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TWIN PEAKS Revisited: Episode 29 – ‘Miss Twin Peaks’

We are just about at the end of this journey going back to Twin Peaks, as we recap the second to last episode of the show. This episode was written by Barry Pullman, and directed by Tim Hunter, who had previously directed two of the show’s finest hours (Laura’s funeral and the resolution of the “Who Killed Laura Palmer?” case). As always, all the previous Twin Peaks: Revisited columns can be found right here , so you can catch up before its all over. And this is, as always, a spoiler-free recap for anything that takes place after the particular episode we’re recapping.

Episode 29: “Miss Twin Peaks” – Aired June 10th, 1991

The penultimate episode opens in Windom Earle’s cabin. We see that both Leo and Major Briggs are chained to the wall, recovering from whatever drugs Earle gave them the night before that had them going all crazy. Earle is mysteriously absent, so Leo is able to reach over to a nearby table and is able to grab the key to free the Major, although not himself, and begs him to save his wife Shelly. It seems with all the torture and mental manipulation that Windom put him through, Leo Johnson finally grew a conscience. He sadly stares off at the playing card with his wife’s face on it and passes out.

When Windom returns and wakes Leo up, his face is pasty white, and tells Leo there will be no punishment for letting the Major go…instead he has a “new game” for him. He holds a bag in front of his face, and when he moves it away, his mouth is black and his skin somehow whiter. I don’t know what it’s supposed to signify, but it’s by far the creepiest Windom Earle has ever been on this show since he was introduced.

At the Double R, Norma brings out her contribution to the Miss Twin Peaks pageant dinner, which is of course several delicious looking cherry pies. Since she’s one of the judges for the pageant, both Shelly and Annie tease Norma about just who she’s going to vote for, her best friend or her sister. “Maybe you can split your vote?” Annie says. Norma stresses how the Miss Twin Peaks pageant is always their biggest day of the year, but especially this year, the townsfolk really need it. Annie asks if it’s because of Laura Palmer, to which Norma just sighs, and says it’ll be a good day for healing.

At the Great Northern, Audrey is in her father’s office. She’s torn up about her new love John Wheeler leaving suddenly, and just then her father Benjamin walks in with a stack of books – the Bible, the Koran, all the major Holy Books – hoping that in one of them he’ll find the answer about how to truly be a good person. Her father tells her time heals all wounds, but Audrey reminds him that she and John barely had time to know each other.

Audrey then gets down to business, and tells Ben that the Twin Peaks Savings and Loan is funneling cash into the Ghostwood Estates project for Catherine Martell, but they are keeping a low profile, as a way of avoiding bad publicity. Ben tells Audrey that bad publicity is what they’re about to get a lot of. He then begs her to join the Miss Twin Peaks Pageant, hoping that if she wins, she’ll use her status to draw attention to the Stop Ghostwood campaign. Audrey desperately doesn’t want to be the “town bathing beauty” and seems genuinely annoyed by the suggestion, but agrees to do it for her father’s sake.

At the Sheriff’s Station, Andy can’t stop staring at the Owl Cave Petroglyph on the chalkboard. Cooper is convinced that Windom Earle has taken the Major, although Truman says that he’s got deputies combing the woods for them (dude, your deputies suck. How hard is it to find a cabin in Twin Peaks? Just how big is the forest surrounding this tiny town?) Cooper tells Harry that Earle’s chess game is more complicated than he’d imagined, and that he’s been trying to gain access to the Black Lodge as far back as 1965.

At this point, Coop finally decides to tell Truman about the mysterious circumstances behind Josie’s death, and how as she was trembling with fear moments before she expired…he saw BOB, as if he’d slipped in through a crevice in time. He realized that BOB was drawn to her intense fear, feeding off of it somehow. When Harry asks if Coop thinks there is a connection between BOB and the Black Lodge, he tells him he believes that is where he comes from. That the Black Lodge is what Truman once referred to as “the evil in these woods.”

Of course, Windom has Harry’s office bugged, and Coop has just basically told Windom that the emotion of fear is how one accesses the Black Lodge. Windom is thrilled that Cooper did most of his homework for him, and says “Dale, I could kiss your pointy little head. We know where the entrance is, we know when the lock appears. I haven’t been this excited since I punctured Caroline’s aorta.” He abandons Leo in the cabin, saying goodbye to his faithful and obedient slave, who is holding a glass box filled with (deadly?) tarantulas hanging from the ceiling by his teeth.

At the Roadhouse, Mr. Pinkel is instructing the contestants in their choreography, while Norma, Mayor Milford, and Dick Tremayne discuss just what they’re looking for in the winner. Lana Milford decides to use her “sexual witchery” (why this storyline again??) and takes Dick in the back storage closet to try and seduce him so he’ll vote for her. Her ancient fiancee, the Mayor, seems to approve of her having sex with another man to win a local contest. I don’t know why, this close to the end of the series, we are revisiting this storyline in any way, but there it is.

In Cooper’s room at the Great Northern, he talks to Diane using his tape recorder for the first time in what feels like ages. He tells her that he knows that Windom is searching for the Black Lodge, and tells her how desperate he is to reach it before he does. He begins to tell Diane about Annie, and just then Annie shows up at his door. She’s freaking out about giving a speech in six hours that she hasn’t written, and doesn’t want to come off like a “deranged Barbie doll” saying things like “Make sure your campfires are out, kind of like my brain.” Coop starts helping her with her speech, but after like five bad metaphors using the concept of damaged forests substituting for Annie, he finally says “I don’t want to talk about trees anymore” and the two finally get their sexy on.

At Big Ed’s house, Nadine is showing off slides of her wrestling wins to Norma and Ed with Doctor Jacoby. Nadine, of course, whupped all these young guys’ asses at the match due to her super strength. Doctor Jacoby skirts around the word “divorce” knowing that Nadine can’t handle the reality that she’s in her thirties and in a failed marriage. She feels guilty that, because she and her teenage lover Mike are so happy, she worries about Ed being sad. Ed finally drops the bomb on her, and tells her that he and Norma are getting married. A flash of the old Nadine suddenly surfaces, and clearly irritated by the news, Nadine says it’s wonderful, because she and Mike are getting married too, right as she squeezes poor Mike’s hand so hard she seems to crush it.

Major Briggs stumbles out of the woods, drugs still in his system, when Hawk finds him wandering about. “Which way is the castle?” he says. Yeah, he’s gonna need some therapy after this. He takes him back to the station, but he’s still a mess, having been shot full of haliperidol by Earle. When Coop asks him who did this to him, Major Briggs says “God, I suppose.” Cooper tells Harry that if they’re not in the right place at the right time, they risk not being able to get into the Lodge.

Andrew Packard and Pete Martell are trying to open the last box that was within the larger puzzle box that Thomas Eckhardt left to them, when a frustrated Andrew pulls out his gun and shoots it. Inside that final metal box is a key. Catherine decides to keep the key in plain sight, since they don’t really trust each other, and places it in a cake saver in the kitchen.

Donna Hayward comes down the stairs in her Miss Twin Peaks formal wear, which I have to say is truly hideous and does nothing for her (a giant red bow across your chest doesn’t work for anyone.) Before she goes she begs her parents to tell her just what the hell is going on between her mother and Benjamin Horne, but they tell her there are things she’s just not meant to know. She’s determined to find out, and and says if they won’t tell her, she’ll find out from Ben Horne himself, and storms off.

At the station, Cooper figures out that two of the symbols on the cave painting are astrological symbols, signifying Jupiter and Saturn in conjunction. Historically, when those two planets are in conjunction, there are enormous shifts in power and fortune. The conjunction also happens to be going on right now – between January and June (the timeline of the show puts it in March.) A babbling Major Briggs, who is detoxing in a corner, says that fear and love open the doors.

Coop realizes that love opens the White Lodge, fear opens the Black. In his deadly chess game, when Earle takes the Queen, the King will follow as the final piece, and then their fear will open the doors. Coop finally realizes that the queen that Earle is going to take is whoever wins Miss Twin Peaks that night. Coop and Harry take off to the bat-poles, but as they are about to leave, Andy clumsily knocks over the bonsai tree sitting on Harry’s desk, and the bug that Earle planted in it is revealed. They now realize that Windom Earle knows everything they know, and they’ve been inadvertently working for him all along.

The Miss Twin Peaks Pageant is now well underway, and the contestants are all doing cheesy choreography in itty bitty see-through raincoats and umbrellas (well, everyone except Audrey.) Considering Laura Palmer washed up on shore a month prior wrapped in plastic, they might have gone with another look, but there you have it. Lucy commences the talent portion of the show with a dance number, at which she actually kicks ass.

Bobby Briggs notices that there are two Log Ladies at the event, as he sees one sitting at the bar and another backstage. He goes to confront the Log Lady backstage, and of course, it’s Windom Earle in disguise, who knocks Bobby out by hitting him really hard on the head with his log. Like, hard enough that it should have killed him, but I guess he’s just passed out.

Coop and Truman walk in, just as Lana does her dance of “contortionistic jazz exotica.” Once again, the men of Twin Peaks are mesmerized by her amazing sexual power or whatever. Audrey gives her speech on the environment, which is the only time we see her involved in the pageant in any way. Donna finally confronts Benjamin Horne about what is going on between him and her mother. Ben tells her that he wants to tell the truth, but doesn’t think now is the time. All he tells her is “your mother, and I…” before Donna cuts him off and says “you’re my father.” And runs off. Yeah, no shit Donna, this was telegraphed like three episodes ago.

Backstage, Lucy tells Andy and Dick that regardless of who the biological father of her child is, she has finally chosen Andy to be the father. Dick seems relieved and runs off, and Andy tells Lucy that he’s honored, but he has to find Agent Cooper on a matter of urgency. Meanwhile, Annie gives her speech about ecology and saving the planet, where she involves Native American wisdom and other such cliche stuff. In fairness, she does deliver it well, especially considering she wrote it in six hours.

While Windom Earle is in the rafters above the stage, the girls are gathered together below, and Doc Hayward announces the winner, and of course, it’s Annie, because it has to be. Suddenly, the lights go out, and then there’s a strobe light, and everyone starts screaming and running in a panic, in a scene straight out of the original Carrie. (A sand bag hits Nadine on the head, which means you know what happens next episode.) Earle rigs fog machines to go off so no one can see, and even has explosives on the stage to keep people away. Amid the confusion, he manages to kidnap Annie. I’m not sure Cooper and the Sheriff’s station have ever looked this bumbling.

Finally, Andy finds Agent Cooper and tells him what he figured out after staring at the chalkboard for hours upon hours…the Owl Cave drawing isn’t just an invitation, it’s a map of Twin Peaks…telling them exactly where the Black Lodge is.

Episode Trivia

This episode was paired with the final episode as a two-hour series finale on Monday, June 10th, 1991, nearly two months after the previous episode had aired. It only aired that way once, as in syndication and on Netflix it has only been shown as its own standalone episode, the way it was originally intended to be shown.

If the character of Audrey seemed annoyed at having to be forced to do the Miss Twin Peaks pageant, that’s because that wasn’t acting, that was genuine. Actress Sherilyn Fenn thought the entire Miss Twin Peaks plotline was dated and sexist (because it was). She refused to to do any of the dancing on stage or wear the stupid outfits, and her only participation in the pageant scenes at all is when she gives her speech.

Lucy’s whole dance routine is actually pretty great compared to everyone else’s, and that’s because actress Kimmy Robertson is actually a trained dancer.

This is the third appearance of character actor David L. Lander as Mr. Pinkel on the show. He was Leo’s insurance representative, the environmental expert at the Pine Weasel presentation, and also apparently a choreographer. He’s Twin Peaks’ jack of all trades I guess.

Harry Truman once mentioned a dark presence, and “evil in these woods” to Cooper back in the fourth episode of season one. This is the first time that evil is given a tangible name as the Black Lodge.

Although Windom Earle leaves Leo Johnson with the threat of mutltiple tarantulas, the bite of a tarantula isn’t known to be deadly.

Final Verdict

This is another decent enough episode, that does its main job of setting up the big finale, where the payoffs really take place. There are several nice scenes, including the one between Audrey and her father, as well as Coop and Annie. I’m kind of a sucker for all the metaphysical mumbo jumbo mythology of this show, so I enjoyed seeing all of that addressed again as well, without overly explaining it too much.

The only things that make this episode lose a whole point are the stupid, cheesy scenes with Lana Milford (I will never understand the point of this character on the show, ever) and just about all the scenes in the Miss Twin Peaks pageant. I agree with actress Sherilyn Fenn that they’re awful and sexist, and just beneath a show like this.

Episode Rating: 3 burritos out of 5

3 burritos

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