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Twin Peaks, Ep. 2.20, “The Path to the Black Lodge”

Twin Peaks, Season 2, Episode 20, “The Path to the Black Lodge”
Written by Harley Peyton & Robert Engels
Directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal
Originally aired April 18, 1991 on ABC

With an episode full of various expressions of love, it does not feel like a coincidence that Earle’s real endgame is finally revealed at the same time, as he hopes to find the Black Lodge. Love seems like a concept that is the antithesis of the Lodge, though one it cannot exist without, so it makes sense for their paths to converge like two ends of a magnet.

Dale comes to the realization that all this time, Earle hasn’t been after him, but after the Lodge. “He has engaged us in subterfuge and red herring…a fish I don’t particularly care for,” Dale says. By delaying the police force long enough with all these distractions, Earle has been able to discover more and more about the Lodge – often using Dale to get there. As everyone draws nearer to the evil emanating from the Lodge, various people around town begin to have their hands shake eerily, out of their control and with matching music to boot. It happens to a random old woman in the Double R, to Pete, and to Dale. Nothing seems to connect them all, except their precarious proximity to evil.

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The most simplistic expression of love in the face of that evil comes from Audrey and Jack, if what they share can indeed be called love. It is certainly physical and reaches soap opera levels of absurd when Audrey literally chases down Jack’s plane before it takes off on the tarmac. “I’m a virgin,” she tells him, “I want you to make love with me.” Sure, why not. Elsewhere, Annie tells Dale plainly, “When you hold me, when we kiss, I feel safe and eager. I’m not afraid.” Annie and Dale are both very direct people, saying what they want in exact terms. In other shows, this could feel like messy writing, a case of telling and not showing, but in the unique world of Twin Peaks, it comes off as surreal, as if to question why everyone else doesn’t speak this way.

Audrey’s straightforward talk to Zane is equally direct, and it seems as though our love storylines are being laid out so that the stakes will be apparent in the endgame of the season. Bobby, too, explains his feelings to Shelly in a clear way, like he never has before. The writers are championing truth and honesty when it comes to love and feelings, at the same time as everyone spins more quickly around the sinkhole of evil that is Windom Earle, BOB, and the Black Lodge.

Twin Peaks, as a series, oscillates often between black and white polarization as well as abstraction. David Lynch is obsessed with dualities, most perfectly captured with the Black and White Lodges, but he is also intimately interested in the dreamlike middle ground, a contradiction that fascinates as much as it obfuscates. This series is in a constant state of simultaneity, as the abstract concept of love must contend with the polarity of good and evil, as if it will comfortably fit on either side. Of course, it doesn’t. The citizens of Twin Peaks haven’t yet realized this, but they will soon enough.

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Pie crusts and coffee grounds

  • Log Lady intro: There are clues everywhere – all around us. But the puzzle maker is clever. The clues, although surrounding us, are somehow mistaken for something else. And the something else – the wrong interpretation of the clues – we call our world. Our world is a magical smoke screen. How should we interpret the happy song of the meadowlark, or the robust flavor of a wild strawberry?
  • When Dale dances with Annie, the Giant appears, saying nothing but waving his arms ominously in what appears to be a warning. Is he warning Dale about getting too close to Annie? Will his love blind him from the encroaching evil? Will it be a liability?
  • The mayor intones on the microphone, “There’s something wrong. This isn’t right. There’s something wrong here.” He’s talking about the technology, but following the Giant, it seems like a pretty obvious foreshadowing.
  • Though Earle’s true evil intentions are revealed here, as he gets closer to the Black Lodge, it can’t help but feel like he is a wannabe, especially when compared with BOB, who is much more difficult to pin down or talk about. This is certainly in large part thanks to the imprecise characterization Earle has received, rendering him still hard to take seriously, but he comes off as though he desperately wants to join the Evil Club in the lodge. But Earle’s brand of cruelty is so much simpler than what the lodge seems to inhabit and hold. The lodge is something else entirely, something that feels so far past what Earle could ever be capable of. It stands to reason that it will swallow him up, too.
  • I’m not sure I totally buy where Bobby’s earnestness comes from here, especially considering the storylines for him and Shelly in recent episodes, but it has the advantage of being based on their series-long relationship, as opposed to those between Jack and Audrey, and Dale and Annie. The writers have done a good job of making us care about Annie and Dale, or at least how much Dale seems to genuinely care about her, but the forced chemistry between Jack and Audrey only serves to remind us how excellent the problematic chemistry was between her and Dale. This seems like something the new episodes will likely explore (fingers crossed, anyway).
  • I’m not sure about Pete’s heartbreak cure: “There’s nothing quite like a trout jumping in the moonlight.”

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