I am back to try to make sense of the sprawling, surreal world of Twin Peaks! This week’s episodes were available for streaming immediately following the premiere. Of course, I couldn’t resist staying awake until 1am and taking in all four hours at once. So much happens in these episodes, yet there is a sense that these four hours we have watched are only the beginning, a preamble for a Lynchian summer of madness.
COOPER’S JOURNEY: The third episode begins with what is surely the most bizarre, abstract, and surreal twenty minutes that has ever aired on a major television network. When we meet up with Dale Cooper again, he is falling through space/time/dimensions. He ends up on a balcony overlooking a vast ocean, bathed in purple light. Then he enters a room and encounters an Asian woman, sitting in front of a fireplace, who appears to have her eye sockets sealed over with skin. The woman attempts, in vain, to communicate something to Cooper. Your guess is as good as mine as to what she is trying to say. I initially got excited and thought maybe this was Josie (which would have somehow made sense) but alas, I have no clue who this woman actually is. Someone or something starts knocking at the door, and the woman leads Cooper out of the room and up a ladder to the outside of the box and into…OUTER SPACE?
Yes, it seems as though we are in space now, or at least a very close approximation. The woman pulls a lever that ends the dreadful knocking sounds (YAY!), at the same time electrocuting her and sending her hurtling into the abyss (eyeless Asian chick, we hardly knew ye!). Cooper just stands there for a while, dazed and probably enjoying the silence, when he sees the ghostly head of Major Briggs float by and utter the words ‘blue rose’.
Just when you start to think that things can’t possibly get weirder, Cooper goes back down the ladder into the room with the fireplace and lo and behold, there sits Ronette Pulaski! She is credited as ‘American Girl’, but I’m not buying it. She tells Cooper ‘When you get there, you will already be there’, then the obtrusive knocking sound returns. Ronette/All-American Girl By The Fireplace warns ‘My mother is coming!’, then Cooper is sucked out of the room through an ornate electrical socket in the wall. Yes, this all really happened and it was on your TV and it was surreal and frustrating and glorious.
I was on the edge of my seat, anticipating Cooper’s return to the real world. I absolutely did not expect him to re-enter Earth by exchanging places with a sad sack named Dougie.
A BRIEF MOMENT IN THE LIFE OF DOUGIE JONES: Dougie Jones, another Cooper doppelgänger, is in the bedroom of an unsold house in Las Vegas. He is experiencing that tender moment where you give money to a prostitute after having sex with her. When the prostitute goes to the bathroom to shower away her shame, Dougie collapses on the floor and vomits and is whisked away to the Black Lodge. The one-armed man is there to greet Dougie and tells him ‘Someone manufactured you for a purpose’. Dougie is understandably confused. His confusion does not last long because soon his left hand starts to wither away and his head turns to smoke. The essence of Dougie is reduced to a small, golden bead that lays on a chair in the Lodge. Dougie is no more. The one-armed man takes Dougie’s ring (ummm, how did Dougie get the owl ring, anyway?) and places it on the same table where it laid in the FWWM film. Goodbye, Dougie.
HELLOOOOO DOUGIE: Cooper lays on the floor, having taken Dougie’s place in the mortal world. Jade The Friendly Hooker gets out of the shower and doesn’t seem to think much of the fact that in the past five minutes ‘Dougie’ has gotten a new hairstyle and new clothes, has lost weight, and is now laying motionless on the floor beside a pile of vomit. All she is concerned about is that Dougie is missing his car keys (all he has on him is the hotel room key for the Great Northern), which means she has to give him a ride into town. Through dumb luck, Cooper narrowly misses an assassination attempt on his life by a hired goon who is staking out Jade’s jeep. Another goon has been watching the house where Jade and Cooper just left. He walks over to investigate Dougie’s car, while across the street The Worst Mother In The World takes pills, drinks whiskey, and shouts out ‘119!’ as her young son peers out the window. What’s going on with this junkie mom? Maybe we will find out. Maybe not.
Jade drops Cooper off at the Silver Mustang Casino, giving him five dollars and suggesting that he ‘call for help’ because she thinks he may have had a stroke. The super-efficient casino employees see this bewildered, confused man inching his way around and repeating the phrase ‘Call for help’. They promptly take his five dollars, give him a bunch of quarters, and point him in the direction of the slot machines. HEY, THEY ARE JUST DOING THEIR JOB, RIGHT? Cooper meanders around with his bucket of coins and starts mimicking the behavior of the casino patrons. Following visions of the Black Lodge that he sees hovering over the slot machines that are about to hit big, he plays the slots and wins 30 consecutive mega-jackpots!
AN ASIDE: It was at this point in the episode where I really started to feel uncomfortable. We were on Twin Peaks’ third hour and the protagonist of the show, one of the most adored television characters of all time, had been reduced to an idiot in a suit shouting ‘Helloo-ooo!’ while sitting at slot machines in Vegas. This felt so far removed from what Twin Peaks meant to me that I was genuinely concerned about the story moving forward. Doubt started creeping into my mind over whether I was truly going to enjoy the series’ return or not. I wanted to see Agent Cooper again, not this bizarro lobotomized version of the man. Could Las Vegas be any more aesthetically removed from the warm and wonderful Pacific Northwest? And now the Black Lodge gives gambling tips? This didn’t seem right to me at all. But I trusted in David Lynch and soldiered on (upon rewatching these Vegas scenes, I loved them in every way imaginable).
COOPER GOES HOME: After collecting his winnings and running into some of Dougie’s friends who tell him where he lives, Cooper gets a limo ride to his home…well, it’s Dougie’s home…you know what I mean. His wife Janey-E (yes, that is her name) scolds him for being missing for three days and missing their son’s birthday party, but she cools down considerably when she sees his bag full of thousands of dollars of casino winnings. It seems that Dougie owes someone a lot of money and now he has enough to pay them back. Is this ‘someone’ the same person responsible for the assassination attempt on Dougie’s life earlier? Or was that an attempt to take out Cooper instead? Also, Janey-E doesn’t think it strange that her husband has only muttered a few words since his return and that he doesn’t even fit into his old clothes. HOW DOES NO ONE REALIZE THAT SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH DOUGIE? But I digress. Cooper comes downstairs for breakfast the next morning and, in a very amusing and satisfying scene, seems to be ‘woken up’ by taking a sip of (very hot) coffee. Is our Agent Cooper back? I don’t think it will be an instant turnaround from Zombieland, but I believe he has turned the corner and he is on his way! So this brings us to the continuing story of his doppelgänger…
BAD COOPER: The tale of Cooper’s evil doppelgänger begins this week in Philadelphia, PA. Our old friends Gordon and Albert are debriefing other agents on a murder case when the call comes through that Agent Cooper has been found! Well, it seems that Bad Cooper had been driving down the road in South Dakota when he got disoriented as he reached the ‘portal’ to return to the Black Lodge. He flipped his car over and then sat there dazed as his vehicle’s cigarette lighter started to emit electricity. Then he saw a vision of Dougie Jones in the Lodge, which caused him to puke up a bunch of garmonbozia (which it turns out is a toxic chemical to anyone who even comes close to it) and passed out. The local police found him and transported him to prison, where he was recognized as the missing Agent Dale Cooper.
Gordon, Albert, and Agent Tamara Preston fly to South Dakota to meet with the detained Cooper, but they soon realize that something is very wrong. This is not the same Cooper they had known years ago, but they can’t quite figure out what is wrong with him. Adding to the mystery is why was cocaine, a machine gun, and a dog’s leg found in Cooper’s car? Albert reveals to Gordon that years ago, he received a call from Agent Phillip Jeffries who was begging for authorized information that needed to be given to Cooper. No sooner did Albert tell Jeffries about ‘our man in Colombia’ than that man was killed. So many questions here. Was this the real Agent Jeffries that Albert spoke to? If not, who was it? Whose side is Jeffries on, anyway? Who was the man in Colombia and why was he important enough to be killed? Gordon tells Albert that before he decides on his next course of action, he wants one person to look at Cooper. He asks Albert if he still knows where ‘she’ lives. Albert responds ‘No, but I know where she drinks’. I have a strong feeling we will find out who this ‘she’ is very soon. The possibilities: Sarah Palmer, Annie Blackburn, Audrey Horne, Cooper’s secretary Diane. I’m guessing it is one of those four people, but I have been known to be wrong before when trying to predict where David Lynch will lead us.
MEANWHILE, BACK IN TWIN PEAKS: Dr. Jacoby spray paints his new shovels gold. What is he up to out there in the woods with those shovels? To quote Harry Truman, ‘It beats me’. Andy, Lucy, and Hawk spend some time wondering if a missing chocolate bunny from the Laura Palmer murder files could be the answer to the Log Lady’s cryptic clue. THE VERDICT: ‘No, it is NOT about the bunny!’ The new Sheriff Truman arrives, Harry’s brother Frank (Robert Forster is excellent in this role). Lucy and Andy’s son Wally Brando stops by and talks five minutes of hysterical nonsense about ‘life on the road’. And we find out that Bobby is now a policeman who gets choked up when he sees Laura Palmer’s prom picture displayed on the table in the conference room.
THE SOUTH DAKOTA MURDER MYSTERY: After this storyline’s prominence in the premiere episode, we only get one scene in Buckhorn this week, and it lasts about twenty seconds. It seems that the fingerprints of the headless body found in Ruth Davenport’s apartment are unidentifiable, blocked by the military. Hmmm….well that body can’t be Major Briggs since he died many years ago in a fire. Or maybe he didn’t? Is it possible that Bad Cooper only made it look like Briggs died and instead kidnapped him and used him for some purpose, like to extract information? I really hope this isn’t the case, only because I love Garland Briggs so much and I would hate to think that he spent the last 25 years in captivity, being tortured by the evil denizens of the Black Lodge.
That’s just about it for episodes 3 and 4. Despite my initial worry about where the story was heading, it turns out that I really enjoyed how it turned out in the end. The plot is progressing swiftly, and I only wish we weren’t getting just one hour a week from now on. Everything seems to be leading up to some kind of revelation. We just don’t have all the pieces in place just yet.
MORE THINGS THAT HAPPENED:
— Who could have ever predicted that Dale Cooper’s first words upon returning to our planet would be ‘Jade give two rides’?
— I noticed that a guy was smoking at the casino. Can you still smoke in casinos? How quaint.
— Denise Bryson returned in a short but sweet scene with Gordon Cole. I really hope we see more of Denise, maybe interacting with Cooper and the investigation. She is now the FBI chief of staff, so it’s very likely that she will grace our screens again.
— The town of Twin Peaks is mired by drugs again, this time it’s Chinese designer drugs instead of cocaine. Apparently this is an actual problem in the United States that I was totally unaware of until I did a little investigation after I watched this episode.
— When we first visit the FBI headquarters in Philadelphia, the agents are investigating a murder case wherein the suspect has planted clues to ‘the real killer’ in his garden. Is this going to relevant to the plot or is it just one of Mr. Lynch’s odd side stories? Notice that when Gordon and Albert get the call about Cooper being found, they are in the midst of watching footage of the glass box murders in New York City. ”When two separate events occur pertaining to the same object of inquiry, we must always pay strict attention.” If they only knew…
— Even after he returns to our world, Cooper still sees visions of the Black Lodge. Not just at the casino, but he sees the one-armed man in Dougie’s bedroom telling him that he was tricked and now ‘one of you must die’. How long can both versions of Cooper exist outside of the Lodge?
— It seems that Bad Cooper ‘created’ Dougie for the sole purpose of having Dougie take his place in the return to the Lodge. I can’t help but wonder when Dougie was created and how it was accomplished.
— The entire Wally Brando scene is an instant classic. My favorite line is when Wally hopes that his godfather Harry Truman’s recovery is ‘swift and painless’. That seems like an odd way to talk about someone’s recovery.
— We get two closing musical numbers at the Roadhouse. The first is by The Cactus Blossoms, who I definitely got an Everly Brothers vibe from (oh how I love the Everly Brothers!). The second is by the band Au Revoir Simone. Their song ‘Lark’ manages to be both upbeat and mysteriously foreboding, and I’m surprised that more people aren’t talking about it.
That’s it for this week in Twin Peaks. I can hardly wait until Sunday when we finally get a new episode! Until then, hang loose, Haoles, and keep your eye on the woods…