Checkmate is the 13th episode of the 2nd season of Twin Peaks, and the 20th episode of the series as a whole.
A mysterious object rotates out of a star field. We see flames, then Major Briggs sitting on a stone seat in the woods. He says he remembers stepping from the flames, a vague shape in the dark, then nothing else until he found himself at the two-day-old campsite. The Major is seated in the sheriff’s conference room with Truman and Cooper. Dr. Hayward photographs the back of Briggs’ neck. The Major also recalls seeing the image of a giant owl. Dr. Hayward displays the photograph - three triangular scars behind the major’s right ear. Major Briggs is very upset and wonders if his experience was meant for his soul.
When Cooper suggests he start at the beginning, the Major asks if they’re familiar with Project Blue Book, the Air Force investigation into UFOs that ended in 1969. The Major says some continued the effort unofficially both to examine the heavens and, as in Twin Peaks, the earth below. He says they’re searching for a place called The White Lodge. They are interrupted by two MPs who, on orders from Col Reilly, take the Major. As Cooper examines the photograph, a few drops of water drip on to it from the overhead sprinkler. In the sheriff’s office, Denise urges Ernie to make a phone call. Cooper enters. Ernie calls Jean Renault and tells him he has the out-of-town buyer. Andy enters the sheriff’s station, walks past Lucy, and encounters Dick who tells him about visiting the Happy Helping Hand Adoption Agency to find that Nicky’s records were sealed and returned to the orphanage. Andy and Dick plan a visit to the orphanage. They leave. Lucy tells Cooper she’s checked all the personal columns in national newspapers and found nothing that looked like a chess deal and no name like Windom Earle.
Ed drinks coffee at the Double RR. He passes a note to Norma, “We need to talk.” As Shelly feeds Leo, we hear the introduction to “Invitation to Love.” Shelly complains that it was Bobby’s turn to feed Leo and Bobby claims he had baseball practice. He tells her he’s not coming back, that he has better things to do than bathe Leo. Shelly slaps him and Bobby leaves. Leo drools.
James phones Ed and asks that the money from his savings account be sent to him at Willies, the bar on the 96. Evelyn enters the garage and asks if he’s homesick. James tells her about Laura and his wanting to run away from Twin Peaks. Evelyn kisses him. They hear Jeffrey leaving and she tells James she needs his help.
9:25a.m. - Nadine sits next to Mike Nelson at the counter of the Double RR. Mike tells her he doesn’t want to know her. She tells him she wants to go out with him, kisses him, and pushes him off his stool. Norma puts on a coat and leaves after telling a clearly-suspicious Hank she’s going to run some errands.
Truman visits Josie at Blue Pine Lodge and asks why she isn’t moving into his place. Josie says she’s safe there. She says she’s no good for him. Truman kisses her and holds her.
Audrey watches Ben’s secretary run from his office in tears. She enters and finds Ben deep in his reenactment of Gettysburg. She tells him he needs help and uses the phone to call for Jerry Horne.
Norma visits Ed and they declare their love for each other with embraces and kisses.
Cooper and Truman are in Truman’s office where Hawk tapes a transmitter to Ernie’s abdomen. Ernie, visibly nervous, claims he suffers from hyperhydrosis when Hawk complains about Ernie’s sweating. Ernie starts to recall Korean War experiences. Cooper makes Ernie review his plan to take Denise to Dead Dog Farm to meet Renault. Truman deputizes Cooper so he can go with them. Cooper pins deputy badge no. 13 on as Denise enters, dressed as a man and calling himself Dennis.
There’s wind blowing through the trees as Dick and Andy enter the office of Dorritt Home for Boys. while everyone’s at lunch. Dick searches the files and finds the file on Nicholas Niedleman. He starts to read the file as a couple enter, introduce themselves as the Brunstons, who came to see Donny. Dick tells them little Donny isn’t feeling well.
Donna visits Ed and asks about James. Ed tells her about James’ phone call and gives her the money to take to the bar on 96. After she leaves, Ed turns to Norma, who kisses him and leaves. Ed closes the door and turns around to see Hank, who begins to beat him. Nadine enters and thoroughly pummels Hank before comforting Ed.
In his office Ben tells Bobby about a Civil War battle. Audrey opens the door and peeks in. Ben addresses Bobby as General Meade; Bobby says he has to talk to President Lincoln and leaves. Outside, Bobby tells Audrey that Ben has flipped. Audrey says Uncle Jerry will be home on the next plane and Dr. Jacoby will come over tomorrow. As they leave Catherine enters and goes into Ben’s office. Ben tells her to go ahead and gloat. Catherine says she did come to gloat, refers to Ben as “Slimy Rat Bastard Americanus - do not feed.” Then she tells him she wants him and embraces him. “You make my body hum,” she says. They kiss and hug.
James leads a blindfolded Evelyn to the car and lets her look at it. She says Jeffrey will be home at midnight. They drink champagne. She asks him not to leave. He starts to remove her clothes and presses her onto the fender while he kisses her. Malcolm watches and laughs to himself.
Truman and Cooper watch Ernie, Jean, Dennis, and Sergeant King through binoculars at Dead Dog Farm, while Hawk listens to their conversation over the radio. Ernie rambles about hyperhydrosis and yellow fever as Dennis tries to hurry them. King tells Jean that Ernie’s shirt is smoking; Hawk tells Truman and Cooper that the wire’s dead. King and Renault emerge using Ernie and Dennis as shields. Cooper exchanges himself for the hostages and Truman tells Hawk to call the state police.
At night under a half moon, Evelyn leaves James’ bedroom and meets Malcolm, who asks about “their boy.” She says he’s “sound asleep, dreaming of love.” Malcolm and Evelyn kiss and embrace, though Evelyn is visibly uneasy.
The state police arrive at Dead Dog Farm. Inside, King suggests they deal or run. Jean asks Cooper if they will deal and Cooper tells him his only option is to surrender. Jean debates whether to give up quietly or to kill Cooper. When asked why, Jean says Twin Peaks was a quiet, innocuous bed of drug dealing before Cooper arrived. His presence threw everything into a nightmare state that resulted in both of Jean's brothers being killed. He tells Cooper that if he should die, “maybe the nightmare will die with you.” Denise approaches with a tray of food and Jean, not recognizing Dennis, decides to let the girl in. She lifts her skirt to reveal a gun, which Cooper grabs and uses to shoot Jean as Denise jumps King. Truman and the troopers break for the house as Jean collapses, dead. Denise credits Truman with the idea of her bringing food.
A record player is on at Shelly’s house. The lights dim and Shelly wakes up. She gets off the couch and looks for Bobby. She finds a clown doll on the pillow of Leo’s empty bed. She calls for Bobby. The lights dim again. She sees Leo standing, wearing the party hat. He says, “Shelly” and she screams. The lights go out.
Outside the darkened sheriff’s station Truman asks Lucy about a bomb report. Lucy tells him there was a voice on the phone that said there was a bomb planted in the woods. There was a huge explosion and the lights went out. Lucy called the fire department. There were two fires, one at the power station. Hawk goes to check the generator. Cooper enters the station and calls to Harry from Truman’s office. Harry enters and sees a body with long red hair tied to a chair with one hand pointing to a chess board. Cooper says it’s Windom Earle’s next move.
- Timeline: Saturday, March 18th
- Original Air Date: January 19th, 1991
- Official Episode Number: #2013
- Nielson Rating: Unknown
- Directed By: Todd Holland
- Written By: Harley Peyton
- Kyle MacLachlan ... Special Agent Dale Cooper
- Michael Ontkean ... Sheriff Harry S. Truman
- Mädchen Amick ... Shelly Johnson (as Madchen Amick)
- 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
- Kimmy Robertson ... Lucy Moran
- Joan Chen ... Jocelyn 'Josie' Packard
- Piper Laurie ... Catherine Martell
- Eric DaRe ... Leo Johnson
- Harry Goaz ... Deputy Andy Brennan
- Michael Horse ... Deputy Tommy 'Hawk' Hill
- Chris Mulkey ... Hank Jennings
- Ian Buchanan ... Dick Tremayne
- James Booth ... Ernie Niles
- David Duchovny ... DEA Agent Dennis / Denise Bryson
- Gavan O'Herlihy ... RCMP Officer Preston King
- Wendy Robie ... Nadine Hurley
- Don S. Davis ... Major Garland Briggs (as Don Davis)
- Gary Hershberger ... Mike Nelson
- Annette McCarthy ... Evelyn Marsh
- Nicholas Love ... Malcolm Sloan
- Michael Parks ... Jean Renault
- J. Marvin Campbell ... M.P. #1
- Will Seltzer ... Mr. Brunston
- Craig McLachlan ... Drifter