Seriable’s Mark Jones reviews Twin Peaks Episode 25 — On The Wings Of Love
As if by magic, the episode where Cooper gets his badge back and exchanges his muted earth tones for his suit and tie is the one where Twin Peaks gets really good again. There’s mystery, there are some great scenes which are funny without being over the top, and more importantly, Cooper takes his first steps on the road to the White Lodge.
After the previous cliffhanger where Mrs Jones sneaks into the Bookhouse during the night to climb in bed with Harry, things are tied up quite quickly. Rubbing something on his lips that made him think Josie had returned she tries to murder Harry by strangling him. A struggle ensues but the sheriff manages to knock his assailant out and after a day of some aggressive grieving returns to work, albeit with a bit of a hangover.
The conversation Harry and Cooper have regarding Mrs Jones and then the state of Harry’s head is the first indication that things have returned to normal. After a series of questions which are bluntly but amusingly answered, tying thing up with that particular part of the story, there’s a classic Coop moment where he assists Harry’s recovery by reciting a particularly disgusting hangover cure;
“Sure fire cure for a hangover Harry. You take a glass of nearly frozen unstrained tomato juice. You plop a couple of oysters in there, you drink it down. Breath deep. Next you take a mound, and I mean a mound, of sweet breads. Sauté they them with some chestnuts and some Canadian bacon. Finally biscuits. Big biscuits. Smothered in gravy. Now here’s where it gets tricky, you’re going to need some anchovies…”
It’s a fun little scene and feels like it could have been from Season One or the early half of Season Two.
Harry’s hangover is the source of several funny moments, not least when Gordon Cole steps back into his office. It’s great to see Gordon back and even if his presence isn’t felt behind the camera, at least in character, David Lynch manages to help save the show by giving Cooper his badge back. The stuff with him miraculously being able to hear Shelly and his infatuation with her, as he tries out his “counter Esperanto” might not be relevant to the story as a whole but it’s a very likeable moment and the episode would definitely be worse off without him in it. The highlight for me though is the moment when he bends to look at the bonsai tree/listening device while screaming “bonsai” and nearly deafening Windom Earle who is on the other end of the bug.
Even the romantic stuff in this episode is pretty enjoyable as the John Justice Wheeler scenes turn up a few nice moments with Ben, and Cooper gets amusingly giddy talking to Annie in the Diner. There’s one scene between John and Ben which is probably the best to come out of the good Ben/John and Audrey storyline where Ben asks John what the best advice for being good is. John replies “always tell the hardest truth first” before continuing to make his intentions with Audrey clear. Of course, if those intentions weren’t clear to the audience before then they must have been watching a different show as every scene between Audrey and John is heavily endowed with innuendo such as Audrey’s retort “if you bring a hammer, you’d better bring some nails too” earlier in the episode.
There’s also the bitter-sweet scene when Ben finally gives Audrey his approval and tries making up for years of bad parenting. It’s well acted on both parts and is a decent conclusion to the problems in their relationship without being too sentimental, helped by the punchline that because of Audrey’s new position she’ll miss her date with John.
Meanwhile in the Diner, love blossoms between Cooper and Annie. There’s no question it would have been better for the show and more interesting if he’d been with Audrey but Annie does seem like the perfect match for Cooper even if she doesn’t have a lot to do apart from laugh at his penguin jokes. She also offers some temporary light relief for the special agent — which he deserves after being shot, suspended and made to confront the demons from his past.
Even with all the perfectly pitched humour, well written banter and appearance by David Lynch, there are two words that really define this episode – Owl Cave. Owl Cave is really where the fun begins with the White Lodge, as before we’ve been handed some tantalising hints at what lies beneath Twin Peaks, but the physical evidence of the mysterious symbols and the petroglyph which is uncovered makes it feel like the plot is really going somewhere. As a moment in the series I’d liken it to Ben turning the Frozen Donkey Wheel in ‘LOST‘, it’s a point where it becomes clear how deep the mythology could potentially be and for the episode delivers the thrill of adventure that only serialized TV can.
Not only this but the revelation that Windom Earle was part of project Blue Book and knows of the White Lodge is an exciting, and, if you take into consideration all the little hints we’ve had along the way, believable twist. I’ve always felt with Twin Peaks that there’s an element of fate that was never fully explored because of the show’s short life span, which is really summed up in Cooper’s line towards the end, “fellas, coincidence and fate figure largely in our lives”.
It would be easy to interpret this as an escape pod for the writers, which in some ways it is (i.e Annie recognising the doodle on Cooper’s napkin as the symbol in the cave), but if the central mystery had been allowed to proceed as planned things might have seemed more like a coincidence that occurred naturally in the context of the show rather than one which was obviously created because the writers had to find a way to dig themselves out of the hole they were in. Given that time was running out for the show, I’m personally happy to forgive a few shortcuts to finally see the White Lodge and the puzzles leading up to its discovery.
As for fate throughout the show, there have been several mentions of things changing when Cooper came into town. Given this, as well as his history and involvement with Earle, and Earle’s involvement with project Blue Book, it always seemed he was destined to come to Twin Peaks for a greater purpose. Unfortunately, without the benefit of a conclusive following season, it’s impossible to judge how good the developments later in the series are in the light of what the writers had planned (just like ‘LOST‘ might have seemed like a bit of a let down if they cancelled it after John blew up the hatch). However, I’m satisfied that given the unfortunate series of events that led to a dip in the quality of the show the writers did they best they could, which in the end turned out to be pretty damn good.
While the episode could have ended early with one of several memorable Cooper lines..
“Harry, I have no idea where this will lead us but I’m sure it will be some place both wonderful and strange”
..and still felt like a satisfying instalment, it doesn’t, and before we leave town for the day Cooper has a date with Annie and Windom Earle investigates the cave uncovering its big secret. Wobbly sets aside, the ending isn’t one of the best but at least promises some exciting scenes with Earl as he keeps one step ahead of Cooper.
Forgetting the inescapable flaws of the latter half of Twin Peak‘s second season, Episode 25 succeeds in many ways and is definitely the point where show gathers momentum again and the audience begins to start caring about a third season.
8.5/10 Seriable Stars