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Twin Peaks Episode Guide — Season 2, Episode 15 — Slaves and Masters

By  · Published on December 20th, 2016

Diane Keaton comes to town…as a director.

(If you need to catch up, you can check out all my posts til now right here.)


Written by Harley Peyton and Robert Engels, Directed by Diane Keaton

Airdate February 9th, 1991

Actress Diane Keaton (Annie Hall) makes her television directorial debut with this episode, which she opens with a close-up of chess pieces. Worse yet, these are thematic chess pieces, not even ones that are a part of an active scene. This is just Ms. Keaton letting we the audience know that she’s seen the show, and she gets it: it’s weird, right?

The narrative itself opens with Evelyn in mourning, or so it should appear. She and Malcolm are giving the cops info on James, describing him as the man who fixed the car that killed her husband Jeffrey. Evelyn lies about how she met James, making it sound like he sought her out, and not the other way around. The cop promises to check out James then leaves. That’s when Malcolm, Evelyn’s lover not her brother and Jeffrey’s real killer, tells her to keep it together so they can pull off their scam.

At Wallie’s Hideout, Donna and James are going over their limited options regarding James’ legal situation, and the bottom line is: they need help. She wants to call Ed, he wants to get Evelyn to tell the truth. When Donna asks why he’s so sure Evelyn would save him like that, his silence is the answer, and she responds by going to call Ed and giving him the skinny. Ms. Keaton plays the weird/quirky card again in the form of a half dozen cigar-smoking bus drivers all in the same uniform and sitting the same way at the bar.

Another set of chess pieces marks our entrance to the Sheriff’s station conference room, where Bobby and Shelly are being interviewed by Coop and Truman about the incident with Leo last night. Truman wants to know what Bobby was doing there in the first place. Bobby spells it out, all of it, their entire relationship. Coop asks him where he was the night the mill burned. Bobby wonders why. Because Leo tried to kill him, Coop says, so it could be you who shot him in retaliation. Bobby tells the truth here as well: Hank shot Leo. Shelly has no idea where Leo could be, but Truman promises to keep deputies on her house. Albert returns as they leave. He and Harry hug robustly, the best of friends now following Albert’s declaration the last time he was in town (episode 10) that the foundation of his method for living is love. He’s there on direct orders from Gordon Cole to assist Coop with the Earle investigation. He shows them a map of the U.S. with a giant C spelled out on it when one connects the dots of a series of deliveries to police stations, each one designed to look like a mailbomb but in fact harmless and containing individual pieces of clothing: a white veil here, a garter there, a pair of white slippers somewhere else, a pearl necklace, a wedding dress – all Caroline’s, Coop knows. Each of the deliveries were paid for with a credit card signed by Windom Earle. Law enforcement everywhere is looking for him, but he’s only interested in Coop. Furthermore, the dead man in Truman’s office died as Coop suspected, of a stab wound to the heart. Earle waited until rigor mortis partially set in before posing him then moved on to cause the explosion at the power station. All they found at that crime scene was the map Albert just produced.

Speaking of Earle, he’s in his cabin in the woods playing a jaunty tune on a wooden shakuhachi flute for Leo. The place is decorated like the Devil’s junk drawer. Earle has learned all about Leo and the various crimes for which he is currently wanted. Leo tries to leave but Earle takes him down with the flute, says he owns Leo now, and punctuates the point by fitting him with an electric shock collar. It’s effective, and Earle is revealed to be truly and crazily sadistic.

Ed and Norma are in bed together, post coital, talking about their long and beleaguered relationship, the wasted years and opportunities they’ve lost, the pain they shielded even from themselves. But it’s over now, now it’s about the future, their future, and what they’re going to do with it. No more hiding, no more pretending, there’s still plenty of time left for them. Nadine is heard to come home and Norma starts to bolt but Ed keeps her next to him; they have to talk about it some time. Nadine nonchalantly tears down the door and gets into bed with them. She’s upset because she was disqualified from a wrestling match because of an illegal move. She then notices Norma, but only to apologize for beating the crap out of Hank. She then gets out of bed and starts to leave but not before telling them she knows about them and it’s really okay, she’s in love with Mike Nelson. She says it’s really serious between them, so Ed and Norma can do whatever they like, she’s completely cool.

Coop and Truman are talking to Josie about Jonathan Lee’s death. The Seattle police know she’s connected to him. She asks how he died. Not well, he was shot three times in the back of the head. Truman says she has to tell them the truth and Coop goes hunting for coffee to give them privacy. Pete comes in while he’s doing so loaded to bear with dry cleaning, he’s been helping Josie out. When the phone rings, Coop takes the dry cleaning while Pete goes to answer it. It’s for Josie. Coop tells Pete where he can find her then removes from the dry cleaning a thread from a Vicuna coat, along with a black leather glove. On the phone is Thomas Eckhardt, Josie’s secret employer. He’s in town. He’s heard about Jonathan. And Catherine has heard all of this on another extension.

Ben Horne is in the throes of his Civil War insanity and has now added a saddled, stuffed donkey and his son Johnny in full Native American regale to the tableau. Jacoby, Audrey and Jerry are standing by humoring him. Jerry tells the others there are some benefits to Ben being crazy, namely that it leaves Jerry the opportunity to develop some projects on his own. Audrey clues him in that if Ben is declared incapable of running the business, according to his will it’s she who becomes the executor of his estate, not Jerry. She tells Jacoby to fix her father. So Jacoby says it’s time to implement the Appomattox Scenario.

Evelyn’s back in the bar, wasted with sorrow, when Donna approaches her. She wants to know why she’s doing this to James. Why not? is the best answer she has, as she’s become bitter and fatalistic in her conflicted emotional distress. Malcolm shows up to collect her and level a blatant murder threat at Donna.

Albert has analyzed the thread from Josie’s coat: it matches the thread found outside Coop’s room the night he was shot. The gloves are still being checked for gunpowder residue. As for Seattle, cops are looking for an Asian woman in connection to Mr. Lee’s death, the sketch of whom looks a lot like Josie. Jonathan – Kumagai is his last name – has an Interpol rap sheet as long as Coop’s arm and Albert’s willing to bet the three bullets pulled from the back of the man’s head will match those in Coop’s vest. All signs point to Josie as Coop’s would-be assassin, but for Truman’s sake, Coop hopes it isn’t true.

While keeping this info to himself, Coop goes to see Truman, who has an ID on the dead guy, Erik Powell, a transient as Coop suspected. Coop knows the name, the last name at least, it’s the same as Caroline’s maiden name. This Powell isn’t a relative but he is a message, Earle’s way of telling Coop that he hasn’t forgotten a thing. It also means that whenever Earle takes a piece from the chess board in the game with Coop, someone in the real world dies, pawns first then up through the more meaningful pieces. And Coop, remember, has never beaten Earle, so stands to lose a lot of pieces, including his king, which we can presume represents his own life. Truman however, can take him to a chess expert living right there in town: Pete. He learned from a Spaniard, and he is indeed a master. So Coop enlists his services: he can’t tell him why but he needs Pete to arrange a stalemate losing as few pieces as possible, preferably none. Pete’s happy to help.

Shelly stops by the diner to see Norma. She wants her job back and Norma’s glad to give it to her. Truman interrupts the happy reunion with some sour info: Hank’s almost ready to leave the hospital. Norma doesn’t want him back. With the attempted murder of Leo and his various parole violations, there’s no chance Hank’s coming back, Truman assures her, he’s going to jail for a long time. This pleases her verily.

Eckhardt arrives at the Martell house at Catherine’s invitation and to Josie’s stunned chagrin. Catherine and Eckhardt discuss his history with Andrew, which was sunny at first and sour in the end, when, you know, Eckhardt had Andrew killed. Eckhardt says that wasn’t about business, it was about love, his for Josie. Catherine wants to broker a trade, Josie for something very valuable TBD.

Evelyn’s blowing smoke rings past her lying lips when James storms in demanding to know why she set him up. Did Malcolm make her do it? Short answer, she’s just a manipulative bitch who used him for her husband’s money. But she was still into him, despite all the lying pretense. They kiss, and Malcolm sneaks in and knocks him out. Now they have to kill him, it’s the perfect ending: jilted lover kills husband, breaks in to finish the job. All that’s left is for Evelyn to shoot him, Malcom suggests.

The Appomattox Scenario is underway, in which Audrey, Jacoby, Bobby and Jerry all in costume help Ben believe that he has won the Civil War for the South, thus reversing history. The hope is that this symbolic victory will reverse Ben’s attitudes about his own losses of late. And sure enough, as soon as he signs the papers he collapses and comes to as though out of a trance. He says he had the strangest dream, it’s another very Wizard of Oz moment. But he seems happier, healed, even.

Earle is applying a disguise as Leo is writing some kind of letter under the command of his shock collar. The letter, as Earle describes it, is composed of “pretty words for pretty girls” and it is revealed Leo is writing it beneath pictures of Audrey, Donna, and Shelly. Earle wonder alouds which will be his queen.

Malcolm and Evelyn are preparing to shoot James when Donna rushes in, just to be immediately apprehended by Malcolm. Donna pleads with Evelyn to spare James’ life, and it works, Evelyn shoots Malcolm instead.

We see Caroline in a picture Coop carries in his wallet, which also causes him not to see Earle, in costume, who passes him on his way to The Great Northern’s front desk, where he says he has a delivery for Audrey.

In his room, Coop finds a present on his bed: a death mask of Caroline hooked to a tape recorder of Earle professing his love for his wife, acknowledging Coop’s, and informing him that it’s his move…

In the effort of full disclosure, this is my least favorite episode. In addition to Keaton’s blunt direction (Twin Peaks is never good when it’s trying to be Twin Peaks), this episode is too heavy on the horrible James-Evelyn subplot, which at least it resolves, but still, not the best hour the series ever produced. The script by Peyton and Engels is sound enough and sets in motion the first machinations of Earle’s overall plot, but the rest of it is somewhat drab and/or convoluted. The Eckhardt-Josie-Andrew subplot seems forced, and the Nadine-Ed-Norma subplot seems dragged out. And unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one feeling a little, well, fed up at this point.

It was after this episode finished 85th out of 89 programs for the week that ABC decided that after the next episode aired, they were going to put the show on indefinite hiatus. The lack of a singular, suspenseful plot between Laura’s resolution and Windom’s entrance had driven off too many viewers, as had the Gulf War: because of the event, Twin Peaks was preempted from its timeslot six times, making it hard to keep up with the show even if you wanted to. A letter writing campaign organized by C.O.O.P. (Citizens Opposed to the Offing of Peaks) managed to get the show back on the air six weeks later, for the final six episodes of the series, but the damage was done and the scramble for the exits had begun.

It’s fans only from this point forward, but it’s also from this point forward that we learn the true mystery at the heart of Twin Peaks, one that will certainly be at the forefront of season three.

Between Two Worlds: Perspectives on Twin Peaks

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