Twin Peaks recap: 'The Return: Part 11'
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Somewhere in the heartland of Twin Peaks USA, there’s a secret place hiding in plain sight where true detectives and seekers of occult truth can find revelation. It’s located on the outskirts of Buckhorn, South Dakota, on grungy property haunted by spectral vagrants that patrol the grounds like mean junkyard dogs. Pass through a hole in the tired fence, wade into the weeds toward derelict buildings, and you might trip some unseen wire or step on some psychic hotspot. You’ll hear the electromagnetic sizzle of the black hole sun before you see it: a whooshing maelstrom spiraling in the sky; a vile vortex ravaging the landscape with its gravity, sucking up the debris of a fallen world; a spiraling wormhole opening a portal into some faraway phantom zone. Peer through the darkness and you’ll see monstrous shades staring back at you from their home on the other side of abyss. Wave at them, like a UFO nut trying to flag down a celestial object, and they might beam you up, rub you out, or worse.
You can get lost in your head — or lose it altogether — pursuing apocalypse of this sort. Which is why a solitary journey isn’t recommended. You need a partner — someone to keep you grounded when you start to float away, someone to intervene and pull you back you from the brink when they see you falter, flicker, and fade. A Watson for your Sherlock, Scully for your Mulder — an Albert Rosenfield for your Blue Rose-questing Gordon Cole.
All kinds of hell broke loose in Part 11 of Twin Peaks: The Return. Besides Cole’s vision of cosmic horror (the kind of thing True Detective’s Rust Cohle might have killed to behold), the nightmarish Woodsmen made another head-splitting appearance. (R.I.P. Bill Hastings, snotty-nosed challenger of the unknown.) Becky — showing us the whole “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” thing — went ballistic on her abusive husband for cheating on her with Donna Hayward’s all-grown-up little sister, Gersten (Alicia Witt, who played the role as a child in the original series). Her rampage — which freaked the town and nearly killed her mom — was part of a larger eruption of Garmonbozia that swept through Twin Peaks. Deputy Bobby Briggs found himself at the eye of the s— storm. We learned Becky is his daughter with Shelly, who’s currently dating Red, peddler of toxic Sparkle and flicker of gravity-defying dimes. Bobby’s arc included a series of confrontations with pain and sorrow — a family on the fritz; a surly, hand-on-hip child; and a sick young woman puking up green-soup barf like demon-possessed Linda Blair in The Exorcist. Has a Hellmouth opened up under Twin Peaks? One to match the one above Buckhorn?
The madcap storytelling befit an hour about a world hurtling toward psychotic break. The billowing red curtains, suggesting blazing fire, and the dizzying, whirling shot of the Red Room’s chevron floor during the credits became aesthetic touchstones for an hour of Planet Dumpster-Fire dismay and zig-zag stories that took hard turns in tone and direction, producing dizzying, zany effects. The extraordinary Bobby-Becky-Shelly-Red-Surly Boy-Puke Girl sequence veered from soapy melodrama to weird horror, the segue marked, appropriately, by a jump-scare gunshot and an errant bullet shattering a window and the mood. Both sides of that story slowly revealed layers of meaning that mirrored each other: They interrogated a rash violence and personal/collective responsibility, exposing a complex weave of root causes.
The dread was enhanced by desolate settings — director David Lynch shot the desert as a wasteland of ancient ruins, a miserable Carcosa for those miserable yellow kings of Vegas, the Mitchums — and certain cinematic allusions, most notably, the famous climax of David Fincher’s Seven, another tale a fallen land gone insane with a psycho-spiritual frame. (What’s in the box, Dooper? What’s in the box?) If you’ve been reading these recaps, you know I’ve been looking at Twin Peaks: The Return as Lynch’s Amarcord, a surreal carnival of nostalgic revocation, where the pull-push of the past — the need to embrace it; the want to break free from it — is embodied in the characters of Dooper and Mr. C and manifest in a narrative that blends old and new Twin Peaks and sees Lynch reflecting on past work and trying to evolve forward. Last week’s “weird on top, wild at heart” episode communed with Lynch’s “dark” period in the ’90s. I saw this week’s episode reflecting the “Black Hole Sun” dark pop that has come since Twin Peaks, in music, movies and TV, from The X-Files to True Detective and pulpy points in between.
And yet! The plague of misery in Part 11 was countered by feels, responses, and other developments that gave us hope that order might be restored, goodness might be remembered and recovered, and grace hasn’t abandoned this mad, mad, mad, mad world. Damn, this was a funny episode! Even when it was freakin’ bleak, the gallows humor was hilarious. David Lynch delivered perhaps the greatest, winkiest deadpan quip in the history of Lynchian deadpan cinema: “He’s dead,” he said as beheld Bill Hastings with his brainpan lopped off. Dead + Brainpan = Deadpan. Get it?! Angelo Badalamenti’s score — one of the show’s most transcendental, emotive qualities and conspicuously, meaningfully muted so far this season — got dialed up in Part 11. His contributions accented the bad vibes and were often bittersweet, but I found something meaningful, in a positive way, in his increasing artistic presence. One of his songs was a piano composition called “Heartbreaking,” a gentle threnody with a mournful, wistful melody.
This was also an episode of miraculous reversals of fortune, Good Samaritans, and people suddenly remembering stuff that’s really, really important and can make a world of life-saving difference. Hallelujah! Miriam Sullivan, lover of pastry and Christmas, survived Richard’s vicious attack last week and crawled her way to a trio of brothers who helped her. Carl Rodd, that wonderful, wizened minister of the heartbroken, hustling to Shelly’s aid — then summoning his Carlmobile to go chase after Becky by blowing into a long silver whistle — is the best superhero moment of the summer. And in Sin City, the Seven reference was subverted to produce a happy ending, so much so that it felt like Lynch was parodying it or commenting on the film’s bleak perspective. Eraserhead Cooper — who in a glorious moment rediscovered his own passion for baked goods — avoided death at the hands of the Mitchums with the help of a cherry pie, a $30 million windfall, and the recovered memory of a prophetic dream. The Mitchum brothers might be bad guys, but this week they modeled the recovery conscience, and their collaborative, push-pull struggle to get there fed the episode’s thematic interest in partnerships, stewardship, and, yes, brotherly love. Am I the only one who wants a buddy cop spin-off for the Sheriff Truman-Deputy Hawk bromance, where they solve cold cases during intimate discussions in the dark by studying maps and consulting with the Log Lady?
“There’s fire where you are going” advanced several themes and followed through on several of the plots of Part 10. Last week doted on women suffering a world of vain, vulgar, vicious men. This week seemed to begin the furious V for Vendetta revolution. (I’m convinced the spirit of Laura Palmer will inflame the show’s women, igniting a pissed-off Pentecost.) I got the sense these Parts 10 and 11 were a designed pair; both opened with similar shots of the mountains looming over Twin Peaks. Part 11 also included images and sounds that reminded us of Part 8 (“Gotta light?”), the bravura outing that turned the detonation of the first atomic bomb, Trinity, into an allegory about America the Not Beautiful and a fable about how to respond to pain and sorrow. That was the hour that formally introduced us to the Woodsmen and made memorable use of Krzysztof Penderecki’s “Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima.” Looking at Part 11 through the lens of Part 8, we detect resonance and see “Gotta light?” as a myth underlying and informing the reality of the present. (Recap continues on page 2)
An Easter miracle. Last week, I prayed that Miriam wouldn’t perish in the fire set by that dastardly dick, Richard Horne. God must exist, because my petition was answered. Miriam lives! Part 11 opened with three brothers playing catch in the gravel driveway of their backwater home. An errant throw sent the oldest into the highway to fetch the ball, and yes, I was worried that hit-and-run Richard would come tearing around the bend and mow this kid over, too, on his bat-out-of-hell fugitive split from Twin Peaks. Nope. But the lad did suffer a psychic injury: He spied a bloody, whimpering body lying in the tall grass near the side of the road. Good luck getting that image out of your head, kid. Innocence lost strikes again in Twin Peaks. And not for the last time in the episode, either.
Miriam is quite the fighter. I presume she escaped her trailer before it went BOOM! and crawled through a thicket to the highway so she could be found. Big brother instructed his siblings to go ask Mom for help, and in this way, they began to fulfill the parable of The Good Samaritan. Do-gooding brothers come in threes — trinities! — in Twin Peaks. Miriam’s young Triple A saviors called to mind the Fusco bros in Vegas. You get the sense that all this correspondence and synchronicity — and there was a ton of both in this episode — isn’t accidental or coincidental. A certain kind of dream logic — and synchronicity and coincidence are elements of dream logic — is starting to assert itself in the storytelling, and perhaps, swelling up within the world of Twin Peaks itself and taking it over.
Last week, I noted that the way-early, perhaps year-round Christmas decorations in Miriam’s humble abode are symbols of Advent, a season of waiting for something from outside reality to break into it. Something is coming to Twin Peaks, I think. But is it a Christ or is it Anti-Christ?
“Gotta light?” connection: Part 8 opened with the betrayal, murder, and bizarre resurrection of Mr. C on a backwoods road in South Dakota. A team of veritable Good Samaritans rescued him, too, in the form of Woodsmen. And they were there to fetch a ball: an icky sac of BOB soul, excised — exorcised — from Dirty Cooper’s belly.
In which Becky goes Lemonade on Gersten with the good hair. While the good boys called for help on Miriam’s behalf, some busybody was notifying Becky that Steven was being a bad boy with Donna Hayward’s little sister. Becky flipped her lid. She screamed a Banshee scream, the kind of raw, primal yawp common to Lynch’s work. She phoned her mom about her crisis, said she needed a car. Mom being mom, Shelly raced over to the Fat Trout Trailer Park in a panic to attend to her hurting daughter. Bad move. Becky — packing heat — snatched the keys out of Shelly’s hand and raced away, paying no mind to the fact that Shelly had jumped on the hood in a vain attempt to stop her. Becky whipped the car around, causing Shelly to fly off (and Shelly’s shoes to fly off her feet!) — an image as shocking as it was funny. And with that, Becky, not in her right mind, inaugurated an episode about people losing their head, in all sorts of ways.
Enter another good neighbor: Carl Rodd, first responder to vehicular trauma and comforter to the heartbroken. He hustled to Shelly and made sure she was okay. Then, in one of the season’s most sublime moments, Carl pulled out a long silver whistle and blew a long sharp note — an alarm-like screech that reminded me of the way “Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima” begins, only not nearly as tuneful. Such is the way in which Carl summons the Carlmobile, a VW bus that’s a proverbial office on wheels, complete with a desk and a CB radio. He called Maggie at the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department, as if it was something he does all time, and asked to speak with Deputy Bobby Briggs. Maggie patched him right through. It’s like Carl is the president of Twin Peaks and he’s got a direct line to the Pentagon in his mobile command center.
Carl and Shelly would be too late to prevent Becky from doing damage. Fortunately, Becky was too late to Gersten’s apartment building to kill anyone. She stormed up a stairwell — a shot that echoed the haunting image of the stairwell in the Palmer house — and a pounded on the door at 208. A neighbor popped her head out to say that Steven and Gretchen were long gone. But Becky needed catharsis. “F— you, Steven!” she shouted and emptied the chamber of her firearm into Gersten’s door. Her violence was satisfying, empty, and alarming all at once. We desire justice for the women of Twin Peaks, but you wonder if fiery vengeance will truly get them what they deserve and give their world the healing it needs. Back at the sheriff’s department, Maggie’s switchboard began to light up with 9-1-1 calls from people at 1601 Timberlake Drive — Gretchen’s apartment building, I presume. This would be just the beginning to a long day for Twin Peaks law enforcement.
Back at the apartment building, Lynch sent his camera hurtling through the halls and down another set of stairs to find Steven and Gersten cowering in a stairwell. This shot accentuated another feature of 1601 Timberlake Drive — the yellow wallpaper. We’ve seen another apartment building with yellow wallpaper hallways this season: the Buckhorn residence of the late Ruth Davenport.
Once again, we remember that yellow is the color of pain and suffering, creamed corn Garmonbozia. But yellow wallpaper could allude to a very specific tale about female pain and suffering: “The Yellow Wallpaper,” an 1892 short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman about a woman being who’s being treated by her husband-doctor for “temporary nervous depression — a slight hysterical tendency” by being made to stay in a room with yellow wallpaper, locked up and denied contact with friends. She begins to see a woman on all fours, crawling like an animal in the patterns of the wallpaper. By story’s end, she disassociates — loses her mind — and becomes convinced she is that woman. Prowling her room like an animal, she’s liberated, mad, dehumanized.
Beyond Becky, I’m reminded of Miriam, crawling out of the woods on all fours. And I’m reminded of two women full of pain and sorrow who’ve been locked away for a very long time now, imprisoned by yellowy men in terrible rooms: Josie Packard, her soul trapped in a piece of furniture at the Great Northern Hotel; and Laura Palmer, a spirit marooned in the limbo of the Black Lodge. These women deserve their justice. And here, in the season of Libra (it is late September of 2014), with goddess Venus in ascension, I have to think the blind lady with the scales will give it to them, and hopefully, restore some order to the unbalanced world in the process.
“Gotta light?” connection: Becky’s explosive reaction to Steven’s betrayal and her subsequent psychotic flight seethed with a quality of heartbreak that we heard in Nine Inch Nails’ performance of “She’s Gone Away” in Part 8. You could also see the Steven and Becky drama — a portrait of ‘Man and Wife’ and everything outmoded and intrinsically demeaning in that relational construct — as a dark corollary to the sweet ’50s-era courtship of the characters known only as Boy and Girl. The possibility of two-timing infidelity tinted the Boy-Girl romance; it made Girl cautious of being wooed by Boy. The certainty of adultery in the Steven-Becky marriage caused Becky to go ballistic.
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“It was like something no one has ever seen before! I’ve never seen anything like it! I’ve never read anything like it! You don’t know! You weren’t there! It was beautiful…” Bill Hastings was wrong. There was nothing beautiful about the swirling maelstrom hidden in the skies above Buckhorn. It was a vile vortex of cosmic horror that only a Thanatos-worshipping occultist or deluded Lovecraft-Ligotti fanboy like wasted nihilist Rust Cohle of True Detective would find purrrrrty. As our own far-out true detective Gordon Cole beheld a vision of this noisy black hole sun ravaging the earth, I thought of the line from the Soundgarden song: “Black hole sun, won’t you come, and wash the rain away…” But the mass extinction of humanity isn’t the answer for a world made messy by sinful man and evolution gone awry, or so rainbows, Stanley Kubrick’s monoliths, and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol have taught me. Dream the next-gen Star Child, people! Forget the satanic Moonchild!
Honestly, I imagined something more romantically rustic and mysterious for Major Briggs’ launching pad into the ultraviolet realms than a godforsaken lot of condemned structures and rusted freight containers surrounded by fence and power lines. And yet, upon reflection, how could I possibly think otherwise? We’re talking about hobo demons and white trash wanderers who lurk in old convenience stores, hide in basements, and kill in abandoned train cars. Of course they’d be hanging out on a yellowy spit of urban blight! (Note: the address was 2240 Sycamore. We remember that the entrance to the Black Lodge in Ghostwood Forest is surrounded by a ring of Sycamore trees. We might also remember that there’s a Sycamore street in the busted Rancho Rosa complex, full of foreclosed lodges and home to squatters “1-1-9!” junkie mom and her neglected child.)
Upon their arrival, Cole and Albert immediately glimpsed a flickering Woodsman wandering the grounds. “Do you think one is in there?” asked Cole, a line that led me to believe that our Blue Rose agents are hip to Woodsman lore. Cole saw three more “dirty bearded men in a room” when he stepped into a zone of blurred reality and peered through the abysmal disc at the center of the vortex. They were perched at the top of an indoor stairwell — an ironic “stairway to heaven” reference, I’m guessing. But I also thought of Rust Cohle’s line in True Detective about fourth-dimensional beings representing eternity looking down on our flat, lowly, gutter planet. Do I think Lynch was subtly engaging True Detective? Well, why not? True Detective once paid homage to him with a Lynchian dream scene:
Cole waved at these beings. You got the sense he wanted to fly up to them for a closer encounter — to question them, to hang with them, to experience whatever it is they experience in their exalted state. I want to go to there. I do wonder if Cole’s obsession with mystery puts him at risk for his own kind of psychotic break/break from reality, or at least, some serious danger that has serious consequences for those around him (just like Jeffrey Beaumont in Blue Velvet). He represented here the dark incantation of the original Twin Peaks: “Through the dark of future past, the magician longs to see, one chants out between two worlds, ‘Fire! Walk with me…'”
One more thing about the Woodsmen. I’m not completely convinced they’re “evil,” per se. These shady overmen might be beyond notions like good and evil. (That was for you, Nietzsche.) In a show that turns Jungian archetypes into idiosyncratic supernatural mythology (see: doppelganger madness), the Woodsmen are another trope, the threshold guardian. They’re otherworldly police officers — law enforcement agents representing Lodge interests on earth. Yeah, they have a license to kill. But maybe they have their reasons? Are they here to facilitate a cosmic horror takeover — or stop people from tempting it?
After Albert pulled Cole back from the brink of erasure, they spied the episode’s second fallen woman lying in the grass. But unlike Miriam, there was no life left in Ruth Davenport. No head on her shoulders, either. Her stripped corpse was stiff. Her arms were reaching out. Maybe she was trying to touch the face of the abyss. Maybe she was trying to push it away.
While the FBI was working the field, a ghostly Woodsman snuck up on the black sedan where Bill was cooling his heels. (The music during this beat: a sample of “Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima.”) Did the ghoul become invisible and crush Bill’s skull? Or did he inhabit Bill and blow the lid off the top of his head from the inside? Don’t know. But it was loud and gross and Detective Mackley didn’t like the mess it made in the back of his cruiser one darn bit. He called for backup. “There’s no backup for this,” said Diane, coolly surveying the damage. Cole settled the matter. “He’s dead,” he said. Hilarious.
Question for the Woodsman: Why kill Bill? Why not slay Cole, Albert and the entire Blue Rose crew, too? If the Woodsmen are up to no good, why not make like mobsters and execute a big gangland hit here and wipe out all their enemies at once?
Anyway. Bill, rest in uneasy peace with Phyllis, Ruth, and your blown-up secretary. That should be a really fun afterlife for you. And Matthew Lillard? Thank you for your service. You were sensational.
A postmortem scene later in the episode found the team debriefing and recuperating at Mackley’s office. Cole’s hand was shaking like a “cat on a hot tin roof.” Albert suggested he stay away from coffee, but his boss thought that coffee sounded like an excellent idea. As they processed the experience, you got the sense that many details were to them like a hazy dream, especially the Woodsmen sightings. All save Tammy saw a Woodsman, but they had to actively recall doing so, like PTSD victims recovering a suppressed memory. That said, it’s possible that Diane was playing dumb. After all, we have reason to suspect that she’s either working for Mr. C or under his control from afar. We had even more reason to be suspicious as she watched Albert and Gordon analyze a photo of coordinates written on Ruth’s arm. Diane seemed to be committing them memory — and Albert caught her in the act. So now we must wonder if Diana knows that they know that she’s Dirty Cooper’s mole and moll.
By the way, those coordinates? They were incomplete, but they do appear to be for a certain small town in northern Washington known as Twin Peaks. I think that’s what Albert was trying to tell Gordon before they were interrupted by the arrival of “The Policeman’s Dream” — coffee and donuts.
“Gotta light?” connection: The black hole sun was the A-bomb explosion. The three Woodsmen at the dead center? A “Trinity.” As for the journey into the mushroom cloud — a trip into humanity’s heart of darkness — well, that’s to come…
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Suffer the Children. Another debriefing sequence, this one back in Twin Peaks and set at the Double R Diner (where “The Policeman’s Dream” is an everyday special), saw Shelly and Bobby confront Becky about shooting up Gersten’s apartment door. This was a marvelous scene with many layers.
In Becky, we saw a woman afflicted with battered woman’s syndrome. She hates him, she loves him. She knows she has to leave this monster, yet she can’t quit him. Hell, she can’t even admit that he’s abusing her.
Bobby – who is indeed Becky’s father (biological or adopted? TBD) – said he worked his connections so that she could avoid trial or jail, but she had to pay for the door. And both he and Shelly asked that Becky dump Steven ASAP. Becky protested. She wouldn’t cut ties with Steven, not now, not yet, maybe never. He can change! Really, he can! As for paying for Gersten’s door, well, that request just burned her. She deserved those bullets, dammit! And besides, Becky had no money. She didn’t want to borrow any more from Shelly; she had enough self-awareness and empathy to know that she was already bleeding her mother dry. (In another act of sudden-onset recollection and conscience, Becky remembered that she almost killed her mom with the car and profusely apologized. It was if the fugue caused by her momentary psychotic break had lifted and she could see herself clearly again.)
With some reluctance, Bobby offered to loan her the cash, an act of generosity that seemed to take both Becky and Shelly by surprise. Perhaps Bobby and Shelly have disagreed on best parenting practices with their troubled adult daughter. Shelly always seems willing to bail her out of jams. Bobby? Not so much. At least, until now.
We learned a couple weeks ago that Major Briggs never gave up on his boy and left behind a glorious adventure and important, heroic responsibility for him. Bobby was profoundly moved by his father’s act of love from beyond the grave. You wonder if it has softened his heart toward his daughter. Meanwhile, Norma watched from afar with a mix of concerned looks. We know she’s anti-enabling; we might guess that she didn’t approve of Shelly or Bobby carrying Becky’s weight.
The irony of Bobby paying for Becky’s sins was knowing that she represents something of the sins-of-the-parents idea. Our institutional knowledge of Twin Peaks made this such a rich scene. We know that Shelly was also a battered wife once, one who had to work up a lot of courage to extricate herself from cheating, abusive Leo Johnson, and who also indulged cruel vengeance against him. We know that Bobby was a bad boy like Steven, dealing and taking drugs, fooling around with other women. Dude even killed a man once! (Wonder if Twin Peaks: The Return is ever going to deal with that.)
Even though all of this history went unsaid, you got the sense that Dana Ashbrook and Mädchen Amick were playing to it. My interpretation of this scene was that Bobby and Shelly felt they didn’t have the right to be tougher on Becky, expect more from Becky, or even be parents at all to Becky because they feel a profound lack of moral credibility and authority because of the mistakes of the past. Basically: impostor syndrome.
Supporting this thesis – maybe – was a surprise visit from Red, the magic man Sparkle-dealing scourge of Twin Peaks. Yep, Shelly’s sweet on him, and when he came running up to the window she lit up for him the way she used to do for Bobby. She ran outside, smooched him, arranged a late-night hook-up, and came back inside glowing. Shelly might be a 40-something single mom, but part of her is still a teenager with a bad boy fixation. Bobby was pained by the spectacle. It must have reminded him* of the “good” old days with Shelly. Does he still love Shelly? Does he know something about Red but doesn’t feel he has the right to say something? There’s also the theory that Bobby remains something of a bad boy, too, that he’s actually part of the Sparkle conspiracy in Twin Peaks. I really don’t want that to be true.
*You could see Red as Bobby’s mirror twin — a doppelganger. Hey, you don’t think that maybe gone good Bobby and bad boy Red are Dougie/Mr. C constructs of the Black Lodge, do you?
Stranger Things. A very good sequence took a jarring, tone-shifting turn, evolving and deepening the themes in the process. A day of reckless gun-play drama for Becky and her family ended on the same note as a bullet shattered the window — another uncanny synchronicity. Everyone screamed and went to ground. Norma killed the lights. As Frank Booth said in Blue Velvet: “Now it’s dark.” It was about to get darker.
Bobby immediately went into hero cop mode, but he was about to go on a micro-odyssey that would challenge him and his character the way his daughter did. The gunshot came from a kid in a passing car, playing with a revolver his father had left in the backseat. Mom went ballistic. How could you be so careless? Dad was ashamed yet defensive. And the kid just stood there with a hand on his hip, looking surly and defiant. Bobby defused the situation, taking the gun from Mom and emptying its chamber, but he seemed utterly baffled by this familiar drama and the sour little kid in particular.
While Deputy Jesse cleaned up the remaining mess, Bobby dealt with another problem: a motorist stuck behind Gun Crazy Family’s car, honking repeatedly Our assumption — Bobby’s, too — was that the driver was being an uncaring, selfish jerk who only cared about their boundless forward movement or ascension and damn the people who would stall or stop them with their own wants, need, and inconvenient brokenness. Busting this driver would have been a fitting capper to a sequence about personal and collective responsibility as a solution to the problem of evil; what do we owe ourselves, our family, our community, our society? And for a brief moment, that’s what it looked like we were going to get. The raging honker was a woman who ranted about getting her daughter home for a dinner with an uncle she hasn’t see in years. We hated this woman, and Lynch, shooting her from Bobby’s perspective, looking down on her from his superior height, made her look loathsomely superficial. (Perhaps that’s how we look to Woodsman from their eternal home in fourth dimensional myth space.)
But Mother was burying the lead. Her daughter was sick. She was also… demon possessed? She had pale skin and short-short hair; looked somewhat like Eleven from Stranger Things, bit older. We saw the girl rise from a prone position in a most unnatural way and move toward her mom as if floating. She kept drooling and upchucking green bile, reminiscent of Linda Blair’s character in The Exorcist. Mother screamed, or tried to; she could only emit a series of clipped, breathy yelps. Bobby beheld the spectacle of a human being under the influence of something toxic to their mind, body, and maybe soul, and he seemed paralyzed. He lacked the imagination or confidence to engage with whatever the hell this was. Personally, I suspect what we were witnessing was a Sparkle overdose. Or maybe the young lady ate too much of all that contaminated processed food that Dr. Amp is always railing about. For now, Sick Girl stood for an outbreak of evil that speaks to demonic affliction or profound neglect of internal rot — or both.
“Gotta light?” connection: Bobby’s confrontation with the horror, the horror radiating within Twin Peaks was our trip into the apocalyptic mushroom cloud. And watching the girl puke green slime got me thinking about Experiment, the horned demiurge that spewed speckled eggs and blobs of BOB face on the earth. She also reminded me of Girl and the abominable mutant frog with roach wings – the Froach – that crawled into her mouth and took up residence inside her. Whatever the Froach represented, perhaps the people of Twin Peaks USA are now spitting it up several generations later.
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“It’s a living thing.” While Bobby was coming face to face with the sinister seep spreading throughout Twin Peaks like a polluting spill, his superiors back at the sheriff’s department were planning a hike that just might lead them to its source. Sheriff Truman and Chief Deputy Hawk were trying to pinpoint the precise location of Jack Rabbit’s Palace — a place of make-believe from Bobby’s youth that just might be a genuinely enchanted place, too — and find a path to it. To assist them in the plotting, Hawk brought a sacred artifact of his Nez Perce tribe, a cloth map describing mythic places and mystic phenomena of the greater Twin Peaks region. He called it “a living thing,” which either meant that it’s relevant to any time or might change with the times. I like the idea that its iconography might be different each time someone unrolls it. I also like the idea that “it’s a living thing” was a reference to “Livin’ Thing” by Electric Light Orchestra, but I’m weird that way.
A sky of stars and a representation of Blue Pine Mountain provided confirmation for the time and place of the rendezvous with destiny proposed by Major Briggs decades earlier. Hawk identified a few other symbols in play. An image of fire, denoting a kind of electricity that can be used for good or evil. An image of charred stalks of corn, denoting something unnatural or death. An image of black smoke, suggesting fire used for ill intent. Truman spied the black horned head floating above one of the mountain peaks on the map. It’s the same head on Mr. C’s Ace of Spades card, the same head on the slip of paper the Major left in a tube — a head, we think, that belongs to face-ripping, egg-spewing Experiment. Hawk told Truman to ask no questions about the black horned head. You don’t want to know anything about the black horned head.
The Log Lady called. She knew Hawk had found something. Her log had sensed it. Care to share? Hawk said he couldn’t. Margaret seemed to understand, though she had a warning for the officers, one that also played as verification of Hawk’s analysis: ”There’s fire where you are going.” Last week, The Log Lady’s bottom line message was this: “Laura is the one.” Might Laura be the fire that waits for Truman, Hawk, Bobby and the Bookhouse Boys who’ll be surely joining them?
A stretch of intensifying dread was brilliantly defused with a beat of humor. There was a knock at the door. I thought for sure bad news was waiting on the other side for Sheriff Truman. Uh, Frank? Twin Peaks is currently going to hell. Do something about it! Instead, Deputy Jesse simply wanted to know if the guys were interested in seeing his new car. Frank declined. It was a funny beat, but there was something sweet about it: Jesse’s request wasn’t superficial — it was a reminder of the kind of normal that’s currently imperiled in Twin Peaks because of a word gone crazy and imbalanced. Having time to check out Jesse’s new car? That’s the happy ending the heroes of this story are fighting for.
“Gotta light?” connection: Sheriff Truman and Hawk and The Log Lady = the character formerly known as The Giant and Señorita Dido in the White Lodge, assessing the problem of evil blowing up and spreading throughout Twin Peaks and responding to it by sending a globe of Laura Palmer to Earth, hinting at her return.
What’s in the box, Dougie? What’s in the box?! In an episode of long sequences that took surprising turns and reached powerful and peculiar destinations, Dougie’s was the most powerful and peculiar of them all. It was distinguished by something else, too: hope.
It began with Bushnell Mullins praising Dougie, born-again goodness savant, for exposing the cancer in his office, a conspiracy of gangsters, corrupt cops, and duplicitous insurance agents. (In truth, Bushnell had done the hard work of putting connections together and drawing conclusions, but never mind.) He told Dougie he had figured out that the Mitchum brothers were owed $30 million, fair and square, for a catastrophic fire that was truly an accident, not an arson as Anthony had claimed. Lucky 7 was going to pay it out, but the company was actually going to make money off the deal: crafty “Battlin’ Bud” had bought insurance on the Mitchums’ policies, the old “Bushnell double-down.” He was so proud – and he didn’t know the half of the accomplishment. For Bushnell’s cleverness complicated another villainous scheme he didn’t know about: Duncan Todd’s scheme to kill Dougie for Mr. C by feeding him to his mortal enemies.
That would be the Mitchums. Like fuming Becky burning for payback, the brothers were so itchy to put a bullet in the man they had been led to believe had cheated them of over $30 million, it was driving them nuts. But Bradley Mitchum (the one played by Jim Belushi) was troubled by a dream that he couldn’t quite remember but was bugging him anyway. He wanted to plug Dougie, ASAP, just to make the feeling go away. He didn’t yet understand that the feeling wanted him to do the exact opposite.
At the end of the work day, Bushnell walked Dougie out of the office and toward the car waiting to take him to the Mitchums. But the closest thing Eraserhead Cooper has to a partner in this world – Mike, the One-Armed Man – called to him and pulled him away from his death march for a brief consultation. Dougie veered toward Szymons, the Starbucks of Twin Peaks USA. When next we saw him, Dougie had resumed his walk toward the car, except now, he was carrying a big brown box.
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Before Dougie got into the vehicle, Bushnell did an odd thing that had an odd effect on Dougie. Bushnell put the $30 million check in Dougie’s hands, faked a punch that made gentle contact with Dougie’s cheek, and told Dougie to “knock ‘em dead.” Dougie reached for his face and rubbed his cheeks. “Dead,” he said. Dougie held the pose. Lynch held the shot. To be honest, I thought nothing of this in the moment. But all hail a fella who goes by @fatecolossal on Twitter. He sent me and my Twin Peaks podcasting partner Darren Franich a masterful thread of analysis noting the amount of synchronicity in Mr. C’s arc and Dougie’s arc. Example: Earlier in the season, Mr. C rubbed out an associate by simply rubbing his cheeks. Now, here, Dougie was rubbing his cheeks and repeating the word “dead,” as if Bushnell had done something to jog a memory.
This makes Dougie one more person in Part 11 to engage in Amarcord – “nostalgic revocation,” remembering. The difference is that, per @fatecolassal’s theory, Dougie could be recalling the experience of his doppelganger, who is technically another person. Or is he? If Dougie shares consciousness with Mr. C, does Mr. C share consciousness with Dougie? If they start sharing more mind with each other, what will that do to each of them? Darren has long theorized that the Dougie-Mr. C conflict won’t be resolved with the selection of one and the destruction of the other but an integration of both. They are an ironic expression of one of the show’s big themes: divorce. They are what Christian theologian C.S. Lewis might call “the great divorce” – a division and separation of heaven and hell. Lewis’ book The Great Divorce was a response to William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, a book of mock Biblical prophecy full of social and religious critique and nervy with revolutionary perspective. I suspect Lynch is more of a Blake guy than a Lewis guy. I also suspect that Darren is correct in his belief that Mr. C and Dougie are headed toward a second marriage — the reconciliation of heaven and hell. I’m wondering if Dougie picking up on Mr. C’s memories is an omen of a deeper, grander mind-melding, body-blending, two-become-one Grok to come.
Anyway, Dougie and his box were taken into the desert on a pale horse, a white limo. The Mitchums had picked an appropriately desolate spot to whack and bury Dougie, a patch of earth dotted with ruins of ancient structures. But as Dougie arrived, Bradley began to remember that dream. One part of it involved regeneration: the “Candie cut” on Rodney’s face was healed. Bradley ripped off the bandage, and lo, the “Candie cut” was healed! As Dougie exited the limo with his box, Bradley remembered that Dougie was in his dream, too, holding a box that contained a cherry pie. Bradley was now convinced that if Dougie had brought them a cherry pie, they couldn’t kill him. Bradley checked the box, and lo, there was a cherry pie! And when he checked Dougie’s pockets, lo, there was a $30 million check!
Bradley’s knees buckled. For a sec, it looked like his head might have pulled a Major Briggs and popped off his body. The Mitchums were thrilled and relieved they didn’t have to kill Dougie, because honestly, I’m not sure they wanted to. The Mitchums clearly think they’re above the law, and we know they’re not above using violence. But they seem to take no pleasure in killing and would rather avoid it altogether. Regardless, in this episode, Bradley and Rodney represented the separate sides of a divided mind — desire and conscience, reason and dream, Id and Super-Ego — clashing, negotiating, compromising, and elevating.
As such, the Mitchums defy the hot-headed psycho mobster trope set by James Cagney, James Caan, Joe Pesci, and the pulp nihilism of ’90s alt-cinema typified by the glib gangsters of Tarantino films and the irredeemable, unchangeable thugs of The Sopranos. But the movie most conspicuously referenced here was David Fincher’s Seven, in which the villain gets the final victory by tempting a good cop to break bad — to become one of the seven deadly sins, wrath — by giving him a reason to kill. Said reason was a box containing a severed head. Seven crapped on the notion that the universe bends toward good, that anything like “the good” exists in some cosmic, spiritual, archetypal sense. It’s an “Everything is s—” narrative, to steal from Dr. Amp, an everyone-is-corrupt story, to borrow from Rust Cohle. But Dougie’s box talks back to that perspective with something as sincere, sweet, and old-fashioned as cherry pie; it dares to believe in goodness, redemption, and change, all the stuff that Seven, The Sopranos and their cynical anti-hero kin tried to whack and bury and deem things of the past. We remember another big fan of cherry pie: Miriam, a woman for whom Christmas is apparently a 24-7-365 holiday. And so Part 11 was bookended by miracles that argued reversals of fortune are possible, that bad people can break toward the good. Especially if a windfall of $30 million is involved.
An epilogue found the Mitchums partying with Dougie at their favorite restaurant, drinking champagne and gobbling cherry pie. Once again, we half expected Dougie to regain the fullness of Dale Cooper’s mind in the course of this sensual experience. Once again, it didn’t happen. A qualified proof of Dougie’s redemptive meaning materialized in the form of the Slot-Addict Lady, the despairing woman who was tipped to the hot slots by Cooper’s “Mr. Jackpots” in Part 3. She had cleaned up, reconciled with her estranged son Denver, and was now living the high life, all because Dougie blessed her with his grace — but really, all because of money.
A pair of haunting moments reminded us of pain and sorrow, plight and legacy still in need of remedy. Candie is still buggy, still at odds with the Mitchums. Does she exist for them or does she exist for herself? And as Slot-Addict Lady lavished Dougie with praise, our fuzzy-headed hero was distracted by the wistful threnody that the piano man was playing. It was “Heartbreaking” by Angelo Badalamenti. There’s healing hope to match all the head-splitting evil under the black hole sun in Twin Peaks USA. Now if only everyone can remember that.