Between Peaks: Danger, death and discovery are the cornerstones of “Don’t Die” – Twin Peaks ‘Part 6’ (Season 3)

Mortality has always been at the core of Twin Peaks. This week it feels particularly potent...

“Don’t die”

It’s a cutting phrase, isn’t it? One with a multitude of possibilities and a double-dose of apprehension. You have been duly warned and show writers Mark Frost and David Lynch plainly want you to know exactly what it is you are getting yourself into in episode six of Twin Peaks: The Return.

Mortality is on pertinent display, all of the simplicities and complexities of living and what it means to be a human arranged in voyeuristic spectacle. Between the earnest joy of youth and the pending weariness of old age, we are reminded that time is fleeting and that worlds can change with a click of the fingers. Implicitly, we are told that both the characters and the world that we have feverishly adored over Twin Peaks’ 25 year sabbatical are not the same, and we would be more than fools to expect them to be. After all, why would Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) return to the real world unscathed after almost half his years spent in stasis? It’s implausible of course (in this world anyway) and just like Janey-E (Naomi Watts) – the wife of the Cooper’s false doppelgänger, who was created by his real doppelgänger – Cooper himself cannot be expected to fill Dougie’s seemingly larger-than-life shoes, or so we can presume from all of the people that have a vested interest in his whereabouts.

He is returned home to Janey-E after spending the night hovering outside his work office clutching a bunch of folders. Following dinner his wife angrily confronts him over photographs of having been involved with his sex-worker friend Jade when the ringing phone interrupts them. It is the loan sharks inquiring as to where exactly their money is; Janey-E agrees to meet them the next day, in which Watts masterfully and convincingly refuses to pay the interest, hands them an amount of her choosing and screams defiantly “We are shit on enough – and we’re certainly not going to be shit on by you!”

Despite impressing his boss with his unique methods of working, Dougie is no nearer to reclaiming the Cooper of old. Yes, that love of coffee is here in intenso but the befuddlement persists. After last week’s reveal that BOB lives alongside the real doppelgänger – our Evil Coop – this week we are shown that Cooper is still closer to the Red Room than is ideal. A glimpse of Mike break through his reverie, the One Armed Man simply stating the words “Don’t Die”. It is hard to watch such a beloved character as merely an echo in his current reality, and the sense of loss as his journey unfolds has resulted in a very different show than would have been anticipated. Perhaps it is a gift in disguise, being denied that world of old, and only being teased with glimpses of that small Washington town we have grown to love. Perhaps this is the story both we and Lynch needed, and not necessarily wanted.

No one could have anticipated wanting a character like Richard Horne, but in regards to need he sure is a plot propeller. Bitter and angry with an aura reminiscent of Blue Velvet‘s Frank Booth channelled through a wide-eyed and misguided youth, Richard is clearly courting the position of town troublemaker. Though we are still to presume at this point that he is Audrey’s son, he prefers courting the likes of drug dealers instead of compliantly being involved with the family business of The Great Northern Hotel, defiant in a way that would certainly echo that of his supposed mother.

He leaves the deal in a rage after being mocked and mows down a young boy with his truck in the process. The boy’s mother is watched almost awkwardly by passers by, so consumed by the moment that none consider comforting her other than Carl Rodd (a return by a wizened Harry Dean Stanton, following his original inclusion in Fire Walk With Me) who had only earlier that day had been saying how he’d been smoking since his youth and was still ticking over. The irony of that day’s events is not lost on him.

The sadness of premature death extends to the Twin Peaks sheriff’s department, where it is revealed that the son of Sheriff Harry Truman committed suicide some years prior. The ghost of Laura Palmer continues to haunt the office, as – with the case on his mind – Hawk discovers missing pages of her diary stuffed down the innards of a toilet cubicle door. It’s always the obvious places. With all of these deaths in mind, this week’s murder feels all the more jarring, a diminutive hitman aggressively murdering a woman plus other witnesses with a pick, with Dougie next on his list…

In what can only be considered a melancholy turn this week, it is a pure and face-clutching revelation on which Albert (Miguel Ferrer) finally hunts down the mysterious woman whom he and Agent Gordon Cole believe would be able to identify if Evil Coop was their longtime friend. And what a sight the mythical Diane – the previously unknown recipient of all of Cooper’s tapes – turns out to be, sitting regally with a cigarette balanced between her fingers and a blunt blonde bob cresting her head.

What will Diane be able to reveal of Cooper, his doppelgängers and the goings on of Twin Peaks? Will Richard face repercussions for his hit-and-run? Will the assassin track down Dougie? Till next time…

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