Saturday, May 18, 2024

Twin Peaks: Old Faces Changed and Loved

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Only three episodes of Twin Peaks to go. Brace yourselves, my lovelies. It’s a good one.

An invitation…

An opening shot taking place in the woods is an invitation to all sorts of possibilities. There is, however, a clear distinction between whether it takes place at day or night. Whereas the restless winds of the uncanny howl under the cloak of the dark, lighter-mooded moments tend to occur in broad daylight. In this case, we join Nadine who resolutely walks towards Ed’s gas station, with unrelenting purpose in her face and a golden shovel. Whatever kind of shovelling she intends to do, we can’t quite anticipate it with much certainty, seeing as how her role in the series is mostly comic relief. Still, we soon learn that her intention – though not relevant to the main conflict – is dead serious. She is coming to free Ed from his unhappiness.

As some may remember from the original Twin Peaks series, the uniting factor in their marriage was a sense of guilt on Ed’s part. This extended to him letting Norma go for the sake of Nadine, (not without indulging in the affair a little, though) who addresses this as her manipulation. Alas, things are quite different now: Nadine has asserted herself and attained success, she no longer needs Ed as her rock. Therefore, because she loves him – and in her very quotable words, love is giving the other what makes them happy – she encourages him to pursue a relationship with Norma. As expected, Nadine’s peculiar wisdom clashes with Ed’s ‘straight man‘ demeanour, resulting in some skepticism at first. But a touching hug seals the deal.

Ed is free now. His facial expression is equal parts inspired and baffled as Nadine walks all the way back to her store with her golden shovel. Although brief, there is a sense of triumph and wholesome resolution to this scene, and maybe even redemption for the abysmal treating of their characters in Season 2. In a similar fashion, Dr. Jacoby started a pretty relevant character, yet he ended up falling off the radar. And now his relevance has been restored, if at least for this small angle through his odd manner of inspiration to Nadine. There is no Invitation to Love reboot in this universe, but Nadine liberating Ed is the most solid chance at that fabled ‘happily ever after’, if such a thing can be in this series.

That’s just a prospect, though – the road to walk is something else entirely.

… to love

Immediately after, a live rendition of Otis Redding’s “I’ve been loving you too long” sets the mood outside the Double R Diner. There is a definite new spring in Ed’s step as he makes his way there – quite the contrast to his dreary lonesome soup night several episodes ago. Even his waving to Norma is brimming with a vigour missing from his character in the original series. Really, the only other time I recall him being this energetic was when donning a moustachioed disguise while undercover in One Eyed Jack’s. Big Ed is so high on purpose right now, that failure may kill the viewer’s heart, rendering it impossible to fix. So, we’re rooting for him.

However, just as he walks to Norma, Walter makes his entrance to have a chat with her. It would be seem we’d been tempting fate, and Ed (viewers included) is now punished for his enthusiasm. Now, the only warmth in the scene comes from his cup of coffee. But it’s too early to sulk because the song isn’t over yet. Norma talks business with Walter and decides to have him buy out the franchise while she keeps the Twin Peaks’ diner. Out walks Wally, sure that she’ll regret her decision. Now we can breathe easy, or sigh away, as Norma joins Ed at the counter. In that timeless, lovely fashion, the music and lyrics become coupled with the events on screen. Big Ed asks Norma to marry him and she accepts, much to the joy of us all.

What follows is a kiss to make up for all the years lost, as well as wide shots of the landscape and the sky hovering over the town. One can easily extrapolate a parallel between this scene and the creators-audience relationship. It was the executive meddling (the Walters) what attempted to snuff out the unique, daring spirit of the series Frost and Lynch meant to give the audience, leading to previously discussed stumbles in narrative and pacing. Now, after all these years, Mark and David are free to give us the good stuff and the love without the interference of third parties who’d rather produce a streamlined, forgettable show. This feel-good moment can be as much of a cherished union as a celebration of what we have now with The Return.

The unholy above

From one end of the spectrum to the other, we move on to something completely different. Mr. C drives on the road at night on his way to a place both familiar and alien. The Convenience Store. The default setting for this place is intense dread, but it rises twofold as we approach the endgame. As a callback to Part 8, Penderecki’s “Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima” greets us with a reminder of this place’s relation to “the evil that men do”. A Woodsman leads Coopelganger to the room above the convenience store. His purpose needs no words: he’s come for an audience with Phillip Jeffries. The Woodsman triggers the passage, and the nightmarish transition unfolds.

Interestingly, we see the violently distored appearance of the strange Jumping Man from Fire Walk With Me. Careful timing when pausing reveals his face superimposed over Sarah Palmer’s. The implications result in some thick, high-octane nightmare fuel. Another peculiar execution of superimposing occurs on the level of scenery. The constant dimming out of the building’s interior reveals the dark woods beneath. This highlights the metaphysical characteristics of the convenience store, as that of the forest. Therefore, to brave the woods is to reach deeper into a place where evil spirits dwell. Something else to consider is the possible role of electricity as a catalyst or a ‘switch’ to access these otherwise unreachable planes of existence.

But I digress.

Although the place Bad Coop eventually reaches looks like a fairly normal motel courtyard, the distorted speech of the woman who unlocks the door for him confirms it’s all but normal. So, he enters Room 8, the place Phillip Jeffries inhabits. Now, Michael Anderson’s vendetta with David Lynch forced the director to think of a new physical form for The Man From Another Place. Therefore, we got the weird braintree thing. The same principle applies here, given the unfortunate passing of David Bowie. Thusly, real life writes the plot as Jeffries’ prolonged stay has altered his form, turning him into a strange teapot-like device (voiced by Nathan Frizzell). The ambience is suitably oppressive, but worse is yet to come.

Someone we’re not going to talk about at all

Cryptic communication ahead: tread carefully.

The interactions between Evil Coop and Jeffries are rather tense and awkward, as you do. Although the latter admits having called Ray, he doesn’t actually confirm having sent him to kill Mr. C. Afterwards, both beings recall that scene from FWWM, which leads Jeffries to ask if he is actually Cooper. There is no response, but the doppelganger does share the original’s memories, so Jeffries is a bit on the dark here. Nonetheless, they start discussing the moment when Phillip appeared in the FBI offices in Philadelphia. One name comes up: Judy. For a long time, this name has spawned countless theories and memes. But now, her identity becomes Mr. C’s most pressing question.

There is a vague tease in Jeffries’ voice as he dangles the knowledge of her identity in front of him like a key to a treasure box. This turns up to eleven when Jeffries tells ‘Coop’ that he has already met Judy. The fountain of questions amidst the viewership becomes a geyser as we wonder, who the hell is Judy? A popular theory claims Judy is actually Naido. A big part of this theory derives from an open letter Joan Chen wrote to director David Lynch, wherein she acknowledges Judy as Josie’s twin sister. The rationale follows that Naido has, thus far, been the only other character of Asian descent in the series (Mr. Tojamura doesn’t count, of-course-it-fucking-doesn’t).

This line of rationale is a bit on-the-nose, to say the least. However, one thing does give Naido some credit as possibly being Judy. The confusion on Jeffries regarding the legitimacy of this ‘Cooper’s identity may extend to thinking he met her when escaping the Black Lodge, which the real Cooper did. Furthermore, Andy’s recently acquired knowledge about Naido as a hunted woman resonates with Coopelganger’s intent to find her. Whatever the case, Jeffries gives him a number, which will lead him to Judy before fading away. The chat is over. A ringing telephone teleports Mr. C outside of the Convenience Store a-la-Matrix, where someone is waiting for him.

Richard Horne recognised this man back at the farm, where he killed Ray. For all Dick knows, this is the FBI agent who came to town over twenty years ago. He reveals his mother is Audrey Horne, which is one step away from a loathesome confirmation of Coopelganger raping Audrey. It does strike as odd that he may appear to give a shit about even his mum. Although Richard holds the cards by having a gun pointed at him, Mr. C quickly disarms him. Alas, he doesn’t kill his possible spawn. Instead he has him get on the truck to ‘talk on the way’. Before driving away, Bad Coop sends a text message to an unknown recipient about Las Vegas. Afterwards, the Convenience Store ‘flickers’ out of existence, leaving behind several trees in its place.

Powder in the woods

Back in Twin Peaks, somewhere in the woods, we find Gersten trying to console Steven, who has a gun in his hand. This spells bad news all over, but it doesn’t seem he’s done anything, other than get stoned out of whatever wits he has. Actually, he wants to commit suicide, which is not nice either. Although Steven managed to quickly crush whatever hope we had on him being not so bad for Becky as Leo was for Shelly, his current state is simply pitiful. However, in counterpoint to Gersten’s attempts at talking hin out of suicide, Steven’s words remain vulgar as shit. The festival of despair continues until a passerby (Mark Frost) walking his dog discovers them. Gersten and the passerby are spooked away, leaving Steven alone.

And then, a lonesome, definite gunshot. For all we know, Steven is dead and the world is not the worse for it, to be honest. Still, the scene lingers on Gersten, who becomes entranced by the woods surrounding her. In a peculiar aesthetic choice, the music in this scene sounds particularly nightmarish. This might or might not hint at anything else at work, beyond the clear distress of Steven’s apparent suicide and the moments leading up to it. But it undeniably speaks of the hopeless self-destruction of the character, and those around him. It may well be the musical expression of the Twin Peaks‘ ‘drugs are bad’ discourse.

At the end of this sequence, the passerby tells Carl of what he saw. The good fellow probably has had it with this Steven guy, you can read it in his face. Nevertheless, the ominous music continues as the camera focuses on his trailer, extending the pervading flavour of wrong a little more.

The power of glove

This early evening, it’s ZZ Top gracing the Roadhouse with “Sharp Dressed Man“. Although the band proper is not actually playing, the enthusiasm on behalf of the MC and the attending public is contagious. This also makes the first time the MC calls a high profile band without the prefix “The” – The ZZ Top sounds all kinds of wrong and bad. In walk James and Freddie with beers in hand, as you do. James greets Renee, who is having drinks with her husband and a few friends. All in all, it sounded a pretty innocent greeting, but her husband Chuck (Rod Rowland) takes it very, very badly. James is rather awkward when apologising, which leads to a violent outburst from Chuck. Renee’s husband and his pal brutally assault James, who in spite of not-being-cool doesn’t deserve this.

Freddie won’t let his co-worker and friend endure this cowardly assault, so he begins fulfilling his destiny. And how does he begin fulfilling his destiny? Why, of course, with two light potency pliteral one-inch punches, which knock both assholes out. However, what started as an innocent stand for all that is just and right, ends up sour as the damage was higher than anticipated. We’re talking possible cerebral damage, which is a slightly disproportionate degree of retribution. In fact, Hawk will later reveal that both men are in the ICU. I don’t think Renee will be very touched by any future awful James performances. Anyway… destiny!

Superheroes tend to do time: just look at Misfits! Therefore, James and Freddie are taken in after someone calls 911, as you do. Hawk and Bobby lock them in with Chad, drooling guy (possibly Billy), and Naido whose appearance they find most peculiar. Returning to the notion of the Fireman instructing Freddie to get the glove and to come to Twin Peaks, there is a chance he was also meant to be taken in, so as to be in close proximity to Naido. Such a powerful gadget as a SMASHING FREDDIE glove could truly come in handy if a dangerous party were to arrive in the future with some harmful intention to her.

On another side of things, Naido’s ongoing chattering sounds and possibly-Billy’s mocking will ensure Chad will continue to have a miserable time. So… destiny!


In Las Vegas, Agent Wilson tells Special Agent Headley Dougie Jones and his wife have arrived at the local FBI branch for questioning. Agent Headley walks into the room, only to find that – yes, one Dougie Jones arrived – but it’s not our ‘Dougie Jones’. This is a fellow who brought his wife and all his screeching kids. Cue him yelling ‘Wilson!’, which sounds like a gimmick deserving its own series. Meanwhile, Duncan Todd asks his assistant for any word on Anthony Sinclair and his progress of ‘Dougie’s’ assassination. Little do they know, that’s been scrapped by way of a guilty conscience. Unfortunately, they won’t get to hear any further news on this. Smartly-dressed Chantal walks in the office and shoots both Duncan and his assistant.

Oh, Duncan Todd, you died as you lived – sitting down. As Chantal remarks on her way out, there is one more target to go. Could it be our ‘Dougie Jones’? It probably is. Chantal and Hutch have proved more lethal than all assassins sent Coop’s way. Being this close to the end, they won’t likely be a set of easy mooks. Don’t let the gay old time these two have when dining on fast food fool you. They have a grand old time killing people all the same.

That night, in the Joneses’ household, Coop has cake, of the chocolate variety. This is one of those long takes Lynch favours, but there is more to it than merely a stylistic choice. As he eats, Coop absent-mindedly presses buttons on the remote laying on the dining table. Eventually, he ends up turning on the television. A movie is on, which casually sways his attention. However, one character says two words that stirs Coop restless. “Gordon Cole”. There is a stark look of awareness in his eyes, as well as a sensitivity to the hum and hiss of the electrical outlet. Thus, Cooper sticks the fork in it. Resulting in… well… an electrical pop which shocks him unconscious as our ancestors always said it would.

Curiously, he has an expression of acute intention all throughout. This question is asked enough, and then some… but could it be that Coop is back?

Good Night, Margaret

The episode comes to a close in Twin Peaks. Margaret calls Hawk that night. We know her words always carry weight, so we perk up our ears, but our hearts may not be ready to endure it. Fuck knows I cried while watching and writing this, especially considering the unfortunate passing of beloved actress Catherine E. Coulson on September 2015. She is dying and the end is coming near – she knows the signs, such as her log turning gold and the restless winds. There is fear, sorrow and fondness in her voice. It’s not uncommon for Hawk to take things with quiet tranquility, but his long silence says it all, despite the calming composure in his voice. Our Log Lady tells Hawk to remember the wisdom learned from their calls as a prelude to her final ‘Good night, Hawk’.

Good night, Margaret. We love you.

After the call, Hawk calls everybody to meet in the conference room. There, he announces to everyone (Lucy, Andry, Frank and Bobby) of Margaret’s passing. Quietly they mourn the sage of the town. The camera slowly travels over the woods leading to her house while a rendition reminiscing of Angelo Badalamenti’s “The Voice of Love” eases us into one last look at the outside of her house, where the light is no more.

The mood is then balanced with one more look at life in Charlie and Audrey’s house. The dynamic goes as usual: constant arguing between two widely different temperaments on the threshold of actually going to the Roadhouse to look for Billy. It’s going nowhere, really – but that is not to say it’s a waste of a scene. Audrey does throw herself on Charlie to choke him. I don’t think anything can actually wash away the sensation of loss from the previous scene, but on its own, this is a rather amusing sequence. Worth noting, however, is that there is an ongoing theory about Audrey and the possibility that she is still in a coma, making these scenes part of her struggle and resistance to come out of it, which may explain why she hasn’t gone out to the Roadhouse already. Plausible? You be the judge.

Finally, we get a live performance proper at the Roadhouse. It’s The Veils, performing “Axolotl“. Interestingly, axolotl is the animal which inspired the Pokemon Mudkip, whom somebody liked at some point long, long ago.  This week’s closing non-sequitur comes in the form of a Ruby (Charlyne Yi), who is waiting for someone. Two biker asshole dudes extract her from her table, callously yet non-violently. She sits on the floor, apparently unaffected by this violation to her seating rights. That is, until she starts quietly crawling on the floor towards the crowd. Finally, she screams at the top of her lungs as the scene goes black.

She probably knows there is only three episodes to go… Nonetheless, this Roadhouse place, it has become something of a vortex of chaos, hasn’t it?

Twin Peaks: The Return – Part 15 Credits

Directed by David Lynch

Written by Mark Frost and David Lynch

In loving memory of Margaret Lanterman and Catherine E. Coulson

All images are courtesy of Showtime

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