Twin Peaks: The Black Widow   Rewatch 
October 23, 2014 5:08 PM - Season 2, Episode 12 - Subscribe

Bobby finally gets a job, and Ben discovers a love of history. The Milford honeymoon is unexpectedly cut short, and James finds himself stuck in a different kind of domestic drama. Meanwhile, Cooper stumbles upon a fortuitous real estate opportunity, and the Briggses bear witness to an astonishing paranormal occurrence.

Scheduling: new episodes posted every Tuesday and Thursday. Both re-watchers and new viewers are welcome.

Watching: available for streaming on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and for free on Hulu and CBS's site.

Previous Episode Threads:
Season One: Pilot, Traces to Nowhere, Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer, Rest in Pain, The One-armed Man, Cooper's Dreams, Realization Time, The Last Evening

Season Two: May the Giant Be With You, Coma, The Man Behind the Glass, Laura's Secret Diary, The Orchid's Curse, Demons, Lonely Souls, Drive With a Dead Girl, Arbitrary Law, Dispute Between Brothers, Masked Ball

BONUS STUFF: An enterprising art director in Istanbul (not Constantinople) has designed an impressive series of posters trumpeting Twin Peaks' return in 2016. Even though these aren't official, it looks like the gauntlet has been thrown for Showtime's promotional department.
posted by Strange Interlude (4 comments total)
There's not really much of a through-line for this particular episode, but I'm going to try to connect some dots, or at least create a line of best fit.

One of the key elements of this episode is characters jumping to bizarre conclusions based on the evidence in front of them. The mayor accuses the widow Milford of murder and (euphemistically?) "witchcraft", even though it was probably just poor Dougie's time; Similarly, Dick suspects little Nicky of offing his parents in spite of all indications pointing to the kid simply being a badly-socialized brat. We have suggestions of spooky action at a distance (Nicky is a disaster magnet, and Lana is a dude magnet), but the malign allegations are never really backed up for the audience. One might say that these are instances of false superstitions held among the populace of Twin Peaks, incorrect beliefs that result in unproductive lines of inquiry.

By contrast, we also have instances of "true" superstitions in the show's cosmology, fantastical beliefs which do seem to bear fruit. Cooper flips a coin to choose between two real estate properties (a parallel to the White and Black Lodges?), only to have the coin land on a third, the Dead Dog Farm. The real estate agent tells Cooper that the property is so named because of a legend about a dead dog attracting the attention of both good and evil men (much like the Red Room), which is borne out when Cooper discovers evidence of cocaine trafficking on the premises.

There's also Bobby's re-invocation of the Major's dream from Season One, of a shining white house full of peace and light. With the additional background we've gotten over the past few episodes, it seems fairly clear that the Major was in fact receiving a vision of the White Lodge. No sooner does Bobby tell Mrs. Briggs about the dream, than the Major miraculously re-appears in the house, almost as if he had been brought there by the simple act of remembrance.

Further along this thread, we have the Major's Air Force colleague intimating that the phenomena that Garland was investigating might have deep implications that transcend mundane national security. Although it's barely touched upon in the series proper, this does suggest a possible avenue of development for the revival: What real-world damage could be wrought by a denizen of the Black Lodge that somehow found itself behind the levers of earthly power? 25 years in Dale Cooper's body gives BOB plenty of time to infiltrate the FBI, or worse.

Back to my point -- and I do have one -- this way of viewing Twin Peaks' strange Season Two plot cul-de-sacs suggests that the town's (and the show's) problems might stem from the tendency of its citizens to become distracted by petty, imaginary hobgoblins, when there are in fact very real, very dangerous things lurking just below the surface. And true to Lynch, it takes the pure-hearted instincts of a true Bookhouse Boy to tell the difference.
posted by Strange Interlude at 5:02 PM on October 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

The only thing I really appreciate about the episode is that it starts to expand beyond the boundaries of Twin peaks, to ask if Twin Peaks is really a self-contained world (I'm counting the entirety of Canada as part of the town for this purpose, and Canada is entirely represented by One-Eyed Jacks, which is owned by Ben Horne).

I don't think James' little side adventure is successful, in part because it feels like an odd episode of Columbo rather than a Twin Peaks episode. But it does suggest that the whole world is full of little Twin Peaks, each with their own soap opera storylines. This idea will be more fully realized in Deer Meadow, the anti-Twin Peaks of Fire Walk with me, a mean trailer park of a town where evil doesn't hide in the woods, but moves about brazenly. Deer Hollow is, in its own way, more disturbing and weirder than Twin Peaks, and in the film we also see more of Canada in the form of the Bang Bang Bar, which is more lurid and creepier than One-Eyed Jacks.

In this later expansion of Twin Peaks, you can see why Coop takes to Twin Peaks so much. The rest of the world is trashy and awful, and you can't go into a diner and ask for coffee or pie without dealing with surly waitstaff and insane fellow diners. The rest of the world is what Twin Peaks could turn into, if the evil wins.
posted by maxsparber at 6:12 PM on October 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I wish I'd been able to pull James' little melodrama into my synthesis above, but there wasn't much to work with. If nothing else, it does add a certain Tennessee Williams flavor to the proceedings, in much the same way that Harold's storyline did -- stories of insecure, bitter people trapped in circumstances not of their making. It would have been nice if the writers taken a bit of extra care to make sure it connected back to the established world of the show a little more, but as it is it's a bit isolated.

I'm hoping that sometime before the new year, Netflix or somebody gets the streaming rights back to Fire Walk With Me, so we can do a coordinated FanFare thread for it without people having to get a hold of a disc. I watched my personal DVD of it after we wrapped up the Laura Palmer case back in September, and it was so much richer than I had remembered, especially the first half-hour with Chet Desmond and the goings-on in Deer Meadow. Watching it along with the series (especially after having read The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer) made a big difference in terms of catching themes and symbols.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:25 PM on October 25, 2014

« Older Black-ish: Crime and Punishmen...   |  Project Runway: Finale, Part 2... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments