Twin Peaks: The Condemned Woman

“There’s an epidemic of multiple gunshot wounds following this chick around.”

We can think of Twin Peaks as an off-balanced three-act play. The first act was the town-wide response to the mystery of who killed Laura Palmer. Once that question was answered (over the course of the seventh, eighth, and ninth episodes of the second season) the show meandered for a while in its second act. Without a central question of what happened, all it had to fall back on is what would happen.

The end of this episode marks the beginning of the third act with the very explicit new mystery: What happened to Josie?


We know it’s something that has to do with the White Lodge and Bob because—well, because there’s Bob asking the question right on screen. Also, there’s the man in the Red Room, dancing once again. (Let’s not forget that Cooper has frequently been described as a dancer in this season.) And Josie seems to be trapped in a knob in the Great Northern, which is a terrible fate. Did she resist Bob’s advances? Or give in to them? Is she being punished, or saved?


Josie’s death makes the Catherine/Eckhardt/Andrew plot slightly more relevant. It’s still a struggle to care, though. Eckhardt and Andrew are relatively recent additions to the cast, both vindicting for actions that happened before the show started. I’m more interested in their long-running feud in terms of what is has provoked: Josie’s mysterious death and Ben Horne’s new attempts to stick it to Catherine once again.

Ben Horne’s new devotion to environmental causes is also a fun chance for Audrey to flirt with Billy Zane. The two of them look so much like classic movie stars that I just want to pull them off the screen and force them to breed.

Indeed, this is an episode that focuses on love. Harry’s conflict over his duty to his job and his love for Josie is quite tragic. Norma and Ed are engaged; Norma and Hank are getting a divorce; Nadine and Mike are going steady. Donna has decided that James should roam free and find himself.

The love theme also intersects with the background threat of Windom Earle, who sent parts of Percy Shelley’s “Love’s Philosophy” to Shelly, Donna, and Audrey. It’s a beautiful poem, and that is probably part of what made the young women all show up at the Roadhouse even though they realized what Norma said outright: it sounds dangerous. Earle seems to be choosing his next victim with care. He has the time to do so thanks to Pete’s chess expertise.

If you’ve stuck through Twin Peaks this long, you’re in for a real treat in this last act, the last six episodes of the show. All the pieces but one are on the board and we’re moving fast towards the spectacular series finale. You’re also quite lucky: back in 1991, Twin Peaks went off the air after this episode. Josie-as-knob would be a horrible series finale, wouldn’t it?

Josie Kafka reviews The Vampire Diaries, True Detective, Game of Thrones, and various other things that take her fancy. She is not now, and has never been, a knob.

3 comments:

Docnaz said...

Josie, are you sure Twin Peaks went off the air after this episode. I was sure I missed the last episode when it aired (S1 E22) and I knew Cooper did what he did that last episode and Wikipedia has # of US viewers for all episodes. Or maybe I am misunderstanding.

Josie Kafka said...

If I recall correctly, whatever research I did when writing this review indicated that the show stopped airing after this...and then maybe the burned off some episodes in the summer?...I must have read that somewhere, since it's not the sort of fact I could have accidentally made up.

But I wrote this review a long time ago and don't remember. And I was so young when it aired that I wasn't allowed to watch it.

Josie Kafka said...

IMDb says there was a six-week hiatus. Maybe that's something I just misinterpreted at the time.

Honestly, I have no idea.