Friday, May 19, 2017

Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces

Sunday, May 21st, 2017 is a day Twin Peaks fans have been anticipating with the restlessness of a child on Christmas Eve.  "See you in twenty-five years" Laura Palmer said to Special Agent Dale Cooper in the Black Lodge during the season finale of the show back in 1991. It turned out to be the series finale.  It also turned out to be a promise that would be kept, in a show biz miracle you don't see very often; cable network Showtime will present - over two and a half decades later - Season Three, in eighteen parts over the summer, all episodes directed by David Lynch and co-written by co-creator Mark Frost.  But back when ABC cancelled the show, many of the devoted felt Laura's words would forever hang in a void, left for fans to write their own sequel.

In 1992, Lynch returned to the Pacific Northwest to cover the final week of Laura's life in the not-well- received prequel TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME.  Many fans felt the show's homespun whimsy was largely eschewed for total darkness.  They weren't wrong.  The movie is relentlessly, decidedly grim, with only the occasional flicker of humor.  I liked it at the time, and have grown to really appreciate it as I've gotten older.  It is a startlingly assured, heartbreaking mosiac of familial dysfunction and its overlap with the supernatural. The T.V. show worked for the same reasons, but lightheartedness and more traditional melodrama helped leaven the terrifying elements, of which there were plenty.  The movie alienated many fans, and baffled everyone else.

So that's one of the reasons why the collection of FIRE WALK WITH ME's deleted scenes, dubbed THE MISSING PIECES, is such a treasure.  It had a Hollywood premiere in 2014 and was then included on the DVD/Blu-ray collection that included the original series and the movie.  I purchased it a few months ago and brushed up on my lore.  Lynch has stated that FIRE WALK WITH ME will point the way to some of developments of this new trip to a small town riddled with secrets.  The missing pieces in fact do include a never before seen plot development that more than suggests how the mysterious ring that Laura unwisely accepted will play into new plotlines.

That comes toward the end of the anthology.  Prior, it is revealed that what hit the cutting room floor could have in fact pleased fans of the old show.  The gentle, eccentric behavior of folks like Pete Martell and Deputy Andy.  The sweet, forbidden romance of Big Ed Hurley and Norma (their late night scene in a car, listening to music is one of the warmest, most romantic things Lynch has ever filmed).  Several Twin Peaks characters who were not in the film make a very welcome return via these clips, and would've made FIRE WALK WITH ME a film that might've made the darkness much easier to digest.  I do wish Lynch had left in a scene with the Palmer family, actually laughing around the dinner table (as they try to speak Norwegian).   The inclusion of this scene would make the other, later, far more serious moments in that domicile even more effective in their contrast, rather than merely didactic.

But...many of the deleted moments are that for a good reason. Not simply because they would've made a long film even longer.  Some scenes feel like rehearsals, actors trying to find the rhythm.  While it was a relief to see Agent Cooper being playful, standing in a doorway, flirting with the infamously unseen Diane, the scene is too long and a bit too goofy.   You might say likewise of a lengthy fistfight between Agent Desmond and Sheriff Cable, though it is a great scene.   Other moments are sufficiently creepy, as when Laura is briefly possessed by BOB, her face bathed in harsh lighting, or the bravura sequence of The Man from Another Place, BOB, and some other dudes, um, communicating in a room over the convenience store.  The latter is an extension of a scene that was included in the finished film, but goes on to reveal more, and is just friggin' scary as hell.

The same can be said of the entrance of Agent Jeffiries, in a sequence that I originally thought was laughably, near blindingly awful - here, the expanded scene explains quite a bit and makes the babbling a little clearer.

So, if you're reading this before Sunday night the 21st (or later), and you're part of that special cult, and you haven't watched TWIN PEAKS: THE MISSING PIECES?  You know, stop what you're doing and watch.  I can't wait to see how it all fits.
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