Twin Peaks: Double Play

“Holy smokes.”

Windom Earle, the chaotic-evil shadow-self of Dale Cooper’s lawful-good FBI agent, has arrived. His presence has loomed over the past few episodes, with scattered references turning into chess moves and, finally, a corpse.

This is a fast-paced episode, albeit an oddly-paced one: it must resolve those terrible cliffhangers from last week while setting us up for the mysteries to come. The Shelly/Leo fight is horrifying, and I jumped in more than a few places. Leo really scares the hell out of me, perhaps more than he should. That Bobby did the right thing and came to Shelly’s aid against such a horrifying monster makes me like him again—either I’m capricious, or Twin Peaks is really wavering back on forth on his character.

That might be the case, as changeability is a theme in this episode. Norma and Ed decided that it was okay to break their marriage vows without shame or apology. Major Briggs, too, began to admit to himself that perhaps the Air Force, which he has seen as a force for the good represented by the “sacred” Pledge of Allegiance, might not be as purely good as he is.

That theme—the breaking of vows, the rejection of laws—ties into the appearance of Windom Earle. As Cooper explains, Earle sees chess as an allegory for life. It’s also a game he tends to win. But, after Cooper fell in love with Earle’s wife (another vow broken), and Earle went “mad,” he began to play the game “beyond the edges of the board” that Cooper has become so fascinated with in this post-Laura Palmer Twin Peaks.

Unable “to distinguish between what’s right and what’s wrong,” but with a mind like “diamond…cold and hard and brilliant,” Windom Earle represents the unfathomable. Cooper’s delivery is usually a combination of upbeat and deadpan. But when Coop tells Harry “you don’t know what he’s capable of…You don’t know,” there’s genuine fear in his voice. It’s fear of the world beyond the edges of the board.

On a more formal note: What a difference a few decades makes. Coop simply recounts what happened with Earle—the cheating, the death, the scheming, what it all means. These days, that’d all be in flashback form, and would take at least 30 minutes more than it did here. Heck, these days the Earle story would be a whole season’s worth of flashbacks.

Clues, Questions, and Answers:

• To continue my theorizing from the previous review: if the Dead Dog Farm is the bad photocopy of the White Lodge, then surely Windom Earle’s cabin is the bad mimeograph of the Black Lodge, right?
• Major Briggs, who believes he has spent time in the White Lodge, might know more. If we need him, he’ll be “in the shadows.”

• I love the idea that a headline in a newspaper would use two exclamation points like this: “Asian Man Killed!!”

Other Things that are Still Happening:

• Audrey and Bobby want to make sure Ben Horne doesn’t go too crazy and melt into a useless ice cube.

• The dispute between the mayor and his dead brother’s witchy wife has been resolved by the miracle of pure sex appeal.

• The question of whether or not Little Nicky is evil has also, blessedly, been put to rest.

• Andrew and Catherine are using Josie as a pawn in their own game to get back at Andrew’s old feud with Eckhardt, who is now in Twin Peaks. We know he’s evil because he wears sunglasses indoors at night:

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?)


Gavrielle said...

Josie, it's been a few years since I last saw Twin Peaks, so I don't have anything intelligent (or even anything stupid) to add, but I just wanted to let you know how much I'm enjoying the reviews.

Josie Kafka said...

Thanks, Gavrielle!