Twin Peaks Rewatch Episode 23: Slaves and Masters

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I'm a little behind but felt I had to sign up (yep, first post - hi all) to comment on this particular episode. I was really surprised to hear/read how everyone was so universally down on Diane Keaton's direction. Given the level of direction in the second season as a whole (read, mostly BAD), and the general quality of the script (read, treading water like its life depended on it) I thought that Slaves And Masters was one of the better episodes since the end of the main Laura Palmer arc.

For me there has always been two distinct sides to the Twin Peaks coin. On the one hand you have the weird Lynchian thriller that is season 1 and the main Laura Palmer murder mystery. Then you have the whole meta narrative on American TV that is more to do with the substance of the production than its actual content. It's this side that - for me - mostly fails because it never goes quite far enough (with only Lynch himself hitting the high points), and it is here that Keaton succeeds where others take a much more conservative approach. And yes, she does this by doing the things that everyone here is pointing and laughing at - packing every scene with overly self concious scene setting and over exaggerated character moments that constantly call your attention back to the production and the whole ridiculous artifice that the show has become.

I'm sure that the decision to take this approach was aided by seeing that the script was so damn weak (at this point in the show the plot is essentially a vacuum), but I think it's worth saying that given what she had to work with Keaton manages to generate interest where there was none and create content where there essentially wasn't any. It helps that to my eyes she is having a lot of fun! The show at this point is almost a parody of itself and taking itself far to seriously. In these terms Keaton's episode made me think of the brilliant Acorn Antiques - it's OTT-ness being its real joy. Although nowhere near the full blooded parody that Acorn Antiques is, Slaves And Masters does play as fast and loose with the cliché that Twin Peaks has become by this point in season 2 and is all the more refreshing as a result.

In a show that has increasingly become bereft of any real content Keaton does just what is needed - fills the episode with a multitude of visual gags, over-amped character beats, and direction that is more about highlighting the contradictions in the shows format rather than slavishly serving what there is(n't) of the plot. Granted, this is nowhere near up at the level of Lynch himself (Keaton doesn't do subtle) but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this episode overall, and given that much of that enjoyment was down to its direction how confused I was to then find out that no one else shared my delight in it!


Good post. I'm generally onboard with the Keaton hate (or rather, dislike). However, I've rewatched the show several times and there have definitely been occasions where Keaton's episode was a relief for precisely the reasons you say: if we're going to have garbage, let's at least have garbage that calls attention to itself, having fun with visual non sequiturs and a heightened, exaggerated iteration of the first season's Invitation to Love self-consciousness. On other viewings, however, the decadence of this conceit (and at this point the show has become completely decadent) just grates even more than the previous mediocrity. So it depends what mood I'm in, and even in the best mood Keaton's playfulness is weak sauce.


But it's worth pointing out that (to my understanding) when this episode originally aired, quite a few commenators - those that were still paying attention anyway - cited this as a comeback, precisely for the reasons you mention. I think for a lot of 1990-91 critics Twin Peaks' great significance was almost ONLY as a wickedly clever quasi-satire/subversion of TV tropes (although the pilot was treated with much more gravity, the buzz around the show quickly went in another direction - even while it still remained positive buzz, for a time). In fact, I'd submit that one of the reasons for the second season backlash was that these same critics that had grinned along with the Log Lady and Jacoby in season one felt like they were suddenly being left out of the joke (not realizing that the show had never JUST been a joke). In that light, Keaton's arty but not-too-serious approach may have felt like a breath of fresh of air for some viewers, a reminder of why they tuned in originally for something that doesn't take itself too seriously. I think this image of Twin Peaks is also another reason almost nobody got Fire Walk With Me when it first came out, but that's another story.

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I guess I see what you mean. Considering that I had previously only watched Twin Peaks up until Leland's exit it has been quite a shock to find out just how bad season 2 gets. I have fond memories of watching the show the first time around, but weak sauce sure does taste like Tabasco when you've not had it for a while!

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This was some episode. I think for all the ridiculous “I bet I’ve got one chance to do this so I better do everything” stuff there’s some really fun goofy stuff. But also seem really rank stuff. 


It is is much better than the last episode at least to my mind because while characters are ott they are at least not merely explained as being whatever. 


It seemed like there was a Shelbyville twin peaks team with a fake Andy leading the trio and a fake hawk at the back. 


I sort of thought Evelyn should have planted the whole thing on Malcolm from the start. 


Also james can’t figure it out. :)


bobby seems to have regressed to day one school bobby (with an iconic hat to boot). Shelly seems to be over it though so that’s good. 


Im not sure where alberts love comes from but it’s nice to see. 

I wanted all the clues that Albert throws down to spell OOPER. 


i feel like this Windom Earle (crazy jumping around guy) would have been much better if cooper didn’t spend half the time talking about him. He does show a bit of ingenuity with his device but really he needs to show some real deviousness (he does show threat and control though with the bamboo cudgel). 


I liked nadine in the scene (possibly a bit too obvious with the head twist). It’s kind of amusing that ed isn’t really the one who is honest (nadine does that for him) even though he’s in bed with Norma. 


Whats the deal door by Pete?


and Popeyes spinach!!!!


It feels like eckhardt is surprised that Josie is at Catherine’s even though he phoned a number at Catherine’s house?


man I hate how small Josie has become in this. It’s pretty disgusting. 


I like Audrey taking control. 

Season 3


Her end point through all of this is really depressing. 

The whole plan of getting Horne back is nice and has a heartwarming feeling (very odd). I liked Audrey giving bobby a bop on the face. More episodes should include a bobby face hit. 


Jacoby has a great tie. 


Deus Ex Pete the chess champion. 


I dont get how cooper, who must be a decent player, thinks a stalemate can exist with no pieces taken - the chess thing feels like a trap they’ve bound themselves and the plot to but without really understanding how to go forward with it. 


Series 3



This is shellys life for ever now. 



Catherine trading Josie can go in a bin. (Is josie’s Wine incompetence meant to show how nervous Tom makes her?!)


james is such a dumbass and kind of creepy and violent towards Evelyn Do not like. The Malcom Evelyn dynamic makes no sense to me. 


there are are a lot of owls in this episode. 


The mask is s really neat visual (even though they nose bop with it being Caroline’s face). 


Series 3



And they echo in series 3 too. 


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