Twin Peaks Reaches the Peak of Season 1

Kevin Mooseles | 1 Jan 2015 09:00
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Twin Peaks ramps up the drama in the season 1 finale, "The Last Evening."

We're re-watching the classic David Lynch series Twin Peaks before it returns to television on Showtime in 2016. Want to join us? The entire series is available on Netflix (or Amazon, if you'd prefer high-definition Blu-rays), and then catch up on our reviews. Now, on to this week's review of the finale of season 1, "The Last Evening."

This episode seems to open on a beautiful beach scene, but as with many places, people, and situations presented so far in the series, appearances aren't everything. In fact, the "beach" is a poster at Dr. Jacoby's place, and may be the only truly serene moment left in this season. It seems like a very deliberate bait and switch tactic, and I think it may be a nod to the way that the show itself is full of reassuringly beautiful scenery, likable characters, and a slow-paced development of various plots. That setup has been tampered with throughout the season, the heat has been gradually turned up, and events have truly reached a boiling point. The next hour is one hell of a ride.

As Donna and James snoop around looking for Laura's missing tape, Dr. Jacoby investigates the gazebo near his house and sees "Laura" (Maddy in a blonde wig) waiting in the dark. Just at that moment, he is attacked by a man in dark clothes and a ski mask, who beats the doctor repeatedly, then leaves as James and Donna show up, just a few yards away. The camera fades to the next scene as Dr. Jacoby takes what is presumed to be his dying breath.

So far, in Twin Peaks only two people have been murdered: Laura Palmer (of course), and Jacques Renault's brother (who only had a cameo in one episode and was killed by Leo). Death is not exactly a regular occurrence in this beautiful mountain least not so far, but about five minutes into the hour, the audience is shown how quickly things can change.

Meanwhile, at One Eyed Jack's, Cooper is playing blackjack with Jacques Renault dealing. Cooper invites him to have a drink, and then pretends to be the bank for Leo Johnson's cocaine ring: he tempts Jacques to come back to the US with the promise of a job and a big payday. Jacques takes the bait. But in the course of their conversation, Cooper gets him to explain the poker chip with a bite taken out of it (which was found in Laura's stomach) -- and Jacques' explanation of what happened that night adds yet another bright red arrow pointed directly to Leo Johnson as the prime suspect.

Then again, there is the issue of Bob to consider. By conventional murder mystery standards, the real killer would be revealed as one of the characters followed throughout the story. Part of the formula to a successful mystery is to allow the audience to guess at the guilt of characters for themselves as the story is told, so if you don't present the real killer to the audience as a character early on, the audience has no chance to establish a connection and be proven right, or taken by surprise by their own judgment. This is murder-mystery 101.

David Lynch and Mark Frost turned that standard upside down through Bob. Bob is introduced early on as "the killer": his piercing eyes, long grey hair and disturbing smile are shown in full light (even though it is in visions). The catch is that Bob is nowhere to be seen in all of the various storylines taking place. He removes the mystery from conventional standards, seeming to be an incarnate spoiler, but is himself removed from the character roster, allowing the townsfolk of Twin Peaks (and the audience, if we forget about Bob) to operate as though this were a more classic "whodunit". Through that filter, all evidence is pointing towards Leo. And the paradox of Bob should be left alone (for now).

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