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TWIN PEAKS Revisited: Episode 13 ‘The Orchid’s Curse’

As the fight to #SaveTwinPeaks continues, we here at Twin Peaks Revisited vow to keep chugging away in our recaps of the classic series til we reach the finish line. We are quickly approaching the mid point of Season Two, but before we get there, Agent Cooper must rescue Audrey from One Eyed Jack’s. This episode has a very cheesy title, “The Orchid’s Curse,” but I should point out that all the episode titles didn’t come from the show’s creator’s, but rather European television syndication years later, and for some reason, the names stuck. This one is written by Graeme Clifford and directed by Barry Pullman,

I remind all new followers of these recaps that you can find all the previous Twin Peaks: Revisited columns right here and catch up. And this is, as always, a spoiler-free recap.

Episode 13: “The Orchid’s Curse” – Aired October 27th, 1990

It’s morning at the Great Northern as the episode opens, and we see Cooper turns off his alarm. He tells Diane that he had a dream that he was eating a large, tasteless gumdrop, only to discover he was chewing on one of the Ear-pillow earplugs she sent him when the Icelanders were in town. He says he is doing 15 extra minutes of yoga in the morning to help with the pain of his ribs…you know, from being shot three times point blank like four days prior. (oh right, that happened.) While doing a headstand on a pillow, he finally finds Audrey’s note under the bed that she sent to him at the end of Season One, the one that fell from his hand and skidded under the bed when he got shot.  Audrey’s note says “I’ve gone North..Jack may have the answer.” Cooper now knows that Audrey is more than likely being held for ransom at One Eyed Jack’s.

Deputy Hawk reports to Harry at the station that two retired schoolteachers live next door to the Palmers’ old house on Pearl Lakes, but they have no memory of a grey-haired man who looks like the sketch of BOB living next door, or Leland’s description. “I had to drink two pots of chamomile tea to find that out” as Hawk races to the bathroom. Lucy tells Harry that she will be visiting her sister Gwen and her husband Larry and her newborn nephew in Tacoma for two days. Lucy insists on staying long enough to show the “Can-Do” temp how the office runs, because “sometimes the Can-Do Girls can’t.” Cooper then walks in and tells Harry they’ve got one up on Audrey’s kidnappers –he knows where Audrey is being held.

Over at Shelly’s place, A smarmy salesman by the name of Mr. Pinkel explains to Leo’s “Cousin” Bobby and Shelly how to work the electric harness that’s going to be moving the immobilized Leo from bed to chair, etc. The electric harness is obviously a deathtrap, and doesn’t work very well. Mr. Pinkel explains that, sadly, this is as good as their insurance will cover. Shelly reminds Bobby that the hearing for Leo is today. While Mr. Pinkel tries to get the harness to work, it starts slamming him back and forth against the wall, while Shelly and Bobby go outside and presumably make out. Or maybe have sex, I’m not sure. I swear, these two are always having sex.

Judge Sternwood is holding court in the Roadhouse, which is the make-shift courthouse for the town (I’m surprised a town of 51,201 doesn’t have a courthouse of some kind. But it’s a TV show, I get it — you’ve got to use what sets you have.) The district attorney urges that Leland Palmer be held without bail for the murder of Jacques Renault, but Harry speaks in Leland’s defense, describing him as an outstanding member of the community, with family roots in town going back over a century. “No one can know how what it’s like to lose a daughter the way Leland has” Harry says, playing on the court’s sympathy. The judge then releases Leland on his own recognizance. As soon as the ruling is announced, Ben Horne leaves, looking as disinterested as humanly possible.

Harold Smith opens the door for Donna, who has brought him his Meals on Wheels lunch. Donna then offers him a proposition: to share her life story with him, to be a part of his “living novel”, but only if he lets her read Laura’s diary. Harold says that he will read it to her, but he won’t let her take it with him. “It must never physically leave this room.” Donna agrees, and Harold takes out a notebook and Laura’s diary out of his secret compartment in his bookcase.

Harold writes “Donna Hayward” on the cover of the notebook, and Donna begins telling him the mundane facts of her life — she was born in Twin Peaks, her father delivered her, blah blah blah, and it’s not long before she turns the tables on Harold and begins asking him the questions. “Where are YOU from?” She asks. Harold seems taken aback by her questioning him, and says “I grew up in Boston. Actually, I grew up in books.” Coyly, and turning up the sexy, Donna answers “There’s things you can’t get in books.” Harold has the best response to that, and says “there’s things you can’t get anywhere, but we dream we can find them in other people.” Donna then seizes the opportunity to snatch the diary from the table, and says “My turn!” Cruelly teasing the agoraphobic Harold, she says “maybe we can read it outside, on the lawn” and as she goes outside Harold follows her, but being outside gives him a massive panic attack, and he’s left in a fetal position on the floor. Donna, you’re just a terrible, terrible person. First giving Dr. Jacoby a heart attack and now this.

Back at the Roadhouse/courthouse, Judge Sternwood examines all the evidence against Leo. His attorney argues that since Leo is brain dead, to try him in court would be a mockery of justice, and Leo wouldn’t understand any of it. The district attorney argues that they must take Leo Johnson to trial, in order to give the town a sense of resolution over the murder of Laura Palmer. During a recess, the judge pulls Harry and Cooper aside to ask if they think Leo is guilty of Laura’s murder, and Coop doesn’t think he is. Sternwood decides that he will deem Leo not competent to stand trial, and recommend that he be sent home as soon as he’s medically able. Sternwood then tells Cooper to keep his eyes on the woods. “The woods are wondrous here…but strange.” Ya think?

Big Ed and Nadine return home from the hospital. James greets them at the door, but Nadine asks who he is, not recognizing him (to be fair, Nadine seemed to be barely aware of James before the coma and the crazy that followed.) Nadine is totally convinced that she is still in high school. “Doc Hayward says to roll with the punches” says Ed, and James suggests that Ed take Nadine to Dr. Jacoby, but Big Ed says that Dr. Jacoby is still in Hawaii recovering from his heart attack. A loud sound comes from out of the kitchen, and we see that Nadine, now super strong, accidentally rips the door off the refrigerator.

Ben Horne enters his office at the Great Northern to be greeted by Mr. Tojamura, He makes an even bigger offer for the Ghostwood project than the Icelanders, and says that Tokyo banks are ready to move immediately. He gives Ben a check for $5 million dollars. Ben’s face lights up at the sight of so many zero’s.

As Hank walks down the hall of the hotel, we see that Bobby is following him. Cooper follows, playing with a duck whistle. Hank enters Ben’s office, and watches him bow goodbye to Tojamura and the Japanese investors. Hank warns Ben that Cooper is on his way, and then slinks away through a secret side door. A call from Jean Renault comes in, and he asks if Ben is “ready to play.” Ben asks to talk to Audrey, and Jean says that can wait. Jean instructs Ben where to leave the briefcase full of money. Cooper tells Ben to stay near a phone, and leaves. Ben instructs Hank to trail Cooper and to make sure Cooper and the money are delivered, and to bring back Audrey. “What about Cooper?” Hanks asks. “Cooper isn’t coming back…if you can manage it, bring back Audrey and the briefcase.”

Maddy and Donna are going over a make-shift floor plan of Harold’s house. Donna explains how to get Laura’s diary, that it’s in a secret compartment in the book case, and when she’s distracted Harold she says she’ll signal her with a flashlight at the window. Then she can come in and steal the diary. “I thought you liked this guy?” Maddy asks, confused. “I do” confesses Donna, knowing she’s about to totally betray someone she’s come to care for.

At One Eyed Jack’s, Jean practices with a wrist weapon, explaning to Blackie how he’s going to kill Cooper as soon as he hands him the briefcase. Blackie asks questions about how to make the deal work, as Ben Horne is not likely to turn over control of One Eyed Jack’s with his daughter dead. Jean assures her it will all work out.

Andy is working the phones at the station, filling in for Lucy. He calls for the results of his semen analysis test. Doc Hayward tells him that he has oligospermia, which means too few sperm, and now his sperm count is back up to normal. “Doc says there are not just three men on a fishing trip, they’re a whole damn town.” Which makes Andy very happy.

Harry and Cooper are going over the floor plan of One Eyed Jack’s in Truman’s office (where on Earth did they get that?) Hawk reports that no one has seen the one-armed man at his hotel in two days. He found the same drug, and describes its strange smell. Harry tells Hawk to leave, indicating to him that he and Cooper are doing some secret business. As Hawk leaves, Harry and Cooper get ready to make the trip across the border. Andy calls the number where Lucy is supposed to be staying, but picks up the wrong post-it from her desk. The number he calls is actually for an abortion clinic, which totally freaks Andy out.

Maddy orders a cup of coffee to go at the RR Diner. James asks why, and Maddy is all evasive and leaves quickly. James follows her, knowing something is up. As Maddy watches Harold’s house through the bushes. Donna is inside, giving Harold a memory for his book. “this is from a along time ago, is that ok?” She describes a scenario where she and Laura were 13, wearing tight, short skirts to go to the roadhouse to meet boys. They meet some older men, Josh, Rick, and Tim, who were about 20. The girls leave with Rick “to party.” Laura dances and moves her hips, in complete control of the situation, which makes Donna nervous, so she suggests they go skinny-dipping, impulsivly. As Laura kisses Josh and Rick, Donna swims out, and Tim joins her and kisses her…her first kiss. She never saw Tim again, but she says it was the first time she ever fell in love. Harold is visibly moved by Donna’s recollections, and tells her that her memory is beautiful.

Cooper and Harry stealthily creep towards the rear entrance of One-Eyed Jack’s. A guard is smoking outside, while above, an owl stares at Cooper and hoots. Harry takes the guy out, knocking him unconscious, and the two walk inside. Coop and Harry slink around, trying to avoid been seen, search for the room where Audrey is being held. Harry sees the backs of Jean and Blackie in one of the rooms, and notices the surveillance tape is paused on the television on an image of Cooper the night he was at the casino and Jacques was arrested.

Maddy continues to watch Harold’s apartment through the bushes. Inside, Harold tells Donna about raising flowers in his back greenhouse. He and Donna kiss, and as he leaves the room, Donna signals through the window with a flashlight to Maddy, giving her the all-clear to sneak in and steal the diary.

Cooper continues through the hallway at One Eyed Jacks. He finds Nancy, Jean’s girlfriend, and forces her to take him to Audrey, who is tied up to the bed and drugged. Nancy pulls a knife, but Cooper sees what she’s about to do and he knocks her out. He carries Audrey away. As this is going on, Jean kisses Blackie and then kills her with the wrist weapon he planned to use on Cooper. As he does this, he  ees Harry watching through the window and fires at him before fleeing. Just then, Cooper and Audrey reunite with Harry, but are confronted by a bodyguard with a gun. He tells them to drop their guns, and as they do, Hawk suddenly appears, throwing a knife into the bodyguard’s back. “Good thing you guys can’t keep a secret.” And the four flee through the woods. Hank calls Ben to report that Coop and Truman are leaving with Audrey, just as Jean puts a knife to his neck. Jean finds the state prosecutor’s ID in Hank’s pocket that he stole the night before, at the Double R and believes it to be his.

Back at Harold’s, Donna tries to silently instruct Maddy to access the secret compartment while Harold’s back is turned. Maddy finds the secret compartment, but the book shelf crashes to the floor, making a loud noise. Harold sees Maddy trying to take the diary, and grabs a gardening rake. The girls are holding each other now, terrified, as Harold asks the girls “are you looking for secrets? Was that what all this is about? Maybe I can help you. Do you want to know what the ultimate secret is? Laura knew… the secret of who killed you.” As he does this, he cuts his own face with the rake in agony, screaming at Donna as she and Maddy huddle together, screaming in terror.

Episode Trivia

Mr. Pinkel is played by David L. Lander, a character actor who is best known for playing the Squiggy half of the duo “Lenny and Squiggy” on the hit 1970’s sitcom Laverne Shirley. He would continue here and there throughout the rest of season in various jobs.

When Harold Smith runs the rake across his face at the end of the episode, you can see the fake blood hit his face before the rake ever touches it. It was hard to spot on broadcast and VHS, but on Blu-ray it’s a clear goof.

Final Verdict

This is the “heist” episode of Twin Peaks, as both the main plots involve some of our main characters breaking in somewhere and retrieving something precious–Laura’s Diary and Audrey Horne. As such, it’s light on traditional Lynchian mood, but heavy on action, and it’s pulled off extremely well. Also, the scene where Donna tells Harold about her first kiss is a great and heartfelt acting moment from Lara Flynn Boyle, and it’s maybe her best in the whole series. Again, this episode doesn’t match the heights of the Lynch-directed episodes, but it is another solid episode in the middle of the show’s most compelling storyline.

Episode rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 burritos


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