Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): TWIN PEAKS First Time Viewer Companion: S2E16 "The Condemned Woman"

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

TWIN PEAKS First Time Viewer Companion: S2E16 "The Condemned Woman"


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.

Undoubtedly an improvement on the previous two, this episode seems clearer and more subtly polished. However, it suffers in its spot. On any rewatch, apparently even this one where I've been enjoying the mid-season more than usual, I'm tired of the Josie plot by now. I'm tired of seeing Cooper in plaid shirts, I'm tired of the endless dragging-out of the James-Evelyn scenario (down to just one scene, without the Marshes, but still draining even to reference), and sadly I'm even tired of the new things the show has brought to bear: Windom Ealre has already descended into irritating clowning and pointless "threatening" gestures, and John Justice Wheeler can hop right on his jet and fly back out of town as far as I'm concerned.

That's harsh, but people tend to place the show's comeback in one of three places: this episode, the next one, or the one after. I'm a next-episode kinda guy (despite some big hiccups: can anyone say pine weasel?). And it's not just a hangover; this episode has some problems of its own. That ending? For many, Bob and Little Mike appearing on the bed is a huge relief. Finally, they're back! But the first time I watched the show, I hated this scene. Bob wasn't scary at all and the Little Man just looked foolish up there. My favorite elements of the series so far had been reduced to non sequiturs, and it seemed as if Twin Peaks was trying WAY too hard to be Peaks-ian. And the drawer pull? I'm bemused by its idiosyncrasy - and I very much like some of the threads we can spin from it - but its effect is all intellectual, not visceral as with other Lynch touches (probably because he didn't direct it himself, although he DID suggest it as a way to keep Josie in play for future seasons even as Joan Chen left the show).

Repeat viewings diminished my disappointment (at times), and occasionally I was even able to see this as an underrated accomplishment. This time I was more down the middle. I like some things (the actors who play Andrew and Thomas are quite fun to watch) more than others (Windom's torment of Leo feels so tired to me). I'm ready for the thaw to begin so that a youthful springtime energy can take over from Josie's grim, baroque denouement.




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


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

+ My "Journey Through Twin Peaks" chapter on this episode, from 2014:



The comments section below may contain spoilers.

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