Review Tonight! "Twin Peaks" S02E12 “The Black Widow”

Did this episode make you happy as a bride or gloomy as a widow? Rate it now!

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Member: Rank 5
Aired Thursday 9:00 PM Jan 12, 1991 on ABC

Cooper's situation is about to be resolved, one way or another. The plot with James and the rich lady thickens. Major Brigg's case gets more interesting and more questions are raised. Last episode's wedding plot has a curious development. Denise wears a brand new outfit.


Kyle MacLachlan ...Special Agent Dale Cooper
Michael Ontkean ...Sheriff Harry S. Truman
Dana Ashbrook ...Bobby Briggs
Richard Beymer ...Benjamin Horne
Lara Flynn Boyle ...Donna Hayward
Sherilyn Fenn ...Audrey Horne
Warren Frost ...Dr. Will Hayward
Peggy Lipton ...Norma Jennings
James Marshall ...James Hurley
Everett McGill ...Big Ed Hurley
Jack Nance ...Pete Martell
Kimmy Robertson ...Lucy Moran
Joan Chen ...Jocelyn Packard
Piper Laurie ...Catherine Martell
Harry Goaz ...Deputy Andy Brennan
Michael Horse ...Deputy Tommy 'Hawk' Hill
Ian Buchanan ...Dick Tremayne
James Booth ...Ernie Niles
David Duchovny ...DEA Agent Dennis / Denise Bryson
Robyn Lively ...Lana Budding Milford
Tony Burton ...Colonel Riley
Wendy Robie ...Nadine Hurley
Don S. Davis ...Maj. Garland Briggs
Charlotte Stewart ...Betty Briggs
Tony Jay ...Dougie Milford
Gary Hershberger ...Mike Nelson
Annette McCarthy ...Evelyn Marsh
Nicholas Love ...Malcolm Sloan
Ron Taylor ...Coach Wingate
John Apicella ...Jeffrey Marsh
John Boylan ...Mayor Milford
Joshua Harris ...Nicky
Geraldine Keams ...Irene Littlehorse
Molly Shannon ...Judy Swain


Mark Frost ... (created by) &
David Lynch ... (created by)

Harley Peyton ... (written by) &
Robert Engels ... (written by)


Caleb Deschanel


Member: Rank 5

Season 2

Episode 12: “The Black Widow”

I liked last week’s episode quite a lot because we had fresh new plots and characters. But that was the thing with the Twin Peaks soap format: that was the beginning of several arcs and now we just had… the middle of it. Or one middle. So, nothing really started and nothing really ended. It’s just the plot slowly moving forward. I have problems with this format.

I’d say the most exciting thing is that Major “Hammond” has returned. And I really wish I could tell you all I know and why this is or isn’t relevant, but you know, I can’t say anything because, you know, it’s confidential. At least we know the messages are not from outer space, but come from the woods (???) I don’t know how the Army got that information from communications equipment pointing at outer space. Come to think of it, maybe it was signals from outer space directed to the woods? Not sure now. Anyway, it was weird how Briggs simply appeared there in his living room with no idea how much time had passed.

Dale goes to the Dead Dog farm, a place of mysteries (yet another one) and finds out there was a meeting there and they used cocaine. Someone should show Cooper that Cracked video that tells that cops, in reality, don’t actually taste strange powders they find in crime scenes. You know, that’s disgusting, unsanitary and it turns out it could really be cocaine.

Bobby, in order to impress Ben, gets him the photographs that prove a drug deal happened involving some known characters. Audrey gets her hands on the photos, takes them to Cooper, who gives them to Denise and it seems he’s going to be able to prove his innocence. And, oh, Audrey wants to do business with Bobby, even though he wants something else, despite having a beautiful woman waiting for him at home. Denise interrogates the Professor and they are getting close to the truth.

James gets I a very awkward situation when the husband returns right when he kisses the hot rich blonde and then he spends the night in the guest house and hears the couple fight and you are asking for trouble if you are staying in a house like this with the husband right there in the same house. Or mansion. Or compound. Anyway, it is a very big place. And there’s a weird brother involved as well.

The Nadine story is going somewhere, but who cares. She has a thing for Mike and is super strong and… I don’t know. I fail to see how that matters.

Catherine is still treating Josie like a lowly maid, but she seems to be taking that well. I’m surprised she would accept that situation so stoically.

OK, the best part in my opinion was the scenes involving Dick Tremayne. He started being a dick as usual, then his fear that Nicky could be the Devil seemed genuine. I thought it was curious how he asked Andy to figure out what the deal is with that “problem child.” Holy shades of Damien Thorne, Batman!

And for some mysterious reason, all men in the precinct become smitten by that gold-digging murderess seductress jezebel named Lana Budding Milford. OK, I get it, she’s the black widow from the episode’s title. Does she have magic powers or something? Anyway, Robyn Lively was very cute at that time, so I’d say the role was well cast. Oh, and Dougie is dead, so that makes her the widow, of course. I checked and the actor died in 2006 at the age of 73, so that makes him only 59 when the episode was shot. Much, much younger than I thought. Anyway, concerning the character, there are certainly worse ways to die. Or at least that’s what I thought when he showed up dead (probably he died during sex), but his brother says it was because of a novel? I found that a bit confusing. As for the actor, I don’t know how he died.

And… we had a small cameo by Molly Shannon.

I think the best way to comment on Twin Peaks is analyzing the story arc. In this case, this episode specifically would get very little comment.

The Black Widow gets 5 gender-fluid devils who put on their panties one leg at a time if you know what I mean, of course I don’t.


Member: Rank 3
At least this week, the title made sense. “The Black Widow” referred to the bride of last week who was quickly widowed in this episode. Honestly, when I saw her running down the hall screaming early in the episode I expected her to say that her new husband was getting too frisky with her and wouldn’t stop so she had to make him chase her to get tired. No such luck for him, as it turned out. But all in all, not a bad way to go.

I liked the subtleness of Cooper flipping a coin to decide on which of two properties to rent only to have it land on another property entirely. A much more clever way to have fate intervene than silly things like throwing rocks at bottles. The Dead Dog Farm turned out to be worth checking out, giving Dale valuable clues to the cocaine ring that was trying to set him up. Other evidence arrives courtesy of Bobby, whom Ben Horne finally decided to talk to about that blackmail tape. He hires him to spy on Hank and Audrey borrows the spy photos he took which help to implicate not only Hank and Jean Renault but our crooked Mountie as well. How about Bobby trying to make a pass at Audrey while he’s still with Shelley and her vegetating husband? Some guys just never know when to quit.

Turns out that even though “Denise” likes to dress like a woman, he still thinks like a man. When he asked Cooper how old Audrey was, I thought he was going to comment, “She’s too young for you,” but instead Coop knew it was Dennis who was doing the lusting after. Dennis actually did a good job not only of trusting Cooper in his investigation but of setting up a member of the drug ring to get him to arrange a drug buy. “Denise” is going to be the buyer, but I wonder if he’ll dress like Dennis for the part. IMDB indicates that this role was Duchovny’s first TV part. So if he dresses in men’s clothes next week, it will be his TV debut of dressing like a man.

Last week Lucy was missing but people still talked about her. This week she’s back, but everyone ignores her. When Dick comes by, he’s more interested in talking to Andy. And all the men seem to be enchanted by the Black Widow Lana, so much so that after Lucy sees them all mesmerized by a story Lana is telling she walks off and slams the door – and again no one notices. If it weren’t for the fact she was seen talking on a phone to someone, you might suspect she had actually died and her ghost was haunting the place not knowing she had checked out already.

Dick tries to take Nicky somewhere only to have his car break down. He’s trying to change the tire by reading the directions on how to do it. Let’s see – I’ve got three lug nuts off the wheel. Oh, here we go. Take the fourth one off. Nicky is bugging him by honking the horn and turning the wheel as he’s trying to fix the tire. That just annoys him. But when the jack collapses, and Nicky runs up and hugs him begging him not to die and leave him – that’s what convinces Dick that Nicky is the devil and may have killed his parents (who we earlier found out died under mysterious circumstances.) Strange logic, because Nicky’s hug seemed to be the only nice thing he did all day.

And just when Bobby and Mrs. Briggs seem to be accepting the fact that Major Garland Briggs is gone for good this time, he suddenly pops up almost out of thin air. Well, glad to have him back frankly.

Not all the plots went that well. Predictably, the husband of Jimmy’s rich friend turns up and turns out to be a wife-beater. Or at least that’s what her “brother” tells Jimmy – for all we know he’s her real boy friend trying to set Jimmy up. What next? She screams in the middle of the night? Jimmy rushes in and kills her husband in self-defense, or takes the blames after the wife shoots him? The brother then vanishes or else tells the police this obsessed rival Jimmy murdered his sister’s sweet husband in a jealous rage?

Meanwhile, Nadine tries out for the wrestling team ending with her putting her opponent over her head, spinning him around and body slamming him to the floor. No coach worth a plug nickel would have allowed such a TV fake wrestling move to endanger his best wrestler body on his legitimate high school wrestling team. I did like the fact that the boy’s last name was Nelson, as a Half-Nelson and a Full Nelson are the names of classic legitimate wrestling moves.

Another amusing moment came when Hawk was bragging a little to Lana. As he leans against a door, he tells her, “When things go down, I’m the big man around here.” And then at that moment, Andy opens the door and Hawk, the big man, goes down. More subtle humor like that is needed on this show.

The good news is that overall the episode was interesting and fun for the most part. I’ll give it 7 Gettysburg battle recreations in Ben’s office.

Best dialogue:

Denise: I may be wearing a dress, but I still put my panties on one leg at a time.

John Boyland: Did you check him for witchcraft?
Doc: That’s not the kind of thing that comes up in an autopsy.

Ben: Admiration is for poets and dairy cows.
Bobby: I don’t know what you mean.

Bob Peters 61

Member: Rank 2
Someone should show Cooper that Cracked video that tells that cops, in reality, don’t actually taste strange powders they find in crime scenes. You know, that’s disgusting, unsanitary and it turns out it could really be cocaine.
But it makes for a cool dramatic effect. Or at least it did 20+ years ago.
And, oh, Audrey wants to do business with Bobby, even though he wants something else, despite having a beautiful woman waiting for him at home.
Yeah, but she's more formidable than he is and isn't worried about being able to handle anything he could manage to pull.
Catherine is still treating Josie like a lowly maid, but she seems to be taking that well. I’m surprised she would accept that situation so stoically.
Which gives a bit of credence to her account of her background, which would have conditioned her in such a way.

Well, first we note that even when seemingly going off the deep end, Ben Horne doesn't only get mad. He gets even somehow. He gave Bobby a camera with a long lens and instructions who to stalk with it. So what that his little girl got the pictures from him and gave them to Cooper. That just served his purpose for having them taken.

I am a bit surprised, however, that almost everyone in that town is familiar with the operation of a 35mm camera and how to load and rewind the film, etc. I had to get that information from You Tube, which didn't exist at the time. And everyone also has the means to process and print their own B&W photographs as well. Maybe Bobby could have had a bathroom darkroom setup at home, but certainly not at Leo's shack in the woods.

Which brings me to the other point: Surely Mrs. Briggs didn't sit up all night waiting to catch Bobby trying to sneak in past curfew on all those nights he spent with Shelly. No. Turns out she was up worrying about her husband.

Until the brass came around looking for him, her apparent stoicism at his disappearance may have been a military dependent's acceptance of a reality of the life. I recall that in my early childhood as an Army brat, Daddy was sometimes gone for months at a time being a sergent.

That closeup of a rather attractive pair of lower legs in the diner only to reveal that it was Denise was just wrong. Gotta admire her ability to keep in character with the drag when leaning on the minor suspect most likely to sell out the bigger fish to get off the hook. Corporal Klinger could have learned a thing or two from this DEA agent.

This episode gets 6 majors re-appearing in old-timey flight gear.