[The following post includes a few spoilers for Twin Peaks—both the end of season 1 and the start of season 2. You have been warned.]
Does this include a gratuity?
The first season of Twin Peaks ends with an audacious cliffhanger: amidst a flurry of violent events, good-natured FBI agent Dale Cooper is shot repeatedly and left to die on his hotel room floor. You’d expect the second season to continue in the same urgent, melodramatic register… but you’d be wrong, because David Lynch is all about defying TV expectations. Instead, he follows up the show’s most shocking, twisty episode with a scene of subdued deadpan comedy.
The season two premiere, “May the Giant Be With You,” opens with a slow-moving, elderly waiter (John Ford regular Hank Worden) entering Cooper’s room with a glass of warm milk. He doesn’t rush to call a doctor, as Cooper politely requests. Instead, he reassures Cooper that he’s hung up the phone, then bends over so he can sign the bill. Cooper doesn’t freak out, but goes along with the waiter, even making sure that he gets tipped. The previous episode was hysterical and chaotic; this scene, meanwhile, is relaxed to the point of catatonia.
This tonal departure is a characteristically Lynchian joke. It reminds me of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, which begins with wage slave Gregor Samsa in his new insect form, worrying that he’ll be late for work. Cooper’s in the middle of a life-or-death situation, and we’re yearning to find out what happened to all the other characters: did Nadine die? What about Catherine, Shelly, and Leo? But no. Everything’s put on hold so we can focus on warm milk, the bill, and the gratuity. And this is before the giant shows up!