Friday, April 12, 2024

Twin Peaks, a World of Demons

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Twin Peaks: The Return is not a series for everybody. As it is, the original seasons were relatively fringe, even when featuring the mildest of David Lynch and a generous usage of soap opera tropes of the time. Regardless of the stumbles of Season 2, one could think of the series as a rewarding watch for the faithful viewer. Laughs, nightmares, a sense of wonder; it’s no accident it became a cult classic. The Return as a whole is different in nearly every way, but it achieves the same magical equation that has us coming back each week. In this episode in particular, the storytelling involves a gradually higher sense of familiarity, with the new darker tone from the beginning of the season. This balance is not only a reminder of what we yearned for, but of its potential.

It’s as beautiful in its delivery and effect, and nightmarish in its theme.

The bad youth

Concerning the topic of sheer shitbaggery in Twin Peaks, Chad has been a serviceable hate sink as an insensitive asshole, dirty cop, overall hindrance, etc. However, he still doesn’t hold a candle to Richard Horne, whose very origins remain a question that haunts the viewership.

So today we start off with Richard on his visit to a trailer where he confronts a woman called Miriam (Sarah Jean Long). She reported to the police that he ran over the little boy in Part 6. She also sent a letter to the Sheriff, pointing to Richard should anything happen to her. Narratively, this is almost tempting fate, so it’s only logical (but not any less horrifying) that Dick would choose to kill her. This time, the deed takes place off camera. To cover up his vile deed, he sets the trailer to explode and calls his buddy Chad to intercept the letter.

For his part, Chad exhibits a slightly weaker shade of villainy, as he appears somewhat unwilling to do this favor. It’s unlikely that this would be his conscience speaking, but its a possible preface to having Richard owe him one. If this is the case, then we can expect Dick to strike again. Even before BOB’s leave, Richard Horne has been the main evildoer in town. Some theorize that an ‘essential evil’ guides his actions, due to possibly being the product of Cooper’s doppelganger raping a comatose Audrey Horne. In fact, one may remember ???????’s words to Cooper in Part 1, as he told him to remember 430, as well as Richard and Linda. We can only guess about Linda, but Richard is most certainly a beacon of evil, whose actions in terms of violence and sex do seem a cruder, more impulsive variation of Mr. C’s.

Well, we’ve started with quite the bitter taste, haven’t we? It’s time we cleansed our collective palate with another witness in the little boy’s death via Dick Horne. Elsewhere, Carl Rodd chills outside his place, as you do, gently singing as he plays the guitar. It’s a pretty wholesome moment from a wholesome character, and the song itself is melancholy infused with sweetness, which never does any harm and is even good for you, according to John Keats.

But of course, wherever there is something good and pure, somebody has to ruin it. Next door, a mug crashing through a window signals an episode of domestic abuse, as Steven Burnett proves to be no different than Leo Johnson, violently threatening his wife Becky, and accusing her of doing something. Shelly was right to distrust, it seems.

Wounds in pink

Later in Las Vegas, we are treated to a rather humorous moment. While Rodney Mitchum looks at surveillance records, one of his ‘assistants’, Candie (Amy Shiels) is busy trying to kill an elusive fly. She grabs a remote control and accidentally whacks Rodney in the face with it. There is some blood shed, but nothing serious. Though the Mitchums proved violent with the Casino executive, they’re very understanding in this incident. Candie is quite ashamed, but her sobs go from the caricaturesque to the revealing. Long after the incident, Candie still feels anguish over this, despite Rodney’s reassurance that it was just an accident.

Her words “How can you ever love me after what I did?” carry a strong hint of emotional damage, most likely a consequence of previous abuse. Her colleagues, Sandie (Giselle Damier) and Mandie (Andrea Leal), show a compassionate demeanor to her, and in the intimacy of home, the Mitchums appear to be benevolent employers. So this begs the question, what happened to Candie that she would exhibit this emotional response in face of such a trifling incident? Within and without the Twin Peaks universe, that question has countless possible answers. Curiously, a personal input by the actress herself alludes to seeing the brothers as saviors from a terrible past.

That night, the Mitchums find out on the news that Ike “The Spike” Stadtler has been arrested. This news falls gracefully on them as they had planned to call a hit on Wee Mr. Death. The focus of the news then goes to Ike’s latest attempt, Dougie Jones, whom the Mitchums recognize as their infamous Mr. Jackpots. The news details testimonies from Janey-E and other witnesses about ‘Dougie’s’ super competence in the situation. A remark from Bradley hints that they too have business concerning Mr. Jones. Coupled with their poor reception of Cooper’s incredible antics at the casino, their agenda may now carry a sharper edge. Furthermore, they now know he has a family, who could be at risk also.


And speaking of Coop and ‘his’ family, following his ‘disappearance’ and the episode with Mr. Spike, Janey-E has taken ‘Dougie’ to their doctor. On their side of the medium, the doctor acknowledges that ‘Dougie’ has lost plenty of weight. On our side, though, we’re probably admiring and gushing over Kyle “Internet’s Dad” MacLachlan and how he has stayed in seriously magnificent shape. Mix both perspectives and you get Janey-E’s, who also notices this change in her ‘husband’. In fact, she is now exhibiting one key ingredient in a healthy marriage—attraction to your partner. This is a lovely new development in a character that has proven the richest in this revival in terms of personal traits and interactions.

This leads to some fucking (of the good kind) that night. But do keep in mind, this is ‘Dougie’ we’re talking about. He’s a far cry from the Coop that made us swoon twenty five years ago, and he’s functioning still in a marginal way. So the approach to this scene is appropriately hasty. Janey-E expresses sexual desire in verbal and body language, then the camera cuts to the act proper, which results in Sonny Jim waking up to something he probably has never heard before if we assume that this was a sexless marriage (plausible). On its own, this dynamic can be rather problematic, but the show picks the simpler approach of Coop merely re-learning sex in perhaps the safest way possible, all things considered.

But what makes this moment most remarkable is that he has learned affection through physicality. Even now, in his current state, the narrative has put Dale Cooper in places where his underlying nature comes back in flashes. A taste for coffee, thumbs up, physical competence, these are all key building blocks to the character. However, judging by his history before the Laura Palmer’s case, his interactions with Audrey and Annie in the original series, sex is not a matter of base urge with him. Rather it’s a consummation of emotional attachment. Taking the aforementioned building blocks and their reprisal in The Return, it is Cooper’s facial expressions what confirm the connection to his original state.

Dale’s expression at the end of the night is innocent, serene joy. His habit of constantly repeating the words of others has become a gimmick often comical, but frequently subverted. Yet no other time has he subverted this habit as when he repeated Janey-E’s words to him, “Love you.” In this case, it feels like genuine, though instinctive reciprocation. And it’s just nice when good-looking good people fuck.

Silence is golden

Now we travel to the dark woods in Twin Peaks, not for ominous, but just for silly business. It’s time for Dr. Jacoby’s Alex Jones-conspiracy gig. At least we can say he’s easier to keep down than Alex Jones proper. In fact, he does touch on pertinent matters, such as the freedom of marriage for all regardless of sexual orientation. Nadine Hurley listens faithfully, as usual. That’s cool and all, but what ultimately takes the cake here is that Nadine made it! She actually got her silent drape runners business, and holy fuck they’re silent. She may no longer have super-strength, but she has plenty of money to buy all the golden shovels she pleases.

Jerry is still lost in the woods, and it’s becoming something of a running gag. Chances are he may run into something actually relevant, which would be amusing because of its absurdity. But even if he spends the following eight parts roaming about the woods, I’d be okay with it. Because there are three actors you canNOT argue with. Brad Dourif, Christopher Walken, and David Patrick Kelly. Else you could die, for reals.

Underhanded tactics

Meanwhile, at the Sheriff’s Department, Chad does his Chad shit, which in this case, means intercepting Miriam’s letter. For his part, Dick Horne drives to his grandmother Sylvia’s house, where we see that Johnny is recovering from his accident last episode, as well as the freakiest teddy I’ve ever seen.

Yet that thing is still nowhere as ugly as Dick violently robbing his grandma for money to get out of town. Ugly is a massive understatement here; it’s brutal and ruthless and a frightfully real portrayal of misogyny. Later that night, Sylvia calls Ben (whom she may have divorced by the sound of it), demanding money to make up for what Dick took. Stressed by the call, Ben decides to ask Beverly to have dinner with him.

Back in Vegas, Duncan Todd receives news of The Spike’s arrest. Thus, he enlists the aid of Anthony Sinclair, colleague of ‘Dougie Jones’, to visit Todd’s archenemies, the Mitchum Brothers. The purpose of this visit is to frame ‘Dougie’ for the denial of an insurance claim that costed them thirty million. As a consequence, this would put ‘Mr. Jones’ on the Mitchums’ shitlist. Should Anthony fail to accomplish this, he would be forced to kill ‘Dougie’ himself. The pressure keeps piling on Cooper’s plate, as well as the enemies on his tail. So far, he has dodged every attempt with the grace of a diabetic Faroese Duck. That’s not even a thing, but the risk on our hero and his family is indeed a thing. There’s no telling if the intervention of the Black Lodge will protect him indefinitely.

Nevertheless, Anthony goes to the Silver Mustang casino. The Mitchums are not pleased in the least to see him on the surveillance cameras, so they send Candie to get him. While she doesn’t follow their instructions as they’d like, they eventually do get Mr. Sinclair. Further humor ensues, which deconstructs the brothers as the menace they were when first introduced.

Anyway, Sinclair does his lying well, but he oversells ‘Dougie’ as a mastermind with a vendetta against them. This may or not clash with the impression they get when they have a meeting with him. Sure enough, they look ready to kill him. But nothing is for sure when you’re dealing with one who roamed the otherside.

Uncanny presences

Now, we return to Buckhorn to our friends in the FBI and the local police department. And did I not call it last week? Indeed, FBI Albert Rosenfield and Forensic specialist Constance Talbot are on a date. After some deliberation, I’ve decided on Talbert. COLE and Tammy look from afar, equal parts amused and pleased for the two. All in all, it’s a fairly lovely evening, which seems a breather for the enigmatic case they’re handling.

Later on, Director COLE hangs out in his hotel room, doing some surreal drawing and drinking wine—a very underrated pastime, if you ask me. Suddenly, somebody knocks on his door, and as soon as he goes to answer, an ominous chord prefaces an unexpected presence.

It’s a vision of a sobbing, young Laura Palmer, as seen in Fire Walk With Me. After it passes, he realizes that Albert came knocking. Although disturbed by the vision, he tells Albert to come in. It’s time to discuss something vital: the text Diane received that morning from an unknown sender (Cooper’s doppelganger), “Around the dinner table, the conversation is lively.” Tammy traced the message all the way to a server in Mexico. They also discovered that Diane responded to the message with information on Hastings and his testimony. This definitely compromises her status as an informed party in the mission. COLE then reveals that he had suspicions about her from before, and this reply confirms their validity. For now, they will keep her close.

Tammy comes knocking, much to the dismay of COLE’s poor ears, having raised the volume of his hearing device to keep the conversation secret. She had been looking at the footage of the glass box in New York and found something peculiar. Bad Coop was at that location. As if this wasn’t puzzling enough, that night in Twin Peaks, Hawk receives another call from Margaret and her Log. Her words are somewhat of an enigma, as they often are, but there is clear concern in her message. Light is dying and darkness is looming. A momentous event draws near. Laura is the one.

Perhaps we’ll be seeing her soon, taking both this call and COLE’s vision into account. It’s certainly been a while since the last time, back in the Black Lodge.

This episode ends at the Roadhouse with a performance by Rebekah del Rio, “No Stars“, featuring Moby on the guitar. Both in lyrical content, genre, and atmosphere, the song feels like a tribute to the mystique around Twin Peaks as a universe of narrative and tropes that often seem to come alive on their own. With every episode, the storytelling brings both the places of old and the new together. In a similar way to Julee Cruise’s performances in very particular moments of the original series, Rebekah del Rio imbues the close with something more than auditive delight: relevance. In Twin Peaks, beauty often comes before the horror. Stay tuned, lovelies.

Twin Peaks: The Return – Part 10 Credits

Directed by David Lynch

Written by Mark Frost and David Lynch

All images are courtesy of Showtime

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