Lost in the Movies: Daryl Lodwick (TWIN PEAKS Character Series Bonus #7)

Daryl Lodwick (TWIN PEAKS Character Series Bonus #7)

The TWIN PEAKS Character Series surveys one hundred ten characters from the series Twin Peaks (1990-91 on ABC and 2017 on Showtime as The Return), the film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992), and The Missing Pieces (2014), a collection of deleted scenes from that film. The series will be rebooted in 2023 to reflect the third season (and patrons will have immediate access to each entry a month before it goes public), but this entry will remain intact. There will be spoilers.

Lodwick feels at odds with his environment, never quite grasping what the people around him are interested in or want.

Monday, March 6, 1989
Lodwick, a state prosecutor, arrives in a small town where he is to attend two pre-trial hearings the next morning. He looks tired and hungry and just wants a cheeseburger with fries. The servers seem dismayed and keep talking amongst themselves and making faces, but Lodwick doesn’t pay them much mind, except when he gets up to ask for the bathroom.

Tuesday, March 7, 1989
In his first appearance before a hastily-assembled “court” in the village tavern, Lodwick argues that the first defendant, a local lawyer named Leland Palmer accused of first-degree murder, should “be denied bail on the basis of one, the great seriousness of the crime for which he has been accused, two, the apparently premeditated nature of this act, and three, the oft-witnessed instability of Mr. Palmer during the period following the death of his daughter." The judge responds by releasing Leland on his own recognizance. In the second hearing, Lodwick argues that Leo Johnson, charged with multiple crimes but currently in a vegetative state, be allowed to stand trial despite his mental condition. This way, the community can experience “resolution” over the death of Laura Palmer (Leland’s daughter), whom Leo is suspected of killing. The judge is irritated by this line of argument and interrupts Lodwick to call a recess so he can deliberate. The last time we see Lodwick he is sitting off, lonely, in the distance behind the judge, FBI agent, and local sheriff while they chat amiably at the bar. It's not looking good for his second argument either.

Characters Lodwick interacts with onscreen…

Norma Jennings

Hank Jennings

Judge Sternwood

Impressions of TWIN PEAKS through Lodwick
Lodwick clashes with his surroundings, offering us an outsider’s view. In his scenes, the show maintains an absurdist edge while functioning as straightforward drama. He takes us through two locations, the diner and one new to these studies: the Roadhouse (aka Bang Bang Bar). The very fact that this venue doubles as a hall of justice suggests the town and its denizens are slightly ridiculous - still, this is their territory, not Lodwick’s. Lodwick is the outsider who ironically emphasizes the community’s need for justice after Laura's death. He also correctly assesses the danger of Leland. Thus this minor character, least integral to Twin Peaks of anyone we’ve met thus far, may tell us more about town's blind spots than long-time residents. His presence in the diner inadvertently exposes the townspeople's false airs, since Hank and Norma are trying to present the RR as something it isn’t. To impress this stranger, they even whisk away loyal but unkempt customer Toad. The Twin Peaks we see through Lodwick’s eyes – even when he himself is barely paying attention – is not a very flattering vision.

Lodwick’s journey
Lodwick is established as a loner, neither content nor miserable in his isolation. His visit to the diner foreshadows his performance in the courtroom; Lodwick is either incapable or uninterested in reading and responding to his environment. As a result, he loses both his wallet (Hank probably wouldn’t snatch it if he wasn’t curious about Lodwick’s identity) and two courtroom arguments. Or perhaps the prosecutor's second argument is a shrewd shift following the reaction to his first, demonstrating an ability to read the situation after all. Seeing how fond the community was of Leland, how sympathetic to his grief, Lodwick attempts a Hail Mary with Leo: shouldn’t that same community receive the catharsis of a murder trial? But if this lawyerly calculation is sound, his manner still makes the judge’s skin crawl – he just can't connect with this guy (that said, Sternwood does express some respect for Lodwick’s fortitude, out of earshot). Lodwick accepts the judge’s first pronouncement without any apparent shock or disappointment. Presumably he will shrug off the second as well. Frankly, I think he just wants to fulfill his duties and go home. Then again, maybe even back there he’s like this, a man who does his job only because he can’t think of anything he'd prefer.

Actor: Ritch Brinkley
Brinkley, who passed away in 2015, was a character actor with guest appearances on many eighties and nineties TV shows and films. His most famous recurring role was probably Carl Wishnitski, a cameraman on Murphy Brown who was infatuated with the main character. He also worked on Hill Street Blues when Mark Frost was executive story editor, which may have led to his casting as Lodwick. His final role was in the film Children on Their Birthdays, starring Sheryl Lee who was, of course, Laura Palmer…the girl whose murder Lodwick was unable to prosecute, and whose killer he was unable to keep behind bars. (film pictured: Cabin Boy, 1994)

Episode 11 (German title: "Laura's Secret Diary")

*Episode 12 (German title: "The Orchid's Curse" - best episode)

Lodwick’s first appearance is credited to Mark Frost, Harley Peyton, Robert Engels, and Jerry Stahl, while his court scenes are penned by Barry Pullman. He is directed by Todd Holland and Graeme Clifford.

Lodwick is onscreen for roughly four minutes. He is in three scenes and two episodes, taking place in two consecutive days. He’s featured the most in episode 12, the hearings. His primary location is the Roadhouse and he shares the most screentime with the characters present for both hearings (particular emphasis on Sternwood).

Best Scene
Episode 12: Lodwick’s attempt to place Leo on trial best represents the tenacity beneath his mopey demeanor.

Best Line
“A trial does more than just punish the wrongdoer. It also brings a feeling of justice and retribution to a community.”

Additional Observations

Not much love is lost between Lodwick and Racine, the defense attorney who shoots him an occasionally testy side glance. When the judge cuts Lodwick off and asks him to return to his seat, Racine smugly waves at the chair. Lodwick doesn’t take the bait.

At that first hearing, Harry compassionately speaks on Leland's behalf, praising him as a beloved member of the community whose grief may have driven him to violence, but who offers no threat to the good people of Twin Peaks. This moving tribute is offered as a stark contrast to Lodwick’s blunt, vaguely inhuman, by-the-book reasoning. However, Harry is wrong and Lodwick is right, and a woman in the room that very day will die because the judge listened to the local instead of the interloper.

Lodwick will be going home without his badge. While he’s in the bathroom, Hank lifts it from his jacket, then pockets it for later use.

Update 2018: This entry was written in 2017, before the third season, and did not need to be revised as Lodwick did not re-appear. Only the description/intro at the top and the ranking were updated. Since the criteria for inclusion was changed (originally three scenes with dialogue, now ten minutes of screentime), he retroactively became a "bonus entry" rather than part of the full rankings. In the original character series, Lodwick was ranked #75, between Nicky and Sylvia.

SHOWTIME: No, Brinkley is not on the cast list for 2017. Long retired when the new series was announced, he died early in production. I wonder if the character returned to Twin Peaks in subsequent weeks or months to prosecute any other citizens. Perhaps Lodwick only came back many years later; if so, did he hear any whispers of the strange events that unfolded immediately after his last fateful appearance? Was he curious enough to pay them any mind?

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