I have my own very strange relationship with the second season of Twin Peaks, namely that I seem to be one of the few people who genuinely enjoys the whole thing. That doesn’t make me a better or worse fan — it’s ultimately silly to engage in such a metric — but it does put me in a niche category, as most people have aspects of the series or even entire episodes which, like Cooper and herring, they don’t particularly care for. But season two became such A Significant Thing in my life that I can’t hate any of it, even though I see exactly why people have their gripes, and in some cases might agree if circumstances were different.
I won’t get into the entire story of how I fell in love with Twin Peaks, so I’ll cut to the chase and explain that when I discovered the series, it was winter/spring of 1993 and only the pilot and season one had been made available on VHS. So that left me with eight episodes of show, and then Fire Walk With Me, leaving the entire 22 episodes of the second year completely unseen by me. This is before the internet was a common household thing, so I had virtually no one way of knowing what went down between the first season finale and the movie. I could tell that some massive tonal shift had obviously taken place, given that the first season is mostly a quirky small town mystery with some mystical and paranormal overtones, whereas the prequel is a full-on existential nightmare of reality-warping proportions.
I would desperately ask adults who had watched season two (I’m only 12 at this point) for something, anything, about what happened in the second year, and the only details they could give me were maddeningly vague. “I think someone turns into a doorknob?” Totally unhelpful. Thanks a lot, idiot. I was excited to hear that in the last episode, Cooper becomes BOB. Seemed like a terrific cliffhanger, turning the hero into the villain. I couldn’t wait to see that. I also found out about Leland murdering Maddy and stuffing her in a golf bag. Yikes.
When the show was first airing, I remembered seeing a commercial for an episode about saving tree weasels, and I also caught the tail end of the scene in Owl Cave, so I knew those moments occurred at some point. Even more intriguingly, an interview with Ted Raimi in Fangoria magazine delved into his appearance on Twin Peaks, talking about some evil wizard named Windom Earle. Evil wizard? What the hell happened with this show??
Most infuriating was when the series began airing on Bravo, a newer cable channel unavailable in our Midwestern market. USA Today would print one sentence descriptions of the episodes, and every week I would look and try to decipher what they meant. “An old friend visits Ben.” “Windom Earle makes a move.” “Cooper finds a clue.” A great way to get my imagination going, but at this point I was frothing at the mouth to finally see the bulk of what had become my favorite television series (and movie) of all time.
In August of ’93, my family took a trip to Philadelphia, where I was able to actually watch an episode of season two while staying with relatives (their cable provider was evolved enough to carry Bravo). This would be episode 9, the second episode of the season. I found it a strange hour, even for Twin Peaks. The pace is awkward to the point of absurdity, and David Lynch chose to use almost no score (aside from James’ infamous singalong “Just You,” ha ha ha), so I was wondering where the hell the music went.
But there were quite a few highlights. The old woman and her grandson, so memorable in the prequel, made their first series appearance here. Windom Earle also received his first mention, and I learned he was Coop’s former FBI partner, which added another piece of that puzzle. Later, BOB showed up in the Hayward’s living room, in a scene that I think qualifies as the scariest moment ever in a TV show. And finally, Major Briggs arrives at Cooper’s hotel room with a message from space. What. (For all the complaints about the sci-fi and conspiracy references on the series, they actually began here in a Lynch-directed episode, again refuting the idea that he had nothing to do with that aspect of the series, even if he would have handled it very differently had he stuck around).
Appetite thoroughly whetted, I was ready for the rest of the season, but sadly we could not stay in Philadelphia for the next 20 weeks, and Phillip Jeffries failed to make an appearance and warp time for me, so instead we went home. Dammit.
That fall, I became a huge fan of the new Fox series The X Files. Some reviews of the show mentioned that star David Duchovny had appeared on Twin Peaks as trans DEA agent Dennis/Denise Bryson. I started watching X Files almost as a proxy for Twin Peaks, even though I also loved The X Files on its own. On the night the first season episode “Space” aired, I went to the mall with my mom so she could get a haircut. Bored out of my mind, I wandered into Suncoast Video, where I looked around and browsed and tried to pass the time AND THEN SAW A BOX SET OF TWIN PEAKS THE ENTIRE SERIES BEHIND THE COUNTER HOLY FUCKING SHIT.
I have never, in my life, felt like a prayer had been answered quite the way I felt that night. I had begged, pleaded with the indifferent cosmos to please just let me see the second season. And there it was. My call had been answered.
My mother said she’d consider buying me the collection for Christmas since it was expensive. But I think my parents thought about what it would be like living with me for the next six weeks while I did nothing but obsess over this stupid VHS box set, and the thought filled them with terror. So they were nice enough to let Santa come early and buy it for me the next weekend.
We now have a name for what I subsequently did. We call it binge-watching. Back then, the term didn’t really exist, so we’ll refer to it as “locking yourself in your parents’ bedroom for 36 hours because you have no life but you don’t care because you can finally see the second season of Twin Peaks.” It’s one of the happiest memories of my whole existence. I have never before or since been so thankful just to watch something.
Certainly, some of the directions the series took really threw me. I did not expect, at all, the Palmer case to be solved midway through the season. Like Lynch, I always thought that was an end-of-the-series moment, and I didn’t entirely agree with the decision to conclude that storyline. Also, James leaving Twin Peaks, and the whole Evelyn subplot, seemed blasphemous at first. You don’t leave Twin Peaks on the series Twin Peaks. And then Josie turned into a wooden drawer knob. Literally. Wasn’t sure how I felt about that.
The tapes themselves were pretty terrible, as well. They’d been released in the EP format in order to fit five episodes on each tape, so the image was soft and static-y. Plus, my parents’ VCR was a piece of gorbage, so it would freeze and shut off at random times.
On the whole, however, I loved the experience, start to finish, and I wouldn’t change anything about it.
And that is why the second season is so near and dear to me.