Obstacles

Episode 16 is replete with revelations and strong moments. None of them, of course, are as strong as Dale Cooper’s return to himself from his electricity-induced coma. Dale is finally back, ready for the final showdown that will take place in Twin Peaks. The path seems clear for his flight back to the Pacific Northwest. All the obstacles have been overcome, including the last, which almost cost him his life.

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Not everyone shares his luck in this episode, though. The coordinates that Mr. C has been following since the very first episode of the season lead he and Richard to a rock where the latter is disintegrated in the midst of a large electrical bonfire. In Las Vegas, Chantal and Hutch meet a tragicomic end  just when they are about to complete their mission and kill Dougie (an accountant they provoke blasts them away with returned gunfire). It does not take long for Diane’s Tulpa to be shot to death after she suddenly remembers who she is. And although Audrey finally manages to get to the Roadhouse, leaving us to believe for a while that she has overcome her own obstacles, she suddenly realizes that this was all a dream.

Interestingly, the accountant who stops Chantal and Hutch happens to be named Zawaski. Here’s what an etymology site about his name notes: “Zawaski is almost certainly a variant of the name more often spelled Zawadzki or Zawacki. Both those names are pronounced roughly “zah-VOTT-skee.” They come from the noun zawada that means “obstacle, impediment,” and in archaic usage “fortress,” because soldiers often set up fortified positions in places where some natural feature of the land would block the way for enemy armies and make them vulnerable to attack. The surname Zawadzki or Zawacki means “of the zawada,” and thus could refer to a person somehow connected with such an obstacle or fortress“. I believe this applies perfectly to his role in the episode and his presence extends to other segments, from Mr. C to Audrey. The narrative thread suddenly becomes blocked for all these characters who will not flow downstream as easily as before.

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The revelation that Diane is actually a Tulpa (a “thought-form”), a simple shell for the golden seed placed inside her, is of course a surprise. On the other hand, one could easily notice the dual nature of the character when examining her clothes. In this episode, for instance, the two dragons on her shirt, are symmetricaly positioned on both sides of her chest, just like her nail polish is applied in the same way on her left and right hands. If we go back to the first time we meet her, in episode 6, we notice that her dress was adorned with the symmetrical motif of a flower, placing her character right away under the sign of duality.

The dragon motif on her left side is not unlike the Chinese character for “self” (which, coincidentally, plays a central role in the third season of the Teen Wolf  television series). If the design is indeed intended to represent her character in a stylized manner, this would make sense since Diane/Tulpa was both herself and her own double (her inverted self, as seen in a mirror).

An interesting moment takes place when Dougie, now reincarnated as Dale, says goodbye to Janey-E and Sonny Jim. When the camera travels back, abandoning them in the midst of all the slot machines, we see a beetle on one of the screens in front of an Egyptian sphynx. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about beetles in Ancient Egypt: “The scarab was of prime significance in the funerary cult of ancient Egypt. The scarab was linked to Khepri, the god of the rising sun, from the supposed resemblance of the rolling of the dung ball by the beetle to the rolling of the sun by the god“. It’s unclear whether this moment is to signify Dale’s return from the land of the dead, or the death of “his” Las Vegas family. In spite of the happy news that constitutes Dale’s return, one can nevertheless feel a sense of loss at this point.

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The episode otherwise continues the season’s chain of references to hands and fingers. It also brings several new landscape paintings to us (re-presentations of the world?). The continued links to alchemy and metals are also here.

Once again, as often is the case in Twin Peaks, links to the circus world are established during this episode.

As we are now just one week away from the season’s last episode – which might possibly also be the last of Twin Peaks as a series – I’d like to say that this return has proved to be even more exciting than what I had imagined. I feel compelled to compare it with a thought-provoking book from 1970 entitled Expanded Cinema (by Gene Youngblood). Though the author describes the videosphere in which we now live, it seems to me that Twin Peaks might be the only example I know of “expanded television”. It’s a TV series, of course, but it’s also more than that: a shared experience, a riddle deciphered every week (and for 25 years) by tens of thousands of viewers, a universe into which many scholars continue to dive in search of clues. Let’s hope that next week’s episode(s) will prove as “electrifying” as the last episode of season 2 proved to be!

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One thought on “Obstacles

  1. Excellent analysis and review. i was hoping to come away with a little more understanding about the Roadhouse/Audrey.. but looks like everyone is in the dark right now.

    Liked by 1 person

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