We are getting ever closer to the end of Twin Peaks, as all the various mysteries begin to merge into one. This episode was written by series vets Robert Engels and Harley Peyton, and directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal. As always, all the previous Twin Peaks: Revisited columns can be found right here , so it’s never too late to catch up. And this is, also as always, a spoiler-free recap for anything that takes place after the particular episode we’re recapping.
Episode 28: “The Path to the Black Lodge” – Aired April 18th, 1991
The episode opens some time after the end of the last one, where Coop and Truman discovered the body of a random metalhead dude, murdered and inside a giant chess piece in a gazebo in the park. As a group of Harry’s men remove the giant chess piece from the park, Coop and Truman question a friend of Rusty’s (turns out that’s metalhead guy’s name.) He was a roadie with a rock band, and Rusty’s friend begins to tell them about a strange man who emerged from the woods and offered them beer if he’d come hang out with them. (For being dumb enough to go to a strange guy’s cabin in the middle of the woods he almost deserved what happened to him.) As Rusty’s friend relays the story, Andy begins to cry. Cooper realizes that Windom Earle took another pawn without telling them his move, and he is now playing “off the board.”
The next morning at the Sheriff’s, Lucy asks Andy what he knows about saving the planet. Andy’s response is that he knows that people need to stop sinking their beer cans in Pearl Lakes, and that “styrofoam never dies for as long as you live.” Lucy needs this information because she’s decided to enter the Miss Twin Peaks contest, because she and her unborn child are going to be needing the money. She also informs Andy that tomorrow is “D Day…Dad Day.” Where she will choose who the father of her child is, regardless of actual paternity…Andy or Dick.
At the Great Northern, John Wheeler is getting ready to leave to take care of his business in South America. Meanwhile, Doc Hayward is giving Ben Horne a physical, and tells him he’s fine, but it’s what’s in his heart that he should be worried about. Ben says he’s only interested in doing the right thing, and Doc tells him the right thing is to stay away from Eileen. “I can’t….not as long as the lie survives.” Jack comes in and tells Ben that he has to leave, and he needs to find Audrey to say goodbye. Ben informs him she still hasn’t returned from Seattle.
Donna is in her family’s attic going through old boxes, where she finds her birth certificate. Eileen is listed as her mother, but the father’s name is left blank. She also finds tons of old pics from the seventies (we know it’s the seventies because everyone has insane moustaches and sideburns) of her parents and Ben Horne. OK. I know I said no spoilers but at this point you’re a total idiot if you don’t know that Donna is really Ben Horne’s daughter from some long ago affair with Eileen Hayward. We get it. Donna gets a call from Deputy Hawk who tells her he needs her to go to the station.
Back at the Great Northern, Audrey gets back from Seattle, and Hawk tells her that Agent Cooper needs to see her at the station. John tells Ben that he has to go and take his partner’s place. John gives Ben a letter he wrote to give Audrey, and he gets ready to leave.
At the station, Major Briggs has the Bookhouse Boys going through Project Blue Book Files. The Major then tells Cooper and Harry that Earle was among the best among the men at Project Blue Book. But when the Air Force started turning their attention away from space and towards the forest surrounding Twin Peaks, Earle became obsessed, and started acting crazy, until he was removed from the project. Briggs found old footage from the archives, where Earle starts going on about ancient wizards called the Dugpas, who cultivated evil for the sake of evil, and who accessed that power from a tangible place, and place called the Black Lodge.
Cooper then realizes that Windom Earle didn’t really come to Twin Peaks just to get vengeance on him. All of that was subterfuge. Earle was after something else all along: entrance into the Black Lodge. “Fellas, we need to know what the Black Lodge has to do with that” and points to the Owl Cave petroglyph on the chalk board. He then gives a random Bookhouse Boy the job of researching the Dugpas. (Too bad there’s no internet yet. I bet the Twin Peaks library doesn’t have that many books referencing evil wizard societies) The Major decides to take a walk in the wood to clear his head. Of course, Windom Earle has the place bugged, so he knows everything they know, and he knows where the Major will be.
At the Double R, an old woman we’ve never seen before is eating cherry pie, when we see her hand suddenly shaking until she grabs it with her other hand and stops it. In one of the booths, Shelly is reading Bobby’s speech he’s prepared for her for the pageant. He confesses to her that he’s been a shitty boyfriend, but when he saw her kissing Gordon Cole the day before, something inside him snapped, and he realized he couldn’t lose Shelly. He realizes he’s been an asshole, and apologizes to Shelly. Shelly says she’s missed all the things they used to do together (like what? Give Leo a bath?) Bobby finally tells Shelly that her loves her, and isn’t acting like a petulant child for the first time in the whole run of the show maybe. Shelly gets a calls from Agent Cooper telling her she needs to go to the station.
At the Roadhouse, they’re preparing the place for the Miss Twin Peaks pageant, when Lana is begging the Mayor to fix the contest so she can win. It’s a stupid scene, but the actor who plays Mayor Milford’s delivery is kind of hilarious and makes me laugh, despite the stupid plotline.
At the station, Coop is talking to Audrey, Donna, and Shelly, asking each of them if they met a stange man before getting the piece of the poem. Donna, who seems really disinterested, tells her “some guy came by the house pretending to be a long dead friend of her father’s” (why this doesn’t creep her out way more is beyond me.) Audrey mentions the old man at the library, and Shelly says she met a strange guy at the Diner. Coop asks Shelly to really look hard at the handwriting on the letter, and she realizes it’s Leo’s. Coop tells the girls they are in danger, and to check in twice a day at the Sheriff’s. “You’re in danger. We all are.”
At Earle’s cabin, he’s going on about the Dugpas to Leo, comparing them to Khali worshippers. Leo sees the picture of Shelly on a playing card, and realizes that Earle plans to kill her. Suddenly, Leo takes Earle’s remote control to the collar around his neck and starts aiming it at Earle, not realizing that it’s the collar that shocks him, not the remote. He starts shocking himself silly while Windom laughs.
Audrey gets back to the hotel, just as John leaves. She tells her father that Agent Cooper needed to see her right away, because “some creep sent her a poem” and she rolls her eyes. Um, Audrey, when the FBI Agent that saved your life tells you they’re is a dangerous lunatic who wants to kill you, don’t roll your eyes. Ben tells her that he wants Audrey to enter the Miss Twin Peaks contest, and she’s not having any of it. John is leaving she finds out, and Audrey runs off to catch his plane before he leaves. As she leaves, Ben hears a strange noise and turns around suddenly. Audrey gets Pete Martell to drive her to the airport.
Coop is trying to figure out what the Owl Cave petroglyph means, but is distracted by thoughts of Annie. As he looks out the window through the blinds, his hand starts shaking uncontrollably…just like the woman in the diner.
The Major is walking through the woods, when Earle shows up in a horse costume (Leo, appropriately takes up the rear) Earle shoots Briggs with a tranquilizer dart, and takes him hostage.
At the Twin Peaks airport (seriously how does Twin Peaks have an airport?) John is getting ready to take off in his private plane. Audrey jumps out of Pete’s truck and literally throws herself in front of John Wheeler’s plane. He comes outside and the two embrace and kiss. Audrey tells him she loves him, and he tells her the same. Then she just says “I’m a virgin. I want you to make love to me. In your jet.” The two get in the plane while Pete just waits at his truck for them to finish. Then the shaky hand thing happens to him too.
Coop is at the Double R talking to Annie, and tells her that though he’s in the middle of a very complex investigation, all he can think about is her. She tells him she’s been seeing his face in fried eggs all morning. As the two talk, the camera slowly pulls back away, and Coop asks Annie to go dancing with him tonight. As the two kiss, they accidentally knock over a plate of food, and the camera focuses on it as syrup drips from the plate to the floor. I have no idea why, but it’s a super Twin Peaksy moment.
Major Briggs is tied up to a bullseye while Earle starts asking him questions about Owl Cave, He shots arrows at him, always deliberately missing each time. When he realizes Briggs won’t talk, he gives him truth serum. He asks him what he fears most in the world, and he answers “the possibility that love is not enough” He tells Earle that he first saw the symbol in Owl Cave in dreams, but when Earle asks him what the signs mean, he starts talking in gibberish.
Catherine and Andrew Packard are going over the puzzle box. Andrew tries to open it by hitting it with various combinations, and finally manages to open it by using the date of the day the gift arrived. Once he opens it, another box pops out of it, this time a small metal box.
Coop and Annie are dancing at the pre-Miss Twin Peaks Pageant dance at the Roadhouse.Annie tells him she’s decided to enter the pageant, and then Coop tells her that she’s fit for a queen. At that moment, time freezes, and the Giant appears on stage, and waves his hands in a negative gesture, and is them mouthing the words “NO.” Coop looks puzzled as if there is anything else the Giant could mean by this other than “Annie needs to NOT enter the damn contest.”
It’s now night, and Pete has fallen asleep in his truck while waiting for Audrey and John Wheeler while they were having their marathon virginity-losing sex. As the plane takes off, he wakes up, and sees a crying Audrey lamenting finding the man of her dreams only to have him take off and leave her. She mentions that he promised to take her fishing but never did, and then Pete, ever the gentlemen, offers to take her for an evening of night fishing. Pete is just the sweetest.
At Earle’s cabin, he’s clearly given both Leo and Briggs some kind of drug overdose, as the two are losing their minds, their heads rolling back into their eyes. He finally discovers that the Owl Cave isn’t just an invitation, but it’s actually a map to the Black Lodge, a map that fits perfectly with the map of Twin Peaks.
The episode ends with various spooky late night shots of the locations in town, alone and desolate late at night: the Roadhouse, the street light, the Double R, the high school, the Great Northern, the Sheriff’s station. We then cut to a circle of trees in the forest, surrounding a puddle of black liquid. A light shines on the circle, aqnd we see a shaking hand emerge from the light…it’s the hand BOB. In the pool at the center of the circle, we see the red curtains from Cooper’s dream, and hear the music of the Dance of the Dream Man play as the credits begin to roll.
This episode was directed by veteran TV director Stephen Gyllenhaal. Although he’s directed many things, including the film Losing Isaiah, he’s best known for being the father of big time Hollywood actors Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal.
Rusty the dead metalhead’s buddy is played by Willie Garson, who would eventually be best known as Carrie Bradshaw’s gay BFF Stanford on Sex and the City.
When the drugged up Major Briggs starts speaking in gibberish, it’s actually the words “that gum you like is going to come back in style” from Agent Cooper’s dream.
This was the last episode of the series aired on Thursday nights. The experiment to raise the ratings by putting the show back on a weeknight had failed. This episode aired almost exactly one year plus a week to when the show premiered. One year prior, the show had received a massive 34 million viewers, and was on the cover of every magazine and the talk of the nation. Now, this episode had just 7 million viewers, and no one but hardcore fans cared anymore. The last two episodes were scheduled as a movie of the week two months later.
This episode is by far one of the better written and directed of the second half of season two, as we learn that all the disparate mysteries are actually tied together, and Earle’s simple revenge scheme is actually something much larger, and tied into the show’s overall mythology. The running motif of the shaking hands culminating in the re-emergence of BOB is cool and creepy, and even cheesy things like Audrey throwing herself in front of John Wheeler’s plane to have sex with him before he leaves isn’t nearly as bad as it sounds. The final shot of the town empty and silent as we finally see the entrance to the Black Lodge is a great capper to a pretty good episode that sets thing up for a spectacular finale.
Episode Rating: 3.5 burritos out of 5