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Twin Peaks: The Path to the Black Lodge

“Windom Earle’s playing off the board.”

Not much happens in this episode—it’s a place-setting episode that focuses on spookiness, foreboding, and learning the capital of North Carolina. But it pins down some of the thematic oppositions for the finale: the nature of evil vs. the power of love, which Major Briggs worries is not enough. Will it be?

This episode does answer some of the questions I raised in my previous review: Evil is both the means and the ends. Or, as 1960s-era Windom Earle mentioned on the old videotape, “evil for the sake of evil.” That idea is echoed during the Ben Horne, Baby Daddy subplot: he thinks he’s doing good by doing good (i.e., telling the truth). But is he? It would break up a family just so Horne can feel good about himself. That motivation contrasts with Cooper’s desire to do right by an entire town by fighting evil and understanding where it comes from.

It also contrasts with Bobby’s realization of his own recent jerkishness. He refers to his recent mood swings—“I was wearing suits”—as a bad patch that he’s now over, having realized that he loves Shelly. There’s a sweetness to that idea that I appreciate, but I also love the way that the soap-opera plots begin to dovetail with this episode’s more grandiose themes. Taking the time to set up that story has finally paid off.

This episode takes its time dealing with the murdered metalhead, too: the clumsy weight of carrying the giant chess-piece, his friend’s grief, Andy’s sobs. Twin Peaks luxuriates in delay—occasionally with bad results (James)—but often in a way that reminds us what’s at stake for the people involved in this story: even the bit parts, the “pawns,” have their tragedies.

And their joys. Cooper’s symptoms of lovesickness (or malaria) emphasize that he’s not just fighting evil, he’s also living a life that he tries to fill with joy. Luckily, he’s doing so with Annie, who is slightly more age-appropriate than Audrey, his original love interest, who has now been deflowered by Billy Zane. Way to go, Audrey! And way to go, Pete, for being a good friend to the random girl you just met.

The conversation between Annie and Cooper emphasized curiosity (the Augustine quote), the difficulty of seeing the world as it is (the Heisenberg quote), and the foreboding that has plagued their relationship: their kiss is adorable, but the crashing plates bring it to a crashing end. The slow drip of the syrup feels like Lynchian portent, but it’s also an image that has resonance with some of the events of the finale.

And, just in case we didn’t get that, the Giant made it even more obvious. Annie’s decision to enlist in the upcoming beauty pageant provoke his reappearance, waving his hands and mouthing “Noooo!!!!!” in the most obvious way possible. Gee, you think something is going to happen to Annie during the beauty pageant?

Clues, Questions, and Answers:

• Since Andy’s drawing of the petroglyphs is on the same chalkboard that has held a map of Twin Peaks for most of this season, it’s hard not to see the petroglyph as a map. A map and a clock, of course.

• Did we know Annie’s last name is “Blackburne”? Because that sounds ominous. So does the repetition of St. Augustine’s “Hear the other side, see the other side.” The other side of what? Of what?! What?!?

• What’s up with the shaky hands?

• Another mention of dancing: Coop teaches Annie how.

• The final sequence of shots—the high school, the sheriff’s station, and so on—prefaced by the Mayor’s statement that “there’s something wrong here,” sets up the appearance of Bob’s hand emerging slowly from the curtain that separates reality from the hyperreality of the Black Lodge, which is reflected in a puddle of evil goo. It’s classic Twin Peaks, and spooky as hell:

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

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