Welcome back to Twin Peaks: Las Vegas, my “reviews” of the imaginary Twin Peaks spin-off sitcom!
This week on the Twin Peaks: Las Vegas Halloween Special, Janey- E plans a séance after she accidentally meets Phillip Gerard in her house.
The lighting was a little darker this week on the set, and I suspect it’s because the Jones Home was being filmed as if it was part of a horror movie. Even though Phillip Gerard has been around as a wacky neighbor type in previous episodes, he gets to play a genuine spooky ghost this week thanks to his interactions with one Janey-E Jones.
The show starts with Janey-E parading through her house, primping all her Halloween decorations as she goes. She says “three days!” as she pats witches on their hats, and when she fluffs the bow tie of her skeleton butler she leans right up to his face and growls “simply terrifying!” to him proudly.
She then goes into the laundry room, picks up red curtains tablecloth from the dryer, walks down the hallway, and is confronted by Phillip Gerard’s presence right in front of her. Her eyes go huge, he seems baffled, and after you could count a hard 5-4-3-2-1 she SCREAMS. He screams as well, with frightened hissing noises mixed in, and even though he’s shot like a true horror movie monster he reminds me of a perturbed raccoon.
Janey-E drops the tablecloth and runs with arms swinging warrior princess style through Phillip, which makes her stop shouting once she notices what happened.
Next we see the outside of the Jones house, where Dougie is in the yard, carving one of two giant pumpkins the size of something you’d see on Halloween Wars. From inside the house we can hear Janey-E’s “DOUGIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE”, which she continues as Dougie looks up and tracks her all the way to her car, which she starts and drives away in.
Sonny Jim puts his head out the window upstairs and asks “is mom okay??”
Dougie doesn’t say anything but his phone rings. Janey-E says “get Sonny Jim out of the house.” The whole exchange is very trope-fueled in a fun way. As she tells Dougie “there is a dirty bearded man inside our house who is quite possibly a ghost,” Janey-E is being shown from a dash cam that would be perfect in a genuine scary movie. Dougie picks up on her seriousness, grabs a yellow gourd like a club and keeps his carving knife in his other hand as he goes inside.
When he sees Phillip in the hallway, it goes right back to comedy lighting. Gerard acts sheepish and Dougie sighs before he says “It’s okay, Sonny Jim, nothing’s here.”
Phillip delivers a cryptic line: “Stirips ni eerht syad emit lliw eb nopu siht—”
But Dougie interrupts him: “Phillip, it is today, not three days from now. And today, I need you out of this house. You’ve scared my wife.”
Phillip: “Yticirtcele lliw ward meht—“
Dougie: “Presently, Phillip!”
Phillip: “Eraweb!” (then he mugs for the camera as his opacity fades him away.)
Sonny Jim comes downstairs then, and we’re not sure if he heard this or not. This is great suspense as regular viewers know Sonny Jim even knows his name, but does Dougie know this?
The next scene is later in the day and Janey-E comes in the house with two backpacks’ worth of incense. “A lot of help you were,” she says to Hairy, who pants happily.
She calls to Dougie, who says off-camera “no dirty bearded men in the house….” He then moves into frame looking utterly ridiculous, saying ”…unless you mean THIS scruffy treasure thief, that is!” He’s in a cheap-looking pirate costume with a painted rudimentary beard on his face.
Janey-E is having none of it and asks him “how can you act so calm and collected when our house has a [this is whispered:] ghost!?”
“Janey-E, you just need to eat some lunch! I made you a sandwich.” And he did make one, but the bread is mismatched and the lettuce is practically outside of the sandwich looking more like a garnish. Janey-E’s facial reaction was priceless as she recognized the love Dougie put into it but also the craftsmanship. “Oh Dougie,” she says while inspecting the sandwich for ingredients.
Dougie goes off happily, practicing his “argh!”, and Janey-E goes right back to her bags to start up some incense. There are a lot of great interactions in this episode but the love these two have for each other plus the awkwardness of the events made this scene a standout. Loved it!
Later that night we’re still inside the house except no matter what room we see there is always visibly burning incense. Sonny Jim and Dougie are watching a horror movie, a Claymation one that seems like it should be a TV classic like A Claymation Christmas Celebration but I’m pretty sure it’s new for this show.
Janey’s talking on the phone in the kitchen, saying “it is IMPOSSIBLE to find someone to do a séance right before Halloween. People think it’s FUN talking to ghosts? These people are a front line of security between us and our afterlives, if you ask me. They should be keeping the peace, not entertaining people who don’t understand not to mess with [in a quiet voice] darker forces.”
During the Silver Mustang ad (the sound of the ending music is the tip-off), Sonny Jim comes in for the popcorn sitting in the microwave and asks “ghosts aren’t real, right mom?”
She answers “No Sonny Jim, they are not. BUT you can never be too careful, can you.” Sonny Jim looks like he wants to help but won’t say anything to her. Janey-E continues her phone call: “well if you happen to hear of any openings, please call me back. Right. Away. Thanks Beth.” She looks like she’s as in charge as ever, but her eyes dart around while she has on her brave face.
The last scene fades to dark, and comes back up in a lit-by-candles round table near their living room. It looks like the Joneses have to do a séance of their own, ON their own. Janey has her tablet on the table next to her. She lowers the screen’s brightness for effect and she needs to squint to read it as she explains the instructions of a proper séance. Dougie is sitting across from her and looks nervous as hell. Sonny Jim is between them with a somewhat un-enthused expression on his face.
“We can only help ourselves sometimes!” is Janey’s response to Dougie’s “why are WE doing this?” The short of the pure gold of dialogue in this scene is this: It’s the night before Halloween, Janey’s been reading up on séances all day, she knows how to invite and how not to invite ghosts, and you get the distinct impression she’s sure of herself. And because she doesn’t come right out and say “what could possibly go wrong?” maybe she DOES know what she’s doing.
She definitely has a great memory: She got extremely specific as far as details of Phillip’s face. Phillip appears behind her (where only Dougie can see) and takes offense to Janey saying how his beard grows all the way from his nose hair. Dougie tries to motion to Phillip without tipping off his family that Phillip was there, but it becomes clear that Sonny Jim knows too, just not until later.
Janey-E got through her leeeeengthy introduction and asks, “non-corporeal bearded man, are you there?” Phillip, asking with his eyes for Dougie if it’s okay to say something, finally sneezes before he says “I ma”.
Janey-E visibly shivered when he spoke, proving once again that she is being filmed as if she were in a genuine horror movie. To her, Phillip is definitely still a monster even though visually he’s just a guy caught up in a wrong-place wrong-time jam. The juxtaposition is great.
Sonny Jim and Phillip make eye contact right about then and the surprise mixed with pride on Dougie’s face was great to see. It said “what a chip off the old block!” and was pretty endearing if I have to say.
Sonny Jim says “he’ll promise not to hurt us, right mom?”
Janey-E rephrases and asks Phillip directly, to which Phillip says “I od.”
A few other questions go from Sonny Jim to Phillip this way, basically affirming that Phillip promises non-violence to anyone who resides in this house or is invited in (including Hairy, who woofs politely at the mention of his name). And Janey-E adds one of her own that Phillip will not watch any of the Joneses in the bathroom.
Since Phillip was so polite about everything, Janey-E was in a great mood by the end of the séance and she scrolled past any banishment paragraphs because you can tell she felt like she won the day already.
Janey-E: “Thank you, non-corporeal bearded man, please leave our house now!”
Phillip [on his way out]: “ruoy lergnom seriuqer ecnanatsus.”
Janey-E: “Oh!” Oh, yes, he does. Thank you.”
You can tell Dougie knows what went on, and that Phillip just missed a rough fate at the hands of Janey-E, and you can see he’s very proud of Sonny Jim. But before any kind of heart to heart can happen while Janey-E was in the kitchen with Hairy, a knock on the door happens.
Sonny Jim’s face lights up, he practically leaps from the table, and before you know it he’s putting on a cowboy hat and a duster. He opens the door, where a few kids are waiting for him, and a girl wearing a space helmet touches his arm.
Dougie: “Is TODAY Halloween?”
Sonny Jim [joyfully]: “Halloween PARTY!”
And he’s out the door. Janey-E comes back in, wishes him a fun party, and she and Dougie watch him out the window for a while. Then Dougie makes a pirate joke, and Janey-E says to the ceiling “no peeking!”
And as they run up the stairs, she shouts “where is me treasure!”
But the camera doesn’t follow them, it slowly zooms in on Janey-E’s tablet. The screen blinks on, and we see a large spinning circle so we know SOMETHING is loading, but we’re not allowed to find out what because that’s when it cuts to credits.
It was so fun to drop the Joneses into proper horror movie tropes and watch them maintain their family unit same as it ever was. Even though the cinematography was different it was still blatantly obvious what show we were watching. Though if you think about it, they’ve ALWAYS been in horror movie tropes: they’ve been living in a haunted house the whole time. Of COURSE the genre blending worked wonderfully.
I enjoy the fact that we’ll probably never know what that supernatural horror was that Phillip came to warn the Joneses about in the first place. Only on this show can actual supernatural peril take a back seat to a family getting along. I’m sure this bugs some people who might think this indicated a proper cliffhanger, but I think that spinning loading symbol was just a punctuation for this episode.
Don’t get me wrong, I do want to know why Phillip was delivering a message, and I am interested in how he got mixed up and met Janey-E instead of Sonny Jim or Dougie (I’m willing to brush it off as he was connected to the color red and she was the closest human to that all-red tablecloth), but the more important question is who was the girl in the space helmet?
That girl couldn’t have been anyone besides the daughter of the Coopers right across the street, right? The same girl he went to talk to at the end of last episode? As far as I’m concerned, they are officially a thing. Or they’re at least becoming a thing. You can NOT tell me otherwise. I just wish she’d said something. The only clues we got this time was she’s slightly taller than Sonny Jim, even without the helmet. No other information! Maddening!
And yet! I find myself really happy with this episode. Is it a seasonal classic we’ll be happy to see every year? The verdict is still out, but there are a lot of gems throughout, and a lot of love on display, even while Janey-E thought her house was on the front line of a spirit invasion.
I suspect when the leaves start to change next year I’ll wonder if I can replicate a smaller version of those spooky owls Dougie was carving in those pumpkins. And maybe I’ll put a bow tie on a skeleton…
Who am I kidding? It’s a classic. We just need time to prove me right.