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.
The key image in Part 5 of the revived Twin Peaks is of a woman in ecstasy. Recall, however, the subtitle that series co-creator/director David Lynch appended to his thorny 2006 masterpiece Inland Empire: "A Woman in Trouble." The line separating rapture and anguish is a blurry one, especially for Lynch's ladies, who are as likely to end up exquisitely chiseled corpses (the ubiquitous Laura Palmer; Part 2's doomed henchwoman Darya) as they are world-weary survivors.
For the moment, let's focus on Rebecca "Becky" Burnett (Amanda Seyfried), daughter of RR Diner waitress Shelly Johnson (Mädchen Amick), though Becky's last name—taken from ne'er-do-well husband Steven Burnett (Caleb Landry Jones)—obscures the identity of her father. (Dana Ashbrook's now-law-abiding Bobby Briggs is the most likely candidate, but I wouldn't be surprised if Lynch and co-writer Mark Frost throw a wrench into those narrative works.) Becky comes into the RR about midway through the episode, approaches Shelly, and asks her, after some prefatory fibbing, for money. We see and hear all this from a distance, from the perspective of RR owner Norma Jennings (Peggy Lipton)—three generations of Twin Peaks women interacting in a kind of prismatic arrangement: Norma's voyeurism filtering through Shelly's motherly concern culminating in Becky's big little lies.
"If you don't help her now, it's gonna get a lot harder to help her later," says Norma to Shelly. "We both know that tune, don't we?" she replies, invoking the dual specters of her abusive ex Leo Johnson (Eric DaRe, who apparently won't appear on the new series) and of "Big" Ed Hurley (Everett McGill, who definitely will show up), with whom Norma had an ill-fated love affair. It's clear both women have been through a wringer and emerged taxed and tired; when Norma and Shelly each put an arm around the other, it's with the familiarity of people who have persevered through the worst and continue to deal with the fallout.
It's at this point that Lynch cuts to Becky and Steven in the latter's Thunderbird, in a composition that recalls Shelly and Bobby's clandestine canoodling in the original series's pilot episode. This time, however, Shelly is on the inside looking out (at her own flesh-and-blood, no less), and the overall mood is defeatist as opposed to energized. (Very this-has-happened-before-and-will-happen-again.) It doesn't help that Steven seems like the worst aspects of Leo and Bobby combined, nor that he offers his young wife the remnants of the cocaine that he's been inhaling all day. Seyfried has never been better onscreen than she is here: She snorts the drug, slowly becoming distractedly moony and euphoric. And it's at that point that Lynch cuts to a blood-curdling overhead shot of Becky—scored to The Paris Sisters' "I Love How You Love Me" and held, like so many images in this new series, far past the point of comfort—in which she loses herself in drug-addled jubilation. She is who she is. Yet Becky is simultaneously a tragic descendent of Lynch women past—certainly Laura Palmer (whose fate, this scene suggests, she may ultimately share), but also Mulholland Dr.'s ill-omened Betty/Diane, a plucky, beaming ingenue chewed up and spit out by the male-dominated Hollywood machine.
Despite the episode's abundance of Dale Cooper-'n'-doppelganger action, it's the women who resonate most, in ways both absurd and appalling. Jane Adams's Buckhorn, South Dakota coroner Constance Talbot makes a number of hilariously inappropriate jokes when revealing the results of her autopsy on the headless John Doe body discovered in the new series's premiere installment. (She also finds a wedding ring inside the corpse's stomach that traces back to Naomi Watts's Janey-E Jones.) Sheriff Truman's (Robert Forster) beleaguered wife Doris (Candy Clark, doing some primo, John Waters-esque line readings) shows up at the Twin Peaks police station to scold her husband about a roof leak and the "black m-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-ld!" that may form.
A scene at the Silver Mustang Casino that introduces two imposing heavies, Rodney (Robert Knepper) and Bradley Mitchum (Jim Belushi), who put casino manager Burns (Brett Gelman) in his bloodied place is most interesting for the stoic trio of pink dress-clad girls who watch the beating from the sidelines. And for the first time in the series, FBI Agent Tammy Preston (Chrysta Bell)—seen at her desk comparing an image of the younger Dale Cooper with his evil, aged counterpart—is shown not as a slinky object of lust but as someone relentlessly inquisitive, the "good agent" that her boss Gordon Cole (David Lynch) hinted at beneath his old school lechery.
Speaking of old school, though in a new, horrifying form: A psychotic character named Richard Horne (Eamon Farren)—perhaps the son of Sherilyn Fenn's Audrey Horne?—makes his debut in this installment, in what initially appears to be the climactic Roadhouse musical scene. (The band onstage is Trouble, fronted by Lynch's son Riley, and playing a composition, "Snake Eyes," that has a synapse-scratching fury similar to Bill Pullman's sax solos in Lost Highway.) Instead, we're treated to another discomfiting sequence involving a man's unrelenting ugliness toward a woman, as Richard manhandles and threatens a Roadhouse patron named Charlotte (Grace Victoria Cox) who is initially drawn to his too-cool-for-school charisma. (You know he's an iconoclast because he blatantly smokes in front of a large "No Smoking" sign.) The spell is quickly broken once he grabs her and says "I'm gonna laugh when I fuck you, bitch."
After an episode that's filled to the brim with humorous incident (see a fuller accounting below in the bullet points), this tonal shift to the ultra-serious and disturbing is shocking—very similar to the switch in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me from the black comic Agent Chester Desmond prelude to the not-funny-in-the-slightest last week of Laura Palmer. It also makes for a provocative compare-contrast with the second episode's lengthy Mr. C. (Kyle MacLachlan)/Darya (Nicole LaLiberte) murder scene. There will always be something comic book about Mr. C. He's larger than life, and that takes some (though certainly not all) of the sting out of his most violent acts. There's likewise something otherworldly, at least initially, about Richard Horne, though it's mainly in his look (that very angular, baby-Matthew-McConaughey face) and calculated manner (the character tries extra hard to exude "rebel"). But when he opens his mouth and lashes out at Charlotte, his evil is all-too-grounded and recognizable. He's Wild at Heart's Bobby Peru without the star power, so his sexist insanity becomes much more human, and all the scarier because of that. But it's Charlotte's face that completes the tale—a look of abject distress (and impending doom) so demoralizing and empty that it acts as cold complement to Becky Burnett's benumbed bliss. This was the girl.
MORE SLICES OF PIE
• On the Mr. C. front this week: Though Agent Cooper's evil twin is still being held in prison, he manages to wreak a fair amount of havoc. Warden Murphy (James Morrison) finally gives him his phone call via a touchtone landline, which Mr. C. promptly uses to make the prison's camera and security systems go haywire. While the Warden and his associates are freaking out, Mr. C. says "The cow jumped over the moon" into the receiver. A continent away in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a black box with lights on top of it flashes red, then disintegrates. Not so coincidentally, this is the same box we see at the top of the episode (though its location isn't specified at that point) after it's called into by a panicked woman who's in charge of the two assassins staking out Cooper/Dougie in the Rancho Rosas estates. Buenos Aires also happens to be the last known location of Cooper's FBI colleague Phillip Jeffries, played by the late David Bowie in Fire Walk With Me. Since Michael J. Anderson's Man From Another Place was recast as a digital electric tree in this new series why not turn Ziggy Stardust into a charcoal-colored container? Makes sense to me.
• The above isn’t even the scariest moment with Mr. C. That would be when he looks into the mirror in his prison cell and the bottom of his face morphs into that of Killer Bob (the late Frank Silva). "You're still with me," says Mr. C.—an alternately touching and terrifying sentiment.
• We first meet Caleb Landry Jones' Steven Burnett during a disastrous job interview. His interlocutor: None other than Bobby Briggs's former partner-in-crime Mike Nelson (Gary Hershberger), who also seems to have turned over a lawful new leaf. He scolds Steven for his unprofessional resume before sending him on his way with a contemptuous "What an asshole." It's still clear being good isn't a very comfortable fit for Mike.
• To Cooper/Dougie, who continues his reintegration into modern society at the Lucky 7 Insurance firm, where the manufactured doppelganger used to work. It's been interesting to watch Lynch and cinematographer Peter Deming find the horror (and perhaps the beauty?) in corporate structures like casinos and tract housing developments. This week it's an office high-rise, with its flat, fluorescent lighting, overcrowded elevators and aquarium-glass conference rooms. Among the worker bees Cooper/Dougie encounters are a clearly treacherous colleague, Anthony Sinclair (Tom Sizemore, menacing as ever), and an elderly boss, Bushnell Mullins, played by 87-year-old Don Murray, whose film career extends back to the Marilyn Monroe comedy Bus Stop (1956). Among Murray's numerous other credits are Otto Preminger's Advise & Consent (1962) and the fourth installment of everyone's favorite simian sci-fi series, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972). I especially like the oversize poster that reveals Bushnell was a former boxer, a visual gag equivalent to those self-portraits that, in the movies, often adorn a pompous rich man's home or office.
• Before Cooper/Dougie is driven to his office by Janey-E, there's a mysterious moment in which he sheds a tear after seeing his "son" Sonny Jim (Pierce Gagnon) in the car—one of those strangely lovely, purely implicative asides at which Lynch excels.
• The car bomb that the two assassins at Rancho Rosas planted on Dougie's car finally goes off in this episode, though only after a second group of assassins—seemingly summoned by that sentient black box in Buenos Aires—show up. Stupidly, they don't realize the car is rigged to explode, though the scene is more about the neighbor boy (Sawyer Shipman) who lives across the street with his drugged-out mother (Hailey Gates), both of whom we met in Part 3. There's a story Lynch has often told about the naked, bruised neighbor woman who came up to him when he was a young boy. (That encounter ultimately made its way into Blue Velvet in the form of the Dorothy Vallens "he put his disease in me" sequence.) This comes off like a slight variation on that formative experience, especially the way Lynch and Deming frame the reflection of the explosion over the young boy's face, very effectively signifying its revelatory nature.
• Another familiar face: Dougie's prostitute friend Jade (Nafessa Williams), who discovers her absent-minded john left his key to the Great Northern Hotel, room 315, in her car. She drops it in the mailbox, so it surely will make its way back to the small town in Washington where it belongs.
• When Becky comes into the RR Diner, she's wearing an apron for a bread store called Sweet Loaf. It's not quite Meals on Wheels, but the parallel to Laura Palmer's food-making/distributing after-school job still stands.
• Another of Lynch and Frost's trenchant asides: Hawk (Michael Horse) and Andy (Harry Goaz) continue to pore over the Laura Palmer evidence looking for the "missing" piece. Lynch and Deming capture this all in one long, slow-dollying shot, with not a word spoken until Andy asks, "Hawk, have you found any Indians? Anywhere? I haven’t found any Indians." Hawk sighs sadly. "No, Andy," he replies. The genocidal subtext is pretty unmistakable.
• Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) and his gold shovels provide the episode's biggest laugh. I certainly didn't expect that Laura Palmer's former therapist would turn into Twin Peaks's resident Alex Jones. But it turns out the good doctor has gone full anti-Illuminati, broadcasting a rabble-rousing, rant-heavy radio/YouTube show as one "Dr. Amp." The gold shovels, it turns out, are his merch, which he sells to help his viewers/listeners shovel themselves "out of the shit, into the truth." A gutbusting twist, this. Among Dr. Amp's audience are cannabis-producer extraordinaire Jerry Horne (David Patrick Kelly) and, making her first appearance on the new series, Nadine Hurley (Wendy Robie), eye-patched as ever, and silently, smilingly transfixed by every one of Dr. Amp's words. Her husband, "Big" Ed Hurley, must be grateful for the respite.
• A quick scene at the Pentagon (!) introduces Colonel Davis (Ernie Hudson, of the original Ghostbusters and the HBO series Oz) and his subordinate Lieutenant Cynthia Knox (Adele René), the latter of whom is tasked with traveling to Buckhorn, South Dakota to investigate the set of fingerprints on that John Doe body. Though the Buckhorn police have no idea, both Davis and Knox know these prints belong to the deceased Major Garland Briggs (the late Don S. Davis), father to Bobby.
• Richard Horne's contact at the Roadhouse is Twin Peaks police deputy Chad Broxford (John Pirruccello), who we met in Part 4. He seems to occupy a similar grousing asshole position as Deputy Cliff Howard (Rick Aiello) in Fire Walk With Me, and I certainly wouldn't mind seeing him receive an identical bullet-to-the-head fate. Horne passes him bribe money, incidentally, in a pack of Morley cigarettes, the brand of choice for The X-Files's Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis). Crossover episode, anyone?
• Part 5 is dedicated to the recently deceased actor Marv Rosand, seen here as the RR's grill cook, Toad.
• Unlike the previous three installments, the end credits don't play over a Roadhouse performance, but over a shot of Cooper/Dougie standing outside his office in front of a gunslinger statue. (The accompanying music is the title track from Johnny Jewel's 2017 album "Windswept.") Like many of the objects he encounters, the statue mesmerizes him and seems to stoke his memory as to his FBI agent past. But for the moment, he's left to contemplate it, silently and uncertainly. I wouldn't be surprised if he's still in the same spot next week.