Twin Peaks, Season 2, Episode 18, “On the Wings of Love”
Written by Harley Peyton and Robert Engels
Directed by Duwayne Dunham
Originally aired April 4, 1991 on ABC
At first, Harry’s hangover is a funny running gag in this episode, as several different characters give their opinions about the best cure for one, from Cooper’s attempt to make Harry throw up to Annie’s “teetotaling and prayer”. It becomes such a plot point, however, repeatedly brought up and emphasized with a tongue-in-cheek attitude, that it takes on a deeper meaning. It certainly seems as though Harry’s hangover is a wry metaphor for the state of the series. The last six episodes, including the one preceding this one, were filmed in one block, and they seem to acknowledge that things got off the rails. Harry’s search for a hangover cure mirrors their search for a way to right the ship before it comes to an end for good.
It’s a salient point to make because, as Les noted, Twin Peaks feels now like it hasn’t in quite some time. It feels like itself, and it’s amusing to watch it make fun of its own mistakes while taking steps to bring it home capably. The storylines, for the most part, are more interesting than they have been, and feel as though they are organically being developed from within this world. Windom Earle finally feels like a natural and real threat, particularly in the chilling scene between himself and Audrey, as he’s dressed up as a poetry professor. This interaction is very creepy and menacing, as Earle continues to establish himself as more than the caricature we’ve seem him as up until now. Kenneth Welsh plays it masterfully, becoming an incredibly evil man acting behind a very thinly veiled disguise that somehow serves only to make him more threatening.
We also get a greater appreciation for Annie as a love interest for Cooper. She remains painfully obvious in terms of being brought in as a last-minute lover to put into danger, but she has some depth, and we see genuine chemistry between her and Cooper. A little of this happens during the diner scene, as Cooper makes a joke about penguins to her and they share some groan-inducing flirty grins, but it becomes especially apparent in their scene together at the end of the episode. They discuss how everything in Twin Peaks is new for Annie upon leaving the convent, and how she is so full of joy and wonder about everything around her, leading Cooper to tell her, “I would love to see the world through your eyes.” The thing is, he already does. He may not be as sheltered from the world as Annie has been, but they both have the same approach to life, taking every strange development in stride and looking at it all with ridiculous awe. “Smell those trees,” Cooper said all that time ago to Harry, “smell those douglas firs.” It was as if it was the best thing he’d ever smelt. When Cooper sees Annie for the first time in this scene, he’s talking to Diane, but quickly stops to go over to Annie. Following the popular assumption that “Diane” is a stand-in for Caroline Earle, it is remarkably significant that he stops talking to her to focus on Annie, especially with Windom on his tail.
It’s also well worth mentioning Annie’s scars, evidently the result of self-harm, and the way the show deals with it. There have been many issues Peaks confronted in a way that was was ahead of its time in how it did so. This feels like another case, and it’s refreshing to see it addressed with seriousness and completely lacking in judgment. There may be an element here of giving Annie a troubled past for Cooper to “save” her from, but this is a surprisingly subtle and nuanced note for the writers to hit. She may have a troubled past, but it never feels as though Cooper intends to fix her. It is a part of who she is, giving her a complexity and a vulnerability, but one that is far from being exploited. It feels real and mature, not all there is to her, but there’s a point to be made, and it is appreciated, considering how often self-harm is used inappropriately and offensively in television.
We also get Gordon Cole’s wonderful interaction with Shelly, presumably inspired by David Lynch’s real-life infatuation with actress Mädchen Amick. “What a beauty!” he exclaims upon seeing her, telling Cooper that she’s the kind of girl that makes you wish you spoke a little French. He then comes up to her and finds he’s able to hear her clear as a bell, and he’s adorably shocked and smitten. It’s an aside, not connected to the plot at hand, but the kind of comic and strange aside that the series used to be so adept at, and it’s a welcome return to form for such moments. It makes no sense that Cole would be able to hear Shelly perfectly, but it speaks to the recent theme of love at first sight (really a series-long belief) and is funny and sincere enough to make it convincing. Lynch is also in top acting form here, totally committed and hilarious.
The metaphor of the hangover is extended with Cole as well when he reinstates Cooper to the FBI. It seems beside the point now, but it’s a symbolic move with Lynch’s return. He comes back in order to welcome Cooper back to the force, and it feels like a way of saying, “It’s okay. We’ll make this right.” Even when Harry asks Cooper in the diner, “How long have you been in love with her?” as a callback to season one when Cooper asked him the same thing about Josie, it feels like an entirely intentional way of shaking the audience by the shoulders to make them pay attention again. Ben tells John Wheeler, “I really don’t know how to be good.” John’s advice is to tell the hardest truth first. The hardest truth for the writers, it seems, was that Twin Peaks fell apart. But they know how to be good again.
Pie crusts and coffee grounds
- Log Lady intro: “The beautiful thing about treasure is that it exists. It exists to be found. How beautiful it is to find treasure. Where is the treasure that, when found, leaves one eternally happy? I think we all know it exists. Some say it is inside us—inside us one and all. That would be strange. It would be so near. Then why is it so hard to find, and so difficult to attain?”
- Eileen and Ben have a past, as Donna discovers, and her father’s evasiveness certainly seems to suggest that Ben could be her father. Also, Ben gives John a carrot. Nice.
- Billy Zane is wearing a perfectly appropriate sweater in the photo above, but why is he wearing it like that? What’s going on? The 90s were a crazy time.
- We also find out that Earle had been investigating UFOs at the FBI. Rewatching this series at the same time as I watch The X-Files for the first time is proving to be an incredibly fruitful experience.
- “Gentlemen, coincidence and fate figure largely in our lives.”
- “The word linkage reminds me of sausage.”