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.
A man walks into a bar—after cursing out Gene Kelly (because most of the time we don't feel like singin' in the rain). The bar, by the way, is named "Max Von's," surely after Erich von Stroheim's rabidly devoted butler Max von Mayerling from Sunset Blvd (1950). Of his employer, silent-film diva Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), Max once said, "Madame is the greatest star of them all." No more proper locale, then, for a star entrance: "Diane," says FBI forensics specialist Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer) to a platinum blond beauty nursing martini and cigarette. Around turns Diane Evans, the heretofore unseen confidante of FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), and played (of course, how could there be any doubt?) by Laura Dern. "Hello, Albert," she says.
The voiceless given voice. And body. An abstraction finally made flesh. It's been established, back in episode four of the revived Twin Peaks, that only Diane can identify the actual Cooper, or at least tell an imposter like the psychotic Mr. C. (also MacLachlan) from the real deal. Whenever that occurs—whether in next week's episode or even further on—is anyone's guess. (It's clear by this point that co-creators Mark Frost and David Lynch are sculpting in their own sort of time.) For now, a single line and a charged glance (of a kind that only Dern can give) will suffice. The history of both the character and the actress playing her (especially when it comes to her work—a muse above most others—with Lynch) is more than evident. Let the mind reel accordingly.
Speaking of cerebral unrest: Though prior installments of Twin Peaks have been, to put it mildly, idiosyncratic, there's something especially deranged about Part 6's whiplash shifts in tone. Or perhaps it's that the aura of unerring, anxiety-inducing sameness in each sequence, whether it be mundane or epochal, is particularly pronounced. That's much more Lynchian—everything's of a piece: A man doing paperwork can be as (anti)dramatic as a boy getting hit by a car. The crunch of a potato chip can upset one's equilibrium as much as the sound of an ice pick, wielded by a dwarf assassin, as it tears flesh and bone. Yes, all of this happens…and Jeremy Davies, too.
But let's rewind to Dougie Jones (MacLachlan), the savant-like insurance adjuster whose life Cooper has assumed. We rejoin him where we left him last week—in front of the gunslinger statue outside his office high-rise. With the aid of a security guard (Juan Carlos Cantu), he's finally reunited with his wife Janey-E (Naomi Watts) and child Sonny Jim (Pierce Gagnon) in their suburban tract house with the bright red door. "He's got this thing for my badge," says the guard as Dougie touches the star on the man's lapel—another object calling to his law-enforcer subconscious, not unlike the One-Armed Man (Al Strobel), who pleads with Cooper/Dougie from the Red Room: "Wake up!" "Don't die!"
There's some comic business revolving around the crunch-crunch-crunch of the potato chips on Dougie and Janey-E's sandwiches, as well as the clap-clap-clap of the Clapper light switch in Sonny Jim's bedroom (the boy's walls adorned with Cowboy and Indian illustrations—American history fully kitsched). Janey-E also receives a photo of Dougie with the prostitute Jade (Nafessa Williams), followed by a phone call from the two debtors who want $52,000 from Dougie for a bet gone wrong. She sets up a meeting with them at the park on "the corner of Guinevere and Merlin"—more nods to the Arthurian legends that shape, in small part, Cooper's current narrative.
But much of this lengthy early sequence (with only a brief cutaway to the Twin Peaks traffic light—its electricity humming—at Sparkwood and 21) is given over to Dougie scribbling on the files he's taken home from Lucky 7 Insurance. He places his finger over the "7" so that it resembles both the Red Room floor pattern and the Owl Cave logo. Then some lights start appearing on the case files, and Dougie draws a series of what look like stairs and ladders, as if he were connecting the dots. One telling detail, syncing with last week's installment: All the claims appear to be overseen by Dougie's "lying" colleague Anthony Sinclair (Tom Sizemore). What's the feeling when the truth is staring you in the face but you're loath to make sense of it?
"Make sense of it," says Dougie to his former pugilist boss Bushnell Mullins (Don Murray) later in the episode. Mullins is not enthused by his employee's erratic behavior. But the more he looks at Dougie's childish doodles, the more something becomes crystal clear—to character if not to audience. "You've certainly given me a lot to think about," Mullins says, evidently aware of…something. This isn't usually how it happens; more often (too often), the viewer is in the know, the surrogates onscreen are in the dark. But there's real beauty in seeing a character come to epiphany, even if (and perhaps especially if) we don't share in the revelation ourselves, but remain at a tantalizing remove.
Yet there's equal allure to full-bore participation, even if it's forced on you by circumstance. This episode sees the return of Carl Rodd (Harry Dean Stanton), the Fat Trout Trailer Park manager from Fire Walk With Me who, in-between piping-hot cups of "Good Morning America!," observed, with ineffable sadness, "I've already gone places. I just wanna stay where I am." Twenty-five years later, he's still in the same job, though he takes daily trips into Twin Peaks to relieve any monotony. "Not much I got to look forward to at my age," he says to one of his renters, Mickey (Jeremy Lindholm), "except the hammer slamming down."
It's clear Carl would be fine just sitting on a park bench, as he does here, sipping his coffee and staring at the rustling trees. But trouble finds him, this day, in the form of a mother (Lisa Coronado) and son (Hunter Sanchez), the latter of whom steps in front of a truck driven by a coked-to-the-gills Richard Horne (Eamon Farren). This is surely one of the strangest scenes Lynch has ever directed, pinballing from absurdity to tragedy, from stiltedness to soulfulness. The buildup initially feels rankly amateurish, with the boy's bloody death, and the mother's pained wailing, telegraphed from the moment they both appear. The reactions of the passersby, meanwhile, range from parodic (one driver does what effectively amounts to a robotic, GIF-ready face-palm) to heart-rending (another man's awkward hand gestures perfectly capture what it is to feel indecisive and helpless in the face of horror).
Into this maelstrom of tones and emotions walks Carl, who witnesses a flame-like manifestation of the boy's soul rise into the sky and evaporate around the surrounding electrical wires, then walks over to the mother and silently comforts her. It's ludicrous on the one hand, but Lynch's po-faced presentation, along with Stanton's own inimitably weathered countenance, sells it, bringing the fervor underlying this scene of communal shock and grief to the fore. How many of these bystanders know that, in this very spot, twenty-five years earlier (circa Fire Walk With Me), another parent and child, Leland and Laura Palmer (Ray Wise and Sheryl Lee), had their own horrible moment of clarity? They do now—even in the silence of the subconscious, the dead come back around.
MORE SLICES OF PIE
• Albert's full rail-against-the-rain line before he enters "Max Von's" is "Fuck Gene Kelly, you motherfucker!" Reader, I guffawed.
• Before his hit-and-run, Richard Horne meets up with Red (Balthazar Getty), who we haven't seen since he winked at Shelly (Mädchen Amick) from across the Roadhouse dance floor at the end of Part 2. It's clear Red is involved in the cross-border drug trade, as were Leo Johnson (Eric DaRe) and Jacques Renault (Walter Olkewicz) back in the day. (We also know Olkewicz is back as another Renault sibling, so he's sure to play a part in all this.) Of course, any sense of the scene's expository nature is quickly undercut by some primo Lynchian weirdness, as Red taunts Richard with a series of mock-martial-arts hand gestures and assorted non-sequiturs. Favorite one, after he assumes an Elvis-esque pelvic pose: "Did you ever see the movie The King and I?" Just when it seems like the scene is wrapping up, there's a a bizarre bit of business with a dime flipped into the air…that then hangs there…until it ends up in Richard's mouth. Among the revival series's many virtues is its Lynch-supervised sound design; the slight, subtle noise of the coin clacking against Richard's teeth is enough to set hairs on edge.
• Carl Rodd line of note: "I been smoking for 75 years. Every fucking day." Surely an experience with which Harry Dean is familiar.
• Carl talks with his renter Mickey about the latter's (presumably) wife Linda, who just received a wheelchair paid for by the government. In the series premiere, the Giant (Carel Struycken) mentioned both a "Linda" and a "Richard" to Cooper. Perhaps Mickey's wife is on a collision course with "Richard" Horne.
• Heidi! The German RR waitress (Andrea Hays) with the distinctive laugh returns to discuss the diner's exceptional pies with local Miriam Sullivan (Sarah Jean Long). We're left to wonder if Heidi's still—per Shelly and Bobby (Dana Ashbrook) in both the original series's first and final episodes—"jump-starting the old man" and regularly late to work as a result. As for no-less-bubbly newcomer Miriam, she witnesses Richard Horne driving away from the scene of his accident. A visit to the Sheriff's office is likely in order.
• Patrick Fischler's Las Vegas-based Duncan Todd returns. He receives a cryptic email (a red square that magically materializes on his desktop), which indicates he should remove a black-dotted envelope from the safe behind him. This envelope later ends up in the hands of Ike 'The Spike' Stadtler (Christophe Zajac-Denek), the above-mentioned ice-pick-wielding little person (and how often do you get to type that in a sentence?). Inside are pictures of two targets, the first being Lorraine (Tammie Bird), the frazzled fixer from Part 5 who failed, twice, to kill Dougie Jones. She's offed by Ike, along with two of her colleagues, in a gory, alternately horrifying and hilarious sequence set to Blunted Beatz's "I Am" (also featured in Part 5), which samples a sped-up refrain from Raphael Saadiq's "Good Man." Telling that, even after Ike's murder spree, Lynch somehow makes you feel sad for the fact that his ice pick gets bent out of shape. Oh, and Ike's second target? Dougie. So that's sure to go…someplace interesting.
• Janey-E meets with Dougie's extortionists, Tommy (Ronnie Gene Blevins) and Jimmy (Jeremy Davies, cooling it with the flailing hand gestures that are his go-to tic), giving them what-for and passing off $25,000 of his casino winnings to settle his debt. Watts has been having a lot of fun playing the exasperated spouse, and she really cuts loose here, railing about how she and Dougie are "the 99-percent-ers" and (in what is surely one of the series's most self-consciously didactic exchanges) observing that "we are living in a dark, dark age." Are Lynch and Frost telling a tale of economic and social unrest in the modern world? One that just happens to feature an ice-pick wielding dwarf? (Sorry, I just can't get over that.) I'm sure all this speculation and analysis is giving them a good laugh.
• Lo, an actual plot development! Tommy "Hawk" Hill (Michael Horse) finally discovers what the Log Lady (Catherine Coulson) meant when she said the "missing" piece of the Laura Palmer files was connected to his "heritage." While in the bathroom of the Twin Peaks sheriff's station, Hawk accidentally drops a Buffalo nickel, which rolls into a nearby stall. The coin strikes a chord in his mind. He turns around to see that the stall door was built by "Nez Perce Manufacturing," and that the door is missing a few bolts. (Aside: The Nez Perce are an actual Pacific Northwest tribe who play a major role in Frost's novel The Secret History of Twin Peaks. That the tribe has been reduced, here, to logos for coins and manufacturing companies resonates with the brief exchange from Part 5 in which Andy Brennan (Harry Goaz) tells Hawk that he can't find any "Indians" in the Palmer files, something a clearly saddened Hawk accedes to. A whole people co-opted, both sold and sold to.) Anyways, Hawk rips the door in half and uncovers…some hand-written pages. Maybe a note from Cooper? Or, perhaps, the missing pages from Laura Palmer's diary?
• Deputy Chad Broxford (John Pirruccello) continues his asshole-ery this week, lambasting Doris (Candy Clark), the wife of Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster), after she bursts into the station and rails at her husband about a poor service job on her father's car. Chad is quickly scolded and reminded that Frank and Doris's son committed suicide, a revelation (to us, though not to him) that he proceeds to mock.
• The closing Roadhouse musical number this week is "Tarifa" by Sharon Van Etten, from her 2014 album Are We There. It includes the lyric "Send in the owl"—not quite Stephen Sondheim, very Twin Peaks.