10 Best TV Episodes of 2017: Scott Tobias on “Twin Peaks”

This year, we asked 10 screenwriters to choose some of their favorite TV episodes from 2017 and explain why they were great standalone eps and the highlights of our year of viewing. Today: Scott Tobias on Twin peaks: The returnis magnificent, apocalyptic “Episode 8.”

Cut to black.


July 16, 1945.
White Sands, New Mexico
5:29 am MWT

How did we get here? This is the first question – or maybe the second, after “WTF ?! and a period of prolonged hypnosis – which comes to mind as the desert lights up with a brilliant flash and a mushroom cloud. The earth trembles and ripples as if a huge stone had been thrown into a pond. How is Twin Peaks: the return, a revival of David Lynch and the Mark Frost series which changed television in 1990 and caught fire with the 1992 feature film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, come back for a revival 25 years later? How does the simple question of “Who killed Laura Palmer?” , A teenage girl from a tight-knit community in the Pacific Northwest, suggested an answer that would get us so far, like a surreal phone game? And even given the boldness of the Showtime version, which spent a full two and a half minutes on a man sweeping the floor of an Angelo Badalamenti music-themed bar, how did we come up with the first bang? of a nuclear weapon?

Landing in the exact middle of a 16-episode season, Twin Peaks: the returnThe eighth installment of – titled simply “Part 8” – was one of those rare cultural moments that you’ll remember where you were when you watched it. This was also true of the pilot of the original series, a clever fusion of thriller and nighttime drama, but with an heightened atmosphere and emotion that was unlike anything else on television. There is a bait-and-change quality to both phases of the series, in that Lynch revolves around popular vanity and then takes it in a singularly bizarre direction – it doesn’t start out as an anomaly but bECOMES a. The same forces that brought about a cynical enterprise like, say, a Full house The Netflix Revival explains how “Part 8” unfolds: an endless desire for nostalgia projects, plunged into the hungry bigmouth of niche television. That Lynch proposed several different Kyle MacLachlan characters before finally bringing Dale Cooper back at the last possible moment is just an indication of how little he cared about touring. Twin peaks 2.0 around like a Baby Boomer arena act.

Ahead of “Part 8,” Lynch at least got viewers to let go of their preconceptions about what the show could be. On the one hand, the town of Twin Peaks itself was not even the primary setting, but rather a heavenly traffic sign for transmissions from other locations: a grisly murder at an apartment in Buckhorn, Dakota. from South ; a strange glass box in a warehouse in New York; a casino in Las Vegas, where a “Mr. Jackpots” marked the looser slot machines in town. Then came the third episode, which took place mostly in a metaphysical tower above a crimson sea, lying somewhere between the Black Lodge and Lynch’s grotesque, post-industrial abstraction. Eraser. The director’s habit is to make us accept the internal logic of a nightmarish conspiracy, then to push further.

The best explanation for “Part 8” is that this is an origin story – both for Twin peaks himself and for Pandora’s Box which was opened this morning at White Sands, unleashing all the evils in the world forever. As Lynch’s camera zooms slowly inside the mushroom cloud to the sound of howling violins, the violent swirls of light, flickering flames, and tiny pops of color are reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick’s famous “Star Gate” sequence. . 2001: A Space Odyssey, which sends Keir Dullea’s astronaut into a monolith and suggests a glimpse into the origins of life itself. But this nuclear explosion seems just as related to the “Dawn of Man” section of 2001, which ends when the apes discover weapons and make that evolutionary leap towards humanity.

Twin peakThe co-creator of and Kubrick are not often associated, but they have the same idea of ​​violence and destruction as our characteristic traits, and “Part 8” could be seen as a continuation of 2001 in this regard – from “the dawn of man” to the sunset of the trial of the Trinity. Lynch’s films often deal with the conflict between good and evil, but there was always hope that his characters could cross the flame (see: MacLachlan and Laura Dern in Blue velvet, Nicolas Cage and Dern again in The heart that is in Desert). None of this optimism is present in “Part 8”: The story of Laura Palmer and her killer “Bob” appears in a strange vision of predestination, as two orbs pass through a pneumatic tube, reminiscent of the levers pulled by The Man in the Planet in Eraser head. And when the camera crosses the atomic flame, a photo-negative of American hell awaits on the other side.

The small town that closes “Part 8” has the idealized quality of Twin Peaks or Lumberton, North Carolina, but is surrounded by darkness that only we can see, as if we are looking at a crystal ball. We know he’s overcome with terror, mainly in the form of a soot-covered “Woodsman” with a cigarette on his lips (“Do you have fire?”) And a message of doom that he crushes two heads in. a radio station to deliver. But the most haunting moment in the episode – and perhaps the entire series – comes when two teenagers are walking around. The girl sees a penny on the ground. “It’s heads-up! “, she says. “It means it’s luck.” Walking around in a Creole skirt, accepting a chaste kiss outside her house, she can only soak up the sweetness of the evening – “the end of the day / in a dream that is divine”, to quote the song. Platters who perfume the air. She doesn’t know what’s coming. And a lucky penny won’t save her.

(By the way, “Part 8” also includes an entire performance of Nine Inch Nails. It’s by far the most conventional scene in the episode.)

Previously: I like the cock, “A short story of strange girls”
Following: Horseman Bojack, “The arrow of time”

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