Look who finally showed her face

By Jeff Jensen
June 12, 2017 at 06:13 PM EDT
Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME
S3 E6
B+
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Part 6 of Twin Peaks: The Return was fascinating and frustrating, moving and confounding, often for the same reasons. Many of the negative things you could say about this installment reflect back its best meanings. Agent Cooper’s Dougie-ish, childlike state taxed our patience. Just grow up already, right? And yet his condition was intrinsic to the episode’s critique of adulthood and all of its degrading and worthless concerns. It grieved our quickness to run away from innocence, an idea most viscerally expressed in the form of Richard Horne, a punk in a rush to grow up, running over a child amid a stoned fit of “Don’t call me a kid!” pique. Similarly, Part 6 spent too much time trying to make us care about characters we don’t know, or don’t know well, or might never know. And yet, the stories were all about acquiring a heart — or not — for the strangers among us. We could be Carl and bravely choose to attend to the suffering others. We could be Chad and be indifferent to it. Toughen up, wussies! Soldier through! Survival of the fittest and most calloused: that’s what life is all about. Right?

At long last, Diane — Agent Cooper’s much-discussed, never-seen secretary and tape-recorder muse — showed her actual face, and it belonged to Laura Dern, framed by a platinum blond bob and radiating worldly sophistication and world-weariness with a mere look and a single line of two words. Her spectacular turn-to-camera intro was made more memorable by the fact that it was the only bit of Diane we got. We kept waiting for our storytellers, David Lynch and Mark Frost, to return to her, but since they really, really needed those scenes of Dougie doodling or pastry connoisseur Miriam raving about Norma’s pies, we never did. Even with Ike the Spike wreaking homicidal havoc and Hawk discovering a clue (pages from Laura Palmer’s diary?) tucked inside the oddest of places (the panel of a toilet stall door), the part of me that wanted more progression and action was stymied. But the part of me — and it’s a bigger part of me — that loves pure Lynchianism and digs his work as a collection of artfully crafted moods was captivated.

The first of several laughs in Part 6 came at the start, when we realized the episode was going to begin right where Part 5 ended: with Cooper lingering at the statue of the cowboy sentinel outside the offices of Lucky 7 Insurance. It was the first signal that Twin Peaks wasn’t going to be advancing Coop’s story by much this week. But I was immediately captivated by the feeling of the scene. Set at night to some bluesy sax, we watched Cooper struggle with the sleeve of Dougie’s oversized green blazer while trying to cradle a stack of case files. My podcasting partner Darren Franich thinks Cooper was trying to emulate the statue by turning his cuff into the shape of a gun — an act of childish play. I like this idea. But in Kyle MacLachlan’s performance, I also got the sense of a guy trying to wriggle out of a straight jacket, an idea that also goes to the episode’s themes, given that the life of Dougie Jones is basically a stifling prison for Cooper’s mind.

 

After an establishing shot of the top half of the statue, the remainder of the scene focused on the lower half, which got me looking at its shoes. Not boots — shoes. Loafers, it looked like. This was no symbol of the mythic American West — this was a symbol of the mythic American West appropriated and adapted by the corporate interests that built and manage this business park. Where have all the cowboys gone? Into insurance, apparently.

A police officer tried to shoo Cooper away as if he were poopy pigeon. He gave Cooper something new to fixate on, another symbol to tug at Cooper’s buried self — the copper’s badge. Officer Reynaldo (Juan Carlos Cantu) did our helpless hero a solid by driving him home, and Janey-E took in her wayward “Dougie,” as she always does. She was once again more of a mother to him — feeding him, making him do his homework, scolding him, cleaning up after his messes — further framing Cooper as a metaphorical child. Lynch continued to use color-coding to cast shade on the promises of American materialism and keeping-up-with-the-Joneses striving by embellishing the scene with hues of creamed corn “Garmonbozia,” or “pain and sorrow.” A golden yellow lamp on the table illuminated a stack of manila case files telling tales of human catastrophe and a manila folder containing a photo documenting Dougie’s infidelity. She let the envelope sit for a while, unopened, maybe dreading the contents, like an anxious parent putting off looking at her kid’s report card.

Janey-E sent “Dougie” upstairs to say goodnight to “Sonny” Jim Jones. The boy’s room was conspicuously decorated with very boyish things that also spoke to America’s Manifest Destiny myth. A strip of artwork depicting cowboy and Indian scenes circled the room. Model rocket ships were on the shelf. Sonny’s pajamas were covered with cars. (He was reading a book with a blue cover, part of a series stacked on a bedside table. Hardy Boys novels, perhaps?) Sonny patted on the bed, inviting his father to sit. Cooper offered a potato chip. The boy said no, he had just brushed his teeth. Cooper set one down on his starry bed spread, anyway, because mind-challenged Cooper doesn’t yet recall the importance of good dental hygiene. FUN FACT! I feel terrible about this, but I must confess I didn’t immediately recognize the actor who plays Sonny, even though I should have. He’s Pierce Gagnon and he had a small but important role in Tomorrowland, a film I helped to write and produce. (He played Nate — a character we named after my youngest son!) Sorry, Pierce. Too distracted by my color theories, I guess.
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Sonny asked if he could fall asleep with the light on and if the man he thought to be his dad would sit with him until he conked out. Cooper’s inability to understand was mistaken for assent, so Sonny clapped his hands and the overhead lamp activated. Cooper was amused. He clapped his hands and the light clicked off. Sonny giggled and clapped the light back on. Cooper clapped again. Janey-E brought an end to their play: She had opened the envelope of pain and sorrow and demanded that “Dougie” come downstairs to account for his transgression. All credit to Naomi Watts for being able to wring laughs and pathos from this archetype of beleaguered womanhood. She generated sincere hurt looking at a pic of Dougie and Jade — a hurt that Cooper only exacerbated when he smiled at the sight of a woman who helped him. “Jade gives two rides,” he said.

“I bet she did!” replied Janey-E.

The phone rang, and because it, too, was yellow, it brought more Garmonbozia into the home. The men who sent the envelope wanted their money: Dougie owed a $52,000 gambling debt. Janey-E got tough, skewering the logic of their criminal M.O., or what she assumed their criminal M.O. to be (how could Dougie pay them back any faster if they broke his legs?), and negotiated the terms of the payoff, which she set for “noon-thirty” the next day. (Janey-E — drawing upon a lifetime of watching or reading crime-time pop, I suspect — seemed to get an empowering thrill out of getting her pulp on.) She then ordered “Dougie” to get working on his case files and kissed him on the forehead and went to bed. Cooper’s movement in this sequence represented a kind of coming-of-age allegory. Moving from Sonny’s room upstairs, where he was goofing around with the boy, this extension of himself, to the downstairs area, where he was made to take responsibility for adult sins and get about his adult work = 1 Corinthians 13:11. “Now that I have become a man, I have put away childish things.” But maybe that’s not always good thing, as the parable of the scribbles will soon tell us.

The storytelling segued to Twin Peaks and an iconic image from the original series, a traffic light swinging in the night, blinking from green to yellow to red. We heard a sizzle of electricity, a Lynchian fixation, but in Twin Peaks, it also usually denotes the presence of Black Lodge entities or a move into their domain. Sure enough, off that crimson light, we left the world of amber and faded into the Red Room. We found Mike the One-Armed Man wandering about, looking toward the ceiling (or whatever resides in the heavens above this hellish limbo; the material world, presumably) and pawing the air, as if feeling for a spot or seam in the invisible fabric of reality. We cut back to Cooper, who looked to the rug at his feet. He saw Mike emerge and speak to him with his backwards-frontwards accent: “You must wake up. Don’t die, don’t die, don’t die…” Mike did this while waving a hand at him, as if sending positive energy Cooper’s way. If I were half the crazy theorizer I was 10 years ago, I’d now write you 500 words on how Good Vibes Mike = Mike Love of The Beach Boys singing “Good Vibrations.” Sorry?

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Cooper turned his attention to the case files. He saw glowing white dots like snowflakes marking certain lines of the claim reports, lines that referenced the name of another agent, Anthony Sinclair (Tom Sizemore), whom Cooper accused of lying last week. Cooper took a pencil and began marking up the papers with pictographic notation — lines and squiggles, ladders and stairwells. This went on for a while.

But back to the Mike of it all. You could see the moment between him and Cooper as an attempt to remind the audience of what’s at stake for Cooper. In Part 4, Mike said Cooper wouldn’t be mentally restored or fully free from the Black Lodge — or both — unless Dirty Cooper died. Here’s another way to make sense of the scene. Mike could sense or see that Cooper was struggling to navigate the world as a bumbling, stumbling tabula rasa. He may have even been worried that Cooper might not survive long enough to confront and conquer Dirty Cooper. (We know death is stalking Cooper. Dougie’s got a few enemies, too.) So he lent him some magical learning that could help him survive and thrive. Basically, in Agent Cooper’s reincarnation arc, this episode was his college years, minus the risky experimental phase and beer bongs.

We moved from Cooper to another stuck soul in need of a push. We caught up with Agent Albert Rosenfield as he was driving through near-freezing rain (Seattle, I assume) and receiving some Happy Hunting! encouragement from Gordon Cole over speaker phone. (Cole was sipping Chablis with female company, nurturing the portrayal of Cole as incorrigible ladies man.) (Was that Agent Tammy Preston giggling with him?) Albert parked his car, threw up a cheap black umbrella, and cursed the elements with some next-level Albert-ian saltiness, courtesy of Showtime: “F— YOU, GENE KELLY, YOU MOTHERF—ER!” For the cinematically impaired: Albert was alluding to Kelly’s “Singin’ in the Rain” number in the classic musical of the same name. The reference meant something ironic and lovely in an episode that acknowledged that not all hardship can be faced with a sunny disposition. The visual motif of the song — of a love-struck man dancing through a downpour with a song in his heart — was countered later in the episode by a scene of sorrow and pain in broad, yellowy daylight.

Albert descended into a subterranean lounge called Max Von’s Bar, which may or may not have been an homage to Max von Sydow, the great, storied actor who frequently lent his talents to the films of cinema’s greatest maker of cinematic Garmonbozia, Ingmar Bergman. (Yeah, yeah, Three-Eyed Raven in Game of Thrones, too. Whatever, nerds.) Here, in this swanky underworld, Albert found a spirit held hostage to sadness, Diane. In addition to her platinum bob, Diane sported red, white, and blue nail polish, jade and crimson bracelets, and an elegant sleeveless dress. She was more film noir femme fatale than unkempt barfly, but she smoked like both of them. Diane made for a striking image in a fantastic beat, and I can’t wait to spend more than five seconds with her.
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From here, Part 6 moved into a stretch of three distinct stories, their different tones bouncing off each other and complementing each other, together creating a passage that built to a devastating payoff.

Richard and Red. A warehouse near a waterfront logging mill hosted a peculiar confrontation between two pretty-boy bad guys and two generations of Lynchian rogues. The older of the two, Red (Balthazar Getty), was briefly glimpsed at The Bang! Bang! Bar at the end of Part 2, toasting Shelly from across the room. We now understand that he’s a drug dealer on the rise who’s bringing some hot new crank called Sparkle into the United States from Canada through Twin Peaks. (Someone alert Deputy Bobby Briggs… unless the former drug-dealing bad boy is helping him?) The younger of two, Richard, was the loathsome fella who accosted a young woman at the Roadhouse last week (and passed a cigarette carton packed with cash to definitely dirty Deputy Chad).

Richard was high on Sparkle (the scene began with sounds of his snorting, amusing the hell out of Red’s goons) and even more amped to be getting a big break working for a hot-shot underworld figure. What came as a big downer for him, though, was hearing Red call him “kid.” Richard doesn’t like being called “kid” the way Marty McFly doesn’t like to be called “chicken.” It rankled him, and Red knew it, so he did it some more, hist hostility a bid to make clear who was in control. He also needed Richard to understand that he would always be one false step away from being fired. Brutally. And eaten, too! (“I will saw your head open and eat your brains if you f— me!”) Red was clearly wasted, as well, throwing Tai-Chi punches and stomping feet as the drug kept kicking. (Or not? “I have a problem with my liver,” he said. I couldn’t tell if Red was being serious or trying to cover up his struggle to ride the roller-coaster of his own drug.) He referenced the musical The King and I,and he ran his hands over his head, suggesting, I think, bald Yul Brynner. I welcome any and all of your theories on the significance of this reference.

Lynch played the scene long, and as long-play Lynch scenes tend to do, the mood morphed from comedy to menace, the pitch enhanced by the pacing and duration. The goofy alpha male kabuki-cum-job interview reached a weird, creepy climax when Red pulled a dime from his pocket. Red said he was heads and Richard was tails and flipped the coin into the air. When the dime reached its apex, it kept position and kept twirling. Richard was transfixed with slack-jawed awe — and then he felt something clink in his mouth. It was the dime. Richard looked at Red looking at him — and then the dime fell into Red’s palm and went missing from Richard’s fingers. This subversive illusion left Richard feeling unraveled and settled matters between them: Kid, you are now owned. I suppose we could wonder if Red has supernatural powers — if he’s another Red Room demon. (I certainly suspected that of Richard last week during his high-impact intro.) For now, I take both of them to be wholly human cretins — and one of them to be very skilled at sleight-of-hand trickery.

Carl Rodd. In Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, legendary character actor Harry Dean Stanton played the manager of Fat Trout Trailer Park in Deer Meadow, Oregon, far south of Twin Peaks. Carl presented as a cantankerous, leathery chap, but he possessed a soft, wounded soul. Fat Trout was home to several people of interest in Twin Peaks mythology: Teresa Banks, who was murdered by Leland-BOB one year before Laura Palmer; and two generations of Chalfonts, the latter being agents of the Black Lodge, Mrs. Tremond and her magician grandson. Agent Chet Desmond went missing from the Fat Trout Trailer Park in Fire Walk With Me, although it’s very possible, per a theory I totally buy, that Chet only exists in the dreams of Agent Cooper… but that’s a story for another time.

All of that was more than 20 years ago. Here, in the present, Carl manages “The New Fat Trout Trailer Park,” located outside Twin Peaks. It represents a homecoming for Carl: Mark Frost’s book The Secret History of Twin Peaks establishes that Carl grew up in Twin Peaks, was friends with The Log Lady, and suffered the town’s supernatural side during his childhood. We met him anew as he took a ride into Twin Peaks with a trailer park resident, Mickey, who spends his days caring for a woman named Linda. The name should ring bells: In the black and white opening scene of Part 1, The Giant dropped the names “Richard” and “Linda” in a set of clues given to a completely self-aware and cogent Agent Cooper, who might have been projecting into Black Lodge from a terrestrial location — a scene that was probably a flash-forward.

What was most striking about the Carl-Mickey scene was how it stood in contrast to the Red-Richard scene. Their rapport was the frank, open rapport of two men with vastly different life expeirence, one younger, one older, yet both beaten down by earthly forces and experience. They complained about the government, they complained about “the war” (Linda, I think, is a vet), they complained about health care. Carl said he didn’t have much to look forward to “except for the hammer slamming down.” It was hard to tell if Carl feared the reaper or would welcome him. Carl lit up a cigarette, triggering Mickey; he wanted one, too, but he had quit and wanted to stay that way. Carl was proud of his habit. “I been smoking for 75 years every f—ing day,” he said, and laughed a defiant cackle. Stanton, age 90, played every wrinkle and recess of his haggard, sunken face, creating a vibrant micro-portrait of haunt and mortality. And it would grow in power as Carl’s arc moved toward an appointment with catastrophe and an opportunity for grace.
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Miriam Sullivan. The absurd, eerie evil of the Red-Richard scene and the gritty, tender poignancy of the Carl scene was followed by the sweet, comic scene featuring another new face, Miriam (Sarah Jean Long). She just loved a good pastry and couldn’t stop yelping about Norma’s cherry pie. Waitress Heidi (Andrea Hays) responded to each of Miriam’s praises with a delighted, infectious giggle, and the sound and rhythm of their exchange was almost musical. Miriam mentioned that the children at work were quite cute this year, suggesting that she was a teacher, linking her to the themes of innocence in the episode. She left a huge tip for Heidi, Shelly, and Norma. The waitresses recognized that it was more than Miriam could afford, and moved by her generosity of wallet and spirit, they resolved to treat her the next time she came in.

All of the vibes, all of the themes in each of these scenes worked together to give what happened next great power.

Richard barreled down the highway in his flatbed truck (the interior was Garmonbozia yellowy) still stinging over Red’s “kid” put-down, still flying high from Sparkle.

Carl sat in a park, smoking, drinking coffee, and admiring the green of the trees, as well as the sight of a mother and son playing a game. The boy would run ahead and stop; she would run after him and catch him. They did this over and over. Carl beamed.

Back to Richard, who was pissed as hell to see that traffic was backed up at an upcoming four-way stop. He decided to swerve into the other lane to bypass it.

At the intersection, the mother and her boy were waved to cross by a driver in a stopped car. The mother gently pushed her child into the street, a dubious parenting move at first glance — especially since we know what’s coming — but it made sense in the context of the game they were playing, a kind of separation/trust exercise.

We cut to a shot of the collision that went for it hard core: Richard’s runaway truck just nailed he boy at full speed and kept going.

In the park, Carl heard the wailing of the mother.

In the truck, Richard was losing his mind from hitting the kid — and out-of-his-mind blame-shifting like the reckless, irresponsible kid that he is.

On the side of the road, shell-shocked Miriam eyeballed Richard eyeballing her as he raced past. We should begin worrying about Miriam: Richard knows that she can identify him.

Carl hustled to the intersection as fast as his 90-year-old legs could get him there. He stood among a crowd too paralyzed by horror to attend to the mother cradling her dead son, a Pieta image. Carl saw a golden shape leave the boy and ascend into the heavens, either his soul or some emission of Garmonbozia suffering. “God,” said Carl.

Then, Carl did what no one else could. He stopped watching and joined the mother in her grief. He extended a hand to her shoulder — an attempt at comfort, certainly a show of human solidarity.

We exited this miserable tableau on a shot of a utility pole branded with the number 6. The numeral was in the same style as the numbers on the electrical panel in the Blue Rose metempsychosis room that transmitted Agent Cooper back to earth. We remember that electrical current is a medium for Red Room spirits (maybe; who knows, really?), and so, off the visual of wires and hum of energy, we zipped south to Vegas, for what I took to be a manifestation of Red Room-ish meddling.

We renewed our acquaintance with Duncan Todd, the nervous gentleman from Part 1 who gave some cash to an associate and spoke of becoming entangled with an evil, unnamed man, most likely Dirty Cooper. This week, he was typing on his computer when a crimson square appeared on his screen. He gulped. He turned, went to a safe, and used a tissue to withdraw a sheet of blank white piper with a black dot on it, as if not wanting to be tainted by the hot, corrupt thing it represented. He resumed typing. Initial theory: Remember last week, when Dirty Cooper made the phone call from prison and made the facility’s electrical systems go haywire? Whatever he did probably set multiple things in motion, including this coded message and tasking of Duncan.
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The next two scenes continued the idea of psychic messaging across the world wide web of Black Lodge lunacy. At Rancho Rosa,“Drugged-out Mother” (actual credited character name) began bleating 9-1-1 backward as the cops processed the crime scene across the street — the deaths of the three car thieves who got blown up when they tried to boost Dougie’s ride last week. I’m beginning to think that Drugged-out Mother has nothing to do with anything or anyone. She’s a grace note for a story about a grace-challenged world. Oh, and I think her chemically enhanced despair makes her spiritually sensitive to the pain and sorrow in the air around her. I think lots of thoughts, don’t I?

From this scene, we traveled to a hotel room somewhere else in Vegas, where Ike “the Spike” Stadtler rolled dice and dutifully recorded the results in a notebook. He heard and saw the white paper slide into his waiting space; it was marked with a black dot. The paper was folded so it could hold two photos. One was a head shot of Lorraine the Worrier, manager for the two assassins assigned to rub out Dougie. (She was the woman who sent the “ARGENT” text to the black box pager in Buenos Aires last week.) To further identify her, we heard again the song that played during her scene last week, “I Am” by Blunted Beatz (which features a sample of another song, “Good Man” by Oldschool HipHop Beat). The other pic was a surveillance photo of Dougie. Ike drove his spike through Lorraine’s photo, killing the song on the soundtrack. Then he did the same to Dougie’s pic. Do we think Ike the Spike is a Black Lodge devil or just one effed-up killer?

Before Ike got to slaying, we got two scenes that left us hopeful that perhaps goodness and common sense remain possible in gone-psycho Twin Peaks USA.

Cooper went to work at Lucky 7 Insurance wearing a suit that actually fit him, his FBI dress uniform, a signal, perhaps, that Cooper’s full restoration isn’t that far away. Lucky 7 chief Bushnell Mullins summoned “Dougie” into his office to examine his work on the case files, making Anthony Sinclair quite nervous. At first, Bushnell was baffled and bothered by all of “Dougie’s” doodling. But over the course of a very long scene — maybe as long as the Dougie doodling scene — something clicked, and he understood what the markings were meant to signify.

Is it possible that Bushnell was psychically nudged toward enlightenment? Maybe. I think the scene was trying to suggest that Cooper and old “Battling Bud,” a righteous, clean boxer, were kindred spirits — honest, honorable, old school; “good men,” to borrow from the song — and because of this, Bushnell was able to crack Cooper’s code with time and patience. Look, it’s even possible that Cooper unwittingly worked some kind of Jedi mind trick on Bushnell, because I think it’s possible that Cole’s Blue Rose agents have telepathic abilities. Remember the moment a couple episodes ago when Albert confessed a failure to Cole, and Cole seemed surprised, even disappointed? There was a long pause, and we heard a sound effect, like electrical humming; it was as if Cole was scanning Albert, trying to ascertain if his old friend could still be trusted. (Conclusion: Yes.) Anyway: Cooper’s heroic triumph in this episode affirmed his expression of childlike innocence as something strong, redemptive, life-giving. It stood in contrast to Richard’s evil, a product of his foolish demonization of his inner “kid.” (That Cooper achieved his victory via personal, abstract doodles was also, I think, an affirmation of art-making. And so it was an affirmation of Lynch.)

Similarly, Janey-E did her part to make Planet Garmonbozia a better place — to nudge just an inch or two back toward innocence — by asserting herself in the face of wickedness. At “noon-thirty,” she met with loan sharks Jimmy (Jeremy Davies) and Tommy (Ronnie Gene Blevins) as promised, at the most innocent of places, a children’s playground. But Janey-E only paid them half of what they said Dougie owed them. She made a forceful case for why she thought their interest rate was, yes, criminally unfair, presenting her critique of their practices within a broader complaint of the struggling middle class. “We are not wealthy people,” she said. “We drive cheap terrible cars! We are the ‘99 percenters,’ and we are s— on enough, and we are certainly not going to be s— on by the likes of you!”

Janey-E concluded her scold with the morale of the episode: “What kind of world do we live in where people can behave like this, treat other people this way, without any compassion or feeling for their suffering! We are living in a dark, dark age, and you are part of the problem! Now I suggest you take a good hard look at yourselves because I never want to see either of you again!” She shoved a wad of bills as thick a roll of triple-layered toilet paper into Jimmy’s chest and huffed away to her cheap, terrible car.

“Tough dame,” said Jimmy.

I’m glad LynchFrost let Janey-E have this moment. But my psychic alarm bell is ringing. 1-1-9! 1-1-9! Something tells me Janey-E will be seeing these guys again… and perhaps another monster, too.

By which I mean Ike the Spike.

R.I.P. Lorraine the Worrier. Ike stormed her office just as she was receiving word that the car bomb meant for Dougie didn’t work and claimed three lives. Ike stabbed her to death, and two other women, too. Three lives for three lives. Implicit in the scene was a perverse irony of a man who shoots dice for a hobby — the ultimate game of chance — playing the phony part of random catastrophe sweeping into the lives of people and destroying them. The violence was brutal and bloody, and it left Ike’s very Freudian spike bent out of shape. The little prick was really broken up about it. Wah-wah.
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Part 6 ended in Twin Peaks. An act of either dumb luck or mystic synchronicity led Deputy Hawk to make the discovery of possible diary pages hidden in the men’s bathroom of the sheriff’s station. (My theory? Major Garland Briggs planted them there.) By dropping his Indian nickel and catching sight of the “Nez Perce” logo on the door, did Hawk fulfill the promise provided by the Log Lady’s psychic timber, that his “heritage” would be the key to finding Agent Cooper? If so, then let the scene also remind you that playing detective and theorizing about Twin Peaks is pure folly, because no one could have predicted that resolution. But if you did, then HELLOOOOOO, Mr. Jackpots! With luck like that, you should be at the Silver Mustang Casio tempting the wrath of the Mitchum brothers.

Finally, we got a scene in which Sheriff Truman’s unhinged wife, Doris, showed up once again to rail against his incompetency and insensitivity. Her father’s car still didn’t work, or so she thought. When Frank suggested that the old man was trying to drive with the parking brake on, she got more upset, and when he seemed to be patronizing her, she became inconsolably furious.

As Frank and Doris walked away to continue their argument in private, toxic Chad cracked (un)wise, saying he’d never “take that s— off her.” Dispatcher Megan tried to set him straight, and by extension, all of us who might have rushed to hasty conclusions about Doris, yours truly included. “She didn’t used to be like this,” she said, explaining that the Trumans lost a son to suicide, and things haven’t been the same for them since, with Doris now desperate to experience control again in every possible way, to not feel victimized by the vagaries of existence. In this way, Megan was living out Janey-E’s call for greater compassion, greater feeling for suffering, by reminding us that so many of our judgments of other people come without knowing their stories, their hurt.

Problem was, Deputy Chad knew the Trumans’ story, and he didn’t give a crap. “Yeah, I heard something about that,” he said, pretending to cry. “He couldn’t take being a soldier.” As a beat of plot, it was an awkward way to end. No episode of Twin Peaks should end on a hanging Chad. But the feeling, as mean and cold as it was, seemed appropriate, speaking back to an episode about the pain and sorrow, catastrophe and chaos of living, and the ways to respond to it, with either openness and grace or cruelty and callousness. In a dark, dark age, which will win?

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