Reviews

The Evolution Of The Arm (Twin Peaks, Episode 2)


 

Everyone who has watched TV during the last quarter of a decade remembers two things from Twin Peaks – even if you didn’t watch the show – the Log Lady, and the dancing dwarf. The dancing dwarf, unforgettably portrayed by Michael J. Anderson, who didn’t return to the show due to payment dispute with Showtime. He played a a character called The Arm, who is actually the chopped-off arm of MIKE, the one-armed man.

One of the things I love about David Lynch‘s work is when an apparent, crippling limitation hits you – like the most important actor not accepting the paycheck and dropping from the show – you take it as an opportunity, not a hinderance.

Instead of writing the character out, you “evolve” it. So, The Arm is back, but he has evolved into what appears to be an electric tree with a lump of a talking brain on top. The new creation is both thought-provoking, mildly nauseating and somehow seems to be fitting the world of Lynch perfectly.

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 10.59.59

What’s revealed early on in the episode is that everyone – MIKE and The Arm – are looking for BOB, because he stole something called garmonbozia, the pain and sorrow, fuel of the Lodge-dwellers.

This all may seem confusing, but think it in different terms: BOB stole MIKE’s lunch and disappeared. MIKE is worried as he’s getting hungry, and sends Cooper to get it back.

But then, things turn weird for Cooper. Just as he’s ogling the road to freedom for the first time in 25 years, the evil doppelgänger of The Arm appears, attacks Cooper and throws him into something called Nonexistence.

The careful balance of the Lodges has been altered, and someone is about to get hurt.

In the real world, Mr. C – BOB-infested Cooper – goes on a killing spree. Kyle Maclachlan dives deeper into the murky black waters of evil, and plays his role more intensively than I’ve seen anyone do in a long time: he’s a man on a run, driven by a strong survival instinct, and no-one’s gonna stop him. He’s heartless, cold and scary as hell. Lynch builds his character up carefully, giving ample amount of time to his scenes – and that’s the whole beauty of the new Twin Peaks, you never feel rushed, you never feel Lynch wants to throw you out of the scene and you’re always able to take in all the carefully planted details of each scene.

Promisingly, also, David Bowie‘s character is back – at least, in the dialogue level. It becomes apparent quickly that Mr. C has teamed up with the “long lost agent Philip Jeffries”, whom we met in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, played by Bowie. It’s yet to be seen what comes of this, since when Mr. C tries to call Jeffries, someone else answers.

There’s one thing that’s slightly worrying with the new Twin Peaks – the visual effects. Produced by BUF in France, the visual effects facility is indeed a high-end player, having worked with films like Independence Day: Resurgence and Blade Runner 2049, but Lynch is not used doing a lot of modern VFX, so maybe he’s letting BUF go a bit easy – many visuals are more like from the early 90’s TV than what one is expecting from today’s shows – double exposure style, jumpy disappearance effects and so on. It’s also possible many of the apparent bad visuals are intentionally bad, reminiscent from the Lynch heydays of Wild at Heart and original Twin Peaks run,  but when it comes to wounds and such “realistic” effects – like the body in the first episode, and the head wound in the second – it’s plain bad VFX.

The second episode walks towards the darkening skyline peacefully. It is, yet again, absolutely thrilling to see Lynch taking his time with the scenes, building the little weird moments between characters, and creating the threatening atmosphere with sounds, cuts in dialogue when nothing is said or even done, while sprinkling hints of the bigger plot.

★★★★★

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