intelligent characters on the show. Michael Horse was really able to sell his intriguing Native (Nez Percé/Nimi'ipuu tribe in particular) wisdom. I adore also his calm attitude and moral compass.

Audrey Horne



Now you can already see a pattern - I gave high placings to characters who had a chance to prove they are smart. I love the chemistry between Sherilyn Fenn and Kyle MacLachlan. It makes you wish that only two of them were on the case, maybe apart from Philadelphia guys (hell, now I'm even thinking like Audrey!). Also, it makes you wish that their relationship didn't progress past one awkward bedroom encounter (contrary to popular belief, Audrey was not underaged at the time. She was 18 years old schoolgirl). On the other hand, because of Lara Flynn Boyd's jealousy we got the character of Annie Blackburn (no. 7 in my poll submission) whose romance with Coop was also quite believable. Anyway, doesn't it all make him a little philanderer? We already have two women, some viewers claim that his only love was late Caroline...or was it Diane after all?

This all doesn't change the fact that I find Audrey the most interesting and relatable among many young female characters in Twin Peaks. She was always using her deductive powers and intituion for a greater good, even if it looked at the start as nothing more than pissing off her father (he deserved it!) Don't forget about uber-cool musical theme and those Elizabeth Taylor looks (Fenn played her in Lifetime biopic). Unforgettable girl.

Major Garland Briggs



My number one choice (as most things in life) is purely subjective. I chose Major not only because of his memorable parts - Vision of Light or the revelation of his biggest fear. His spiritual side (he reads Bible in the deleted scene from Fire Walk with Me) and ornate speeches were also not deciding factors. I chose him because I have reasons to sympatize with his plight. I barely managed to avoid the main dilemma of his life. I had some offers to help military intelligence but I refused to cooperate. I didn't want my career to depend on political support or lack thereof. Taking the chance, I would probably become like major - the man torn between loyalty he's not questioning and secrecy he doesn't understand. RIP Don S. Davis. You are missed.

The great thing about Twin Peaks is that you could select completely different characters and I could agree with your choices. Albert, Log Lady, Laura (ofc), even Mitchum Brothers - they all have their fans. The least liked characters with lots of screen time are probably James and Donna; I won't dwell on it, you can read about it in many other places. Personally, I cannot imagine anybody saying Josie Packard is their favorite character. Everything interesting about her happens offscreen - maybe it would look better if Isabella Rosellini took this role. I also despised Catherine Martell to the point I wished not to see her before the start of every episode. She was not only shrewd but also probably the worst dressed woman of the series.

To end on positive note, let's admire the beauty of Mädchen Amick who played the waitress Shelly Johnson and is still going strong (both in The Return and Riverdale). Maybe no other waitress in Washington state was wearing hold-up stockings at the time...but who cares?






And where is David Lynch finding such women like Chrysta Bell (Zucht)? Damn. Man's got connections.



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