Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): TWIN PEAKS First Time Viewer Companion: S2E4 "Laura's Secret Diary"

Monday, September 10, 2018

TWIN PEAKS First Time Viewer Companion: S2E4 "Laura's Secret Diary"


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.

Ok, this one is definitely flawed. In fact, I think it's hard to argue with this as the most lightweight episode so far, other than the brilliant opening shot. It has an interesting backstory: Jerry Stahl, the heroin-addicted hipster screenwriter (whose memoir was later turned into the Ben Stiller film Permanent Midnight) was hired to pen the script but it turned into a disaster. Apparently he shot up in between script meetings and later turned in a blood-covered draft. Mark Frost described this teleplay as incoherent, threw it out, and got to work with Harley Peyton and Bob Engels rewriting the whole thing. It was directed by Todd Holland, an enthusiastic twentysomething fresh off the Fred Savage Nintendo movie The Wizard, and he came up with many of the visual flourishes which enliven an otherwise kinda underwhelming story. Around the time this episode aired, columnists were writing about how baffled viewers, who had maybe missed a few episodes, tuned in and asked, "Why should I care who killed Laura Palmer when nobody on the show seems to care anymore?"

It's notable how "TV" this feels: like the kind of show where you tune in weekly to check up on the character's wacky shenanigans. The MT Wentz-is-coming-to-town gimmick may be the best example of this kind of episodic mentality at work. Part of the reason I'm so fascinated with Twin Peaks is its ups and downs. By now, I'm more intrigued than offended that it can find time for Andy's goofy travails or even the Nickelodeon-style exaggerated acting of Louie, Ben's enthusiastic young concierge. That this type of show can co-exist with the brazen surrealism or realistic textures of past episodes and upcoming entries is so bewildering. The episode is also doing stealth work, attempting to build an audience for mostly non-Laura related stories, since Mark Frost very much wanted the show to move past that mystery and into a more sustainable model of week-to-week storytelling. I'd argue this ran against the grain of why the show captured viewers in the first place: yes, the quirky atmosphere was absorbing, but everything was also charged with a real sense of purpose.

Nonetheless, this twice-a-week viewing, for the Reddit rewatch, has had an interesting effect on my perception of the show. Maybe I've just seen season one too many times, but I'm enjoying the relaxed, even trivial shallows of season two more than usual (in addition to the high points, which I've always celebrated as better than the best of season one). This is the closest I've come to watching the show as it originally aired, at a leisurely pace, and it's making me appreciate that "checking in on your friends" quality more and pay attention to the "one big story being told over multiple chapters" quality less.




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


More for first-time viewers (SPOILER-FREE)



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

The comments section below may contain spoilers.

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