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“Now, are you going to quit playing games or do I have to end your story, too?” — Charlie
They danced the dance of life at Lucky 7 Insurance, a zany conga to celebrate a victory over darkness, a flirtation with damnation, and a windfall of seemingly eternal riches. Casino boss Rodney Mitchum led the line, the men in reaper-black business suits, the women in their newborn-pink bunny dresses. They snaked into the office of Bushnell Mullins, all-father boss of their savior Dougie Jones, whose face was still messy from a night of eating so much cherry pie, and presented old Battlin’ Bud with worshipful gifts just like the magi in the greatest story ever told. The first silver box contained Monte Cristo Number Twos. The second contained a set of monogrammed diamond cufflinks. The third contained the keys to a BMW convertible. Bushnell received their proverbial gold, frankincense, and myrrh with humility. “A wrong has been made right and the sun is shining bright!” said Bradley. The conga train formed anew and Rodney made like the conductor, pulling on an imaginary whistle. They kept the party going like they were living out the happily ever after of a never-ending story. $30 million can make you believe such impossible things.
This was suddenly not a very good Friday for Anthony Sinclair. The Lucky 7 Judas beheld the mini Mardi Gras parading through the halls and felt dread. He had set up Dougie to be whacked by the Mitchums, not venerated by them. His jaw dropped. His face went ashen. He hid under his desk in shame yet called the wrong man to confess his failure. Duncan Todd, the devil that owned his soul, told him there was only one way out and gave him only a day to do it. Anthony said yes, but his soul screamed no. He didn’t want that stain on him; he didn’t want to become a violent man. There was a whole level of the Inferno devoted to such dudes. His life had become a “goddamn bad story,” to borrow from Sarah Palmer, and he wished to hell it would end.
Something tells me the “slip and fall” report on his computer ain’t ever getting finished.
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Heaven on Earth. On the outskirts of Sin City, the little boy who lived down Lancelot lane was shining bright in the dark of the night. So was his new jungle gym. It was another gift from those gracious Mitchums, a colorful play-set strung with lights and accessorized with a glowing golden arch. So, one of those tacky-glitzy casino-style jungle gyms. Damn, I want one. On the soundtrack: “Dance of the Swans” by Tchaikovsky, from Swan Lake, a ballet about treacherous, dehumanizing mystical transformation yearning for reversal, a story that Agent Cooper could surely relate to.
David Lynch made this blissful beat more enchanted — and maybe unsettling? — by casting a spotlight around the yard, as if trying to capture Sonny Jim. But the boy would be caught by this familiar, symbolic effect: In Twin Peaks past, it has signified the presence of Black Lodge spirits, most notably that scruffy denim-clad reaper and Garmonbozia harvester, BOB. See: the terrifying moment when possessed Leland murdered his niece, Maddie, a spotlight stalking their dance of death.
Janey-E watched her son with Dougie at her side, wanting this magic moment to last forever. She had thought Dougie had gone on another bender when he didn’t come home the night before. She felt relieved, grateful, and blessed anew to discover that no, Dougie, still sober and faithful, was simply doing his job and doing it well, and bringing home new riches for the whole family as a result. “Sonny Jim’s in Seventh Heaven,” she said. Dougie repeated the words “Seventh Heaven” as if they meant something, but couldn’t divine the significance. Maybe Dante can help. Last week, Twin Peaks evoked the ninth rung of the Inferno, a frozen lake set aside for those who commit treason.The seventh sphere of Dante’s Paradise is a golden ladder, set aside for the prayerful who practiced temperance in all forms, including teetotalism, asceticism and prayer. I remember the tune we heard back in Part 8, right before The Woodsman invaded a radio station and put a town to sleep with a rhyme about death: “My Prayer” by The Platters. My prayer is to linger with you/At the end of the day in a dream that’s divine/My prayer is a rapture in blue/With the world far away and your lips close to mine…
This is surely Janey-E’s prayer, too. Perhaps she thinks it’s already come true, that she’s living some blue heaven in the dunes of Vegas. But how illusory is this glitzy joy, how fleeting is this material happiness? For the irony of her euphoria is that the reason for it — the seemingly born-again temperance of a man she assumes to be her husband – might vanish if sleepwalker Cooper should awaken. Eat, drink, and be merry on your jungle gyms, for tomorrow, you may die.
So it went in Part 13, which presented people relishing moments of contentment and longing for their continuance or stuck in moments of torment and longing for their termination. Yet “What’s the story, Charlie?” was also limned with ominous foreshadowing for almost everyone. The specter of death or meta-enlightenment chased many of them like a searching spotlight, as if to remind that nothing lasts forever, and that the saga of Twin Peaks: The Return is approaching its end.
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