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The thing I thought about Part 4 the first time was “We just got a ton of scenes in Twin Peaks; it looks like we’re finally settling in to the real story and we’ll start figuring out how Peaks figures in to all these other towns’ plotlines, and it’ll eventually come together starting now.” And just like how the elements of nostalgia in this Part both fit and really don’t fit, I was both right and wrong.
What was on full display in Part 4 that would prove to represent the entirety of Season 3, right under our noses and in front of our eyes, was this: the themes of help coming from many random people rather than a single hero, and multiple characters looking at their pasts (some accepting their faults and others not). I’ll dig into these as we go, but I’ll warn you now, once you see Lucy screaming like Carrie, you’ll never un-see the metaphor.
My take on the Lodge-floor-and-curtains icons that pop up above the winning slot machines is that it’s Phillip Gerard literally opening the curtains above the machines, giving something for CooperDougie to recognize. How does Gerard know the machines are ready to hit jackpot? They’re hooked into the electric grid. Using this logic, it’s possible Gerard’s influencing the machines to pay out in a pattern that will allow the casino employees to let it happen without throwing CooperDougie out before he wins enough to heal the relationship with Janey-E. Not that that the Lodge denizens are overtly on board with the message of helping, but CooperDougie did call for help multiple times in Part 3. At a minimum, at least the machines seem to be answering.
Another instance of helping: CooperDougie meets Bill and Candy Shaker (there’s that theme again where multiple unrelated characters share first names), who wonder if he’s okay. Though they are well meaning they’re only so helpful; they give him the information to get CooperDougie to his house and find a cab, but not enough help to drive him there themselves.
Even Supervisor Burns (who is literally worried for his neck on two separate occasions) helps CooperDougie as well, reluctantly giving him his winnings. The limo driver, though it’s “hard to see the color of a door at night,” continues this pattern of help in his way and gets CooperDougie to his house. And the red door to the home is lit up by a light that literally is a beacon through the dark (note the Log Lady metaphor of light cutting through darkness being all too literal here).
What we see in this casino portion of Part 4 is a number of small incrementally helpful steps from a number of people, little steps that on their own don’t go too far, that add up to CooperDougie arriving at a location he initially didn’t know about with enough money in hand to pay for the previous debts of Dougie Jones. Call for help, indeed.
This is also a microcosm of how the plan to stop DoppelCooper comes together: The Log Lady helps Hawk to the Diary pages, which leads Bobby to the chair, which leads to Andy getting an audience with the Fireman, which leads to Lucy shooting DoppelCooper, which leads to FreddIe knocking the BOB orb apart. There are no main heroes in this story, more so many people having smaller moments of heroism that add together into the positive energy that can overwhelm the darkness, or at least, as in the casino scene’s case, bring forth the light to those in need.
Before we get too far ahead, there’s one connection I believe we’re supposed to make: When Supervisor Burns sees DougieCooper look up slowly at the camera above their heads in his office, he says “that’s right, we’re always watching.” In the exact same way of looking up, we see CooperDougie look up on the Jones’ front sidewalk and see an owl, the only live one in the whole show. We don’t hear anything more about them, but the implied message to be had is the owls are always watching.
And they will be too. There are “bird” shadows constantly in the Las Vegas scenes, even in the quick scene where Sonny Jim tries to play catch with CooperDougie. It’s good fuel for the folks who believe this Las Vegas is a Lodge construct, but at the very least it is a good sign that the Joneses are being watched by a force that is currently helping them.
I’ve covered the Wally Brando scene in my Electricity Nexus column here, so I won’t explain much of it here, but one thing I will reiterate is that Wally, among other nuggets of foreshadowing and clue-filled language (which there is much of), releases his parents from holding onto his childhood bedroom and turn it into a study like they want. After time, they order the chair in Part 9, Andy meets the Fireman in Part 14, and Lucy understands cellphones in Part 17. What does this have to do with Janey-E? Scenes earlier, on the most wonderful horrible day of Janey-E’s life, Janey-E discovers that mound of cash CooperDougie brought home. Much as Wally releases his parents, and Nadine and her shovel releases Ed later on from his conflicted past in order to move into a better future, this money (I believe) removes the anchor of troubled financial weight Dougie had saddled Janey-E’s life with. This has created a clean slate for her and her family. She’ll “be able to pay them all back,“ Sonny Jim will be able to go to college, whatever Janey-E wants. This is what specific help can do for someone. It’s not an instantaneous process, but immediately we see Janey-E change from angry to a feeling of relief, and she wants to bring Dougie cake. Later this Part, instead of seeing him as an anchor to her life, she’s able to recognize Dougie has lost weight. She hasn’t quite begun living exclusively in the present (letting go of the past is a process, not a flip of a switch), but when she finally gets him to the Doctor’s office in Part 10 (you know, the number of completion), she’ll realize how to see Dougie for what he is rather than what he was.
When CooperDougie is sitting on a bed next to his green coat, Phillip Gerard looks like he’s possibly tuning into a frequency trying to get in contact with CooperDougie at the Jones house. It works in the most obvious info-dump way of helping, so I don’t have to break that down, and then we see Janey-E helping CooperDougie to the bathroom and getting him dressed (leaving him the personal responsibility of tying the tie at the end for himself), and we then see Sonny Jim helping CooperDougie figure out how to eat his breakfast. Even the coffee cup is helping him by declaring itself Dougie’s.
During that breakfast scene we hear Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five,” which is another point of nostalgia/misdirection like the Marlon Brando references in the Wally Brando scene which I discussed in-depth in my previously-mentioned column. “Take Five” is close in percussion style to typical Twin Peaks music (Grady Tate swishes his drums like that) but it’s otherwise highly recognizable and is a moment of our world’s nostalgia. Two nostalgias happening at once and Cooper’s in between them while he’s in between Good and Bad states as Dougie.
One more bit of nostalgia is presented to us when he voices the first word of his own (“Hi!”): Cooper spits his coffee in a similar way right before he begins his supernatural-leaning bottle rock toss in Episode 2. “Damn good! And hot!” A fine example of things we expect to happen but in ways we’d never fathom.
When I initially watched Gordon and Denise’s scene last year, it was up for debate why Gordon’s lecherous tendencies would be brought up in the “fix your hearts or die” portion of the show, but now I have this guess:
Gordon and Denise have confronted their past flaws, stayed true to themselves, and that’s how they achieved the good they have done and rose to where they did in the institution they love (the Federal Bureau of Investigation, don’t you just love sometimes typing it like that, all at once, unabbreviated?)
Denise was a confused wild thing and she stayed true to herself, did the right thing, and made it through, right up the ladder helping people. Gordon’s lechery being pointed out is an acknowledgement of his own past issues. Gordon has Tammy’s job skills in mind. He acknowledges the negative side of his personality too. But he knows she’s the best agent for the job. His faults are overcome just as Denise’s faults were. This connects in my head to how “Bobby killed a guy” was mentioned in Part 17 when we already know Bobby owned himself enough to straighten up, join law enforcement, and be an upstanding cop who helps people (and gives them personal responsibility too such as bailing Becky out for the bullet-holed doors but she’s going to pay him back).
Acknowledge faults. Rise above them as best you can while staying true to your heart. Help people. This is a huge message of personal responsibility in Season 3 and I’d be remiss (and off-model) if I didn’t mention Jacoby and his shovels as part of this overall message.
This seems, by the way, like a fractal way of displaying the metaphor that is Dale Cooper as well: accept your shadow and you’ll be a complete person. I think he accepts his shadowier tendencies at the end of Part 18 and will then be allowed to grow from them, but before that can happen does he need someone to release him much like he accidentally did for Janey-E and was potentially trying to do for Laura and Sarah at the end?
I’m on record thinking the interminable comedy of Lucy and Andy means way more than just screwball comedy. The scene with Lucy wanting to know what happens to the thermostat when no one’s in the office is a perfect example of the multiple levels Twin Peaks works at. On the surface it’s a goofy variation on “if no one sees a tree fall in the woods, does it make a sound” so it’s a silly joke, but it’s also existential at its root.
It makes me think in two directions:
- It’s always working: Much like we know a thermostat continues to work whether we’re in the house or not (because that’s its programmed job), the Lodge is always working the way it works in the background even if we’re not looking at it. After all, the Owls are always watching. And Lodge hostage Dale Cooper knew about Freddie and a plan involving the BOB orb, despite us not seeing the plan form in a proper scene.
- Object permanence: There’s an implication that reality is only real when Lucy is looking at it (which is something she needs to understand otherwise), but it could be a statement on what I’ve been calling Lodge veils. As I think dreamy Lodgespace is just as present as physical reality, I can’t help but make a connection to the glass box in New York. The glass box needed a human being in the room. When Sam was observing the box, the Experiment Model was anchored enough to physical reality it could break through the glass and satisfy its hunger. As Sam was not observing the box when Dale Cooper came through, Dale was not retuned to physical reality but was instead left in his current Lodge-y state and continued to another non-physical plane. One other point of evidence that Lodginess needs to be observed to properly anchored to our plane? The Owl Ring, per Chief Twisted Hair in The Secret History of Twin Peaks, needed to be kept in a pouch or it would become too powerful. Could it be that its foothold in our world wouldn’t be complete until it’s properly anchored? Even if I’m not right I definitely have found a pattern worth considering.
So Lucy is established here that as not understanding how things can happen when she’s not seeing or experiencing it. Unlike her anchored desk phone, cell phones allow for movement to happen when she can’t see it. Lucy can’t visualize what’s happening on the other end of the phone call. She just hears it. It’s as if she thinks her caller is anchored in place just as she is, just as it was in the past. As this happens before the Wally scene, I think this is a Lucy who is 100% anchored to the past, literally as well as figuratively, where not even her house can change beyond the years when Wally was a child though he’s old enough to travel the nation by motorcycle. As of this scene, when she’s confronted with the present as Frank walks in with his cellphone, she can’t handle it.
When Lucy sees Frank, she screams just like Carrie at the end because she doesn’t understand what she’s experiencing. In Part 18, Carrie wasn’t ready to accept things in her past so the lights go out and there’s nothing to see or acknowledge. In this scene, Lucy screams and literally falls backwards, looking literally away from what was right in front of her. And she never looks back at Frank even when Andy comes to help. The tone is different, but the characters’ experiences are remarkably similar to each other.
In a later scene, Andy’s helping Lucy understand. Lucy’s just not ready to accept the present-tense reality of what cellphones allow to happen. We’re supposed to understand this: coming to an understanding is a process. Andy pumps her up, saying she’s good at everything else except this one thing. He’s nurturing. He has a healing manner. Then he tells her to collect herself. He walks away. And we hold onto the shot with Lucy for a very long time. But right before the cut she looks away And we see rather clearly the whites of her eyes.
I’ll mention again that this scene happens before Lucy is released by Wally from holding onto the past. I’ll mention again this scream is just like Carrie’s. Using conjecture, this suggests to me that Dale Cooper, in Part 18, was trying to release Laura and Sarah from their past traumas by bringing them to each other. But as Lucy illustrates here, you can’t be released from your past until you’re ready. And you can’t be released from your past by anything unless it comes from a place of Love. Which CooperDougie’s helpful state could be said to be in for Janey-E when he accidentally gives her a blank slate. Nadine definitely has Love for Ed when she releases Ed from his past regrets and starts him with a blank slate. And Wally specifically mentions loving Lucy and Andy dearly when he releases them from holding onto their past so they can work with a blank slate of a room and make a study.
In Part 18 I suggest Dale thought the answer was in bringing the two people together, but Love is the key that got him into the Lodge in the first place so he should not try to force things. First understanding must happen, then acceptance. Otherwise there’s nothing to be done but scream. But that’s for Part 18, and I think that’s the extent of the connection to that in this episode so time to move on.
In a room down the hall from Lucy’s station we have the new members of the department (Maggie, Chad and Jessie) along with a much more up-to-date 911 style switchboard. What this odd station-within-a-station implies to me is this: There are literally two kinds of Sheriff ‘a stations operating in exactly the same space.
I take these two station styles within the same Sheriff’s department as another sign of commingled reality planes, such as what we get with the Roadhouse (Ruby screaming like Lucy and Carrie, Audrey dancing to her own soundtrack track, and Shelly and her friends going there for normal drinks on a regular basis). Both the new station and old station styles, however improbably, seem to operate together in an easy state of coexistence, just like lodge-adjacent reality and physical reality seem to be happening at once whether it’s Twin Peaks or Vegas or even Buckhorn.
Also, with the Sheriff’s station in particular, you could say the past is happening exactly in sync with the present. This could be part of the pattern of repeating cycles, much as sheriff is always passed from Truman to Truman and bad boyfriends are passed from Shelly to Becky. And it could be a visual representation of people holding onto their pasts rather than living in the present.
Regardless of whichever angle you’re most comfortable with, in between these two states we have Bobby Briggs.
Frank talks to him about Denny Craig. Bobby is sweeping for leaks of Chinese Designer Drugs. Bobby investigates every part between Canada and Twin Peaks and nothing’s getting in. Bobby is in charge of the area between the two countries. He patrols the borderland. He’s another representation of the in-between spaces such as Roadhouse and all the motels, the Great Northern, etc. Bobby’s beat is in-between places.
And as I’ve said earlier, he has accepted parts of himself, and worked hard to become someone who helps people. He works between the countries, between the two sides of the sheriff station, presumably between the states of Lodge-adjacency and physical reality, and provides balance.
This is why, when presented with true Twin Peaks nostalgia (including the “Laura Palmer Theme” music), Bobby handles himself in a state more in line with Gordon and Denise. He begins to cry, sees what is in front of him, says “Man…brings back some memories.” And he takes the time to collect himself just like Lucy, but never breaks eye contact with the picture from his past. He knows where and who he is and understands what is in front of him. And he does not look away from the picture no matter how long the shot holds on him.
Just like Bobby, the Sheriff’s station, and even Cooper’s Dougie state, we then see Gordon, Albert and Tammy in various states of In Between. They are in between the airport terminal and their car (someone match it to RichardCooper’s car from Part 18 for me, please), then in the car ride between the airport and the Buckhorn prison, between the gate of the prison and the doorway, and then the halls of the prison between the car and the room where they speak to DoppelCooper.
Along the way Gordon is shown a picture representation of Mount Rushmore rather than the real thing, and Cole appears happy enough with the illusion. “Faces of Stone”. Is this another moment of “you think you’re getting one thing and you’re getting something different” put forth by the mixed-together nostalgia? Or is this a precursor to the mug shot of DoppelCooper they see rather than that of Dale Cooper they were expecting? (Cole also mishears Carsick, hears Cossacks instead. Could be, Cole is just on a different wavelength altogether. Possibly the unofficial one.) However it was meant, I still take immense interest in the fact that DoppelCooper’s vomit is being analyzed by a lab. Actual science taking on Lodge-adjacent material is one of my top five unanswered questions, and though no good would come from an answer anyway, it still hurts every time I see this and know it will never be mentioned again.
DoppelCooper wants to be debriefed by Gordon, to tell him “all the twists and turns.” Either the Double knows Dale wants to do this with Gordon (because as two sides of the same person they know what the other knows) or the Doppelganger wants to find a way to feed Gordon an unofficial version. I find it interesting, knowing Jeffries actually is a force in Season 3, the level of ambiguity the conversation contains rather that just sounding like an outright lie like it did the first time.
What isn’t ambiguous though is how DoppelCooper said in three or four ways that he wanted to see Gordon for the debriefing. Saying it once would make sense, but being as circular as it was only matches up with Audrey’s convoluted Charley conversations (how many times can she say she wants to go to the Roadhouse?). I think there’s a transitioning issue from Lodgespace to physical space, hence the repeated thoughts. It’s like the repeated-with-slight-variation thoughts are the visual version of what happened to the Twin Peaks lawmen at Jack Rabbit’s Palace, and the Woodsmen at the convenience store in Part 8. One’s the sound version and one’s the visual representation (just like how I think the Little Girl Who Lived Down the Lane is the sound version and the Homecoming photo is the visual version). Another sign of Lodge-adjacency in this scene is the low-pitched voice of the doppelganger. The physical world attributes of voice are not present, and only the Lodgespace self is left. And it has to travel through electronics alone.
When he says “I’ve never really left home, Gordon,” it makes me ask more questions than any other line in the scene: does this mean DoppelCooper’s a part of the Lodge still (possibly by way of Dale having never left it?). He’s never needed to be completely separate from it this whole time because the barrier’s down? Does it reference Kansas in Oz, where Dorothy never left Kansas; she just needed to wake up? And she’s always been home? A sentence like that opens up a plethora of questions and it is good, whether it’s answerable zero ways or seventy.
Later on, much like Gordon and Denise before him, Albert acknowledges his own failings when he explains he told “Phillip Jeffries” information that got an agent in South America killed, then Gordon reacts by saying Albert’s name three times. During these drawn out Alberts, a hum is present. Is this an instance of tuning? Of finding reception like Gerard needed when trying to speak to DougieCooper earlier? If I had to guess, I’d say it’s the Blue Rose frequency of understanding, more in line with an Unofficial Version, but that might just be me.
From the airport scene on, this felt the most like an investigation in classic Twin Peaks than anything before it. The momentum was good. It was supported by the largest number of scenes set in Twin Peaks yet, and Cooper looked like he was going to be coming back to himself soon thanks to that coffee. Like all the nostalgia presented to us though, I should have put my hope/expectations in the back seat and waited for someone to give me a picture of the old Twin Peaks episodes so I could say “Faces of the past” and then move on to the next scenes. But sometimes when you’re in between the beginning and the end of a story, it’s hard to have any idea what’s going on.
For for further reading, I’ll mention again this article’s twin, Decoding Wally Brando, as well as Eileen G Mykells’ look into the Roadhouse songs if you’re curious what she said about the Au Revoir Simone song “Lark” that ends this Part. Otherwise, be here next week when Josh Lami covers Part 5.