Follow Monsters of Television on Twitter

Tuesday, 2 of March of 2021

DVD First Watch: Twin Peaks – “Checkmate”

Ah, Twin Peaks.

Twin Peaks title cardEvery time I try to do a straight analysis of this show, it turns into a gleeful or questioning recap. This oddball little show with its mishmash of genres and unrelated storylines and characters that disappear for episodes at a time only to pop up later as big plot points. Somehow it manages to be endearing, intriguing, and unsettling all at the same time. The only true defining through line is how off the wall it is.

I think my favorite thing about Twin Peaks is how everyone just rolls with whatever flavor of crazy is on the day’s menu.

I’ve commented before on how well the show switches back and forth between narrative threads, how the stories are weaved together by the interplay of characters between them. But the show also does a good job of slipping seamlessly between genres. While every genre has some give to it, not many can be as fluid as those on the sci-fi end of the scale, and while Twin Peaks isn’t a straight-up sci-fi, it does lean toward that end of the spectrum.

This episode starts off on a sci-fi dynamic, with Major Briggs recounting to Harry and Cooper what he remembers – or knows but can’t recall – of his time away. Once again, owls are are a major feature, and the major finally admits that what he and his colleagues are doing is continuing – unofficially – the government project tasked with exploring the phenomenon of UFOs. But, like all things in Twin Peaks, their project is a bit sideways, as they’re studying the phenomenon that occurs on the ground instead of in the sky. All of this is connected to finding the White Lodge, which we damn well better see after all this hoopla or I’m going to be so disappointed.

Then the episode transitions into more of a tragic love story with Bobby and Shelly splitting up, Norma and Ed getting together, Josie and Harry arguing (and making out), and James once again making the worst choice of woman he could possibly make. On the one hand, it’s nice to see everyone being so consistent in their characters. On the other hand, tragedy.

And then at the end, an honest-to-goodness gritty cop show suddenly appears in my quirky pseudo sci-fi. With the drug deal and the exchanging of hostages and Cooper tied up with a nasty cut across his cheek, the feel was very authentic. (Thank goodness Denise was there to deliver food in a waitress uniform and bring back the crazy.) Even the setting helped, the abandoned cabin and night-shoot lighting adding a sinister feel to the whole ordeal that was carried over into the final part of the episode: the horror movie.

Lights flickering on and off, Shelly menaced by shadows and then by her not-so-vegetative husband (whose face was decorated like the doughnuts with sprinkles I will no longer be able to eat), and an ominous chess move left in Harry’s office. This episode may have focused on Harry and Cooper catching Jean Renault, but the checkmate was all Windom Earle’s. His confrontation with Cooper grows closer with every passing episode, and I can’t wait to see the outcome.

 

Notes:

  • Why does Daddy Briggs have the hazmat symbol burned into his neck?
  • Bobby left Shelly and I just laughed and laughed.
  • I totes called it! The wife and her “brother” are going to kill the husband and leave James to take the fall! I knew it!
  • Catherine and Ben? Now that’s possibly the most tragic (and weird) love story of them all.
  • Coop’s badge number is 13! I SEE WHAT THEY DID THERE.

Leave a comment