These two episodes find Twin Peaks in free fall, not unlike Mike thrown high in the sky by Nadine. I’m not just talking about ratings, but also creatively. The handful of post-Leland stories left Twin Peaks in a lurch, and dependent on a variety of B-plots that never congealed into a compelling A-plot. These two episodes, leading into the most divisive episode of the series so far, are signs that the show creators are trying to pull out of their nosedive. One major plot ends, a character leaves the show, a couple characters come back, and two of the worst subplots make their way towards a climax. For the most part, keep that fast forward button ready. These episodes need it
Major Briggs came back last night, dressed in a WWII-era pilot’s outfit. As Bobby Briggs was telling his mother about Major Briggs’ vision of him as a happy productive adult, Major Briggs suddenly materializes in the living room. His first comment is to tell Bobby to put out his cigarette. Then he demands a stiff drink. Both Mrs. Briggs and Bobby are in awe at his timing, coinciding with Bobby’s recap of Major Briggs’ vision, and in awe that he made it back in such a fashion.
Major Briggs has amnesia. He doesn’t know what happened. He remembers Cooper going to relieve himself behind a tree, and a flash of white light, and then reappearing at the campfire two days later dressed in the pilot’s outfit. He doesn’t know where he went, or why he was taken. When he tries to remember, all he can see is a Giant Owl blocking his memory. What happened to Major Briggs that night?
Yesterday, Colonel Riley of the Air Force paid Cooper a visit to discuss Major Briggs’ disappearance. The Air Force’s theory is that Major Briggs’ thin air vaporization might have had something to do with his work, which is actually having to do with Project Blue Book. Project Blue Book was a real life Air Force-led investigation into the phenomenon of UFOs from the 1940s into the 1960s. Officially disbanded, Major Briggs works on Project Blue Book in an officially unofficial capacity. They’re still monitoring the skies, but they’re also looking at other supernatural phenomena.
Cooper and the audience heard an owl hoot just before Major Briggs disappeared in a white light. And now all he remembers is a giant owl. These might have to do with the white lodge and its shadow self, the black lodge. Not according to Colonel Riley, they are listening to deep space like Major Briggs said, but they are also listening to messages sent to and from Ghostwood where they believe there is a gateway to the Black Lodge and the White Lodge. According to Hawk, the only way to get into the White Lodge is if one is pure of heart and without fear, because the black lodge will take any flaw in your soul and exploit it, forcing you to enter the Black Lodge instead of the White Lodge. Basically, you have to be diligently good and righteous or else you’re going to turn out evil and flawed.
Whenever Cooper mentions Project Blue Book or the White Lodge to the Air Force country, he’ s turned away for not having the proper clearance to hear about such confidential material. Just as Major Briggs is going to explain the story as he knows it, he is whisked away by the air force. He can’t and shouldn’t be speaking as freely as he does. The one thing they do know if that he now has three triangles branded on the side of his head, similar to the radioactive symbol. What it means is still unclear.
But the, the very next episode, Major Briggs makes a valiant escape from the tight grip of the Air Force because he felt that the Air Force’s motivations for finding the White Lodge were unpure. While we, the viewer, might regard this as an obvious factoid, this belief is anathema to Major Briggs. Despite not having any additional information, Major Briggs believes that he was taken to the White Lodge and that trouble is brewing somewhere.
Michael Parks died IRL two days before this article will posted. Jean Renault dies in this episode.
Denise and Ernie set up the fake drug while wiring Ernie up. They go to make the deal, but Ernie’s copious amounts of nervous sweat shorts out the old equipment on his chest. The electricity controlled by the black lodge wins again. His shirt starts smoking, causing Jean Renault and the fake Canadian Mountie to realize they’re being set up. And then, things get dumb.
Jean Renault has Denise and Ernie and is holding them hostage in order to give them free release. Cooper knows that Jean Renault is focused on getting revenge for the death of his two brothers, and volunteers to trade himself for Denise and Ernie. And then it becomes another hostage situation? Jean Renault doesn’t actually kill Cooper. He just holds him as hostage and wondering if they should kill Cooper or not. As if that wasn’t Jean Renault’s original intentions in the first place.
Jean Renault blames Cooper for all the craziness that happened in town, as if Cooper is The Continental Op, intent on cleaning up the town by any means necessary. It’s not that Laura’s death exposed all of the criminal underpinnings holding Twin Peaks together. It’s that Cooper is the one pulling back the surface to find all the rats. Or, something. Even though he blames Cooper for all the recent death and morality, Jean doesn’t kill Cooper. Jean apparently hit Cooper because Cooper has a bruised cheek, but Jean doesn’t kill him. For some reason, the hostage situation continues on for hours as Jean contemplates whether to take revenge or not before fleeing into the night (as if he couldn’t kill Cooper quietly with a knife to the throat or something and then taken off; what kind of criminal mastermind is this?!).
Anyways, Denise come up to the farm dressed as a waitress bringing dinner. So, they’ve been holding this hostage situation for long enough for Denise to find a waitress uniform to fit her, get food from the Double R, get changed, put on makeup, and then come back to deliver dinner. Even though they didn’t request food, Jean Renault lets her in for some reason, because she’s a girl? I dunno. This whole thing is written so terribly and such a hair-brained scenario. Even though the scheme is terrible, at least it kills off Jean Renault and we can get back to better mysteries.
At the end of this subplot, Denise Bryson was called back to her home planet, and literally didn’t come back in the next episode. She just disappeared without a goodbye. So long Denise, your story arc was stunning and all too brief.
Windom Earle is a much more interesting criminal than Jean Renault. He’s funny, and witty, and one of Twin Peaks‘ Sacred Clowns. Most of his zany schemes are some hare brained plot straight out of a Warner Brothers cartoon. I can’t help but love him. Yet, he doesn’t fit, at all, with the original feeling of the show. He’s kooky and wacky insane, not dark duplicitous “what evil lurks behind closed doors” insane. But, he’s much more entertaining than Jean, whose only moment of cleverness was when he shot Mr. Battis in front of Audrey so many episodes ago.
Though he later breaks out the poker deck, Windom Earle’s main game is chess. He has already made three moves against Dale. Nothing major, just the makings of a new plot line approaching. Today, Lucy couldn’t find any chess moves in any of the papers. Maybe Earle is waiting for Cooper’s move first this time around. Or, not…
Under the cover of night, Windom Earle blows up the power transformer which causes weird electricity fluctuations. Shelly notices this first when she’s watching Coma Leo and Bobby is out and about trying to make something of himself. She first searches for Coma Leo in his bed, finding an electric clown doll with a spinning ball on his nose in Leo’s place. Then she looks for Leo in his chair, but to no avail. Leo is actually standing, grinning, and very much conscious and ready to make people suffer again.
The electricity is out at the police station, as the generator isn’t working. Lucy says that there was an explosion in the woods and an explosion that sounded like it was upstairs. The first explosion was the power transformer at the plant, but the second explosion was a transformer on the electric pole above the office. These are both distractions so that Windom Earle can make his next chess move. He sneaks into the sheriff’s department, where he ties up a dead hippy-looking hobo to the chair with a deer and some wire, pointing his finger at a chess board where Earle took a pawn. That poor hobo pawn.
Leo’s first activity after coming out of a coma is to start attacking his wife. His torment doesn’t last too long because Shelly manages to stab him in the leg, causing him to hobble out into the woods yet again where he stumbles into a cabin in the woods before being ensnared by Windom Earle, who makes Leo Johnson into yet another footsoldier of evil. Leo is always a foot soldier of evil. That’s his role in life. What a card!
Lana the succubus continues holding guys’ attentions whenever she stops by the police station. Apparently, she stayed with Dr. Jacoby for a few days where she taught him a few lessons about love. Now she’s back in the station, and her next target is Dwayne Milford, Dougie’s brother. After they were locked in a room together, Dwayne is covered in lipstick and, really, nobody cares. I mean, I know that Lana turns up in the beauty contest later on but she’s such an awful character that’s so obviously a sitcom trope pulled into the world of Twin Peaks, where it doesn’t sit very well. Can we just ignore her? Why can’t Windom Earle kill the people who deserve to die?
Andrew Packard is back from the dead. Or, at least he didn’t die in the pre-show boat explosion. You see, he knew that Josie was plotting his death well in advance, and so he hid out until now because…whatever. Anyways, it’s time for Andrew to come back to the living and seek his vengeance on his former business partner, Thomas Eckhardt, who is also in love with Josie. Anyways, Thomas and his daughter descend on Twin Peaks to rescue Josie from the clutches of Catherine and her maid’s outfit. Nobody is as cool as Thomas Eckhardt. Look at his fire glasses! Meanwhile, Sheriff Truman finds an article from Seattle about Josie’s companion being murdered in the airport, and he’s suddenly realizing what trouble she is.
Reversals of Fortune
Super Nadine is still pursuing Mike Nelson, the football guy and Donna’s ex. She sees him at the Double R and tackles him with an aggressive unwanted kiss that’s hilarious and also very offensive (especially with regards to No Means No). While Nadine’s off pursuing Mike, Big Ed has started seeing Norma again, to Hank’s chagrin. After Ed and Norma have a session of Afternoon Delight, Hank drops by to beat Ed’s ass and possibly kill him, only to be foiled by Super Nadine who uses her super strength to throw Hank all around their house.
Bobby Briggs totally ditches Shelly the moment things get tough at home. Shelly is busy cleaning and feeding Leo Johnson after Bobby concocted the harebrained scheme to feed and keep Coma Leo at home in order to get the insurance money. But, Bobby has bigger things on his mind. He fancies himself as Ben Horne’s new right hand man, and Audrey Horne’s new squeeze. Except there’s a problem. Ben Horne has gone crazy and is now imagining himself as the new leader of the Union in the United States Civil War. He’s siding with the slave owning confederacy and trying to make sure the south wins the war. Ben’s civil war plot gives James a run for his money in terms of awfulness, but at least there’s an idea about reversal of fortunes, and Ben Horne is unconsciously representing awful racist businessmen who concocted a whole war to enslave people based on the color of his skin. But Catherine, fresh off playing a Japanese stereotype, rolls in to gloat while dressed in a Native American blanket, and ends up having sex with Ben. Sadly, this does not end the Civil War plotline, which continues on and on with more and more people coming in to play a bigger and bigger part.
The stories of Ben Horne fighting the Civil War is an odd parallel to Super Nadine’s return to high school. Nadine knows that Big Ed isn’t exactly in love with her, and he would be better off with Norma. After killing herself, she regresses back to high school so she can get a hot high school boy of her own, this time one who might actually love her. Ben Horne knows that all his evil deeds have failed, so he’s trying to reverse his fortunes by regressing society all the way back to the Civil War and having the South win. It’s a silly and stupid mirror, but it is the only way to explain the Civil War plot.
The rest of it
Dick and Andy play investigation to figure out if Little Nicky is actually the devil. They go on an illegal breaking and entering deal to Little Nicky’s orphanage to find his files in the hopes that they say how Nick’s parents actually died. Their research trip is foiled when excited new parents show up a bit early to see their new charge, and the information that Dick discovered is useless because Lucy decides to get to the bottom of their investigations. She brings in Doc Hayward who says that Nicky’s mom was an immigrant housekeeper at The Great Northern who died in childbirth. Little Nicky…killing his parents since birth!!
Outside of Twin Peaks, James finishes working on Evelyn’s car, and gets Big Ed to wire him some money to the bar he met Evelyn at, but Big Ed sends Donna who hasn’t heard from James in awhile. Evelyn wants him to stay and has sex wit…JUST GO, JAMES. Seriously, I scream this several times each episode. He just wants to go. So, go. I’m so sick of him. At least he’s shirtless and sleeping after Evelyn fucks him. Though, it almost reminds me of the quote from The Critic, “It’s amazing someone so inadequate in bed can be so relaxed and unconcerned.” Repeating that here would mean of me.
As it turns out, Evelyn isn’t the sweet thing she pretends to be. Anybody who hasn’t had their puppy kicked would be able to spot her con from three counties over, but sweet-but-so-dumb James falls madly in love with the married woman (at least he has the manners to feel regret about it; as he puts it, “It’s WRONG!!!”). But, Evelyn and her butler/brother/lover/whatever are plotting to kill Evelyn’s rich husband and setting James up for the fall. I mean, who hires somebody off the street to work on their Jaguar?
- “Little Donnie is dead.” *shocked expression* “Dead tired…” And then, Dick’s retail personality kicks in.
- “Don’t call me, Jim.” *big wide grin so happy his face hurts* *quickly replaced by kicked puppy dog look as he tries very hard to pour champagne*
- “You have a wonderfully honest face, James. I can always tell what you’re thinking.”
- “James. Don’t. I don’t want you to leave.” – Don’t encourage him, Evelyn…
- James gets grease all up on his face while fixing cars.
- Dead Dog Farm may have been a hippy commune at one point, considering the No War peace signage and hand drawn hippy art painted on the walls.
- Seattle news headline: ASIAN MAN KILLED!! *dead*
- Nadine and Ed have enough sex to make him feel like he’s been hit by a truck every night.