Welcome to Twin Peaks:/\/\ First-Watch Recap: Season 2: Ep. 2.1 “May the Giant Be with You” (Original airdate Sunday,September 30, 1990) — a review (Part 1 of 2)

Welcome to my First-Watch of the original 30 episodes of the 1990-91 television series Twin Peaks. Below are the bulletpointed notes I jotted down while watching the episode “May the Giant Be with You.” This was another double-sized episode, so this review will be posted in two parts.

  • On this date in history, the rock group Nelson had a #1 hit with “(Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection.” This was Ricky Nelson’s twin sons Matthew and Gunnar, of course. I just took a YouTube break to watch the video for the song. Both have their father’s good looks and (I assume) their mother’s hair. I still don’t remember this song, and the album went platinum.
  • A few days before, on Wednesday, September 26, the MPAA replaced the X-rating with the NC-17. Now the letter “X” belongs only on moonshine jugs, or Spike Lee or Vin Diesel movies.
  • On Friday, September 28, the movie Pacific Heights premiered. I’ve always felt this yuppie real estate horror movie was underrated. Michael Keaton proved he had the chops to play a villain.
  • On Saturday, September 29, the Washington National Cathedral is finally completed after 83 years. Contractors!
  • The second season of Twin Peaks kicks off with the same outdoor montage and synth intro, black letters outlined in neon green.
  • The teleplay for this episode was written by Mark Frost, based on a story by Mark Frost and David Lynch. Lynch directed the episode, although the rumor is that Steven Spielberg was interested in doing so.
  • The second season kicks off on the early morning of Friday, March 3, just after AGENT DALE COOPER was shot three times at the Great Northern Hotel. He lies on the floor, bleeding, while the viewer hears the voice of DEPUTY ANDY BRENNAN on the phone. An elderly waiter from room service shows up at the door with Cooper’s glass of milk. He seems unfazed by the sight of a dying man on the floor.
  • What follows is a strange interaction between the geriatric waiter and Agent Cooper. Or, at least it would be a strange interaction on any other television series. The waiter asks Cooper: “How you doing down there?” Cooper asks him to put the milk on the table, please, and to call the doctor. The waiter manages to hang up the phone on Deputy Andy, but doesn’t call the doctor. He gets Cooper to sign the bill for the milk, and Agent Cooper makes sure the bill includes a gratuity. The elderly waiter says he’s heard about Cooper. He gives the agent a thumbs-up and a wink as he’s leaving. After a second thumbs-up, Cooper returns the gesture. Then the old man comes back and does it again.
  • Keep in mind that Agent Cooper has been shot and is lying on the hotel room floor during this exchange.
  • Then the GIANT appears in the room. It’s Mr. Homn. Okay, it’s not Mr. Homn. It’s the Dutch actor Carel Struycken, who appeared as Mr. Homn, Lwaxana Troi’s manservant in various Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes between 1987 and 1992. He also played the new Lurch in the Addams Family reboot. Which is quite a coincidence since the original Lurch, Ted Cassidy, made several appearances on the orginal Star Trek series. It’s the circle of life.
  • The Giant materializes in the room, ghost-like. He says: “I will tell you three things. If I tell them to you and they come true, then will you believe me?”
  • Agent Cooper asks, “Who’s that?” “Think of me as a friend,” the Giant says. “Where do you come from?” Cooper asks.
  • The Giant responds, cryptically: “The question is: Where have you gone? The first thing I will tell you is, there’s a man in a smiling bag . . . The second is, the owls are not what they seem . . . The third thing is, without chemicals, he points.”
  • The Giant says this is all he is permitted to say. He then asks for Agent Cooper’s ring and says he’ll return it to him when he finds these things to be true. He removes the ring from Agent Cooper’s left pinkie.
  • I never noticed that Cooper wore a pinkie ring before this scene. That doesn’t mean he didn’t. I’m not that observant.
  • The Giant says: “We want to help you.” Agent Cooper asks: “Who’s we?”
  • “One last thing . . .” The Giant says. “Leo locked inside a hungry horse: there’s a clue at Leo’s house. You will require medical attention.” Then, the Giant vanishes.
  • This first scene takes a full eleven minutes. It’s a double-sized episode, like the pilot, so some things are allowed to drag out a little longer.
  • After my disappointment with the finale of Season One, all of this new stuff with the Giant and more riddles comes across as so much smoke and mirrors. My experience with later series, such as Lost and Alias, has left me a little jaded. It has become more difficult to make me mistake surreal nonsense for some sort of depth. We didn’t get answers to all of the mysteries from the first season, so we’re being bombarded with more Mystery Boxes to keep us from thinking too much.
  • We cut to: One Eyed Jacks, across the border. BENJAMIN HORNE is entering the room where AUDREY HORNE awaits. Ben doesn’t know that it’s his own daughter hiding in the bed behind the curtain, slapping at his hand. That doesn’t make this scene any less icky.
  • Elsewhere in the brothel, JERRY HORNE asks the madam BLACKIE O’REILLY which room Ben is in. She tells him “the little flower room.” Then she asks Jerry why Ben is holding out on her.
  • Jerry asks: “Who’s holding out on who?” He tilts the lampshade to get a closer look at Blackie. She looks a little haggard. Jerry tells her that she used to be so pretty. Jerry gives her some drugs and then leaves. Blackie takes a rubber tourniquet hose out. She plans to inject the heroin or cocaine that Jerry gave her.
  • Back to the little flower room. Audrey tells her father, through the curtain, that she thinks he should go now. “Do you, Prudence?” Benjamin Horne says. I’m not sure when her name became “Prudence.” She tried to pass herself off as Hester Prynne last season.
  • Benjamin Horne continues puffing his fat-cat cigar while he pretends to leave the room. Then, he rushes back and opens the curtains on the bed. Audrey has covered her face with a mask that had been a convenient decoration on the wall.
  • Jerry Horne finally makes it to the room and tells his brother than they’ve hit a snag. Benjamin leaves, but tells the masked Audrey that he’ll make some rules for her next time. She has intrigued her father.
  • Again, ick.
  • Cut to: the Great Northern Hotel. Agent Cooper is still lying on the floor, still not dead. Hoping he inadvertently hit the voice activation button on his mini-cassette recorder, he begins dictating a message to DIANE. Of course, obeying Cooper’s Zen laws of the universe, he did. He delivers a monlogue about things he would like to do. These include: climb a tall hill, sit in the cool grass, and feel the sun on his face; solve the Lindburgh kidnapping case; make love with a woman who he feels genuine affection for; and, visit Tibet.
  • As he concludes his message, Cooper notices his ring is missing.
  • SHERIFF HARRY S. TRUMAN, DEPUTY HAWK, and Deputy Andy show up at the open doorway to Agent Cooper’s hotel room. Cooper says: “Ah. They’re here.”
  • Cut to: Calhoun Memorial Hospital. Agent Cooper is lying on a table instead of a floor now. Sheriff Harry, LUCY MORAN and DR. WILL HAYWARD are looking down at him. Agent Cooper explains that he had lifted the bottom of his bulletproof vest to scratch at a wood tick. He was shot three times at point-blank range.
  • Dr. Hayward shows Cooper the slug he pulled out of him. There’s a dead wood tick on the end of it. Two of the gunshots struck the vest. The third went in only because Cooper had lifted the bottom of the vest.
  • Sheriff Harry asks him if he got a good look at the gunman. All Cooper can tell him is that his assailant had a masked face, then he saw the muzzle flash. The sheriff tells Lucy to bring the agent up-to-speed about what’s been going on.
  • Lucy tells him: LEO JOHNSON was shot; JACQUES RENAULT was strangled; the mill burned; SHELLY JOHNSON and PETE MARTELL both suffered smoke inhalation; CATHERINE MARTELL and JOSIE PACKARD are both missing; and, NADINE HURLEY is in a coma.
  • Agent Cooper asks: “How long have I been out?”
  • Dr. Hayward says: “It’s 7:45 a.m. We haven’t had this much action in one night since the Elks Club fire of ’59.”
  • Cooper tells the sheriff that they’re going to need a search warrant for Leo Johnson’s house (since when?). Sheriff Harry says there’s no need. Leo was shot in his own living room, which makes it a crime scene. Lucy interjects that “Deputy Brennan” found him. The way she says Andy’s name suggests that the two are still having a tiff.
  • Agent Cooper decides to leave the hospital against Dr. Hayward’s professional advice. Cooper is a superhero Zen detective, you have to remember.
  • Cut to: Packard Sawmill. A slow pan of burned wreckage that’s obviously a model.
  • Cut back to: Calhoun Memorial Hospital. Shelly Johnson is in her own hospital bed, while a news report about the mill fire plays on the television. Shelly is on a respirator. Quick aside: writer Mark Frost is playing the television reporter. Shelly calls out for BOBBY BRIGGS, her lover.
  • As Agent Cooper, Sheriff Harry, Dr. Will Hayward and Lucy Moran walk down the hospital hallway, Dr. Hayward reminds Agent Cooper that he has two busted ribs, messed up cartilege and “who knows what else is wrong in there?” Not the doctor, apparently. They all see Jacques Renault being wheeled out in a body bag. Agent Cooper asks the others if that body bag is “smiling.”
  • Meanwhile, RONETTE PULASKI is stirring in her coma. It seems my prediction from last season was correct. Will there be a dramatic reawakening? All signs point to “Yes.”
  • Over at the Palmer House, MADDY FERGUSON is drinking coffee with SARAH PALMER. Hey, everyone, Sarah’s back. She’s not in every episode. Sarah asks Maddy if she’s missing her own mom. Apropos of nothing, Maddy says she had a dream about the rug on the floor under them. Sarah asks if Laura was in it. Then LELAND PALMER comes in, singing, in a chipper mood. He just murdered Jacques Renault, you may recall. Leland’s hair has turned snow-white.
  • As if all of this wasn’t weird enough, Maddy begins to imagine a stain on the rug that is quite possibly body-shaped.
  • At the Great Northern Hotel, we get a Ben and Jerry Horne in the office scene. Ben goes over their agenda. They need a location on Catherine Martell; they want to keep their distance but make sure she’s ready to take the fall for the mill fire. Also, they need a complete medical prognosis on Leo Johnson, who is not dead, and an explanation from HANK JENNINGS about why Leo isn’t dead, as planned.
  • Leland Palmer comes into the office, still singing. Both Ben and Jerry Horne begin to dance while he sings. Weird.
  • Cut to: the Johnson House crime scene. Agent Cooper reconstructs the scene. Leo Johnson was attacking someone with an ax and then was shot from outside the window. Deputy Hawk finds another copy of Flesh World magazine. No cocaine, but he also found Leo’s duster in the truck, and it reeks of gasoline. It’s easy to make the connection to the mill arson.
  • AGENT ALBERT ROSENFELD and his team arrive again. Deputy Andy, flustered, steps on a loose porch board and smacks himself in the face. Andy has knocked himself even more senseless than usual. Agent Rosenfeld taunts him until Agent Cooper and Sheriff Harry find a new pair of boots and a lot of cocaine under the loose board that Deputy Andy “discovered.”
  • With this new “development” in the case—which case? Are we still investigating the murder of Laura Palmer?—we’ll draw the curtain on part one of this season premiere review.

I feel a little apprehensive going into this new season. I’m convinced that our answer to dangling plot threads is going to be to keep making things more complicated in the hopes that the viewer won’t notice.

I know I keep comparing this show to Lost and X-Files, but feel I should point out that neither of those series were in existence yet. The comparisons are no less valid, but it becomes a “chicken-or-the-egg” discussion. Twin Peaks is always referred to as an influential series in everything I’ve read about it before now, and I’m beginning to understand the scope of that. This series even predates the movie Fargo by six years or so, and I could make the case that the movie’s tone may have been influenced by this show. Not to mention The Big Lebowski.

None of which keeps me from being slightly frustrated with the show at the moment.

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