Saturday, July 13, 2024

The Boundaries Between Worlds Flicker in Twin Peaks

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Eventful episode today, lovelies. I don’t want to rush ahead, but I will say something overall about this episode. There is nothing mundane or normal about this one. In retrospect, this will probably end up a particularly strong highlight of The Return. Let’s get to it.

A dotted line

This day in Buckhorn, South Dakota, Director GORDON COLE is returning a call to Twin Peaks, specifically to the local Sheriff’s Department. In a moment both amusing and endearing, COLE instantly recognizes Lucy by her sweet, silly voice; Lucy also quickly recognizes the Director by his sheer loudness. Following an awkward silence, Lucy patches COLE through to the new sheriff, Frank Truman. COLE’s surprise at learning about the new sheriff in town, as well as Harry’s illness, are a confirmation that the Director hasn’t been in contact with this sleepy little town in over 20 years. There’s no time for pleasant catching up, though, Sheriff Truman has information for COLE.

The recent discovery of missing pages from Laura Palmer’s diary hints at the existence of two Coopers. Frank deems this information relevant for the FBI Regional Director, which COLE appreciates. GORDON bids the Truman Brothers their best and the call ends, with some food for thought on the FBI side of the narrative. While COLE is left to connect a few dots on his own, Albert relays some of the task force’s history on Tammy, the case that started it all back in 1975. “I’m like the Blue Rose” were the words uttered by a suspect named Lois Duffy, which would eventually christen this special team. This case also involved the presence of a double, and a disappearance occurring in plain sight of two young officers: Gordon Cole and Phillip Jeffries.

The rest, as you say, is history, loud, stylish history. Albert uses this first history lesson as something of a test for the newcomer, which Tammy successfully passes. In walks GORDON to call a break as they wait for Diane, who arrives shortly after. She reveals that Coopelganger mentioned Major Garland Briggs on the harrowing night she saw him last. This leads Albert to let her in on the nuances of their investigation in Buckhorn regarding the major’s remains. As we may remember, Dr. Talbot found Dougie Jones’ wedding ring inside the body. That’s when Diane drops the bombshell that Janey-E is her half-sister. They haven’t talked in a while, as Diane hates her (WHY, DIANE?). But last she’s known, Jane and her husband—unbeknownst to them, the real Cooper—live in Las Vegas.

The years of distance between the two may be the reason Diane doesn’t know ‘Dougie’. But she’s bound to find out.

The FBI fellows waste no time calling the Las Vegas branch. Although GORDON is known across the FBI by his status, the echo of his persona may not have reached the same lengths. So, with a brief sprite of humor, the Vegas’ folks are unprepared for COLE’s large voice as he requests the totality of the available information on the Joneses. After the call, Special Agent Randall Headley (Jay R. Ferguson) proves to be a bit of a character himself. He furiously yells at Agent Wilson (Owain-Rhys Davies) after he asks something of a stupid question. It seems by now that people in the bureau (in the Twin Peaks-verse, anyway) are prone to have a few quirks.

Surreal new wave

After Diane leaves, COLE tells Albert and Tammy of his call to Twin Peaks, Laura Palmer’s diary, and the two Coopers. He then mentions a dream he had last night, another Monica Bellucci dream.

Before getting into the dream proper, there are few things to remark upon. First, it’s refreshing to acknowledge the presence of a celebrity as such in-universe. Second, it’s probably no surprise he dreamed of her, considering she’s basically planet Earth’s and its inhabitants’ crush. Third, her inclusion may be a spiritual reprisal of David Lynch kissing Mâdchen Amick back in Season 2, though Monica’s presence here is nowhere near as intimate. Fourth, this dream sequence isn’t just a liberty for the sake of a crush.

And now, cue ominous music, and Tammy and Albert’s undecipherable expressions as COLE begins to describe his dream.

COLE was in Paris on a case. Monica called him, asking him to meet her at a cafè. The scene is appropriately black and white ala Truffaut and Godard. Cooper was also at the cafè, though he couldn’t see his face. COLE, Monica, and her friends enjoyed a fine cup of coffee. She then says a most peculiar phrase, “We are like the dreamer, who dreams and then lives inside the dream.”

At first this appears as a self-referential comment on the nature of the series and its reception. We have walked into this mystique of Twin Peaks and basically ended up living in it, as it permeated the aesthetics of pop culture. However, Monica adds something to the phrase, something that yokes us into considering further relevance in her words.

“But who is the dreamer?” The powerful uneasy feeling COLE experiences takes away from the interpretation of this line as a meta-reference to the series’ creators. Instead, it pulls us back into the theme of an altered or broken reality.

Having said this, she signals COLE to look behind him. As he does, he sees that one-scene wonder from Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me in the Philadelphia offices. Therefore, we know what’s coming: Special Agent Phillip Jeffries’ mysterious ‘reappearance’.

That’s David Bowie alright, but they appeared to have redubbed his “Who do you think that is there?” line (my first real issue with The Return to be honest, but there might be some legal factors involved, who knows). Jeffries’ accusing pointing at Cooper comes back to haunt us, as well as COLE and Albert, who witnessed this but appeared to somehow have forgotten. Nevertheless, the dream appears to revive the memory, yielding a banquet for thought.

Somewhere past Jack Rabbit’s Palace

Today is excursion day in the Twin Peaks’ Sheriff’s Department, hooray! Sheriff Truman casually walks Chad into the conference room, where the rest of the Deputies meet to get their things ready. Yet as soon as Chad walks in, all guns are on him, hooray! He is under arrest, for many possible reasons, but hooray! Andy and Bobby take him downstairs to a cell while Chad spouts threats and whatnot. This is a lovely measure of comeuppance, but we’ve yet to know if there is any bite behind the bark. Underestimating a pawn is not the wisest thing in the long game.

A strange misty wind blows over the forest as the boys get off the van to start their journey in a lonesome forest road. The sound of electricity crackling reminds us of the perils that may await them further in. Bobby takes the lead on their way to that place from his childhood: Jack Rabbit’s Palace.

Beyond these flickers of warning, the overall scene is pretty serene in a quietly majestic way. (That’s the magic of the forest; everyone should walk through one every now and then.) Major Briggs had a listening post in these woods, but Bobby has only vague childhood memories of it. That place is gone, but the relevant location stands just as he remembered it. There is an appropriate degree of childhood fondness manifesting here, which placed the focus where intended, rather than saturating the scene with sweetness.

Indeed, the peculiar tree formation of this place has a castle-like look to it. In fact, it somewhat resembles the outside of the Fortress where ??????? beheld BOB’s birth and ‘fathered’ Laura Palmer. However, this place is only a landmark, not the destination proper. As per the Major’s instructions, they put soil from this piece of land in their pockets and go on their way. The ambience grows foreboding as they penetrate further into the woods, eventually finding their destination in a strange cloud of pale smoke. In the centre of it all, they find someone familiar to the viewer, nude and confused on the ground. It is the Eyeless Woman, Naido (Nae Yuuki). The aesthetic Lynchpins intensify, as well as the breathing and pulses of the Sheriff and Deputies.

The Magician longs to see…

The hour is exactly 2:53, as indicated in Major Briggs’ instructions. Before their eyes, a portal forms above their heads, somewhat similar to the one COLE saw leading into the realm of the Woodsmen. Andy, the loveable doofus who was trying to help the woman is plucked out of the scene, transported into a world in black and white—the inside of the Fortress.

There, he meets ???????, who properly introduces himself as the Fireman. A fitting name considering the Promethean traits of this tall character. In this uncanny place, the Fireman shows him visions of the events past. BOB’s origin, the Woodsmen, Laura Palmer’s death, the two Coopers, and an eclectic post numbered 6. As sudden as he arrived, he returns to the forest with a flicker.

Before going any further, we should note that it was Andy in particular who ‘crossed over’ to the other side. This is not only a lovely ‘prize’ for a harmlessly ridiculed character, but a nod to the chance that he accessed the White Lodge proper. Though other characters are more ‘apt’, whether by heritage or competence, it was probably Andy’s purity what singled him out as ‘the chosen one’. This is going off the assumption that the White Lodge can only be accessed with a certain state of mind, mirroring Cooper and Windom’s entrance to the Black Lodge in the Season 2 finale.

In the meantime, his concerned friends waited around Jack Rabbit’s Palace. He shows up with Naido in his arms and a look of serene competence in his eyes. As a receiver of wisdom, he tells the Sheriff and the Deputies that this woman needs protection. There are people who want her dead.

They leave, agreeing to keep this event a secret. It shouldn’t be difficult, as with the exception of Andy, nobody remembers what happened. They know something did happen, however. Judging by this event and COLE’s dream about Jeffries’ brief resurfacing, we may conclude that the ‘otherside’ has a way of messing with your memories.

That night, Lucy and Andy shelter Naido down in the cells where she’ll be safest. Trying to give her the most comfort possible, they dress her up in one of Lucy’s pink fluffy bathrobes. Meanwhile, Chad insults Andy from his cell, because he’s Chad and he’s scum. Amusingly, a strange man with a mangled face mocks everything he hears, including Chad’s snide remarks and Naido’s uncanny, restless ‘utterings’. This guarantees Chad will spend a not very pleasant night, making everybody a winner.

Now, there are a few things of relevance to comment on. The first is Andy’s development. Though The Return shows him to be a more competent officer than back in the original run, he now exhibits an astounding fortitude of character that doesn’t dull the good at his core. Good on you, Andy!

Second is mere speculation, but it’s a theory I share with several viewers. Across the seasons, MIKE’s poem has gradually proven true, particularly on the subject of duality between worlds, and the dwellers of the Black Lodge. However, the meaning of the opening lines—“Through the darkness of future’s past / the magician longs to see”—has been unclear, perhaps until now. Broken temporality has been a dominant theme in The Return, as the progression of events regarding the otherside strays further away from linearity. Jeffries’ accusation and Major Briggs’ apparent clairvoyance are the most evident allusion.

But regarding the Magician, this may be very well be Naido herself. Being eyeless, she certainly longs to see, but there’s also her importance as someone in danger from an outside menace. It hints at some manner of innocence or embryonic potential, which could fall in line with one interpretation of The Magician in the tarot deck. The name Naido may also refer to the notion of walking a path of inner teachings, nurtured by righteousness and nature. Both Lynch and Frost are known to have studied Buddhism and Shintoism, so the latter reasoning is rather plausible. Still, this really is all conjecture. Moving on.


That night, we learn that local dreamy-boy-Messiah-snatcher-of-hearts-throbbing-dick-Jeff-Buckley’s-Second-Coming James Hurley works as security guard for the Great Northern Hotel. He and another guard talk about going to the Roadhouse later on, probably to see Renee, whom James may want to make cry in some other tasty ways. She’s married, though, which suggests the possibility that James learned nothing from his abysmal trajectory in Season 2. Today also happens to be James’ birthday, so hooray?

On to more interesting matters, his English co-worker Freddie (Jake Wardle) wears a glove which grants him super strength on his right hand, as you do. He also can’t remove it, no matter how hard he tries. When James convinces him to tell him how he obtained this glove, Freddie tells him the story, certain he won’t believe it.

After a night at the pub, he found himself sucked into a portal. There, he met the Fireman, who instructed Freddie to buy one particular, incomplete set of gardening gloves in one particular hardware store. So he did just that, after a nice Beatles’ reference. (You can’t go wrong with those, and if you do, it’s still right.) Things turned out just as the Fireman had told him, and he even got to test the glove out during an incident with the hardware store’s salesperson. Afterwards, he remembered something else the Fireman told him.

His next step was to move to Twin Peaks, for there he would find his destiny. He didn’t even need to buy a ticket, as the airport folks told him he already had one. And like the strapping young lad he is, he hopped on that plane, in search of his destiny. Cue deep heartfelt inhaling.

Afterwards, James goes back indoors to check the furnaces. The ambience takes a turn for the ominous in the furnace room. The place looks like a perfect setting for a slasher film, really. And the fact that James is following a strange rumbling noise is rather unsettling. This may just be the noise Ben Horne and Beverly had been tracking at several points in the season. The slightly romantic and platonic dynamic between him and Freddie means nothing down here.

Down here, the sound is just a beckon in the dark.

Death’s grin

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Sarah Palmer walks into a bar and… well, I can’t honestly can’t possibly sell this as a joke. So far, Sarah Palmer has appeared at least severely depressed. Yet The Return keeps hinting at something being ‘off’ about her. There is more to her current state than alcoholism, we think; this moment confirms it. Sarah sits at the bar and orders a drink; nothing out of the ordinary there. Unfortunately, something else that’s far too common is harassment from some asshole. Enter the ultimate drunk, greasy trucker with no respect for personal space. She asks to be left alone, but this sack of meat won’t return to his stool.

So, as these blighters often do, he resorts to insults when his advances aren’t welcome. Sexual violence is sexual violence, even when only verbal, so as viewers, we already wish horrible things upon this guy. And he does reap what he sows, first with a spook. Sarah turns to him and literally removes her face, revealing a hollow behind and a nightmarish inhuman grin.

Once her face is back on, Sarah lunges forward and bites his trachea out, munch munch, causing him to die unmourned and unloved. Immediately after, Sarah screams in horror at seeing the man’s body lying on the bar’s floor. For a moment, she legitimately doesn’t look like she’s aware that she did this. But a sudden change in her voice and demeanor signals the possibility that another consciousness is inhabiting her body.

Mark this as a particularly gruesome example of Lynchean visual horror.

The episode ends in the mostly consistent fashion, with a night at the Roadhouse. Megan (Shane Lynch) and Sophie (Emily Stofle) have a talk over a beer. There’s no musical performance at the moment, and the ambience at the table is kind of dour. It’s no wonder as they’re discussing Billy, who is still missing. Megan was the last person to see him, apparently, and the picture she describes is pretty wild. Gushing blood on his nose and mouth, he ran around her house like a madman and left after washing the red away.

Also, turns out Megan is Tina’s daughter, and Tina appears to have been involved with Billy lately. Interestingly, she seemed to be rather besotted with Billy, which doesn’t sound all that different from Audrey’s feelings.

This begs the question: who the hell is Billy? Could he be not actually human? Perhaps we’ll find out. For now, we wash the blood away with he MC’s introduction of Lissie, tonight performing “Wild West“. Fell free to dance along; it’s a strong musical performance for a strong episode.

Stay tuned, lovelies. With only four parts to go, the tempo won’t be getting dull anytime soon.

Twin Peaks: The Return – Part 14 Credits
Directed by David Lynch
Written by Mark Frost and David Lynch

Images Courtesy of Showtime

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