The lucky seventh grade president of his middle school's audio-visual squad clearly tapped to direct this episode -- equipped only with a network budget of several hundred thousand dollars and a copy of the Twin Peaks new director primer's guide, The Path to the Hack Lodge -- has cleverly decided to open this episode with -- no, really -- a really slow panning shot across a chess board. It's a clear directorial homage to the previous episode and the one before that and the one before that and, if memory serves correctly (which it very well may not, seeing as my current pace of churning out new Twin Peaks recaps coincides with the approximate frequency of a stray dodo wandering through my apartment), the episode before that. Whoever has been circulating the apocryphal memo that lingering shots of shameless Parker Brothers product-placement is somehow "grand" or "regal" should be immediately reassigned to the production staff of the Civil War Commemorative Chess Set infomercial and never be allowed on the Lynch/Frost lot ever, ever again. Pan of chess. Pan of chess. Pan of chess. Pan of chess. Pan of chess. Full frontal nudity! Just kidding. More pan of chess. Couldn't it at least be a life or death game of Twister?
As we finally reach the other end of the board and come upon the white mask Cooper found in his bed last week, the tape-recorded message of "An Ill" Windom "Blows" Earl kicks up, all sinister, "Now Dale, listen carefully. It's your move. Please. Put your heart into it, will you?" He rambles on about Cooper's tentativeness in making his next move, "as if your mind were occupied with issues other than those on the board before you, and such preoccupation not only weakens one's resolve, but one's foresight as well, a deadly failing in any match, you must agree, but in this particular contest quite disastrous, as we play for grave stakes the likes of which you have no doubt surmised." Yeesh. Shut up, Long-Winded Earl. I didn't mean to quote that entire filibuster, but it just kept going and going and going. I swear, the man's sentence structure and syntax are more muddled that well, than mine, even. I know. Go figure. There's a new sheriff in town.
Our Pawn Shop Pan of Inanimate Junk (chess board, mask, tape recorder, this plot thread) finally a thing of TV history, we pan up to discover Dale "Milton" Cooper and Harry "Bradley" Truman, sitting in Harry's office on opposite sides of the chess board. Earl urges Cooper via the tape recorder, "Print your move in tomorrow's paper, or I shall make it for you," and Diane clicks off. Harry takes a meaningful swig of Vaguest-Thematic-Link-To-The-Show's-Glory-Days Brand Coffee and drawls, "Cooper, I'm not letting you out of my sight." Cooper responds that if Windom wanted him dead he'd already be dead, and Harry nods a little insultingly at this perceived common knowledge ("I guess you really are dumber than him") before hopping to action at Cooper's suggestion to "get Pete on the horn." Truman intercoms out to Lucy to track down the deadline for posting a personal in the paper and also tells her to get Pete out to the police station. Lucy shoots back, "Paper and Pete. Got it. I'll do it alphabetically." Hee. I'm sorry, was that a little effortless quirkiness we just got from Lucy? Who called in the first season karma? But things don't stay blissfully unmaudlin for long, as The Somber Strings Of Wifely Deadness kick up anew and Truman stares down at the "Tragedy Tomorrow, Tragedy Tonight" mask on the table and notes, "She was beautiful." Er, Truman? That's just a mask. That's not her. Looks like someone needs a stronger cup of Vaguest-Thematic-Link-To-The-Show's-Glory-Days Brand Coffee, perhaps. Vaguest-Thematic-Link-To-The-Show's-Glory-Days Brand Coffee. It's the best part of waking up.