Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): Heidi (TWIN PEAKS Character Series #78)

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Heidi (TWIN PEAKS Character Series #78)


The TWIN PEAKS Character Series surveys eighty-two characters from the series Twin Peaks (1990-91) and the film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992) as well as The Missing Pieces (2014), a collection of deleted scenes from that film. A new character study will appear every weekday morning until the premiere of Showtime's new season of Twin Peaks on May 21, 2017. There will be spoilers for the original series and film.

Heidi is often in awkward situations, and her standard response to this awkwardness is to giggle.


Friday, February 17, 1989
Heidi, a waitress at the RR Diner, never moves for several minutes. She is seated in a booth, head tilted up with a red-soaked Kleenex to her nose. As a result she can’t help a volunteer deliver Meals on Wheels. As her co-workers chat, Heidi doesn’t speak. Finally her boss Norma places her hand on Heidi’s shoulder sympathetically and Heidi bursts into giggles. There’s an uneasiness in the air and as the cook observes from the kitchen, “Kinda quiet in here.”

Friday, February 24, 1989
A week later, on a gloomy morning, Heidi pulls up late for work. Her co-worker Shelly teases her, implying that Heidi was too busy having sex with her boyfriend, despite her excuse that the car wouldn’t start. When pressed, she giggles.

Monday, March 27, 1989
A month later, Heidi shows up late again. And Shelly says…well, in fact, their exchange is line-for-line the same as the earlier one, even punctuated by the same teenager sitting at the counter commenting, “I thought you Germans were always on time.” Heidi giggles her way into the kitchen and disappears…for now.

Characters Heidi interacts with onscreen…

Norma Jennings

Shelly Johnson

Bobby Briggs

Impressions of TWIN PEAKS through Heidi
For the first time in these character studies, we visit a location other than the Great Northern. But the RR Diner is also a public place through which many people pass. As with most of the previous characters, Heidi serves as a peripheral presence to other dramas; this is especially true in her Fire Walk With Me deleted scene, in which a tense moment unfolds between Nadine, Ed, and Norma as Heidi nurses her bloody nose in the background. Thanks to her brief appearance in the prequel film, Heidi also offers the first opportunity in this series to glimpse the movie version of Twin Peaks which seems both starker (the sequence is mostly shot from a wide lens at a very high angle, emphasizing the emptiness of the diner as opposed to the bustling medium shots of the series) and sunnier (the establishing shot of the RR, and even the light filtering inside, betrays that the film was shot in summer while the pilot was shot in winter, even though it’s supposed to be only a few days earlier). The constant giggling and weird repetition of Heidi’s pilot dialogue in the finale, plus the heightened awkwardness of the deleted scene from the film (a few shots of which made their way into the movie), emphasize what a Lynchian character Heidi is. Indeed, she’s really the first truly Lynchian figure we’ve encountered in these character studies (although the focus of our first entry, Julie, was also directed by Lynch, she seemed much more normal). Finally, maybe most importantly, Heidi’s presence in the prequel gives us our first fleeting glimpse of Laura. Preparing her tray for Meals on Wheels, Laura silently walks past Heidi on her way out the door, an appropriately fast look at a character who will slowly emerge as this series continues, until we met her herself.

Heidi’s journey
Well, it’s hard to talk about Heidi having a character arc since (on the show at least) she ends up literally right where she started! She does get to do something slightly different in the prequel movie, to the extent she "does" anything at all in that scene. (Incidentally, discussions of the film will complicate our analysis: in-world these scenes take place before the series, but since they were created afterwards they demonstrate the writers’ evolving perceptions of the characters). It’s fair to say, even in a universe that likes to return characters to their origins, none has a more circular journey than Heidi.

Actress: Andrea Hays
Hays appeared in several films throughout the nineties (and was apparently a bar patron in Footloose though I couldn't spot her). She also played a variety of roles behind the camera, including costume designer, makeup, art department, and more (IMDb lists ten different positions). (no shots of Hays from outside her performance were available, so this altered still - discovered in a kind of Google limbo - will have to do - updated 3/11)

Episodes
The Pilot

*Episode 29 (German title: "Beyond Life and Death" - best episode)

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (feature film)

Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces (collection of deleted scenes from the film)

Writers/Directors
Heidi’s appearance in the pilot is completely scripted by Mark Frost and David Lynch – she is described as “a hefty German girl” and “bubby, easily embarrassed.” However, she was not written into the finale (the entire diner scene was improvised by Lynch, who didn’t receive any screenwriting credit for the episode) or even the available online draft of the film’s screenplay, which Lynch himself co-wrote. His pattern seems to have been to add her later. In the finale, she is one of close to a dozen characters from earlier episodes whom Lynch decided to bring back. The gap between her two appearances is by far the longest in the entire series. She is only ever directed by David Lynch.

Statistics
Heidi is onscreen for roughly four minutes. She is in three scenes and two episodes (plus the feature film and its deleted scenes collection), taking place in three days (spread out over more than a month). She’s featured the most in Fire Walk With Me/The Missing Pieces, when she nurses the bloody nose (on the show, she’s in the pilot slightly more than the finale). All of her scenes are set in the RR Diner. She appears to share the most screentime with either Norma or Shelly.

Best Scene
Episode 29: Already humorous dialogue is given an extra zing by an eerie sense of déjà vu.

Best Line
“I couldn’t get my car started.” (come to think of it…this is her only line)

Additional Observations

• Surprise! Heidi drives a Volkswagon.

• Heidi’s appearance is remarkably similar in her two TV episodes – coat, gloves, watch, even ring look the same (though she has a backpack in the pilot). But one notable detail is off: in the finale, she wears a badge/pin on her breast with a picture on the front. It looks like a classical portrait though I can’t quite make out of who, let alone its significance.

• Heidi is right on the borderline of qualifying for these studies, since my rule was “must speak in three scenes.” Heidi is in three scenes, but she only giggles in one of them. I’m counting it since giggling is her primary form of verbal communication. Plus the series wouldn’t feel right without her!


SHOWTIME: Yes, Hays is on the cast list for 2017. Considering that Lynch cut most major characters from the prequel, but still found a place for the giggling German, it would have been a shocker if he didn’t bring her back one more time. I imagine we’ll see her still working at the RR, although perhaps she’s up to something else with her “old man” these days. I don’t think Heidi will repeat her infamous dialogue a third time, but I do think she’ll giggle.

Tomorrow: Nancy O'Reilly
Yesterday: Randy St. Croix

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