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Twin Peaks: The Orchid’s Curse

“Are you looking for secrets?”

The subterfuge is afoot in this week’s episode: Donna tries to scam Harold, Cooper and Harry figure out how to get the edge on Renault while Ben Horne tries to get the edge on Cooper, and Shelley and Bobby continue to attempt to get rich on Leo’s condition. But it’s the physical body, and the automatic acts and habits that comprise our characters, that are the dominant theme of this episode.

Mr. Pinckle’s struggle with the wheelchair sling for Leo is a great example of Lynchian humor. It’s slapstick, crude, and reminiscent of Bergson’s conception of humor as automatic and repetitive, evocative of our own mechanistic physicality. Lynch’s humor, in other words, is despairing statement about the least sublime aspects of humanity. That mechanical, automatic aspect of humanity seeps into even the least humorous situations, as when Harold Smith collapsed when Donna forced him outside.

The courtroom scene in the Roadhouse (complete with red stage curtains) contained both de jure and de facto law: formalities, EEGs, and legalisms aside, the Judge’s deliberation came down to his own insistence on staying tapped in to the nature of the community. The Judge, perversely, loves Twin Peaks. He seems to know there is a darkness, but to either see beyond it or to willfully ignore it. He says the woods are “beautiful, but strange.” He operates as though the strangeness isn’t growing.

Donna didn’t exhibit great judgment in tricking Harold. He sees himself as a delicate flower, requiring care and a carefully modulated environment. Donna’s trickery is a massive betrayal, akin to putting an orchid outside during a snowstorm—but only because that is how Harold chooses to see it, his automatic reaction.

Cooper’s automatic impulse is to save women in peril. (We’ll find out the motives behind this impulse in a few episodes—can we call it a retroactive fridging?) His discovery of Audrey’s location permits him to follow the impulse of his inherent sense of goodness—to trick the trickster Renault. Both Cooper and the Judge operated outside of normal channels in this episode, suggesting that there is something to be said for human judgment in lieu of bureaucratic formality. Those hints of possible greatness are what make even Lynch’s darkest works bearable and tantalizing. Redemption, correct action, and perfect courage are possible, even if they are rarely achieved. Maybe they’re only achieved by Hawk, who definitely belongs on my datable characters list.

Clues, Questions, and Answers:

• Cooper has only been in Twin Peaks for 12 days!

• There’s another scam going on, involving Mr. Tojomura. But I don’t want to spoil the big reveal.

• The back rooms of One-Eyed Jack’s look so much like the red room.

• An owl seemed to be watching over One-Eyed Jack’s.

• Harold said the ultimate secret is knowing who killed you.

Bits and Pieces:

• Mr. Pinckle: “Sometimes you gotta hit it hard. It’s like a woman that way.”

• Harold: “Well, actually I grew up in books.”

• The Judge: “The woods are wondrous here. But strange.”

• Lynch or Frost? David Lynch became increasingly less involved by the second season, and where I say “Lynch” I should probably say “Frost.” But it’s impossible for me to separate some of the ideas and themes in Twin Peaks from the ideas in Lynch’s films. So there you go.

• In the next episode, we’ll see a horrible echo of the silly way Pinckle’s was left hanging.

Three out of four Hawks

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)


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