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Twin Peaks Episode Guide: Season 2, Episode 18 — “On the Wings of Love”

By  · Published on January 10th, 2017

In which our heroes enter enigmatic Owl Cave…

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


Written by Harley Peyton & Robert Engels, Directed by Duwayne Dunham

Airdate April 4th, 1991

Picking up on the heels of the last episode, in the Bookhouse a non-descript deputy is still unconscious on the floor with a knot on his head, and Sheriff Truman is right where we left him, drunk and out cold in bed with Eckhardt’s lovely assistant Jones crawling all over him in a silky black teddy. She takes a vial from her stockings and rubs whatever it contains all over Harry’s lips, then her own, then she kisses him. He’s barely cognizant of any of this and delusionally assumes it’s Josie who’s with him. Jones snaps this illusion by pulling some piano wire from her bracelet and using it to strangle Truman. This brings the good Sheriff to his senses and he manages to knock her out. There is no indication whatsoever why she needed to strip down for this assassination attempt, but no one is complaining (except maybe that deputy).

At The Great Northern, John Justice Wheeler is working when Audrey brings him breakfast. The sexual chemistry between the two of them is mounting. Pun intended. Also, it’s hard to tell which one of these lovely people has better lips. They make a plan for a sunset rendezvous. Thinly-veiled innuendos flitter about like the butterflies in young Audrey’s stomach.

Meanwhile, Truman has returned to his duties as Sheriff with Jones in tow, but she ain’t talking, not to him at least. She does ask to speak with the closest South African consulate; they’ll get right on that. Truman can’t figure why Eckhardt would want him dead, but Coop points out the obvious: “sexual jealousy.” Coop furthermore teaches his friend a surefire hangover technique: being grossed out to the point of nausea. Doc Hayward is waiting for them in Truman’s office, as is a bonsai tree, which is reportedly a gift from Josie. Doc cuts past this awkwardness with the news that Windom Earle came to his house. He shows them the chess piece and move he left with Donna. Coop says they have to publish their responding move immediately. That’s when Gordon Cole shows up. He’s got the classified portion of Earle’s dossier for Coop to look over. We learn here that the bonsai isn’t from Josie, it’s from Earle, and at this very moment he’s in his cabin listening to their conversation via a device hidden in the tree. Cole explains that when Earle went AWOL from the mental institution he was hopped up on haloperidol, which is the same drug the one-armed man Phillip Gerard used to curb his MIKE-ness. There’s an interesting mention in the file that Earle was loaned out to Project Blue Book in 1965 for a couple of years, but the records of his time there are still blacked out as a matter of national security. This links him quite curiously to Major Briggs. As the others head out for breakfast, Cole pulls Coop aside and says with Earle on the loose, the Bureau needs him back in ranks. Cole returns Coop’s badge back and upgrades his sidearm to a 10mm. Earle has heard all of this and has his indentured servant Leo select three cards from a fanned deck. All three cards he chooses are queens, one with Donna’s face, one with Audrey’s, and one with Shelley’s. Earle then tells Leo to try and find the king. Leo picks another card: a king with Dale’s face. I’m thinking this has to be a loaded deck. Earle then pulls the Queen of Hearts from behind Leo’s ear. The face on this card is blank. The gist of all this is, Earle’s got something sinister planned for the Miss Twin Peaks pageant, namely some killin’, and he intends to make sure Coop is there to see it.

The next day Donna follows her mother to The Great Northern because she’s suspicious after seeing Eileen with Ben Horne earlier. She sees the two adults greet each other, then Ben wheels her mom away. At the same time, Donna’s ex Mike and Nadine are at the reception desk checking out after their illicit night together. Both seem quite satisfied. Donna runs across Audrey and asks if maybe she knows the connection between their parents. Audrey doesn’t, but she knows how they can find out, and takes Donna to her peephole between the walls that looks in on Ben’s office.

In the office, Eileen is trying to return a thick stack of love letters Ben sent to her 20 years ago. He is refusing to accept them. It would seem that back in the day these two had a thing going, and now, all these years later, Ben has finally realized the error of his ways and wants Eileen back as his lover. She protests, but not convincingly. This is when Donna and Audrey start observing. The first thing they hear is Ben asking Eileen if she’s “told her.” Eileen vehemently denies this, saying she never will, and telling him he must stay away from “her,” he must promise he will. He does. She leaves. Audrey and Donna are confused, and Donna swears to get to the truth at the bottom of all they’ve seen. The obvious conclusion to draw here is that Donna is Ben’s daughter, not Doc’s, and thus Audrey’s half-sister. Another mini mystery stirs…

Coop and crew stop in the Double R for breakfast. Coop’s dressed once again in his standard dark suit and beige trenchcoat; it’s a sight for sore eyes. Cole spies Shelly and goes over to pitch woo. He’s yelling as usual, and when she quietly asks him to lower his voice, he hears her perfectly. Being that he’s all but deaf to every other sound on Earth, being able to understand her voice clearly when at a normal level is nothing short of a miracle, he declares. This increases his infatuation with Miss Johnson to mythical levels. Coop meanwhile is sketching on a napkin the mark on Margaret the Log Lady’s leg – side-by-side symmetrical twin-peaked triangles – and is adding three vertical diamonds between them, like those that make up Briggs’ mark, just rearranged. Then Annie stops by his table and steals all his attention. They flirt in a truly beautiful and odd fashion, and Truman notices, especially when Coop tries to tell her a joke. It’s not at all funny, but she laughs: true love for sure. Annie notices Coop’s sketch and says it looks like the marking in Owl Cave. Coop doesn’t know what she’s talking about, but Truman does and takes a look. She’s right, the Sheriff says, it’s an exact match, which is odd as Coop has never seen or heard of the mark or even the cave. He wants to fix this, stat.

Donna gets a postcard from James. He’s in San Francisco on his way to Mexico. A regular Kerouac, that one. Her dad passes by and she asks him how mom knows Ben Horne. When he says she doesn’t, Donna reveals Ben came by the house yesterday and the two of them seemed friendly enough. Doc revises his lie, says they must know each other from charity work. Donna mentions mom went to see Ben today, too. Must be charity work, yeah, that’s the ticket, she told me this morning she was going, I just forgot, whoops. Bad poker face, Doc. Doc is saved by the doorbell, sort of. It’s a delivery with package for Mrs. H, a dozen roses but no card to go with them. Doc sighs knowingly.

Audrey’s at the library doing research on civil disobedience when she runs into Windom Earle in disguise as a poetry professor. This is a happy coincidence, she thinks, because recently a poem was sent to her. This poem was, of course, sent by Earle, and he continues the charade by analyzing its meaning for her. It was written by the great Percy Shelley, he says, then comments Audrey looks like a queen. She doesn’t interpret it as a threat directly, but she senses enough bad mojo to skedaddle.

During a slow moment at work, Annie asks Shelly what she knows about Agent Cooper, under the veil of not being even remotely interested. That Dale is a tough one to read, Shelly says, but even she can see he’s interested in Annie.

Andy’s all geared up for some spelunking at Owl Cave, and Lucy, recently turned on by Andy’s heroic actions at the fashion-show-turned-weasel-riot (and turned off by Dick’s cowardly showing at the same) tells him to be careful. Coop’s ready to go but Truman tells him Pete has the next chess move ready. The move will expose one of their pawns, but taking it would expose one of Earle’s bishops, so strategy says they should be safe. This resolved, off they go.

Ben, continuing his tour of regrets, apologizes to Audrey for the kind of father he’s been all these years, the mistakes he’s made along the way (his affair with Laura Palmer among them), and says he wants to repent, to build their family into something good, but only if she’ll serve as his second-in-command. She will. That’s excellent, Ben says, and tells her she’s on a plane to Seattle in an hour to confab with environmentalists about taking the pine weasel campaign national. This assignment derails her later plans with JJW, who arrives in this scene just in time to be rejected. He ends up chatting with Ben instead about the nature of being good. This conversation causes JJW to reveal that he’s falling in love with Audrey. This pleases Ben verily. He offers the young suitor a carrot.

At Owl Cave, Coop, Truman, Hawk and Andy are spelunking. Hawk leads them to the marking, a petroglyph carved into the cave wall. It’s a perfect match to what Coop drew combining the marks found on both Major Briggs and Margaret the Log Lady. The only difference is an addition, a curl of flame above the topmost diamond. An owl calls and flies through the cave. Andy for some reason takes a swipe at it with a pickaxe but instead strikes the petroglyph’s flame in its center, causing a small but bright flare. The pickaxe won’t come out but the center diamond pushes out from the wall until its face falls away, revealing another, smaller symbol on the face of a slender pole that is also moving outward. This smaller symbol is a single diamond with two wings. As Coop peers closer, he sees this symbol is coming out of yet another painted flame. Make sense? No? You’re not alone. While he too has no idea where this clue will lead them, Coop is certain it will be “a place both wonderful and strange.” He’s giddy like a kid on Christmas morning about it. The same owl that buzzed them flies free from the cave.

Annie pops into The Great Northern for her first-ever alcoholic beverage just as Dale is passing through the room having returned from the cave. He’s regaling Diane via tape of the night’s adventure but stops cold when he notices Annie. On a side-note, another bit of evidence, if you’re looking for it, that Diane might not exist can be found here, I think, in the way Coop instantly dismisses his tape recorder when he encounters Annie. It’s like he doesn’t need Diane tonight, like she’s something he might have found a real, actual substitute for, like she’s a convention created for his sake and thus can wait, rather than an official recorder of investigative events that would need to be expediently documented. Like I said, if you’re looking for it. Coop and Annie talk. He’s amazed at how the world is all new to her, something she’s a little thrown by, but nevertheless excited by as well. He notices again the scar on her wrist. She notices him noticing and gives a vague peek into her backstory, saying she’s “failed before.” Coop is his typically chivalrous self. To describe their chemistry isn’t possible, but if you’ve seen it you know that MacLachlan and Graham did an outstanding job of building their dynamic without obvious handholds or definitive statements, instead rather by crafting a separate and singular relationship persona forged of their two idiosyncratic characters.

Back in Owl Cave, Earle is creeping around and finds the petroglyph. He notices something Coop and the others did not: across the cave from the petroglyph is another wall painting of the smaller symbol with wings, but inverted. So Earle turns the slender pole poking out of the wall until its symbol matches that on the opposite wall. This causes Andy’s discarded pickaxe to fall out of the wall and the cavern to start calmly collapsing.

This episode was the last directed by series editor Dwayne Dunham, and it really started the ball rolling in terms of pushing the Earle-Cooper-Lodges narrative down the homestretch. Speaking of the homestretch, given that’s where the series was, especially with official cancellation looming, you’d think they’d be streamlining and trying to tie up loose ends, but when you look at the Ben-Donna paternity mystery, and the blossoming romance between Audrey and JJW, you can see how there were seeds of a season 3 being sewn into these final episodes, just-in-case plotlines that could carry over into uncharted territory. The only thing that’s new but that doesn’t feel it is the Annie introduction, partially because of how easily her character fits into Coop’s narrative of love, and partially because you know she likely to factor into the Earle narrative as his faceless queen. Normally I’d lament about how it should be Audrey in that position as Coop’s ultimate love and thus his ultimate vulnerability, but the character of Annie and the performance by Graham are compositely more innocent and pure than we would ever want Audrey to be, and so heightens the sense of foreboding. The poor girl just got out into the world, after all, and this is the pocket of it in which she emerged.

But make no mistake, subplots aside, Twin Peaks is all about Earle now, what exactly his nefarious plans include and how exactly Coop can stop them. Add to this the looming mythology of the Lodges bolstered by the findings in Owl Cave and the intuitive nature of Coop leading them to it, we can tell there’s something larger than life coming to Twin Peaks, we just have no idea what it is. But with four episodes to go, we at least know some kind of answer is coming soon.

BETWEEN TWO WORLDS: Perspectives on Twin Peaks

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