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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

Twin Peaks:  The Path to the Black Lodge Twin Peaks
Episode 27: "The Path to the Black Lodge"
TV episode
Written by Harley Peyton & Robert Engels
Directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal
Original air date: April
18, 1991


Major Briggs uncovers some interesting info on Windom Earle’s involvement in Project Blue Book and goes for a walk in the woods; Jack’s partner in Brazil is murdered; Leo attempts to overwhelm Windom Earle; Andrew and Catherine open the second and third boxes of Eckhart’s gift.


Read the episode transcript at


Didja Know?


For the titles of the Twin Peaks TV episodes, I have taken the unique approach of using both the episode numbers, which were the only titles given the scripts by series creators David Lynch and Mark Frost, and the translated German titles of the episodes that were assigned when the series aired in that country. Frequent readers of PopApostle know I like the aesthetic of actual episode titles, but I also wanted to honor the simple numbering used by Lynch and Frost, hence the expanded titles presented in these studies.


The director of this episode, Stephen Gyllenhaal, is the father of actors Maggie Gyllenhaal and Jake Gyllenhaal.


Characters appearing or mentioned in this episode


Rusty Tomaski (deceased)

Deputy Hawk

Sheriff Truman

Agent Cooper

Deputy Andy

Roadie (unnamed, friend of Rusty Tomaski)

Windom Earle

Lucy Moran

John Justice Wheeler (Jack)

Jack's partner (unnamed, deceased)

Randy St. Croix

Audrey Horne

Dr. Hayward

Ben Horne

Donna Hayward

Dr. R. Robinson (mentioned only)

Major Briggs


Leo Johnson

Shelly Johnson

Bobby Briggs

Mayor Milford

Lana Milford

Norma Jennings

Dick Tremayne

Pete Martell

Josie Packard (deceased, mentioned only)

Annie Blackburn

Betty Briggs (mentioned only)






Notes from the Log Lady intros


When cable channel Bravo obtained the rights to air reruns of Twin Peaks in 1993, David Lynch directed all-new introductions to each episode featuring the Log Lady, portrayed by original actress Catherine E. Coulson. These intros also appear as options on the DVD and Blu-ray collections of the series.


In the Log Lady's intro, the chinaware has all disappeared from the table, replaced with what appears to be a single duck or pheasant sculpture.


I really like the Log Lady's statements in this intro, so I've included the entire thing as a sound file below the transcription. Her statements also go to the Heisenberg quote Annie makes in this episode, "What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning."


"There are clues everywhere--all around us. But the puzzle maker
is clever. The clues, although surrounding us, are somehow mistaken
for something else. And the something else--the
wrong interpretation
of the clues--we call our world. Our world is a magical smoke
screen. How should we interpret the happy song of the meadowlark,
or the robust flavor of a wild strawberry?"


there are clues everywhere.wav


Didja Notice?


This episode opens shortly after the end of Episode 26: "Variations on Relations" on the night of Thursday, March 23, 1989, then continues through the day of Friday, March 24.


As the men remove the giant chess piece from the gazebo at Easter Park, notice that the gazebo floor is actually a carpet of grass even though it is on a platform raised above the lawn of the park.


The young man who was a roadie for a heavy metal band reveals that the man murdered by Windom Earle and entombed in the giant pawn piece was named Rusty Tomaski, who was staying with his uncle in Moses Lake. He says the band was supposed to play a gig in Knife River, but the van had a tire blow out. Knife River probably refers to Knife River, Montana (though the town has a population of only 320 as of the 2010 census and was probably less in 1989! Could there have been much of a demand for a heavy metal gig there?).


At 3:35 on the Blu-ray, as the roadie speaks to Cooper, notice that the sound of a chainsaw is heard in the background, indicating that Rusty's body is being cut out of the giant chess piece.


At 4:01 on the Blu-ray, notice that a poster in the foyer of the sheriff's station reads, "Support Your Police - We Support You".


At 4:06 on the Blu-ray, the donut boxes carried into the sheriff's station have the same "Donuts Donuts" label on them seen on the box given to Cooper at the RR Diner in Episode 26: "Variations on Relations".


At 4:34 on the Blu-ray, it looks as if Lucy has traced the borders and headline of the Miss Twin Peaks flyer with a black marker (possibly so the viewer can tell what it is from the reverse side, since we only see that part of the flyer!).

Miss Twin Peaks flyer


At 5:49 on the Blu-ray, an Apple Macintosh computer is seen behind the reception desk at the Great Northern.


Jack tells Dr. Hayward that he met his daughter and that she's a lovely girl. When did they meet? We did not see it in any episode.


Jack is forced to leave Twin Peaks early because he has learned that his business partner has been murdered in South America. Could it be that Ben is behind the murder? It seems as if he might be trying to keep Jack away from Audrey. In Episode 25: "On the Wings of Love", Ben learned from Jack himself that he was falling in love with Audrey and, in that same episode, Ben suddenly sends his daughter to Seattle for an environmental meeting. Now, as Audrey is about to return, Jack suddenly learns his partner has been murdered and must leave. On the other hand, Ben seems genuine in his attempts to be good and in his affection for Jack.


As Donna looks at her birth certificate at 8:24 on the Blu-ray, notice that a number of words are obscured by printover. Notice also that the line for "Mother's Maiden Name" has "Eileen Hayward" typed in...but "Hayward" would be her married name instead!

birth certificate


Donna's birth certificate shows her birth date as September 2, but the year is not revealed. According to the Twin Peaks card set, her birthday is September 2, 1972. The birth certificate also shows the birth was guided by Dr. R. Robinson. The blank line after "Father" on the certificate suggests that her parentage was up for question. It is strongly suggested in this and later episodes that Ben Horne is her actual father, not William Hayward.


The first old photograph that Donna looks at shows her mother and father together and her mother is obviously standing, not in a wheelchair. What happened to put her in the wheelchair? Was Ben Horne somehow involved?


As Audrey walks into the Great Northern lobby at 9:20 on the Blu-ray, Hawk is seen reading the coffee table book about owls seen there in some previous episodes.


At 11:19 on the Blu-ray, notice that the styrofoam cup holding pens and pencils for Major Briggs at the sheriff's station is chewed up at the top. Does Briggsy like to nibble the tops of his styrofoam cups? I remember doing that myself when I was a kid!


According to the original script, the Bookhouse Boy seen working with Major Briggs on researching the Blue Book files is called Cappy. (On a later viewing of the episode, I discovered that he is referred to by that name a couple of times in the episode as well.)


    On a videotape found by Major Briggs in the Blue Book archives, Windom Earle speaks of the "dugpas", evil sorcerers who were able to access a place of evil and power called the Black Lodge. In the real world, Dugpas, or the Drukpa Lineage as they are sometimes called, are a branch of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, no kind of evil fraternity at all, though some 19th and early 20th Century fiction writers used them as sorcerer-practioners of the "left-hand path" (LHP), allegedly malicious black magic, as opposed to practitioners of the "right-hand path" (RHP) of benevolent white magic. Definitions of LHP and RHP that go back to the origins of the terms in Indian Tantra suggest a more middle-of-the-road approach for each, RHP being based on ethical codes and social convention and LHP being based on the breaking of taboos and desire for individual freedom. It seems that Lynch and Frost borrowed their version of dugpas and Black/White Lodges used in Twin Peaks from the 1926 Talbot Mundy novel The Devil's Guard. Some of Earle's dialog about the dugpas on the Blue Book videotape is nearly word-for-word from that early novel!

    Later in the episode, Earle compares the dupgas to the Kali worshippers of India and their ideas of "blood for breakfast, blood for lunch." Kali is the Hindu goddess of empowerment, but is not evil; in the earliest depictions of her, she was actually a destroyer of mostly evil forces. She is, however, depicted as having a literal thirst for the blood of her victims, even becoming drunk off it.


At 13:52 on the Blu-ray, notice that the screen on Windom Earle's computer in the background has on it a representation of the twelve sycamore trees of Glastonbury Grove.


After listening in on Cooper's ruminations at the sheriff's station about Earle's motives and the Black Lodge, he remarks to Leo, "You know, Leo, the only thing Columbus discovered was that he was lost. Cooper and the gang haven't even left the schneid, yet." Schneid is a German term meaning "a scoreless or winless streak". The term originated in the card game of gin rummy and is also used in other games such as baseball. (Thanks to B. Kirk for the heads up on the meaning of schneid).


At 14:25 on the Blu-ray, Earle whisks aside the chess pieces on the playing board as he smacks down his sketches of the Owl Cave hieroglyphs, symbolically showing us that the chess game no longer matters, just as Cooper speculated moments ago in the sheriff's station.


At the RR, when Shelly gets up from the booth and kisses Bobby, notice that there is a man seated at another booth behind them who seems to be watching the exchange and then follows Shelly with his head as she walks behind the counter to take the phone call from Agent Cooper.


The sketch of the Owl Cave hieroglyph pinned to the mantel at 21:36 on the Blu-ray as Leo recognizes Shelly's photo on the Queen of Spades playing card, appears to be a beetle.

beetle hieroglyph


Ben tells Audrey that Jack had to leave due to "some tragedy" in Brazil. The tragedy is the murder of his partner there.


After Audrey leaves her father's office at 25:15 on the Blu-ray, the musical hum that has been associated with Cooper's visions in past episodes is heard and Ben whirls around as if someone else is suddenly present in the office and his eyes widen as if he sees something unexpected. Then the scene cuts away and is never mentioned again! What did Ben see? Was it some kind of supernatural manifestation? There are a couple of side doors to the office, so someone (Jerry?) could have walked in, but if it was a normal person, why the musical hum accompaniment? It may be significant that the scene immediately following is of Pete talking to "Josie" in the lobby of the hotel...could Ben also have seen a manifestation of her in his office?


At 25:18 on the Blu-ray, Pete seems to be gazing at an abstract painting on the mantel above the fireplace at the Great Northern as he says, "Josie, I see your face..." Or is he gazing at the wood of the mantel itself? When Audrey grabs him to drive her to the airport to catch Jack before he leaves, notice that Pete gives a little wave of goodbye to Josie towards the fireplace.


As Cooper talks about his wandering mind going back to thoughts of Annie, notice that Truman gets a dejected look on his face, despite being happy for his friend; obviously, he's thinking of the late Josie.


The song sung by Windom Earle as he and Leo are disguised as a horse in the woods as they approach Major Briggs is "Home on the Range", the state song of Kansas, with lyrics originally published as a poem called "My Western Home" in 1873 by Dr. Brewster M. Higley (1823–1911). As Earle approaches Briggs, he stops singing and says, "Hello, Wilbur!" This is a reference to the 1961-1966 sitcom Mr. Ed, about a talking horse owned by a man named Wilbur Post; Mr. Ed (the horse) would often say to his owner, "Hello, Wilbur!"


As the head of the horse costume, Earle says, "Leo, it looks like you've finally found your calling." That is to say, a horse's ass.


At the RR Diner, Cooper tells Annie to "Hear the other side, see the other side," and Annie attributes his quote to St. Augustine. This statement is attributed to Augustine of Hippo (354-430), an early Christian philosopher, in some quarters, but I've been unable to confirm it.


Annie reveals that her time in the convent lasted for 5 years.


At 29:47 on the Blu-ray, notice that the sign above the kitchen door at the RR advertises the day's special as "squirrel loaf"! Between this and "hearty beaver broth" in Episode 26: "Variations on Relations", the RR offers some rather strange meals!


Annie makes the quote, "What we observe is not nature itself but nature exposed to our method of questioning." This was first said by Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976), a German Nobel laureate who was one of the founders of the scientific field of quantum mechanics.


Pete's truck is a 1968 Dodge D100. Notice that it has a Packard Mill logo on the doors.


Jack's personal plane, which he pilots, appears to be a Learjet model.


Major Briggs is seen held captive by Windom Earle at 32:57 on the Blu-ray, held and tied into an awkward position in front of a bull's-eye target against a stack of hay bales. How did Earle come into possession of a stack of hay bales? It seems unlikely they were already in the cabin when he commandeered it. It again suggests (as in Episode 26: "Variations on Relations") that he has a vehicle for transporting relatively large loads.


Having difficulty getting Major Briggs to answer his questions about the Owl Cave petroglyph, Earle asks him, "What is the capital of North Carolina?" and he gets the correct response, "Raleigh."


    Under the influence of some kind of drug administered by Earle, Briggs tells him about seeing a light and a figure the night he went fishing with Cooper. He refers to the figure as a "guardian". In the study of Episode 17: "Dispute Between Brothers", I speculated the figure might be the Dweller on the Threshold spoken of by Hawk in Episode 18:_"Masked Ball".

    When Briggs is later picked up and taken to the sheriff's station in Episode 28: "Miss Twin Peaks", Cooper is able to smell haloperidol on him, the same drug the One-Armed Man uses to keep Mike at bay.


    Briggs tells Earle the signs of the Owl Cave petroglyph indicate that "they" will receive you at the time when Jupiter and Saturn meet. A conjunction in astronomical terms is when two celestial objects (usually planets) have the same ecliptic longitude as observed from Earth. Conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn have been considered important omens by human societies since ancient times.

    At the end of this episode, BOB is able to exit the Black Lodge and in Episode 29: "Beyond Life and Death", Earle, Annie, and Cooper are able to enter due to the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. But no such conjunction occurred in 1989! Conjunctions of Saturn and Jupiter occur every 19.6 years, the one closest to 1989 having been in 1981 and the next not until 2000.


After Earle asks Briggs what the signs of the Owl Cave petroglyph mean and Briggs answers that they will receive you at the time when Jupiter and Saturn meet, he then goes on to say what seem to be nonsense words. But he is actually speaking English words in reverse and what he is saying is actually "That gum you like is coming back in style," (though his struggle to speak makes it difficult to make out the words "back in"). A slightly different version of this phrase was first said by the Dwarf in Cooper's dream in Episode 2: "Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer". Listen to Briggs: Forward, "Taht mug uoy ekil si gnimoc kcab ni elyts" and reverse, "That gum you like is coming back in style."


An unlit neon sign for Killian Red is behind the bar of the Roadhouse at 38:01 on the Blu-ray. This is a real world beer, though it actually goes by Killian's Red.


On the dance floor, Annie tells Cooper her mom and dad used to dance the Lindy. This is the Lindy hop, a swing dance popular in the 1930s and '40s, named for famed American aviator of the time, Charles "Lucky Lindy" Lindbergh.


At 39:37 on the Blu-ray, a man who looks like Toad is dancing with a woman in the background behind Cooper and Annie at the Roadhouse!


In Earle's cabin at 43:12 on the Blu-ray, why is Leo seen freaking out, with his eyes rolled up into his head? Has he been drugged by Earle?


    As he researches the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn that will allegedly allow him to enter the Black Lodge, Earle sings the lines, "When Jupiter and Saturn meet, Oh, what a crop of mummy wheat!" These lines were written by Irish poet W. B. Yeats (1865-1935) in his rumination "The End of the Cycle". Some have interpreted the term "mummy wheat" to be a reference by Yeats to the Egyptian god Osiris, whose mummified body is depicted in some ancient stylings with wheat sprouting from it, a harbinger of his impending resurrection.

    Earle also sings the lines to the tune of "O Tannenbaum", a German Christmas song inspired by an earlier folk song.


At 43:30 on the Blu-ray, notice that Earle has a number of star and astrological charts hanging on the wall behind him.

Earle's charts


At 43:54 on the Blu-ray, the blue sticky note that was on Earle's computer screen has suddenly vanished.


    Near the end of the episode, we get our closest look at the Owl Cave petroglyph, in the form of Andy's drawing on the blackboard at the sheriff's station. We see representations of the Giant and the Dwarf and the astronomical symbols for Jupiter and Saturn, among many other symbols.

    Notice that there are only 11 trees in the circle of what is later (in Episode 28: "Miss Twin Peaks") said to be 12 sycamores representing Glastonbury Grove! But notice there is a gap in the ring of trees where the twelfth one should there any significance to this?

Owl Cave petroglyph on blackboard


Is the pool of liquid in Glastonbury Grove meant to be oil (as hinted at in Episode 29: "Beyond Life and Death")? What is the white residue surrounding the pool? Frost? If so, why only around the rim of the pool?


It's kind of hard to make out because the voice is deliberately distorted, but after he steps out of the Black Lodge, BOB says, "I'm out!" Listen: I'm out!


Memorable Dialog


Windom Earle's playing off the board.wav

Styrofoam never dies.wav

from outer space to the wooded areas surrounding Twin Peaks.wav


the dugpas have many names for it.wav

a fish I don't particularly care for.wav

British or Bohemian or something.wav

the slit cut halfway up to Seattle.wav

I've never known your mind to wander.wav

your face in fried eggs.wav

it's your jet.wav

what do you fear most?.wav

if Jupiter and Saturn meet.wav

a trout's leap in the moonlight.wav

a map to the Black Lodge.wav 


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