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.
So that's how David Lynch does an info dump. First, with a cheeky, knowing scene featuring the brothers Horne: "Jerry, what's going on?" asks Ben (Richard Beymer) after his cannabis-infused sibling (David Patrick Kelly) phones him from the woods. "I think I'm high!…I don't know where I am!" Jerry screams, perhaps speaking for a good subsection of the Twin Peaks revival audience, who have, over the six prior installments, been given only glimpses of a larger picture. Narrative momentum comes in asides; the more prevalent longueurs are reserved for atmosphere and mood, for full immersion in apparent stasis.
Part 7 shakes things up, following the brotherly freak-out with several story reveals that come in quick succession. But there's a niggling sense throughout all the twists and turns of plot that, in the words of Christopher Walken's True Romance mafioso Vincenzo Coccotti, "You don't wanna show me nothing but you're telling me everything." I don't mean that as a criticism. There's a certain delight in being deceived by an artist you love, as long as truth comes out of the con. Contradictory? I'd argue that Lynch and his co-creator Mark Frost are all about such seemingly irreconcilable oppositions, setting up extreme collisions (between their narrative and non-narrative impulses, especially) that result in some kind of transcendent intangible—though one, of course, that varies from viewer to viewer in terms of its effectiveness and resonance.
"There's something that definitely isn't here," says Diane Evans (Laura Dern) after she visits former FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper's evil doppelganger, Mr. C. (Kyle MacLachlan), in Yankton prison. She's speaking about something imperceptible, an essential lack that not even a microscope could pick up. "That is not the Dale Cooper that I knew.…It isn't time passing, or how he's changed, or the way he looks. It's something here," she says, touching her heart. Up to this point, Diane has been a person in name only to whom the good Cooper (also MacLachlan) addressed, via cassette tape, his ever-churning inner monologue. We were left to imagine who she was, or even if she was.
Now she's flesh-and-blood, though still sufficiently out of this world, what with her loud wardrobe and that platinum blonde bob (ha!) haircut. And she's suddenly in an active position. ("Look at me…look at me," she demands of the dead-eyed, counterfeit Cooper, who goes on to hint at some past transgression between them that has yet to be spoken aloud.) All this makes her resentful. When Deputy Director Gordon Cole (Lynch) and fellow G-man Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer) pay a visit to Diane's apartment to convince her to visit with Mr. C., she curses at them (the way Dern says "Fuck you!" certainly ranks high among life's pleasures) and acts as if there's no better place for Cooper to be than rotting in a jail cell. "Tough cookie," says Cole to Albert, "always has been." The scene has a delightful meta quality, as if we're not only watching Cole trying to convince Diane but also Lynch attempting to persuade both the character he created and the performer who's acted as his frequent muse since Blue Velvet (1986) to participate in an outlandish 18-part yarn. "It involves something you know about," says Cole, dangling the carrot, "and that's enough said about that." Telling her everything, showing her nothing? Or vice-versa?
Another comical variant on this show/tell theme occurs in a later scene involving good Cooper—still trapped in the mind, body and stultifying life of insurance agent Dougie Jones—in which a trio of police officers all named Fusco (Larry Clarke, Eric Edelstein and David Koechner) visit his office. They're there to tell him about the now bomb-demolished car he left at the Rancho Rosa tract house development several episodes back. But they hide that fact until Cooper/Dougie's take-no-shit wife Janey-E (Naomi Watts) and his near-equally assertive boss Bushnell Mullins (Don Murray) turn the obfuscating tables on them. They admit to the deceit (a common policeman's trick) and tell them they've found the destroyed car. But Janey-E isn't having it. "Why didn't you tell us that to begin with?" she demands.
Let's take that advice and discuss something I should have already mentioned: That the pages Deputy Tommy "Hawk" Hill (Michael Horse) found last week in the Twin Peaks police station men's room stall were torn from the diary of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee). In what is, thus far, the most overtly linear section of the new series, Hawk lays out the revelations of these pages (one of which is still missing) for Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster). Familiar names like Harold Smith and Leland Palmer are dropped. As is that of Cooper's old beau, Annie Blackburn (Heather Graham, in absentia), plus her dialogue from Fire Walk with Me in which she implored the then-living Laura (in what appeared to be a dream) to note in her diary that "the good Dale is in the Lodge and he can't leave." So the Cooper who did come out, Hawk surmises, is likely not the 'good' one.
What follows is a game of telephone (literally) as Frank calls his brother Harry (Michael Ontkean, also absent) and then Skypes with Dr. Will Hayward (Warren Frost—Mark Frost's father, who passed away after filming ended and to whom the episode is dedicated). Both Harry and Dr. Hayward were in the company of Cooper immediately after he left the Black Lodge, but whatever information they have about that fateful day 25 years ago is, at this moment, muddied by time and circumstance. Harry, it's clear, is in dire straits health-wise, fending off some disease in a hospital somewhere. (We register all this through Forster's subtly defeated face, a superb piece of masculine non-emoting.) Dr. Hayward has more to say, specifically about seeing the doppelganger Cooper walk out of an ICU unit, though not before he looked in on Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn, still to appear), who was lying comatose after the bank explosion in the original series's finale. But Frank recognizes that the trip down memory lane is a drain. So he gracefully changes the subject, joking with the Doc, as Twin Peaksers are prone to do, about fish instead.
There's only so much story one can take, only so many boxes we can put around life and its many, often inexplicable aggravations before the imposed order becomes its own kind of chaos. So we vacillate between the extremes, attempting to find balance. Perhaps we'll be Diane, looking for the spirit that should be there in a dear friend's eyes, but horrifyingly isn't. Perhaps we'll be Jerry Horne screaming in the woods—tragically and comically lost. Or we might be Benjamin Horne, who, in Part 7's best sequence, attempts, with his secretary Beverly Paige (Ashley Judd), to discover the source of an unearthly hum echoing through the halls of the Great Northern Hotel.
Like so much in new Peaks, the scene thrives on its seemingly contradictory makeup. It's at once calming and unnerving (much like the ethereal sound Ben and Beverly are chasing), and made all the more so because of the brilliant way Beymer and Judd play their characters's chemistry as both childishly platonic and heatedly sensual. There's a long moment during which Ben reaches his hands toward Beverly, holding them just close enough that he could either fondle or gently comfort her. Beverly's body language, too, suggests that she'd be as likely to recoil in disgust as to fall into Ben's arms. The real point is that ephemeral hum, which plays over the entire scene, even after a pivotal story point intrudes—the key to Cooper's old room, 315, mailed by Dougie's call girl acquaintance Jade a few episodes back, has finally arrived home. But that sound: Where does it come from? Recall that in Lynch's deceptively forward-motion drama The Straight Story (1999) something similar was asked by an exasperated supporting character, who wanted to understand why deer were always running in front of her car. Yet for all her railing at the heavens, all she had, in the end, was the question: Where? And why must she, or we, ever know?
MORE SLICES OF PIE
• Doc Hayward's Skype handle is "MiddleburyDoc," a reference to the town in Vermont where Warren Frost lived before his death in February of this year. I also love the little log handle that Sheriff Truman pulls to raise his computer screen from his desk.
• Deputy Andy Brennan (Harry Goaz) seeks out the owner, credited as Farmer (Edward 'Ted' Dowling), of the truck that was used in Part 6's hit-and-run. The guy is clearly freaked out; likely, he's harboring Richard Horne (Eamon Farren), who was at the wheel and isn't known for his mild demeanor. So he agrees to meet Andy on the logging road above Sparkwood and 21 in two hours time and tell the whole story there. Later in the episode, we see Andy waiting for the guy, and he doesn't show. Lynch cuts back to one of those unsettling shots that only he can do, of the Farmer's slightly ajar home door, which suggests that something horrible has happened to him. This second scene is scored by one of Angelo Badalamenti's classic cues from the original series. That, along with the large number of sequences set in Twin Peaks this week, only heightens the feeling that the town itself is moving away from the narrative periphery.
• Lieutenant Cynthia Knox (Adele René) from the Pentagon arrives in Buckhorn, South Dakota to investigate the mystery of Major Garland Briggs's fingerprints. She's shocked to hear from Detective Dave Macklay (Brent Briscoe) and coroner Constance Talbot (Jane Adams) that there's an actual body, albeit a headless one. There's also the matter of the corpse being the wrong age (in his 40s, when Briggs should be much older). She makes a call to her superior, Colonel Davis (Ernie Hudson), in Washington to inform him of this new development. But while she's doing that, the creepy ash man (Stewart Strauss)—the demon who, in Part 2, was hanging out in the cell near Matthew Lillard's wrongly imprisoned William Hastings—does a Michael Myers-esque slow-walk toward her. No deaths result; he just seems to be hanging around the morgue like the One-Armed Man (Al Strobel) did in the original series, waiting for exactly the right moment to make his presence known. By the way, the guy who plays creepy ash man, Stewart Strauss, is on Twitter (@stewstrauss). You should follow him. Maybe he'll do the same. He's good at that.
• Sights I Never Thought I'd See #1: Gordon Cole doing bird calls in his office (which, in addition to portraits of Franz Kafka and an atomic bomb explosion, features a prominently hung picture of a corn on the cob—garmonbozia in its raw state?). I also appreciate Albert's irritation with Cole over the whole Diane affair building to an indelible punchline in which the Deputy Director is forced to say "Please" when asking for his colleague's assistance.
• While flying to Yankton prison with Diane, there's a scene between Albert, Gordon and Agent Tammy Preston (Chrysta Bell) in which the latter reveals the results of her fingerprint comparison between the young Cooper and Mr. C. Turns out the ring finger doesn't match, or it does, but only when inverted. This leads to one of Gordon's bizarre asides (as anyone familiar with the Blue Rose scene from Fire Walk With Me will recall) in which he tells Tammy to "Put out your hands." Then he grabs each finger one-by-one, repeating what Mr. C. first said to them at the prison back in Part 4: "I'm very, very happy to see you again old friend." Gordon closes by grabbing Tammy's ring finger, describing it as the "spiritual mound, the spiritual finger," then telling her to "think about that." Okay, so…the word that corresponds to the spiritual finger in this case is "very," which also matches the finger that, on the Cooper prints that Tammy examines, is inverted so it matches with the good Cooper's prints. Now, head on back to Part 4 and watch the scene in which Mr. C. first meets with Albert, Gordon and Tammy. You'll notice that he actually says, "I'm yrev, very happy to see you again old friend." He inverts the second word, effectively giving away the fact that he is not the real Dale Cooper. And now let's get even more Wiki-sourced Reddit thread and point out that the "spiritual mound" is likely a reference to the prominent hill in South Dakota which was (factually) discovered and climbed by the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1804, and is (fictionally) part of the lore in Mark Frost's tie-in novel The Secret History of Twin Peaks. Final "factually": The Great Plains Indians believed that the Spirit Mound was home to dangerous supernatural beings known as "little people." I'm sure that has nothing to do with anything.
• The only known photo that the FBI has of Mr. C. is a hilarious image of him strutting, John Travolta-in-Staying-Alive-style, in front of a Rio mansion, suggesting a Miami Vice-meets-Baywatch Nights-like prequel that really must come to be. Albert says the mansion was later bought by a "girl from Ipanema." Wonder if she had Ol' Blue Eyes over to visit?
• Mr. C. has an eventful week. Aside from his meeting with Diane, he convinces Warden Dwight Murphy (James Morrison) to speak with him privately. During their tête-à-tête, he blackmails the Warden with a certain crime involving "Joe McCluskey" and the previously mentioned "Mr. Strawberry." This convinces the Warden to let Mr. C. and his associate Ray (George Griffith) walk away scot-free, under cover of night. So evil Dale is back in the world. Havoc surely to follow.
• After their meeting with the Detectives Fusco, Cooper/Dougie and Janey-E cross paths with Ike "The Spike" Stadtler (Christophe Zajac-Denek), the little person assassin whose weapon of choice got irreparably bent in last week's ep. This time he comes brandishing a gun, which brings us to Sights I Never Thought I'd See #2: Kyle MacLachlan karate-chopping (twice!) a killer dwarf while the digitally-created, electric tree manifestation of the Red Room's "Arm" materializes and shouts "Squeeze his hand off!" That's literal, by the way: When the police pick up Ike's gun later on for evidence, there's a piece of flesh from his palm stuck to the grip.
• One more favorite thing from the Ben Horne/Beverly scene: The discovery of Cooper's old key stokes the hotelier's memories, and he mentions the name of the dead girl who first brought the FBI agent to town. "Who's Laura Palmer?" asks Beverly. "That," says Ben all-too-knowingly, "is a long story."
• Turns out Beverly also has a home life, and not a happy one at that. She lives with her terminally ill husband Tom Paige (Hugh Dillon), who uses his disease as an excuse to passive-aggressively bully his wife. "Do not fuck with me!" she shouts at this shell of a man, their shared pain raw, rough and raggedly unresolved in that very Lynchian way.
• The episode doesn't end at the Roadhouse, though there is a long scene set there (and scored to Booker T. & the M.G.'s "Green Onions"). Initially it seems the purpose is to hilariously try the viewer's patience, as we watch a cleanup guy sweep up cigarette butts and rearrange bar stools. (Really, though, this proves to be no different from watching Russ Tamblyn's Dr. Jacoby paint shovels—simple pleasures observing ostensible grunt work). But then the phone rings, and we have our first dialogue scene with Jean Michel Renault (Walter Olkewicz), the all-around-nice-guy owner of the Roadhouse who, unsurprisingly, is whoring out high-school girls to top bidders. "He owes me for two!" he shouts at his contact, referring to a payday gone wrong, then describing his underage workers as "straight-A whores." Like I said…good guy that Jean Michel.
• Part 7 actually concludes at the RR, with a couple of wide master shots (and a few close-ups of Peggy Lipton's Norma, tallying the day's receipts) of a seemingly mundane evening at the diner. The balance is momentarily upset when a guy runs in and asks loudly "Has anybody seen Bing?!?" Everybody jumps. The guy leaves. And the patrons go back to their business, seemingly immune to such an ill-omen. (The unseen Bing is listed in the end credits roll as being played by Riley Lynch, progeny of Twin Peaks's mastermind, and a guitar player in the band, Trouble, that featured in Part 5's Roadhouse scene. Make of that what you will.) It's a perfectly peaceful/creepy sequence to close out on, nicely complemented by a score that mixes some of Badalamenti's ambient ominousness with Santo & Johnny's iconic 1959 instrumental composition "Sleep Walk." Added bonus, if you stick to the end: The unfailingly effusive waitress Heidi (Andrea Hays) lets out one of her distinctive giggles—the Twin Peaks equivalent of a Marvel movie closing credits easter egg.