Twin Peaks: The Black Widow

“Living a life of deep harmony and joy. Or something like that.”

Back in “Dispute Between Brothers,” Special Agent Dale Cooper expressed his desire to relocate to Twin Peaks. As his current professional difficulties have left him at liberty, Twin Peaks decides to take a detour into the realm of house-hunting. Dead Dog Farm: “It’s worse than it sounds.”

Well, sort of. As the real estate agent explains, the farm is named for a principle: “Of all the people in the world, the best and the worst are drawn to a dead dog. Most turn away. Only those with the purest of heart can feel its pain. And, somewhere in between, the rest of us struggle.”

Leaving aside the awesomeness of a life-lesson imparted by a real estate agent (oh, this wacky show!), there are some interesting ideas here. As I’ve made clear in the past few reviews, second-season Twin Peaks feels like two shows to me: One, a flat soap opera about what I’m calling the “Other Things that are Still Happening.” Two, a fascinating portrayal of Dale Cooper’s journey off “the edges of the board,” as he said last week.

We can define those two shows—or those two sets of characters—in terms of the real estate agent’s description: Cooper is like those “with the purest of heart.” Harry might be, too. Bob is the type of man drawn to a dead dog for other reasons. And “the rest of us” are those characters living boring, melodramatic lives, turning away from the abject misery and pure potential represented by the White Lodge and its shadow self.

Major Briggs, that “deeply weird individual,” as Bobby described him in a touching scene, is definitely one of the pure-hearted. His return was welcome, and signaled by the flashing lights—here, lightening—that signify a change in reality throughout David Lynch’s oeuvre:


Plus, he was dressed like Snoopy:



As Twin Peaks shows, the purest of heart and the rest of us don’t exist in separate worlds. Epic Good and Evil can also draw garden-variety good and evil, just as the Dead Dog Farm drew the cocaine-dealing baddies, who have been using it as a meeting house. Does Major Briggs’s mysterious return mean that the worlds are getting closer together? Will the plan to use Ernie the CPA will go flawlessly? We’ll find out soon.


Clues, Questions, and Answers:

• Feuding brothers, Civil War madness, double-crosses: I’m sensing a theme of duplicity.

• Coop flipped a coin to figure out which of two houses to visit, and the coin landed on a third—the Dead Dog Farm—which led to him catching the bad guys and clearing his name. Tibetan Method?

• I’d argue that the Dead Dog Farm is the real-world equivalent of the White Lodge. The real-world equivalent of the Black Lodge will show up in two episodes.

• Mrs. Briggs was sitting next to an owl lamp.

• Let’s take a moment to appreciate the scene screencapped above, in which Audrey’s reaction to Denise is the realization that women can be DEA agents, too. (Well, “more or less.”) What a great example of feminism and identity politics intersecting, and an illustration of the simple way that just seeing a role model can change a young person’s life.

Other Things that are Still Happening:

• Ben Horne is getting crazier, and Bobby is getting wrapped up in the Horne family drama.

• The Mayor’s brother is dead, and his sexy wife might be a BDSM witch.

• Norma and Ed are filled with longing and regret.

• Is Little Nicky really the devil? Dick and Andy think so:



Josie Kafka reviews The Vampire Diaries, True Detective, Game of Thrones, and various other things that take her fancy. She is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)

2 comments:

Docnaz said...

Delightful episode, I thought. I can' t see Denise as anyone but David Duchovny/Mulder. I love any time Shakespeare is recited and I recite along. I thought the Marsh driver was the character who played Andy at first. I liked this episode better than the last, but even the bad episodes have laugh out loud moments. Hawk falling backwards through the door was great.

Keith Kotay said...

Not one of my favorite episodes from a plot standpoint. The cocaine frame-up may have seemed more serious the first time I saw Twin Peaks, but now it just seems like a traditional soap opera twist that doesn't accomplish anything. The writers should have concentrated on the border crossing, lack of coordination with Canadian authorities, and the fact that someone was killed in the operation (by Hawk). The rescue attempt is something for which Cooper does bear responsibility. Whether it can be excused by the imminent danger Audrey faced depends on FBI regulations.

The Milford arc provides 'local color' but doesn't seem very interesting. Ditto for the Nadine arc, the Nicky arc, and the Marsh arc. It's possible that F&L are using these arcs to indicate the strange effect that proximity to the Lodges has on people in Twin Peaks and the surrounding area. Or, they are simply trying to fill episodes until the dramatic events at the end of the season.

With the murders 'solved' and Leland/BOB out of the story (BOB might be around, but we don't know where) we are in desperate need of a villain. Jean Renault is the stand-in villain for the moment--the actor projects a decent amount of menace (plus a standard American-attempting-a-French-Canadian accent), but we don't see him very often. The up-and-coming villain is Windom Earle, but the writers are only teasing him for now.

The big reveal is the sudden reappearance of Major Briggs in a flash of lighting--for some reason dressed as a WWI fighter pilot (?). He isn't sure how long he's been gone, and he tells his wife that things are not alright. Following whatever mind-bending experience he has been through and his sudden return to the real world, he manages to tell Bobby to put out his cigarette--I had to laugh at that.

It seems out of character that Hawk becomes so suddenly enamored by the widow Milford, although his pratfall was amusing. Then, the same thing happens to all men in the police station--perhaps it was done as a joke, or there is something sinister about the widow (I don't remember this arc, so I doubt it).

Finally, I've realized that complimenting the reviewer first is not beneficial for comment poetry, so I'm going to do it last: Great review, Josie! :-) I like your analysis of what's happening to Cooper--how he's going beyond "the edges of the board." We always knew that Cooper had a mystical streak--as evidenced by his 'Tibetan investigative method'--but his experiences in Twin Peaks have pushed him to another level. Prophetic dreams, waking visions, and interaction with inhabiting spirits tend to have that effect. Cooper's 'pure heart' and lack of fear (the two may be related) enable him to integrate these events into his worldview without losing his sanity. This has been helped by some objective facts (the COOPER/COOPER/COOPER message delivered by the Major, and the physical return of his missing ring by the Giant), as well as some shared subjective experiences with other trusted individuals (Truman, Hawk, etc.). Imagine having these experiences without any external corroboration--I'm not sure even Cooper could have withstood that. Which begs the question, "How did Laura Palmer retain her sanity for so long?"