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Fear and Loathing in Twin Peaks

Season 3, and Seasons 1 and 2 put together are like two very different worlds. In the first seasons, we had a narrative full of mystery, pathos, and quirks. But whereas this revival has the mystery in common with its preceding seasons, the delivery is much different. The stylistic contrast is not for everybody, but those with an open mind will most likely reap a gorgeous experience. My membership in one particular shitposting (or logposting) group on Facebook has revealed an unpleasant side to the contrast. For every bunch of funnies, you’ll see one individual who is disenchanted with the series’ revival. We discussed one such gripe from last episode; the point is there’s still some heavy yearning for the accustomed Twin Peaks‘ style, themes and motifs.

And this leads to the brewing pot on our hands. There are two components; one is the batch of new characters, circumstances, and enigmas, the other is the necessary diegetic follow-up to the events from classic Twin Peaks. Both components are going together into this pot, as the FBI begins to bridge the obscurity caused by Cooper’s long involuntary stay in the Black Lodge. This will inevitably lead to the trail of death Cooper’s doppelganger has left in his path, and thus, to the new darkness.

Crime and Punishment

Tonight, we start off in Las Vegas, home to slot machines and one Dougie Jones, who is not really Dougie Jones. A woman called Lorraine (Tammie Baird) is on the phone with the shady pair that attempted to take ‘Dougie’ out in Episode 3. She’s terribly worried about the job these two are supposed to do. Looking at the scene from her perspective, it seems like she’s fearfully operating under somebody else’s command. A wild guess is that she’s working for or involved with Mr. C, much the same as Darya before her death. She then appears to make a call to Argentina, which is a direct link to Agent Jeffries in Fire Walk With Me. Little by little, we get more information about Phillip Jeffries’ affairs, but our comprehension is no clearer. The call triggers a beep on a device located in some unknown location.

Meanwhile, in Buckhorn, we get some explicit gore in the aftermath of Forensic Doctor Talbot’s work on John Doe’s headless body. Her jokes fall flat on Detectives Macklay and Harrison (Bailey Chase) but we rather appreciate them. She has some new information regarding the body; she found a wedding ring inside his stomach. The ring belongs to Dougie. No doubt the Jones household will get a visit from the police soon enough, which is poor timing considering Dougie is no more. This apart from the fact that the man they’ll have a word with is not in his best capabilities, which may put him under greater suspicion. But speaking of fellows who bear Cooper’s likeness but not his purity, let’s see how Mr. C is enjoying the South Dakota Penitentiary System.

He’s not actually that troubled by it. As he takes a look at his reflection on his cell’s mirror, he gets a flashback to Season 2. More accurately, he brings up the moment he came to be, when Coop entered the Black Lodge, and the infamous “How’s Annie?” mirror smash. These memories cause no change in his expression. Instead, his face begins to morph into a disturbing likeness of BOB, who is inside the doppelganger as a separate entity. So, it’s twofold the evil. However, unlike BOB’s possession of Leland Palmer, Mr. C is his own ‘person’. This bears the disturbing implication that Mr. C is so cold and ruthless that the demon’s wildness is dwarfed by the doppelganger.

Awful, Awful Mundanity

And now, to a far lesser evil, and another echo from the past. It seems that Mike Nelson, lowercase teenage scumbag, has done pretty well for himself. He’s now in a position of authority in some company, and he just looked at the resume and application of one Steven Burnett (Caleb Landry Jones). His delivery is not the most pleasant, but his brusque advice is sound for any applicant for a job. In an ironic twist, he is now the one calling Steven an asshole as the latter storms out of the office. In this instance, Mike’s involvement was as relevant as it was 25 years ago: hardly at all. However, we may see Steven around.

At Twin Peaks’ Sheriff’s Department, Sheriff Truman receives a visit from his wife Doris (Candy Clark). She is also not the most pleasant, though her complains to her husband are not without reason. This looks to be a long-time marriage where communication has weathered a bit. Again, this scene appears to serve little purpose but to introduce a new character, which may or not have greater relevance than apparent. We can follow the same coherence to the Double R Diner, where Norma and Shelly work to this very day. Enter Shelly’s daughter Becky (Amanda Seyfried). She is in need of money, as her husband – the Steven guy – failed to land a job.

In light of trouble and necessity, the mother-daughter relationship looks sincere and healthy. However, as Becky leaves with her husband in his ultra-douchey car, it becomes clear that neither Shelly nor Norma trust him, or harbor much confidence about Becky’s situation. Considering their involvement with Leo and Hank, respectively, they fear Becky may be going down the same path. They’re right to fear, as Steven has a cocaine habit – and Becky does as well. The lesser evil here is that Steven doesn’t look to be malicious or abusive like Leo and Hank were. Therefore, in spite of their economics, Becky has a safer role in her marriage than either Shelly or Norma. All in all, it’s a bittersweet relationship at best.

The First Day

Let’s look at Dougie, Janey-E, and Sonny Jim – which will be my firstborn’s name someday. It’s a day like any other for the Joneses, considering they now have $425,ooo in their savings. Not much has changed regarding Coop. Dougie’s clothes hang as loose on him as does his role as a family man. However, fatherly love doesn’t look that foreign to him, even now. Cue some new melodic material by Angelo Badalamenti as a sweet, almost sad, tune fills the ambience with a feeling Cooper conveys through a tear when he looks at Sonny Jim. This is the very first time in all of Twin Peaks that we’ve seen our Agent crying. The momentousness goes entirely disregarded by ‘his’ wife, as she simply finds it weird. Much to her displeasure, they can’t go about their day as usual, as ‘Dougie’ has lost his car.

Little does she know, his car is back at Jade’s. Janey-E already knows about her husband’s gambling, but she may not know he has also employed the services of a sex worker. She probably also doesn’t know about other shady stuff Cooper’s other less malign doppelganger has done. For, not only is the shady pair of thugs driving about the vicinity of Dougie’s car, but another pack in a black car is also on the lookout. So, the disgruntled wife drives him to his job at Lucky 7 Insurance, as you do. Coop is still clueless and disoriented in this environment, but the auspicious arrival of a co-worker on a coffee run serves as a guiding light. The smell of coffee brings safety and peace to an addled mind, even inside of those stupid-ass paper cups. But will the power of coffee get him through the day?

At work, he stands out from his peers, for obvious reasons –  his wardrobe, but he also manages to weird everyone out. There is also a peculiar development to unfold. Much as how he could ‘see’ the winning slot machines, he can ‘see’ when his peers lie. And he even says it. But in the cutthroat insurance business, truth can be a risk. This earns him a reprimand from his boss, who coincidentally drops the words ‘agent’ and ‘cases’. These words certainly rattle his thoughts, as he processes them and what they mean in relation to him. Progress may seem small, but it’s monumental next to the fact that may have jeopardised his job. He also got a nice gesture from a lovely co-worker, which is nice. And that was Coop’s first day at Dougie’s work; almost disastrous, but not quite.

Dreadful side effects

Coop’s had to take on the responsibilities of Dougie. But now somebody has to take responsibility for Coop’s lucky streak at the casino. Enter the Mitchums (Robert Knepper and Jim Belushi) to rough up the casino’s executive for the amount Coop won. As a consolation price, he is also fired, which is better than being murdered right there and then. Now, this dreadful duo has their eyes on Coop’s unassuming back. As if this pair wasn’t enough, Dougie’s car is still under surveillance. A boy living across the street notices something peculiar about the car, so he goes out to take a look. Soon after, the shady pack on the black car arrive to steal the vehicle. This triggers a bomb in the car, which kills several of the miscreants. Somebody really wants Dougie dead.

The kid’s okay, though. His mother can’t be bothered to give more than a few fucks, as she just woke up from her drug-induced sleep. A child could do with a better influence; say, someone like Jade – whom I’ll name my firstborn after, if she’s a girl. Jade has quickly become a fan favourite, and it’s a joy to see her again. Her appearance is brief, though. As a fond reminder of Dougie, the man at the car wash finds the Great Northern Hotel key Cooper had on him when he returned to the world outside of the Black Lodge. Jade takes this key and puts it in a mailbox to be returned to that property. This goes to show it takes only  a moment to be a responsible human being.

The Digging

The feel of Twin Peaks, as a town, hasn’t appealed much to nostalgia. Instead, it has taken to observe the classic characters under a new light. But as we’ve seen, modernity can sometimes suit places and characters ill. The best example of this is Deputy Chad, who proves to be one of the most unpleasant characters of the revival. So, to cleanse our palates for a bit, we may indulge in some quirks. And who better to supply this than a character who, for the life of us, we can’t see ever changing with the times? Welcome to the ‘Lawrence Jacoby Show’, live from White Tail Peak. This time, he goes by the name Dr. Amp, and he broadcasts a conspiracy theory program with a highly old-school patriot and libertarian tone.

I’ll leave all possible references to conspiracy nuts in real life out of this, as things really aren’t what they seem in this diegetic universe. He may or not know it, but he has struck gold to some degree with his peculiar rationale. It may not be about environmental poisoning, but there is indeed a taint in the soil – a metaphysical one. Still, it only makes sense that he would sell his golden shovels on his program. It also makes sense that, among his viewership, we can see Jerry Horne and Nadine Hurley. Whatever possible validity to his discourse, his advert to sell them golden shovels is golden tin foil – tacky as shit, which got a grin out of me. Sure enough, the scene that follows Dr. Amp’s program occurs at the Pentagon.

Colonel Davis (Ernie Hudson!) receives information that their database on Major Garland Briggs’ fingertip has received a new hit. This would make the sixteenth hit in a span of twenty-five years. The latest one came from Buckhorn, South Dakota, which bears some confusing implications. Why would his fingertips show up sixteen times across such a long span? For now, let’s just take a moment to recoil in utter horror as we put two and two together. John Doe’s beheaded body, with Dougie Jones’ ring is his stomach, belongs to Major Garland Briggs. What Bobby knows about his father’s death is far from the truth. And now, there seems to be more reason to Dougie’s garmonbozia than sheer shyster-ness.

Although it may be a wild goose chase, Colonel Davis and Lieutenant Cynthia Knox (Adele René) will head to Buckhorn. And if there’s something to it, they will be alerting the FBI. All paths are leading to several places, like a web of misdirection and obscurity. As a contrast, all paths regarding Ernie Hudson lead to one place every time: utter unabashed joy.

Villainy

We’re now at the Bang, Bang Bar, but it’s not quite the end of the episode. Trouble performs “Snake Eyes” on stage. The song is quite fitting for the introduction of another new character (Eamon Farren). And right from the moment you see him smoking in the non-smoking area, you can see what he’s all about. The bar’s owner asks him to put it out, but the guy taunts him. That’s when Chad (John Pirruccello) shows up, and one might think he would do his job even if off-duty, but no. Rather, he takes a bribe from this guy. This is Richard Horne, which already prompts us to tread wary about him. Unfortunately for one of the girls nearby, he’s not just a bad boy. He basically sexually assaults her, marking him as a disgustingly-effective hate sink for the audience.

Meanwhile, in prison (where Richard belongs), ‘Cooper’ gets his phone call. Evidently, this call will be recorded in audio and video. Mr. C is well aware of it and speaks cryptically to the camera in the room. In particular, he mentions a Mr. Strawberry, which triggers a fearful expression in the Warden’s face. Although he’s the one under surveillance, it seems like Cooper’s doppelganger is the one in control, inflicting what may be psychological torture on the people watching him. He then dials the number, for his phone call. As a result, the entire prison’s system goes haywire. ‘Cooper’ speaks into the receiver “The cow jumped over the moon”. He then hangs up, and the whole system goes back to normal. One can only guess who he called for this to occur.

Soon enough, we find that the call leads to a rundown place in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The call triggers the same beeping device as in the beginning of the episode, after which, it crumples down to a small metallic crumb.

This time, the episode comes to an end in a peculiar fashion. A beautifully soulful jazz tune brings up back to Las Vegas, to the end of Cooper’s first day at Dougie’s job. It’s dusk, and he’s spent an awful lot of time besides a statue. And it’s not the first time we see it this episode, but I think it fitting to talk about it in the close. This may be completely incidental, since the resemblance only appears at a specific angle. But the statue looks similar to David Bowie as he appeared on The Man Who Fell to Earth. Considering this takes place right after the scene in Argentina, a question glares back at us. Could this statue be, in some way, Phillip Jeffries? Could it be that Cooper feels instinctively drawn to this statue by Agent Jeffries’ history and experience in the Black Lodge?

It may all be in my head, but the question haunts me still. And if it did turn out to be deliberate, we may as well look at this statue as a unique homage to the late David Bowie. Who needs pandering to nostalgia, or definite answers, when the mystique and the pursuit in the dark are so enthralling? Stay tuned, lovelies.

Directed by David Lynch

Written by Mark Frost & David Lynch

Dedicated to David Bowie, that wound in our hearts that just won’t heal, and Marv Rosand who appears posthumously in this episode.


All images are courtesy of Showtime

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Devotee of coffee, whiskey and baleful sentiment. I also write a lot of things.

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