Introducing Windom Earle…
(If you need to catch up, you can check out all my posts til now right here.)
EPISODE 21: “DOUBLE PLAY”
Written by Scott Frost, Directed by Uli Edel
Airdate February 2nd, 1991
We pick up minutes after last episode’s cliffhanger, with Coop and Truman gathered around the dead man tied to Truman’s desk chair. There’s a chesspiece in the man’s mouth. Coop gives it to Andy to dust for prints, then assumes the man was killed by a very precise puncturing of his heart. Doc Hayward’s preliminary investigation confirms as much. This is something Coop has seen before. In searching for bloodstains on the carpet they find instead the small, thin branch of a Lodgepole Pine. Hawk reports he found two sets of boot prints outside, both made by the same boots, one time coming and one time going, the coming-set pressed deeper because the wearer was carrying a body. Truman asks how Coop can be sure this is the work of Windom Earle. Coop paints them a very visceral picture of this crime: the man is a drifter, a vagrant who would have been picked up by a friendly traveler and taken over the ridge where he was stabbed, the car will still be there; the man managed to escape from his attacker but obviously didn’t survive his wound. This accomplished, Earle then set off the bomb in the woods that took out the power station and set the fires, drawing everyone away from the Sheriff’s station so that he might slip in through Truman’s office window and arrange this macabre tableau. Coop can feel Earle all over this scene, but warns they won’t find any evidence of him. The man is a genius, Coop surmises, and this is him taking the first pawn of his sick game.
Audrey and Bobby are forging their business relationship in the candlelit lounge of The Great Northern. She says their surest route to getting rich is to bring her father Ben back from the brink of madness before he loses everything.
At Shelly’s, she’s still hiding from a suddenly-able and cake-plastered Leo. He’s here one second, then as the lights flicker he disappears from view. As she cowers by the refrigerator, a jar of jam comes flying out of the darkness and smashes next to her. She screams and runs for the front door but it’s locked. The owls outside hoot along with her calls for help. She runs for the backdoor, but the wheelchair is launched into her path, tripping her up. Then Leo is there, leaning against the fridge, barely able to stand but enraged. He calls Shelly a bad girl. She gets a knife. He’s gone again, so she starts to cut her way through the vinyl sheeting perpetually serving as an exterior wall, but there’s Leo again, jerking her back and throwing her over the kitchen table, causing her to lose consciousness, and the knife. Bobby shows up as Shelly’s getting her senses back and Leo’s grabbing an axe. Bobby hears her scream and tries to get inside as Leo is saying, “goodbye wife” and lifting the axe over his head. That’s when Bobby rushes in and grabs the axe. They tussle and Leo gets the upper hand and starts to choke Bobby with the axe handle until Shelly ends it all by stabbing Leo in the leg. He screams and stumbles away through the rift Shelly cut in the vinyl sheeting and into the woods, howling like a wounded animal the entire time.
The long night has passed and as Coop suspected, there’s no evidence of Windom Earle or any other perpetrator in Truman’s office. There is good news, though: the FBI and the DEA won’t be pressing charges against Coop, but until he hears from Gordon Cole his suspension still stands. Truman reminds Coop he’s still a Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Deputy, and if Coop wants this Earle case, it’s all his. Of course Coop wants it. Hawk returns with news that they did indeed find the car that Earle used to pick up the drifter right where Coop said it would be, and it too was clean. Hawk also bears the news that Hank Jennings missed the drug buy at Dead Dog Farm because he was in the hospital claiming he got hit by a bus. We know he means a bus named Nadine. Hank’s been booked for parole violation, and there’s one more thing Hawk has to tell them: Shelly called about the Leo incident. Busy day in a small town.
In the lobby, Andy shares with Lucy his and Dick’s theory that Little Nicky murdered his birth parents, despite being only six years old at the time of the supposed crime. Lucy thinks they’re nuts, and says she’s going to get to the bottom of this right away.
Out at Evelyn’s, James is working on Jeffrey’s car when he finally get the chance to meet Jeffrey. The latter man dressed in a sweet Air Jordon track suit, and seems like an okay guy. James is still wary, and excuses himself from the scene as swiftly as possible. When Jeffrey leaves in the car James was working on, Nadine watches him go, having an aural premonition of a violent crash.
Ed is talking with Doc Hayward about Nadine because she wants to start dating high school boys and he doesn’t know what to do about that, as he hints that she’s incredibly frisky in the boudoir and he’s afraid given her absurd strength, she’ll kill some poor kid. All Doc can offer him – as the father of a teenage girl and not a medical practitioner – is a prescription for patience and the virtue of an early curfew. Now it’s Doc’s turn to bend Ed’s ear: he says Donna left that morning to go find James and wants to know if he as that same father has anything to worry about. Ed explains the sitch, says not to worry, it seems fine. After Doc leaves, Norma drops by with some extra mashed potatoes for Ed (that’s how you know it’s love) and news that Hank is in the hospital, apparently a tree fell on him. Ed knows better and tells her about the brawl yesterday after she left his place. She couldn’t care less, because either way, Hank is heading back to the big house. This signals a new start for her, for them, and it means no more hiding, no more lying.
Evelyn finds James packing to go. He feels icky after meeting the dude whose wife he’s banging. Evelyn tries to distract him with further amorous advances, but he doesn’t want her like that anymore. So she plays the sympathy card and pleas for his help against Jeffrey, the brute. James leaves to check his bike, but his resolve is shaken.
Coop is studying the chessboard Earle left at the crime scene. Truman asks how the game factors into their relationship. Coop says Earle is a big fan, he believes life can be inferred from the patterns of the game, and so every day for three years while they were partners he and Coop would play. Problem is, Earle always won. Coop doesn’t know what else to do but publish his responding move in the Twin Peaks Gazette. This sounds as nuts to Truman as it does the rest of us, so he asks for some background and context. At last we learn Cooper’s secret: four years ago Earle and Coop were assigned to protect a federal witness, a woman, beautiful and gentle, named Caroline. Coop and Caroline fell in love. One night during the assignment he failed in his vigilance and an attack was made. He was wounded and when he came to Caroline was dying in his arms. It’s the same story he told Audrey a few episodes back, but this time there’s a little more detail to it. Caroline had been stabbed to death, her wound identical to the one on the vagrant. Her killer was never apprehended, and though Cooper’s physical wound healed, Earle went mad and had to be institutionalized, where he remained until his recent escape. Truman’s still not making the connection, so Coop slips him the last piece of the puzzle. Caroline, the witness, his lover, was Earle’s wife. So Earle holds Coop responsible for her death? Nope, worse: Coop thinks Earle killed his own wife, and furthermore he thinks Earle committed the crime she witnessed. He thinks Earle faked insanity in the beginning, but now it’s overtaken his cold, hard, and brilliant mind, making him capable of anything.
Donna makes it to Wallie’s Hide Out on highway 96 where James wanted his money delivered. She’s looking for him, but finds Evelyn instead. Evelyn mentions James recently did some work for her, but says he’s gone now, headed for the ocean, she thinks, Mexico maybe. She suggests Donna go home, she’s too late. The doo-wop ditty James and Donna and Maddy recorded plays over scenes of the separate but comparative angst of Donna and James.
The Civil War rages on in Ben’s office. Audrey enters with Jerry, at long last returned to see about his brother. Dr. Jacoby is in the corner observing and scribbling notes. He tells Jerry to address Ben as “General.” Ben recognizes his brother, but as General Jeb Stuart. Seems in Ben’s version of the Civil War, the Confederates are about to march on Washington and claim victory. According to Jacoby, this is a good thing: by reversing the historical outcome, Ben perhaps will also reverse his own emotional setback. All he needs now is the understanding of his loved ones, and a Union surrender.
Major Briggs enters the Sheriff’s station exhausted and asking urgently to see Truman. Then he collapses. After a tall glass of water, he’s cognizant again and explains to Coop and Truman that when he was questioned by his own people about his disappearance, their suspicion of him was palpable, paranoid, even. He is now forced to admit that their quest for the White Lodge is not as ideologically pure as he once thought, and thus his allegiance to them is tarnished, allowing this disclosure. Briggs believes he was taken to the White Lodge when he disappeared, though he has no memory of it, only the sense that there is much trouble ahead. He doesn’t know the form this trouble will yet take, but he’ll come when it emerges, and until that time he’ll be in the shadows if they need him. He leaves as Andy enters, needing to show them something: Jacoby is there with Lana Milford, Dougie’s delectable widow, and he can attest, having spent the last 24 hours in her company, that she is not cursed to kill her lovers, she’s just a nympho with mad skills, which raises the temperature of every man in the room. Lana and Jacoby leave to go bowling, but they don’t get out of the building before they’re accosted by Mayor Dwayne Milford, Dougie’s brother, and his very large shotgun. Dwayne wants vengeance for his brother’s death. Coop suggests he talk with Lana alone, just the two of them. No one bothers to take the shotgun from Dwayne as they enter a conference room and close the door behind them. It takes about a minute before Lana has charmed the Mayor’s hard heart with her warm kisses. The Mayor proclaims they’ve decided to adopt a child together. For her part, he reminds her so much of Dougie that she can’t help but love him. They’re both allowed to leave, because threatening to kill people isn’t that big of deal in Twin Peaks.
Catherine has something she wants to show Pete. She asks if Pete ever considered how she survived the fire and rose, in obscurity, to take the mill from Ben. Now that she mentions it, he has. She reintroduces him to Andrew Packard, not dead at all. Pete’s in disbelief, he saw the boat on which Andrew was killed. But it was a faked death to thwart an assassination attempt coming from Thomas Eckhardt, an old business partner of Andrew’s who became vengeful when Andrew one-upped him on a deal. Josie has been Eckhardt’s agent all this time, attempting a long con meant to lead to Andrew’s death. Eckhardt is coming to Twin Peaks, they’ve learned, and now they’ll see if Josie works for him still.
At just that moment a woman is checking into The Great Northern for Thomas Eckhardt, who’s waiting by the hearth. He’s got fire in his eyes, kinda literally.
Lucy is demanding an audience with Andy, Dick and Doc Hayward. In the meantime, Truman needs Coop’s help with Jonathan Lee, who Josie told him she slipped away from in Seattle. News just came in over the wire that he’s dead, and Truman needs to know if Josie was involved. Coop’s all over it. Back with Lucy and Doc, she’s told him about Andy and Dick’s ideas about Little Nicky murdering his parents so he called the orphanage himself and cut through the red tape. Nicky’s mom was an immigrant chambermaid at The Great Northern and his dad was a rapist. She died in delivery and Nicky moved from state home to state home until a loving couple finally adopted him. All was well until an icy road killed both of them, leaving Little Nicky all alone yet again. There isn’t a dry eye in the house, but if there was, it would be rolling.
James it turns out, hasn’t left Evelyn’s, not yet at least, but he’s finally finished packing. Their affair is wrong, he says. She says she loves him. Then the sound of sirens. Evelyn tells James Jeffrey is dead. James correctly guesses the man was killed in a car accident, which means he’s been set up to take the fall. She admits he has, but not by her, by Malcolm, who is not her brother. She tells James to flee, to go find that young girl who loves him. James makes a break for it and manages to elude the cops, stumbling into Donna in the process. She followed Evelyn home from Wallie’s and helps him escape.
We end on Leo in the woods, wounded and disoriented. An owl screeches past. Wind whistles in the trees and low-hanging clouds rumble with thunder. There’s a cabin out here, somewhere Leo’s never seen, and inside that cabin there’s a light. Leo goes to it and enters, looking for Shelly. Instead he finds a man in a black suit who invites him to sit and offers to help him. The man then introduces himself: Windom Earle.
Episode 21 is a return to form for Twin Peaks that sees Coop start back on the road to his black suit, expands the lore of the Lodges, and begins the Earle plotline in earnest with the first (visual) appearance of the man himself, as played by Kenneth Welsh. And thankfully, the episode also brings to a needlessly depressing end the worst subplot of the series – the Andy-Dick Tremayne-Little Nicky debacle. These twists of plot comes courtesy of writer Scott Frost, and the episode’s direction – which is notably stylized – was from German director Uli Edel who at the time had just directed the outstanding film Last Exit to Brooklyn, and had yet to direct the terrible erotic-legal-thriller/Madonna vehicle Body of Evidence. Seems Twin Peaks caught him in a sweet spot between the two, because his time at the helm here created some powerful and in some instances foreshadowing images. For example the rift in the vinyl sheeting through which a wounded Leo escapes into the night can be inferred as the rift between two worlds soon to open in the series, and perhaps is suggesting that it’s the power of the Lodges that “resurrected” Leo to lead him violently into the clutches of Windom Earle.
Between Two Worlds: Perspectives on Twin Peaks
Furthermore, in the scene where the image of Caroline is appears transparent over Cooper’s own, note the red tint to it, a sure sign of things to come. These visuals, along with inserts of totem poles, waterfalls and trees swaying in the night wind are all standard for Twin Peaks, but here take on an extra-menacing tone to rival Lynch’s own. Edel did a fine job of balancing the tragic with the comic here, especially for a one-time series director.
And I’m not accusing anyone of anything other than a brilliant homage, but there are striking visual and tonal similarities between Windom Earle’s cabin in Twin Peaks and Jacob’s cabin in Lost.
Anyway, bottom line, the final act has begun. And instead of opening wide at its inception, we’re seeing the curtains close around Twin Peaks, tighter and tighter…