Gaslight? Sarah Palmer might not be the only person in Twin Peaks playing out some screwy pattern of behavior or pathology. Last week’s reintroduction of Audrey Horne left fans dissatisfied if not upset. It wasn’t just that she wasn’t the character we once knew. There wasn’t anything authentic or credible to the character she had.
Turns out Audrey herself would totally agree with that assessment.
We picked up with Audrey and her husband Charlie where we left them, arguing over a plan of action regarding the pursuit of Audrey’s MIA lover Billy, except now they were in a different room. Audrey still wanted to know what exactly Tina had told Charlie on the phone. Charlie refused. Audrey persisted. Charlie told her to just stop it already. Suddenly, Audrey changed the subject and began questioning her own existence.
“I feel like I’m someone else. Have you ever had that feeling, Charlie?”
Nope, he hadn’t.
“Like I’m somewhere else and I’m somebody else. Have you ever felt that?”
“No, I always feel like myself,” said Charlie. “And it may not always be the best feeling.“
“Well, I’m not sure who I am, but I’m not me.”
“This is existentialism 101,” said Charlie. It was hard to tell what he meant by his lack of empathy and demeaning put-down. Had he heard this pattern before and grown tired of it? Was he trying to stop a familiar, repeating spiral by pumping the brakes on her self-pity? Or was he gaslighting her, trying to shame her out of questioning a reality that she should totally be questioning?
Regardless, Audrey resented it. “Oh, f— you, Charlie! I’m serious!”
Audrey said the only person she trusted was herself, which was hard, because she couldn’t even trust who she was. “So what the f— am I supposed to do?”
Charlie said what she was supposed to be doing was going to the Roadhouse. But Audrey didn’t know where it was or had forgotten. Or was she just feigning Roadhouse ignorance? Charlie had had enough. “Now are you gonna stop playing games or do I have to end your story, too?”
End your story? What did that mean? Is this some elaborate role-play between husband and wife or psychotherapist and patient? Is Charlie some meta-fictional demon who’s hijacked the collective consciousness of Twin Peaks and trapped them in a matrix of his design? Oh my gosh: Is this Legion?
End your story, too? What other story has he ended? Did he mean Renzo? Ray? Someone else?
Whatever Charlie meant, his ominous ultimatum fascinated and floored Audrey. She sat down. She asked earnestly, “What story is that, Charlie? Is it the story of the little girl who lives down the lane?” The reference here? Don’t know. A personal story known to both of them. The nursery rhyme “Ba-Ba Black Sheep.” Maybe the 1976 Jodie Foster movie The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane, the tale of a young teenage girl who lives all alone in a house and has sinister secrets in her basement. Poison is a key plot point.
Charlie — pretending as if his meta-subversive threat had never been said — reverted back to context. Were they going to the Roadhouse or not? “Now you’re looking like you want to stay…”
“I want to stay and I want to go. I want to do both,” said Audrey. “What should it be, Charlie? Which me would you be, Charlie? Help me, Charlie! It’s like Ghostwood here?”
I have many thoughts, many theories, and I’ve already suggested a few. Another one: I wondered if Audrey wasn’t referring to Ghostwood Forest or her father’s old Ghostwood development project but a mental institution called Ghostwood. She might have been a patient there once. She might be a patient there now.
But this week, I have this overwhelming desire to let the mystery be, to let it be weird. I’ve done a 180 on Audrey. Last week, I kinda hated whatever it was Lynch and Frost were going for. I still have no idea what they’re going for, but dammit, I want to know. So now I’m all in, but with a caveat:
Wanting to know the answer to what’s eating Audrey Horne means wanting her story — all of the show’s stories — to commence resolution. It means wanting Twin Peaks to end. And I don’t want that! I want to linger here forever! In Audrey’s should-I-stay-or-should-I-go clash, I see, hear, and feel my own conflict interest. Yes! Let’s hit the road to the endgame? No! I do not want to go there! What to do? What to want? Help me, LynchFrost! I feel like Ghostwood here!
“Just you…and I…together…forever…in love…” Speaking of the Roadhouse, Part 13’s featured musical performance was as strange as Audrey’s reality blur. For the first time, a fictional musical act took the stage. “Ladies and gentlemen,” said the Emcee at his pine cone microphone, “the Roadhouse is proud to welcome… James Hurley!”
Yes, that James Hurley. Former secret boyfriend to Laura Palmer, former lover of Donna Hayward, former sucker for femme fatales and lame neo-noir subplots. He was last seen hopping on his bike and blazing south to San Francisco. One of his signature moments in the original series: recording an old school rockabilly ballad called “Just You” with Donna and Maddie singing back-up. This ridiculously sincere scene segued into one of the most terrifying scenes in all of Twin Peaks, Maddie’s vision of BOB appearing in the Hayward dining room, climbing over the couch, getting right into her face and roaring — a foreshadowing of her murder, the end of her story.
Now, 25 years later, James was on the Roadhouse stage, singing “Just You” once again. The guitar was the same, the thin falsetto vocal was the same, and besides the bald head, even James seemed the same. It was all rather lovely, the sentiment accentuated by cutaways to a woman named Renee listening, smiling, and crying. Was James performing for her? Dunno. His song spoke for us, too, and that longing to linger in the story of Twin Peaks forever…
But for me, the scene turned sad, even creepy, when we saw that James had a two back-up singers with him, a pair of young women, both brunettes, just like Donna and Maddie. Suddenly, you got the sense that James wasn’t revisiting his past but stuck in a nostalgia trap, and willingly so, even recruiting or remaking young women to be Donna and Maddie doppelgangers like Jimmy Stewart in Vertigo.
The final moment of Part 13 might have been a comment on James and the final destination of his dead-end pining, with his fixation with what was and what could have been. We saw his uncle, Big Ed Hurley, a man also owned by the past, sitting alone behind a desk at his gas station, looking out the window at the pumps, sipping yellowy soup from a Double R to-go cup, with nothing to keep him company except his memories, most them reminding him of lost love and unrealized dreams. It was a moving still life of quiet pain and sorrow, beautifully sad and subtly devastating.
P.S.: Look closely at Ed’s reflection in the window during the over-the-shoulder shot. His image not only doesn’t match what Ed is doing while sitting at the desk (Reflected Ed is eating soup; “Real” Ed is not), the reflected image glitches, too. What game is Lynch playing here? More clues that there’s something screwy with representational reality and temporal continuity? Also, watch the cars that pass by. The first one that leaves frame on the left glitches or doubles as it goes…
This show is going to make me crazy, isn’t it? Audrey, is there room at Ghostwood for one more patient?