Twin Peaks, Season 2, Episode 17, “Wounds And Scars”
Written by Barry Pullman
Directed by James Foley
Airs Thursdays at 9pm (ET) on Fox
“You and Cooper can handle it. It’s a pretty simple town. Used to be. I guess the world’s just caught up to us.” – Sheriff Harry S. Truman
Of the many sins committed by the plots of Twin Peaks season two, the most egregious of them is that they destroyed the sense of unity that held the show together at the outset. Without Laura Palmer to serve as a central story element, characters lost their excuse to interact with each other, winding up isolated in narrative dead ends like Civil War reenactments and mechanic murder conspiracies. There was no sense of interconnectivity to these stories, no sense of anticipation at seeing these stories brush up against each other, and nothing other than a sense of relief when they finally sputtered to their conclusion.
Perhaps fittingly for its title, “Wounds And Scars” is an episode that features Twin Peaks starting to knit itself back together. Now that it’s banished many of its average and sub-average stories—James is long gone, Ben’s back in sound mind, Josie’s in the doorknob, Eckhardt and Renault are both dead—there’s a sense that the slate is clean, and the show can try to get back to its proven strengths of intrigue and oddness. Some things are still off in their own world, but characters and events are starting to have depth once again, and with that also returns the feeling of something unnatural lurking in those depths.
The most unnatural of those denizens is Windom Earle, and for the first time he’s starting to feel like the Big Bad that Twin Peaks hasn’t quite convinced us he is despite Cooper’s repeat proclamations of his brilliance. Stymied by Cooper’s Pete-aided stalemate moves he reaches his tendrils deeper into the town, paying visits to Donna and Shelly in the respective guises of Dr. Hayward’s college roommate and a burger-loving biker. (Both costumes thankfully more convincing than his mustache and plaid suit combo from “Slaves And Masters.”) Earle’s becoming less of a bogeyman threatening Cooper and more of a legitimate threat to the rest of the town, almost the second coming of BOB as he eyes the young ladies of Twin Peaks in a safe disguise. And while Cooper argued for Earle’s perverse sense of honor, it’s clear here that he can cause plenty of trouble without killing anyone.
Earle’s machinations are all the more dangerous to the residents of Twin Peaks with their sheriff out of commission. Josie’s fate as the titular “Condemned Woman” has sent Harry into a depressive spiral, holding out in the Bookhouse with a bottle of bourbon to ward off her loss and the truth of who she truly was. As comedically overwrought as Michael Ontkean was last week (“PUT IT DOWN!”) there’s nothing funny about his reactions here, playing the stages of grief as he’s barely holding it together and ceases to do even that. Director James Foley (of such evocative present-day TV episodes as Hannibal’s “Sorbet” and Wayward Pines’s “The Truth”) memorably depicts Harry’s downfall, opening with cross-cuts of the whiskey glass and Harry/Josie clips from prior episodes, and increasing the darkness and claustrophobia as he gets deeper into his cups.
More importantly, Harry’s collapse allows Cooper to step up and remind audiences of how strong this partnership is. From the beginning, Harry and Cooper were an interesting pairing, at first shown in Holmes and Watson light (which Harry threw shade on in an early episode), but continuing to show different lights in the way they conducted their business and how they reacted to adversity. Witness the way Cooper tries to cushion the truth of Josie’s criminal past—including prostitution arrests—and the violent way that Harry reacts to it, and the later way that Cooper navigates Harry’s utter devastation amidst the wreckage of the bookhouse. Both Ontkean and Kyle MacLachlan are terrific here, Cooper’s calm and Harry’s surrender speaking volumes of the trust and loyalty both men have for each other.
Against Harry’s downfall, the advancement of Ben’s “Save Ghostwood” campaign and his fashion show fundraiser is a much lighter storyline, but it’s one that helps restore the feeling of connectivity. A lot of players are involved in this show, and it’s rewarding to see people interact in this new setting: Audrey as organizer, Dick Tremayne as MC, Andy and Lucy as reluctant flannel models. Most satisfying is Catherine chiding Ben for his conversion, as the banter between the two is always charged with sparks of lust, hatred, or some perverse combination of the two. Plus, Foley gets a chance to play around by introducing “weasel-cam” when the guest of honor escapes and sends the attendees running for higher ground. It’s a story you want to watch, something Twin Peaks has sorely lacked of late.
“Wounds And Scars” also makes the return of BOB and the Man From Another Place keep from feeling like gratuitous fan service by keeping the supernatural elements of Twin Peaks close to the surface. Speaking of watching characters interact, Major Briggs and the Log Lady are the most unlikely pairing you’d expect the show to create, but pair them it does by recalling Major Briggs’s brand from “Checkmate” and revealing the Log Lady has a similar one from a childhood experience in the woods. Again, Foley’s framing here—particularly the way he shoots Cooper overhead with the other two in the background—creates the right sense of disconcertment, that all involved are stepping on the edge of another world, hearing phantom owls and the crackling of fire. The evil Harry spoke of may have gone dormant with Leland Palmer’s death, but it didn’t leave our world, and it’s scratching at the door again.
Unfortunately, while the narrative and supernatural elements of Twin Peaks are recovering this week, any romance that’s not Ed and Norma is doomed from the outset. Billy Zane is still around as John Justice Wheeler, continuing his flirtations with Audrey by taking her on picnics and literally sweeping her off her feet during the disaster at the fashion show. It’s not as dreadful to watch as James and Evelyn’s doomed affair—lowest of all possible bars—but the prevailing feeling is one of emptiness. Wheeler has no real purpose beyond vaguely defined business with Ben, no goals beyond spending time with Audrey, and no character beyond his cowboy folksiness and big smile. He’s there to give Sherilyn Fenn something to do, an admirable goal in and of itself, but that yields only hollow results.
Audrey’s one-time love interest gets his own bland pairing in “Wounds And Scars,” as Heather Graham joins the cast as Norma’s sister Annie Blackburn. Even more than Wheeler, this is clearly intended as a love-at-first-sight moment for Cooper—strong black coffee being the most romantic gesture anyone could ever give him—but it’s so clearly projected as it that it stifles any sparks that may flare up between MacLachlan and Graham. She’s at least more interesting, a throwaway line about a convent shading a past with some layers, though there’s nothing to throw anyone on a shipping train immediately.
If anything, the most interesting part of that meeting is the long looks that Earle gives it and the way he disappears immediately afterwards. Annie’s new to Twin Peaks, but she’s already been caught up in the town’s web. A web that, after so many missteps, it’s finally enjoyable to be caught up in again.
Pie crusts and coffee grounds:
- Log Lady intro: “Sometimes—well, let’s say all times—things are changing. We are judged as human beings on how we treat our fellow human beings. How do you treat your fellow human beings? At night, just before sleep, as you lay by yourself in the dark, how do you feel about yourself? Are you proud of your behavior? Are you ashamed of your behavior? You know in your heart if you have hurt someone… you know. If you have hurt someone, don’t wait another day before making things right. The world could break apart with sadness in the meantime.”
- The owls have gone from omnipresent symbol to topic of conversation this week, as the Log Lady tells Cooper that she heard its cry both when her brand appeared and when her husband was consumed in the fire.
- In addition to the supernatural mysteries, there’s a few earthly ones that are once again stirring the audience impulse to play along. Ms. Jones leaves Catherine a wooden box from the late Mr. Eckhardt (right before she crawls into bed with Truman to close the episode), and Ben shares a moment with Mrs. Hayward in her doorway that Donna witnesses without any explanation.
- On the topic of romance, Mike and Nadine arranging a night of passion is at least a funny scene, between Mike’s efforts to appear like an out-of-town businessman and Nadine thinking that her eyepatch will be hidden by sunglasses.
- The blonde model has such an uncanny resemblance to Laura that you know the casting director was deliberately trying to find someone resembling Sheryl Lee for the role.
- Idea for a miniseries: Pete teaching Andy and Lucy the finer points of chess.
- “Maybe we better just whistle on our way past the graveyard.”
- “I think I’ve gone blind in my left eye.”
- “May I say, you both represent the sanctity of nature.”
- “What I’m trying to make clear to you is that using a stuffed animal to represent an endangered species at an ecological protest constitutes the supreme incongruity.”
- “Mr. Martell, Andy moved his knight but he didn’t do the little hook thing.”
- “Nice thing about the law. It doesn’t breathe.”
- “It was like hiking out to a favorite spot and finding a hole where the lake used to be.”
- “The only authentic thing in life is giving.”