Psych: Dual Spires

It’s the much-heralded Twin Peaks tribute episode, and it’s a good one. It’s much too cluttered with awesome references to hit them all individually, so I’ll just point out a few as I go, and then clump the rest together in a big coffee-and-cherry-pie-soaked wad of awesomeness at the end. Here’s the plot: Shawn and Gus receive a mysterious email inviting them to the annual Cinnamon Festival in the itty bitty mountain town of Dual Spires. Upon arriving in town, they first hit the Sawmill Diner, which is run by Bob Barker (Dana Ashbrook) and his wife Michelle (Robyn Lively), and which boasts the finest cinnamon pie and apple cider Shawn and Gus have ever tasted. Shawn and Gus also meet the town’s friendly sheriff, Andrew Jackson (Lenny Von Dohlen).

The festival is interrupted when the body of homecoming queen Paula Merral is found by the side of the river, wrapped in plastic. As Bob and Michelle grieve beside their niece’s corpse, Shawn receives a mysterious text message: “Who killed Paula Merral?”

(If I tried to individually unravel all the in-jokes, we’d be here forever. Here’s an example of the fast-and-loose nature of the references: Sheriff Jackson’s second-in-command is a Native American man with long, flowing hair named Deputy Frost, which is a reference to Twin Peaks co-creator Mark Frost and an even more obvious reference to Michael Horse’s character, Deputy Hawk. Sheriff Andrew Jackson is a riff on Michael Ontkean’s Sheriff Harry S. Truman. “Paula Merral” is an anagram of “Laura Palmer,” the dead homecoming queen played by Sheryl Lee, who, in this incarnation, is playing the town doctor, Donna Gooden, which is a reference to Lara Flynn Boyle’s character, Donna Hayward. And so on, and so forth.)

Doc Gooden rules the death an accidental drowning, which Sheriff Jackson is all too eager to accept. Convinced foul play was involved, Shawn and Gus offer their investigative services to Bob and Michelle. Sheriff Jackson’s son Randy, the town’s star athlete, was secretly dating Paula, who apparently had a wild side. Shawn calls Juliet and asks her to do some research into Paula’s background.

Shawn and Gus meet the bombshell town librarian, Maudette Hornsby. Wow, Sherilyn Fenn looks great! The whole cast has held up well -- Dana Ashbrook in particular is still a looker, even with gray hair -- but Fenn is even more of a knockout now than she was in her Johnny Depp-dating early years.

Juliet and Lassiter show up in Dual Spires to help with the investigation. It turns out that Paula Merral drowned seven years ago, though her body was never found. Bob and Michelle confess their role in this: Paula’s mother, Michelle’s sister, was an unstable and abusive drug addict, so they faked Paula’s death and secretly moved her to Dual Spires to give her a better life. Bob is actually Paula’s father, though Michelle is oblivious to this.

Shawn and Gus search Paula’s bedroom and find her diary, which is written in Latin. They call upon their old friend Father Westley (Ray Wise, Twin Peaks’ Leland Palmer, making his second Psych appearance) to help with the translation. Father Westley informs them that Laura was secretly involved with both Randy and another boy, identified only by the letter J.

J turns out to be Jack Smith, Paula’s best friend, who is both: a) an avid photographer, and b) legally blind. Jack was out walking with Paula before she drowned. He claims Paula told him of her intentions to secretly leave Dual Spires with Randy. Jack also claims someone attacked him from behind and knocked him out -- when he woke up, Paula was gone. Shawn and Gus examine the photos Jack took during his stroll with Paula and find one of Randy sneaking up behind her. When they grill Randy about this, he insists he didn’t hurt her -- he was mad at her for spending so much time with Jack, but Paula was equally upset with him for spending so much time with his secret girlfriend, Maudette. Suspecting Maudette killed Paula to prevent Randy from running off with her, Shawn and Gus charge over to the library… and find Maudette hanging from the ceiling. (Gus: “I am so sick of this town.”)

As Maudette was the only person in town with internet access, Gus and Shawn realize she was the one who secretly summoned them to Dual Spires in the first place, presumably to investigate some unknown danger to Paula. The murderers turn out to be Sheriff Jackson and Doc Gooden, who were upset that Randy, the last direct descendant of the town founders, was planning on leaving the town with Paula. They killed Paula to stop him, then killed Maudette when she uncovered their scheme. Juliet and Lassiter arrive and arrest the culprits.

And in the final scene*, Jack wears a red suit and an eye patch while doing a strange dance to the jukebox in the diner while a kid in a football helmet bangs his head on the table, Randy barks like a dog, Lassiter does a crackerjack Special Agent Cooper impression while drinking a damn fine cup of coffee, and a thoroughly creeped-out Shawn and Juliet sneak out of town.

Edited to add: For a detailed explanation of the references in the final scene, please scroll down through the comments. And if you catch any references I missed, please feel free to point them out.

Sundry awesome Twin Peaks references:
I’m missing a bunch, I’m sure, but here’s what I found:
Shawn mentions that a woman in Washington invented a silent window shade in the nineties.
The newspaper announcing the Cinnamon Festival is called the Great Northern.
The Sawmill Diner used to be the town’s sawmill, which burned down in an arson fire.
Dual Spires’ town mascot is Leo, the Cinnamon Owl.
The town mayor: Douglas Fir.
Angelo Badalamenti-inspired music strikes up during key scenes: when Paula’s body is found, during the introduction to Maudette, and during the dance in the diner.
There’s a reference to a club called the Roadhouse.
Catherine Coulsen, Twin Peaks’ Log Lady, wanders through the background of a scene, carrying a log.
Maudette Hornsby drinks Cherry Coke and confesses her love of all things cherry.
Shawn and Gus find a book on golf in the library, written by one Earl Windom.
A black-and-white photo of Paula as the prom queen is shown during the end credits.

Awesome opening credits:
Julee Cruise performs a haunting Twin Peaks-esque version of the theme song over a Peaks-inspired credits montage.

Awesome Eighties reference:
Shawn (to Randy, re: his secret romance with Paula): I get it. It’s Pretty in Pink. You’re Andrew McCarthy.
Randy: Who’s Andrew McCarthy?
Shawn: That’s fair.

Lassiter-based awesomeness:
(After predicting when and where Paula’s drowned body should wash up, in precise detail) “Well, I know this because waiting for corpses to resurface is a passion in my life.”

Comments

Morgan Dodge said…
This episode really made me wish that I'd watched more Dual Spires, er... Twin Peaks back when it was on. I'd watch a few episodes here and there, but mostly it confused the hell out of me.

Cool thing was that I was able to enjoy the entire episode for it's cleverity regardless of my missing 90% of the Dual... er Twin Peaks references.

The cafe sequence at the end? So much awesome crammed into such a small space.
Morgan Richter said…
Loved that end scene. Whole lotta awesomeness going on. Watched the whole series when it aired, even those weird-ass late episodes, and I just borrowed Ingrid's DVDs of the first season over Thanksgiving to get it fresh in my head. Fun stuff.
Rosey said…
Don't feel bad Morgan D...I have missed 100% of Twin Peaks!!!I'm going to add it to my Netfilx now.

I really did enjoy this episode! Not my favorite though. I love how Shawn only had to go on "Everwood" references. LOL
Dan said…
I haven't seen this episode, but, based solely on the photo above, I'm going to say 'yes, Sherilyn Fenn does indeed look great'.

That's all I can offer, I'm afraid.
Morgan Richter said…
Sherilyn Fenn is gorgeous. Were you a Twin Peaks watcher back in the day, Dan? Did it make any impact in Australia?
Dan said…
I think Twin Peaks followed a similar path in Australia to what it did everywhere else:

Massive initial success with everybody talking about it, then a gradual decline in viewers as it grew ever weirder, then almost a complete drop-off and relegation to an awful time slot to see out its days.

Adding to the Australian mix, however, was a sketch comedy show which, a tad mischievously, revealed who killed Laura Palmer a few months before the relevant episode aired down here. (Hard to imagine a time when that kind of information didn't flow freely, but this was all pre-internet. It was perfectly possible for us to be completely oblivious to televisual plot twists until they got around to airing down here.)

The sketch show (Fast Forward) didn't even present it as a joke, as I recall. Somebody just came on, said 'Who killed Laura Palmer?', looked sidelong to the camera, then said 'Her father'. Then started giggling and moved on to the next sketch.

I can sort of appreciate the joke now, but at the time, I think I (and many other Australians) were less amused.

Having said that, the mystery wasn't really that relevant to the show. So I stuck around and watched right to the very end. Very cool show, but one I haven't seen since it first aired. How does it hold up?
Morgan Richter said…
Heh. Oh, Australia. Kyle MacLachlan did a joking variant of that when he hosted Saturday Night Live in the height of Peaks fever -- he staged a Q&A with the audience in lieu of a monologue and, in response to the question of who killed Laura, blithely replied that it was Shelley the waitress, and moved on to the next question.

Wish Psych could have lined up MacLachlan and Michael Ontkean (James Roday said in an interview that Ontkean and Madchen Amick couldn't make it work with their schedules), but it was good to see that many cast members together.
Ingrid Richter said…
Excellent episode - excellent recap! As someone who spent Friday nights during her socially formative years in college watching Twin Peaks, I heartily approve.

(Er, I also spent my formative Sunday evenings watching In Living Color. College was a weird time for social growth.)

Let's see - other Twin Peaks references: the stacked and sorted doughnuts on the table in Santa Barbara and the moose antlers on the table in Dana Ashbrook's house.

Also, as a person who works full-time in a library these days, I couldn't help but notice that the Dual Spires Library was *not* using standard Dewey - the author cutter would come after the call number. Sheesh! Small towns.

Also, Dewey is still more heavily used than, say, Library of Congress for organizing small collections. Even my local branch in Queens uses Dewey.
Morgan Richter said…
Ah, I forgot about the doughnuts, and the moose antlers completely went past me! Thanks, Ingrid.

Yeah -- the Dewey/Library of Congress debate was sheer snobbery. The LAPL system uses Library of Congress, but it's not like Dewey is all that rare and exotic these days.
Lou said…
My viewing of Twin Peaks mirrors that of Mr Dodge (plus it clashed with the awesome Northern Exposure on the British TV schedule if I recall...). But nonetheless I enjoyed the ep immensely too.

Oh and even my elementary school library used the Dewey system. What is the LAPL up to? Tsk.
Morgan Richter said…
Hi, Lou! Good to see you back in these parts!

Whoah. Just checked my site statistics, and I had a mini explosion of visitors yesterday Googling for information about the episode. Out of the several hundred keywords used to find this site yesterday (oh, I've got fodder for multiple Fun With Keywords posts), there seems to be (ahem) rather a lot of confusion about that final scene. To wit:
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Okay, gang, let's see if we can parse some of the Twin Peaks references at the end and help these searchers out. Ingrid, Lou, Boy-Morgan, Rosie, Dan, any help you can give here would be awesome (I'm going to break this comment into two or more chunks, because this will probably get long).
Morgan Richter said…
End scene references:

In general, the final scene in the diner spotlighted some of the oddest bits of Twin Peaks:

Jack wearing an eye patch and a red suit and dancing strangely to the jukebox: The eye patch is a reference to Nadine Hurley, who wore one. It's also a reference to One-Eyed Jacks, a brothel on the show. In Agent Cooper's first surreal dream sequence, he saw a man in a red suit dancing strangely. This YouTube clip might help out a lot.

The very tall man in the diner is a reference to the giant who would appear to Agent Cooper and deliver surreal pronouncements/clues ("The owls are not what they seem").

Randy barking at the dog: Bobby and Mike barked at James Hurley, for reasons unknown.

The kid in the football helmet banging his head on the counter: Audrey's mentally-challenged brother used to do the same thing.

And of course, Lassiter raving about a damn good cup of coffee is a direct reference to one of Agent Cooper's most memorable character traits.

What'd I miss?
Ingrid Richter said…
Damn, Morgan! You caught all the ones that I noticed.

I'll also add that the odd dancing and stylized movements from Robyn Lively and Dana Ashbrook is thoroughly in keeping with the dreamy, surreal aspects of Twin Peaks.

Loved that ending! Kept watching and rewatching it on Amazon-on-Demand last night :-)
Ingrid Richter said…
(as an aside, I was kind of hoping that they'd keep Lenny Van Dohlen's character indoors for all his scenes.

It was a minor plot point in Twin Peaks that his character, Harold Smith, couldn't leave his house, due to severe agoraphobia)
Morgan Richter said…
as an aside, I was kind of hoping that they'd keep Lenny Van Dohlen's character indoors for all his scenes.

Me, too. My hunch, which is unsupported by anything other than a fleeting mention in an interview with James Roday about what other actors were originally involved with the episode but couldn't make it work with their schedules, is that Von Dohlen and Robyn Lively replaced Michael Ontkean and Madchen Amick after the script was already written -- both Von Dohlen and Lively were recurring characters in Twin Peaks, sure (and I like them both a lot), but neither had the same pop-culture impact as the major regular characters (Cooper, Truman, Audrey, Laura, Donna, Bobby, James, Shelley, et al). And having Ontkean and Amick playing, respectively, the town sheriff and a waitress would make a great deal of sense...
Morgan Dodge said…
I could be bonkers, but I felt like one of the servers at the restaurant, in the end sequence, was walking backwards through the whole thing too?
Morgan Richter said…
Boy-Morgan, I didn't catch that, but you're probably right. I'm going to have to rewatch the episode at some point today, just to see what else jumps out.
Ingrid Richter said…
Dana Ashbrook was definitely clearing tables backwards. I'd tip extra for that service.

On a semi-related note, have you seen this Norwegian tv promo video? It's a chance to see Sherilyn Fenn, Cheryl Lee, Corbin Bernsen and a slew of television and movie actors singing "Let it Be."

Strange, yet delightful
Dan said…
Strange and delightful.

I love this video with all my heart.

The name tags:

Paul McKenna - hypnotisor
Steve Guttenberg - Mahoney i Politiskolen
Bud Spencer - spaghetti-western filmer
Boyzone - irsk boyband
Lou Ferrigno - hulken

The infamous trio of Katarina Witt, Tonya Harding and, uh, Glenn Close burying the hatchet

Tubbs on air guitar!

And a Milli Vanillian!

I'm not sure I could reasonably ask for anything more.
Morgan Richter said…
Ingrid, that Let It Be video is the most fantastic thing I've seen in a long time. Alfonso Ribiero! Phillip Michael Thomas! Aw, Leslie Nielsen, even! Much like Dan, I love it with all my heart.
Morgan Dodge said…
Oh my. Dumbstruck. Thank you, Ingrid, for the lovely (strangely mesmerizing) link.
Ingrid Richter said…
Sadly, the awesome Gylne Tider "Let it Be" video has been yanked. David Faustino spills the beans here.

Farewell, Corbin Bernsen and Twin Peaks ladies. It was lovely while it lasted...
Dan said…
And a nation* wept.

* = people who grew up in the 80s. We're a nation, right?
Morgan Richter said…
I guess we can't have nice things.

(BTW, as Ingrid and Dan have probably noticed, I've switched to moderated comments for posts over five days old. Spam and trolls, the usual. Apologies for any inconveniences -- obviously, all new comments on old posts will be approved, but it might take me a while to get around to it.)

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