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TWIN PEAKS Revisited: Episode 24 – ‘The Condemned Woman’

TWIN PEAKS Revisited: Episode 24 – ‘The Condemned Woman’

Welcome to this week’s installment of Twin Peaks Revisited, where we have finally made it through the roughest patch of season two, and come out the other side. From here on out the show rebounds and begins a return to form. This episode was written by Tricia Brock and directed by Lesli Linka Glatter, two veterans of the show. As usual, all the previous Twin Peaks: Revisited columns can be found right here , so it’s not too late to catch up. And this is, as always, a spoiler-free recap for anything that takes place after the particular episode we’re recapping

Episode 24: “The Condemned Woman” – Aired February 16, 1991

As the camera glides across the chessboard and the death mask of Caroline Earle that her insane husband/murderer Windom left on Cooper’s bed, Coop then plays the recording that Windom left for him under the mask for Sheriff Truman. On the tape, Earle warns Coop that he has to print his chess move in the next morning’s paper, or else more than one person could die as a result. Truman calls Pete to the station for help, since he’s the local chess expert. As he gets the call, Pete is making breakfast for Catherine and Andrew, and makes a smiley face out of eggs, toast and bacon. Andrew thinks it’s a hoot, and it’s nice to see that Pete and Andrew don’t have the same icy relationship that Pete and Catherine do. Catherine, by the way, was not amused by the smiley faced breakfast shenanigans. As Pete leaves to go to the Sheriff’s station, Josie walks in, and sees her husband Andrew alive for the very first time, and in proper television fashion, faints on the floor.

At the station, Truman is obsessing over Jonathan Kumagi, the man that deep down, he knows Josie killed.  At this point, Hank Jennings comes in on crutches, after the royal beating Nadine Hurley gave him. Harry tells him that aside from consorting with drug dealers like Jean Renault at Dead Dog Farm, a definite break in his parole, he also shot Leo Johnson, for which they now have a witness (that’s Bobby Briggs by the way.) Hank tries to weasel his way out of it all by cutting a deal, saying he knows who really killed Andrew Packard, and he’ll give his testimony for immunity. Harry won’t cut a deal, and that’s when Hank lets him know that the person who killed Andrew is none other than his beloved Josie. That’s when Deputy Hawk kicks Hank’s crutches and he falls down and goes boom. (You know, for a contract killer, Hank is terrible at his job; he was hired to kill Andrew Packard, Catherine Martell, and Leo Johnson, and they’re all alive.)

Albert Rosenfield is at the station and tells Cooper that the bullet they excavated from the skull of Josie’s cousin/assistant Jonathan Kumagi is the same type as the ones that shot Coop. They have all the evidence they need to arrest her. Cooper says he doesn’t take it personally, to which Albert replies “Ok you might be fine with it, but there are multiple gunshot wounds following this chick around; she is a menace.” Cooper says that he’ll talk to her, try to convince Josie to turn herself in. “Maybe she’ll grow wings and join the circus” Albert replies.

Audrey has taken over the role of concierge at the Great Northern, and on her first day on the job, an impossibly handsome stranger comes to her desk and asks Audrey to have someone from the hotel to go to the airport and pick up his bags. (My one takeaway from this exchange is: Twin Peaks has an airport??) Anyway, the handsome stranger (played by a young Billy Zane) remembers Audrey from when she played Heidi in a school play when she was 10, which is a creepy way to flirt. After he leaves, Audrey gets a mysterious note that says “to save the one you love, please attend a gathering of angels at the Roadhouse, tonight at 9:30.”

Nadine comes home early from school, and tells Ed that she and Mike are in love, and they had the most magical night together….all night. “Well you and Norma did it” Nadine says, which is fair. Nadine then tells Ed they have to call a spade a spade…they’re breaking up.

Coop is at the Martell home and is asking Josie what really happened to Jonathan, and she says she escaped him at the airport, and doesn’t know what happened to him afterwards. He says he could arrest her right now, but as Harry’s friend he’s asking her to turn herself in. He says she had better show up at the station that night at 9, or he’s coming to find her. As he leaves, Catherine comes in and fakes concern for Josie, and tells her that Mr. Eckhardt insists on seeing her alone tonight. Catherine says she should be worried about what Eckhardt is going to do to her once she finds out that Andrew is alive, but then again, she could always tell him that she thought that Andrew was really dead, which she did think. Josie says she thinks she’s going mad, and Catherine gives her a gun and implies that she needs to use it on Eckhardt the next time she sees him.

In Ben Horne’s office, the handsome stranger from earlier comes in and introduces himself formally to Audrey and Bobby (who is now Ben’s “executive assistant”) as John Justice Wheeler. Ben tells the group that Horne Industries has fallen on hard times, as he’s lost the mill and the Packard lands to Catherine Martell. But that’s when he unveils his secret plan: The pine weasel. A local species that is found only in their neck of the woods (literally) the pine weasel is nearly extinct, and the Ghostwood Estates project could drive them into extinction. To save the pine weasel, they have to stop Ghostwood. At which point Jerry points out that once he’s done that, he can gather his forces properly and try and take the project back from Catherine. “Then what?” asks Audrey. “Then, I’m considering a run for senate.” Well, Ben is certainly slimy enough for politics.

At the Double R, Norma gets a phone call from her sister Annie who is in a convent. She’s decided to leave and go back to the real world, and asks to stay with Norma. Norma says when they were little, Annie always seemed like she was from another place and time somehow, and wonders how she’ll do back home. She notices a letter for Shelly on the counter, similar to the one that Audrey got earlier, asking her to go to the same “gathering of angels” that Audrey was invited to. Ed walks into the dinner and and tells Norma that he’s loved her every day for the past twenty years and dreamed of her every night, and asks her to marry him. The two passionately kiss behind the counter. I guess that’s a “yes” from Noma. Too bad they’re both still married to other people.

At Windom Earle’s cabin, he has Leo making arrows for some unknown purpose. Windom’s got a disguise as a trucker, which I’m sorry to say isn’t much of a disguise.

Norma comes to see Hank in jail, and asks him for a divorce. He starts bullshitting her about how he doesn’t blame her, after all she gave him a second chance and he blew it. He says that he’ll give her the divorce, as long as she tells Harry that the night Leo was shot that he was at the diner. Norma refuses to help him anymore, and Hank is back off to the big house. He pulls her towards the bars and tell her she’ll just be Ed’s whore. “I’d rather be his whore than your wife.” One day, James Cameron’s Titanic would steal this line, but it would be Kate Winslet who says it to Billy Zane. Seeing how Mr. Zane is in this episode, maybe he gave them the idea?

Albert comes in and tells Cooper that there’s a witness who has turned up in Seattle who positively ID’s Josie as Jonathan’s killer. Now they have no choice but to arrest her. Albert tells Coop he has to tell Harry now. Just then, Harry walks down the hall and sees them talking, and he knows exactly what and who they’re talking about and storms off all angry.

We cut to Josie looking at herself in the mirror, in the exact same manner we see her doing so in the very first shot of the pilot episode. Andrew walks in with a couple of glasses and some wine, reminding her that they’ve polished off several bottles in their time together. “to beginnings…and endings, and the wisdom to know the difference.” She apologizes to him for trying to have him killed, and he said that he hated her at first, but as his anger subsided, he realized that Eckhardt had a way of persuading people to do his bidding. She says that he forced her to do it, and Andrew reminds him that the police are closing in on her, and her only option to get out of this country and avoid jail is to go to Eckhardt. “We won’t speak again” he says to her, and leaves Josie to struggle with her options, which seem to be narrowed down to one: Return to Thomas Eckhardt.

James rides up and meets with Donna at a clearing in the woods. He says he’s going to testify at Evelyn’s trial. Donna begs him to come back to Twin Peaks with her, but he’d not ready yet. Donna says she understands, and tells him to go, and take all the time he needs. When he comes back, he’ll have new stories, and none of them are going to be about Laura or Maddy or Evelyn, and she’ll be there waiting for him. And with that, exit stage left, James Hurley. Who, apparently, is repeating his senior year at Twin Peaks High School next year, or getting his GED.

Harry goes to Catherine’s home looking for Josie, and she and Pete tell her she’s gone off to the Great Northern to be with Thomas Eckhardt. Truman takes off after her. At the hotel, Andrew Packard reveals himself as being alive to Eckhardt in an elevator. He lies and tells Thomas that Josie tipped him off to the intended assassination attempt, and if he’s not careful, she’ll get him too.

Ben and Audrey are at dinner with John Justice Wheeler, and he tells Audrey that he buys bankrupt businesses and get them back up to speed, at which point he sells them for a substantial profit. Ben has to leave urgently, leaving Audrey and John alone. Audrey doesn’t seem to have time for this guy at all. The one thing to take away from this scene is that both Audrey and John have epic eyebrows, and would probably have really pretty children together. John gets flirty, and Audrey tells him she’s only 18. “Now, what exactly does that have to do with the price of eggs?” He says. It seems this at-least-thirty-year-old doesn’t have Cooper’s issues with hooking up with a high school girl.

At the Roadhouse, Donna arrives and says hello to Shelly, who offers her a drag of her cigarette. It’s nice to know these two are friendly despite the fact that Shelly’s boyfriend tried to have Donna’s boyfriend framed for cocaine possession and other stuff. The two realize they both are there because they got pieces of the same torn letter, split three ways. The third person who has a piece is Audrey, who walks in and tells them they all have something to talk to each other about. The pieces together form a poem:

“See the mountains kiss high heaven, and the waves clasp one another.
No sister flower would be forgiven, if it disdained its brother.
And the sunlight clasps the earth, and the moonbeams kiss the sea.
What is all this sweet work worth, if though kiss not me?”

As Shelly reads the poem, Windom Earle in “disguise” (which, again, is just a trucker cap) watches them as the girls look puzzled.

At the Great Northern, Cooper is in his room trying out some new fishing techniques, when Catherine calls him. She tells him that Josie is there, in Thomas Eckhardt’s suite. He takes his gun and goes to their room to arrest her, and he hears Josie screaming for Eckhardt not to touch her. Coop hears a gun go off, and bursts into the room. Eckhardt gets up, and then collapses to the floor, shot dead. Josie and Coop are now pointing guns at each other in a stand off, and Cooper asks her why she tried to kill him. “Because you came here. I’m not going to jail. I can’t.” “Because you came here” doesn’t sound like much of a reason, but considering Coop was begining to have suspicions about Josie as far back as early season one, it kind of makes sense.

As tears spill down her eyes, Truman comes in the room too, finally accepting the truth about her, and screams at her to put the gun down. She tells him she never meant to hurt him, and takes the gun and begins to aim it at her head. Before she can shoot herself, she begins shaking, and we hear a strange noise, and she collapses on the bed, dead. Truman cradles her in his arms sobbing.

At that moment, Coop sees a hot white light appear on the bed. Truman and Josie vanish, and suddenly BOB comes crawling out from under the bed. “COOP! What happened to Josie???” He screams, and as he vanishes, the Little Man From Another Place appears, dancing to the same music he danced to in Coop’s dream. They both vanish, and it’s Truman crying and holding Josie in his arms. The camera pans over to the nightstand on the table, and we see Josie’s face screaming in agony inside the wooden drawer pull.

Episode Trivia

This episode bids farewell to three major characters who have been with the show since the first season: Josie Packard (who is the first person we see in the pilot), James Hurley, and Hank Jennings. Both Joan Chen and James Marshall asked to be let go from their contracts to be in films. It shows a positive step that the writers are willing to end certain characters’ arc once their stories are wrapped up, and the show greatly improves in this last stretch of episodes without the dead story weight these characters brought to the show. Sadly, this episode also marks the final guest appearance of Miguel Ferrer as Agent Albert Rosenfield.

This episode was very nearly the final episode of the series. The show had struggled ratings-wise ever since the second season began and had been moved to Saturday nights, and once Laura’s murder was resolved, the ratings really dropped. This episode had lost a whole three million viewers from the episode where the “Who Killed Laura Palmer” saga is resolved. The show was put on indefinite hiatus, and then that rallied the fans to form C.O.O.P – Citizens Opposed to the Offing of Peaks. Thousands of letters were written, and God knows how many donuts and cherry pies and logs were sent to Bob Iger, the head executive at ABC (and now the man who runs Disney.) Iger relented, and returned the series to Thursday nights some six weeks later.

Although David Lynch didn’t direct this episode, Lesli Linka Glatter did, the final image of Josie in the drawer pull was 100% David Lynch’s idea.

Final Verdict

After a long stretch of fairly awful episodes, this chapter really starts to get things back to where they’re supposed to be, and it’s the first episode in a long time that feels really like Twin Peaks. We’re done with storylines we don’t care about like James and “black widow” Evelyn, Ben Horne’s Civil War craziness, Little Nicky and other “who gives a crap” plotlines, and are finally back to elements of the show that hooked us in the first place, most importantly BOB and the supernatural aspects of the series. Whether it was by necessity or not, due to actors choosing to leave, it’s also great that certain characters are written out of the show in this episode, simply because their stories were going nowhere (most especially James.) Josie’s exit is memorable and creepy, even with the primitive pre- T2 CGI. Finally, Twin Peaks begins to feel like Twin Peaks again.

Episode Rating: 3 1/2 burritos out of 5

3.5 burritos

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