Friday, October 15, 2010

Wounds and Scars (Twin Peaks, S2 ep. 17)

The Lost & Found column for Wounds and Scars will be up on by day's end. In the meantime, please to enjoy these delicious, minty excerpts:


We’re not out of the woods yet, but we’re close. Following this installment there are only five episodes of Twin Peaks left to go, including the two-hour finale, “Beyond Life and Death”. I’m excited to get there, excited to see David Lynch finally return to the show and restore its previous glory, and I’m looking forward to finally talking in more detail about the strange mythology of this show.

But in order to get there it’s necessary to push our way through an episode like Wounds and Scars. Wounds and Scars isn’t a bad episode of Twin Peaks. There’s nothing that inspires the urge to stab one’s eardrums, as with the Evelyn Marsh storyline, but there’s nothing particularly interesting about the episode as a whole. It feels, for lack of a better word, mundane.

And that’s the overall-criticism I’d level at this stretch of the show in general. It’s mundane. The spark of madness that Lynch and Frost injected into Twin Peaks has dwindled away. The charged atmosphere built up over a season-and-change has dissipated in the wake of Leland Palmer’s death, leaving behind a show that moves with a languid, sleepy-lidded gait and no discernable purpose.

Plenty of stuff happens on Twin Peaks during this stretch of television, but little of it feels as though it matters. Even Cooper’s storyline has dragged, presenting us with a lawman drained of much of his former electric eccentricity and a nemesis who seems content to dash around in goofy disguises and play his flutes in between chess moves.

Where are the wonder and the terror?

The answer to that question lies with Lynch. Without his unifying, disorienting vision – without his singular ability to evoke existential dread and profound bemusement – the show has slowly been foundering. Nowhere in this stretch of post-Leland episodes do we find a single image as awful and powerful as the image of a demonic-looking Laura Palmer. Nowhere in this stretch do we find evidence of the spiritual evil that so effectively infected the show and its viewers.


As if to make sure that we’re paying attention, the show’s writers have Cooper’s doppelganger/evil twin/shadow self, aka Windom Earle, comment on the rejuvenating qualities of “country life,” and so highlighting and triple-underlining for us the notion of Earle as a dark reflection of Cooper. In addition to this we also see that Earle is wearing a ring, just as Cooper does. Recall that Cooper’s ring has a kind of mystic/symbolic importance on this show (Bob and Mike’s relationship was a “perfect circle,” the group of people assembled upon the revelation of Bob’s identity forms a circle, Cooper’s ring – a circle – is taken by the Giant and returned on the eve of Cooper cracking the case, etc. etc.). Does Earle’s ring have a similar, negative mystic/symbolic importance? Signs point to “sure, why the hell not.”

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