Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Evil Walks Free in Twin Peaks

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I’ll call this one a crowd pleaser. The narrative in this episode is fairly straightforward, but also highly suggestive, as we’ll see shortly. There is plenty of fleshing out for characters and a dash of both classic and new aesthetics. Even if the revival has been consistently good (in the eyes of many with open mind and heart, anyway), I could think of little to complain about, even from the perspective of nostalgia or casual viewing. However, this is still not a sunny narrative. Even though there are some warm and bright moments, this may be the darkest episode so far.

The town and the past stir

Today, we start the episode off in Twin Peaks. Jerry wakes up alone in the middle of the forest, as you do. One may theorise that this is the consequence of watching Dr. Amp’s show for extended periods of time, followed by dreams of golden shovels and shit. His ensuing call to his brother Ben reveals two things; someone may have stolen his car, and he’s perhaps so high that he doesn’t know where he is. His brother is visibly concerned, but he may also be at the end of his patience. This is quite a stark contrast to their days of yore. This Jerry is no longer the chipper food expert, full of charm and wit. This may be a tradeoff to abandoning old perversions. Or maybe old demeanours become tempered or dulled with maturity, relatively speaking. Time can work a new sense into characters and actions.

In just such a manner, we’ll observe Hawk’s discovery at the Sheriff’s Department. The passing of events has made Laura Palmer’s torment allusive to all of the town and beyond. These three lost pages from her secret diary no longer only regard her deeply troubled life. In fact, they detail the dream she had in Fire Walk With Me, wherein Annie Blackburn told her about Cooper being trapped in the Black Lodge. Hawk recounts the events of Season 2’s finale, relating them to Laura’s dream. Together, Sheriff and Deputy work out the truth: it wasn’t the good Coop who came out of the Black Lodge. Frank decides to call his brother Harry to let him know, but gets some distressing news. Harry’s illness is worse than we thought; he may have cancer. If this isn’t a punch to heart, I don’t know what is.

It’s time to keep ourselves together and for a Skype call. Because now we’re starting to bridge the events between this and the last season. Dr. Hayward was the only other person aside from Harry to see ‘Coop’ after he came out of the Black Lodge. He still remembers that day; Cooper’s strange conduct, and how he sneaked out of ICU. Dr. Hayward thinks he might have looked at Audrey Horne, who was in a coma after the explosion at the bank. This is highly troubling, considering the things we know about the bad Cooper. Several theories have originated from this brief exchange. Some are especially grim, suggesting ‘Coop’ may have raped Audrey, which is plausible given BOB’s possession of Leland Palmer.

Little by little, the horror of old wounds is being shaken awake. And time can never dull out the impression. On another side of things, it’s heartwarming to see the Doc once more. Although, this is one of the actor’s final appearances, as Warren Frost passed away earlier this year.

Off the record

Lieutenant Knox arrives at the Buckhorn Police Department to have a word with Detective Mackley. This concerns the set of fingerprints belonging to Major Briggs. The Lieutenant arrived expecting that the set had come up on a crime scene; but she didn’t expect that, in this occasion, they came from a body. Dr. Talbot shows her the headless body and relays the basic forensic information about this ‘John Doe’. Lt. Knox takes this all in with absolute disbelief and calls her superior out in the hall. Colonel Davis also finds this very strange, but there is something else. The body is the wrong age; in its’ forties, as opposed to its seventies. Something is seriously wrong here, which means Colonel Davis has to make another call.

As if this affair wasn’t already smelling heavily of Blue Rose, a strange figure roams the Department’s hallway. Lt. Knox catches sight of the soot-coloured ‘woodsman’ we saw inside of a cell, back in Episode 2. She quickly returns to the morgue to tell the Detective and the Doctor that nobody else can have any access to the body. Their investigation will soon be transferred, possibly to the FBI. At this point, one can only wonder how does the other victim in the murder, Ruth Davenport, fit in all of this. And what role did Bill Hastings play also? Mr. C seems to be the crux that unites all of these bloody vectors together. But all of it must have an ultimate payoff.

And, speaking of the FBI, let’s go have a look at them jolly people, shall we?. Director COLE is chilling in his office, as the most serene of humans do. Agent Rosenfield comes in to tell him about whether or not he convinced Diane to see ‘Cooper’. Thinking Albert’s visit may be about Cooper at first sight, she strongly refused to become involved. COLE thus decides to have a try at convincing Diane. The increasingly dark implications about post-Black Lodge ‘Cooper’ paint a disturbing shade to Diane’s refusal. This is especially true if you adhere to the comatose Audrey theory above. But in sole terms of plausibility and character delivery, ‘Cooper’ raping Diane is more than a possibility.

A special kind of evil

GORDON and Albert pay her a visit to her apartment. And she’s not entirely pleased to see either, to say the least. GORDON takes no offence to her profanity, however, and tells her that ‘Cooper’ is in a prison in South Dakota. Diane seems rather satisfied at hearing this. In fact, she shows a stoically better disposition from this point forward. When asked on what precisely do they want, the Director and the Agent tell her that they need somebody who knew Cooper extremely well to have a talk with him. It’s a simple procedure to try and decode a dreadful complex situation. In the end, Diane agrees to do this, as so, GORDON, Albert, Tammy and Diane fly to South Dakota.

On the way,Tammy, who has been hard at work throughout the journey, has found that ‘Cooper’s’ fingerprints are inverted, perhaps a consequence of being a doppelganger. But they don’t really know that this is a doppelganger yet. The discussion around Cooper ensues. However, just hearing about him looks to be more than taxing for Diane at this stage. The buildup on the prison’s halls is increasing in tension at every step as it’s virtually a rape victim walking back into the maws of their offender. This is a very real kind of horror that hardly needs any kind of enhancement via ambience. But as soon as Diane enters the room to talk with Cooper behind a window, it’s an entirely different world.

The physical, mundane darkness of the room alone is a fitting representation of Diane returning to that despicable moment, where the name Cooper became a word fouler than any profanity. ‘Cooper’s’ calm stance. immutable expression and his cold, deepened voice effectively portray him as a different individual than the Cooper everybody knew. Through the following exchange, it’s all but outright said that ‘Cooper’ raped Diane. She only identifies him as her attacker through his acknowledging of the event. Otherwise, she can tell it’s not the man she knew. She ends the interview abruptly and walks out, extremely affected. Outside, Diane tells Gordon that she knows deep within that he is not Cooper. It’s not that he’s changed, it’s that he is literally not Dale Cooper.

It’s no wonder that Laura Dern is a favourite of the director. The character’s physical styling is memorable. But more than that, Laura Dern’s Diane constantly radiates with pain. Her constant “fuck you”s to everybody vary in tone and intent. Whereas sometimes it’s a hostile reproach, other times it’s almost endearing. But the latter sense never distracts from the former. Not even for a second. And therein lies the core dynamic of the series: the evil that men do can never be ignored.

Foreboding messages

After such a tense sequence, we return to Twin Peaks. However, the atmosphere doesn’t let up as we hear the ominous opening chords of “Laura Palmer’s theme”. Earlier in the episode, Andy was talking to a trucker about a traffic accident, which involved his vehicle although he wasn’t driving it. The trucker urged Andy to meet him elsewhere to talk about it. Of course, this is about the incident of Richard Horne running over a child last episode. That alone requires looking into, but the restless demeanour of the vehicle’s actual owner hints at something else at play. While Andy waits at the agreed meeting place, we get a slow take at the outside of the trucker’s house. The door is ajar and it’s completely dark inside. The show has been ruthless so far with characters we hold dear. Could Andy be in danger?

Meanwhile, Mr. C told a guard to send a message to the Warden about a strawberry. This alludes back to Episode 5. The Warden agrees to have an audience with this strange prisoner. The Warden has turned off all the cameras in his office so as to keep this conversation private. This also affords him the liberty of pulling out a gun. Despite this apparent advantage, it’s ‘Cooper’ who holds all the cards. He has information regarding a Mr. Strawberry and a Joe McCluskey. Mr. C’s speech is particularly cryptic but it adds to the worth of this information and the leverage it has. Suffice to say, it’s enough to make the Warden disobey the FBI’s order and release both ‘Cooper’ and Ray Monroe, who doesn’t know yet that Mr. C murdered Darya.

The tenacious audacity of the Joneses

We’ve talked much about ‘Cooper’. It’s probably time we had a look at the actual Coop. He’s hard at work in his office, possibly. The day seems to go more or less smoothly until he receives a visit from the police, as you do. Given the shadiness of the narrative, there are several reasons to a word with the police, but this one concerns his car. Janey-E walks into his office as well, as she comes to pick him up. Here we get the first funny-ish of the entire episode, as miscommunication has the police believe his car was stolen. Janey-E does most of the talk here, being the most competent person in the room, especially the police who delayed long enough to tell them that ‘Dougie’s’ car was found destroyed in an explosion.

At the end of it, Janey-E’s bold panache gets the cops to fuck off and Bushnell to decide talking to Dougie about the case files on some other occasion. As Janey-E leads him out, she tells him about recent events concerning her taking care of his gambling debt (with Godlike panache) and how they should be very wise with the money they have. It is all for Sonny Jim and their future as a family; sage words that ‘Dougie’ may not currently be taking in. But for all the unfortunate ineptitude Coop has shown so far, he is about to make up for it in spades, as- OH NO MR. SPIKE. The hitman that killed Lorraine last episode has come for him, with a gun. He doesn’t have his theme from last episode, though, and that makes me sad.

Regardless, Cooper disarms him instantly and swiftly, which we’d think impossible for him in this state. The only time we see any intervention or hint from the Black Lodge is when the new form of the Man from Another Place shows up to tell him how to dispatch the Spike. However, Cooper opts to strike the Spike in the throat, prompting the wee assassin to run away. Janey-E, who did not cower for even the slightest moment, hugs her ‘husband’, which is sweet as she proves time after time that she has her head and heart in the right places. Of note in this triumphant moment is that Cooper showed real agency in choosing how to get rid of the assailant. Step by step, we get the possibility of recovery, but this was a leap.

Later on, the police interview both the Joneses and witnesses. There is some deserved praise for ‘Dougie’s’ sweet moves, but there’s also a testimony from a kid – that the hitman smelled curious. This, compounded with the Arm’s instructions and burned flesh around the gun’s handle, hints something otherworldly about the Spike. One thing is for certain, he may return… Yes, there’s certainty that something may happen. It probably will, a bent ice peak didn’t stop THE SPIKE.

An echo of an age past

It’s night in Twin Peaks and we get a look at a scene that we’ve long missed on this revival. The Great Northern Hotel at night, where Norwegians party and Giants appear. Ben is talking with Beverly about a strange sound in his office. As they attempt to pinpoint the location of the sound, Beverly remarks that a key from the hotel has arrived in the mail. Ben is surprised and amused, as they changed from keys to cards. He reads the number on the key: Room 315. And then it hits him. He reflects that it was the room where Agent Dale Cooper stayed at, and where he was shot, over 20 years ago. Beverly never knew about any of this dark story, but Ben simply tells her that it’s a long story. If only she knew.

They never did find the source of the sound. but it appears that Beverly may harbour some interest in her boss. If one was wondering if Ben’s old vices are truly gone and overcome, this scene tells that at the very least, he’s consciously staying away from them. All said and done, Ben exits the scene, particularly pensive. However, the audience can hear the sound they’ve been tracking. The camera leads to a corner in the office, behind the lamp. But we can see no more. A seasoned viewer may think of the secret passageways Audrey used to spy on her father. or perhaps of Josie’s spirit who was bound to the hotel after her death. Only time will tell. As for Beverly, she returns home to her husband, Tom (Hugh Dillon). He is terminally ill, and their marriage doesn’t seem to be doing too well either.

Tonight at the Roadhouse, there is no live performance. (I’ve called it the Bang Bang Bar because of the deliberate lost sense of familiarity. Methinks, we may start doing it right soon. Place is feeling like home more and more) Rather, we arrived a little late and now it’s closing time. The bartender, Jean-Michel Renault, looks identical to his late relative Jacques as they’re played by the same actor. Much like his greasy shyster of an unspecified relative, Jean-Michel also deals with shady businesses regarding sex workers, as we can see by a call he receives. Disgraceful, and it seems it runs in the family.

We bring this episode to an end with a menacing tone. Mr. C is released, along with his associate, Ray Monroe. Meanwhile, a strange wind howls in the woods surrounding Twin Peaks. The dreadful atmosphere affects even the idyllic scene of a busy night at the full Double R Diner. And only the viewer knows about it. Stay tuned, lovelies.

Directed by David Lynch
Written by Mark Frost and David Lynch
In loving memory of Warren Frost, passed away on February 17, 2017. 
All images are courtesy of Showtime

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