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Twin Peaks: Check Mate

“Everything is known to me, but beyond my reach.”

In the previous episode, Major Briggs’s colleague described their search for communication from space and the parallel search, in Twin Peaks itself, for information from “below.” This episode begins with something spacey (a shot of the stars) and something that might be “below”: an overexposed white stone chair, the Major in the chair, and an owl big enough “to cloud [his] mind.”

Although the visuals look dated, this is an excellent scene, and most of that excellence is due to Don S. Davis’s delivery. He has the thankless task of speaking grammatically-precise sentences of vague prophecy and portent, yet he manages to do so with such quiet dignity that I could watch him do it all day, even if we never arrived at a particular answer as to what the heck is going on.

Or maybe we do know enough: we know Briggs and an unofficial group within the Air Force is looking for the White Lodge. Why? Well, probably because it exists. Where will that search take them? We don’t know, because they don’t know. We just know that all this is real, because we have utter faith in Major Briggs and his pureness of both heart and intellect.

I have less faith in his son, Bobby. In the previous episode, Bobby spoke lovingly of his father, which made me like him more. In this episode, he leaves Shelly to deal with Leo because he’s “Ben Horne’s new boy.” He deserved that slap, and more. I can only hope he manages to redeem himself soon.

The highlight of this episode—the scenes that I’ll bet were featured heavily in promos at the time—was the stand-off at the Dead Dog Farm and its resolution by David Duchovny’s Denise, the deviously delightful DEA agent, dragged up as Dennis. (Say that ten times fast.) I love the way Denise decided to cross-dress as male just to mix things up, but then used her feminine wiles and damn-fine legs to help Coop out of the hostage situation.

I said last week that my theory is that the Dead Dog Farm is the real-world equivalent of the White Lodge. A bad photocopy, if you will. While he was trapped inside, newly-deputized Coop didn’t want to die. Does that imply that he has “imperfect courage”? Or was his reaction to his own impending death perfectly reasonable? He also needed help to get out. If Coop finds the White Lodge, will he be man enough to handle it?

Clues, Questions, and Answers:

Jean Renault told Cooper: “Before you came here, Twin Peaks was a simple place…Quiet people lived a quiet life. Then, a pretty girl dies, and you arrive, and everything changes...Suddenly, the quiet people are quiet no more. Suddenly, the simple dream becomes the nightmare. So, if you die, maybe you will be the last to die. Maybe you brought the nightmare with you. And maybe the nightmare will die with you.” Is Jean just talking about his desire to return to the simpler world of drug-dealing and tourism? Or does he sense the dark forces at work in—or below—Twin Peaks? Either way, his woeful speech seems like terrible foreshadowing.

Other Things that are Still Happening:

• Ed and Norma are still filled with longing. Nadine is still horny. Ben is still crazy.

• James is still caught up in a bad Lifetime movie.

• Harry is still madly in love with Josie, despite her dominant emotions being resistance and feigned helplessness.

This episode ended on a horrifying cliffhanger: Shelly hearing noises in her perpetually half-done home and then seeing this OMFG:

The flickering lights are happening all over town, and they also reveal a murdered vagrant in Harry’s office. Windom Earle has made another move, and I think we should be just as frightened by his murderous impulses as we are by the fact that he, like David Lynch himself, seems to use electricity to mark a new stage in the game.

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

1 comment:

  1. The pot is still on simmer, despite the resolution of the Jean Renault arc. Although the confrontation between Renault and Cooper should have been the highlight of the episode, the sting operation seemed amateurish at best. When it goes wrong, Cooper valiantly swaps himself for Dennis/Denise and Ernie. Renault holds Cooper responsible for the death of his two brothers, even though Cooper did not directly kill either of them--apparently because he believes Cooper is the reason for all the 'bad joss' in Twin Peaks (or Cooper is the catalyst for bringing it to the surface). Denise comes to the rescue, and Renault is killed. In contrast to the the Laura Palmer murder mystery, this arc was pure soap opera--and that's why it didn't work for me. Although I'm happy to put Renault's accent behind me...

    The episode begins with Major Briggs trying to describe his 'experience', and we see a strange mark on his neck. It appears that he is finally willing to talk about his secret work in the Air Force, but as soon as he mentions that his group is seeking the White Lodge two enlisted men take him away. The last time the Major mentioned the White Lodge he disappeared for two days--how long can F&L tease the Lodges? I think it would have been better to provide a some more information here to keep us interested.

    As for the other arcs, truant James gets in deeper with Evelyn Marsh, but we now know he is being set up. Nadine and her super-strength save Ed from a jealous Hank. Meanwhile, Andy and Dick resort to a caper to discover what happened to Nicky's parents, and Ben Horne is re-enacting the Battle of Gettysburg (and correctly stating the strategic importance of Little Round Top). Sheriff Truman and Josie share a passionate moment, and Catherine Martell is surprisingly quite fond of General Lee. Bobby seems to be more interested in his new job (and Audrey) than Shelly--wasn't it only a few days ago when he vowed to shower Shelly with gifts? How fickle these kids are. These arcs are mostly filler, although James does describe why he left Twin Peaks--apparently he wants to make a clean break with the town, unfortunately for Donna...

    One big end-of-episode reveal is the awakening of Leo, apparently ready to take revenge on Shelly. While this cannot be called a plot twist--who couldn't see this coming--at least we no longer have to watch Leo spit up food. The other reveal is the rather amazing feat of Windom Earle placing a dead body/chessboard/stuffed deer display in the sheriff's office. And, of course, flashing lights abound.

    Great review Josie! I always enjoy your description and analysis of the Major. He is a great character, but unfortunately everything is classified. I get the impression from the Major that the Lodges are much more than a curiosity for him and his group--as in world-level importance, or maybe even balance-of-the-universe-level importance. Unfortunately, it's a lot easier to intimate importance than it is to explain it...


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