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Under the Nail: An Advance Review of Psych's "Damn Fine" Twin Peaks Homage, "Dual Spires"

Smell that cinnamon...

While USA may not have planned the stars aligning just so, it is twenty years to the day that Agent Dale Cooper unmasked Laura Palmer's killer on Twin Peaks, so it's only fitting that Psych should celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the series that changed television with an episode that both a send-up and a loving tribute to Twin Peaks.

Tonight's damn fine episode of Psych ("Dual Spires"), written by James Roday and Bill Callahan, does just that, offering a plot in which Shawn (Roday) and Gus (Dule Hill) travel to the quirky small town of Dual Spires for a cinnamon festival and encounter a revolving door of eccentric individuals. But their presence in town coincides with an eerie mystery, the murder of a local girl that is far more sinister and weird that it initially seems.

If you've never seen Twin Peaks, you might be slightly bewildered by the oddness unfolding around Shawn and Gus in this bucolic town where there's always music (or cinnamon, anyway) in the air. Red-suited individuals dance to creepy jukebox music, ceiling fans revolve menacingly, clues are found under the nail of one character, a woman clutches a log, and a man barks like a dog. It's weird, it's unnerving, and it's wonderful.

But if you've seen (and loved) David Lynch and Mark Frost's groundbreaking original series, it's clear that Roday has dropped in a kitchen sink's worth of allusions, shout-outs, and callbacks to Twin Peaks, loading the episode with a forest full of in-jokes for Twin Peaks devotees to catch, everything from The Great Northern (here Dual Spires' newspaper) and Windom Earle to a certain someone's transformative hair color. (And some clearly intentional music meant to recall Angelo Badalamenti's amazing score.)

I don't want to say too much lest I spoil this fantastic and fun episode, but I will say that the appearance of Twin Peaks regulars Sheryl Lee, Ray Wise, Sherilyn Fenn, Dana Ashbrook, Catherine E. Coulson, Lenny von Dohlen, and Robyn Lively only serve to enhance an already winning episode. (Extra points for getting Julee Cruise to perform the Psych theme song.) Fenn is pitch-perfect as sultry local librarian Maudette Hornsby (cough, cough) and it's fantastic to see Lee not serve as the victim this time around.

(Aside: I had a long conversation a few weeks back with Lee about her experiences shooting this episode and Twin Peaks in general and she fulfilled by 20-year love affair with the show and her characters. Some of which can be read here.)

Lee is fantastic here and one of the most famous scenes in Twin Peaks history, the discovery--in the pilot episode--of Laura's body, wrapped in plastic, is celebrated in rich fashion. As Lee's Dr. Donna Gooden stares down at the corpse of a local girl, whose body is wrapped in plastic, on a sandy shore, there's a sensation of being caught in a hall of mirrors, as Lee looks down at both the victim, herself as Laura Palmer, and herself as the actress playing Twin Peaks' most famous "dead girl."

It's also us, and our own memories of Twin Peaks, twenty years on, reflected back.

Psych airs tonight at 10 pm ET/PT on USA.


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