Welcome to this week’s installment of Twin Peaks Revisited, as we approach the end of the show’s bleakest period, creatively speaking. This episode was written by Scott Frost, and directed by Uli Edel. As always, I remind all new followers of these recaps that you can find all the previous Twin Peaks: Revisited columns right here and catch up. And this is, as always, a spoiler-free recap for anything that takes place after the particular episode we’re recapping.
Episode 22: “Double Play” – Aired February 2, 1991
The episode opens just where we left off in the last one, as Doc Hayward examines the corpse that was left in the Sheriff’s station after a power outage, and pulls out a chess piece from his mouth. Cooper quickly figures out that Windom Earle set off an explosion at the power station to cause a diversion, so he could place the corpse in the station. Knowing Earle as well as he does, he knows exactly what he did represents the first pawn taken in their continuing chess game. “Windom Earle has been in this room. I feel his presence.” Coop just got all Jedi on us there for a second.
At the Great Northern, the lights are still out and the place is decked out with candles. Audrey explains to Bobby how she needs his help to get her Father back to reality, and shows Bobby an ice cube in the palm of her hand. “Let’s pretend this is my father. And our job is to help him come back from limbo land, before he melts away and leaves us with nothing.” Audrey also reminds Bobby that from now on, with her father all crazy like, she’s the one he sucks up to.
Back at Shelly’s, she tries to escape from her own house now that her husband Leo has awoken from his vegetative state, and the house is also completely dark due to the power outage. Somehow Leo has locked the door from the inside, and he pushes his wheelchair in front of her as she attempts to escape. A lumbering Leo then comes at Shelly and throws her across the room, as she tries to escape by cutting a hole through the plastic sheeting around the unfinished addition to the house, and then grabs an ax and prepares to kill her. Luckily, Bobby finds a way into the house and wrestles with Leo, and Shelly then grabs a kitchen knife and stabs him in the leg. Leo screams, and then runs away into the woods, howling.
Back in Truman’s office, they take John Doe’s body away, and just as Cooper suspected, they found no fibers and no fingerprints. Earle left a meticulous crime scene. Coop tells Harry that he has been cleared of all charges, but that the suspension from the FBI still stands. Harry reminds Coop that regardless of his status with the FBI, he’s still his deputy, and if he wants this case, it’s all his.
Andy then comes to Lucy’s window and informs her that he and Dick think that Little Nicky is murderer, and that they think that he killed his parents at the age of six. Lucy is very doubtful, and gets all pissed off at Andy. She then is determined to get to the bottom of this whole situation so we can end this stupid subplot and move on. Thank you, Lucy.
Back in whatever town isn’t Twin Peaks, Evelyn’s husband Jeffrey meets James and thanks him for fixing the car, and then decides to take it out for a quick drive. Evelyn does her best to convince James to stay, despite having finished his job fixing the car. As Jeffrey leaves, we close up on Evelyn’s face and hear a car crash in the distance, because I guess the producers were too cheap to pay for an expensive car crash sequence, so we just hear crashes and screams.
At the Double R, Ed tells Doc that Nadine saved him from Hank. When Ed tells Doc Hayward about her heightened strength, the Doc reminds him about her extra adrenaline after emerging from her coma. He asks Ed if they’re sexually active, and Ed tells him that he “wakes up every morning feeling like he’s been hit by a timber truck.” That’s more of a mental picture of Ed and Nadine’s sex life than I ever wanted. Ed then tells Norma that Nadine saved him from Hank, who jumped him in his own home. When Norma tells Ed that Hank told her he was hit by a tree, Ed tells her that it was a redwood called Nadine. Norma tells Ed that Harry arrested him for parole violations, and that with Hank likely going back to jail, they can start their relationship over again.
Back in Not-Twin Peaks, Evelyn tries to seduce James again, and he pushes her away. “It’s wrong!” he says. “Love isn’t wrong James…please don’t leave me.” Seriously, the minute the story cuts to these two, the show becomes the worst daytime soap opera ever. They don’t show the daytime soap parody Invitation to Love anymore, because this plotline IS Invitation to Love.
Cooper finally tells Harry the Reader’s Digest version of his personal history with Windom Earle. He explains how when they were first partners, he and Earle played a game of chess every day for years. Four years ago, they had an assignment to protect a material witness to a federal crime whose name was Caroline. Cooper explains that they fell in love, and one night he failed in his vigilance, and couldn’t protect her, and she was stabbed to death, in an identical fashion to the victim they found in Truman’s office. Coop was also injured, and although he recovered, Windom Earle went mad and was institutionalized until his recent escape, because, as it turns out, Caroline was Windom Earle’s wife. But Cooper now believes that it was Windom who killed her, and he also thinks that Windom committed the original crime she witnessed. “Windom Earle’s mind is like a diamond…it’s cold, and hard, and brilliant. You don’t know what he’s capable of.”
Looking for James, Donna goes to Wallie’s, the bar where James originally met Evelyn. Evelyn just so happens to be there, and tells Donna that James did some work for her, but that he left yesterday for Mexico. Evelyn walks out, and tells Donna to run on home…James would be back one day.
Audrey, brings her Uncle Jerry to Ben’s office to show him just how much he’s gone nuts, and Dr. Jacoby is there observing. Dr. Jacoby explains that Ben is playing the part of General Lee in a fantasy version of the Civil War, and, if in his mind the South wins, then he’ll come back from la-la land.
Major Briggs stumbles into the Sheriff’s station, acting drunk or drugged, and passes out. He then tells Harry and Cooper that he no longer believes that the Air Force’s motivations for finding the White Lodge are ideologically pure, but he’s sure that when he vanished he was taken to the White Lodge. He also warns Coop that he senses that there will be much trouble ahead. “I will return, and until that time, I will be in the shadows if you need me.”
Dr. Jacoby is now at the station with Lana Milford, and explains to Cooper, Truman, and the gang that Lana “has a heightened sexual drive that few can match.” The men all turn into drooling idiots in her presence again, for some unknown reason. Again, this is a show with some of the most drop-dead beautiful women of the day, and we’re expected to believe this girl is the one that makes the men in town lose their minds??
Just then, the Mayor comes in with a shotgun, and says he’s going to kill her for “killing his brother with sex.” Cooper and the police then leave the Mayor alone in the room with Lana to talk it out, while he still has the gun he was threatening to kill her with. Ugh. Anyway, after a minute or so leaving them alone together, they open the door and find Lana in the Mayor’s lap covering him with kisses. So now the Mayor and Lana are together, because why not? This whole plot is so stupid, it’s embarrassing. It’s more evident than ever that both David Lynch and Mark Frost were checked out by this time in everything but name only.
At the Martell home, Catherine decides to reveal to Pete the truth about her brother, Andrew Packard, still being alive. Catherine says she had Andrew’s help in surviving the mill fire, and in defeating Benjamin Horne and winning back the mill from him. Andrew then explains to Pete that when they discovered the attempt on his life was coming a year prior, they arranged to make it look like the assassins succeeded, and he went into hiding. Catherine says Andrew’s old business partner, Thomas Eckhardt, was the one who ordered Andrew killed, because he had taken his prize possession away from her — that prize possession being Josie. Catherine also tells Pete that it was Josie who attempted to kill Andrew under Eckhart’s orders. He says that Andew will come to Twin Peaks for Josie, “like a rat for cheese”, and just then we see Eckhardt and his assistant checking into the Great Northern.
At the station, Doc Hayward tells Andy, Lucy, and Richard that Little Nicky didn’t kill anybody, and gives them a long-winded speech about Nicky’s horrible backstory, and convinces them that there was no way he could have killed anyone. Dick and Andy cry, and there ends the Little Nicky story that absolutely no one cares about.
As James packs his bags and Evelyn begs him to stay, and tells him that she loves him, even though she’s known him for like three days. Just then a cop car arrives. Evelyn tells James that Jeffrey died in a car accident, and even “dumb as a box of hair” James realizes he has been set up so her husband’s death would be blamed on him. Evelyn says pinning it all on James was Malcolm’s idea, and he’s not her brother, but her lover. “Run James, run back to that girl who loves you.” As James sneaks off, he runs into Donna, who’s been hiding out outside the house, seemingly waiting for him, and the two run off together.
Now it’s late at night deep in the forest, a lumbering Leo finds a dilapidated cabin, and inside, a welcoming man tells him that he’s a friend, and he’s there to help. He sits down in front of a chess board and tell him that his name is Windom Earle.
This episode was written by Scott Frost, co-creator Mark Frost’s brother. He would also wrote the novel The Autobiography of FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper: My Life, My Tapes which would go into detail about Coop and Earle’s twisted relationship. The book was released around the time this episode came out, but unlike The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, this book is long out of print.
This episode was directed by German director Uli Edel, who had made a small splash the year before with his film Last Exit To Brooklyn. His follow up American film was the notoriously bad Madonna/Willem Dafoe Basic Instinct knock-off Body of Evidence. Let’s just say that his American film career never recovered.
Thomas Eckhart is introduced in this episode, played by veteran character actor David Warner, who genre fans know from movies like TRON, Star Trek V and Star Trek VI, The Omen, Time Bandits, Titanic, and many, many others. Warner also voiced Ra’ al Ghul on Batman: The Animated Series. Other TV roles are the Cardassian Commander who tortured Captain Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation, More recently, he guest starred in Doctor Who, and also played Van Helsing on Penny Dreadful.
This was also the first onscreen appearance of Windom Earle, played by Kenneth Welsh. The scene where Leo stumbles into his cabin is meant to echo the scene where the creature stumbles onto the kindly blind man’s cabin in the classic James Whale directed Bride of Frankenstein.
The body of the vagrant Earle killed and placed in Truman’s office is played by Craig MacLachlan, Kyle MacLachlan’s brother.
The opening sequences of this episode are actually really great–the discovery of the dead body in Truman’s office pointing at the chess board is effective in giving Earle a real sense of menace for the first time, and all the stuff with the suddenly-awake Leo attacking Shelly and Bobby in the dark house works as an effective horror/thriller.
But then…there’s everything else. The James/Evelyn soap opera is beyond terrible, and just flat out embarrassing for a show which was as high quality as this one. Same goes for the stupid Little Nicky plot (which they at least knew to end because no one cared) and the even more stupid “Lana Milford is a sexual witch” story which ends here too (for a little while anyway.) Also stupid but sadly, not over yet, is the Ben Horne/Civil War storyline. So while I’m tempted to give this episode an extra half burrito for the excellent opening and creepy closing of the episode, there’s just too much bad for me to do so. After this, there’s only really one more truly bad episode of the series, and then the show begins to recover, so hang tight readers! I promise…the pain will be over soon.
Episode Rating: 2 burritos out of 5