Lost in the Movies: Windom Earle (TWIN PEAKS Character Series #34)

Windom Earle (TWIN PEAKS Character Series #34)

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.

Ostensibly mad but immersed in hyperrationalism, Windom attacks Twin Peaks in ways both blunt and subtle, betting his life that he can harness its dark shadow.

Late 1960s
Recorded in black and white for (top-secret) posterity, FBI Agent Windom Earle - on loan to the Air Force for their Project Blue Book investigations into the paranormal - delivers a talk about dugpas, ancient sorcerers who would "cultivate evil for the sake of evil." His tone is solemn, but his manner is a bit feverish: "This ardent purity allows them to access a secret place where the cultivation of evil proceeds in exponential fashion and with it the furtherance of evil's resulting power. This place of power is tangible and as such it can be found, entered, and perhaps utilized in some fashion. The dugpas have many names for it but chief among them is the Black Lodge." Perceiving that his audience is skeptical, Windom grows irritated and dismissive.

Thursday, March 16, 1989
Windom has recorded a message for FBI Agent Dale Cooper, a former protege whom he stabbed in Pittsburgh several years earlier after Cooper had an affair with his wife (whom Windom killed, though no one knows that). Recently escaped from a mental hospital, Windom has begun a game of chess with Cooper, via correspondence. This tape taunts the younger agent, calling him predictable and overly consistent in his strategy. Windom insists he will achieve his goal at any cost: "The king must die."

Sunday, March 19, 1989
Leo Johnson, a wounded, near-mute Twin Peaks resident, wanders through the woods until he stumbles upon a small cabin. Someone is playing the flute inside. The music stops when he enters and a shadowy figure reassures him and invites him to sit down, placing a gun gently next to a chessboard. "I am Windom," the man declares, moving into the light. "Windom Earle."

Monday, March 20, 1989
A longjohn-clad Windom awakens Leo with some more gentle flute music. The flute will not remain gentle for long - after reciting Leo's own criminal history back to him, Windom viciously attacks Leo with the wooden instrument, knocking him to the ground. Sitting on top of his helpless prisoner, Windom explains the history of the Shakuhachi flute, which samurai used to bludgeon their foes after their swords were banned. He also attaches a collar to Leo's neck, using a remote switch to zap him with a current of electricity when he won't obey. That evening, Windom disguises himself in a costume straight out of the Edwardian era. Leo is attempting to transcribe a poem and Windom electrocutes him again when his handwriting is too sloppy. He rewards Leo with a cookie when he improves. Windom heads into Twin Peaks, dropping off his wife Caroline's death mask in Cooper's room - even passing him on the way out of the elevator. Speaking in a thick European accent, Windom leaves an envelope for Audrey Horne, daughter of the hotel's owner. He takes an owl postcard from the display rack as a souvenir. Upstairs, Cooper hears Windom's voice in another recording, reminding him of his trauma in Pittsburgh.

Tuesday, March 21, 1989
Cooper finishes listening to the recording with the town's sheriff. Windom scolds him for taking his mind off chess: "print your move in tomorrow's paper or I will make it for you," he threatens (a few days ago, he took a pawn in the game and murdered a drifter as the real-life correspondent, so Cooper must know he means business). Dressed as a trucker, Windom casually leaves an envelope for waitress Shelly Johnson at the RR Diner. In the woods he advises Leo on the carving of a stick and attaches an arrowhead. Leo is growing docile and obedient as Windom manipulates him with a mixture of threats, compliments, and minor rewards. That night, Windom sits at the counter in the Road House and watches his handiwork - Shelly and Audrey meet with a third teenage girl (Donna Hayward) and realize they've each been given part of a poem torn in three. Windom smirks as he picks his teeth and slyly observes.

Wednesday, March 22, 1989
Windom marvels (somewhat unconvincingly) at the freshness of the countryside before expressing his dismay at Cooper's latest chess move (found in the daily paper). Windom deduces that his rival is attempting a stalemate, and further deduces that someone is helping Cooper. Furious and feeling cheated, Windom determines to change the rules. That afternoon, made up as kindly Dr. Gerald Craig, an old medical school classmate of Donna's father, Windom makes his first house call. Donna lets him in and listens cheerfully as he reminisces and compliments her. He offers a present - a small box with his contact information which he warns her not to open till her father is home (it is, in fact, a chess piece and the number is for a local cemetery...Gerald is long dead). Windom also visits the diner, this time disguised as a bearded biker. He encourages Shelly to join the Miss Twin Peaks pageant despite her insecurity and then he sips his coffee as Cooper enters and sits at the counter with a book about Tibet. Windom is gone before Cooper looks in his direction.

Thursday, March 23, 1989
Windom spies on the sheriff's office via a device hidden in a Bonsai plant. His old boss Gordon Cole arrives and starts TALKING VERY LOUDLY, annoying Windom (especially when he shouts right into the plant). Windom chuckles when the agents leave the room - they're far off his trail (despite learning his connection to Project Blue Book and his use of the drug haloperidol to feign insanity). His interest in chess beginning to wane, Windom seeks queens in a new game: Leo selects three playing cards and discovers that Windom has pasted Audrey's, Donna's, and Shelly's photos onto the various queens. One face remains blank: the queen of hearts, whom Windom places on top of the Miss Twin Peaks poster (near a king with Cooper's face). Windom declares that the winner of the contest will die ("and Cooper gets to watch!"), laughing as he places a Joker card across the mysterious queen. With the goatee, pipe, and bow tie of an esteemed professor, Windom visits a library and introduces himself to Audrey as Edward Perkins. Discovering his supposed field of study, Audrey is eager to identify the poem she received the other night. He recites it from memory, but something about the way he attributes it, and pays Audrey a compliment, makes her uncomfortable. She quickly departs and Windom blows smoke rings in triumph. That night, he descends into Owl Cave armed only with a flashlight. Cooper and the men from the sheriff's department were there earlier, and Windom picks up where they left off, turning a rod one hundred eighty degrees so that its symbol matches the icon on the wall across from it. The entire cave begins trembling as the wall collapses. Windom gleefuly stands back to observe the revelation of a hidden petroglyph.

Friday, March 24, 1989
Smoking a pipe in his cabin, Windom tells the story of two locations: a dewy, sweet-natured White Lodge ("a ghastly place," he scoffs, "reeking of virtue's sour smell") and its opposite, the Black Lodge, whose horrific character Windom savors. This place is real, Windom confirms, and he intends to find it. One of his listeners, a young man decked out as a heavy metal enthusiast, enjoys the tale but wonders when he'll be getting the beer Windom promises. That afternoon, Windom supplies him with drinks while he stands inside a huge papier mache chess piece (a pawn, naturally). As Windom constructs the sculpture around his unwitting victim, the youth asks how he'll be getting out of it. "You won't," Windom calmly advises him, shocking Leo until he meekly carries an arrow to his master. Windom loads up his bow and congratulates the young man, who will be escaping "odium and obscurity" in order to answer the questions, "Where will my spirit awake? What life am I given after this life?" Until the final moments of his existence, the rocker doesn't quite realize that Windom has been preparing him for execution. That job finished, Windom dresses as a fisherman and watches, through binoculars, as Cooper embraces a pretty young woman.

Saturday, March 25, 1989
Fresh from some more aural espionage, Windom is more energized than ever. He casually casts aside the chessboard he's been ignoring, replacing it with a chart of the Owl Cave petroglyph. Later that day, he praises the dugpas to Leo, but his henchman is distracted. Spotting Shelly's photo again, he becomes agitated and as Windom mocks his concern - promising that Shelly will die if she wins Miss Twin Peaks - Leo attempts to turn the tables. But the poor fool doesn't realize that the controller in his hand still zaps him as long as the collar is around his own neck. Windom laughs at Leo's misery and tells him he'll learn the power of hate. That afternoon, Windom relegates Leo to horse's ass, donning a two-man horse costume and singing his way through the woods until he runs into Major Garland Briggs, an old Project Blue Book associate. Shooting the stunned officer with a dart, Windom takes him back to the cabin. There Windom interrogates the Major, who refuses to answer questions about his confidential work, even as Windom fires arrows within a inch of his head. Losing patience, Windom injects the Major with a truth serum and begins to get answers. Access to the Black Lodge is dependent on the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. That night, as Leo and the Major shudder in agony, an elated Windom messes around on a computer, determining that the petroglyph is an invitation, indicating when the planets will appropriately align, but also a map. He overlays it upon a map of Twin Peaks and pinpoints the location he's looking for.

Sunday, March 26, 1989
Windom returns from an excursion with a canvas bag and a dreadful-looking face. His skin is pale, his hair ajar, his black suit dirtier than ever, but he doesn't care. He isn't even particularly concerned that Leo released Major Briggs while he was gone; "I have a new game for you," he declares, holding the bag up in front of his face. When he removes it, his face is even more pale, his eyelids pink and raw, his teeth saturated in a black bilious gunk swallowing his gums. In the afternoon, Windom listens to the sheriff's office one last time and joyously embraces Cooper's epiphany. The key to open the Black Lodge is fear, "my favorite emotional state!" Windom bids Leo farewell but Leo can't return the salutation. He is too busy gripping a rope between his teeth, a rope tied to a basket full of tarantulas hovering over his head. Windom appears at the Road House for the Miss Twin Peaks pageant, dressed as a local character, Margaret "The Log Lady" Lanterman. Windom uses said log to bash the teenage Bobby Briggs across the head. Sneaking up to the catwalk, he watches Annie Blackburn (the woman Cooper took on a date) as she delivers her speech. When Annie is crowned Miss Twin Peaks, all hell breaks loose. The lights go off, a strobe begins, and explosions detonate. Windom grabs Annie and hustles her out of the Road House, stealing a truck and driving them into the woods. Losing the costume and proclaiming, "I do like the fear I'm feeling!" he drags Annie to Glastonbury Grove, a circle of twelve sycamore trees surrounding a small pool of an oily substance. Annie is resistant, declaring that Cooper will save her (Windom denies this, recalling Pittsburgh - "I took the boy right to the edge that time"). However, once Windom gets her inside the circle, she enters a trance and allows him to escort her inside the large red curtains that emerge amongst the trees. And so they enter the Black Lodge.

...in Another Place
Cooper joins them, glimpsing a flash of Windom briefly as he hears Laura Palmer's scream. Terrified, he runs away. Cooper sees Windom again, appearing inches from his face and threatening Annie (who materializes and then disappears between them). "If you give me your soul," Windom offers, "I'll let Annie live." Cooper assents, and Windom stabs him in the gut...but the injury is reversed and Windom is seized by a far more powerful being. He yells in pain but the spirit shuts him up quickly, insisting that he has no right to ask for Cooper's soul and so his will be taken instead. A flame shoots out of Windom's head and he screams one last time before flopping his head down like an inert puppet. Cooper leaves through the curtains in front of Windom, and from behind Windom another Cooper emerges, cackling wickedly. The unimaginable power of the Black Lodge, which Windom hoped to use, has used him instead, toppling him as easily as a simple pawn.

Characters Windom interacts with onscreen…

Leo Johnson

Donna Hayward

Shelly Johnson

Audrey Horne

Rusty Tomaski (his victim)

Major Briggs

Bobby Briggs

Annie Blackburn

Agent Cooper

(also killed Eric Powell)
*retroactively added in March 2024

Spirits who appear with/to him

BOB (his...killer?)

Impressions of TWIN PEAKS through Windom
Windom is the ultimate intruder. Like so many season two adversaries, he comes from outside the town but he feels as much anti-Twin Peaks the show as anti-Twin Peaks the town. In a way, that's appropriate. There are plenty of bad guys in season one and early season two, but no one antagonist for the hero to square off with. Even when Laura's killer is finally discovered, the situation is ambiguous and it's not immediately apparent who - or what - to assign blame to. Especially if Cooper is to become an active protagonist, not just a detective guiding us into a story but a subject of the story himself, he needs an enemy. And that enemy should stand for the opposite of Twin Peaks, the town that Cooper has grown to love, right? Windom is articulate where Twin Peaks is cryptic, flamboyant where it is withdrawn, aggressive where it is passive. The mood of the mountain town since the pilot has been defined by a languorous sensation, with a few exceptions. Notably, one of those exceptions is the breakneck season one finale, the only episode written and directed by Mark Frost. And Windom, as David Lynch said to his biographer Greg Olsen, "is all Mark Frost."

Frost invented Twin Peaks but he was also always attempting to push its boundaries. Rooted in the world of serial television (and later adapting his skills to the world of world-building novels), Frost is an artist who loves to keep moving, combining disparate ideas and bringing in references and touchstones you wouldn't necessarily expect to see together. This became particularly evident when Frost released The Secret History of Twin Peaks last year, a book as much about UFOs, Jack Parsons, and Richard Nixon as the goings-on of Nadine or the Log Lady. I expect much of this expansive quality will be in the new series, and that much of it will be attributable to Frost more than Lynch. Indeed, whenever Lynch returned to the show he brought back old characters that had been forgotten, echoed motifs from his previous episodes, and above all emphasized the centrality of the Laura Palmer mystery. Over the years, asked about what the series means to him, he circles back to the pilot. Lynch came from a world of filmmaking and painting, where an artist tends to focus on certain elements and build from there, coming back around to keep everything tied together and rooted in the original idea. The push/pull of Frost/Lynch is one of the key components of Twin Peaks. Does it work in Windom's case?

Initially, I would have said no across the board. And I still feel the character never quite clicks with the spirit of early Twin Peaks. Most pertinently, Twin Peaks is established as a show about the darkness within a small town. Even when exiled to the surrounding woods, Twin Peaks' shadow self feels eerily embedded in the melancholy environment of the town itself. So any outside threat would run contrary to this central idea. Furthermore, Windom is a classic supervillain - his rambling monologues and master-of-disguise shtick belong to the worlds of comic books or action movies (the late sixties Batman is a common reference point) more than the offbeat but naturalistic milieu established in the pilot - in which the strange emerges from the everyday. On the other hand, as already noted, Windom's anachronistic nature could be a virtue, positioning him as a threat to the world of Twin Peaks, drawing a contrast between the world of intuition that Cooper cherishes and the obsessive rationalism that Windom exhibits behind his "wild-and-crazy" persona. This sets him up well for his downfall in the finale and works nicely, if unintentionally, as a meta-commentary on the missteps of season two (as Martha Nochimson's essay "Desire Under the Douglas Firs" duly notes).

Unfortunately, in addition to his conception, there are problems with the execution of Windom Earle. His flamboyance and verbosity quickly neutralize the menacing mystery surrounding him and render him more cartoonish than threatening. There are issues with direction (Diane Keaton is often blamed for dressing him in longjohns and encouraging a Looney Tunes take), but more fundamentally with writing - Windom speaks like a screenwriters' wet dream, spewing purple prose that is entertaining on the page (especially when you're the one writing it) but can grow tiresome onscreen. Kenneth Welsh has a ball with the performance, and is often quite fun to watch, but depending on the director he can come off as more interested in playing than scaring. Some viewers, observing this discrepancy between careful build-up and disappointing follow-through, wonder if Windom would have been better left offscreen for the most part. (If I'm not mistaken, there may even be a fanedit eliminating all but his disguised appearances, building up the suspense and sense of uncertainty until he kidnaps Annie.)

Others, of course, love the character (many mark his appearance as the end of Twin Peaks' midseason doldrums) and take his change of pace in stride, seeing Windom as an escalation of Twin Peaks' narrative stakes and dramatic momentum in the midst of season two world-building. Regardless of one's opinion, Windom Earle is a crucial foundation stone of late season two - whatever flaws he holds are integral to the series itself at this point, and in some ways his character dominates the show's latter half as thoroughly as Laura Palmer dominated the first. He paves our path to the Black Lodge, provides the threat that colors Cooper's and Annie's entire relationship, and (ironically, given his own distance from the town) provides the narrative backdrop - maybe the necessary contrast - for Twin Peaks' re-emerging sense of self as the show builds toward a conclusion.

Windom’s journey
Windom is a long time coming. Viewers settling in for their first rewatch are often startled to discover how early his name is first mentioned: episode 9, the second episode of season two, in the thick of the Laura mystery - and in a Lynch-directed entry at that! Hints are scattered like breadcrumbs in the midst of another narrative, but there's a gap between the resolution of Cooper's investigation and Windom's first appearance (nearly four episodes). A chess game begins, and Windom does eventually kills his first victim but for a long time we are distracted by Cooper's suspension from the FBI and a variety of rather unappealing subplots, mostly ended with a whimper rather than a bang. Whether intentional or the result of an unanticipated snafu (the abrupt cancellation of a Cooper/Audrey romantic arc), we tread water while awaiting Windom's arrival. Anticipation builds until he is finally revealed, in an effectively gothic moment that feels like something out of Frankenstein.

That tension quickly dissipates, with many viewers blaming the Diane Keaton episode for the character's downfall. However, there's also little momentum in the storytelling. Initially, Windom's purpose is to spook Cooper by sending threatening messages, reminding him of Caroline, and committing murders every time a pawn is taken. But the messages grow repetitive, the Caroline-related events have already happened, and the real-life pawns are strangers. Even when Windom threatens townspeople (and it takes him a few episodes to reach that point), the encounters don't really escalate. The chess motif is also dull; Harley Peyton personally apologized to chess enthusiasts after the season, while shifting some of the blame - the game was Mark Frost's idea but he quickly lost interest and left its execution to the other writers, who knew nothing about chess and weren't interested to begin with. So aside from some latent menace in the Shelly/Donna/Audrey encounters, the character isn't going anywhere.

The Miss Twin Peaks pageant begins to provide a destination, but one whose significance remains on the horizon. The brilliant stroke finally arrives when Windom is linked to the Black Lodge. From this point forward, his character races with Cooper toward an exciting, uncertain destination, and a sense of mystery and anticipation is restored to the show. It helps too that several successive directors get a firm grip on the character (and Welsh finds a particular groove), making him far more iconic and unnerving. Windom begins dressing in black when he's not in costume, and the forced joviality of his manic nature gives way to a harsher, nastier edge in his delivery. By the final three episodes, he has become a much more effective villain. Nonetheless, the script for the final episode - finally landing Windom inside the long-awaited Lodge - squanders much of the preceding build-up. Windom's worst traits are indulged - long monologues, a cartoonish delivery, a monopoly on Twin Peaks' dark currents (allowing the show's back half to almost entirely obscure any memory of its earliest roots, aside from an appearance by Bob and a glimpse of the Red Room).

The character both suffered and, ultimately, gained from David Lynch's numerous revisions. On the one hand, his screentime is drastically cut from the page. Omnipresent in the teleplay's Lodge, Windom is now absent (except for a few flash-frames) until the very end of the sequence. He has virtually no lines in the Lodge, and most of his playful, baroque dialogue in Glastonbury Grove is axed too. However, it's fascinating to see how Lynch handles this very un-Lynchian character. Welsh delivers a truly creepy, deranged performance as he leads Annie through the woods and his final moments in the Lodge simultaneously sends up the character and fulfills his potential. (It should be noted that Windom's fate was in the original script, but set in a dentist's office!!) Onscreen, Windom gets the ending he deserves - and I mean that in both the generous and ungenerous sense.

Actor: Kenneth Welsh
Welsh has frequently portrayed political-historical figures (including Harry Truman twice), a tendency which follows him even into fictional roles: in the disaster film The Day After Tomorrow, the director cast him because he resembled Dick Cheney. Welsh's roots are in Canadian theater, but he has acted frequently in films and television up to the present day, with two hundred nineteen credits to his name, including Crocodile Dundee II, The Freshman, and Four Brothers. He also appeared alongside Sheryl Lee (Laura Palmer) and Moira Kelly (the film version of Donna Hayward) in the true-crime TV movie Love, Lies, and Murder, shot around the same time as Twin Peaks and containing a few interesting links to the series. He was cast in Twin Peaks thanks to his friendship with Robert Engels, one of the writers, and relished the opportunity. He especially enjoyed working with Lynch (and learning to talk backwards) on the last episode, comparing it to the series finale of The Prisoner. (film pictured: Four Brothers, 2005)

Episode 18 (German title: "Masked Ball") - voice is heard through tape recorder

Episode 21 (German title: "Double Play")

Episode 22 (German title: "Masters and Slaves")

Episode 23 (German title: "The Condemned Woman")

Episode 24 (German title: "Wounds and Scars")

Episode 25 (German title: "On the Wings of Love")

Episode 26 (German title: "Variations on Relations")

Episode 27 (German title: "The Path to the Black Lodge")

Episode 28 (fan title: "Miss Twin Peaks")

*Episode 29 (German title: "Beyond Life and Death" - best episode)

The three major writers of Twin Peaks all played an important role in Windom Earle's development. Mark Frost conceived the character as a Moriarty-like opponent to Cooper's Sherlock Holmes. Harley Peyton, who wrote or co-wrote the most Windom episodes (half of his total) named the character after actor William Windom (a TV stalwart for several decades) and the High Sierra gangster Mad Dog Earle, played by Humphrey Bogart. Robert Engels, a friend of Kenneth Welsh, recruited the actor and worked closely with him to craft the character (in addition to co-authoring four episodes himself). Windom is also written by Barry Pullman (in three episodes, almost all of the writer's output), Tricia Brock and Scott Frost. Only two writers never write a Windom episode: the flaky one-timer Jerry Stahl...and David Lynch. In fact, this is the last character in these studies whom Lynch never receives a credit for. It's worth noting, however, that Lynch did (uncredited) refashion much of Windom's dialogue in the finale, replacing some passages as well as paring down the words (Welsh laughs about how Lynch essentially scrapped a page of dialogue and told him to just stick a flashlight under his chin and say, "I am Windom Earle!"). Windom is directed by Duwayne Dunham, Uli Edel, James Foley, Lesli Linka Glatter, Stephen Gyllenhaal, Tim Hunter, Diane Keaton, Lynch, and Jonathan Sanger. A different director handles each episode we see him in (although Dunham also directed his first "appearance" on the show, a purely vocal performance).

Windom is onscreen for roughly forty-seven minutes. He is in thirty-one scenes in ten episodes, taking place over a week and a half (plus some footage from twenty years earlier). He's featured the most in episode 27, when he kidnaps Major Briggs. His primary location is his cabin. He shares the most screentime with Leo. He is one of the top ten characters in episodes 22, 25, 26, and 29, and one of the top five characters in episode 24. He is second only to Cooper in episode 27. Appearing six times in the top ten, he holds the record for any character so far. Windom is the first character on this list to appear among the top twenty characters in season two.

Best Scene
Episode 27: A very different Windom, jittery, humorless, upset, paces in extreme close-up and delivers details about the woodland lore of Twin Peaks from a scientific perspective while, two decades later, he is observed by lawmen trying to track him.

Best Line
“And if harnassed, these spirits in this hidden land of unmuffled screams and broken hearts would offer a power so vast that its bearer might re-order the earth itself to his liking!”

Windom Offscreen
(added 4/15)

Episode 9: Windom is introduced to the series by Albert, in a conversation with Cooper over breakfast at the Great Northern Hotel. Cooper is immediately uncomfortable when his name comes up. Albert explains that Windom escaped from "the local laughing academy" - "your former partner flew the coop, Coop." There is then a long traveling shot toward Jonathan watching the FBI agents from across the room (leading some to conclude that he must be Windom Earle).

Episode 13: As Laura's mystery is building to its climax, Gordon Cole shows up at the sheriff's station with an envelope from Windom Earle. It contains a chess move, beginning the game that won't really pick up its pace for another five episodes (over a week on the series). For now, it's a quick moment embedded in an episode focused on the Palmer investigation, Audrey's return from One Eyed Jack's, and Josie's impending departure from Twin Peaks (even the question of who shot Cooper is given more screentime).

Episode 16: Likewise, there is one seed-planting moment (though it doesn't mention Windom specifically) in the tremendous climax of the Laura story. Leland Palmer, possessed by BOB, is raving about his love of knives when he whirls around in his chair and practically spits at the FBI agent who captured him: "Just like what happened to you in Pittsburgh that time, huh Cooper?" Cooper is startled. Although the show has obliquely referred to the Caroline backstory twice before, this is the first reference directly linked to Windom (since he is the one who stabbed Cooper).

Episode 17: Cooper tells Audrey that his former partner, Windom Earle, taught him how to be a special agent. Together, they guarded a federal witness but she was killed and Cooper blames himself ("I wasn't ready, because I loved her"). "I was badly injured," he explains, "and my partner lost his mind." He withholds the information about Caroline's relationship to Windom - and his suspicion that Windom killed her - for now.

Episode 19: Cooper informs Diane that Windom responded to his first move before he even sent it: perfect anticipation.

Episode 20: Lucy Moran, the sheriff's receptionist, searches newspapers for Windom's next move but can't find anything. At the end of the episode, that move is revealed in human form: Windom has killed a drifter and posed his body inside the sheriff's station (during a power outage that he himself orchestrated).

Episode 21: Cooper describes how Windom must have located and murdered this victim. He describes his nemesis as a genius and observes, "He's taken his first pawn in a very sick game." Cooper also tells Harry that he and Windom played a game every day for three years, and Cooper never won. He also explains his backstory again, but this time he reveals that the woman he was having an affair with was Windom's wife, and that Windom not only was their assailant but probably committed the crime she witnessed in the first place. "Windom Earle's mind is like a diamond," Cooper warns.

Episode 22: Albert arrives in Twin Peaks bearing news of Windom. He shows an old photo of the agent, and reports that Windom has been mailing items from Caroline's wedding outfit to various points around the country, creating a "C" on a map. Also, the dead vagrant shared Caroline's maiden name. Cooper enlists local chess expert Pete Martell to help him engineer a stalemate game, killing as few pawns as possible. That night, Cooper is looking at a picture of Caroline in his wallet when Windom passes him in the Great Northern (having just placed her death mask upstairs).

Episode 23: Cooper and Harry discuss Windom over Caroline's death mask, Windom's tape, and a chess board. Audrey receives Windom's note in the morning as she begins her duties as a concierge.

Episode 24: Windom comes up several times in conversations between the lawmen (Harry is recovering from Josie's death). Pete advises Cooper that a casualty-free stalemate seems impossible but Cooper expects Windom to grow impatient and make a move for the queen, so protecting the big pieces should be a priority.

Episode 26: The lawmen return to Owl Cave and discover the petroglyph and Windom's footprints. Shelly recites Shelley when Cooper is in earshot and he recognizes it as a poem he shared with Caroline. He gets the fragments from her and Donna, identifies Leo's handwriting, and realizes that the search for Leo Johnson, the pursuit of Windom Earle, and the discovery in Owl Cave are all related. That night the body of Rusty Tomaski is discovered inside a giant black pawn (itself inside a wooden crate that Cooper must open by shooting at a rock attached to a rope), placed on the town's gazebo. A note is pinned to the front: "Next time it will be someone you know."

Episode 27: The body is removed by men in hazmat suits while Rusty's roadie pal recalls how Windom came out of the woods and invited them to his cabin for beer. The conference room at the sheriff's station is piled high with files on Project Blue Book and Windom. Major Briggs recalls, "Windom Earle was the best and the brightest among us. But when our attention turned from outer space to the wooded areas surrounding Twin Peaks, he became destructively obsessive" resulting in his removal. After watching the tape of Windom from the sixties, Cooper declares that the chess campaign was a ruse - the ex-agent's real goal in Twin Peaks is to reach the Black Lodge, which has something to do with the Owl Cave petroglyph.

Episode 28: Cooper fears that Windom has kidnapped the Major; when the hostage escapes and returns to the station, Cooper and Harry question him. They realize that the "queen" Windom is looking for will be the victor of Miss Twin Peaks. They await her crowning at the Road House so they can put her under protective custody.

Episode 29: Pete Martell reports that the Log Lady stole his truck and Cooper corrects him; Windom Earle was the thief. Harry and Cooper decode the petroglyph/map and head to Glastonbury Grove to catch up with Windom and Annie. Harry watches Cooper enter the red curtains in pursuit.

Additional Observations
(added 4/15)

• Tim Hunter directed the scene in which Windom's face turns pale and ghoulish. It's one of the character's best moments and its genesis and outcome are both fascinating. The image is the offshoot of a technical, practical problem. According to Hunter's interview in Brad Dukes' Reflections: "Everything was predicated on Frank Byers' unwillingness to do more than sixteen setups per day. ... So I had to reduce the scope of the coverage considerably. I watched Ozu's Tokyo Story and some other minimalist films and told myself I was directing a Japanese-style Falcon Crest. That's why I blacked the bad guy's teeth out in the opening - an homage to the Ozu-Mizoguchi pictures I watched..." Specifically, Windom's look recalls the ghost in Kenji Mizoguchi's Ugetsu. Considering that Windom is probably coming from the Lodge, or somewhere nearby, there is a supernatural connotation to this image, one that Hunter probably drew from the woman's ethereal status in that film. Blackened teeth, however, was actually a recurring social custom in Japan, particularly among aristocratic wives (such as the ghost in Ugetsu). Called "ohaguro," it was banned by the Japanese government in the late nineteenth century. Lynch paints Laura's and Leland's faces in a similar fashion in Fire Walk With Me (in moments when they are close to the spirit world), probably inspired by Hunter's technique. Coincidentally (maybe) this also echoes a look Lynch employed in his experimental films The Alphabet and The Grandmother two decades earlier.

• Cooper is shown sending his first chess move to Windom in the episode 17 script. I couldn't find a single deleted scene actually featuring the character until episode 28, when Andy was supposed to have a run-in with "the Log Lady" at the Road House as "she" plants a bomb backstage. The end of that episode is also a little different on the page - Cooper sees the disguised Windom on the catwalk above just as the pageant ends. He climbs up and confronts his enemy face-to-face for the first time. Windom tells him, "Dear heart. You are, if nothing else, consistent. As you have no doubt realized, our little game of four-dimensional chess has concluded. And once, dear, dim, Dale - you have left your Queen unprotected. Forgive me. I amuse myself. You see, twenty years ago I made a promise. And tonight, I keep it ... in the Black Lodge." Then the lights go out.

• Windom's material remains intact from script to screen to an unusual degree. That changes, of course, in the finale. Oh boy, does it change. The episode 29 script was slashed to ribbons, but few cuts are as severe as those Lynch applied to Windom's dialogue. I couldn't hope to duplicate all the revisions here, so I encourage you to read the shooting script yourself. To summarize, Windom talks a lot. Dragging Annie through the woods, the quips never stop flowing: "Oh, man, what a cheater! Sister Mary Holy Water crams for finals." "On the other hand, I've just spent two weeks in a cabin with a smelly head of cabbage." "I tell ya, doll, if I was ten years younger and could find the heater in this truck - boy oh boy. Having some fun now." Cooper and Harry arrive right as Windom and Annie are passing into the Black Lodge; Cooper even grabs Windom's leg and is dragged inside. ("I always felt we were sort of Lodge Brothers," Windom jokes.) Inside the Lodge, Windom is everywhere, guiding Cooper through this dimension like a madcap docent. "Think of us as astronauts," he proclaims, zipping around the Lodge. "And when you do, think of us fondly. I could hazard a guess at the physics, but why spoil the fun?" Scolding Cooper, Windom begins shouting, "You were such a dullard, Coopy, such an earnest, plodding, do-gooding Eagle Scout - it was all I could do sometimes to keep myself from SHREDDING YOUR INTERNAL ORGANS OUT OF GENERAL PRINCIPLE!" As big band music swells on the soundtrack, Windom appears in a top hat and tails and begins crooning "Anything Goes." Cooper sees a vision of Windom reporting Caroline's death and his own injury to police. Then, as in the actual episode, Windom asks for Cooper's soul in exchange for Annie. He does so inside of a dentist's office. "Here's the deal, Dale," he proclaims, as if talking to Leo. "Throne room. Windom. Windom sits on throne. Windom king. Windom happy. Problem: Windom need to make deposit first. That's how it works. Windom can't make deposit all by himself. Windom un-happy." Singing "Back in the Saddle Again," Windom sits in the dentist's chair, preparing for the operation in which Cooper's soul will be transferred to him. But he is trapped in the chair by BOB, who appears in a dentist's uniform with a large syringe to remove souls.

I swear I'm not making any of this up!

When asked about the final episode in an interview with Chris Rodley several years later, Lynch commented, "When it came to the Red Room, it was, in my opinion, completely and totally wrong. Completely and totally wrong. And so I changed that part."

• A recent Diane... podcast episode helped to frame Cooper and Windom in a new light for me:
"It's interesting to consider how Cooper relates to Lynch's other splitting characters. Obviously there's Laura, who like Jeffrey Beaumont in Blue Velvet seems to have something approaching two modes: one for day, one for night. But I'm thinking more specifically of Betty Elms/Diane Selwyn from Mulholland Drive and Fred Madison/Pete Dayton from Lost Highway. After all, Lynch has categorically stated that Cooper isn't possessed by BOB, but rather BOB is with him. The dark Cooper is still Cooper, just a Cooper re-focused. In Mark's words, from earlier in the podcast, constructed from his failings and his fears. The issue for Pete and Betty, what forces Betty to confront her reality, and what spurs Fred to flee from his, into a ... story with no beginning, middle or end, isn't so much a plot point but rather their relationship to a constant, unchanging truth. A bit like the Red Room. In both cases, the acts of murdering a loved one. That's why these characters, and perhaps Cooper, is best thought of as trapped in his own pain and the only way out is to re-focus. Betty spent the entire film looking away from what is right in front of her, her darkest truth until unlike Pete in Lost Highway, she did, and her world collapsed. Maybe something not too dissimilar will happen to Cooper, but with positive results. Arguably, and we'll get into this when we talk about Fire Walk With Me, that's precisely how things play out for Laura."
Obviously, this passage is about Cooper, not Windom. But if Betty and Pete provide cover for Diane and Fred, perhaps "the good Dale" exists as a similar cover for Cooper? If so, Windom emerges as Cooper's first doppelganger (the "bad Dale" in the Lodge emerges at the exact moment Windom is silenced). He is an externalization of Cooper's own hidden darkness, specifically related to the destruction of Caroline, which echoes the destruction of Camilla and Alice. Clearly, the Twin Peaks narrative with its relatively straightforward division between the human and spirit worlds doesn't embrace the sort of psychodramatic ambiguity found in Lynch's later films (though it begins to hint at it, especially with Leland/Bob and Laura's duality - by Fire Walk With Me Lynch's "second stage" has arguably begun). And as a Frost/Peyton/Engels creation, Windom was not intended to fulfill some Lynchian vision of projection, responsibility, and confrontation (perhaps on a more abstract, symbolic level but not within the narrative reality itself). And yet. We know that Lynch and Frost are probably going to be reinventing their tale when Twin Peaks "returns" in a month. That dreams and slippages between different realities may well play a part, in the spirit of Mulholland Drive and Lost Highway. With that in mind, it's intriguing to consider Windom (and to a large degree, the Twin Peaks we see through his eyes) as an invention of Cooper's own psyche, a protective device shielding him from the brutal truth that - for whatever reason - Caroline was his wife and he's the one who killed her. This doesn't quite mean "it's in his own head" (such readings of Mulholland Drive and Lost Highway may be reductive), because the distinction between inner and outer life collapses in Lynch's work. However, it does mean that Windom - frustrating dramatic flaws and all, maybe especially due to those flaws - represents a crucial shadow side that Twin Peaks can't simply dispense with, anymore than Cooper can dispense with his own.

SHOWTIME: No, Welsh is not on the cast list for 2017. His character has seemingly been dispatched (although what happens in the Lodge doesn't necessarily stay in the Lodge). Plus, he's very indicative of a late season two Twin Peaks spirit that isn't necessarily what the creators are going for this time. Nonetheless, fans have hoped and speculated that Welsh may make an unannounced cameo. Engels has said there was talk of including him somehow in Fire Walk With Me (along with other denizens trapped in the Black Lodge like Josie) and the character certainly has major relevance to Cooper's backstory (and thus to the very situation that - presumably - provides the premise for the new series). However, Windom's role as Cooper's chief antagonist may very well have been superseded...by Cooper himself. Where there once were two, there is now one. Or maybe there was always one?

Next (active on Monday, August 14 at 8am): Jerry Horne
Previous (active on Wednesday, August 9 at 8am): Janey-E Jones

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