John Bruni reviews TWIN PEAKS: season 2, episodes 16-19

Twin PeaksEpisode 23: “The Condemned Woman”
Originally broadcast February 16, 1991
Written by Tricia Brock
Directed by Lesli Linka Glatter

Episode 24: “Wounds and Scars”
Originally broadcast March 28, 1991
Written by Barry Pullman
Directed by James Foley

Episode 25: “On the Wings of Love”
Originally broadcast April 4, 1991
Written by Harley Peyton & Robert Engels
Directed by Duwayne Dunham

Episode 26: “Variations on Relations”
Originally broadcast April 11, 1991
Written by Mark Frost & Harley Peyton
Directed by Jonathan Sanger

My rating: ★★★
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It’s a pretty simple town. Used to be. Guess the world caught up to us.

Josie discovers that her husband Andrew is still alive, even though it’s pretty clear she was involved in his so-called death.

Harry charges Hank with the attempted murder of Leo Johnson. Hank wants to trade information on the murder of Andrew Packard in exchange for freedom. Harry’s not interested, and when Hank says that Josie did it, Hawk takes pleasure in knocking him around a little.

Albert proves to Cooper that Josie shot him. Cooper is reluctant to go get her. Harry overhears this and heads out to meet with her.

Jack Wheeler (played by the ever-charming Billy Zane) arrives in Twin Peaks to help Ben Horne’s business make a comeback, and to help put Catherine’s business in the ground. Ben’s plan to get back at her? Exploiting an endangered species called the pine weasel. If Catherine goes through with her plans to develop Ghostwood, it will render the pine weasel extinct. He makes this public in an attempt to build a cause to save the poor critters . . . and royally fuck Catherine over. As soon as he has his vengeance, Ben plans on running for Senate. This is one of Ben’s more interesting moments. He’s given up smoking cigars in exchange for munching on carrots, and he’s doing his best to pretend to be good. Yet here he is, still the same ol’ scumbag.

Audrey gets Windom Earle’s note. It says to go to the Bang Bang Bar tonight.

Mike Nelson has finally given in. He’s fucking Nadine, and he’s loving the hell out of it.

Cooper interrogates Josie, but he’s not too hard on her. However, he tells her to turn herself in, or he’ll have to come after her.

Windom Earle leaves a message for Shelly to be at the Bang Bang Bar tonight. Donna also gets a note with a piece of the poem.

Big Ed goes to Norma, feeling free at last. He makes his love for her known to the world, and he proposes marriage.

Leo makes an arrow for Windom Earle. This can’t be good.

Norma goes to jail to see Hank. She wants a divorce from him. He tries to sweet talk her, but once he knows it’s no good, he offers her a deal: he wants an alibi for the evening he tried to kill Leo, and in exchange, he’ll grant her the divorce. She says no.

Catherine and Andrew separately advise Josie to see her old boss, Eckhardt. She is reluctant, as it is clearly a trap.

James and Donna go out on a romantic picnic, but it’s really his goodbye to her. James leaves Twin Peaks like he’s always wanted to, ever since Maddy was killed by Leland Palmer. (Remember that storyline? Where is ol’ Bob, anyway?)

Andrew surprises Eckhardt by revealing that he is still alive. Surprisingly, Eckhardt seems to really want Josie back. He still loves her. Not as a person, of course, but as property. Andrew poisons Eckhardt’s mind toward Josie to make sure his and Catherine’s trap works. Talk about sleazy.

Audrey has a lengthy conversation with Jack. She doesn’t see the need for him. She wants to be the one to save the Hornes, and she has a plan for that.

Audrey, Donna and Shelly meet at the Bang Bang Bar and piece their poem together. None of them seem to know what to make of it. Windom Earle, in disguise (as always), watches from afar.

Cooper heads back to his hotel room when he hears Josie cry out for help. This is followed by a gunshot. He breaks into her room to see that she’s shot Eckhardt dead. Cooper finally confronts her about knowing that she shot him, and it looks like she’s getting ready to shoot him again when Harry shows up and tells her to drop the gun. She does, but almost right away, she inexplicably dies. As Harry cradles her body, Cooper sees a vision of Bob shouting his name, and then the vision turns into the dwarf. Josie’s soul ends up trapped in the wood of a night table in the room.

OK, this scene should be a welcome return to the main story of this series. Bob’s return, however, is very forced. Everything after Josie’s death is just sort of shoehorned into the show. Josie’s subplot doesn’t really have anything to do with Bob and the dwarf and the White Lodge. Worse, it’s just thrown in for the sake of being weird. That’s a major disappointment. They try to explain it later, but even the explanation seems forced.

Harry drinks heavily at the Bookhouse. He’s taking time off from work to mourn Josie’s death.

Norma’s sister arrives to help out at the RR. Her name is Annie, and she’s played by Heather Graham in all of her cute, small town glory.

No one can figure out how Josie died, but she weighed 65 lbs. at the time of her death.

Windom Earle gets Cooper’s new move, and he’s furious. He knows Cooper is trying to play a stalemate game, which is something a guy like Cooper really doesn’t understand. Windom knows his old partner is getting help, and that’s cheating.

Eckhardt’s assistant, Ms. Jones, delivers a gift on his behalf to Catherine: a mysterious puzzle box, which she can’t figure out.

Windom Earle disguises himself as an old university friend of Donna’s father and gives her a visit. He hands over a box for her father.

Pete runs chess scenarios, but he just can’t figure out a way to stalemate Windom Earle without losing six pieces at minimum.

The Log Lady sees the mark on Maj. Briggs’s neck, and she reveals to Cooper that she has a similar mark on her leg. She got it when she went missing as a child.

Jack and Audrey go on a picnic, and things start heating up between them.

Shelly thinks about getting entered into the Twin Peaks beauty pageant.

Cooper meets Annie and falls in love with her right away.

Harry, drunk and with a gun, trashes the Bookhouse. His boozed-up fury won’t relent, not until Cooper gives him a hug, almost curing him right away in his very Cooper-ish way. Harry’s going to be all right, but Cooper assigns someone to watch over him, just to be safe.

Ben’s charity ball for the pine weasel goes wrong when Dick, who is emceeing the event, gets bitten on the nose by an actual pine weasel. Panic ensues.

Meanwhile, Ms. Jones arrives at the Bookhouse, knocks out the deputy on guard and slips into bed with Harry. She then does her absolute best to kill him with a garrote. Harry wakes up just in time to beat the hell out of her and arrest her. Later, Donna’s father tells Harry that Windom Earle came by his house with a box, which contains a chess piece and his next move.

Windom Earle sends Harry a bonsai tree with a note that says “from Josie.” It really has a bug in it, so Windom can listen to any plans they might be making against him.

Gordon comes back to Twin Peaks to let Cooper know that back in the ‘Sixties, Windom Earle worked for the Air Force on Project Bluebook. Cooper wants to talk to Maj. Briggs about this right away. Gordon then sees the bonsai tree, which reminds him of WWII movies. He yells—and that’s very, very loud for Gordon, who is almost deaf, remember—BANZAI! at the plant, and it practically blows Windom’s ears out. Yet another scene of pure Lynchian slapstick. It’s odd, though, since he had very little to do with the episode, other than acting in it. One wonders what the new 3 Stooges movie might have been like if he’d directed it. It should also be noted that Cooper and Gordon both give Harry hangover cures in yet another comical moment. It really shouldn’t be funny, considering how Harry is still mourning the loss of Josie, but with Cooper’s undying cheerfulness and Gordon’s yelling, one can’t help but laugh.

Gordon is also here to reinstate Cooper as an FBI agent.

Windom Earle thinks about his three queens, but there is need for a fourth. He doesn’t know who it will be, but he’s decided that whoever wins the beauty pageant will be the lucky winner. He’s going to murder her and make Cooper watch.

Donna learns that her mom used to be Ben Horne’s girlfriend . . . and Ben wants them to get back together. She doesn’t want that, and Donna starts wondering if maybe Ben is her real father.

Gordon makes a shocking discovery: he can hear Shelly clearly, even without his hearing aid. No one else can get through to him without shouting. In that moment, he falls in love with her.

Cooper combines the symbols on Maj. Briggs and the Log Lady. Annie sees it and says it looks like the symbol in the Owl Cave.

Windom Earle visits Audrey in disguise (of course). Audrey, thinking he’s a professor, tries out the poem on him. He says it was written by Percy Shelley, which is pretty funny, considering how he met Leo. Even funnier when you consider Leo’s wife’s name.

Cooper, Harry, Hawk and Andy go to the Owl Cave. Sure enough, the painting on the wall looks like the two symbols combined. They are then attacked by an owl, and Andy, in a fit of panic, swings his pick axe at it. He nails the marking instead. As usual, this turns out to be fortuitous; this opens a secret panel in the wall, revealing a knob with another symbol on it. They leave to get supplies. In the meantime, Windom Earle goes into the Owl Cave and finds the knob. He turns it, and the wall starts coming down.

This is a wonderful way to join his story with that of the main story. This is not weirdness for its own sake, not like with Josie’s death. This is perfectly reasonable, and it’s a turning point for Windom. This is also where things start to finally come together. Windom Earle no longer seems like a reason to keep Cooper in town, so the show can continue. Now he’s truly a part of the series.

Cooper and the rest come back to see that the wall is gone, revealing a brand new hieroglyph. It looks like a very primitive map. Andy starts making a copy of the hieroglyph.

Windom Earle has picked up a new companion: some biker dude played by, uh, Ted Raimi. Yeah, that’s right. TED RAIMI. As a biker dude. Windom tells both him and Leo about the White Lodge, and how it’s so happy there it’s irritating. He loves the Black Lodge and its evil denizens a lot more, and he has sworn to find it. In the meantime, the biker wants the beer Windom promised him.

Bobby talks to Shelly, hoping to pimp her out for the pageant. If she wins, she can use it as a launching pad to greater fame and fortune. She doesn’t want to do it.

Cooper discovers Shelly’s portion of the poem. He knows right away what it is, because he’d originally sent it to Caroline, the woman from Pittsburgh, as a romantic gesture. After examining the writing, he determines that Leo transcribed the poem for Windom.

Maj. Briggs shows up to discuss Windom Earle’s Air Force record. He says he will help with these classified documents, but only because it will help save lives. He also recognizes Andy’s drawing of the hieroglyph. He dreamed about it. He also dreamed of a man full of stars with an owl flying in his darkness. There’s that good ol’ creepiness that TWIN PEAKS is so good at, every once in a while. Great imagery.

Windom Earle makes use of that arrow that Leo made for him by shooting it into the biker. It looks like he’s going to take one of Cooper’s pawns . . .

Pete accidentally drops Catherine’s mystery box, and it opens, only to reveal another box within, this one decorated with Zodiac signs.

Cooper and Annie go out on a date. They kiss, and Windom Earle sees this. It looks like he’s found his fourth queen.

Bobby catches Gordon and Shelly kissing each other.

Dick hosts a wine tasting for Ben’s pine weasel plot. Things don’t go well. Lucy decides Dick is a dick.

Cooper finds Windom’s next move at the gazebo near where he kissed Annie. It’s the biker, dead, encased in a giant paper mâché pawn. A note warns Cooper that next time, the victim will be someone he knows . . .

Once again, a lot happens in these episodes, but most of it serves the subplots rather than the main storyline. They show Bob and the dwarf just for the sake of showing them. The stuff about the White and Black Lodges is cool, and it’s great to see the Owl Cave and the hieroglyph within. It’s all good mystery, but there’s not enough of it.

Is this what we’ve come to? Dick handling charity events for Ben Horne? A bunch of love stories? A fucking beauty pageant? Granted, it’s all fun stuff with interesting characters, but it seems to be serving itself rather than the story.

It’s good to see Windom Earle finally being absorbed into the main story, though. He’s great fun to watch, but up until now, he was just a device to force Cooper’s hand in certain scenes. Just wait until you see how his part of this series pays off. Stay tuned for more.

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About John Bruni

John Bruni is the author of DONG OF FRANKENSTEIN (New Kink), POOR BASTARDS AND RICH FUCKS and TALES OF QUESTIONABLE TASTE (StrangeHouse) and STRIP (Riot Forge). His short work has appeared in anthologies like A HACKED-UP HOLIDAY MASSACRE (Pill Hill), ZOMBIE! ZOMBIE! BRAIN BANG! (StrangeHouse) and the critically acclaimed VILE THINGS (Comet). He edited STRANGE SEX 3 for StrangeHouse, and he was the editor and publisher of TABARD INN: TALES OF QUESTIONABLE TASTE. Find out more at www.talesofquestionabletaste.com and www.talesofunspeakabletaste.blogspot.com.
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