Traces to Nowhere sees Dale Cooper enjoying the comforts of his new motel and questioning several suspects in Laura Palmer's murder, including her boyfriend Bobby and mill owner Josie Packard. Meanwhile, Donna reveals her true feelings for Bobby and Laura's sexual activities prior to her death are revealed.
The supernatural element to the series really kicks into gear in this episode. It's most notable in the case of the Log Lady, who goes from "freaky background character" to somebody who actually gets some dialogue. Albeit, she's still a freak, seeing as she tells Cooper that her log witnessed something which could unearth Laura's killer. Eye-patch lady Nadine Hurley also gets some freaky moments, with her conversation with Norma being undeniably insane. It's amazing how David Lynch and Mark Frost make something like drapes sound so sinister.
We also get (I'm guessing) the first of several Laura Palmer flashbacks. Sheryl Lee appears to be pretty convincing during her first speaking scene on the show and Laura herself gets much more intriguing. I love how she's presumed to be this amazingly nice school girl (helping old people, Chinese people etc. etc.) when really she's harboring dark secrets of infidelity and drug use.
All the cast are remarkable, even if they only appear for brief moments. Madchen Amick's Shelly Johnson becomes more developed in this episode and her relationship with the abusive Leo makes you feel immediate sympathy for her plight. The storyline involving the old mill and the relationship between Catherine and Josie is also intriguing me, mainly because of the varying differences between their performances. Joan Chen gives a caring, if slightly dark, mystique to Josie whilst Piper Laurie's crazed acting abilities (put to stunning use in earlier roles in her career) make Catherine an immediately creepy character and one of the most interesting on the show.
Lara Flynn Boyle also impressed me in this episode. Her two stand-out scenes were scenes with two mothers, her own and Laura's mother. Both are finely acted by Boyle and she never fully upstages both Grace Zabriskie and Mary Jo Deschanel, who play Sarah Palmer and Eileen Hayward, respectively. The former is also stunning in this episode, with her mourning over her daughter's death never overplayed, making it entirely believable. Her vision of the sinister Bob is also a well-acted scene.
Beginning as a simple "questioning of the suspects"-style episode eventually turns into an excellently done, character-driven second hour, featuring some note-perfect performances and further insight into the wacky locals of Twin Peaks.
Director: Duwayne Dunham
Writers: Mark Frost, David Lynch