Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Something’s Up with the Kids in Twin Peaks

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“Cooper’s Dreams”

“I don’t know what happened to the kids today” is a song by English songwriter Labi Siffre. These days it’s mostly known as that incredibly fitting song for a Misfits episode. In a nutshell, it’s about a man unable to relate to a younger generation’s nuances, habits and worldview. Personal taste for this song aside, I feel it rather perfectly fits the tone of discourse surrounding Twin Peaks’ adolescents. Laura’s murder is starting to represent the evil that preys on an age group. Meanwhile, the parents and overall grownups can only attempt to fight this evil as best they can. Much as in real life, these efforts may turn out ineffective, although well-meaning.

The generational barrier is palpable between parents and their offspring. Isn’t it always? However, in this instance, the contrast is all the starker, by the most terrible of circumstances. The more we look into the crux of tragedy, the stronger the questions rings. What indeed is happening to the kids?

“Well, Audrey, to be perfectly honest, I’m tired and a little on edge.”

The episode starts at 4:28 AM. Nobody likes been woken at that time, not even FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper. Even his powerful bedhead fails to form before the might of the jolly Icelandic singers recently arrived at the hotel. Later at the Timber Room, Cooper emerges a grump, as you do. Even his morning coffee fails to mellow him out. Audrey to the rescue; she means to tell him she’s started infiltrating the machine. Cooper’s got little time to chat this morning. However, they do get a little flirty upon her telling him she’s eighteen. No wonder these two are shipped together; much is said during these chats at breakfast, however brief.

Enter the responsible for the early morning racket, Jerry. Characters portrayed by David Patrick Kelly usually share one common trait: charisma and a silver tongue. Jerry’s no exception; the Icelanders love him so much that they’ve given him a leg of lamb. Nonetheless, Ben is pretty miffed about how loud these fellows are. Still, he’s willing to cooperate by hosting a gala reception for these investors. Leland walks in, looking like shit, having caught wind of the investment group arriving. He wants to work to occupy his mind, but Ben urges him to rest. This seems to be more about seeing him as a liability, rather than genuine concern. Oh, Ben, bastard you; I’m going to start saying this on a constant basis.

“Holy smoke, Flesh World again.”

We now join Cooper, Truman, Hawk, Andy and Dr. Hayward (Featuring donuts) at Jacques Renault’s apartment. The place is ripe with clues. Turns out Jacques used to work at the mill before becoming a bartender. Now he’s missing, same as his brother – though we know what happened with the latter. Dr. Hayward tells the Boys that the blood on the shirt they found was not Laura’s. It could, however, be Jacques’, which is AB negative; how peculiar.

There’s also something hidden away on a lamp hanging from the ceiling: “Flesh World”, everyone’s favourite ad magazine. In it, Cooper finds an envelope as well. The address on the envelope is a local zip code, a post office box where Ronette received mail. It’s plausible that this mailbox is registered to Jacques’ name; that’s a link right there. Furthermore, a page is bookmarked in the magazine itself: it’s a picture of Leo’s truck. The connections tighten; alas, something’s amiss.

“We never want to hurt anyone. We never just take what we want.”

Meanwhile, Bobby is at Shelly’s for breakfast. Surely, this must be a porn flick scenario of the sort, but I digress. From the food to the sweet and sultry talking, we end up with Bobby pulling a gun, as you do. No worries, though; it’s meant for Leo. Speaking of, Andy’s at the door; he’s come to ask about Leo. With all due respect to our beloved Andy, it takes little to spin a yarn around him. Nonetheless, Shelly’s learning to do the talking to link Leo with Jacques and Laura. All is part of the plan, it seems.

It bears mentioning that Shelly’s turning out a bit of a foil to Audrey. Both are eager to stand against adverse characters and/or circumstances, but their core intentions differ greatly between of altruism and pragmatism. This said, the devil’s spoken of yet again, as he calls home to see if anyone’s come by. None, she tells him, for good reason. He’s coming back soon. Leo gives the gun to Shelly for precaution. Will this become a literal Chekhov gun? We’ll see. One thing’s for sure: even an “I miss you” from Leo sounds dismal.

On to a less devious, albeit equally clandestine relationship, Norma meets Ed at the petrol station. She’s come to tell him the news about Hank’s return. Norma hasn’t told her husband about Ed; likewise, he hasn’t told Nadine about Norma either. They intend to get legitimately together, and that necessitates coming out truthfully about their intentions. However, therein lies their conflict; for one reason or another, they can’t bring themselves to divorce their current spouses.

Welcome to Irony Land, population: Ed and Norma. As arguably two of the most pleasant characters, their morals get in the way of their happiness. This is hugely contrasting against the many characters with less of a qualm to just do whatever they want. Thusly, they agree not to meet for a while as they each go on their way towards a different direction. We are treated once more to Angelo Badalamenti’s musical prowess on this scene alluding to these “star-crossed lovers”. Interesting how the melancholy of the show’s main theme fits plenty of scenes so well. It may be that heartache and longing are inextricable from Twin Peaks as a town and an entity.

“She’s out there wandering like a restless spirit.”

Everybody’s first job interview is always quite the event. Audrey’s is no exception. The manager seems the affable fellow and he intends to have his boss’ daughter start low for now. Wrapping department part-time, he says; no, no, no, no, Miss Horne says. She wants to work the perfume counter, which is not a position fitting for a first job. Audrey whips out the femme-fatale guidebook with frightening efficiency. She blackmails the manager into giving her the position while he tells her father she’s working at the wrapping department. She’s set on starting her own investigation efforts, even if it means resorting to the questionable side of pragmatism.

Meanwhile, her investigation partner and foil, Donna, meets up with James. As usual, he is sad, as he was BORN TO BE SAD. He tells her the ugly truth about his parents, so there won’t be any secrets between them. His backstory turns out to actually justify his attitude about the world around him. James is a bit more fleshed out through this sincere sentiment. However, his melodramatic way and their insistence on doing what they’re doing for Laura makes it all feel less credible. I don’t think this is incidental, given how adolescently poetic his discourse gets sometimes, as opposed to the rest of the characters’.

“That sounds like some big secret.”

What better way to wash away the saccharine aftertaste of James’ words than with donuts? The search at Jacques’ goes on. It’s now confirmed that the post office box is registered under Renault, therefore also confirming the link to Ronette. Another ad number mailed to this address, that of a young student seeking mature men. Cooper deduces Laura put up the ad by the red drapes on the magazine’s picture, which alludes to his dream. Furthermore, the amount of heating oil they find in the apartment points to another likely place: a cabin in the woods.

Further into the investigation’s narrative, James and Donna meet up with Maddy at the diner. They tell her about their efforts and tell her about a secret hiding place Laura used to talk about. Following in the Lynchean-motif, she agrees to help them. Maddy feels she’s always had a connection to her cousin, in spite of not being very close. Together they will reach out to the truth. I bet this is how Scooby Doo and the Gang came to be. Nonetheless, their enthusiasm as they leave is balanced out by the looming presence of the man sitting behind them: Hank Jennings.

Hank is most certainly a foreboding presence, but he is charming enough. Norma gives him a job washing dishes as a way of chance to prove he’s changed. Meanwhile, Shelly catches a bit of Invitation to Love on the back. Now, I haven’t talked much about this soap on past entries, but this is a good time to. The show-within-a-show narrative device is also somewhat of a Lynchean motif and it sheds commentary on the genre. This soap also tends to mirror some event or another in the storytelling. In this instance, we see a biker-looking-dude beating up a bespectacled and harmless-looking fellow. The fact that this happens while Hank is around gives off the notion that he belongs amongst the villainous characters we already know.

“Are you unhappy, Bobby?”

Now, it’s time for one of the strongest moments in the episode, and the whole series, I daresay. Bobby and his parents have come to Dr. Jacoby’s Hawaiian-themed office for family counselling. This scene skilfully exhibits that unique style of humour, strangeness and tragedy that’s become a Lynchpin of the series. Ever-uniform-clad Major Garland and Betty attempt to convey their son’s problems and he is unsurprisingly uncooperative. Even the good doctor’s efforts are not very effective. That is, until he requests to talk with Bobby alone as per his method.

The gloves are off. Dr. Jacoby drops the facade; he knows where to aim and he shoots. He asks about Laura. But he goes intimate; he asks if Bobby cried the first time Laura and he had sex. Bobby’s initially miffed, but his armour breaks apart pretty soon. Cue Laura’s theme playing as they talk about her and what Bobby truly knew about her. She wanted to die. She believed that people tried to be good, but were fundamentally rotten. Something ugly lived inside of her and it destroyed all the good she tried to do. She started thinking of herself that way.

This is indeed Jacoby’s own investigation; unforgiving and efficient. The horrendous things inside of Laura led her to consciously prey on people’s weaknesses. She sought to corrupt others, including Bobby, who is now in tears. Laura Palmer is the one who made Bobby start selling drugs. The theme plays on as a transitioning device from Dr. Jacoby’s office to a take of a lone bird flying, reminding us of Laura herself. The loneliness and misery woven into Badalamenti’s piece initially expressed Laura Palmer’s feelings, yet now it also portrays the feelings of those around her, damaged and corrupted by her.

As the bird lands, we join Cooper and the Boys, and Dr. Hayward on their way to the woods.

“The wood holds many spirits. Doesn’t it, Margaret?”

Our heroes find a cabin in the woods, as you do. Guns and nerves ready, everyone expects this to belong to the Renault brothers. However it turns out to belong to Margaret Lanterman, the Log Lady, whom has been expecting them for two days now. She’s got tea and cookies, which are a bit out of Cooper’s comfort zone. As usual, her words are cryptic and apparent non sequiturs; she says the owls won’t see them in the cabin. The Agent is still a bit out of the loop about their host’s ways. However, he is to learn quickly, for he’s got an important witness to interview after tea’s ready. The lady’s Log saw something. Margaret says her husband met the Devil, the day after their wedding.

As opposed to their first contact, this time Cooper does ask the Log what it saw without dismissing it as nonsense. Margaret speaks for the Log when it “conveys” what it saw the night Laura Palmer was killed. Dark, laughing, owls, two men and two girls; flashlights passing by the woods, the owls were nearby, the darkness pressed in on a girl. Then there was quiet, footsteps and a man passing by; screams far away. One girl spoke at last. The owls were silent. The distress on Margaret’s voice, as well as the value of the esoteric we’ve come to know thus far mark a step outside the realm of the weird and straight into the nightmarish.

As they come back into the woods, they hear music (“Into the Night” by Julee Cruise). Bewildered, they follow the sound to a second cabin. The place is draped entirely in red. A record player is set to play the same track over and over. “There’s always music in the air.” Cooper quotes The Man from Another Place as Jacques’ cabin reprises the image of Cooper’s dream. They find Waldo, the suspect bird and a camera with film in it. There’s also twine and a blood stain, as well as a One Eyed Jack’s poker chip. All at once, narrative axis aplenty came to meet with such plausibility that Leo would blush.

“Don’t make me leave. Please, don’t make me leave.”

Time for the gala reception at the Great Northern Hotel. Everyone’s having a merry time and the Icelander investors for the Ghostwood Estates project are hitched. And that’s when Leland walks in; something feels quite wrong with him. Meanwhile, Mrs. Unpleasant, Catherine wants a word with Ben in his office. Audrey catches wind of this and once more gets inside the walls to spy on their conversation. Amused, she sees Catherine and Ben doing some foreplay while they do some mill talk.

Back at the Timber Room, cue the music playing. Leland breaks down into pained sobs while dancing. Ben urges Catherine to join him in order to sell his pain as a most peculiar dance move. It works; thus the plan is not compromised. It bears mentioning that the dissonance between the mirth around him and his agony makes for a disturbing scene. Audrey is the only one to see the absurdity of this travesty and begins weeping herself.

Meanwhile at the Palmers’, Maddy (Featuring the coolest tiger slippers ever) calls Donna on the phone. Maddy remembers that when they were younger, Laura would hide cigarettes in her bed posts, as you do. In one of them, she found a tape. They’ll listen to it the following day. Back at the hotel, Ben meets up with Josie, who smokes ominously in the dark. Turns out, the two of them are in cahoots; they’re playing Catherine, whose smugness will make for great Schadenfreude upon falling.

In the outskirts of town, Mr. Plausibility arrives to get his arson supplies. Hank sneaks up on him and beats him up. Apparently, Hank is an even greater menace than Leo as he seems to be something of a superior to him. So much for change, eh? Already pretty annoyed, Leo walks in and as always doesn’t behave too nicely to his wife. Shelly pulls the gun Bobby gave to her, and despite Leo’s taunts, she shoots her husband. He runs away like the wounded animal, possibly ruminating on how this hasn’t been his day. Since he is Ben’s hidden asset, one may wonder what will happen with the devious Packard Mill gambit.

It’s the end of a long day, and Cooper returns to find his hotel room’s door ajar. Suspecting, he pulls his gun out and enters with precaution. He tells the intruder to turn on the light. It’s Audrey, undressed and lying in his bed, with tears in her eyes. Bewildered, he puts the gun away, while the anguished young woman asks him not to make her leave. The episode ends thusly, leaving us viewers as shocked as Dale Cooper himself. Indeed, this episode linked several clues to Cooper’s dreams. Alas, it could be said also that the young characters carried this episode.

Bobby and Audrey, initially defined by their vices and attitudes, are the only ones with eyes to see. The image they get is truly heartbreaking and likely the best approach to the truth few others see. James can sulk all he wants, but it is through Bobby and Audrey we’re outlining who Laura truly was. She was not only prey, but also a corrupting predator herself. The strange darkness that prowls the woods seems to pursue the young. What more can these kids do beyond seeking help before this paradigm, tainted by incomprehensible forces and exacerbated by their parents?

Do we not know what’s happening with the kids today? They’re in danger, that’s what.


Images courtesy of CBS

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