Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): TWIN PEAKS First Time Viewer Companion: S1E2 "Traces to Nowhere"

Monday, September 10, 2018

TWIN PEAKS First Time Viewer Companion: S1E2 "Traces to Nowhere"


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. (This is referred to as "Episode 1" in some places, including the DVD/blu-ray, but is "S1E2" on Netflix.)

This was the first episode of Twin Peaks I ever saw. Back in 2006, I rented this DVD from Netflix (almost 10 years to the day - just checked my DVD history, out of curiosity!). At the time the pilot was not available except on VHS (and only with the alternate ending) or via an import disc, I think. I didn't know this at first, and was slightly confused as the story started unfolding in medias res. I was also confused why the episode wasn't directed by Lynch and felt, well...kinda like an ordinary early 90s TV show. Obviously there were unusual touches but I remember during the Bobby-Mike jail scene in particular thinking "this just seems pretty soap opera-y". I wondered if it would be worth continuing to watch.

And then came that scene in the Palmer living room.

I've already written about that enough times elsewhere (including in links I'll provide below) but suffice to say that was the first moment (of many) that hooked me. The shot of the long-haired guy crouching in...well, who knows where or when exactly...doesn't work for me anymore as a jumpscare. But at the time it hit me as hard as that diner scene in Mulholland Drive.

Today, watching this episode for what must be at least the tenth time, I'm mostly struck by how much it needs the pilot, but also how much it's able to redirect the weird energies of that feature-length premiere and start to channel them in productive directions. It's also interesting that while this is the first episode shot on sets and Southern Californian exteriors (welcome to Twin Peaks-in-Malibu), it doesn't quite explore these surroundings yet. Maybe director Duwayne Dunham was nervous that if he focused too much on the decor, viewers would pick up that this was no longer woodsy Washington. But later directors will be less nervous about that discrepancy and the show will be stronger for it. For now, the emphasis seems to be on solidifying the characters and narrative threads for the sake of future episodes. In some cases (especially with haircuts!) this involves some twists and leaps. My favorite retcon is Big Ed claiming that he was "out on his feet" before the two teenagers knocked him out, due to being drugged. Sure, Ed, sure...




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


More for first-time viewers (SPOILER-FREE)
(but be careful of image/link recommendations at the end of Tumblr posts)

+ My original episode guide for this episode, from 2008

+ My essay accompanying my ranking of this episode (#17), from 2015


For those who've already seen the full series & film
(SPOILERS IN THE FOLLOWING LINKS)

+ My dugpa comment on this episode, from 2015

The comments section below may contain spoilers.

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