Thursday, June 20, 2024

Twin Peaks Unravels the Otherside

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The season premiere certainly left a most peculiar taste in the mouth. Truly, it was more than sufficient to both catch our interest and throw us off almost entirely, using our expectations beforehand against us. Gone are the quirks and the warm palette of colours; instead we left off with a credits roll as black-and-white-dreary as it gets to represent this new feel.

In a way, this makes for a very frank approach. To expect the homey, fuzzy feeling of satisfied nostalgia is to deliberately put a fish in the percolator. Even this reference feels off now, as it’s simply no longer the same atmosphere. At this point, the very intro of the show features Laura’s picture as a light phantasm of mist above the green, as if meaning to say that the case is long passed down memory lane.

Instead, we find a new set of circumstances that may share a link to the uncanny other side prowling the woods. Nonetheless, this second part to the return will offer little in the way of enlightening. There’s still plenty of dark to wade through…


The mechanics of plausibility are sketchy, alright. Everybody thought Leo would turn out Laura’s killer, but it was too obvious. As Season 2 unfolded, Leland looked more and more likely, but the edge of the reveal wasn’t dulled in the slightest. This is because the grief he experienced was real. In a rather similar fashion, Bill Hastings looks genuinely distressed about being the prime suspect in the murder of Ruth Davenport. Maybe he also won’t turn out to be entirely responsible. Maybe it’s just an act on his part and he really is a despicable murderer. But one thing without the slightest tint of ambiguity is the relation to his wife. Phyllis accuses him of having an affair with Ruth, while she also admits at having one herself with his lawyer.

That is some legit, ironically unadultered venom. One thing to take away from this exchange is how Bill rationalises what happened. He is sure he didn’t do it, but he dreamt of being at Ruth’s place. Therefore, this may indeed be one more instance of the blurring between mundane and surreal. In tandem, these are both real and with consequences, judging by the mystery of Agent Jeffries’ disappearance in the film.

And speaking of the film, two cells away from Bill, there is a strange inmate. A wide eyed, catatonic fellow, that looks like a homeless man. As a personal note, I’d like to remark that he bears some resemblance to one of the people in the ‘room above the convenience store’. He fades away soon after, as his face floats away. Dark.

Phyllis Hastings will partake of some darkness herself, as she receives a grim, deadly visit from ‘Coop’. Interesting to note that she seemed to be intimately acquainted with him. Maybe her husband was right about her having an affair with two people. This is quite odd, to say the least, since Cooper’s Doppelganger has sometimes a very strange, alien-like tone of voice. It’s not merely lacking in warmth, it’s downright cold and unfeeling. And sometimes it’s just menacing and cruel. All in all, he’s the ultimate antithesis of the real Cooper. This is how Kyle MacLachlan joins the likes of David Tennant and David Morrissey in the unofficial guild of actors who’ve played lovable and hateful characters. I would say it’s quite a feat.

He achieves this by the power of the body language and speech. Judging by a scene in Vegas and a tense conversation at a diner with his associate Ray (George Griffith), his character has a way of trapping you into his line of discourse. His tongue is figuratively a vise. And if he’s as bad as we think, we know that he won’t hesitate to tighten it. He’s also a scary sharp shooter. In fact, the gunshot he leaves on Phyllis is much the same as that on Ruth Davenport. Some food for thought there…

A Dark Reprisal?

Moving on into comparatively brighter things, Hawk is walking about the woods in the middle of the night with his trusty flashlight. He’s heeding Margaret and her Log’s words from last episode. As a slight treat for long-time fans of the show, she does tell him to come by for coffee and pie. This can function as a callback to a lovely occasion when Cooper and the Bookhouse Boys dropped by, in a quite atmospherically powerful moment: when we learned that something odd inhabited the woods. And, indeed, Hawk comes that special place, to the Sycamore Trees, the entrance to the Black Lodge. Throughout this scene, we’ve had some suspenseful music to enhance the feel of his walk. However, as we start to see the signature red curtains, the music works as a sort of preface to the transition.

Now, we find ourselves back in this place, with the real Cooper and MIKE. There’s unfortunately no music in the air, but that’s alright, because the silence in this occasion is fitting for what’s to come. Even Cooper is at a loss for words before the presence of ‘Laura Palmer’. They reprise part of their conversation from S1E2, but the playful elegance of young ‘Laura’ is no more. As a matter of fact, the odd reverberations that affect the speech of all but Cooper sound the strangest on her. Even now, even here, there’s something greatly disturbing and unpredictable about her presence, whether as a living or dead entity, or something in between. The result is a series of sights that we could consider strange, even by the show’s standards.

As an example, MIKE introduces Cooper to The Man from Another Place, or rather his new form. It’s become known that Michael Anderson, the actor who played TMFAP, is not on good terms with David Lynch. So, I’ll admit I’m not very sure whether or not Anderson would be involved in this season. In either case, that could explain the narrative necessity for his character to change. There may be a similar case for Frank Silva, who passed away on 1995, in case BOB makes a new appearance as himself of sorts. Nonetheless, we can all agree that TMFAP’s original appearance had its charm. But this evolution is comprised almost entirely of nightmare fuel. Finally, through Laura, MIKE and The Man From Another Place, we get a clear course of action. Cooper’s doppelganger must return to the lodge before he can escape it.

Speak of the Devil…

What does Coop’s doppelganger actually intend to do? We know that he’s been hanging around with sketchy people, who seem to be wary of him. We know that’s developed a pretty horrendous fashion sense, which hasn’t dulled his sexual activity, apparently. Adding to it all, we learn that he’s dangerously genre-savvy, as he has discovered that his associates Jack and Darya were actually tasked with killing him. Some as-of-yet-unknown party has paid a lot of money to take him out. The possible reasons to this abound, but given the metaphysical origin of his character, it’s possible that it’s not because of some mundane criminal motive.

He declares to a frightened Darya that he has killed Jack and that he has a plan to avoid returning to the Black Lodge. He attempts to extract information from her, which also unearths Hastings’ involvement through his secretary. Adding to the mystery, he shows her a poker card, an ace of spades with a strange design on it. He claims that is what he wants, thus baiting the audience for a motif to pursue. I swear, the Twin Peaks’ Facebook groups I’m in are swarming with that (even the shitposting ones). As for Darya herself, doom is coming. The preamble to her murder has a bit of the sexual violence from BOB/Leland when he murdered Maddy. Yet, this killing occurs with such tranquility it’s unnerving.

After he has finished the deed, he attempts to communicate with one Phillip Jeffries (YES, THAT PHILLIP JEFFRIES). We don’t know if he’s the man Coop’s doppelganger is talking to right now, but he is quite the enigma. He even manages to surprise the baddie with knowledge that he has met with Major Garland Briggs. Before ending the call, this unknown person says that the doppelganger will be going back in tomorrow. He, on his part, will be with BOB.

Dangerous-sounding stuff, but the doppelganger is no slouch on that department. He has means to get information, and this caller appears to be in a prison in South Dakota. We can be sure some villainous wheels will be turning.

Unravel and Transform

Everybody likes some chaos. And I’m by no means trying to allude to that ‘Joker-esque’ logic that entropy is part of humanity. I will leave that to the internet darlings-harbingers of edginess. Rather what I’m trying to say is that the aesthetic of chaos, of decay can be most appealing if taken with a degree of unpredictability. Something is soon to go down in the Black Lodge. David Lynch does not do things gratuitously, and he famously welcomes a multiplicity of interpretations. So, when we get transformations as haunting as TMFAP’s, we just know that something problematic is occurring. MIKE himself acknowledges so. Furthermore, when Cooper encounters ‘Leland’, he despondently urges him to find Laura.

What ensues is a nightmarish festival of chaos as the Black Lodge appears to literally fall apart. Cooper ends up falling from this place, through outer space, to end up landing on the mysterious glass box from last episode. At this point, it’s safe to say that the laws of physics as we understand them have become quite meaningless. In an ethereal form, he floats into the observation room, like the world’s most respectable ghost. Time has also been transgressed as Cooper has accessed the moment before the watcher and his girlfriend died at the hands of a strange entity. The moment doesn’t last long, as Cooper is expelled back into outer space, towards a destination unknown.

The episode comes to a close back on Twin Peaks. We get to see Sarah Palmer listlessly watching television at home, with a drink in hand, and frankly looking a mess. I don’t suppose the loss of a daughter and a husband is an easy burden to live with, let alone how it happened. The mood shifts from the mundanely dreary to the magical as the band Chromatics play “Shadow” at the Bang Bang Bar. The effect may not be nearly as remarkable or soothing as hearing Julee Cruise, but the contrast is still comforting enough. It’s like coming up for air before we dive back into the deep. Not to mention, it’s great to see relatively obscure bands get some exposure.

Actually, let me give in to the sheer impressionistic dimension of it all. Because it’s a lovely setting for a dose of nostalgia, as James Hurley and Shelly Johnson appear on scene. Even though the former is widely considered to be the Scrappy of the bunch, I must admit I smiled when I saw him. We learn that he has survived a motorcycle accident, but he seems well; and Shelly, she looks graceful and beautiful still. As she enjoys a drink with her friends, she notices a stranger shooting her a flirty glance. We may identify this fellow as one of the associates of the vile one bearing the semblance of Dale Cooper, Ray.

Credits roll in as we savour the impression. It may be that the problems will soon hit home. All the while, we can’t help but dance to the tune, bathed under blue lights, as a shadow looms over us. With the dropping of familiar names, the evolution and decay of characters, we get a baleful gulp of uncertainty. It’s still early but the air is heavy with foreboding sensation. Even those strange otherworldly locations stand more menacingly than they did before, as its agents are willing to subvert whatever rules these places are bound to for their own purposes. To what extent will these places and non-places endanger lives and possibly the very fabric of our world? What further carnage will follow at the hands of these agents?

Tune in next week, lovelies. Little by little, we walk further into the madness. And little by little, our old loves are joining us.

Directed by David Lynch

Written by Mark Frost and David Lynch

All images courtesy of Showtime

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