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WTF Moments: When Twin Peaks turned Josie Packard into a doorknob
When in the course of looking for WTF Moments, is it even remotely fair to pitch something from Twin Peaks? Forget that, is it fair to bring up anything that director/writer/artist David Lynch has even remotely glanced at? The man has a direct line to some kind of other place, and the artistic results are made of pure WTF energy. We imagine that this WTF energy might look something similar to garmonbozia. If you don’t know what that is, then please don’t ask (but click on the link).
The thing with the particular moment of WTF-ery that we’re looking at today is that it comes from the second season of Twin Peaks. You know what that means — Lynch was off the scene, and we got beauty pageants, Billy Zane, and James Hurley just being cool because James has always been cool. (Has he, though?) Once Lynch left the series things went wild, but this moment took place right after Lynch thankfully returned to set... because of course it did.
Josie Packard (Joan Chen) was a main character for most of the series, as she was involved in intrigue at the mill with Catherine Martell (Piper Laurie), had an affair with Sheriff Truman (Michael Ontkean), and then went into full spy/murderer mode. Her storylines go in some truly weird directions in Season 2, but all things for her ended here, with Josie being turned into a doorknob.
So... all right. Our beloved hero Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) discovers Josie in a room within the Great Northern. She's just killed someone, and she confesses to killing others. After Sheriff Truman arrives, she makes ready to kill herself... and then things go full Lynch.
She doesn't pull the trigger, but she acts as if she does? Josie just falls back on the bed and might be dead. Harry cradles her body (he's not gonna take this well, and has proven as much), but then they both vanish. A spotlight shines on Cooper, and welcome to some damn fine WTF.
The second that the spotlight pops up, we know we're in for some antics. Before we can even register Harry and Josie vanishing, wouldn’t you know it? Here comes Killer BOB (Frank Silva) from underneath the bed, looking like a filthy sentient motel that burned down 20 years ago. He crawls on the bed in a highly (highly) unsettling way and calls our hero "Coop," which makes the whole thing worse.
Killer BOB is so very happy with himself (he always is, really), but then he vanishes too. In his place, we see the Man from Another Place (Michael J. Anderson) doing what he does best: dancing his weird little dance on the bed. After a few moments of that, he vanishes too.
Harry and Josie return... but Josie's spirit is transported into the knob of a drawer in the nightstand. We see her cry out from inside of it, and then she tries to get out. She has no luck — the knob twists with her wooden image and then freezes.
Did Killer BOB do this? Did the Man from Another Place do it? What happened here, exactly?
As is customary with this show, we get zero answers. Nothing is explained. With one exception (and some theories) aside, this is the last time we see Josie Packard in the world of Twin Peaks. The one exception is when Richard Beymer's Ben Horne (a model of sanity and good judgment) almost saw Josie within other wooden objects in the Great Northern. Pete Martell (John Nance) also thinks that he sees this, but they don't give much thought to it.
A deleted scene from Episode 29 (the end of Season 2) makes it sound like Killer BOB took Josie's head along with her soul, and that he did so out of fear. He didn't look very afraid when he was crawling on the bed, but whatever. Taking her head would account for Josie's body weight at the time — according to her autopsy (??) she only weighed 65 pounds. The autopsy is mentioned within the book The Secret History of Twin Peaks, and it makes no mention of Josie not having a head, so uhhh... crime, boy, I don't know?
Welcome to WTF Peaks. Lynch did have some conversations with Joan Chen about Josie coming back for Twin Peaks: The Return, but ultimately he couldn't find a suitable place for the character within the already sprawling and packed series, which is a bonanza of WTF overload in and of itself. Thus, as far as we know, Josie Packard is still a doorknob. Yes, "nightstand drawer knob" is more accurate, but it's not as much fun to say.
Is Josie still within the wood of the Great Northern during the events of The Return? It would make sense, as throughout that series, Ben Horne is hearing random things in the walls. We discover that the Great Northern itself has more going on than meets the eye — a certain door within its depths leads Cooper to an interesting place toward the end.
Is Ben Horne hearing Josie in the wooden walls of the Great Northern, or is he still dealing with the fallout from his Civil War-centered crisis of identity? We’d prefer that it was the former because the latter is something else entirely. Some eagle-eyed fans may have carefully looked at every single piece of furniture during every scene in The Return that takes place in the Great Northern for evidence of Josie and the knob, but if they found evidence, they aren't sharing.
Twin Peaks had weirder moments, and it had more gruesome moments. It constantly has us asking WTF, out loud, maybe every minute on the minute. Still, you have to admire the sheer audacity at play here. Television series have come up with plenty of ways to clear their decks of main characters before, but when has a show ever done something like this?
Only in Twin Peaks does a main character’s story end by them turning into a doorknob. You might as well hang a "The End" sign on that knob.
Take that, Red Wedding! Also... WTF?