Twin Peaks week continues on That Was A Bit Mental with the review of the second season of David Lynch’s cult ’90s TV drama. If you missed the season 1 review then you can catch up here. Tomorrow it’ll be a review of the movie Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, then recently released deleted scenes The Missing Pieces and finally the European pilot of the show, which featured a different killer.
Starring: Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Sherilyn Fenn, Lara Flynn Boyle, Madchen Amick, Dana Ashbrook, Richard Beymer, Peggy Lipton, James Marshall, Eric DaRe, Everett McGill, Joan Chen, Piper Laurie, Ray Wise, Sheryl Lee, David Duchovny, David Lynch, Heather Graham, Billy Zane, Kenneth Welsh
JUDGE: “Mr. Cooper, how do you find our little corner of this world?”
COOPER: “Heaven, sir.”
JUDGE: “Well, this week, heaven includes arson, multiple homicides, and an attempt on the life of a federal agent.”
COOPER: “Heaven is a large and interesting place, sir.”
The first season of Twin Peaks was such an enormous success it was a no-brainer that TV network ABC would give David Lynch and Mark Frost the green light to do a second.
This time, however, ABC wanted an assurance that the main talking point of season one, the death of Laura Palmer, would finally be resolved in season two.
After all, viewers were less than pleased that the show, incredible though it was, had ended its initial run without revealing the identity of Laura’s killer.
Lynch grudgingly agreed that the second season would indeed identify the person responsible for her death, but the 22 episodes created would ultimately be memorable for much more than this.
Season two kicks off where the last episode left off, with Agent Cooper <spoiler removed> after being <spoiler removed> in the <spoiler removed>.
Meanwhile, Laura’s dad, who was last seen <spoiler removed>, starts <spoiler removed>. As for pony-tailed domestic abuser Leo, it’s revealed he <spoiler removed>, but is left <spoiler removed>.
Although the question on America’s lips was still “who killed Laura Palmer,” the answer comes surprisingly early in the series, with her murderer unmasked with thirteen episodes still remaining.
As was the case in season one however, Laura’s death isn’t the only major storyline running through Twin Peaks. A multitude of plotlines continue from the first batch of episodes, along with a bunch of new ones designed to keep the audience’s interest after the main mystery is solved.
It’s here where Twin Peaks starts to feel more like a traditional David Lynch work. Whereas the first season was a fairly conventional (if masterfully handled) TV drama, season two gets – for want of a better phrase – a bit mental.
Trying to keep things as vague as possible to avoid big spoilers, by the time the credits roll on the final episode viewers have been treated to new storylines involving possession, alternative worlds, superhuman strength, retrograde amnesia, cave paintings, a puzzle box, a faked death, a paternity dispute, a beauty pageant and one character going insane and believing they’re a Civil War general.
This time around, then, while season one was relatively easy to follow, you may find yourself asking “what in the fuck is going on” on a regular basis.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, of course. It just makes keeping track of the story significantly trickier and makes the show more frustrating to watch as a result.
As well as the myriad of new plotlines, a bunch of new characters are added to season two, as if the 30-odd notable ones last time around weren’t enough. And, coincidentally, three of the main new additions were played by young actors who would go on to become big stars in the years to follow.
Heather Graham appears as Annie Blackburn, the younger sister of diner owner Norma and a former nun who ends up becoming a love interest for one of the major characters. Meanwhile, Billy Zane plays John Justice Wheeler, a young hotshot who wins the affections of Audrey.
Most memorable however is a young David Duchovny, making his TV debut pre X-Files as Denise Bryson, a transgender FBI agent who joins Coop and the Twin Peaks law enforcement to help them in their ongoing investigation.
Among those also new to the show are Harold Smith, an agoraphobic horticulturist who shared a secret bond with Laura; and Windom Earle, a man from Cooper’s past who ends up becoming one of the most important characters in the series.
Despite the efforts of Frost and Lynch to keep things interesting, there’s a noticeable dip in quality in the first few episodes of season two. Thankfully it eventually manages to gather pace again and once the matter of Laura’s killer is resolved the new mystery that replaces it for the rest of the season is almost as intriguing.
The American public didn’t agree at the time though, and remarkably low ratings (episode 15 was ranked 85th out of 89 shows) caused ABC to suspend the series with six episodes left to air, leaving its conclusion in limbo.
It was only after a letter-writing campaign by Twin Peaks‘ dedicated fans that ABC agreed to air the final six episodes and end the season, albeit with the unspoken understanding that there would be no third series.
It’s just as well they agreed to do so, because the final episode in particular is a fantastic piece of work: truly bizarre even by David Lynch’s standards but still gripping and terrifying, with a cliffhanger that would have made for an interesting start to the third season that ultimately never was.
Twin Peaks‘ second season may not have taken the television world by storm in the same way the first season did, and its descent into surrealism may have made it significantly less comprehensible, but stick with it and it eventually settles into another riveting mystery, albeit one that never quite manages to reach the heady heights of those first eight episodes.
It may not be as good as the first season, but Twin Peaks season 2’s rating still earns it a place in the hallowed That Was A Bit Mental Hall Of Fame. Click here to see what else made the grade.
HOW CAN I SEE IT?
As with season one, there are loads of ways to see the second series of Twin Peaks. The best is the recently released Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery Blu-ray box set, which features both seasons, the movie Fire Walk With Me, the European pilot and The Missing Pieces, which contains 90 minutes of never-before-seen deleted scenes. Here’s the UK version and the US version.
Alternatively, the DVD-only brigade should go for Twin Peaks: The Definitive Gold Box Edition, however it should be noted that other than the obvious drop in visual quality, this is also missing Fire Walk With Me and The Missing Pieces. Here’s the UK and US versions.
If you’ve already seen season one and are only looking for the second, Brits can buy season two on its own on DVD. At the time of writing it’s a little over a tenner.
SHOW ME THE TRAILER: