Lost in the Movies: TWIN PEAKS First Time Viewer Companion: S2E19 "Variations on Relations"

TWIN PEAKS First Time Viewer Companion: S2E19 "Variations on Relations"

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 quite a good episode, at least for the second half of the series. In some ways, this is the most quintessential late-s2 episode we'll get. The previous and next episodes are each unusual in their own ways, while the bookend episodes on the far end of them are busy transitioning out of the mid-season slump or transitioning into the finale (which really belongs in its own category). That leaves this one to maintain the course, not doing anything too exceptional, but doing what it does with polish and panache.

Aside from the Gordon-Shelly kiss (one of the classic moments in any episode), there is one aspect that makes this episode stand out: it's the first time Mark Frost has written a script in ten episodes. It's remarkable how "coordinated" the story feels. So many scenes have a puzzle aspect, as characters attempt to solve something (sometimes a literal puzzle). And there are LOTS of characters intersecting, some of whom haven't shared much screentime in the past. I'd go so far as to say no episode has pushed the overlapping-townspeople angle this hard since the Frost-directed season 1 finale. It's a refreshing feeling after an entire season of disconnected, and often fairly inconsequential, plotlines.

That doesn't mean everything's strong but it feels like the writers have committed even to the weak material, instead of treating that stuff like a campy excuse to wallow in trash. I'm not overjoyed to see the Milfords back in action but this is certainly the most tolerable they've been (I actually enjoy John Boylan's performance, but the situation is absurd and tiresome - also, when does he actually perform his duties as mayor??). The utterly ludicrous Ted Raimi cameo amuses me more than it bothers me (someone actually wrote an actual heavy metal song about this dude), and while the wine scenes play like filler some of Dick's line deliveries make me laugh out loud.

Yeah, all around I just like this one. It certainly has the best John Justice Wheeler scene in all of Twin Peaks, by a long shot.

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 essay accompanying my ranking of this episode (#21), from 2015 (mentions that a supporting character won't show up again in the season)

The comments section below may contain spoilers.

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