Theme Tuesday - Twin Peaks - Season 2
David Lynch and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks is such a tremendous cultural touchstone (and huge blindspot for me) that I decided to rectify matters and take the deep dive for the month of May.
I would compare Season 2 of Twin Peaks to the Beatles’ White Album. There is a lot of good stuff intermixed with a lot of mediocre and perhaps even subpar material, which makes the whole season a compelling, if uneven, whole. Apparently, David Lynch was busy filming Wild at Heart, leaving the show without his guidance and his tight control over the mythos. Mark Frost was in charge creatively for most of the episodes, which may explain why the show started to gain more and more plotlines that weren’t nearly as interesting as the originals in the first season.
But, let’s start with the good. I liked the deepening of the mythos of Twin Peaks, especially all the stuff with the White lodge and the Black lodge. I almost had my doubts, when in the first episode, a giant tells Cooper what to do in cryptic, fairy tale fashion. It struck me as silly and pointlessly convoluted, but in hindsight, I appreciated that it helped set up the bizarreness of the world that Cooper barely grazed the surface of in the first season. Frost claims that he was important in fleshing out the lore that had originally started from just the image of the red room in the first season. I am inclined to believe him since Lynch is notoriously indifferent to whether his audiences “get” his work or not. I also have a feeling that most of the hardcore Twin Peaks fans respond to the explication of the lore, i.e. the part that Frost was responsible for.
Now, for what I didn’t care for. Under network pressure, Lynch and Frost were forced to solve the mystery of Laura Palmer early on. I think they did resolve the mystery well, and Ray Wise is pretty fantastic as Leland Palmer, the ultimate culprit possessed by “BOB,” I do think it killed the momentum of the show, and I feel this is when most of the casual fans checked out of the show (if they weren’t already weirded out by the first episode). It’s also when, I think, the show devolved into some not particularly interesting subplots, such as the one revolving around Josie Packard, Benjamin Horne’s weird time when he thinks he is a Confederate general, and, of course, Nadine’s amnesia and supernatural strength. Also, the show felt it was trying to recapture the magic and appeal of the first season by serving up pale imitations of plots such as giving Cooper a new mystery with Windom Earle and new love interests for both Cooper and Audrey Horne, which was apparently because Lara Flynn Boyle didn’t want her then-boyfriend Kyle MacLachlan to date someone who was so closely tied to the show.
If anything, I think season two disproves the theory that David Lynch was the sole auteur, especially since the last episode is dramatically different from most of the middle episodes of that season. However, I don’t think that just because Lynch is involved or even the most creative voice means that the work will automatically become superior. I think Lynch can actually work really well with a collaborator who is talented in a different way than he is. Because of Frost, we get a good pace and compelling plot as well as well-written dialogue (never Lynch’s strongest suit), whereas Lynch is more about the images and the mythos he conjures, although apparently Frost contributed a lot to those too. Overall, Twin Peaks Season 2 feels more like it came from two different minds, which is ultimately to its detriment, though it’s not entirely without merit.