We gave it an A-
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It’s hard to remember our first sighting of Major Briggs on Twin Peaks. He’s there in the pilot episode, but he didn’t stick out amidst the premiere parade of oddballs and lawmen and oddball lawmen. Major Briggs looked like a man who had always been there, head bare as Death Valley, face built for archival photographs.
Don S. Davis played the Major — in life, and now, in death. Davis served in the army, and so he could play Briggs with unfussy nonchalance, the deadpan you earn with the uniform. Major Briggs seemed glued into his uniform, and you might have thought he was a real hardass. The easy dichotomy was there inside the Briggs family: Here was the Major, some old version of the American dad, raising a son who seemed like two eras of counterculture youth, James Dean circa Cobain. But humans contain unknowable multitudes, and Major Briggs revealed himself as a seeker of the highest order. He had visions of white light and palazzos. He disappeared into the woods and returned with memories of stone thrones lurking in distant cosmic Edens. He was tapped in to the peculiar energy of Twin Peaks. He was some kind of mystic, and some sort of hero.
Major Briggs was there at the start of this revived season, too, in a line of dialogue. Recall the nefarious Cooper doppelganger in Part 2, speaking to a synthesized voice. The voice could have been Phillip Jeffries, or some distant box-bursting Experiment, or a Woodsman looking for light. “I missed you in New York,” the voice said. And: “You met with Major Garland Briggs.”
Briggs has lingered throughout the season ever since. His great big head floated by Agent Cooper in the starscape, whispering “Blue Rose” as a clue or a cry for help. His body’s trapped with us here on Earth, cooling in the Buckhorn morgue. In Part 9 of Twin Peaks — colloquially titled “This Is the Chair” — major characters and events swirled around Major Briggs. He was the glue, sticking together so many different strands of this strange story. Or perhaps he is the drain they are all spiraling down.
What an honor to be filling in on the recap of this episode! I’m not half the Peaks scholar that your regular recapper Jeff Jensen is. (He was already drawing Owl Cave graphs while I was literally learning what graphs were; rest assured, he’ll be back next week.) But I am a Major Briggs fanboy. And although Part 9 was a much more down-to-earth chapter than last episode’s cosmic origin story — people discovered things! — this hour of Twin Peaks was an intriguing progression from the last one. Part 8 described the birth of some sort of evil. Was Part 9 the story of the death of goodness? Perhaps Major Briggs is gone for good. But “gone” is not “forgotten.”
On the Farm
Resurrected from Ray’s gunshot, oddly unchanged despite the woodsmen’s de-BOB-ifying, blood-splattered Mr. Cooper walked a lonely road to a farm. He met two of his sharpest operators. There was Chantal, whom we might remember from Part 2, the woman in the hotel room next to Darya’s. And there was Chantal’s husband, Hutch. The actors were Tim Roth and Jennifer Jason Leigh, who were two of The Hateful Eight, and there’s a sense that the Tarantino stunt-casting is intentional.
They’re a wild pair, the Hutchens couple. Cooper can count on them for anything. They stitched up his wounds. They get him a new car, some guns. Chantal gave him a kiss, and then gave him some Cheetos. He told Hutch, “Kill this phone,” and Hutch shot the phone with a shotgun.
He gave them an assignment. “Warden Murphy. Yankton Federal Prison.” Mr. Cooper isn’t the kind of boss who micromanages: “Kill him at home, at work, or on the way.” And he promised them another assignment: a double-header in Vegas. Can we indulge ourselves, and wonder if that is an embedded joke? A “double-header” — wasn’t that the crime that began this season, in Buckhorn, evidence of two decapitations in the crime scene at Ruth Davenport’s apartment? And could there be another kind of “double-header” in Las Vegas: a meeting of two similar-looking heads, the dark Cooper doppelganger and noble fool Dougie?
Before Hutch killed his phone, Cooper had two final messages to deliver. He sent a text message: “Around the dinner table the conversation is lively.” And he made a phone call to Duncan Todd, once and for all confirming (apparently) that Todd’s been working for Mr. Cooper all along.
“Did you do it?” asked Mr. Cooper.
“Not yet,” Todd said.
“Better be done next time I call.”
So the doppelganger continues to target Dougie. This invites tantalizing questions. Who else can Todd call on to eliminate his target? And just who does Cooper need the Hutchens duo to kill in Vegas? Are they also targeting the Joneses? Or is this the dark Cooper cleaning up after himself — is he sending his most trusted assassins to kill Todd?
One note: This meeting between Cooper and his constituents took place on a farm. We know this, because Hutch said the place was owned by “Farmers.” (They were sleeping out back, and they won’t ever wake up.) I have no idea if this was the Farm mentioned in Part 8, or just a farm. Perhaps all farms in the universe of Twin Peaks are just one single collective farm. Remember that Farmer who disappeared a few episodes ago, right when we first learned that Andy had a Rolex? What was that?
(Recap continues on page 2)