Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): TWIN PEAKS First Time Viewer Companion: The Missing Pieces

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

TWIN PEAKS First Time Viewer Companion: The Missing Pieces


These short Twin Peaks episode responses are spoiler-free for upcoming episodes, presented here for first-time viewers who want to read a veteran viewer's perspective on each entry while remaining in the dark about what's to come. They were first published as comments on a Reddit rewatch in 2016.

The Missing Pieces: only in Twin Peaks would there be so much fuss over deleted scenes! Of course, they feel like much more than that. The polish Lynch put on these is astounding when you think about it. Not only are they color-corrected and mixed, there is actually intricate sound design at work in some places and the scenes are stitched together to give them a flow that makes this collection feel almost like its own movie.

This is (until season three) the only part of Twin Peaks that I was "present" for the release of. (I was only 6 when TP debuted, and although I was following film releases enthusiastically by 1992, I don't remember FWWM hitting theaters at all.) It's obviously anecdotal but it seemed to me that even in the months leading up to the Missing Pieces the general response to FWWM leaned negative, with its boosters making a passionate but defensive case. And then after this release, the momentum subtly shifted. I think in a way they "legitimized" the movie as if to say, 22 years later FWWM is so important that scenes cut from the movie can become the hyped centerpiece of a box set for the hit TV show. The idea of packaging the film as an essential part of "the entire mystery" also helped greatly.

The scenes themselves I don't think had the impact many expected - it was more that indirect effect that mattered. Fans love watching them, but they remain interesting fragments, tidbits, and hints, not "solutions" that fit the puzzle together much more clearly. I've heard people say the Bowie or convenience store scenes "make more sense" in their extended versions but I don't get that really. I think they still seem fairly cryptic and enigmatic (which I like).

The only scene which really feels like it fills in something of a blank is the one in the Hayward living room. It has the touching angel foreshadowing, it actually explains "I am the muffin!", and it even plants the seeds for something that was in the script but which the Missing Pieces don't even restore (a tilt down from James' motorcycle as it zooms away to reveal Doc's red rose lying at the intersection). Most of all, though, the scene provides something essential: the only place in all of Twin Peaks that Laura interacts with several members of the community (her meetings with Bobby and James are one on one/personal and she barely interacts with Shelly and Norma). We get one more glimpse of this at the end where she briefly speaks to the Briggs but for the most part this is the only place where we see two of Twin Peaks' core strands (the community and Laura) intersect.

For me that was enough to make the Missing Pieces kinda revolutionary: they opened my eyes to the relationship between the movie and show, which had previously seemed like almost totally separate entities. This conception of a "total" Twin Peaks (facilitated by the Entire Mystery packaging too) set me on the course to make my Journey Through Twin Peaks videos and also prepared me mentally for the idea that Twin Peaks could return and continue from both these strands.

I really don't get the idea of a fanedit. I mean, I get it conceptually - I've been stitching together some parts of Twin Peaks for my own purposes in recent months. But I don't get the desire to present this exercise as the "official" or "complete" FWWM. Even in the screenplay, these scenes don't really gel with the Laura narrative and as presented on the blu-ray they feel even further apart. They are quiet, sparsely scored, composed largely of long takes and master shots, and generally feel cut from a different aesthetic cloth - 2014 Lynch rather than 1992 Lynch/Mary Sweeney (who edited FWWM). I think it's good to watch them as part of the saga, but not intertwined with the movie this way, as they can only dilute its power.

That said, they also make a weird afterward/set of footnotes, a bit of an anticlimax after the intense FWWM. I think this may be the first time I've watched them after the film on a full-series watch-through; usually I prefer to place them between finale and film as a gateway between the two worlds. That just flows better for me, building up a crescendo while allowing me to mentally segue from the bustling world of Twin Peaks to the stark horizon of FWWM, offering glimpses/teases of Deer Meadow, the Palmer household, even a few more annotations to the finale, before settling in for a subjective look at Twin Peaks' dark heart. I wouldn't advise this for a first viewing - I think newbies generally find it too confusing/distracting because they know they are watching extracts from a film they haven't seen yet. But for veteran viewers, I say definitely give this method a try on your next rewatch. It's like a collection of short stories circling around the subject of a great novel - or to use one of my favorite analogies for the series, the Missing Pieces allow you to gradually approach the center of a whirlpool before getting sucked right into the vortex.




Want more? Here's my other coverage of the episode:


More for first-time viewers (SPOILER-FREE for season 3)
(but be careful of video recommendations at the end of YouTube videos)

+ My "Journey Through Twin Peaks" chapter on the deleted scenes, from 2015:



The comments section below may contain spoilers for season 3.

No comments: