What's the Deal With the Second Season of 'Twin Peaks'?


#1

It mostly sucks? Some of it is great? The finale is worth watching? Wait, there's a movie, too?


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/whats-the-deal-with-the-second-season-of-twin-peaks

#2

The lull in the second season has some truly dire stuff in it (James/Evelyn retire boring bitch) but it also totally lives up to the fact that it is essentially a glorified soap. Lynch is a big proponent of not reducing stories to a single tone, and I think without the weirdness and the absurdity of the second season, some of the horror and bizarre goings on would absolutely lose their impact.

It’s why I’ve always adored Memories of Murder - plurality of tone is far more effective than eschewing conflicting parts of a story. If they’re all done well, they reinforce each other.


#3

The first time I watched Twin Peaks I never finished season two.

I decided with the third season coming up that I should actually finish and I started watching again back in February. I finished season one again pretty quickly aaaand I still haven’t finished season two.

The thing that did me in the first time was the creamed corn boy and I still haven’t gotten past that episode. I don’t know what it is about it but that single moment takes any hint of wind out of my sails.

I have no god damn idea what happened in between season one and two but my god, it is like watching your beloved dog get rabies and then slowly go insane. It fuckin’ sucks.


#4

There he is, the Montague to my Capulet


#5

Slightly tangential but Legion is everything that I wished season two of Twin Peaks had been. Bizarre and perfect, with a satisfying reveal and characters I loved.


#6

My understanding was that Lynch was less involved during a large part of the 2nd season. He became frustrated with the network when they pushed him to reveal Laura’s killer, so he distanced himself. He then returned to direct the finale of the 2nd season, which was a bit of a “f you” to everyone.

That’s from memory though, I could be mistaken as to how that all sorted out. To be honest I skipped over a large part of it because the quality went down so severely imho.


#7

Man, this one is complicated. I was urged by my brother to watch the show and had no idea what I’d be getting in for.

While I enjoyed the experience overall, I always tell people that they can dip out the series when the question of who killed Laura Palmer is answered and then read a synopsis of the rest of the episodes.

The Lynch/Frost weirdness can be cool, but an auteur without an editor to say no to an idea or someone simply set the right pace makes for frustrating viewing.

This was so clear during the finale in the scene when the old man is shuffling around slowly in the bank and the camera painstakingly follows him as he goes back and forth before Pete and Andrew arrive and get caught in the safety deposit box explosion. From that, I knew instantly to give up any hope of any real answers to the other questions in the show or any kind of satisfying conclusion.


#8

Absolutely agree with @DynamicCalories. The weakest link, in my opinion, is probably the film, but that is easily forgiven with such an excellent beginning (mime interpreting, David Bowie, etc).


#9

I think you are spot on about the distancing, yes, but Lynch is a big proponent of not boxing things in a specific genre* and although I know about Lynch being less involved with Season 2, I think him returning to it with Season 3 shows that Twin Peaks is as Twin Peaks is, I will be surprised if S3 is any less weird than S2. It’s perhaps overstating the idea of “Twin Peaks” as an entity in itself, but I don’t think you can’t just ditch the bits of the town you don’t like.

*There’s a bit in this video where he talks about that philosophy and also at the end of his Rolling Stone interview he expresses confusion at Mullholland Drive being defined as a horror more and more frequently.


#10

As bad as the season 2 is I wouldn’t advise anyone to skip it. I’d rather let someone go as far as they can with their own devices. The hate-train is weird. Most people gets a legitimate kick out of showing everyone how the last part is bad but are just legitimizing its viewing. If something is fun to hate, then it’s just pushing people to see it for themselves to join this cultural wagon, even if their opinion becomes skewed.


#11

I know I’m in the minority, but I rather like season two in general. My understanding was that Lynch/Frost were using the murder mystery as a red herring to draw audiences into a surreal Americana soap, and that they’d always intended for the murder investigation to fade into the background as the focus shifted to the wacky happenings in and around the town. The more tangential stories in season 2 (James and Evelyn, Nadine’s high school wrestling, the romance between Lynch’s Agent Cole and Shelly) suffered from being too far disconnected from other events in the show, but they still had moments of fun and intrigue that could have panned out had the season overall not been rushed and disjointed. I sometimes dream about what a wild and wacky soap it could have been if Lynch/Frost hadn’t been bullied by the network into revealing Laura’s killer so soon, or perhaps even at all.


#12

I’m with ya. Twin Peaks without season 2 is a city without people.


#13

Oh wow, I thought the film made up for a lot of the diminishing effect of the 2nd series. I think after the reveal of the killer, the show lost it’s heart and lost any kind of grounding. To me, the worst part of the wackiness is how it glossed over the terrible murder of a young girl and all the things that contributed to destroying her life.

The film gives Laura a clear voice and journey that the TV show only over hinted at and then rushed through a conclusion that papered over the ugliness. It’s very rough and quite different to the show, but I think it’s a very necessary companion piece to remind you what it is that actually kicked off the events of Twin Peaks.

I think a balance for this new series would be best, but if we had to choose I’d pick too dark over too wacky.


#14

The only stuff I truly disliked enough to skip in season two (on subsequent watches) was the James stuff, but even in season one I never liked the guy. Another cardinal sin of season two was what they did to Cooper. Went from a proactive investigator to a “wait-and-see” agent who didn’t do much of anything when it came to Windom Earle.


#15

This is a real tough cookie to crack. Episode 11-16 is the biggest rough patch, then 17-21 are meh, then 22 is the amazing and infamously unresolved finale. Obviously the best scenario is to watch the whole thing, as things do happen in those episodes and the finale expects you to have watched them. Several ongoing plotlines either come to an end, or get a cliffhanger. But, it’s also true they’re pretty hard to get through especially if one is rushing through them to finish by Sunday. Previous events aren’t to hard to guess going by context clues, and probably about 75% of those episodes are complete filler that don’t affect the finale at all. It’s also a situation where I think the episodes are only tough to get through the first time, because one has certain expectations for the series. I had a hard time getting through it my first time, but I’ve seen the series 3 or 4 times since then, and now I actually enjoy those episodes for the most part since I have my expectations set to soap opera cheese instead of Lynchian madness. In truth, it really is up to the person. There’s no right answer.

I will say anyone preparing for season 3 should definitely watch the finale and the movie “Fire Walk With Me”. Both seem integral, and Lynch has actually said FWWM is one of the most important parts for understanding where season 3 is going. It’s a prequel, which puts off some people who were hoping for resolution after the cancelation, but I love the movie. Also if you can track it down (I believe it’s only available in the blu ray box set of the series and movie) check out “The Missing Pieces”. The original cut of FWWM was more than four hours long, and was cut way down. For many many years fans were hoping to see these scenes released, but even the DVD was missing them. Finally, for that box set Lynch himself edited them into a sort of companion movie. While nothing life shattering happens; there’s tons of scenes that are funny, heartbreaking, and everywhere in between. We get to see characters who weren’t in the movie, who we never dreamed we’d get to see again. There’s even stuff that takes place immediately after season 2.

Finally, for only the person who must see everything before season 3, the book “The Secret History of Twin Peaks” was released last year. Written by Peaks Co-Creator Mark Frost, it gives a history of the town as well as some hints of what’s to come in season 3. This book has been pretty divisive among fans, as it retcons a whole bunch of details, some small some huge, from the original series. I enjoyed my time with it though.


#16

From Lynch, interviewed recently by NYT:

“It got very stupid and goofy in the second season; it got ridiculous,” Mr. Lynch said in a phone interview, explaining that his work on the film “Wild at Heart” pulled him away from the show after the first season. “I stopped watching that show because it got so bad.”

Reading about some of the characters you’re referencing is bringing me back to memories of it. There are some memorable moments, but the overall feeling I got was that what I was watching was not coming from the same place artistically. To me, the direction it went felt cynical and detached.

I’m not trying to take away anything from people who enjoyed it, and Lynch’s own view is not the end-all-be-all of opinions on Season 2. I also think that what makes Twin Peaks fascinating is that it’s a collaboration between Lynch and Frost, who have a special creative tension due to their different approaches to storytelling that I don’t see in Lynch’s other work. I just had a strong reaction and I hope that the new season draws more from Season 1 :slight_smile:


#17

Twin Peaks season 2 is in many ways a complete trainwreck. Like you said in the original post, it starts off really awesome and just kind of tanks after Laura’s killer is revealed. However, I feel that skipping it entirely will leave you with an abridged, incomplete version of what Twin Peaks was at the time and represents now.

Audiences left in droves after Laura’s killer was revealed; after all, what was the point in watching the show anymore? Without a new mystery to hang its hat on until later in the season, season 2 divulges into self-parody; it becomes a dour version of the modern soap opera it previously both cheekily poked fun at but also expertly embodied. Season 1 and the first batch of season 2 episodes dealt in high emotional drama with real, palpable stakes to ground the swooning romance, deep colors, smalltown fetishizing, and paranormal underbellies the show so expertly weaved together. After that, it’s all just cruft until the last batch of episodes which are up there with the show’s finest.

But what’s important about season 2 is that it was an early example of how modern prestige TV can so quickly go so wrong. It taught writers to emphasize mystery and not to get too voyeuristic of its characters. Let them have lives off-camera. We don’t need to know everything. Though I ultimately liked it, I think this is where Fire Walk With Me kind of loses me; there’s something about seeing Laura’s death played out on camera that makes her lose this iconic sheen. The whole show, you learn about Laura completely through retellings of her life by the people she grew up with. Laura was a lot of different things to a lot of different people, so learns audience proxy Agent Dale Cooper.

But then again, perhaps this was Lynch’s point. Laura’s not a symbol, she’s a human being. People are messy and complicated. To every yin, there’s a yang. The Black Lodge exists not in our dimension but it is a part of our reality. We all have an inner darkness which is an ineffable part of our truth. This was the meaning of Twin Peaks to me; it’s right there in the name. And you get a lot of that in the second season. No, it’s not really all that good. It’s hard to watch. I don’t like it all that much. But it’s a part of Twin Peaks now, and pretending it doesn’t exist robs Twin Peaks of its historical and thematic significance in the wider pantheon of culture.


#18

The film does definitely bring the focus back onto the murder of Laura and the darkest element of the whole story: a father raping (and then murdering) his daughter. But aside from the first act, it mostly feels like a long series of explanations of the mysteries surrounding the television series. Everything about the events leading up to Laura’s death we were piecing together in the show are just laid out plain as day as we actually follow Laura through the events leading up to her death. I’m not applauding the wackiness of season two OVER the darkness or seriousness of the film, but the film is a little too clear-eyed about events.

Also: Donna


#19

Ok, Twin Peaks discussion was enough to make me make an account.

I wouldn’t say that the second season “mostly sucks”, though parts of it, specifically the middle parts, even more specifically the parts with James and the housewife, definitely do suck big time. But some very important (and great) stuff happens in the back third of the season. I would not recommend skipping any of it though. Suffer through the less than stellar parts to get to the good stuff at the end of the season.

The more interesting discussion to me is the movie. On the surface level, the movie offers zero revelations of any kind and is, for the most part, a baffling assortment of complete nonsense that is not fun to watch and makes little sense. It doesn’t answer any of the questions left over from the season 2 finale though I’m sure that was purposable on Lynch’s part. However, I still would recommend watching it before season 3 simply because we don’t know if it’s going to matter or not. The first 30 minutes of the movie is particular is a very confusing detour that seems completely self contained but could easily be completely recontextualized in season 3.

In general, with Twin Peaks, my best advice is watch and pay attention to everything because you never know what’s going to matter.


#20

That I can see for sure, I wonder if it being a film made everything too condensed and straight laced.

(Also you may want to put spoiler tags and a trigger warning on that, just in case anyone’s unfamiliar with the reveal)