Episode 29

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LostInTheMovies
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Twin Peaks Out of Order #1: Episode 29

Postby LostInTheMovies » Sun Oct 25, 2015 7:29 pm

Re-watching Twin Peaks from my least favorite to favorite episode...

Previously: Episode 14 (http://www.dugpa.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=44338#p44338)

There are many great things about this episode: it contains the motherlode of Twin Peaks mythology, it retcons Cooper's dream into something more than a cryptic clue system, it brilliantly fuses the disparate first and second halves of the show into an intuitively cohesive whole, it manages to deliver on the Windom Earle, Caroline, Lodge, and Annie stories despite their previous weaknesses, and it completes the transformation of Cooper from a heroic guide into the narrative to the tragic subject of the narrative far more effectively than we might have expected. But the greatness of Twin Peaks’ final episode (for now) transcends its beneficial connections to the rest of the show. This is just absolutely brilliant filmmaking full-stop, up there with Hitchcock, Welles, Kubrick, whichever titan of cinema you want to name. Lynch was handed a disappointingly banal script - not up to the standards of the writers' previous highs - and transformed it into a masterpiece of avant-garde cinema, a Meshes of the Afternoon or Blood of a Poet splashed across prime-time network television, all while remaining true to the core of what that muddled teleplay attempted to convey. Every scene is paced perfectly (if often perversely). The performances are bullseyes. The camera movement, composition, movement with the frame, and shot structure are delivered with the masterly flourishes of a painter who knows how to improvise and exaggerate while remaining true to the human form. If we had nothing else to thank Twin Peaks for (and of course we do), we could be grateful that it transformed Lynch into this filmmaker, a sharp stylist returned to his original Eraserhead mode while employing an extended repertoire and more expansive vision. What's amazing is that this beautiful little masterpiece, as accomplished an hour of television as has ever been produced, was slammed back-to-back with one of the worst episodes of the series, stuffed into the cheesy Monday movie-of-the-week spot on ABC, and lost out in the ratings to reruns of Northern Exposure. Imagine flipping the channel in 1990 and winding up in the Black Lodge! The episode is brilliant as a standalone and it is also brilliant for improving the rest of the series, especially its second half, by association. Without it, Twin Peaks would feel immeasurably more incomplete and it's hard to imagine the same demand would exist for its return. All that 29 "lacks" (and it feels foolish to use that word, as it describes a flaw rather than a choice) is the overt empathy and humanism of Fire Walk With Me - at least after the equally defiant and distanced Deer Meadow prologue. Lynch still cares about these characters because the over-the-top delivery of the soap-opera cliffhangers is coupled with, as always, a naturalistic eye for sincere gesture and expression. But he also seems to be filled with a rage he would never quite cop to, a sense of betrayal and disgust at Twin Peaks' wayward path and perhaps his own culpability in allowing this decline to occur. Lynch's arch, dry sense of absurdity barely skins over a cold viciousness in his approach (for instance, Dell Mibbler's glasses soaring into the trees in lieu of a serious engagement with the possible deaths of Audrey and Pete), and this fury is in turn motivated by a sense of compassion and sorrow. Those deep emotions would be released (if not accepted) once Lynch finally delved into Laura Palmer's story, even offering her an angelic redemption by way of apology. Yet the rest of the town has been trapped in amber for a quarter-century, frozen in a series of grotesque, mute grimaces like Windom Earle squirming in Bob's grasp, conscious but helpless until the creator returns. How's Annie? How's everyone? We'll find out soon.

EDIT: Mostly because my blog has several upcoming pieces on Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, for which I would prefer to give the film a fresh viewing, separate from the series, I won't be covering it in this rewatch.
Last edited by LostInTheMovies on Sun Nov 01, 2015 11:21 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Jerry Horne
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Re: Episode 29

Postby Jerry Horne » Mon Oct 26, 2015 11:06 am

This is a still from episode 8 (reused in 29 and possibly others) and maybe I'm missing something here but where is the RR sign?
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Re: Episode 29

Postby Ross » Mon Oct 26, 2015 11:12 am

Jerry Horne wrote:This is a still from episode 29 and maybe I'm missing something here but where is the RR sign?

Yep! There are other establishing shots without it too. I guess they figured no on would notice!
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Re: Episode 29

Postby Ross » Mon Oct 26, 2015 11:35 am

Here's all the establishing shots used. As you can see, its missing most of the times. I think they only put the RR sign up twice. Once for the pilot, and once for FWWM. (Well, three times now with S3). I THINK the shots with the RR were shot during the pilot shoot, while the others were shot when it got picked up for series (and they didn't bother to put the sign back up).

For FWWM, they put it up, but then never showed it (there is a behind the scenes pic where you can see it.)
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Re: Episode 29

Postby Jerry Horne » Mon Oct 26, 2015 11:49 am

Makes sense. The sign was there for the Pilot filmed in Winter and then missing for the additional shoot (Fall leaves on ground) The question is, why not put the sign up? Maybe it was already in Patricia Norris' garage and they didn't have the crew/expense to put it back up?

What's amazing is that I just now noticed this.
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Re: Episode 29

Postby OK,Bob » Sun Apr 03, 2016 3:30 pm

I wouldn't be surprised if the thick/solid coffee that Cooper puzzles over in the Red Room wasn't inspired during the shoot by the prop coffee cup that was fabricated so Hank Worden didn't have to worry about spillage during the reverse-filming.

Also making things easier for Worden, note that he simply had to repeat the reverse "hallelujah" spoken by MJA during the same scene...
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Re: Episode 29

Postby Snailhead » Wed Apr 13, 2016 9:05 pm

The first time I saw this episode, I was home alone on a Friday night when I was about 16. I'd just watched episodes 26-28 back to back and it was definitely a slog to get through them, but I simply needed to know how it ended.

Then came #29... I was so delighted as it unfolded - it felt like Twin Peaks again. The magic that had dissipated after Leland's death was suddenly back and better than ever. And it scared the living daylights out of me.

Windem Earle's death was especially cathartic, ha.

Hands down the best piece of television I have yet to encounter.

EDIT: Decided to read the original script for the episode. What a pile of dreck! Even the scenes that were left relatively unchanged are full of terrible dialogue that Lynch wisely removed.
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Re: Episode 29

Postby OK,Bob » Fri Jun 17, 2016 5:26 pm

Pete's line to Dell, "He's alive." - which wasn't in the script - mirrors his "She's dead..." from the Pilot. If it weren't for all the other callbacks in this episode, I mightn't have given it a thought.
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Re: Episode 29

Postby Mr. Reindeer » Sun Jun 26, 2016 12:07 pm

I was rereading the script for Ronnie Rocket and noticed something fun that I had forgotten: the lyrics to "Under the Sycamore Trees" originated in the film! In the earlier of the two RR drafts available online, a "hard low-class girl" speaks the lyrics to a "greasy tattooed man," who in turn threatens to catch her in the dark trees and kill her.
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Re: Episode 29

Postby David Locke » Sun Jun 26, 2016 5:10 pm

I didn't post in this thread after watching the episode recently as I did for most of the series, perhaps because I feel like I've already said everything in my original post. But, there is always something to add with a work like this...

I find it interesting just the fact that, for me, the most disturbing and unsettling Lynch creation, the thing that gets to me the most on that subconscious nightmare level, is this -- something that aired on network television in 1991 -- and not one of his R-Rated features. There is simply something about the Red Room scenes here, and the chilling ambiance they create (along with the distressing moral implications of Coop's ending)... it's just impossible to verbalize how visceral, emotional, intense, dark and overwhelming this episode really is. I've watched it twice with others who were on their first viewing of the series, and both times their reaction was similar to mine: astonishment, and deep discomfort. When I watched it with my girlfriend, around 1am of course, she was pretty much speechless and could only say that there was something in those scenes that really got to her on a unconscious level. I then, myself shaken up, tried to verbalize what exactly that is: that Lynchian uncanny feeling which is so present here and in his best works... I couldn't really come up with a strong answer though besides just saying that Lynch does certain things which, whether intentionally or not, resonate with us on a very deep almost primordial, lizard-brain level, and that is why it feels so unusual and disturbing. Because we are not used to that part of ourselves being awakened, and certainly not so harshly. But that is precisely what he does with this episode, and I stand by my opening comment that it truly feels like dropping a large dose of acid after the watered-down Bud Lights that were the last dozen or so hours (and I really love several of those late S2 episodes in a lot of ways, but even the most Lynchian and best of them, like 27, just don't quite have the full power of this finale).

I'm sure this has been brought up before, but I find the similarities of all the head injuries in this episode intriguing (Coop, Annie, Ben...) Almost all of them are designed to look identical, the placement of the blood and everything is pretty much the same. Wonder why that might be. Of course there's also even more head injuries with Nadine and Mike, but they don't have that blood on their faces. An interesting motif that adds dread, if nothing else...

Random observation: There's a great trademark Lynch shot in here, the first of the scene with Nadine. What it is is a shot of Ed (I think) walking away from the camera, but starting with him so close to the lens that everything is black. Only when he moves forward after a moment do we realize that the blackness was caused by his shirt. It's a unique little effect. Lynch does this again at least once in FWWM (Leland walking away from the camera in the Palmer living room at night), and I'm pretty sure again in Lost Highway (Fred walking away from the camera as he walks down the shadowy corridors of his home). Anyone know of any other examples of this shot?
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Re: Twin Peaks Out of Order #1: Episode 29

Postby Eater of Iguanas » Tue Aug 30, 2016 9:39 pm

LostInTheMovies wrote:Re-watching Twin Peaks from my least favorite to favorite episode...

Previously: Episode 14 (http://www.dugpa.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=44338#p44338)

There are many great things about this episode...

Lost - Just wanted to compliment your writing in this post. Beautiful stuff, even by your high standards.

You've almost got me convinced! I can't sign on to the idea of E29 as a masterpiece, for various reasons I won't go into at the moment (because it's 12:15 a.m.), though it's head, shoulders and torso above most of the season and has some great stuff - but as I've said on this forum before, I'm harsher on S2 in general than most fans. This capsule review, however, really puts me inside the head of a 29 fan like nothing else before, and I briefly relived the episode through your eyes. And it was a blast!

Two quick observations from my own point of view:

1) The strongest moment for me is the shot wherein Evil Coop almost runs facefirst into the lens amid the strobing lights of the Red Room, with that gurning, white-eyed grin. Scared the living piss out of me on first viewing in '91 - even on rewatches I usually close my eyes just a couple seconds before. Of course, it's repeated with even greater nightmarish terror much later in INLAND EMPIRE - which assaulted me on a huge screen at the New York Film Festival (with Lynch, Dern and Theroux in attendance, thank you very much), and so practically made me fall out of my chair. "The Lynch Smile" strikes again.

2) Has anyone else here seen the Italian horror auteur Mario Bava's 1965 classic KILL, BABY... KILL? This "Two Coops" chase sequence is eerily similar to one at the climax of Bava's film, where if anything it's more surreal and unmotivated. I sat straight up and probably yelped aloud in surprise when I saw the Bava years later. It's so close it almost can't be a coincidence, but stranger things have happened. I can't recall ever hearing anyone ask Lynch about it, nor his namechecking Bava at all, and I know he claims to be not much of a film buff or, especially, horror fan. Gorgeous, spooky movie, at any rate, and highly recommended.
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Re: Episode 29

Postby baxter » Tue Aug 30, 2016 11:18 pm

yep, I've seen that film (after getting a nice cheap Bava boxset) and I always assumed Lynch ripped it off. There are similarities with The Prisoner finale from 1969 as well which intrigue me.

It's also clear that Tim Burton took a heap from Bava.
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Re: Episode 29

Postby LostInTheMovies » Wed Aug 31, 2016 1:21 pm

I recently watched The Prisoner, and was amazed by that correspondence with the final episode as well. I know Frost was a huge fan but it was the stuff Lynch to the finale added that really echoed the climax of "Fall Out".

Missed Inland Empire in 2006 (which kills me because I actually lived in New York back then!). I did get to see it at Lincoln Center at a visit to the city last year, though, and it was surreal to see its SD video in a 35mm print (was that how it was projected at the festival?). Adding to the weird effect, the print had some scratches and deterioration. It was like looking at something (semi-)new through an old lens, very disorienting. I've heard people complain about showing IE on celluloid, understandably, but there was some fascinating about the incongruity.
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Re: Episode 29

Postby baxter » Wed Aug 31, 2016 8:25 pm

I really, really love the Prisoner. In the 90s, I watched both Twin Peaks and The Prisoner on Bravo, a UK satellite channel devoted to old shows. Both ruined TV for me really, since I have never seen anything that lives up to either of these shows for sheer originality.

My parents came to visit me in Australia recently, and my Dad hadn't seen The Prisoner for years so we worked through the bluray. Great times! I also discovered an official sequel graphic novel from the 80s which I just read. I enjoyed it, even though for many there will be no point.

I'm glad that you are also intrigued by the similarities in Fall Out. I really think there is something deliberate about it, but perhaps not.

I first saw Inland Empire in Geneva (where I was living at the time), and the Polish scenes were subtitled only in French, so I couldn't understand them. I was able to kid myself that my confusion over the plot was related merely to this. I had the experience that it made more sense than reviews had led me to believe, but I couldn't (and still can't) put my finger on the centre of the story. To me its a logical extreme of Lynch's recent work, and a very enjoyable one.
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Re: Episode 29

Postby David Locke » Wed Aug 31, 2016 9:14 pm

Just a thought I had: Why do so many people assume that when Laura tells Coop in this episode "I'll see you in 25 years" that she's literally saying she will see him in 25 years from that moment, i.e. 2015/2016 or whatever? Isn't it fairly obvious that in saying that, she's referring to Coop's first Red Room dream where he is indeed about 25 years older? So Laura does see him 25 years later -- it already happened. Time doesn't work in the lodges/red room the way it works in the real world (whether ours or that of the show); I see no reason to take Laura's line as a literal pronouncement based off of linear time.

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