Between Peaks: Cooper cuts a lonely image in this week’s Twin Peaks – ‘Part 5’ (Season 3)

Twin Peaks has seemed a bit shy as of late. Not the show itself of course – no one could ever accuse David Lynch of being “shy” in his aesthetic output – but the town of its namesake. Outside of the sheriff’s department and the episode-end cameos of the Bang Bang Bar (seemingly a new right of passage for the muso-lover’s best kept secret), there has been little sight of the town, almost as if it has been avoiding our hungry gaze on purpose. It has been 25 years after all, and whilst we have both aged gracefully, there is a trust to be renewed.

The stark, otherworldly abruptness of the first few episodes has now abated a little and the humour has started to creep back in though the cracks, in a manner more awkward than ever. Angelo Badalamenti’s precious score is ever-missed! Can you imagine that Wally Brando scene with a hint of “Freshly Squeezed”? Wouldn’t that be perfection?

Thankfully, despite the sonic absence of the music our hearts bleed for, we are treated to the return of a few more old hands in this week’s episode. Lynch’s penchant for seemingly pointless asides makes a comeback with Lawrence Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) and his golden shovels. Who would’ve thought the doctor would’ve been a fan of live streaming his nonsensical mundanities, eh? Even more surprising, who would’ve presumed Nadine (Wendy Robie) would be a fan of his sage life advice, or left-field brother Jerry Horne (David Patrick Kelly)?

At this point, Jacoby’s new mantra of “shovel yourself out of the shit and into the truth” feels wholly apt, for whilst season 3 of Twin Peaks has been incredibly entertaining as of yet, it is further removed from the small town intrigues of series past with its Eraserhead-come-Mullholland Drive weirdness. Before you throw sharp things our way, no – it is not bad, yes – we do love it, but as the episodes start to tick over there is the nagging thought in the back of your mind that you simply can’t wait to understand the overall context of the myriad of tasty snacks that have been placed in front of you. The full meal if what you want, but you’re only being served side-dishes. The longer the wait the sweeter the taste, but then again, there is no real cure for impatience, is there?

But back to familiar faces. Segway to the Double R Diner and we find Norma (Peggy Lipton) tucked in the corner with her paperwork when a young blonde woman careers through the door. It turns out this is Becky Burnett (Amanda Seyfried), the daughter of diner waitress Shelley (Mädchen Amick) and an as-of-yet unidentified father who has a habit of lending money from her mother and not paying it back. Norma and Shelley are aware of Becky’s excuses for cash, most likely to spend on drugs with her husband Steven (Caleb Landry Jones) who has a preference for the white stuff and can’t land a job (with Bobby’s old friend Mike Nelson, nonetheless.) Her disdain at her current situation is plain on her face, but when Steven offers her the end of his line she isn’t keen to resist. It is hard not to make parallels between Becky and her mother Shelley, who was herself married to the drug dealing and abusive Leo; it is by no means a stretch to consider that Steve treats Becky in the same way. It is Norma, herself a mothering figure to Shelley, who spells it out: “If you don’t help her now, it’s going to get a lot harder to help her later”.

The other notable addition to this episode is that of the new resident bad boy in town. His smoking under a non-smoking sign seems pretty amusing, until he proceeds to do a shady deal with the bouncer of the Bang Bang Bar and goes on to assault and threaten a teenage girl from the neighbouring booth. The scene has creepy echoes of that of Evil Coop (not to mention Blue Velvet‘s Frank Booth) and Darya a few episode ago, and a peek at the credit cast list identifies this man as Richard Horne (Eamon Farren). Given his age, it is not a stretch to presume that this could be Audrey’s son, but being as she is still to appear we must wait to find out.

The aforementioned Evil Coop is still confined and now being subject to investigation. As Agent Gordon Cole identified in the previous episode, something is definitely not quite right, a factor only stressed in the oddly blank expression and monotonous speech emanating from this doppelgänger. The police detectives grace him his phone call (“Shall I call Mr. Strawberry? No…) only for the room to suddenly descending into darkness and clamour with flashing white light. BOB is alive and well in this body it seems, and if his remarks in the cell mirror are anything to imply, there may be a piece of the real Cooper there with him…

But, as always, the anchor of this episode is Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) himself. Decked in Dougie’s officious, oversize lime green blazer, he is a sorry sight made only more bedraggled by his naivety and loss, both in regards to his surroundings and sense of self. His own destitution and bewilderment is mirrored by our own, for who will navigate our trajectory through this strange land if not Cooper? Perhaps that is what makes his wandering the grounds of his workplace (after being dropped there by Janey-E) so disconcerting; his trying to find a path, clinging to the simplest signs of purpose and lack of connection function as our own. Nothing (on the weird scale of things) will make sense to us, until Cooper makes it make sense to us.

His unknowledgeable regard for the world lands him in some amusing predicaments, between brandishing a senior colleague a liar (another new superpower), being on the receiving end of the flirtations of another, or greedily snaffling up someone else’s coffee. He is an alien outside of the Black Lodge despite the echoes of his former self, yet all his scenes in this episode only serve to exaggerate the sad isolation he finds himself in and the lack of people near him who really care.

  • Elsewhere and the body from the season premiere has been identified as that of Major Garland Briggs. However, nothing is ever quite that simple, and we discover -courtesy of some offbeat humour from forensic Constance Talbot (Jane Adams, a brief highlight) that the Major’s body had a wedding ring inside its stomach, that engraved with the name of Dougie’s (you know, the otherother Cooper) wife Janey-E. The mind boggles…
  • It’s going down at the casino where owners Bradley and Rodney Mitchum believe that manager Warwick was working with Coop to deliver $425,000 of earnings. Understandably, he finds himself on the wrong end of his boot. Back at Dougie’s car and the would-be assassins are still keeping an eye out, to no avail. They go to search his car only to be blown into flames in the process. Dougie’s sex-worker friend Jade (Nafessa Williams) also finds his key to his room at the Great Northern Hotel on the floor of her car and deposits it in a postbox. No doubt that will make another appearance sooner rather than later…

Is Richard Horne Audrey’s son? Is BOB resurfacing in Evil Coop? Will Cooper still be stood outside in the morning? Til next time….

PS. It’s gif time

 

 

Between Peaks: Twin Peaks scales new, baffling heights – ‘Parts 3+4’ (Season 3)

HELLOO-OOOO – Wally Brando!

That name alone is the most baffling thing so far in season three of Twin Peaks. We digress (honest), but all in all, whoever presumed that Michael Cera’s appearance would be a cameo of Sheriff deputy Andy (Harry Goaz) and secretary Lucy’s (Kimmy Robertson) 25 year old son? (And just look at him; he could easily be their real life lovechild!) Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster)  – and yes, the brother of original series fave Harry Truman – is similarly thrown, and just when we thought the events of the previous double episode had got a little heavy, here is a totem of how David Lynch excels in deploying awkward bouts of humour. As a viewer, your cringing is drawn out for his own perverse enjoyment.

But Cera’s inclusion as the bike straddling, simperingly self-conscious cool guy ushers in some of the Twin Peaks of old, and with episodes three and four we are treated to a generous dollop of good ol’ fun. It is not without purpose however; Wally’s fleeting visit is to pay respects to the aforementioned Harry Truman, his godfather, who it transpires has been ill.

Wally’s stiff and hyperbolic dialogue contrasts with the return of Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook), who is revisiting the Laura Palmer case file along with Frank and co. Yes, Bobby is now a member of the sheriff department, and in an uncannily similar fashion as to when Donna first learned of Laura’s death in the season one pilot, Bobby crumbles and sobs uncontrollably, losing every ounce of composure at the sight of the iconic Homecoming picture of his dead ex.

There is a quality about the returning characters that feels a little alien, a warmth recalled from our previous encounters that doesn’t feel quite present. Perhaps, until now, none of us realised how much our emotion on Angelo Badalamenti’s formerly ever-present though now noticeably absent score. In some ways, they could easily have been replaced by doppelgängers, just like out poor Coop, the real centrepiece of this double episode.

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Following his vacuum travels with a detour via a glass box, Cooper finds himself in a dark room inhabited by a woman with no eyes. She struggles to communicate, taking him up a ladder to escape the ominous entity that is hammering on the locked door. They find themselves surrounded by stars and clinging to a satellite. She flips a switch before falling, only to be forgotten seconds later due to the floating head of Major Briggs saying “Blue Rose”: the code term for a case classified as supernatural. One such case was that of Laura Palmer.

He drifts and Coop descends back to the first room, the banging louder and a new woman (spotted by those eagle-eyed as Phoebe Augustine, a victim of the original series) perched on the sofa. With difficulty, Cooper is sucked back into the real world via a contraption, leaving only his shoes behind. This seemingly disjoints all involved. Evil Coop is violently sick and careers off the road, whilst a third Coop – introduced as Dougie Jones (it is implied that Evil Coop made Dougie as a replacement for himself for the Black Lodge) – abruptly exchanges places with the real one, his body leaving a golden orb and Laura Palmer’s owl ring in the Red Room.

That real Cooper is quickly revealed as having suffered some sort of mental ailment, either from the transportation or being stuck in the Black Lodge for 25 years, and is clearly befuddled by modern day Las Vegas. Dougie’s hooker leaves him at a casino, at which Cooper discovers a knack for spotting winning bandits (HELLOOO-OOO Mr. Jackpots!), racking up thousands of dollars before being removed from the premises and dumped back “home” to Dougie’s wife Janey-E (Naomi Watts, Mulholland Drive) and son, Sonny Jim (Pierce Gagnon of Looper and Extant). It quickly transpires that Cooper needs to relearn the basics – like using the bathroom – and can only speak in mimicry. One can only hope that one large gulp of hot coffee will shake Coop out of his reverie.

Elsewhere and Agent Gordon Cole (David Lynch himself) and Agent Albert Rosenfield (the late Miguel Ferrer) receive a phone call that they’d never presumed to hear: Agent Cooper has been found. Alas, it is not Mr. Jackpots, but evil doppelgänger Cooper, who was discovered in the aforementioned car wreckage and taken into custody. After a brief visit to Denise Bryson (David Duchovny), now head of the FBI, the two – accompanied by Agent Tamara Preston (Chrysta Bell) – travel to South Dakota to see him, but quickly surmise that something is amiss. Evil Cooper’s alien exchange leaves Cole and Rosenfield rattled; they know that this isn’t quite the same man that they saw some 25 years ago.

“I hate to admit this,” states Cole. “But I don’t understand this situation at all.” Never have truer words being spoken of Twin Peaks, especially as of late, but Rosenfield feels something different.

“Blue Rose,” he says. “Can’t get any bluer.”

They agree that one other must visit Evil Cooper before anything else progresses to determine if what they feel is correct. “I don’t know where she lives,” Rosenfield says. “But I know where she drinks.”

Between this week’s surrealism Eraserhead-come-Mullholland Drive surrealism and Lynch’s signature uncomfortable humour, Twin Peaks: Then Return is beginning to look like the most Lynchian amalgamation of all of his work to date.

What do you think of the surrealist edge? Does Cooper remember covfefe?  Perhaps the mysterious Diane will make an appearance after all this time? And what did you think of Wally Brando? Till next time…

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Between Peaks: Twin Peaks – ‘The Return Parts 1+2’ (Season 3)

Between being the most feverishly analysed TV series of the past three decades, and the most longed for and anticipated to return, season three of Twin Peaks had a lot to live up to. In many ways it was the first “cult” TV show – or at least in the terms that we consider now – one that spouted reams of fan forums, celebratory creations and plenty of speculation over all of the plot lines that it failed to tie up when it was cancelled after two seasons.

Years of theorising over the final episode, continued discussion – that transitioned from zines to blogs to podcasts – and a seemingly undying influence on present day pop culture breathed life into the corpse long after it had died. Many fans (including this here writer) were born after its demise, but learned to love its quirkiness of humour, uniqueness of vision and unparalleled eerie horror with just as much zeal as those that were enraptured during its original run.

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So when the ads abated, we sat nervous, tense, with an amalgamation of fear and excitement nestled in our chests. With that trepidation in our hearts, and the claim by Showtime boss David Nevins that season three would be “the pure heroin version of David Lynch” seared in our minds, on began the double whammy assault of parts 1+2. *SPOILERS AHEAD* With the eerie image of a demented Dale Cooper haunting fans for 25 years as the face of evil entity BOB leered from the bathroom mirror, it is now confirmed that it was Coop’s doppelgänger that escaped the Black Lodge and was set loose upon the real world. It’s not long before we are reintroduced to Evil Coop, actor Kyle MacLachlan being on fine form as the unnerving amalgamation of Cooper and the deceased Frank Silva, who played BOB in the first two seasons. Any semblance of the real Cooper is lost on this alternate; Evil Coop dallies in undesirable machinations and is clearly on a mission, potentially to slay us all with his greasy, slicked back mane.

What his quest entails is, as of yet, unknown, though his influence is no doubt more widespread than first assumed. For a series so deeply rooted between the pines of the titular Washington logging town, in the first episodes of season three viewers have been led across cities as far flung as New York, Las Vegas and Buckhorn; South Dakota. It is here that a mutilated body is discovered and the murder linked to a school headmaster Bill Hastings (Matthew Lillard). His fingerprints are all over the room of the woman in question, though he – seemingly earnestly – maintains that he has never been there but instead saw the happenings in a dream. It transpires that there is no love lost between he and his wife Phyllis (Cornelia Guest), who quite gleefully reveals she’s having an affair with their lawyer before being shot by Evil Coop (the pair seemingly know each other) not long thereafter.

Back in New York and newbie Sam (Benjamin Rosenfeld) beholds a large glass box. Inside is a vacuum, and outside are many cameras all trained on the glass in the possibility that something should occur inside. The owner of the box is unknown, but the mass storage of SD cards suggests that this set up has been here a while. Sam isn’t privy to all of the information, all he knows is that he’s getting paid, and if that means he can get busy with his kinda girlfriend Tracy (Madeline Zima) on the job then well, why not eh? Bad choice, it seems, for as the pair are otherwise occupied the box darkens and a spindly and mysterious shape appears, coming in and out of clarity before it suddenly – and incredibly violently – makes short work of the two.

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The grotesque and surreal imagery of course makes it to the Red Room itself. It is here that we encounter Cooper, unmoved for 25 years, lined with age and a little dusty. He is woken from his reverie by Laura Palmer herself; she did, after all, promise that she would see him again in 25 years. “Are you Laura Palmer?” asks Cooper of the aged beauty. “I feel like I know her,” states actor Sheryl Lee. “But sometimes, my arms bend back.” The echo of their past encounters carries a melancholy air; both are visibly older and yet suspended in a purgatory of sporadic torment. Though there is an odd air of peace, Cooper’s lack of reaction when visited by the the other inhabitants of the Red Room and acceptance of their surreal actions reminding that he is but a respectful guest in someone else’s house. It is here that writers David Lynch and Mark Frost lay their first clue: for Cooper to leave the Black Lodge, another must return. It is a fair exchange and one that perhaps explains why Laura Palmer (if the one of the Red Room is, indeed, the real one) is trapped; her doppelgänger died on the outside, ultimately confining her to the Black Lodge. She shares a kiss and another secret with Cooper – one that makes him recoil – before flying from view.

Evil Coop has made steps to avert his return to the Black Lodge, which is drawing ominously near, the prospect of which is detailed to the real Coop via a mutated tree with a brain-mouth gobule known as The Arm, who abruptly ejects the real Cooper (seemingly) from the Black Lodge and on an inter-diminsional trip via the glass box. Things are beginning to move after all this time and aptly, the Log Lady knows about it. Portrayed by the late Catherine Coulson, both look and sound startlingly fragile as she rings a white haired Hawk (Michael Horse) to alert him of her log’s latest message, this one in relation to the long-gone Laura Palmer murder investigation (there’s also some much needed humour courtesy of receptionist Lucy and her officer husband Andy.) This, alongside Cooper and Laura’s interaction in the Red Room feels poignantly bittersweet, for whist the fundamentals of these relationships haven’t changed the actors and characters visibly have.

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The episode ends with an abrupt detour to the Bang Bang Bar. This old haunt still – for the most part – looks the same, though the ghost of Julee Cruise has been ushered away by Drive-famous band Chromatics. Their sonic meshing of new and old encapsulates the altogether homely yet jarring experience of new Twin Peaks; from old haunts and new blood to the ripples of Lynch’s more challenging work Eraserhead and Mulholland Drive, or the welcoming of digital and the eschewing of much of Badalamenti’s iconic score, it is clear that Lynch and Frost have revitalised the core of their most beloved work. Will it polarise fans? Of course – it is, no doubt, precisely what they want – but as Shelley (Mädchen Amick) remarks of James (James Marshall) in a simple moment that could make you weep, “James is still cool. He’s always been cool.” He doesn’t care what others think, and neither does Twin Peaks.