After the outing of Leland, it is fan consensus that the mid-part of Season 2 is unitedly of poorer quality until either Josie passes or Gordon shows up again. People consider the story-lines weak and unimportant. However, this mid-part of Season 2 is more important now. There are several reasons why this supposed mid-Season 2 slump is not a slump at all especially now with Season 3 in the mix as well.
The first and most crucial deals with the mythology of the Lodges itself. It is here, in this section of Season 2 that we get our most critical discussions and introductions to the Lodges. Major Briggs has his abduction, his return and our first glimpse of what the lodges look like (little did we know that we had already seen inside with the first Red Room dream in Season 1). Hawk gives us the first story of how the Lodges work and their rules and regulations. So without that mid-part of Season 2, we have no Lodge lore at all. We would be missing a bit of rich world-building without this supposed Season 2 slump.
Second, we get some great character development from many key characters. Audrey grows up and becomes a business woman. Therefore, it’s more shocking to see her in her Season 3 state, confused, dependant, and petulant again. If she would have remained a petulant high-school girl, Season 3 Audrey would have been so natural. Therefore the gut punch of seeing Audrey regressed would not have happened. Bobby learns, finally, that he’s simply not cut out for ambition and must start living a life of service. Therefore, unlike Audrey, it will be less shocking seeing Bobby as a deputy now that we have that Season 2 character development. We saw Ben start his tentative steps to change through his Civil War period as it was a progression from “venality and insincerity” to stand-up town leader.
In regards to character development, the most important is Cooper, himself. Throughout most of Season 1 and early Season 2 Cooper is the invincible and stereotypical hero. Even Audrey says that he’s perfect. But we know that he isn’t. We know from the pilot that he has flaws. He has a temper on him. He is impatient. He is too interested in the case and not the victim. We know that his heart has been welded shut. This part of Season 2 reminds us of the flaws in Cooper, and reminds us that he is not the hero that he wants himself to believe he is. We get his story with Caroline. We get his trials and tribulations. Therefore, it should be less shocking when we get the version of Cooper in part 18 who is flawed, impatient, temperamental, and super-focused. We needed this part of Season 2 to give us the Cooper of Part 18, because it is the combination of Pilot Cooper and Mid-Season 2 Cooper that gives us Part 18 Cooper.
The third factor is the development of two important plot lines which will lead to a crucial Season 3 Theme. Civil War Ben led to those critical character developments in the Horne family. It also led to the beginning of the end to the power that the Horne family held. By the time we see them in Season 3, the family is a husk of itself. Ben, it seems, is barely holding onto the Hotel. Jerry has checked out while dropping in. Audrey is wherever. They no longer hold the pulse in the community. Where it was odd that Audrey would even step foot in the Double RR, it is not so odd that she walks into the Roadhouse (a place even lower class) now in Season 3. She is no longer the Princess of the town and her father is no longer king…no longer the “glad handing dandy.” The other linked plotline leads to the downfall of the Packard family. Therefore, both families getting their power stripped from them, leads to the disempowerment and loss of wealth in the town as a whole. A lauded plotline in Season 3 was the feeling of loss, the feeling that the town was simply run down. It was sad to see, but inevitable. If the Hornes and the Packards were not disempowered because of Season 2, Twin Peaks would have not had that feeling in Season 3.
The fourth most crucial point for that part of Season 2 is probably the most overlooked and without Season 3 probably would have been the weakest point in this article, but with Season 3 it is very important now. The mid-part of Season 2 brings much needed humor and lightness between the heaviness of the Palmer arc and the rest of Twin Peaks. The humor and lightness moreover is also connected to some crucial plot development. Nadine’s storyline was very cute but it also revealed a lot about the dynamics of her relationship to Ed and it was very evident how she desperately needed to shovel her way out of the shit. Civil War Ben was cute. Little Nicky revealed how responsible Andy was and how fit to be a father he was over Dick. It gave Lucy a moment to shine showing her smartness when she got Doctor Hayward over to explain Nicky’s very mundane roots. Therefore, that funny and cute storyline gave more development to the characters. We learn more about James and Donna and how truly unprepared for the world both of them really are and how doomed James is during their storylines.
Lastly, we get some important characters introduced in Season 2. We get the introduction of Denise which was groundbreaking. We would not have had that awesome Season 3 “fix your hearts or die” line without her. Jean Renault provided not only a crucial challenge to Cooper and Ben in Season 2, but also psychological blow to Cooper as explored in my article “The Ingredients of Perfect Courage.” We also get Dougie Milford who provided the crucial backbone for the Secret History of Twin Peaks.
Humor, character development, lore, crucial introductions: without them Season 3 would have looked very different and we wouldn’t have had it’s master design. This seemingly weak part of the show is now a crucial bridge between the mystery of Laura to the mystery of Twin Peaks itself.