When Laura Palmer dies, David Lynch would have us believe that even the Gods have nothing more important to do than mourn her presence. Every living body in this town, faced with the evacuation of life from Laura's strangely serene face, falls to pieces. So far, so Killing.
Agent Dale Cooper breezes in, a cherry-pie scented breath of fresh air, just when the weeping becomes too much to bear. Sherilyn Fenn's Audrey Horne has the good sense to laugh in the face of the rapturous weeping in the high school classroom. The audience breathes a massive sigh of relief, as we realize that Lynch/Frost intends more for our digestive-hour than the maudlin.
As we settle into the (admittedly strange) rhythms of the show, I genuinely can’t figure out whether David Lynch loves or hates teenage romance. All the characters are whimsically and lovingly drawn apart from Donna and James, who drip water bodies of sentiment wherever they go.
Even Bobby Briggs, douche-jock extraordinaire, seems to have more depth to him than our drippy lovebirds. He moves easily from scene to scene, and we're never quite sure if he's operating from the high-emotional state of an adolescent teenager or from something more clinical, more mercenary. Lynch knows this; even at Bobby's most tender moments, you can always hear the frictional creaks of his faux-leather jacket.
His relationship with Shelley remains compelling even when their existential threats become more and more ridiculous, as Leo can never quite sell the idea that he's some kind of unrepentant misogynistic abuser. The more Eric DaRe tries, the more I want to laugh at his pug-nosed face and its terrible attempts at acting.
But with Twin Peaks, Lynch/Frost have achieved the impossible -- a show where bad acting actually heightens its sense of atmosphere. The gurning, the posing, even the sheer emoting, never quite seem out of place. Sure, there's a murder mystery, but who the hell cares? We want to see Dale Cooper, eccentricating himself up all over the place. We want to see Audrey Horne, Veronica Mars-ing her way through leches and peons alike.
In a show full of one-armed men and dreamed up gophers, one mystery really drives the story forward. Is Audrey Horne quite real? She's everywhere and nowhere, all at once. She's all-seeing, all-knowing, impossibly beautiful, and yet she seems connected to nothing and no one apart from Agent Cooper.
I could never call him Dale. Could you?