Welcome to Twin Peaks:/\/\ First-Watch Recap: Season 2: Ep. 2.12 “Black Widow” (Original airdate Saturday, January 12, 1991) — a review

Welcome to my First-Watch of the original 30 episodes of the 1990-91 television series Twin Peaks. Below are the bulletpointed notes I jotted down while watching the episode “Black Widow.”

  • On this day in history, the U.S. Congress gives George H. W. Bush the authority to wage war against Iraq.
  • “Justify My Love,” by Madonna, is the #1 single in the U.S.
  • “Bring Your Daughter . . . to the Slaughter,” by Iron Maiden, is the #1 single in the UK. I think this round was won by the UK. Maiden trumps Madonna, although there is an implied purity commonality.
  • English singer-songwriter, actress Pixie Lott was born today as well. I have no idea who she is, but I love her name.
  • The day before, on Friday, January 11, 1991, the Jean-Claude Van Damme movie Lionheart was released. I saw that one.
  • The Sally Field movie Not Without My Daughter was released the same day. That one, I didn’t see. Still haven’t. I wonder if Sally took her daughter . . . to the slaughter.
  • Home Alone still ruled at the box office, though. New releases didn’t faze it.
  • No one cares what the in-story date is anymore. Time passes weirdly in Twin Peaks.
  • In the opening exterior montage, Packard’s Sawmill still factors in heavily in the visuals, although it’s already been burned to the ground on the show, and no one is talking about rebuilding it.
  • Great Northern Hotel |||—BOBBY BRIGGS, dressed in an ill-fitting suit, enters BENJAMIN HORNE‘s office. Ben looks disheveled and a bit crazed, and the office furniture has been oddly stacked. Bobby asks Ben if he listened to the tape he left. Ben jokes that he’s surprised LEO JOHNSON mastered the technology to record the tape. Ben agrees to give Bobby a job. He wants Bobby to follow HANK JENNINGS around and chronicle his existence with a camera he gives him.
  • Suddenly, LANA MILFORD runs by, shrieking.
  • Sheriff’s Station |||—AGENT DALE COOPER is looking over photos of properties with a real-estate agent. One is a property known as DEAD DOG FARM. Sounds appealing.
  • The realtor says no one really stays at the property very long.
  • “When can I see it?” Agent Cooper asks.
  • DICK TREMAYNE enters the station, where he is met by DEPUTY ANDY BRENNAN and LUCY MORAN.
  • Also JUDY SWAN from the Happy Helping Hands organization. She is LITTLE NICKY‘s caseworker.
  • The actor in the role of Judy is none other than a very young-looking Molly Shannon, four years before she would begin her stint at SNL.
  • Ms. Swan says that Little Nicky has been plagued by “persistent random misfortune.” His parents were killed, we find out, but little else.
  • It still looks like someone is trying to make something out of this story thread. I still think it’s misdirection.
  • SHERIFF HARRY TRUMAN pops in and tells Deputy Andy let’s go, everyone is up at the Great Northern.
  • Great Northern Hotel |||—DOUGIE MILFORD is dead. DR. WILL HAYWARD says it looks like a heart attack. Dougie went out having sex with his new bride. Dougie’s brother MAYOR DWAYNE MILFORD comes in and cries. He also says Dougie’s young bride—that would be Lana, who ran by Ben Horne’s office shrieking earlier—murdered his brother as surely as if she shot him with a rifle.
  • The eponymous black widow, Lana, is standing with DEPUTY HAWK. As Dwayne comes out of the room, he tells Lana that she will burn in Hell for this, and that she is a witch.
  • After Dwayne leaves, Lana tells Hawk that she thinks she’s cursed. It all started in high school . . .
  • Before Lana can go too deep into unnecessary back story, Hawk says that a curse needs a cure. He brags that he knows a thing or two about these things. Lana asks Hawk if he’s the sheriff.
  • Hawk leans back against the door behind him, and says, “Let’s just say when it comes to big things, I am the man.”
  • Immediately after this, Deputy Andy opens the door and Hawk executes a vaudevillian prat fall. Ha-ha, hee-hee, snort.
  • What the hell is this episode about?
  • Twin Peaks High School |||—The wrestling coach (who probably has a name that I’m not going to look up) equates allowing NADINE HURLEY to wrestle with some unnamed coach who allowed the first black player on his team. District champion MIKE NELSON wrestles her. Nadine is trying to get Mike to go out with her while, at the same time, she is solidly kicking his ass.
  • Later, Mike goes to see DONNA HAYWARD in the hallway by the lockers. He tells Donna he was beaten up by Nadine. He wants Donna to talk to her, because Nadine won’t stop trying to get him to date her. Donna suggests that an older woman may be exactly what he needs. Mike says he doesn’t want to go out with anyone who can body slam him.
  • Mike asks Donna is she would pretend to still be his girlfriend to help him fend off Nadine. Donna says she’s not that good of an actress.
  • Ba-dum-bum-tsschhhh!
  • I just imagined someone played a rimshot off-camera after the character Donna said she’s not that good of an actress. I also wonder if Lara Flynn Boyle put this clip on her reel.
  • Marsh House |||—Speaking of story threads that seem to be going nowhere (or, at least, nowhere unpredictable), MALCOLM SLOAN (Nicholas Love) introduces himself to self-styled badboy JAMES HURLEY as EVELYN MARSH‘s brother and also the absent Mr. Marsh’s driver. Malcolm tells James that when his sister married Marsh, she got a brand new life and he got a nice uniform and keys to the liquor cabinet. He’s drinking as he talks to James, I should add.
  • Malcolm says that “once a fortnight” JEFFREY MARSH pounds on Evelyn mercilessly, and she in turn tries to get even by breaking one of his “things,” like the Jaguar.
  • The ever-heroic James wants to know why Malcolm doesn’t stop it if Jeffrey Marsh is abusive. Malcolm says the Golden Rule around there is that no one stops Mr. Marsh
  • Dead Dog Farm |||—C’mon, you knew we were going here when it was given a name, didn’t you? Agent Cooper and the real estate woman arrive. She explains that the name is based upon the legend that says the best and worst of all people are drawn to a dead dog. Most turn away; only those with the purest of hearts can feel its pain; and, somewhere in-between the rest of us struggle.
  • You know, that old legend you’ve never heard of.
  • Agent Cooper asks IRENE (Geraldine Keams) if she’s shown the property recently. She says no one’s asked to look at it in a year. Irene is not a fan of the hard sell.
  • Cooper points out the tire tracks of at least three different vehicles—a Jeep, a four-wheeler, and a luxury sedan. He’s good.
  • The front door to the building is open. Cooper says there’s been a meeting there within the last few hours. He finds baby laxative in the sink. Then, traces of cocaine on a chair seat. Then, he tells Irene to notify the sheriff.
  • Exterior – Side of the Road |||—Dick Tremayne is reading the car manual on how to change a tire. Little Nicky is fooling around in the car, turning the steering wheel, bleating the horn, playing with the wipers. You know, the usual. Dick makes the child get out of the car. Then, the car falls off the jack, nearly crushing Dick. Nicky says, “You’re not going to die, are you?”
  • I’m seriously getting Damien vibes from this creepy kid.
  • I’m also getting This storyline is going nowhere vibes.
  • Sheriff’s Station |||—COL. RILEY (Tony Burton) is heading up the investigation into the MAJ. GARLAND BRIGGS disappearance. You may know Burton from Assault on Precinct 13, or, even more likely, from his role as Duke Evers in Rocky.
  • Agent Cooper enters the room. Sheriff Harry and Col. Riley are already there. The colonel asks Cooper if he noticed any wildlife in the area where Maj. Briggs disappeared. He asks specifically about owls. Cooper admits that he heard an owl.
  • The sheriff says that Maj. Briggs is a good friend of his, and Cooper admits that they know about the messages pertaining to him from deep space.
  • Col. Riley says that they should have their facts straight. The messages that Maj. Briggs showed to Cooper came from right here in these woods. Where they were sent to is another question. Cooper asks if it has anything to do with a place called the White Lodge.
  • Col. Riley: “That’s classified.”
  • Sheriff Harry says they’d like to help Riley, but he needs to give them a little more to go on.
  • Col. Riley says, “Garland Briggs is the best pilot I’ve ever known. He was born with hardware most of us only dream about.” Briggs’ disappearance has implications that go so far beyond national secuity, the Cold War seems like a case of the sniffles.
  • Marsh House |||—James Hurley starts the Jaguar for Evelyn Marsh. He tells her that he was discussing her situation with her brother, then asks her if she is afraid of her husband. Evelyn says that there’s nothing to talk about.
  • James says, “I know what it’s like to be alone.” And then the two begin necking. James is a male slut. Evelyn’s husband interrupts him as he arrives home, blowing his horn.
  • Great Northern Hotel |||—AUDREY HORNE sees Bobby Briggs, in his suit, in the hallway. Bobby tells her that her father put him on the payroll. Audrey asks is she can help. Bobby says that she can help him celebrate. Audrey says that Bobby should think about the two of them going into business together.
  • As Bobby enters Ben Horne’s office, Audrey ducks into her secret passage (you remember the one).
  • Ben Horne is now reenacting the Battle of Gettysburg with miniatures.
  • Bobby gives photos of Hank Jennings to Ben, who gives him money and tells him to come back tomorrow to discuss a permanent position.
  • Blue Pine Lodge |||—PETE MARTELL and CATHERINE MARTELL are drinking champagne. Pete begins reciting Yeats to his wife. Catherine calls JOSIE PACKARD over. Josie’s wearing a chamber maid’s uniform now. Catherine tells Josie to put on her maid’s cap. Pete asks his wife if she’s being too tough on Josie, to which Catherine responds that Josie is lucky she’s not hanging from a tree. Catherine then makes a toast to herself; she hasn’t changed a bit.
  • Great Northern Hotel |||—Agent Cooper is dictating his regular message to DIANE. He had posted his chess move against WINDOM EARLE in the personals column of the newspaper, but Earle anticipated his move and sent his next move to Cooper even before the newspaper was printed.
  • Cooper says that he’s now spent two days without his badge and gun. He adds that if he’s unable to defend himself, there’s a very real possibility of his imprisonment.
  • There’s a knock at his door. It’s Audrey Horne.
  • Audrey stole Bobby’s photos and brought them to Cooper. The photos show men meeting at Dead Dog Farm.
  • Another knock. This time it’s DENISE BRYSON. Cooper makes the introductions.
  • “They have women agents?” Audrey asks.
  • “More or less,” Denise responds. Audrey kisses Cooper on the way out.
  • Cooper shows the photos to Denise. JEAN RENAULT, ERNIE NILES, HANK JENNINGS, and MOUNTIE KING were conducting a meeting at Dead Dog Farm.
  • Cooper tells Denise about the traces of cocaine and baby laxative he found. He thinks it’ll be a match to what was found in his car.
  • Denise asks Cooper how old Audrey is. Cooper doesn’t respond to that question. Instead, he says that he thought Denise would no longer be interested in girls. Denise says he may be wearing a dress, but he still puts his panties on one leg at a time, if you know what I mean.
  • Cooper says that he doesn’t know what he means. Neither do I. If my use of pronouns with Denise Bryson seems inconsistent, blame the show, not me.
  • Double R Diner |||—BIG ED HURLEY is whining to NORMA JENNINGS about life not working out as he planned. “We can make new plans,” Norma says, and then holds Ed’s hand.
  • Hank Jennings, Norma’s ex-con husband, sees the two of them holding hands. Hank is also holding a domino tile.
  • I don’t understand the domino tile, and I’m beginning to believe no one else does either.
  • Sheriff’s Station |||—It’s nighttime, and it’s raining. Dick Tremayne enters, shaking off his umbrella. Lucy Moran primps behind the counter as she sees him. Dick is smiling, but not at Lucy; he’s there to see Deputy Andy. Dick says he fears they may have a problem with Little Nicky. Dick says he believes Nicky may be the Devil, or, at the very least, homicidal in the first degree. Dick tells Andy that they have to find out what happened to Nicky’s parents.
  • Again, this seems like a story thread that the show is going to invest some effort into. I’m not falling for it. Smells like misdirection.
  • Dr. Will Hayward comes in with autopsy reports. Sheriff Harry and Mayor Dwayne are already in the office. Dr. Hayward says that Dougie Milford died of natural causes. A heart attack. No evidence of foul play.
  • The major asks, “Did you check him for witchcraft?” The mayor insists that Lana killed his brother with sex, and he wants to press charges. He says he’ll file civil suits.
  • In the hallway, Hawk asks Sheriff Harry if he still has that bottle of Irish in his office. He wants to put a little in warm milk for the Widow Milford. Dick Tremayne and Deputy Andy are in the hallway as well, with Sheriff Harry, Dr. Hayward and Lucy Moran. Where did the mayor go?
  • Dick Tremayne says, “Oh, she doth teach the torches to burn bright. It seems she hangs against the cheek of night like a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear. Beauty too rich for us. For us, too dear.”
  • Lucy Moran walks away during this soliloquy, directed at Lana Milford. Hawk takes Lana back into the office.
  • Dick’s soliloquy, by the way, was written by Shakespeare, not David Lynch or Mark Frost.
  • Back at her post in the lobby, Lucy answers the phone. She tries Sheriff Harry in his office, but he’s not there. She pages him over the PA to pick up line three. She goes to Sheriff Harry’s office and finds all of the men there, including Deputy Andy, transfixed by Lana Milford’s stories.
  • Maybe she is a witch.
  • Double R Diner |||—Denise Bryson enters the diner. Ernie Niles is there, eating chicken wings. Denise shows her DEA badge and a photo from the Dead Dog Farm meeting. Denise tells Ernie that, at the very least, he is guilty of a parole violation that will put him back in prison unless he cooperates.
  • Great Northern Hotel |||—Ernie confesses, says the men threatened him, beat him, held a gun on him. They wanted him to sell drugs for them. Cooper is there for the confession. Meanwhile, an electrical storm still continues in the background.
  • Denise and Cooper convince Ernie to set up Jean Renault and the others.
  • Marsh House |||—James Hurley lies awake. He hears glass breaking and shouting in the main house. Malcolm enters James’s room and says the first time he heard Marsh beating his sister, he vowed to kill him. That was four years ago.
  • Briggs House |||—BETTY BRIGGS is waiting up for Bobby as her son comes in. There’s still a storm going on. There’s also an owl lamp by the couch. That’s a nice touch.
  • Mrs. Briggs cries. She’s worried about her husband. Bobby tells her not to worry. He always comes back. Bobby then tells his mom about the dream his father told him about. Remember that one? Something about verandas and Bobby being happy.
  • Mrs. Briggs says, “Your father is an extraordinary human being.”
  • Bobby says, “My father is a deeply weird individual, but he has a lot more going on under his hat than most people, that’s for sure.”
  • The lights go out and then Maj. Briggs is standing there, dressed in an old-timey aviator’s outfit.
  • “How long have I been gone?” Maj. Briggs asks. When he hears that it’s been two days, he says that it seemed much shorter. Husband and wife embrace.
  • Maj. Briggs asks Bobby to put out his cigarette and fix him a strong cocktail.
  • When Betty asks him if everything is all right, Garland Briggs responds, “No, dear. Not exactly.”
  • Then, the viewer is treated to an exterior shot of storm clouds rolling in, backlit by lightning flashes.
  • End of episode.

Astute readers may have detected my growing frustration with this landmark television series during my last installment. That hasn’t changed.

There are only ten episodes remaining, and the story feels like it is floundering. What is it about? What’s really going on? Why should I even care?

I’m no closer to answering these questions than I was twenty episodes ago when this was a murder mystery about the death of Laura Palmer. Now, there are characters whose stories seemed to have already played out who are kept around for no apparent reason. James Hurley even rode his story thread out of town, where he is obviously going to be framed for murdering Jeffrey Marsh. Sorry. Spoilers. But is it really a spoiler? C’mon.

Now the story seems to be about something magical in the woods. Lodges, of the White, Black, and Blue Pine varieties. Maj. Briggs was abducted, and returned. But, we’re reminded that Windom Earle is still out there, and he’s apparently crazy about chess.

Most of what’s being thrown at us seems extraneous somehow. Little Nicky, the bad-luck orphan. Lana Milford, who may just be a witch. Josie the maid. The James Hurley side plot potboiler. Ben Horne’s sudden obsession with the Civil War. Nadine’s superhuman strength.

The mechanism of Agent Dale Cooper’s exoneration is made clear now. And the Briggs abduction thread has ended (I think). Heading for the end of the original series, what are we going to focus on?

What about Bob? And, Mike, the one-armed man?

Since I know this series was continued about 100 years after it first ended, I doubt all questions will be answered to my satisfaction. I’m no longer sure that’s even a desirable goal. This story is a mess.

I started to call it a “dog’s breakfast,” but that is unfair. It’s a good-looking series, filled with attractive and/or interesting characters, with a lot of pointless quirkiness and subplots that seem to go nowhere. I began deconstructing the series to have an idea how such an influential television series was created. I think I do now. As I’ve said before, it’s a lot of style over substance. Throw something interesting into the story, something showy or weird, with the possible intention of explaining it later; then, never explain it.

This is another 2-out-of-5 stars from me. I want this to end well, but I’m preparing myself for disappointment.

An aside: I watched the first two seasons of Riverdale a while before watching this series, and I now realize that this reimagined story of Archie Andrews and the gang was heavily influenced by Twin Peaks. But, could this show have been influenced by the Archie comics first? Cooper. Lodges. The Double R instead of Pop’s. Am I reaching?

can you explain it to me?


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