Friday, June 21, 2024

A dearly missed face returns to Twin Peaks

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There’s a certain allure in a tease. It’s a threshold in knowledge; you apprehend something, but not in its entirety. So the prospect of seeing the full image makes the gradual reveal a delight on its own. That is a logic behind gradual modes of storytelling, spread across multiple possible genres or practices. By now, there are few (but big) things still in the dark. But we know enough to see a road to follow, and there’s still enough obscurity to let our imaginations attempt to fill in the rest. However, there is still the matter of desire and expectation. These can be our means to brave and hold on through the unknown, but also our doom, as the audience.

This episode, in particular, found quite a way to prove this statement true. Lovelies, I won’t be getting ahead of myself. In teasing, as in narrating, it’s all matter of pacing. And sometimes of stepping all over someone’s patience.

A welcome into the club

We start off this episode with our FBI friends having a toast with wine supplied from the Director’s very own cellar, which is a very COLE thing to do. This is something of an initiation for Tammy into that deeper level of discourse between Albert and GORDON. By which, we refer to the Blue Rose tier. In an amusing acknowledgment of past episodes when these two have a discreet chat, GORDON urges Albert to speak succinctly and to avoid making any loud, sharp noises. The first golden bit Albert reveals to Agent Preston is the shutting down of Project Blue Book, which essentially was a 20-year-old question of “Is it aliens?”, followed with an “Eh, probably not.” Nonetheless, there were several cases unsolvable by traditional means stemming out of that period. Hence the Blue Rose cases, coined thus after a woman’s final words

One could easily attempt paraphrasing Miguel Ferrer’s delivery via a Law and Order: Special Victims Unit-styled introduction. But that would take some of the mystique away. All in all, a special secret task force came to be in order to investigate and resolve these cases. Agent Phillip Jeffries at the lead, with Agents Chet Desmond, Albert Rosenfield, and Dale Cooper. Throughout the original seasons of Twin Peaks, and the Fire Walk With Me prequel film, all but Rosenfield have disappeared under peculiar circumstances. COLE has shown reluctance about bringing new members into the fold, but Agent Preston has proven competent to earn a spot. The character’s involvement in the novel The Secret History of Twin Peaks may well have prefaced Tammy’s recruitment into the Blue Rose Task Force.

Tamara’s joining may elicit a mixed reaction from the audience, considering Tammy has been a rather divisive character amongst the fan base. Admittedly, Chrysta Bell’s execution of surprise and honour doesn’t speak too highly of her acting skills; her body languages comes off a bit forced. Nevertheless, she’s now part of a group that dwarfs the Bookhouse Boys’ sense of unity and relevance. It’s glasses clinking and sips all around before addressing the next item. Enter Diane; a thorny rose in her own right. Her orbital involvement in the Blue Rose cases through Dale Cooper is also valuable for the matter at hand. So they propose re-deputising her as an active FBI agent for this case. Through the sheer fondness for the character, this feels as big a deal as Tammy’s recruitment.

Of course, given the doubt on Diane’s texting activities, this may rather prove an instance of that timeless adage. Keep your friends close; keep your enemies closer. Diane accepts in her very own charmingly belligerent fashion. Alas, her phrasing casts a sour edge on this mouthful of awesome. Her acceptance comes through the words “Let’s rock,” which a long time viewer will inevitably associate with The Man From Another Place, a character whose alignment and intentions stand ambiguous, at best. Whether this is a hint to a possible involvement with the uncanny darkness or just a deliberate move to throw us off, one thing is certain. It’s effective.

Proud flesh

Still, lost Jerry is always a nice way of a transitioning to Twin Peaks. His returning home arc will most likely arouse a tearful ovation when Part 18 comes around, but I digress.

We see poor Sarah Palmer at the store, stocking up on vodka and cigarettes. She doesn’t look any better than last time we saw her, back on the first episode to The Return. This is understandable, considering the way she lost her daughter and her husband. It’s almost a given that trauma, plus isolation, plus alcoholism would eventually result in a harsh outlet. In this case, an exchange between Sarah and the check-out girl over turkey jerky. Although it began awkwardly, it soon distorted into a bout of violent paranoia over the fact that she hadn’t seen the jerky before. Almost as if the slightest change in the ordinary could potentially signify a deathly menace. Judging by this scene, Sarah Palmer may have developed a grave emotional or psychological disorder.

Interestingly, some of the things she says sound like grim call backs to the imagery of the Palmers’ house in the original run. The fact that the check-out girl is probably around the same age Laura was when she was killed can’t possibly help her dull the memories, and the inextricable pain and fear. Perhaps, not even alcohol can. As means of a palate cleanser for Sarah’s despair, we get a brief moment featuring Carl being grand to one of his tenants. Even now, we still have characters to look up to, it seems. Goes to show that the theme of duality is still alive and well, even if the mundane outlook of any given day.

Later that day, Hawk goes checking up on Sarah at her house. The opening of Laura Palmer’s Theme sets the atmosphere unfailingly for the ominous, which extends to the dour photography and culminates with Sarah Palmer’s overall demeanour. We also get the spinning ceiling fans and the clattering of glass to signal that Sarah may not be alone as she says. Hawk’s usual warmth is met with coldness on Sarah’s part, who seems aware of bearing a social stigma through the tragedy that befell her family. Hawk tells her of his complete disposition to help her in any way, which we know to be sincere. In the end, she curtly thanks him and shuts the door. Thusly, Sarah Palmer returns to her dark, hopeless world, unable or unwilling to escape.

Yet her presence still does feel plagued by a harbinger of ill events to come after all this time. Even when calmer and collected (relatively), Sarah still comes off as anguish incarnate.

The polish and the edge of the horns

In spite of his rage, he’s still just a rat, though out of his cage. Although I shamelessly disrupted Billy Corgan’s metric with my reference, the line suits Richard Horne to perfection. His measures to cover his ass after running over a kid several episodes back have been brutal but unsuccessful. Prime witness Miriam survived the murder attempt at his hands. Chad sucks, so him intercepting her letter was equally ineffective. By now, it’s known to local law enforcement that Dick is a killer. Therefore, Sheriff Truman has come to inform to Ben Horne in the Great Northern Hotel. Also to request monetary aid for Miriam, who has no insurance and currently is on the brink of death. Even in Twin Peaks, insurance policies don’t give a shit, not even if someone tried to kill you.

The news doesn’t fall gracefully on Ben, but he accepts to take care of it. Hopefully, it will be the traditional sense of the expression. Ben remarks that Richard has always been a difficult one. In fact, he constantly had runs-ins with Harry Truman. I wouldn’t be surprised if the little cancer were a factor in his retiring. Important matters settled, the topic of conversation changes to Harry. Ben gives Cooper’s hotel room key to Frank so he’d send it to Harry as a memento of happier times. The Sheriff remarks on the coincidence that this key would turn up parallel to a case concerning the lost agent. After Frank leaves, Beverly offers her sympathies on this terrible news.

Ben reveals that Richard never had a father, which is closely edging to a confirmation of his possible dreaded origins. The comment then opens the floodgates of memory as Ben remembers fond times. Namely, a time when his father got him a bike. Beverly’s moved expression as she listens to Ben reviving that dear past is rather telling. Ben Horne, one of the most despicable characters in the original run has indeed turned a new leaf. He’s no longer a man rejoicing in his own perversity, but an individual with a stronger moral compass. This is all but confirmed when he has Beverly talk to the hospital to inform them that he’s covering all of Miriam’s medical expenses.

A matter of taste

Back in Buckhorn, Albert (and the audience) walk in on COLE enjoying the company of a sultry French acquaintance (Berenice Marlohe) and a bottle of wine. As a character and director, COLE seems to partake of her presence with quite a bit of joy, lending credit to Denise’s criticism. Strangely enough, Lynch’s grin looks more wickedly delighted than basely ‘hungry.’ Since this conversation with Albert will require privacy, GORDON asks his friend to leave them for a moment. So ensues one of those Lynchian humour moments as the lady takes her time to make her leave in style, testing Albert’s patience and then some. The quiet encounter of joy, sensuality, and seriousness in one setting comes off a natural stage towards what will undoubtedly be a matter of utmost importance.

When they finally get to talk, Albert shows GORDON Diane’s latest text message. There’s something related to Las Vegas, which they haven’t asked her about yet. This puzzles both fellows, but at least they have something to think on. As viewers, we know this relates to the real Dale Cooper, but piecing together the truth under full bright light always unearths something more than the evident. As if the awkward build up to this moment hadn’t outlasted the actual bit of information, we get an even more awkward silence between both men afterward, which is also longer than Albert’s actual finding. I dare anyone to keep at least a smirk at bay.

Meanwhile, Chantal and Hutch wait outside Warden Murphy’s house that night. Their intent to kill him is clear, but they’ll skip their usual procedure tonight. That is, torture and murder. And all because they’re hungry. So be it, Hutch exhibits his sharpshooting skills and takes out the Warden as soon as he steps out of his car. Murphy’s son walks out of the house to find his father dead’s body. Bad as they are, Chantal and Hutch don’t kill the child as well. They merely drive away, callously, to Wendy’s. This is probably the strangest way of product placement I’ve ever seen. Fast food for fast killers.

Long time no see

If Jerry’s saga served as a first transition back to Twin Peaks this episode, it makes sense for Dr. Jacoby to function likewise. Humour is an effective opener to drama and tragedy, after all. So, it’s time for Dr. Amp’s conspiracy show, with Nadine faithfully listening as always. Regardless of any possible degree of validity in his message, you can sort of tell how it goes. It’s nothing particularly new. And yet, this time the predictability is a device to startle as the next scene in Twin Peaks follows. We knew she was going to be in; her inclusion was actually really hyped. Yet, for a while, it seemed as if she wasn’t going to be in The Return at all as the episodes went on. You know the one I’m referring to.

Well, here she is. The fille fatale, Miss. Chaotic Good. The-should-have-been in this eyes of many. The dark horse trendsetter of eyebrows’ enthusiasts all over the world. Audrey Horne.

You’ve swooned, now be shocked. She’s in her husband Charlie’s study, urging him to go with her to the Roadhouse in search of her missing lover, Billy. This is probably not the involvement anybody expected, and I’m sure many will find this to be a turn off for the character. But much as in previous scenes, the differences in discourse don’t let you quite pry your eyes away. Charlie (Clark Middleton) can’t help her tonight as he has a lot of work to do, as you do. This elicits a most peculiar response from Audrey – a string of profanity that would make Diane blush. Furthermore, she openly admits to her husband that she has feelings for and intercourse with Billy, with the inevitable and possibly intended purpose of demeaning Charlie. That’s cold, Audrey.

At the threat of her going back on a contract they signed, Charlie agrees to accompany his wife. Before they do make their way, Charlie suggests calling Tina, a person Audrey hates but is supposedly the last person to see Billy in two days. As this soap opera screamfest goes on, a viewer may reasonably ask, what is going on here? In fact, I’d say this scene is at least as confusing as the actual first episode of The Return. And depending on who you ask, this may be actually brilliant, as another way to turn the audience’s accrued expectations and turn them against the audience. This is really just a fancy way of saying, we’ve been trolled.

There’s also no mention of either Coop or Dick, which doesn’t discard the possibilities of a link to her ‘arc.’ But for her debut, it certainly is a letdown.

However, there is something there in terms of story, regarding a stolen truck. If we recall a few episodes ago, there was somebody talking to Deputy Andy on a stolen truck, which was used by a certain someone. I’m talking about the truck used by Richard Horne to visit Red and to kill a child on the way back. This is mere conjecture but may as well be the only link to grand scheme relevance in this scene. We only hear Charlie’s part in this phone call, but it hints at some grave event, which brews an anxious response from Audrey as the call goes on. In the end, Audrey at the end of her patience, demands to know what Tina said. Charlie says nothing. Not even a blink, much to her frustration.

Unless one is too busy feeling outraged (I wouldn’t blame them, though), this proves an amusing as bewildering anti-climax.

Bringing an end to the episode, we drastically shoot to the other end of the spectrum with Diane at the hotel’s bar. Briefly, she gets a flashback to the last episode when she had a long look at the picture Albert took of Ruth Davenport’s arm. Restless, she uses her cellphone to look at the site indicated by those coordinates, which she appears to have memorised. To the surprise of nobody, the coordinates point to the town we all yearned for. Twin Peaks. It’s a fact that the big players will be returning to where it all started for the endgame. And dear, oh dear, it’s drawing near with only six more episodes to go. The sensation of seeing the resolution closing in is bittersweet overall.

Tonight, at the Roadhouse, Chromatics take the stage one more time with “Saturday.” Meanwhile, two friends, Natalie (Ana de la Reguera) and Abbie (Elizabeth Anweis) have a chat over beers. They’re concerned about one their friends who is in too deep about someone. It happens, and we know how closely it can spell disaster. Another friend (Scott Coffey) arrives to meet up with them at the bar, late as hell, but with justification. A reckless driver ran him off the road. Safe to say, Trick needs a beer; and where you’re at the Roadhouse, whatever your mood, it’s probably a good idea to have one.

These closing sequences may feel trivial, but that might just be the intent. As a whole, this episode wasn’t so much content as it was execution. There was considerably less in the way of eventful scenes. Still, you need not be linked to the horror and the mysteries to partake of the communion at the end of each episode. We know it’s hard enough to live as a regular-ass mortal anyway. Mundane does not equal irrelevant. In the end, we all should be having a good time at some Roadhouse, as the concept construed by the series. Night, night, lovelies.

Oh, by the way. Coop and Sonny Jim played awkward catch. It went about as well as you’d imagine.


Twin Peaks: The Return – Part 12 Credits

Directed by David Lynch

Written by Mark Frost and David Lynch

All images are courtesy of Showtime



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