Sunday, May 26, 2024

Lively Conversation around the Major on Twin Peaks

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Exposition can be one of the cheapest, most suspension of disbelief-breaking narrative ‘devices’ out there. When directors or writers back themselves into a corner after a convoluted series of events, the easiest way to disengage from the problem is just spelling shit out. It’s a sour reminder that what we’re experiencing is a fabrication. Afterwards, the story limps on towards its end, hoping for the best.

What happens when the creator doesn’t tell, but shows? The viewers remain spectators of a series of phenomena unfolding organically regardless of their witnessing. This is just what Twin Peaks: The Return did when David Lynch and Mark Frost chose to unveil one of the series’ most vital origins. And even that suggested more than actually telling.

We’re halfway through the series, and our handle on the series’ mysteries is considerably firmer. Rather than being entirely in the dark, we can start chasing shadows with what we know. This is promising in terms of pacing, meaning there’s still room for revelations and bewilderment. And perhaps, a few tears and nightmares as well.

Purposeful Travels

I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a collective sigh of relief when Ray shot Mr. C last episode. Cooper’s doppelganger proved a formidable and despicable villain. However, one more delightful villainous characteristic is the ability to make a comeback. So today, after his BOB-removal via Woodsmen, we start the episode with Mr. C, looking like absolute shit, but alive and probably lusting for retribution. His murder of Darya was vile, and that stemmed from knowing what she planned to do. Ray actually carried it out with some degree of success, but nobody can ever anticipate the intervention of the uncanny. So we can only imagine what Mr. C will do to Ray when he catches up to him. And he most assuredly will, unless he leaves the job to one of his underlings.

Meanwhile, COLE and his FBI darlings are on the flight back to Philadelphia. Tammy has a call for COLE from Colonel Davis at the Pentagon. As we suspected two episodes ago, the investigation on late Major Garland Briggs’ headless body will be transferred to the FBI. So it’s only a matter of time ’til the matter of Coop’s doppelganger and Major Briggs’ death become one and the same.

For now, they’ll make a swerve towards Buckhorn, South Dakota to meet Lieutenant Knox, much to Diane’s annoyance. COLE manages to sweeten the news by informing her of the purpose of this detour: The Blue Rose case. So far, she has been patient, all things considered, but her more willing disposition is telling of how important this enigmatic case is. They receive another call a few moments later, this one from Warden Murphy. ‘Cooper’ has escaped the coop.

Mr. C makes it to the place he instructed Ray to drive to the night before: the farm. His lackeys at the farm, Hutch (Tim Roth) and Chantal (Jennifer Jason Leigh), are pretty resourceful. They patch and clean him up, and supply him with assets: disposable phones, a gun, and ammo. Evil Coop uses an outdated model (probably meant for adolescents more than a decade ago) to call Duncan Todd in Las Vegas. There is something Mr. C wants him to do, and he’s more than hesitant about it. Before taking off, he leaves instructions with Hutch and Chantal: vacate the place (which they seem to have ‘acquired’ by killing the previous owners), then kill Warden Murphy, and await further instructions. One thing we do know, he’ll soon have work for them in Vegas.

Police Business

After thwarting Mr. The Spike’s attempt to kill Coop, the police would surely like a word with him and ‘his’ wife at the police department. At the moment, Bushnell Mullins is talking on his behalf. The boss speaks highly of ‘his’ employee, and attributes his ‘slow’ behavior to a car accident he suffered before working with him. (In a previous review, I’ve reasoned that everybody’s acceptance of Cooper’s current ineptitude is an oddity. This statement implies that even the real Dougie was not particularly competent at anything.) The Fusco detectives (Larry Clarke, Eric Edelstein, David Koechner) look dull-faced when Bushnell states that this attempt on ‘Dougie’s’ life occurred after his car blew up, perhaps for insurance cutthroat business.

The Fuscos look at the papers they have on ‘Dougie’. There’s nothing on Dougie Jones before 1997, not even a birth certificate. We know 1997 is the year when Evil Coop created Dougie so he’d take his place when the time came for Cooper’s doppelganger to return to the Black Lodge. But this funny-looking trio don’t know that; they think he may be under witness protection. So, to get a better idea of who they’re dealing with, one of the Fuscos comes up with a plan. To use ‘Dougie’s’ coffee mug to get his fingerprints. Quite an idea for a stooge.

In the meantime, an American flag, a woman’s shoes, and an electrical outlet catch Coop’s attention. These things may subconsciously remind him of his past, and how he came back to this world.

While people think the attempts on ‘Dougie’s’ life are because of poor money management, we know the truth is far bloodier. In fact, through Duncan Todd’s association we might think Hutch and Chantal’s work will most likely be finishing what Mr. Spike could not. Or perhaps, the little non-orgasmic death bringer could be on the receiving end, if Lorraine’s murder is anything to go by.

The arrest of Ike Spike at a motel later that day may or not put a damper on that possibility. Before checking out, he leaves a coded message for one J.T. The Fuscos catch him in ultra-cheesy fashion on his way out. Mr. Spike poses no resistance. As he drops his things and puts his hands up, we see he has bandaged his right hand, a consequence of his encounter with Coop.

A Vision Fulfilled

We return to Twin Peaks with a taste of the classic series as Andy and Lucy partake of the wonders of online shopping, as only they would. It’s funny and it’s sweet, and it contrasts with another episode of life in this small town as Johnny Horne gets into a accident while running at home. And this incident is a contrast to a more delicate topic in the Briggs household, as Bobby visits his mum, along with Hawk and Truman to talk about the time ‘Cooper’ came to visit. In a strange turn, Betty knew this visit would occur because of something her husband Garland said the day before he died. Namely, that Bobby, Hawk and Truman would come to ask about Special Agent Cooper.

Her now dead husband had asked her to give them something on that day, a small metallic cylinder hidden in a chair in her living room. Still surprised that this day actually happened, she evokes one of the most touching moments from Season 2: the moment Garland told his son he had a vision of him, prosperous and happy. It was more than love and hope for his son, but true clairvoyance, the same gift that allowed him to envision this day.

A touch of the classic Twin Peaks‘ musical style kicks in to accentuate the moment (OH, ANGELO) and, of course, it’s crowned with a cup of coffee. Brief as this moment was, it’s golden to see unabashed happiness and warmth every now and then. And it’s just as well since the name Garland Briggs evokes tragedy most of the time these days.

The Body Revisited

I hope I’m not alone here when I say I wanted Diane to meet Dr. Talbot. The ‘fuck you’ meets the bad jokes; it has infinite potential. Unfortunately, she chooses to stay at the waiting room, smoking a cigarette, as the deadies won’t suffer from second hand smoke. While Detective Macklay and Lieutenant Knox lead the way for COLE, Albert and Tammy, Diane checks her phone, which hasn’t been working properly since the flight. Now we see that she has received a text message. It’s the very same message Evil Coop sent before calling Duncan Todd. She looks puzzled, as if trying to make sense of the words, so she may not know who the sender was.

In the morgue’s hallways, Det. Macklay briefs the FBI on what had happened. He also reveals that they found Bill’s wife, Phyllis murdered at their house; this was attributed to their lawyer George Bouncer, who is now in custody. Then Bouncer’s secretary died in a car explosion. Once they arrive to the morgue proper and the Major’s body, the Detective reveals that both Bill and Ruth had been running a blog together about an alternate dimension. The latest entry ended with a cryptic sentence: “Today we finally entered what we call the zone, and we met the Major.”

Albert, a forensic specialist himself, notes that the body is of a man in his forties. Dr. Talbot’s eyes light right up at this, and if there are any professional shippers out there, please help me come up with a better name than Albot/Talbert. COLE talks with him outside to recap on what they know. Major Garland Briggs died in a fire in a government facility outside Twin Peaks, 25 years ago. Therefore, the body they have should instead by 72 years old instead of 40. COLE links this time fuck with Cooper’s disappearance also 25 years ago. Dr. Talbot then shows them Dougie’s ring she found inside of the body. This certainly introduces a new factor into the equation for the FBI. So, the only material way to proceed is to have a word with Bill Hastings.

The Hunt for a Legacy

Now it’s time for a brief interlude/Public Service Announcement, courtesy of Twin Peaks. Drugs are bad. Jerry is still lost in the woods. He hallucinates that his foot is talking to him and denying all association with him, as you do. Unlike Laura in Fire Walk With Me, Jerry’s struggle is nowhere as damaging, and it’s mostly played for laughs as he was in the original series.

PSA over, it’s lunchtime and Hawk, Truman and Bobby have returned to the department to examine what Betty Briggs gave them. Time is of the essence, but Chad is having lunch in the conference room (GOD DAMN IT, CHAD), thus delaying their investigation. Once the room is as Chad-free as possible, they start looking at the cylinder.

The artifact has no seams or any apparent way of opening. However, Bobby’s father once taught him how to work these cylinders. He leads Hawk and Truman outside (thus running into Chad for NO DAMNED REAS– GOD DAMN IT, CHAD). Bobby throws the cylinder to the ground, making it emit a strange vibrating sound. A second time finally unlocks the artifact. Inside, they find a rolled paper containing instructions, symbols, a place, and two specific dates. It’s most fortunate that these dates are two days away, and that while neither Hawk or Truman know the location of the place, Bobby does. Garland Briggs’ precognition strikes again.

Jack’s Rabbit Palace is a place where Garland and little Bobby often went to play and tell stories. A child’s make believe world is now a legacy for a purpose greater than mundane interests. The Major knew his son would overcome the devils that plagued him (through BOB’s influence on Leland and Laura) to bear the torch. Within two days, the three men would go to Jack Rabbit’s Palace to unearth what Major Briggs meant for them to see. However, there is another piece of paper along with the instructions. This one features a series of several four-digit alphanumeric codes, and in the middle of them all, the name ‘Cooper’ printed twice. “Two Coopers”, Hawk remarks. He’s no idea how right he is.

In the Zone

We’re back in Buckhorn, South Dakota. COLE and Tammy join Diane outside the morgue for a delightfully awkward moment. In two occasions past, Lynch has made the viewer watch moments for too long with seemingly no purpose. Watching the paint dry on Dr. Jacoby’s golden shovels, watching someone sweep the floor in the Roadhouse after a gig. Now, he strikes again with this jewel, and the very fact we’re watching such an uncomfortable scene for longer than we should is its own reward if you have that kind of sense of humor.

Actually, what sets this moment apart from the aforementioned is how COLE takes a puff from Diane’s cigarette, much to Tammy’s dislike. Chances are he used to smoke heavily, but a puff is all he needs to remember younger, happier days. It’s a fleeting moment, but Diane seems happy to remember those times. Worth taking a break before getting back to work.

Also a nod to the director’s taste for cigarettes. It’s no secret Lynch is thoroughly enjoying playing COLE.

In the interrogation room, Bill Hastings sobs, distraught that the FBI wants a word with him. Tammy is a good pick to lead this interview. Her calm voice and demeanor elicits answers from Bill, who maintains that he does believe in the subject he writes about and is well-read on it. Rather than dismissing him as a nutter, Tammy follows that line of discourse by asking him about his entering the ‘zone’ and meeting the Major. He says that Ruth uncovered records that gave them information on how to enter this place, where they found the Major “hibernating”. The Major needed to be in another place, so he requested coordinates, which Ruth obtained.

The previous Thursday, they brought him the coordinates, which triggered the arrival of several individuals. These parties demanded he tell them his wife’s name. These were most likely Woodsmen, who then informed Mr. C, who then murdered Phyllis Hastings. When shown several pictures, he correctly identified Major Briggs.

Tammy then asks him to describe what happened afterwards. The Major started to float, saying the words “Cooper. Cooper.” before his head disappeared (his beheading?). Compounding all of this information, some of the things we’ve seen in episodes past make more sense, such as the Major’s head floating in space when Cooper escaped the Black Lodge. The characters printed in the piece of paper Bobby revealed may in fact be these coordinates.

In the end, the actions of this poor pathetic figure and his Lost Lenore may have supplied the FBI with the means to get to the bottom of this. It’s still early to know what can be done with this information, though. Oh, and by the way, the site Hastings and Davenport ran does exist for real! It’s shit!

More Old Habits

We join Ben Horne and Beverly in the former’s office at the Great Northern Hotel, once more to find the source of that strange sound that mystified them so a few episodes ago. Security found nothing. This time, however, they manage to pinpoint the place where it sounds the loudest. The two end up pretty close to each other. This scene looks to be the appropriate setting to house an adulterous moment. This is not out of character for the Ben we knew, but what about the Ben we have now? Although the attraction seems mutual, Ben cannot allow himself to engage intimately with her employee. It’s almost a certain now that Benjamin Horne has gone to great lengths to leave his old vices in the distant past.

Late Season 2 saw him straighten his act a little, but one may reasonably propose that something else happened in his life to encourage this. I speculate his daughter Audrey may have had something to do with it. Her absence so far speaks volumes.

This episodes ends with “Human” by Scottish DJ Hudson Mohawke at the Roadhouse. Two friends, Chloe and Ella (Karolina Wydra and Sky Ferreira)  are having a beer and talking. Ella appears to be a heavy drug user; her habit may have something to do with her recent firing and her nasty rash. Au Revoir Simone takes the stage once more for a dream-like melancholic performance of “A Violent Yet Flammable World“.

It’s quite an impression to end the episode with, lovely music on one side, a close shot of Ella’s rash on the other. There’s no telling if the conversation between the two will prove to be a non sequitur. It may be no more than a part of the pendulum effect of this episode regarding contrasting moods and tones.

Still, quite a sight to have in your mind while the circumstances of the grander picture link together. Let’s not forget, one man might have seen it all happen long before it will.

Twin Peaks: The Return Part 9 Credits

Directed by David Lynch

Written by Mark Frost and David Lynch

Images Courtesy of Showtime

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