2.12 The Black Widow
“She killed him with sex.”
Once again, I wonder if there is something more to the people of Twin Peaks. The newlywed woman, Lana (Robyn Lively), seems to have the worst row of luck with men. Any potential lovers seem to have something awful happen to them. Dick is considering adopting a child named Nick, but begins to wonder about the mystery of the death of Nick’s parents. Are these mundane things, or is something supernatural at work?
There’s a great scene this episode where Audrey and Denise meet. Audrey just assumes Denice is a woman and hearing that she’s an FBI agent seems to give Audrey an idea. There’s also a pretty great scene where Denice reapplies makeup while putting the screws on Ernie. David Duchovny is having a blast with this role and it’s a fun addition to this cast.
While this episode has some interesting character moments, with each episode, Twin Peaks is losing more and more focus. While the looser structure might not inherently be bad, the weak subplots begin to build. The James and Nadine stories in particular feel like weak links. This result is episodes that have some great moments, but are also brought down by mediocre subplots.
“It was just my legs.”
The opening account Major Briggs gives of his disappearance is a magnificent example of the surreal in this show. Briggs sits on a throne that seems to have grown out of the woods, while he’s recounting his memories. In actuality, he’s in the police station with Harry and Cooper. Briggs says that the government is looking for The White Lodge. Before Cooper can get more information, Briggs is whisked away by the military.
Ernie sets up a drug bust for Denice and he ends up wearing a wire. Cooper is still suspended so Harry deputized him so he can join the bust. Denice goes back to being Dennis for the bust. The show does a great job of keeping Cooper’s perspective throughout the scene, he can only hear the deal go south as he waits outside the house. He trades himself to Jacques for Ernie and Dennis and then the scene takes place from within the house as he’s held hostage. Denise returns and tricks Jacques, who ends up dead in the aftermath.
The Nadine subplot in this episode accentuates both the merits and problems with the subplot. It reverses expectations by having Nadine beat up Hank when he gets into a fight with Ed, which is quite funny. However, it also makes Nadine a bit too delusional to be plausible. She doesn’t see that Mike has no interest in her and she’s forcing herself on him in a way that both doesn’t feel plausible, even if she is under the delusion of being 18 years old, and also has some sinister, rapey undertones.
2.14 Double Play
“Windom Earle’s mind is like a diamond, it’s cold and hard and brilliant.”
In the last episode, a body was placed in the sheriff’s office. Cooper believes it’s the work of Windom Earle (Kenneth Welsh), his first partner in the agency, a brilliant agent who went mad. They’ve been playing a game of chess, a game Cooper has never won against him. This killer could be just the thing to give the season some direction and focus. It might have been better if this started a few episodes back.
Cooper gives the backstory that the woman he loved was Windom’s wife. The two of them were tasked to protect her and she ended up being murdered. Cooper believes Windom killed his wife, but he could never prove it. This reveal gets more into Cooper’s past and reveals that he does indeed have his own dark secrets.
There’s a great sequence where the now awakened Leo frightens Shelly in their house. It’s shot like a slasher film sequence and does a great job of using lighting, framing, and objects of Leo’s past to craft a great moment of terror.
Meanwhile, this season has traced Ben’s descent into madness as he reenacts the Civil War. Dr. Jacoby theorizes that Ben’s attempt to reenact the war so that the South wins is a way for him to reverse his own defeat. I like that the show gives his madness a purpose. It’s also a funny subplot.
2.15 Slaves and Masters
“I thought the North won the Civil War.”
Albert comes back to Twin Peaks to investigate Windom for the FBI. Windom has been sending pieces of Caroline’s wedding clothes to random police departments. Albert comments on Cooper’s change of dress to be more like the locals, it now visually designates that Cooper identifies himself with Twin Peaks. In the game of chess, a breakthrough happens when Cooper finds out that Pete is a great chess player, Cooper asks Pete to stall the game as much as possible since Cooper believes there will be a killing for every piece he loses.
This episode deals with the mountains of madness in Twin Peaks. Windom is a curious kind of mad, a sinister form of eccentricity, and he makes Leo his lacky with a shock collar. Nadine is also clearly disconnected from reality because she doesn’t bat an eye when she finds Ed and Norma in bed together, more upset that she got disqualified in the wrestling tournament. Ben is finally coerced out of his madness when he wins the war and “Grant” surrenders to him. A hopeful note that the madness can be overcome.
The past handful of episodes put James in a neighboring town in a subplot where he begins having an affair with Evelyn Marsh (Annette Mccarthy), a woman married to a rich, abusive man who travels a lot. It’s been a terrible story for a handful of reasons. It exists outside of the world of Twin Peaks gives a lot of screentime to a character who’s isolated himself from the main ensemble. The story shrilly hits a lot of film noir notes with very little nuance or grace. It also feels like it doesn’t evolve James in any way. He seems just as conflicted and confused by the end of this arc as he did at the start of it, making the whole subplot come across as pointless. It’s easily the worst story in the show so far.
© 2014 James Blake Ewing