Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): TWIN PEAKS First Time Viewer Companion: S2E3 "The Man Behind Glass"

Monday, September 10, 2018

TWIN PEAKS First Time Viewer Companion: S2E3 "The Man Behind Glass"


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 really a pretty good episode. The fact that it's probably one of the weakest so far (I might place only the second episode lower, and many would disagree with even that ranking) says more about the strength of what we've seen than the flaws of this one. Besides, what's good is often even better than the bulk of season one: the otherworldly, menacing flavor is much more menacing now and Laura feels like an acute haunting spirit instead of just a plot device. The drawbacks are in the subplots, which really get going: Nadine waking from her coma, Dick's date with Lucy, Audrey drugged and held hostage (which gets so much screentime in these episodes, it's arguably the main plot, not a "sub"). There are two problems I see with these storylines, already apparent at this early stage: they don't really seem to go anywhere (even Audrey's "high stakes" situation lacks real bite), and they are clearly not attached to the show's core premise. More on that in coming episodes.

For me, the episode's greatest success story is the Donna-Harold connection. I find their interaction extremely compelling because it contains the spark of mystery some other areas lack, and it's deeply rooted in the questions of the pilot: who is this girl Laura Palmer, what did loved ones misunderstand about her life, and what impact does her outsize legacy have on the people left behind? Both Donna as a character and Lara Flynn Boyle as an actress are hardly fan favorites. The latter is resented for several behind-the-scenes reasons; the big one involves an aspect that hasn't come into play yet (so I won't speak on it), but another story is that she approached the show's creators and demand a more overtly sexy, edgy character than the mousy girl outshone by Audrey and Shelly in season one. Hence her uncharacteristic about-face in the season two premiere. Maybe so, but I think this shift is actually a welcome change for the character and one that this episode makes perfect sense of. Donna is frightened by the things she's learned about Laura, and as a confused, grieving, growing 17-year-old she is both liberated and terrified by the prospect of coming out from her friend's shadow. This is a much more interesting character than the purely naive good girl of the first few episodes, and I for one think Boyle makes the most of it (especially in a scene that gets a lot of crap: when she talks with her dead friend in the cemetery). More than any other episode (except perhaps the one two episodes from now) this is her moment to shine.


Next: "Laura's Secret Diary" • Previous: "Coma"


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 covering Laura's story up to this episode, from 2014 (contains spoilers for two classic films: VERTIGO & LAURA):




The comments section below may contain spoilers.

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