by Josie Kafka
This episode is almost a sequel to the previous one: Gordon Cole is still in town, but on his way out. Coop and Annie are building a relationship. Bobby nearly gets a comeuppance. And Windom Earle finally levels up in the game of life, death, and chess.
We also got quite a few box metaphors: The puzzle box that Catherine can’t get open. Coop’s heart being “locked away” and Annie being the crowbar that will break it open again. The big box at the end of the episode—a mystery box with a real tragedy inside: a man killed just to send a message.
[Seriously, there’s an academic article on the theme of boxes in TV shows waiting to be written. Twin Peaks, Lost, True Detective, and Felicity—Felicity!—all contain complicated box metaphors.]
The opening scene revealed that Windom Earle’s earthquake uncovered more of the pictogram, which implies…what? That it wants to be found? Or that it wants to be found by a person who is searching for evil? As Earle points out in his pseudo-fairy-tale description to Leo and Heavy Metal Guy, the White Lodge is a Narnia-like bucolic paradise. The Black Lodge is a place not just of evil, but of power: “the bearer may order the world to his liking.”
That’s an implicit response to a question that has loomed over the past few episodes: what does “evil” mean in this world? Is it an absolute force existing independently, a desire within particular individuals, or a set of acts? For instance, think about Bobby. He’s not evil, or inhabited by Bob, but he wavers between kindness and dickishness to Shelly. When he’s being a jerk, is it his semi-evil nature that makes him act that way, or is the act itself evil?
Those are interesting questions to consider from the other side, too: what does “good” mean in this show? Coop is curious, Coop has rules, Coop follows a code, but is he inherently good? Or is good just the absence of bad? Is good just bad waiting to happen? (Or Bob waiting to happen)?
In this episode, Coop’s curiosity makes him “feel” that three different mysteries—Leo’s disappearance, Earle’s presence, and Owl Cave—all tie together. I’d add Josie’s death (and I’m not sure why Coop wouldn’t). The good Major Briggs agrees to help if it will “prevent future loss of life,” which implies that “life” is the “good” here; death must be the evil. Laura Palmer, though, might disagree with that idea. Death was her escape, wasn’t it?
Coop refers to Earle’s murder-box as a “terrify caprice” that defies logic. Perhaps, for Coop, logic is good—logic means the world and those in it make sense. Earle is drawn to the Black Lodge and its power so that he can create an illogical world that is not only filled with murder, but confusion. For a man like Coop, that’s a worthwhile enemy to fight.
Other Things that are Still Happening:
• Beauty pageant, Ghostwood, puzzle box, wine tasting.
• The conversation between Billy Zane and Coop is cute: “The Hindus say love is a ladder to Heaven.” “The Hindus have also been known to take hikes on hot coals for recreational purposes.”
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?)