Twin Peaks recap: 'The Return: Part 15'
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The cinema of David Lynch is full of rogue highwaymen speeding down a two-lane blacktop, running away from justice (or themselves) or barreling toward apocalyptic revelation they may or may not want. Occasionally, the director has meaningfully tweaked the motif, no more so than in The Straight Story, a tonal and philosophical doppelganger to the anti-hero horror-noirs and Ouroboros narratives of Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive. Starring Richard Farnsworth in an Oscar-nominated turn, The Straight Story was a rigorously linear, slow-mo odyssey inspired by true events about a stubborn old codger named Alvin Straight who travels by tractor across Iowa and Wisconsin to meet with his ailing brother, played by Harry Dean Stanton. Along the way, he reflects on his mortality, failures, and pride. A humble hero’s journey combines with humbling introspection to create a new orientation of the heart, one that helps him reconcile with his sibling, with whom he has had a dashed, jaundiced rapport, marked by pain and sorrow, silence and cowardice. The last scenes — in which these two men let go of the past, move toward each other, and enjoy a healing, redemptive kind of quiet — are (IMHO) the most spiritual moments Lynch has ever put on screen.
Part 15 of Twin Peaks: The Return (“There’s some fear in letting go”) contained passages that mirrored the heartland grace of The Straight Story. The first came at the start. We watched Nadine Hurley traverse a stretch of highway like so many other Lynch protagonists have done before — except she did so on foot, with a sunny smile on her face. She also had her golden shovel slung over her shoulder, a totem of her hard-won liberation from the mire of madness and misery, an expression of her counter-cultural opposition to the degrading muck of the world. A series of fades told us that she had been walking this walk for a long time. She followed a continuous white line toward her final destination, the service station owned by her estranged husband, Ed Hurley, where mechanics in greased overalls repaired broken transmissions and a decorative exhaust pipe puffed the clean smoke of righteous industry. She was a woman on a mission of reconciliation and release. If there was a song in her heart, it might have been Sting’s “If You Love Someone, Set Them Free.”
Nadine was here to love Ed with the most ironic of romantic of gestures; she had come to give him a divorce. Divorce of all kinds — relational disruptions; divided selves; psychotic breaks from reality — has been a recurring theme this season, and the deeper irony of Nadine is that she has represented all of them throughout all of Twin Peaks. It’s possible she might still. Ed himself wasn’t convinced his wife was in her right mind as she described herself as “jealous” and “manipulative,” a “bitch” who had “guilted” him into remaining in the marriage even as he pined for Norma. I wondered if Ed thought, as I did, that Nadine, a victim of mental illness, was being ridiculously hard on herself. As the Log Lady once said: “Sometimes when we are ill, we are not on our best behavior. By ill, I mean any of the following: physically ill, emotionally ill, mentally ill, and/or spiritually ill.” (From her Bravo introduction of episode 4, season 2.)
Ed questioned her sincerity, too, especially after learning that the riled rants of “Dr. Amp” character had provoked her newfound lucidity. Nadine praised the man — and, possibly, her new boyfriend? — as the only truth-teller left in town. I think Ed saw Dr. Jacoby as a charlatan peddling bulls— coated in fool’s gold: “Tomorrow, you’re going to wish you never said these things.”
Nadine disagreed. The long walk to Big Ed’s Gas Farm had given her time to vet her thinking. “True love is giving the other that which makes them most happy,” she said. “Ed, you are free.” She could have been talking about herself, too. If she’s as smitten with Jacoby as I suspect, divorce serves her interest, too. Regardless, she, too, was living out another bit of Log Lady wisdom by trying to change her culture with progressive change: “Negative emotions can cause severe problems in our environment and to the health of our body. Happiness, usually classified as a positive emotion, can bring good health to our body, and spread positive vibrations into our environment.”
Nadine exhorted the bug lug to run to Norma, hugged him and let him go. Ed watched her walk away with a worried look on his face, perhaps fretting about the walk-back that he was certain tomorrow would bring. Then he shook it off. Something inside him activated. Nadine may be wrong in the head, but she was right in theory. It was time for Ed to pursue his bliss. It was time to carpe f—ing diem already.
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The Power of Positive Thinking. Ed arrived at the Double R in his gold-ish truck. The color reminded me of creamed corn Garmonbozia. But pain and sorrow needn’t last forever, and sometimes, it can be transmuted into pearls of hope and joy. He brushed the work dust off his jeans so he could present himself proper for the defining moment — a threshold moment, the first of many in this episode — at hand. He walked through the door and saluted Norma with an enthusiastic wave. He told her that Nadine had set him free, and he would have told her more, but Norma stuck a pin in his mojo by walking off with business partner (and beau?) Walter for a private meeting. The song Lynch had chosen for the scene — “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” by Otis Redding — faded. A deflated Ed plopped himself on a stool. He ordered a coffee. “And a cyanide tablet,” he said.
But Norma had no interest in breaking Ed’s achy heart. She had some affairs to get in order before she could move on to new business. She announced she was exercising an option in their relationship: Walter would be buying out her share in the burgeoning chain of self-branded diners. Call it a Supreme Nadine maneuver: Walter would be setting her free – that he’d be paying her for a divorce — and there ain’t nothing he could about it. Contracts, you know. She didn’t want to be in the franchise business. She was an artist-entrepreneur. She only had passion for the original property that was the Double R; she was only interested in serving its needs. She wanted to use the buyout money to take care of her family. Walter was confused. He thought she didn’t have family. He missed the point: Norma’s family was Twin Peaks, the community she’s loved and fed and held together in her own nourishing, cherry pie-sweet way for years.
Meanwhile, Ed sat at the counter with his eyes closed. He was eavesdropping, or meditating, or trying to will a desired outcome into existence through the power of mind-over-matter positive thinking. When I saw Walter pass behind him and exit the restaurant, I, too, joined in his silent prayer, which I think was probably the words to “My Prayer,” the song sung by The Platters in Part 8. 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 a world far away and your lips close to mine…
He got his wish, although I’d like to think he had nothing to do with forcing or coercing or magic-thinking her decision. Otherwise, he’d be everything Nadine said about herself — manipulative, jealous, selfish. We saw Norma’s hand enter from the side of the frame and touch his shoulder. It was like watching a dream divine come true. Ed smiled. They kissed. “Marry me,” he said. “Of course I will,” she said. Shelly beamed and so did we. Otis resumed his singing, and “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” reached a rapturous crescendo as Lynch cut to blue sky dotted with clouds that resembled feathery angel wings. It was heavenly.
And then we went to hell. (Recap continues on page 2)
“Sometime ideas, like men, jump up and say hello. They introduce themselves, these ideas, with words. Are they words? These ideas speak so strangely. All that we see in this world is based on someone’s ideas. Some ideas are destructive, some are constructive. Some ideas can arrive in the form of a dream. I can say it again: Some ideas arrive in the form of a dream.” — The Log Lady, from the Bravo introduction of episode 3, season 1.
The Nexus of All Realities. Nadine’s straight story, the pie-in-the-sky dreaming of the Ed-Norma romance, and the ecstatic satisfactions of the opening sequence gave way to an unnerving shadowland stretch that was sensational in its own way, but defied our desire for more rapturous fulfillment. From here to the end, Lynch flipped the switch on his storytelling machine to nightmare mode and gave us scenes steeped in his unique form of spooky noir. Think of it as a very special eclipse episode.
Fittingly, it began with Mr. C traveling a lost highway at night. He was guided, it seemed, by the occult energies coursing through telephone wires. They brought him to a familiar roadside establishment: the convenience store we saw in Part 8, the mid-century brick house in the A-bomb blasted deserts of New Mexico that became home to hobo squatter fallout boys known as the Woodsmen. But now it was located in the Pacific Northwest — possibly Twin Peaks itself, if we assume Mr. C was tracking down the coordinates he gained from Ray two episodes earlier. The convenience store is a roaming, teleporting poltergeist. It could be a sentient entity. Perhaps it’s piloted by one of Lynch’s Guild Navigators from Dune.
A Woodsman coolly stepped onto the blacktop to direct Mr. C to stop. The last time Mr. C encountered the Woodsmen, they bum-rushed his fallen body after getting shot by Ray and harrowed his chest to extract of the glob of BOB nested within. (Where did they take it?) They might have healed him, too. Hard to say. On this night, Mr. C and the Woodsman greeted each other with stony silence and glares that could have expressed either menace or respect. The Woodsman led him up an exterior stairwell, but they magically blinked away before they could reach the top. That was okay. There was no door up there, anyway.
Yep, this was going to be weird.
Mr. C and his chaperone were now inside a spare apartment with a hardwood floor. Another Woodsman sat on a chair next to a machine that looked like it had been made from salvaged parts thrown together with the logic of an abstract artist. One of the components was a turntable with a record on it. “My Prayer,” perhaps. Black ooze was smeared around his mouth. He had a mess of it on his chest, too. Scorched engine oil? Maybe. But I’m also wondering if the Woodsmen reside within wood like ghosts, within the great trees — within every tree — foresting the earth. The black ooze? It could be pitch.
Mr. C wanted to see Phillip Jeffries. Ray had told him that Jeffries wanted Mr. C dead, and that the former FBI agent played by David Bowie could be found in a place that technically wasn’t real called The Dutchman’s. Was that where we were now?
I think not. More in a sec.
Pitch-Mouth Woodsman threw a lever. A sparky flare lit the room. Illumination was given to Mr. C in a flickering vision, a glimpse of a masked, red-suited Black Lodge demon known as The Jumping Man. Freeze the image and you’ll see a face superimposed on the mask. It appeared to be Sarah Palmer. If true, you wonder if The Jumping Man holds sway over Sarah at present. The scene had another connection to the beleaguered woman. The spotted wallpaper is the same spotted wallpaper in a painting that once hung — and may hang still — in Laura Palmer’s bedroom. Another Block Lodge entity, Mrs. Tremond, had gifted the artwork to Laura. In Twin Peaks: Fire, Walk With Me, Laura had a vision that took her into the space depicted in the painting, explored some of its corridors, and found herself in the Red Room, where the man from another place gave her an owl ring. With this ring, I thee wed… THEORY! I think it’s possible the Palmer house is accessible via the apartment above the convenience store and that Black Lodge entities have used it to infiltrate Sarah’s home, terrorize her, and take possession of her.
To answer my earlier questions, I don’t think the apartment above the convenience store is The Dutchman’s, but rather, a junction point for many different dimensions, a nexus of realities. By flipping the lever or by striking his walking stick on the ground, Pitch-Mouth Woodsman opened a portal that accessed the place Mr. C was seeking. Chaperone Woodsman escorted Mr. C through a corridor, superimposed with the trees of Ghostwood Forest. Some Black Lodge entities span the globe via a network of wires; perhaps the Woodsmen traverse the planet via a network of green. Honestly, by this time in the sequence, I kinda turned off my analytical brain and just rolled with the mesmerizing weirdness. Some ideas, like jumping men, speak so strangely.
Mr. C was led up another stairwell — the same stairwell that Gordon Cole spied when he looked into the Black Hole Sun a few episodes ago — and through a door that opened up onto an outdoor courtyard of a highway motel. It resembled the same motel from Twin Peaks: Fire, Walk With Me, where a BOB-possessed Leland Palmer had sexual assignations with Theresa Banks (and “chickened out” of a four-way that would have involved his daughter). Perhaps places on Earth trafficked and corrupted by Black Lodge demons become cloned by the Black Lodge itself or absorbed into its space. What happens when they taint all the earth? (Recap continues on page 3)
“Hello again. Can you see through a wall? Can you see through human skin? X-rays see through solid, or so-called solid objects. There are things in life that exist, and yet our eyes cannot see them. Have you ever seen something startling that others cannot see? Why are some things kept from our vision? Is life a puzzle? I am filled with questions. Sometimes my questions are answered. In my heart, I can tell if the answer is correct. I am my own judge. In a dream, are all the characters really you? Different aspects of you? Do answers come in dreams? One more thing: I grew up in the woods. I understand many things because of the woods. Trees standing together, growing alongside one another, providing so much. I chew pitch gum. On the outside, let’s say of the ponderosa pine, sometimes pitch oozes out. Runny pitch is no good to chew. Hard, brittle pitch is no good. But in between there exists a firm, slightly crusted pitch with such a flavor. This is the pitch I chew.” – The Log Lady, from her Bravo introduction of episode 1, season 2.
Tin Machine Metamorphosis. Mr. C was taken to Room 8. The door was locked, but a backwards-talking night manager dressed in a sleeping gown and robe emerged from the shadows with a key. (I endorse the Internet speculation that this woman is Lois Duffy, subject of the first Blue Rose investigation.) Mr. C entered the space, illuminated with a fritzing lamp. He saw nothing at first. But then a wall seemed to slide away like a drawn curtain — or was Mr. C looking through the wall with X-ray vision? — and he beheld the puzzle of Phillip Jeffries.
He still spoke with a Southern growl, but he no longer looked like David Bowie. He had been transformed into a device not unlike the diving bell/alarm bell in The Fireman’s parlor room inside the White Lodge. (It also resembled the device atop the transmigration power station floating in ultraviolet space that was once home — prison? — to Naido.) It had been modified with a gooseneck spout that puffed steam. Phillip Jeffries had become a magnificent teakettle. Part 15 had suddenly turned steampunk Kafka.
Maybe David Lynch thinks this is a nifty way to spend eternity. I don’t. If you think of Phillip Jeffries as a man not unlike his former partner, Gordon Cole, a seeker of occult truth — but a more selfish, corruptible one, a lost highway rogue — then I wonder if this is the final destination of those who recklessly quest for forbidden knowledge, for more life and power than any man should possess: transformed into a machine, hidden away from the world in a lonely motel room in a gloomy limbo.
A frustrating dialogue ensued. Did Mr. C (and we) learn anything? I…think so? One big takeaway: I think this isn’t the Phillip Jeffries who wants Mr. C’s dead or covets a reunion with BOB. Another area of discussion: Judy. This would be the woman Jeffries made a big show about not wanting to talk about during his one big scene in Twin Peaks: Fire, Walk With Me. Mr. C remembered that moment, which surprised the magnificent teakettle; it confirmed for the tin machine that this doppelganger Cooper is indeed Cooper, or an aspect of him, although Mr. C didn’t clarify, confirm, or comment. Mr. C wanted to know — with obsessive insistence — who Judy was and what Judy wanted from him, if anything. The magnificent teakettle said that Mr. C had already met Judy and puffed a sequence of numbers — smoke signals; coordinates — that indicated her location.
So: Who is Judy? Well, Darren Franich, my Twin Peaks podcasting partner, theorizes that “Judy” is a codename for Laura Palmer. A theory floating the Internet suggest Judy = Judy Garland = Major Garland Briggs, a man certainly known to Mr. C. Twin Peaks Apocrypha – courtesy of the legendary Twin Peaks fanzine Wrapped In Plastic — tells us that Lynch and his Twin Peaks: Fire, Walk With Me co-writer Robert Engels envisioned Judy as the sister of the late Josie Packard, whose soul current resides in a drawer knob at the Great Northern Hotel. Might Naido be Judy? Could it be that when the magnificent teakettle told Mr. C that he had met Judy before, he was actually referring to Agent Cooper’s encounter with Naido in the transmigration power station in ultraviolet space? Do those coordinates refer to the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department?
Mr. C wanted more info, but the magnificent teakettle was out of steam. As it evaporated from view, a phone began to ring. Mr. C answered it — and was immediately transmitted to a phone booth outside the convenience store…
And found himself staring down the barrel of a gun held by another reckless highway traveler, a young man who just might be his son, Richard Horne.
“Even the ones who laugh are sometimes caught without an answer: these creatures who introduce themselves but we swear we have met them somewhere before. Yes, look in the mirror. What do you see? Is it a dream, or a nightmare? Are we being introduced against our will? Are they mirrors? I can see the smoke. I can smell the fire. The battle is drawing nigh.” – The Log Lady, from her Bravo introduction to episode 4, season 1.
Family reunion? Mr. C was annoyed by his forced introduction to Richard. But Twin Peaks’ most wanted vehicular manslaughterer and grandma beater-upper became more curious to him the more he blathered. Did Mr. C see something of himself in Richard’s abysmal gaze?
Richard believed Mr. C to be an FBI agent. He recognized him from a picture that his mother kept of him — proof that his mother is indeed Audrey Horne, who crushed on Agent Cooper back in the day. (Unless Richard is the child of Donna Hayward, whose biological father is/was Benjamin Horne, but I’m not buying that theory.)
Mr. C disarmed Richard by distracting him with the old snort-a-loogie-and-spit-it-on-the-ground-and-make-them-look maneuver, a tactic so ridiculous yet conceptually plausible that I want to get caught in a stick-up just so I can try it. He robbed Dick of his weapon and kicked him hard and good a couple times, then told the punk to get in his truck. “We’ll talk on the way,” he said. And the road warriors were back on the highway.
Is Richard’s deadbeat dad about to give him an education about family history? Has Mr. C just recruited a new ally in whatever final battle awaits him? Is a character with a Cooper face finally going to show his mug in Twin Peaks? (Recap continues on page 4)
“Sometimes we want to hide from ourselves —we do not want to be us — it is too difficult to be us. It is at these times that we turn to drugs or alcohol or behavior to help us forget that we are ourselves. This, of course, is only a temporary solution to a problem, which is going to keep returning, and sometimes these temporary solutions are worse for us than the original problem. Yes, it is a dilemma. Is there an answer? Of course there is: as a wise person said with a smile: ‘The answer is within the question.’” – The Log Lady, from her Bravo introduction to episode 6, season 2.
The total eclipse of Steven’s heart. Once upon a time they were falling in love. Now, Steven and Gersten have fallen apart. We found the nutty adulterer and his unlikely mistress in Ghostwood Forest, huddled at the base of a tree. He was tweaking and itchy from overdose or withdrawal. He was also holding a gun, loading a bullet, and talking of ending things. She was cradling him and soothing him and maybe trying not to freak out over the revolver and the suicide blather. They were red as mars, from her hair to his bloodshot eyes to the clothes they were wearing.
“Why? There is no why,” he said, a line that rang self-aware in a season of perceived randomness and scrambled continuity that has messed with our understanding of cause and effect, space and time. Indeed, Stephen seemed to suggest something had happened to precipitate this crisis that we haven’t yet seen, and maybe never will. Something he did. No: It was something she did – “she” as in Becky Briggs, the wife he abused, the woman he was demeaning now, as he kept company with another (and demeaned her, too). Steven: not a poster boy for marriage! Did he hurt Becky, maybe with that gun? Did she hurt him, maybe by slipping him a Sparkle mickey? Were we watching the immediate aftermath of Becky’s psychotic-break shoot-up, when she emptied the barrel of a gun into Gersten’s apartment door? Or sometime after?
Or maybe he was just stoned and making up crap. Truth is, it probably doesn’t matter how or why Steven and Gersten got to this moment. For who knows how long, this walking, talking tragedy of a man-child has been running away from his unexamined life, numbing out in altered states, taking his anger out on Becky, and spiraling downward. Sooner or later, he was going to wind up here, in the dirt, spiritually naked and totally ashamed, cowering with his chosen Eve in a court of monolithic wood and awaiting judgment. Lynch kept Steven and Gersten physically intertwined like coiled roots and filmed them close-up, accentuating a cruel irony of their intimacy, especially as Steven’s words turned sexually crass and misogynistic. In serving as his shelter in this tempest, she had become his prisoner. Steven’s incoherent sputters and Gersten’s frantic whimpers combined with the ominous moan of the wind moving trough the sentinel trees to create a terrifying vibe. Lord, did this scene have a mood.
“Look at me!” he said. “I’m a high school graduate!”
The forest was unmoved.
Into this fall myth tableau walked one of the gods of Twin Peaks, co-creator and co-writer Mark Frost. He was reprising his role from the original series, Cyril Pons, a TV news reporter. Cyril, presumably retired and possibly living at the Fat Trout Trailer Park, was walking his dog through the forest. When he saw Steven and Gersten, he froze. When Gersten saw him, she jumped in terror, and maybe for the best; it was time for get to get scared straight. She broke free from Steven and ran behind the tree to escape Cyril’s line of vision. (Why? Are they fugitives on the run?) We heard a gunshot. Did Steven take aim at Cyril? No: A follow-up beat saw the ex-journalist report what he had seen to Carl Rodd. We were left to presume that Steven had ended his story in Twin Peaks: The Return by following through on his threat to kill himself. There was no why, only despair, only tears and the moaning wind of Ghostwood.
“The heart — it is a physical organ, we all know. But how much more an emotional organ — this we also know. Love, like blood, flows from the heart. Are blood and love related? Does a heart pump blood as it pumps love? Is love the blood of the universe?” – The Log Lady, from her Bravo introduction to episode 14, season 2.
With great rubber comes great responsibility. The husbands of Twin Peaks would probably appreciate if the great big heart of James Hurley pumped with a little less love. The dopey romantic had a history for crushing on women in relationships with other men in the original series. A couple decades later, the broody biker hasn’t changed much. Now we know why everyone thinks James is “always cool.” He’s frozen in time.
James hit the roadhouse with Freddie the Rubber Fist to cruise his latest fixation, a married woman named Renee. She was hanging out with her spouse, Chuck, and another married couple. But that didn’t stop James from declaring sincere affection for her.
“You got a death wish?!” asked Chuck.
“I was just trying to be polite!” said James.
James went down with a punch. Wingman Freddie stepped in. The budding and already batty dark green knight lightly socked Chuck in the face, then did the same to Chuck’s pal. But the power of the rubber fist didn’t just knocked them out. They had a toxic reaction to it. Their eyes went wonky. They began to cough up foam. Oops. Probably not the kind of interventionist heroism The Fireman had in mind when he bestowed Freddie with his magic kitchen glove.
“I’m so sorry, Renee,” said James.
Not cool, James. Time to grow up. (Recap continues on page 5)
“Complications set in — yes, complications. How many times have we heard ‘It’s simple’? Nothing is simple. We live in a world where nothing is simple. Each day, just when we think we have a handle on things, suddenly some new element is introduced and everything is complicated once again. What is the secret? What is the secret to simplicity, to the pure and simple life? Are our appetites, our desires undermining us? Is the cart in front of the horse?” – The Log Lady, from her Bravo introduction of episode 10, season 2.
Into the underworld. The professional monkey wrenches named Chantal and Hutch arrived in Las Vegas and got busy simplifying things for their boss, Mr. C. Chantal marched right into Duncan Todd’s office and shot him in the head. R.I.P Duncan Todd, arch-nemesis of the Mitchum brothers, a Sin City devil who exploits the appetites and desires of others. Chantal then plugged his assistant, Roger, though he didn’t go down easily. He needed another bullet. R.I.P. Roger, the Yes-man enabler of worse men. I love how these evildoers were dispatched with little ceremony. In his shots, Lynch kept a cool distance and didn’t dote on faces, save for a quick gross beat of Todd’s mug getting pulped. It was all very impersonal. As Chantal strutted away in her two tone heels, she made dinner plans with Hutch. French fries. Don’t spare the ketchup. Her casual nihilism was a “Royale with Cheese” short of max Tarantino. Don’t worry, James. There are worse kinds of cool.
“Sometimes — well, let’s say all times — things are changing. We are judged as human beings on how we treat our fellow human beings. How do you treat your fellow human beings? At night, just before sleep, as you lay by yourself in the dark, how do you feel about yourself? Are you proud of your behavior? Are you ashamed of your behavior? You know in your heart if you have hurt someone — you know. If you have hurt someone, don’t wait another day before making things right. The world could break apart with sadness in the meantime.” – The Log Lady, from her Bravo introduction of episode 17, season 2.
Hell is other people. Right, Chad? For their sin of callousness toward their fellow man – or maybe it was just for the crime of putting two guys in intensive care – James and Freddie were sent to the slammer for the night. Seize the evening, boys! Makes your lives extraordinary…with reflection on your shameful behavior. One of the quiet ironies of the scene: Bobby Briggs, bad boy turned deputy, helping Hawk lock up James and Freddie. The Twin Peaks pilot also put James in these cages across from teenage Bobby and Mike; they taunted him with barks. A couple decades later, one of them had moved on, jailing another who hadn’t. But kudos to James for sincerely inquiring about the condition of Chuck and his friend and recognizing his responsibility in their suffering. He might be a dope, but when woke, I think he’s a don’t-wait-another-day-to-make-things-right guy.
The holding cells at the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department are getting crowded. James and Freddie join Naido, who’s being held in protective custody; a badly beaten drunk drooling gore, afflicted with the Dougie-esque tic of parroting the last thing he hears, believed to be the oft-discussed Billy; and drug dealing Deputy Chad, who experiences the growing crush of weirdos as a kind of No Exit hell. At least one of them is in the right place for the inevitable moment when one of the Black Lodge demons – or perhaps Mr. C – comes to claim Naido. Get ready to rumble, Rubber Fist.
“As above, so below. The human being finds himself, or herself, in the middle. There is as much space outside the human, proportionately, as inside. Stars, moons, and planets remind us of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Is there a bigger being walking with all the stars within? Does our thinking affect what goes on outside us, and what goes on inside us? I think it does. Where does creamed corn figure into the workings of the universe? What really is creamed corn? Is it a symbol for something else?” – The Log Lady, from her Bravo introduction of episode 2, season 2.
Letter to a Convenience Culture Nation. Hutch and Chantal, sewers of creamed corn Garmonbozia, sat in their van under a black sky enjoying a late-night meal of drive-thru fast food. He sat on the passenger side, she sat behind the wheel, and they were winding down from Chantal’s successful black-op by rationalizing the morality of their hit-and-run work. “The government does it all the time,” said Hutch, who proceeded to argue that the implicit law of the land of manifest destiny America was nihilistic, not Biblical, as other people like to think. “So-called ‘Christian nation.’ Thou shalt not kill? Might as well be, ‘Thou shalt kill, show no mercy, forgive no one, f— ‘em in the ass!’ Nation of killers. It’s gone on all along! Killed all the Indians.”
Twin Peaks has been grieving the condition of American culture and rub-off on its people. With Hutch and Chantal, we got a still-life of cynicism, but more generally, a scene suggesting that the values encoded in the macro-narratives of a cultural history are internalized by communities and individuals whether we recognize it or not, like the pull or heat of celestial objects or the effect of unseen radiation on our bodies. We are spirits in the material world, taught by an invisible sun of culture. But here, at rest in the dark in their car, gobbling fast food, Hutch and Chantal also embodied another end of reckless highwaymen individualism rum amuck. We want what we want and we want it now, and we don’t want to feel bad about it. And we always want more. Per the 2001: A Space Odyssey homage of Part 8, if the detonation of the atomic bomb is the dawn of the post-modern, convenience-store man in Twin Peaks USA, Hutch and Chantal are the bone’s throw evolutionary descendants.
In what sounded like a flag plant of foreshadowing, Chantal reminded us that she’s a sadist, and her hankering is growing. “Yeah, but my fun is over when I actually kill someone. It’s no fun torturing a corpse. I haven’t gotten to torture anybody for a f—ing long time, Hutch.” Her husband responded with sympathy. “It’s just hasn’t worked out,” he said. Compounding Chantal’s present dissatisfaction was the fact that Hutch could only procure for her tiny little packets of ketchup for her French fries – it was all they had, he said – but he was able to snag her favorite dessert, and she appreciated that. Sweet, attentive Hutch. He should move to Twin Peaks and teach boyfriend classes. Their model of a nurturing, functional marriage (one lesson: It helps to have shared interests, shared work) and mutual adoration was a perverse mirroring of the Ed-Norma romance at the start of the hour, yet their profound selfishness contrasted with the sense of collective responsibility possessed by their Twin Peaks betters.
“I love you, Hutch.”
“I love you, Chantal.”
Hutch admired the view. Full dark, one star, telephone poles and wire. “Beautiful night,” said Hutch. Chantal took a gander and pointed at the heavenly body ruling over them. She assumed it to be the one named after the god of war and farming. “Mars,” she said, mouth full of burger. You are what you worship, reap, and eat. And here endeth the lesson.
“One down, one to go” said Chantal after popping Duncan and Roger. Whoever is next on Chantal’s hit list menu better beware: The lady torturer has a hunger. (Recap continues on page 6)
“I carry a log — yes. Is it funny to you? It is not to me. Behind all things are reasons. Reasons can even explain the absurd. Do we have the time to learn the reasons behind the human being’s varied behavior? I think not. Some take the time. Are they called detectives? Watch — and see what life teaches.” – The Log Lady, from her Bravo introduction of episode 2, season 1.
Is Agent Cooper finally ready for his close-up? Over at Lancelot Court, the person most likely to be Chantal’s next assignment was also being fed by a spouse. Dougie Jones sat at the kitchen table with the yellowy lamp and dug into chocolate pie served by Janey-E. She was still aglow from their reversal of fortune: Dougie’s flush of casino luck, his success at work, his born-again new health and hot body. (“DOUGIIEEEEEEE!”) Materialism isn’t everything, and Dougie’s inexplicable, absurd state of being implicitly subverts their model of “keeping up with the Joneses” suburban materialism happiness — what happens to Janey-E and Sonny Jim when Cooper sorts himself out? — but I can’t blame her for her contentment or values. Things have been tough in her house for a long time. And anyway, she’s American. Ain’t she living the dream? She certainly thought so. She said so! “It’s like all our dreams are coming true,” and she left her “husband” to eat his cake.
Dougie has been the season’s most whimsical and challenging indulgence. It took me a few episodes to warm to the notion that the odyssey story of Agent Dale Cooper’s return would be certifiably odd and more figurative than literal — a heroic journey of the spirit; the reconstruction of Cooper’s personhood — and that it would take all season long. I’ve grown to love the often hilarious funny of the character, played by Kyle MacLachlan in a comic performance that’s masterful in its precision, confidence, and gutsy trust in Lynch’s vision. In Dougie, we see the embodiment of the director’s brand of “Jimmy Stewart on Mars” quirkiness, to borrow from the famous Mel Brooks quote about Lynch. In a season that has seen Lynch reflect on his identity and legacy, you wonder if the point of Dougie — a peculiar, earnest soul finding a home in the alien desert of Nevada; a cousin to The Log Lady character, writ larger and stranger — was to ponder what he has gained from that image, what it means to him, if anything.
That consideration could be drawing to a close.
As Dougie had his cake and ate it, too, he played with the salt and pepper shakers — they resembled trees — and punched buttons on a remote control. The TV powered up. On the screen: Sunset Blvd., a meta-Hollywood film noir and one of Lynch’s favorite films. Directed by Billy Wilder, the movie is narrated posthumously by a screenwriter who loses his life after a strange few weeks serving a faded movie star, Norma Desmond, who’s trying to develop a comeback vehicle, an adaptation of Salome. The scene Dougie watches involves finds Norma meeting with Cecil B. DeMille about her script, and ends with him summoning a Paramount exec with a familiar name: Gordon Cole.
Hearing those words — the name of Agent Cooper’s Blue Rose Task Force boss, played by Lynch himself — triggered something inside him. Call it: Metapocalypse Now! A look passed over Dougie’s face, and for a brief moment, we wondered if some or all of Dale Cooper’s consciousness had finally broken through and taken hold behind Dougie’s vacant eyes.
Instead of doing anything that offered certain proof, Dougie decided to get on his hands and knees and crawl toward something on the baseboard that was making crackling sounds, as if calling to him: an electrical outlet, the conduit that brought him into the world from the transmigration power station in ultraviolet space. Being a detective by nature, Dougie decided to investigate and interrogate this suspect object by… inserting his fork into it. Maybe he did so because Dougie still has a mind of child. Or maybe he intuitively understood the meaning of electricity in the mythology of Twin Peaks and knew what a good jolt might do to him. And so: ZARK!
Janey-E screamed as the house went dark and her “seventh heaven” existence went kablooey. Will Dougie still be Dougie when he regains consciousness? Will Dougie still be in the house when the lights are restored? Or might he now be en route elsewhere, a spirit traveling the spectral super-highway back to Twin Peaks? (Recap continues on page 7)
“Welcome to Twin Peaks. My name is Margaret Lanterman. I live in Twin Peaks. I am known as the Log Lady. There is a story behind that. There are many stories in Twin Peaks —some of them are sad, some funny. Some of them are stories of madness, of violence. Some are ordinary. Yet they all have about them a sense of mystery — the mystery of life. Sometimes, the mystery of death. The mystery of the woods. The woods surrounding Twin Peaks. To introduce this story, let me just say it encompasses the All — it is beyond the “Fire“, though few would know that meaning. It is a story of many, but begins with one — and I knew her. The one leading to the many is Laura Palmer. Laura is the one.” – The Log Lady, from her Bravo introduction of the Twin Peaks pilot.
Goodnight, Margaret. After the rapturous opening sequence, almost everything about Part 15 questioned or cast shade on the notions of happily-ever-after. The closing stretch, which gave us the heartbreaking death of Margaret Lanterman, a.k.a. the Log Lady, was the ultimate bookend to the heartwarming consummation of Ed and Norma’s longing romance. It was made all the more poignant by knowing that the actress who played her, Catherine Coulson, was ill during production and died shortly after finishing her work. Like all her scenes this season, Margaret’s final moments were staged as a phone call with Hawk. She was in her log cabin, he was in his office at the sheriff’s department. She was alone, but not alone, and implicit in the making of the scenes is that, when Coulson shot them, she was most likely not performing with Michael Horse, the actor who plays Hawk, but performing them with — and certainly for — her old friend behind the camera, David Lynch.
Note the way Lynch shot the fade-out of this mournful, principled agent of good compared to the way he shot the deaths of the agents of nihilistic evil in this episode. Where Lynch kept those bad guys at a remove, he made it personal with Margaret, as if to say, here is a face worthy of my camera, here is a soul worth remembering. This was the sunset of Margaret Lanterman. And she was ready for her close-up.
I was deeply moved by the images of Margaret sitting alone in her home, cradling her log, and talking herself into the next stage of her eternal adventure, mixing straight-talk (“Hawk, I’m dying”), anxiety (“There’s some fear in letting go”), and statements of belief (“You know about death, that it’s just a change, not end”), the strength of her soul juxtaposed with the fragility of her body. “My log is gold. The wind is moaning. I’m dying.” I was also struck by Hawk’s attentive silence and active listening, receiving her final testimony like a bedside priest and wishing her farewell. The light in the window of her log cabin going dark may have been the most powerful visual in an hour packed with them. A moment of silence was held in the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department.
In her life and death, in her words and wisdom, in her marvelously odd spirit and her peculiar accessory, her log, a totem representing her dead husband, Margaret represented so much that is beautiful about Twin Peaks, most notably, its attendance to the theme of grief, and in her own curious way embodied one of its most debated aspects and important meanings, the objectification of women and Otherness. After all, we know her mostly as The Log Lady, not by her real name. It was fitting – and embellished the meta of the episode – that Part 15 was dedicated not to the actress (though Coulson was so honored earlier in the season), but the character, and by her name. “In memory of Margaret Lanterman.” Lynch delights in surfaces of people, but he cares deeply about the pain and sorrow, joy and meaning animating the quirks, and he’s at his best when he makes you feel it. The Margaret scenes this season made you feel that care. You did right by your friend, Mr. Lynch. I’m sorry she’s no longer with us.
I feel like I’d be desecrating the scene by theorizing over the plot stuff expressed in the sequence. But I am Shiva, shatterer of art, according to other critics who tsk-tsk fans who dare to be intrigued by the mysteries of a mystery story, so let’s speculate about one of Margaret’s cryptic allusions. She told Hawk to remember someone, someone “from our talks when we were able to speak face to face. Watch for that one, the one I told you about, the one under the moon at Blue Pine Mountain.”
“The one under the moon at Blue Pine Mountain” mostly likely refers the symbol for the horned, owl-like entity spotted on Hawk’s map and the cryptic script left by Major Briggs for Bobby. When Sheriff Truman inquired about the icon, Hawk told him that no man should ever want to know about whatever it was that thing represented. But when was the face-to-face conversation that Margaret and Hawk once had and who — or what — was the subject of that conversation? Well, here’s one possibility. In the first season of Twin Peaks, Hawk was part of a crew that ventured into the woods to find a cabin that held the secrets of Laura Palmer’s final night. During their search, they came across Margaret’s log house home and had tea with her. And during the that face-to-face encounter, she talked about her late husband, and she talked about someone that no man should ever want to know about. She talked about the devil. But really, she was speaking of all the themes pertinent to this episode. Love and loss, death and grief. “My husband was a logging man,” she said. “He met the devil. The devil took the form of fire. Fire is the devil hiding like a coward in the smoke.” Hawk responded, “The woods holds many spirits, doesn’t it, Margaret.”
And now, the woods hold one more.
Goodbye, Margaret. (Recap continues on page 8)
Lingering at the threshold. An hour about characters reaching doorways of perception and thresholds of transmigration saw Audrey Horne come within inches of finally leaving her maybe-unreal mansion and embark for the Roadhouse to find her love, Billy. Instead, the scene gave her one more her reason to keep put, to remain in stasis, to stay trapped in her prison of pathology, relationship, and place. That reason was her proverbial ball-and-chain, her old scapegoat, her husband, Charlie. He was going to drive her to the Roadhouse, and he was ready to go, but as they stood at the door, Audrey dawdled. He told her if she didn’t put on her coat, he was taking his off and staying. She didn’t. He followed through on his threat. Audrey responded by strangling him — an action that may have spoken for a lot of viewers. What the hell is wrong with these people? And where oh where did the old Audrey go?
Each scene between them over the past several episode has given us at least one moment that fed that hot take theory that everything Audrey is actually a fantasy of some sort — a dream, a nightmare, an incepted fugue, a hallucinatory limbo. Last time, Audrey began doubting her very existence, and Charlie threatened to “end [her] story.” This week, the beat came when Audrey began to question Charlie’s authenticity. “I never really saw you before the way I’m seeing you now,” she said. “I’m meeting a different person. Who are you, Charlie?”
Charlie responded with a kind of blank-faced silence that could be interpreted any number of ways. The panic of someone who had just been exposed. She’s found me out! The thrill of someone cheering for a breakthrough. You can do this, Audrey! See through the illusion! Or the dumbstruck exasperation of a husband-caretaker who has heard this insane nonsense so many times before. Enough, already. In each scene, Charlie’s reactions have encouraged our skepticism, only to ground us in that third interpretation, that this is an old, demented dance of two unhappily married people. If you believe in the reality of their relationship, then you do have to start wondering if this is the home that Richard Horne was raised in, and how this kind of crazy household culture informed his nihilistic “Don’t call me a kid!” personality.
Still, I’m suspicious. And I wonder: What lies beyond that door?
On a meta level, Audrey’s should-I-stay-or-should-I-go? clash is also the show’s internal conflict, and it is ours. Her baffling arc, located exclusively here in the last act of this saga, speaks to our want for narrative progress and desire to never see this show ever end and go away again. As Margaret told us, there’s some fear in letting go. And many other emotions besides. Another bit of Log Lady wisdom, from her Bravo introduction of episode 9 of season 2 — the episode that brought an end to the mystery of Laura Palmer, and in which Agent Cooper guided Leland Palmer into the light of the afterlife: “So now the sadness comes — the revelation. There is a depression after an answer is given. It was almost fun not knowing. Yes, now we know. At least we know what we sought in the beginning. But there is still the question: Why? And this question will go on and on until the final answer comes. Then the knowing is so full, there is no room for questions.”
“There is a sadness in this world, for we are ignorant of many things. Yes, we are ignorant of many beautiful things — things like the truth. So sadness, in our ignorance, is very real. The tears are real. What is this thing called a tear? There are even tiny ducts — tear ducts — to produce these tears should the sadness occur. Then the day when the sadness comes — then we ask: ‘Will this sadness which makes me cry — will this sadness that makes me cry my heart out — will it ever end?’ The answer, of course, is yes. One day the sadness will end.” – The Log Lady, from her Bravo introduction of episode 4, season 1.
Ghosted. Part 15 ended with another young person at the Roadhouse doing something bizarre while a band played us out. A woman named Ruby was waiting for friends who may have stood her up — “ghosted” her, per the parlance of today’s cool kids. (Or “kid-za,” as angry “Agent Stanley” of the Las Vegas FBI might say.) She was forcibly removed from a booth by a pair of biker brutes who wanted her seat and placed on the floor — treated as inconvenient furniture, as so many women are in Twin Peaks USA. (Hiya, Drawer Knob Josie!) Dejected and degraded, she crawled on her hands and knees, an action that mirrored Dougie’s own crawl earlier in the episode, and slowly moved into the milling throng too entranced by a sinister electronica-rock stomp — “Axolotl” by The Veils — to notice her at their feet. Then — mirroring Janey-E’s reaction to the Dougie shocker — she screamed in agony, a crying wail to speak for her gender, for her generation, for a town in crisis. When will the sadness end?
Hurry home, Agent Cooper. A town gone noir needs your light.