Cipher wrote:Flaming hot take: As I've arrived on what would commonly be referred to as the "season 2 slump" on my current rewatch, this episode felt like a breath of fresh air after the missteps of 16, my least favorite on this revisit so far.
The issues with the avoidance during the wake scene have been well-documented, and I certainly can't excuse them. Cooper's speech to Sarah Palmer, and in general the way the Leland storyline is wrapped up, echo the problems present in episode 16, especially with the shadow of Fire Walk With Me's unapologetic abuse narrative over them. Still, nothing episode 17 does is more off-putting than 16 to me in that regard, and once the off-kilter wake is over, a number of fun, if soap-ish, story lines are introduced.
The ramping up of the Lucy-Dick-Andy plot? Meaningless, but enjoyable.
Bobby's attempts to get in with a newly disheveled and disgraced Ben Horne? Promises growth, and intriguing in the moment. Leo's small movement in this episode promises terror to come.
Coop's suspension? Soapishly handled, especially with the melodramatic notice delivered by Roger just before the commercial break. But things are happening again.
Josie returning? Intriguing enough to propel the viewer into the next episode.
But perhaps most importantly, this is the episode that introduces the White Lodge mythology, and Briggs sells it with all the weight in the world, just before his disappearance. That disappearance, by the way, promises the return of the strange and uncanny in a major way. Even Catherine's "guardian angel" story promises more odd supernatural/spiritual presences emerging from the woods. That's a lovely scene I'd forgotten about, and I absolutely take it to be intended to dovetail with the emerging mythology of the White Lodge.
While the series' B-plots have certainly grown more whimsical (and it's a change from season one's tightly interwoven narratives that we even have identifiable B-plots now), a sense of genuine mystery has crept back into the series after the driving one flickered out so limply over episodes 15 and 16. And with the heightened humor, the promise of more uncanny elements and character-based terror to come signals the return of the tonal whiplash that's part of the series' identity since episode 1 (and which I believe the campy handling of 15 and 16 had somewhat diminished; jumping between humor and horror is one thing, but integrating camp into the resolution of a horrific story is another). I know which plotlines do and do not pay off at this point, but I remember being completely intrigued on first viewing, and am feeling that pull again now.
This may not be peak Peaks, but it's solidly entertaining and more in the mode of the series than I'd remembered. Next episode: Denise.
I see what you mean. The wake scene tends to overwhelm the rest of the episode for me, but there are a lot of things to like (if not love) here - the ending with Briggs's abduction is a high point for sure. I guess you could say that 17-20 form a relatively solid unit, focusing on the Briggs stuff and Renault/Dead Dog Farm. I'm especially fond of 18, which I think is easily the best of that 17-22 slump, with some real classy and understated direction from Dunham. 19 is silly, but interesting kind of because of that, and 20 is another solid more mythology-driven hour. All in all, for me it's not really until 21-22 that we get two genuinely very boring/weak episodes of Peaks. And then 23 turns things around beautifully - underrated, that one. There is a kind of low-key charm to this 17-20 stretch IMO, despite all the flaws; it's easier to put on randomly than the best episodes, which tend to be the heaviest, emotionally. So I don't mind them too much.