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Twin Peaks Episode Guide: Season 2, Episode 16 — “The Condemned Woman”

By  · Published on December 27th, 2016

A beloved character meets a peculiar fate.

(If you need to catch up, you can check out all my posts til now right here.)


Written by Tricia Brock, Directed by Lesli Linka Glatter

Airdate February 16th, 1991

Cooper is playing the tape left in his room by Windom Earle (along with Caroline’s death mask) for Truman, which is the same message we heard at the end of the last episode, plus a little bit we hadn’t heard yet: “make your next move tomorrow or I’ll make it for you.” They call Pete and ask him to head over. He’ll be on his way just as soon as he finishes serving breakfast to Catherine and Andrew. The playful, brotherly dynamic between the two men has returned, to Catherine’s disgust. Pete splits, and Josie returns. She hasn’t seen Andrew yet and in fact has no idea he’s still alive. As such, she’s pretty surprised, and faints.

Truman is ruminating over the death of Jonathan Kumagai and Josie’s likely involvement when Hawk brings in a hobbled Hank, who is there to plead his case but Truman isn’t hearing it and informs him it isn’t just a parole violation he’s being charged with, it’s also the attempted murder of Leo Johnson. Hank says he has an alibi for that, but Truman says he has an eyewitness. Hank tries to strike a deal, trade his freedom for information leading to the arrest of the murderer of Andrew Packard. He means Josie, but Truman either doesn’t know or doesn’t care, because he’s not making any deals. Hank lays it all on the table, explicitly accusing Josie, in response to which Hawk kicks out his crutch and sends Hank crashing onto Truman’s desk.

Albert is sharing with Coop the latest forensics on Kumagai: the bullets from him match the bullets from Coop’s vest. Same gun means same shooter – Josie Packard. Albert’s ready to pounce but Coop is urging caution. He’ll talk to her himself, maybe she’ll confess and come in of her own accord. Albert doesn’t think so but it isn’t his call.

At The Great Northern, Audrey is given a letter by the concierge that was left for her at the desk last episode by Windom Earle in disguise. She’s interrupted from opening it by a dreamy fella (Billy Zane) who she doesn’t recognize, but who certainly knows her, and has since they were children. He doesn’t give his name, but he does drop that he owns his own plane, and that smile says he’s definitely DTF. She’s flustered and he makes a smooth exit. Once her pulse slows down, she remembers the letter and opens it. Inside is a torn piece of paper, what looks like a third of a page, along with a card that reads “Save the one you love. Please attend a gathering of angels tonight at The Road House, 9:30.”

Nadine comes home from school early, obviously distraught. Ed asks what wrong and she spells it out for him: she and Mike Nelson are in love, and she’s sorry, she didn’t want to hurt Ed, but on a recent wrestling trip she and Mike had a long night of robust sexual activity. Long, gross story short: she’s breaking up with Ed. It’s sweet and weird and wonderful for them both, because man, this was a terrible relationship.

Coop is confronting Josie about Seattle, and she’s sticking to her story about losing Kumagai at the airport. Catherine’s listening in and loving every second. Coop tells Josie if she won’t be honest for her own sake, she should do it for Harry’s. She remains obstinate. So Coop tells her it’s talk or be made to talk: she has until 9 pm to come to the station with the truth or he comes looking for her. Catherine shows herself and rubs salt in Josie’s wound by telling her Eckhardt wants to inspect the merchandise before he pays for it, so she’ll need to go see him tonight, alone. Josie knows he will kill her. Catherine further frays Josie’s unraveling sanity by wondering what he’ll do when he finds out Andrew is alive, because that looks like Josie betrayed Eckhardt and didn’t kill her husband like she was supposed to. Josie is losing her marbles like there’s a hole in the bag. Serving her own needs, Catherine reveals to Josie a gun that she might take along on her meeting. Funny how focused crazy can get when it has a gun in its hands.

At The Great Northern a mentally-renewed Ben Horne is getting back to business with a healthier attitude, celery instead of cigars, a track suit instead of Brooks Brothers, and a more congenial spirit, as evidenced by him inviting Bobby to sit in on a board meeting. They’re joined by Audrey and Jerry. Typically, Ben says, these meeting are boring affairs but today’s is special, and that’s when Audrey’s handsome man from earlier enters and is embraced by Ben. He is John Justice Wheeler, Ben explains, an old family friend and a self-made man who Ben has asked to join the board. It seems Ben invested in JJW when the guy was just starting out, and JJW turned that investment into an empire, and now that Horne Industries is in dire straits, JJW has come to return that kindness. So Ben explains the sitch: Catherine owns the mill and Ghostwood Estates. Since they have no legal recourse, Ben plans to protest the development on the grounds that it would wipe out the habitat of the endangered pine weasel.

At the Double R, Earle in disguise is paying his bill and leaving an envelope addressed to Shelly. Norma is on the phone with her younger sister Annie, who’s coming for a visit tomorrow from the convent she’s fleeing. Clearing the counter, Shelly finds her envelope. It has the same contents as Audrey’s: a torn piece of paper with poetry on it, and the invitation. Then Big Ed walks in. He comes behind the counter, takes Norma in his arms, talks all lovey-dovey then proposes marriage. They kiss a “yes.”

In the woods, Leo’s sharpening sticks when Earle returns to the cabin. Earle puts an arrowhead on one of the sticks.

Hank gets a visitor in jail: Norma. She’s come to ask for a divorce. He’ll give it to her in exchange for one last favor: say she was with him the night Leo was shot. She refuses. He calls her Ed’s whore. And Norma delivers the most empowering line of her run: “I’d rather be his whore than your wife.” Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn, dude.

Pete’s going over the chess options with Coop and Truman. There’s only five minutes before the deadline to post in the newspaper, so the move has to come now, and it has to be made so that none of Coop’s pieces are open to take, because each piece lost will represent a real person murdered. Albert appears with some private news for Coop: the powder from the gun that shot him is match for that found on Josie’s gloves, and a new witness in Seattle saw her leaving the car where Jonathan was found dead. The time to move is now, but Coop asserts that he has control. Truman knows something’s up and takes off.

At Josie’s, she’s getting ready for her rendezvous with Eckhardt when Andrew comes to see her with an offering of champagne. She apologizes for trying to murder him. There’s no need, he’s aware of Eckhardt’s persuasive powers, and he did love her once upon a time, which is why he tells her if she doesn’t act soon she’ll be arrested. Ever the dependent, Josie asks him what she should do? See Eckhardt, leave with him. All this talk of chess between Coop and Earle, and Josie’s the biggest pawn in Twin Peaks.

Donna and James meet out in the woods. He’s back from clearing his name with the cops in regards to Jeffrey’s murder. Evelyn’s going to trial and he’ll be a witness. Donna’s made a picnic for them. She starts it by saying she knows about him and Evelyn making the beast with two backs, but she gets it, he was taken advantage of. Sure, yeah, that’s what happened. She wants him to come back to Twin Peaks, but he still isn’t ready. She understands that too, she needs something new in her life as well. She tells him to go, to stay away as long as he wants. It’s a passive break-up but it’s sweet, and it’s a fitting final chapter in a love affair that should have ended episodes ago. They make promises they’ll never keep and kiss sweetly for the last time.

Pete and Catherine are enjoying some down time at the house when an insistent visitor comes knocking. It’s Truman to see Josie, but he’s too late, she’s gone. Catherine tries to be vague about where but Pete knows she’s at The Great Northern to see an old friend. Who? Catherine tells him. He bolts.

Eckhardt, in heading to the rendezvous, finds himself in the elevator with a ghost: Andrew Packard. Andrew lies to Eckhardt and tells him Josie betrayed him and saved Andrew’s life because she loved him. This really gets Eckhardt’s goat because Josie was his lover first, and thus his property. Andrew winds him up and leaves him with a warning: Josie might be coming back to him tonight with a vengeance.

In The Great Northern restaurant, Ben is dining with Audrey and JJW. It turns out JJW flips corporations for a living, and living is good. He’s also an environmentalist; complete package much? Ben is called away, leaving the young folk to converse. Audrey doubts JJW’s motivations, but he’s really just doing a favor for man who once did a favor for him. Audrey’s independent though, fiercely so, and thinks Hornes can fend for themselves. JJW is inclined to agree, but in a romantic sense. She melts a little, asks him about where he’s been living. All over the far flung corners of the world. This is also alluring to starry-eyed Audrey. It isn’t Coop chemistry, but it’s palpable.

At The Road House, Shelly and Donna run into each other. It seems Donna got the same letter as Shelly and Audrey, the latter of whom appears just as the girls are piecing together their separate papers. Complete, it’s a poem: “See the mountains kiss high heaven/And the waves clasp one another/No sister-flower would be forgiven If it disdain’d its brother/And the sunlight clasps the earth/And the moonbeams kiss the sea/What is all this sweet work worth, If thou kiss not me?” As they read it aloud, Earle is down the bar in disguise, watching them.

In his room, Coop is practicing fly fishing when he gets a call from Catherine telling him not to come bother looking for Josie, as she’s at The Great Northern right now in Thomas Eckhardt’s suite. The trap is complete: Josie’s been convinced to try and shoot Eckhardt, Eckhardt’s been convinced Josie will try to harm him, and Coop’s on his way to witness it all. He takes his own weapon. Outside the suite he hears cries and shouts, then a gun shot. He bursts in to find Josie and Eckhardt in bed. Eckhardt gets up with a hole in his chest and blood soaking through his pj’s. He falls dead, revealing Josie upright now with her own weapon pointed at Coop. She plays the self-defense angle. Coop wonders if she’ll play the same after shooting him. She admits to killing Jonathan because he was trying to take her back to Hong Kong, then admits to shooting Coop because she was afraid of being found out and sent to jail. This is when Truman enters. His gun is drawn as well. She apologizes to him for everything, then has some kind of episode, a cross between a seizure and a heart attack, and collapses on the bed. Truman rushes to her, but she’s dead. It’s pretty a pretty weird death, but this is Twin Peaks, so it gets even weirder. Coop sees a bright spotlight shine on Truman and Josie’s body, then they fade away, leaving just the light on the bed. That’s when BOB appears for the first time since Leland’s death. He crawls over the bed with a question: “Coop, what happened to dead Josie?” He screams laughter. He fades and The Man From Another Place appears. Then the spotlight fades and Truman is back, crying with dead Josie in his arms. Then, in the weirdest moment of an already weird series, the camera pans to the knob of the nightstand by the bed, in which Josie’s screaming face appears. It presses against the wood but can’t break free.


Another episode both written and directed by women, Tricia Brock and Lesli Linka Glatter, respectively, that features the final appearance of Twin Peaks’ most deceptive femme fatale, Josie Packard. If the demise of Josie seems abrupt and out of the blue, that’s because it was. At this point in the series, Joan Chen, the actress who played Josie, wanted out to focus on her film career, which the writers obliged. The result is an odd death made cryptic by the three-fold curiosity of the return of BOB, the question he poses as to what killed Josie, and the appearance of Josie’s soul in the drawer knob. In regard to the first two curiosities, it is popularly-believed that Josie was killed by fear, the fear of being found out, the fear of being at the end of her deception with nowhere to turn but the truth, and the fear that this truth would cause the one she loves, namely Truman, to turn away from her. Josie lied herself into a corner, and in the end, her fear of coming out of it killed her. This is what caused BOB, a spirit who feeds on fear, to manifest. As to why Josie wound up in the drawer knob, most of us strike that up as Twin Peaks being Twin Peaks.

There’s a lot of closure in this episode, not just the Josie storyline, but the Donna/James romance (it’s his final episode as well, at least in the flesh), and even the Norma/Ed engagement is an end to the turmoil that has defined their relationship from the first time we met them. But there are also a lot of new beginnings here what with the JJW/Audrey stirrings, Earle incorporating the girls into his game (posing the possible question who will be the next dead young thing from Twin Peaks?), but mostly this episode was about getting Josie out of here. And mission accomplished.

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