Twin Peaks Recap is a weekly column by Keith Uhlich covering David Lynch and Mark Frost's limited, 18-episode continuation of the Twin Peaks television series.
It's worth quoting the latest (perhaps the last?) gnomic pronouncements from Margaret "The Log Lady" Lanterman (the late Catherine E. Coulson), speaking via phone to Deputy Sheriff Tommy "Hawk" Hill (Michael Horse), in full:
"Hawk—electricity is humming. You hear it in the mountains and rivers. You see it dance among the seas and stars. And glowing around the moon. But in these days, the glow is dying. What will be in the darkness that remains? The Truman brothers are both true men. They are your brothers. And the others, the good ones, who have been with you. Now the circle is almost complete. Watch and listen to the dream of time and space. It all comes out now, flowing like a river. That which is and is not. Hawk—Laura is the one."
There's plenty in this scene—which comes toward the end of Part 10 of Mark Frost and David Lynch's Twin Peaks revival—to ponder: "Electricity" calls up images of the Black Lodge and its backward-speaking, time-warping denizens. Several cryptic observations ("the glow is dying"; "the dream of time and space") feel as if they apply as much to our world as to the one onscreen. The way Hawk sits, quietly and attentively listening to Margaret, gives him a regal bearing that makes him more chiseled icon than human (a provocative complication of the Native American "heritage" mentioned in an earlier Log Lady prophecy). And of course there's that final, forceful reference to the perhaps semi-divine prom queen Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), this picturesque small town's, and our own small screen's, sacrificial lamb.
What stands out most, however, is Margaret's punny observation about the Sheriffs Truman (Robert Forster and Michael Ontkean): True Men. On first encounter, her earnest reading of that line struck me as discordant—a rare moment where Lynch and Frost's surreal way with words and speech patterns tread into the thuddingly obvious. Yet on reflection and rewatch it seemed the key moment in an episode (and a series; and a body of work) frequently concerned with that very idea. What makes a man in the world of David Lynch?
Men are scum. Anyone would think that who had the great misfortune to encounter Richard Horne (Eamon Farren). This psychotic scion of one of Twin Peaks's richest families returns after three episodes' absence to threaten and murder Miriam Sullivan (Sarah Jean Long), the woman who witnessed Horne driving away from the scene of a hit-and-run in Part 6. Lynch and cinematographer Peter Deming film the killing from outside Miriam's trailer, capturing Richard's unreal reflection (perhaps CGI-assisted, and all the creepier for it) in the glass door. Once he rushes inside to finish the deed, the camera cuts to a long shot of the trailer, which shakes as the two scuffle and Miriam's screams give way to a sickening thud and the subtle hiss of the gas oven that Richard sets up to ignite.
Men are wise. Witness Carl Rodd (Harry Dean Stanton), manager of the Fat Trout Trailer Park and fellow bystander to Richard Horne's vehicular mayhem, strumming his guitar, crooning the iconic Western folk song "Red River Valley." As with the Log Lady, his words seem prophetic and applicable to dramas within and without the world of Twin Peaks: "From this valley they say you are leaving/I will miss your bright eyes and sweet smile/For they say you are taking the sunshine/That will brighten my pathway a while." Before Rodd can finish the song, a red coffee cup comes crashing through the window of a nearby RV, and a man's angry voice starts to rise. "It's a fucking nightmare," sighs Carl. It is happening again.
Men are cruel. Inside that RV, Steven Burnett (Caleb Landry Jones) is howling at his wife Becky (Amanda Seyfried) about the destitute life they lead. She cowers on the couch as he raves like a wild animal. She slashes at him with her hands. He holds her down, her eyes widening with terror. It's the hominid version of that violent nature documentary watched by Sarah Palmer (Graze Zabriskie) in Part 2, and no less mesmerizing.
Men wouldn't harm a fly. So they let their women do it. In a Las Vegas mansion, Rodney Mitchum (Robert Knepper), brother of fellow gangster Bradley Mitchum (James Belushi), pores over the surveillance logs for one of his hotel-casinos. One of his three hired ladies, Amy Shiels' fembot-like Candie (her sisters-in-airheadedness are Sandie [Giselle DaMier] and Mandie [Andréa Leal]), chases a fly around the room, swatting at it with some cloth. The insect hilariously evades her, until it flies right near Rodney. Candie grabs the TV remote control and, when the bug lands on Rodney's face, she gives it, and her gruff employer, a hard whack. All hell breaks loose: Candie cries, Rodney winces in bloodied pain, Bradley runs in and tries to figure out what happened. A lifetime of gangsters-and-their-molls movies prime us for Candie to get the crap beaten out of her. Instead, we get a scene in which Rodney gently comforts his remorseful beau. "I'm fine," he says sweetly, though it doesn't provide much peace. "How can you ever love me after what I did?" Candie stammers. And Rodney, this violent career criminal (who will later go on to reference Marlon Brando and his most famous mafioso role), looks at her shocked as if to say, "How can I not?"
Men are peculiar. Janey-E Jones (Naomi Watts) finally takes her husband Dougie (Kyle MacLachlan)—who is really FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper, still shellshocked from his travel between dimensions—to the family physician, Doctor Ben (John Billingsley). Doc marvels at his patient's physical transformation, "perfect" in everything from blood pressure to muscle tone, while still brushing off Dougie's peculiar tendency to repeat words that others have said. ("Pe-cul-iar," Dougie mutters. Quite.) Janey-E notices the transformation, too, and is clearly turned on. A very Lynchian seduction follows, starting with a gorgeous shot of Janey-E's feet in red flats and climaxing with, well, Cooper/Dougie and his "wife" in orgasmic ecstasy. (The way MacLachlan flails his arms and contorts his face as Janey-E rides him is very idiot savant Showgirls—though Showgirls is, perhaps, already idiot savant.) During afterglow, Janey-E whispers "I love you" to Dougie. "Love you," he repeats, though there's something in his euphoric expression that suggests this isn't mere verbal mimicry. Depths are forming.
Men are ranters. Certainly that's the case with Dr. Lawrence Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn), peddling his government conspiracy theories and "shit-digging" shovels on another nightly Internet video broadcast. Though he purports to speak for the masses, his spittle-flecked bluster is very male, very macho. (I personally thought of the pithy reply the great humorist Fran Lebowitz once gave to an audience member who asked "What do you think are the innate differences between men and women?": "Testosterone," she quipped.) Yet as so often happens in Part 10, Jacoby's bellowing is counterbalanced by a woman. That would be devoted fan Nadine Hurley (Wendy Robie), one of the original series' saddest, most pitiable characters (and often a figure of fun) who is here revealed to be running her own business—a window-dressing store named "Run Silent, Run Drapes" (a reference to and, by extent, a complication of Robert Wise's very male Clark Gable/Burt Lancaster submarine thriller Run Silent, Run Deep from 1958). "He's so beautiful," sighs Nadine as Jacoby rages ("Stop distracting yourself with all this diverting bullshit!"), though there's a sense, especially to those of us Peaks familiars, that she's traveled a long, emotionally taxing road to be able to say that.
Men are buffoons. Jerry Horne (David Patrick Kelly), still high and lost in the woods: "You can't fool me! I've been here before!" he screams at his cell phone. And then there's Deputy Chad Broxford (John Pirruccello), who intercepts Miriam Sullivan's letter to Sheriff Truman at the Twin Peaks police station after some startlingly inept chit-chat with receptionist Lucy Moran Brennan (Kimmy Robertson), who, despite her daffy demeanor, knows a guilty guy when she sees one.
Men are helpless. Johnny Horne (Erik Rondell), last seen running headfirst into a wall, is now helmeted, strait-jacketed and tied to a chair in the home he shares with his mother Sylvia (Jan D'Arcy). He's forced to look at a makeshift teddy bear—a glass-orb head sutured to its furry body—that says, "Hello, Johnny. How are you today?" over and over. Enter Richard Horne, who has come to steal money from Sylvia, his "grandma" (this casually revealed plot point suggests Richard is indeed the son of Sherilyn Fenn's still-to-be-seen Audrey Horne). This is Part 10's most upsetting sequence, as it counterpoints Johnny and Sylvia's powerlessness (he falls to the floor and struggles, she cowers in rueful horror) with Richard's unbridled fury. Lynch further unnerves by scoring the whole encounter with the Mantovani Orchestra's popular recording of Ernö Rapée and Lew Pollack's "Charmaine." Contra many moments of filmed violence, our sympathies are constantly being shifted and upended, our numbness (or our desire for it) poked at and prodded. We feel…though we don't quite know how to, or who for. Richard Horne's farewell line to Sylvia seems to sum the whole scene up: "Why do you have to make something so simple so difficult? Cunt!"
Men are schemers. In Las Vegas, Dougie Jones' insurance company colleague Anthony Sinclair (Tom Sizemore) meets with moneyed businessman Duncan Todd (Patrick Fischler). "Do you recall my business rivals and bitter enemies the Mitchum brothers?" he asks, the start of a gut-busting throwaway info-dump that casts a whole new light on the insurance fraud plotline that Lynch and Frost have teased out in surreally obscure fashion. Todd tells Sinclair to visit the Mitchum brothers (Mitchum, Gable, Lancaster, Brando—Men!…of a certain kind) and convince them that Dougie is the one behind it all, thus ensuring his death and the continuation of the cover-up. Later, when Sinclair goes to tell the brothers that "You have an enemy in Douglas Jones!," we see Candie back to her old bubbleheaded self. She can't even bring Sinclair up to the brothers' office without launching into tangents about a local weather report and the casino air conditioning. The easiest tasks are impossible for Candie; her blissfully ditzy ignorance, and her unfailing sweetness, recall that of Betty Hudson (Marla Rubinoff), the ever-clueless ingenue from Lynch and Frost's short-lived 1992 sitcom On the Air. Again, conditioning leads us to believe she'll be punished. But all the Mitchum boys can do is curse in emasculated exasperation. "We fire her," says Bradley, vexed but sympathetic, "she's got no place to go." Love conquers all, even for cutthroats.
"Men" are kind. Humanity, in all its goodness, is on full display in the Buckhorn, South Dakota hotel where County Coroner Constance Talbot (Jane Adams) and FBI Forensics specialist Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer) make flirty small talk over dinner, while Bureau Chief Gordon Cole (David Lynch) and his protégé Tammy Preston (Chrysta Bell) watch, giggling and delighted, from afar. The scene is less about dialogue (which remains, from both couples, barely audible) and more about reverent pantomime, about the sheer pleasure people can take in one another's company, gender and other "differences" be damned.
Men are empathetic. Later, in his hotel room, Cole is distracted from an artistic trance (doodling what looks like Lynch's own "Angriest Dog in the World" refashioned as a reindeer) by a knock at the door. The staging is chilling because it almost exactly recalls the cliffhanger from Season One of the original series when Agent Cooper was shot by an unknown assailant. Instead, Cole opens the door to see…a terrified Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) projected before him. "Projected" is the right word, because the image of Laura is from Fire Walk With Me, specifically the devastating moment after she's learned her father Leland (Ray Wise) is the man who's been raping her and she goes to visit her friend Donna Hayward (Moira Kelly) for comfort. The vision dissipates to reveal Albert who has some damning information about Laura Dern's Diane, and on his heels is Tammy, bearing an image of Mr. C. (Kyle MacLachlan), Cooper's evil doppelganger, in the NYC penthouse where the young couple, Sam (Benjamin Rosenfield) and Tracey (Madeline Zima), were murdered in Part 1. Yet that image of Laura is hard to shake—an especially strange moment in a series filled with them. Beyond the plot machinations it suggests, it's as if Lynch is confronting himself with his own creation, contemplating his series and the tortured character at its center from a quarter-century's remove, wondering at the best way forward.
Men are pathetic. At the Great Northern, Benjamin Horne (Richard Beymer) receives a phone call from Sylvia (from whom he's now divorced) informing him of their grandson Richard Horne's home invasion. As in the original series, their conversation quickly devolves into accusation and recrimination. After Ben hangs up, he covers his face in exhaustion, and finally gives in to the temptation he's tried for the past several episodes to avoid. "Beverly," he calls out to his devoted, though married secretary (Ashley Judd), "do you want to have dinner with me?"
"Behind every great man is a great woman," the old saw goes. It is, however, a woman front-and-center in Part 10's final scene, which is set, of course, at the Roadhouse. That would be Rebekah Del Rio, the Latin American singer who put Naomi Watts and Laura Elena Harring through the emotional wringer in Lynch's sublimely tragic Hollywood story Mulholland Dr. (2001). Here, decked out in a patterned dress with black-and-white markings very similar to the floor of the Red Room, she sings her Lynch co-penned ballad "No Stars" from the 2011 album "Love Hurts Love Heals." The camera lingers on Del Rio, as well it should. The audience is rapt. Del Rio's lyrics are very simple, very longing, and no less prescient than the Log Lady's entreaties to Hawk or Carl Rodd's song of himself. The Spanish chorus basically translates to "In your eyes I saw the stars/But there are no longer/There are no longer stars." Something is missing. There's a lack in so many lives. There can't be beauty without horror, light without darkness—"that which is and is not."
As Del Rio sings, a familiar face stands behind her, accompanying on guitar. That man is Moby.
MORE SLICES OF PIE
• "Hello, MUBI. How are you today?"