Lost in the Movies: Twin Peaks: Cooper's Dreams

Twin Peaks: Cooper's Dreams

("Twin Peaks" reviews start here)

directed by Lesli Linka Glatter
written by Mark Frost

"They move so slowly when they're not afraid."

The good news is that Cooper's back on track. He's not quite the infectiously weird oddball that David Lynch coaxes out of Kyle MacLachlan, but he does appear more self-assured and delightfully spacey than the previous two episodes, in which the FBI agent seemed to be suffering from depression. No more morose Cooper, at least for the time being. However, if fellow AFI alum Lesli Linka Glatter improves on the last episode's director, Tim Hunter, in terms of Cooper, she does not approach his grasp of the show's unique mood. Sadly, the sense of mystery and the offbeat flavor of episode 4 is gone in episode 5.

Notably, it's the first time since episode 2 that either of the creators are at the helm. David Lynch is nowhere to be seen but Mark Frost wrote the teleplay here and it's interesting to see where he takes the show when left to his own devices. It confirms some suspicions I had all along: Frost is more interested in playing with TV conventions than exploring mysticism and the occult - although there are some eerie moments interspersed with the cop-show banter and soap opera melodrama. One such moment occurs when Dr. Jacoby is left alone with Bobby and starts needling him about his sexual insecurities around Laura. Glatter isolates their heads in close-ups surrounded by pitch black: though the room was not so dark before the scene intensified, the characters suddenly look as if they're falling into the abyss.

In another affecting passage, Cooper, Hawk, Sheriff Truman, and Doc Hayward (for some unexplained reason he tags along with them all episode) wander through the woods. They've just visited the Log Lady who transmitted, via her eponymous block of wood, a recollection of what happened the night of Laura's death. Glatter, in another rare stylistic flourish (most of the episode is accomplished, but not very noteworthy) cuts to a close-up of a raven's eye, pulling out ominously as Julee Cruise's voice warbles softly in the background, cloaked in a lush orchestration. The posse hears the music and reaches a cabin, laced with red curtains, in which a record is playing endlessly. Cooper is reminded of his dream with the little man ("there's always music in the air") and an ambiance thick with subtle sound design heightens the sense that the characters have suddenly wandered into the realm of dreams, penetrating a hidden reality.

But most of Frost's story leaves the nightmarish dread and creepy sense of unreality out of the mix, choosing to focus on the town's intrigue, ranging from the politico-business (much screen time is given to Ben Horne and his machinations) to the romantic (Norma also features extensively, forced to deal with both Big Ed and recently paroled Hank, who finally unleashes his hinted-at violent side by episode's end). Laura Palmer and her murder hardly factor here, which is why the sequence in the woods registers so strongly. It's the exception that proves the rule.

Also, there seems to be a fundamental difference in Lynch's and Frost's conception of Twin Peaks: Lynch seeks surrealism in the town's surface normality, while Frost revels in the quirk of the community's eccentricities. And I still suspect that Cooper is more Frost's creation (though he does bear certain similarities to Kyle MacLachlan's character in Blue Velvet). Together, the co-creators' contributions strengthen each other. Separated from Lynch's connection to the subconscious, Frost's work is interesting...but there are better "Twin Peaks" episodes than this one.

Next: Twin Peaks: Realization Time (season 1, episode 6)
Previous: Twin Peaks: The One-Armed Man (season 1, episode 4)

For more on Twin Peaks:
Jim Emerson
Keith Phipps, The A.V. Club

On this site:
That gum you like is going to come back in style...
Twin Peaks in context
Twin Peaks (the pilot)
Twin Peaks: Traces to Nowhere
Twin Peaks: Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer
Twin Peaks: Rest in Pain
Twin Peaks: The One-Armed Man
*Twin Peaks: Cooper's Dreams
Twin Peaks: Realization Time
Twin Peaks: The Last Evening
Twin Peaks: May the Giant Be With You
Twin Peaks: Coma
Twin Peaks: The Man Behind Glass
Twin Peaks: Laura's Secret Diary
Twin Peaks: The Orchid's Curse
Twin Peaks: Demons
Twin Peaks: Lonely Souls
Twin Peaks: Drive With a Dead Girl
Twin Peaks: Arbitrary Law
Twin Peaks: Beyond Life and Death

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (the movie)
Critical idiocy vis a vis Fire Walk With Me


Tony Dayoub said...

"Doc Hayward (for some unexplained reason he tags along with them all episode)"

Nepotism. The actor who played him, Warren Frost, is Mark Frost's dad.

Joel Bocko said...

Ha ha...I see.

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