The clock is ticking
From Blue Book to Blue Rose: The Occult History and Peculiar Rites of the FBI’s Clandestine Doom Patrol Unit. The Scooby-Doo Gang’s extended stay at the Mayfair in Buckhorn, North Dakota is becoming as epic as Jack Torrance’s tenure at the Overlook Hotel. Are they ever going to leave? Not this week. With that dastardly Mr. C running amuck and the number of Woodsmen-related decapitations multiplying, Gordon Cole decided, eh, justice can wait. Let’s get wasted! He fetched a Bordeaux from the stash on his plane and decided this was a fine time to formally indoctrinate Agent Tammy Preston into the Blue Rose Task Force. Before commencing this sacred ceremony, Cole used his crimson magic flashlight/mother box thingamajig to scan the suite for/sanitize the suite of…Black Lodge spectral activity? Woodsmen? Zuul? Here’s his Ghostbusters theme song, by the way, with apologies to Bobby Brown: Too hot to handle/Too cold to hold/They call Gordon Cole and he’s in control!/With flirty French ladies he’s frequently chilling/All the while slimy Diane is dirtying the building. (Again, Mr. Brown, I do apologize.)
The setting evoked the Red Room parlor: red curtains in the background, two men and a woman hanging out and talking occult stuff, but without the backward-speaking dialect. Albert asked Gordon to crank up his hearing aid so he could communicate in hushed tones. “Please speak succinctly and do not make any loud, sharp noises,” said Cole, a piece of direction that ironically echoed forward. This episode was anything but concise, and not always pleasing to the senses.
But Albert proved to be an entertaining orator of Blue Rose lore. The unit was a response to the shuttering in 1970 of Project Blue Book, a 20-year investigation into unidentified flying objects conducted by the United States Air Force. Project Blue Book concluded that there was no evidence to credibly corroborate reports of UFO or EBE activity. “In other words, a cover-up. Cheers,” said Rosenfield, raising a glass and mock-toasting the corruption of the Watergate-era military industrial complex. Dante might call this type of betrayal a kind of “treason.” Cut to: the leaders of Project Blue Book on ice with Nixon in the in the ninth circle of Hell.
From the ashes of Project Blue Book rose The Blue Rose Task Force, an FBI-military joint venture determined to Mulderize and Scullify “the troubling abstractions raised by cases that Project Blue Book failed to resolve.” (Again, this in an episode of full of abstractions to trouble those wanting the show to get busy solving its own X-files.) Cole’s first hire was Agent Phillip Jeffries, the starman-space oddity of the Blue Rose, a cracked actor famed for time distortions and transmitting himself, genie-like, station to station via mystery teleportation. WAB: ????????. Drifting Briggs-like in the blackstar abyss, perhaps.
The task force got its name from a woman involved in one of the group’s earliest cases. Her last words before her death were “blue rose.” (I nominate either Naido or American Girl for said “Blue Rose” speaker.) Cole and Jeffries tapped three more strange men for the group: Dale Cooper (currently impaired and doubled), Chet Desmond (Chris Isaak’s character from Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me; currently MIA), and Albert, the only rank-and-file member not diminished or vanished, even if all things Albert are framed by the idea of absence and mortality. Miguel Ferrer, you are missed. I hope the Twin Peaks viewing parties you, Bowie, Don Davis, Catherine Coulson, and Frank Silva are throwing somewhere across the ultraviolet seas are the stuff of dreams.
Albert explained that Cole had been reluctant take on new agents in light of the group’s mortality rate. But the gang needed new blood, and maybe some diversity, too. Agent Preston fit the bill. Graduated with honors from George Washington University. Dean’s list at M.I.T. Top of her class at Quantico. Did Tammy want to join? “I’m in.” And with that, the task force went suffragette city. Cole flashed her a “wham, bam, thank you, ma’am!” grin — not his last in this episode — and they raised their goblets to seal the deal. The hour’s first labored pause was made to allow Tammy a sec to bask in her transfiguration to Blue Rose starring role. I’m pretty sure we witnessed a version of Lynch’s famous let’s-just-hang-out-and-talk casting process here.
Enter the Snake. The Blue Rose recruitment drive wasn’t over. Pushing through the red curtains was treasonous Diane, Mr. C’s atomic blonde spy. The bad, bonded, anti-Bond girl took a Vodka on the rocks (though she had to pour it herself; Albert wasn’t going to play bartender for her) and heard out a job offer: Cole wanted to make her a deputy member for the task force. “What’s in it for me?” she asked. Some cash, said Albert. “Maybe the satisfaction of learning what happened to your friend Cooper.” Translation: Whatever happened to doing the right thing for your fellow man, just ‘cuz?
Well, maybe since Diane left the FBI feelings seduced, betrayed, and perhaps even worse by the Bureau, by “Cooper,” by Gordon Cole, and all the empty promises of patriarchal law and order, truth and justice. Yeah, Diane’s a turncoat. But at this point, it’s hard to blame her for not knowing who or what to trust.
Rounding out this sequence with her presence made for some interesting meanings. The young, idealistic Agent Preston contrasted with the older, cynical Diane, each a doppelganger to the other. I find myself wondering what fallen Diane represents to Tammy: a cautionary tale that she can avoid or foreshadowing she can’t escape.
Diane accepted her commission. This was all disingenuous theater, of course. By making her a deputy, Cole and Albert were trying to keep an enemy close. By taking the job, Diane was playing all sides against each other. And it’s entirely possible that everyone knew exactly what the other was doing and why — that Diane knows that they know she’s been compromised, that Cole and Albert know and she knows that they’re playing her.
“Let’s rock,” she said, waving a pair of fingers at them like a gun. Cole coolly rapped his knuckles in the table like Frank Underwood of House of Cards. The game between them was afoot.
*Strange that we got all this after the events of Part 11, in which Gordon, Albert, Tammy, and Diane — functioning as a team; accompanied by Detective Mackley — took Bill Hastings out to the “Black Hole Sun” site and ran afoul with a head-splitting threshold guardian Woodsman. I suspect the Tammy-Diane recruitment sequence does indeed take place prior to Hastings’ death, and Lynch decided to play the scene, in this part, for various reasons.
(Recap continues on page 3)