2.17: Wounds and Scars
The real problem with the last half of the second season, now it has the engine of Windom Earle running things, is that there isn’t really anything else that’s much cop. Last week, Audrey’s love interest was introduced: your friend Billy Zane (he’s a cool dude). This week, Coop’s arrives: Annie Blackburn. On top of that, the desperation that is the Miss Twin Peaks Contest makes itself known.
I probably don’t mind the Contest as much as some, however. It’s undoubtedly lame, but it at least projects the season towards some kind of climax. If nothing else, it resolutely highlights Lynch’s abiding fascination with pretty girls, as if that needed any further attention drawn to it.
Special Agent Cooper: You made it just right, Annie.
I also like Heather Graham’s Annie. Whatever the behind the scenes wrangles that led to the disintegration of the Coop-Audrey romance (and it will be rather unceremoniously deconstructed in later Coop comments), it’s certainly the case that Coop’s attraction to Annie feels more germane to his character and less the Special Agent as a lusty Lynch stand-in (complete with books on Tibet). The only real problem with it is that, like about 80% of the show at this point, the writers don’t really know where they’re heading. So Coop and Annie woo in circles for the next five or six episodes (she attempted suicide you know, and Coop continually tries to get her to talk about it by telling her she really doesn’t have to if she doesn’t want to).
Audrey: Did you come here for the fashion show?
John Justice Wheeler: No, I came here for you.
The real loser in all this is Audrey. Whether that’s a consequence of Sherilyn Fenn being allegedly difficult, again, I don’t know. By this point the initial tight-sweatered lustre of the character has well and truly worn off, though. Billy Zane serenading her and swooping her in his arms is incredibly boring. It elicits pretty much the same level of interest as anything involving the now wholly exited James (anyone missing him?)
The “Ben is Donna’s dad” plotline is also lacking much in the way of enticement although it’s nice to see Mary Jo Deschanel wheeled back on. While Richard Beymer is never less than great, the well has finally run dry for his plotlines so they’re struggling to make the straight soapy idea of a dodgy businessman rediscovering his conscience work. There’s only really a pay-off to this when Lynch returns for the finale.
The character who really shouldn’t work, Dick Tremayne, continues to be an oozing, smarmy bright spot in the unfailingly tiresome Lucy/Andy “Who’s the daddy?” saga. In aid of Ben’s plot to stop Ghostwood, there’s a fashion show supporting the pine weasel. Complete with the return of David L Lander (2.5) as Tim Pinkle. He needs to be told representing the creature with a stuffed exhibit at an ecological event is inappropriate (there is also a picture of one that’s a stuffed toy, which is even funnier), and Dick gets bitten on the nose when he is encouraged to kiss the weasel. The show descends into chaos when the critter gets loose, complete with weasel cam. It’s filler, but Ian Buchanan is unfailingly good value throughout, and keeps the proceedings watchable. The interaction with Lander is consistently funny too.
Special Agent Cooper: A man who doesn’t love easily loves too much.
Presumably this episode was Michael Ontkean’s reward for all that hitherto responsible acting, since Harry’s allowed to meltdown following Josie’s death. Which entails getting hammered, smashing up the Bookhouse and getting succubied by Eckhardt’s ex-assistant Jones. It’s quite tiresome, with the only point of interest coming from the revelation that Josie’s body was 65 pounds at autopsy (“Maybe I just better whistle when we walk past the graveyard”).
Special Agent Cooper: Windom Earle, Bob, the Midget. Do these events foretell the return of Bob? I hope not, for all our sakes.
Coop has announced Bob will be back, and what lifts this is the Lodge related business. Pete is conscious that even his best game of chess will lead to at least six people dying (“He doesn’t want odds, he wants royalty”); it’s symptomatic of the show that this should be abandoned before the finale. Meanwhile, Andy doesn’t get the rules (“The knight has to do the little hook thing”).
Windom Earle: This isn’t a move. This is a trick. He’s playing a stalemate game. Cooper doesn’t know the meaning of stalemate. He’s getting help!
Still, Windom’s onto Coop’s tactics, and after a limited showing in 2.16 Welsh is back in force. His “master of disguise” routine finds him posing as Dr Gerald Craig (an old pal of Dr Hayward’s who died many years before, we later discover), and most amusingly sitting in the diner dressed as a biker. His repartee towards succinct Leo is ever amusing (“Tacit agreement is acceptable, Leo. Your silence speaks volumes”).
There’s also the link of Lodge tattoos. The Log Lady reveals that like Briggs she has a strange – but different – symbol, on the back of her leg. She disappeared (wasn’t abducted by aliens) for a day when she was seven. She saw lights and heard the cry of an owl: and again, just before her husband died.
So while Wounds and Scars is an improvement on the lows of Wallies, it’s far from the series firing on all cylinders. By this time it’s just got too much dead wood to reach its once glorious peaks. I think when I first watched it, I found the Windom Earle plotline enough to compensate for the deficiencies elsewhere. His is still good stuff, but can’t distract so persuasively now.