Windom Earle storyline- what was wrong, what was right

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mtwentz
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Windom Earle storyline- what was wrong, what was right

Postby mtwentz » Thu Jan 26, 2017 8:17 am

A lot of fans like to poke fun at Little Nicky and Evelyn Marsh, but it has long been my contention that the way the Windom Earle storyline was initially handles was the main reason for the big drop in quality during a section of Season 2. That being said. The storyline did eventually pick up steam albeit way too late. Here are my thoughts on what went wrong and what was done right

WRONG:
1. Storyline introduced too slowly over too many episodes, making it hard to follow.

2. Very little mystery in the storyline (unlike the Laura Palmer storyline)

3. Too closely parrots Jean Renault storyline- we just finished up with a madman going after Cooper for revenge then we jump right into another. Both Renault and Earle have scenes which compare them to vampires

4. Earle only kills people we don't care about.

5. It never really feels like Donna, Shelly or Audrey are in any real danger. One single stalking g scene for each girl doesn't do it.

6. In his initial appearance, Earle seems sinister. But after that, it is unclear if he is supposed to be sinister or funny. The result is that he's neither.

RIGHT
1. Once it be able clear Earle's mission was to enter the Black Lodge, Earle became the perfect foul for getting Cooper into the Lodge.

2. Earle also brings Cooper down a peg or two, revealing Cooper's failings and makes him more human.

So though the Earle storyline started badly Indo think it eventually got on track and from an artistic standpoint was ultimately a success. But unfortunately we had to sit through a few episodes where the quality of the show and the suspense was not where it had been before.
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Re: Windom Earle storyline- what was wrong, what was right

Postby Agent Earle » Thu Jan 26, 2017 9:49 am

Okay, I'll be a little provocative here: nothing was wrong with it. :) It's basically the only second half of S 2 storyline that remains compelling throughout and is profoundly connected to the show ending in the iconic way it has.
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Re: Windom Earle storyline- what was wrong, what was right

Postby dkenny78 » Thu Jan 26, 2017 10:44 am

Very good breakdown and I agree with pretty much everything you've said. I also think the overall nature of the storyline was contrived. It just so happens that the town where Cooper is called to investigate a murder is the same place that houses an entrance to a dimension that his former partner/arch-nemesis is trying to access? And he just happens to know and have worked with Major Briggs? And he breaks out of the mental institution and arrives in Twin Peaks about 3 weeks after Cooper arrives? Those contrivances would have made sense if his motive was purely revenge on Cooper, but once it was revealed that he was really after the Lodge, the synchronicity of events became too much to reconcile.

I agree that there was generally too little mystery with the Earle story. Now, it would have been near-impossible to replicate that same sense of mystery from the Laura murder, but the shift from 'everyone in the town is a potential suspect' to 'the villain is a very clear, singular outsider' was very jarring. This also dovetailed with the overall shift to 'everyone in town becomes nice' which I think was a misstep (except for Albert - I loved his gradual thawing and the growth of his and Truman's friendship).
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Re: Windom Earle storyline- what was wrong, what was right

Postby Cappy » Thu Jan 26, 2017 10:59 am

One thing I always wondered about Earle:

what was the original incident that had him sent to the asylum? We know he stabbed Cooper, killed his wife, etc. But Cooper mentions that Caroline Earle was in witness protection, for a crime Windom might have committed. Was she in witness protection going to testify against her husband but he found her, or was she in witness protection being protected by Coop and Earle? And what was the original crime she was a witness too?

These details aren't wholly relevant in the grand scheme of things, but I just can't help but wonder.
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Re: Windom Earle storyline- what was wrong, what was right

Postby Gabriel » Thu Jan 26, 2017 11:06 am

It would have worked better had Earle been played as effectively an older, corrupted Coop in terms of characterisation. I'd like to have seen Earle break Coop down as the season goes by, anticipating his every move until Coop doubts his own abilities. Maybe they could have cast Robert Vaughan!

Instead, Kenneth Welsh seems to have been told to play the role as broadly and campily as possible and some of the scenes, such as Earle running around in silly disguises, rob him of any real sense of threat. The one time Earle turns up and is actually sinister is when he confronts Leo and his eyes are red and teeth made of metal. Trouble is, that was one of those typical 'let's make TP weird' moments, rather than having any relevance to the episode and is never followed up on.
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Re: Windom Earle storyline- what was wrong, what was right

Postby Cappy » Thu Jan 26, 2017 11:11 am

dkenny78 wrote:Very good breakdown and I agree with pretty much everything you've said. I also think the overall nature of the storyline was contrived. It just so happens that the town where Cooper is called to investigate a murder is the same place that houses an entrance to a dimension that his former partner/arch-nemesis is trying to access? And he just happens to know and have worked with Major Briggs? And he breaks out of the mental institution and arrives in Twin Peaks about 3 weeks after Cooper arrives? Those contrivances would have made sense if his motive was purely revenge on Cooper, but once it was revealed that he was really after the Lodge, the synchronicity of events became too much to reconcile.


Yeah, it always came across as somewhat contrived to me as well. I remember reading a theory somewhere that BOB was always trying to lure Cooper into the Black Lodge. Laura was killed to lure him into Twin Peaks, and maybe he corrupted Windom Earle as well, as part of an early attempt to ensnare young Dale.

But even if this were all the case, the synchronicity of the events is a lot to swallow.
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Re: Windom Earle storyline- what was wrong, what was right

Postby N. Needleman » Thu Jan 26, 2017 11:33 am

They went directly from Uli Edel's creepy introduction to Diane Keaton's episode having him in long underwear playing the flute. Then to Ted Raimi.

I have a lot of time for the comic madness of Windom Earle and his shenanigans with Leo, and I love Kenneth Welsh's go-for-broke performance but looking at it now, it got too broad too fast and going there immediately was a mistake. It compromises a storyline I enjoy. We should've seen both sides of Earle as hinted at in his archive tape, not just the camp Frank Gorshin Riddler from '60s Batman.

And yes, the whole angle with Shelly/Donna/Audrey, characters the audience has come to know and care for, was wasted and dropped - in large part because they had to make Annie central instead of them. I don't mind Annie but it was the wrong move for the show's longevity. And what if he had threatened them more? What if Audrey had had her own storyline but ran afoul of Earle, without having to play up the romantic angle? What if Earle had tired of the chess game and assaulted Pete, or attacked Andy at a random traffic stop? Or threatened Lucy, or was a creepy late-night customer at the diner for Norma? There's a million possibilties.

Cappy wrote:I remember reading a theory somewhere that BOB was always trying to lure Cooper into the Black Lodge. Laura was killed to lure him into Twin Peaks, and maybe he corrupted Windom Earle as well, as part of an early attempt to ensnare young Dale.


Ah yes, the Star Wars-tier theories. I hate that, it's so mediocre these days, just another commonplace genre TV show with their stock "chosen ones". What happened to Laura didn't happen because of or to Dale, it happened because of BOB, Leland and Laura. I'm not putting the theory on you personally, I just hate seeing those float around because it always smacks of a drive of wanting to turn TP into some mid-range 2000s basic cable genre show people can relate to easier or make more schematic and less bafflingly instinctual.
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Re: Windom Earle storyline- what was wrong, what was right

Postby Cappy » Thu Jan 26, 2017 11:55 am

I'm not really into that "BOB killed Laura to get to Cooper" theory myself, I was just reminded of it. And it doesn't fit with FWWM at all.

But yeah, Earle always made me think of Frank Gorshin's The Riddler. His initial intro with Leo finding him in the woods was very eerie, but by the time he was jumping around and playing flute in pajamas he had lost all sense of menace with me.
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Re: Windom Earle storyline- what was wrong, what was right

Postby CuriousWoman » Thu Jan 26, 2017 11:59 am

Cappy wrote:One thing I always wondered about Earle:

what was the original incident that had him sent to the asylum? We know he stabbed Cooper, killed his wife, etc. But Cooper mentions that Caroline Earle was in witness protection, for a crime Windom might have committed. Was she in witness protection going to testify against her husband but he found her, or was she in witness protection being protected by Coop and Earle? And what was the original crime she was a witness too?

These details aren't wholly relevant in the grand scheme of things, but I just can't help but wonder.


This part is explained in My Life, My Tapes I reckon but that doesn't change the fact that it was not adressed in the show itself.

Don't quote me on that but if memory serves, Coop began to love her when protecting her after she was kidnapped, raped and drugged. It is implied that it was actually Earle who did it though he acted shocked by her state and he went away from the shock. Then the murder happened but Cooper has no memory of who did it.

The issue imo is that Windom was way too goofy and his motives should have been hinted at. Why does he want the Lodge's power? How was BOB aware of Caroline's death?

Put simply, there was no subtlety whatsoever about him.
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Re: Windom Earle storyline- what was wrong, what was right

Postby N. Needleman » Thu Jan 26, 2017 12:00 pm

Cappy wrote:I'm not really into that "BOB killed Laura to get to Cooper" theory myself, I was just reminded of it. And it doesn't fit with FWWM at all.


Yeah, I know you're not. And I agree, it robs FWWM of it and Laura's agency. It's the kind of geek myth-building we see so much of today in other shows and projects.

CuriousWoman, I recall the same thing about Caroline from MLMT, which doesn't quite match with the show's claim about her witnessing a crime. But then, Laura's diary also doesn't quite match with parts of FWWM.
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Re: Windom Earle storyline- what was wrong, what was right

Postby djerdap » Thu Jan 26, 2017 12:50 pm

dkenny78 wrote:Very good breakdown and I agree with pretty much everything you've said. I also think the overall nature of the storyline was contrived. It just so happens that the town where Cooper is called to investigate a murder is the same place that houses an entrance to a dimension that his former partner/arch-nemesis is trying to access? And he just happens to know and have worked with Major Briggs? And he breaks out of the mental institution and arrives in Twin Peaks about 3 weeks after Cooper arrives? Those contrivances would have made sense if his motive was purely revenge on Cooper, but once it was revealed that he was really after the Lodge, the synchronicity of events became too much to reconcile.

I agree that there was generally too little mystery with the Earle story. Now, it would have been near-impossible to replicate that same sense of mystery from the Laura murder, but the shift from 'everyone in the town is a potential suspect' to 'the villain is a very clear, singular outsider' was very jarring. This also dovetailed with the overall shift to 'everyone in town becomes nice' which I think was a misstep (except for Albert - I loved his gradual thawing and the growth of his and Truman's friendship).


All of this, especially the contrivance part, which was the thing that annoyed me the most about this plot-wise. Briggs and Earle being old buddies is just ridiculous.

I respect Earle purely as a plot device for the wonderful season 2 finale. I liked the "twelve rainbow trout" line and the videotape scene before he went insane - the latter being the only time I found the character remotely believable. Unfortunately, other than that, Kenneth Welsh did a lot of horrible choices for the character, but I guess he was encouraged to do so by the writers and directors.

I find it funny that the OP considers the storyline a success, yet names three times as much things that are wrong with it than there are right, heh. But a nice analysis and I agree with most of it.

I do hope the new season finds a way to dissect Cooper's character, discovering his flaws and doubts without restoring to ham-fisted backstories with cheesy villains. And I have a feeling Frost and Lynch have found a way to do just that.
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Re: Windom Earle storyline- what was wrong, what was right

Postby Agent Earle » Thu Jan 26, 2017 12:59 pm

N. Needleman wrote: I'm not putting the theory on you personally, I just hate seeing those float around because it always smacks of a drive of wanting to turn TP into some mid-range 2000s basic cable genre show people can relate to easier or make more schematic and less bafflingly instinctual.


Give example, please.
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Re: Windom Earle storyline- what was wrong, what was right

Postby Agent Earle » Thu Jan 26, 2017 1:03 pm

N. Needleman wrote:And I agree, it robs FWWM of it and Laura's agency. It's the kind of geek myth-building we see so much of today in other shows and projects.


What in the world's wrong with a little geek myth-building now and then? I find it quite charming. Besides, it shows people really care about their favorite show(s)!
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Re: Windom Earle storyline- what was wrong, what was right

Postby Agent Earle » Thu Jan 26, 2017 1:09 pm

djerdap wrote:I do hope the new season finds a way to dissect Cooper's character, discovering his flaws and doubts without restoring to ham-fisted backstories with cheesy villains. And I have a feeling Frost and Lynch have found a way to do just that.


I myself would HATE it if L & F would/will retcon Earle out of the (future) series. That's not how you treat your previous work, a collaborative product of multiple authors though that it may have been. But you cannot just erase the history - that falls more along the lines of fanboys and geeks we spoke about earlier, not serious, mature, original art creators.
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Re: Windom Earle storyline- what was wrong, what was right

Postby djerdap » Thu Jan 26, 2017 1:14 pm

Agent Earle wrote:
djerdap wrote:I do hope the new season finds a way to dissect Cooper's character, discovering his flaws and doubts without restoring to ham-fisted backstories with cheesy villains. And I have a feeling Frost and Lynch have found a way to do just that.


I myself would HATE it if L & F would/will retcon Earle out of the (future) series. That's not how you treat your previous work, a collaborative product of multiple authors though that it may have been. But you cannot just erase the history - that falls more along the lines of fanboys and geeks we spoke about earlier, not serious, mature, original art creators.


I didn't write retcon or erase. But I see no reason to revisit this storyline. Don't contradict it, but feel free to ignore it.

But taken into account how many discrepancies there are in Frost's book and knowing that continuity isn't necessarily Lynch's priority, there might be continuity errors and contradictions in the show itself, especially with the events of post-Laura TP.

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