Seriable’s Mark Jones reviews Twin Peaks Episode 27 — The Path to the Black Lodge
Returning to the scene of one of Windom Earle‘s most memorable stunts, Episode 27 begins with “Heavy Metal Teen” being removed from the gazebo where he was found encased in a giant chess piece.
Staying true to the tone of the earliest episodes, which these later ones manage to recapture a bit of, there’s something comical about the way the unfortunate teenager is removed from the scene and stumblingly carried into the ambulance, despite the atmosphere being a decidedly sombre one. We also get to see the easily upset Andy again, as he cries at scene of the crime and it almost feels like the show has come full circle from those early days when Laura’s body was discovered wrapped in plastic.
Back in the Sheriff’s office, another clock is set ticking for the finale as Lucy announces that she plans to decide who should be the father of her child at the Miss Twin Peaks contest, which takes place the following day. It’s really a foregone conclusion, but is something else to ramp up the tension at the focal point for all the drama in the penultimate episode. As for Andy and Lucy themselves, the scene in which she announces her intentions is just one example of the way the pair recaptured their magic from earlier in the series with some effortlessly charming ditziness. This is evident when Lucy states, while discussing her upcoming speech for the pageant, that saving the world is a “great concept” but that she doesn’t know how to go about it… yet.
Mythology-wise this episode reveals a bit more about Earle’s connection with project Blue Book and how far back his knowledge of the White and Black Lodges goes. In a black and white video delivered by the Major, we get to see a Blue Book-era Earle talk about how it might be possible to discover the entrance to the Black Lodge and harness its power. It may not be as engagingly done as the Dharma film reels from LOST or Walter’s Cortexiphan trial tapes in Fringe, which were used to similar and greater effect, but it’s an interesting pre-cursor to those films within films that add that extra level of depth and realism to serialized TV.
The video still doesn’t help Cooper to decipher what the map means and while he’s pondering over that, Windom Earle is busy abducting Garland Briggs in a slightly surreal scene where he canters through the woods in a horse costume (with Leo as the rear end) before shooting the stunned Major with a tranquilliser dart. This means that he’s confined to spasm in Earle’s cabin along with Leo as the mad man tortures them. Unfortunately, Earle’s eccentric torturing process forces the Major to spill the beans on the mysterious petroglyph. This pulls the trigger on the Twin Peak’s final truly exciting storyline, the race to the Black Lodge, and gives Earle a head start. Aside from this, Leo and the Major aren’t the only ones experiencing odd twitches as there’s a widespread bout of uncontrollably shaking right arms throughout.
It starts with an anonymous customer in the Diner but both Cooper and Pete experience the same sensation. At the end of the episode it becomes clear what the significance of the shaking arm is, though the audience is left to guess exactly what connection it has with those who felt it. These aren’t only odd moments which we’re left to ponder over. After the shot with the slowest and longest zoom out in the show’s history, where Cooper and Annie discuss their feelings in the diner, our attention is broken as the camera cuts into a close up shot of the couple and then to a cup of coffee which is knocked off the counter. The camera lingers on the slowly dripping coffee, another meaningful shot which will be recalled in the finale. This kind of thing is the perfect water cooler banter that made the show so popular in the first place and it’s great to see it return even if we’re left dangling about what it all means.
Meanwhile, things unfold nicely with the Eileen Hayward/Benjamin Horne subplot in the background as Donna discovers her birth certificate and photographs of her mum, Will Hayward and Ben in the attic. The blank space where her father’s name should be on the certificate more or less confirms where this storyline is going and the idea of Ben being Donna’s father is an interesting one which could have been more than the soap opera-esque device it appears to be on the surface. However, its full implications are impossible to discern with the cliffhanger ending but would seem to have put Donna in a more interesting role should a third series have happened.
One thing that bothers me about this episode is Audrey‘s reaction when Cooper informs her, Donna and Shelley that they are in danger. Oddly she doesn’t seem the least bit concerned, when it was a relatively short time ago that she would have bent over backwards to obey Cooper’s slightest whim. It’s a small point and hammers home the fact that Audrey’s affections now lay firmly inside John Justice Wheeler‘s private jet. If she had obeyed Cooper’s instructions then she wouldn’t have made it to the airport to lose her virginity to John, allowing the audience to bid a fairly indifferent farewell to Billy Zane and his floppy hair.
It’s not one of Peak’s proudest moments when Audrey ropes Pete into giving her a lift to the airport so she can hook up with John, but it gets some awkwardness out of the way and helps to wipe the slate clean for what could have been a redeeming third season. It’s hard to empathise with Pete as he sheds a tear for Audrey and John’s successful union, especially when the idea of Pete and Audrey night-fishing is more entertaining than her and John’s short lived relationship was.
As Audrey wipes the tears from her eyes mourning the end of the her five day fling (it’s easy to forget how little time has passed between episodes) things heat up with Annie and Cooper on the dance floor of the roadhouse. There’s an air of inevitability as she announces that she’s going to enter the Miss Twin Peaks contest but what’s surprising, and welcome, is the reappearance of the giant. He doesn’t have anything to say this time but waves his hands in a warning gesture. Cooper looks worried initially but his actions, or lack of them, seem slightly out of character as he carries on dancing with Annie, looking like he’s lost in a moment with her rather than thinking about what could lay ahead.
Again bringing back memories of the more atmospheric instalments, the day ends with shots of empty hallways and corridors, a ringing phone that goes unanswered and then somewhere in the woods Bob‘s hand appears out of nowhere, followed by the rest of him. Then the iconic red curtain is reflected in a pool of oil and the audience is treated to the familiar strains of jazz which accompany the the appearances of the red room, indicating that we’re firmly in finale territory.
Episode 27 isn’t a classic but it did its job as a pre-finale episode well, setting up what is essentially a feature length instalment, masquerading as two individual episodes, and the last hour and forty minutes of Twin Peaks.
8/10 Seriable Stars