There will be SPOILERS throughout this post.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my gripes last week with Part 5, an installment that I liked in the main, but which caused me frustration because I felt that the narrative was dawdling. When I talk to friends and colleagues about Twin Peaks , or really any David Lynch material, I always underscore that the details of the plot, – the nitty-gritty or what happens and what it leads to – while important, is usually secondary to how it feels. Lynch’s work always seems more concerned with conveying a feeling, a mood, and what I love most about a lot of his work is this invitation to exist for a while in that mood. In short, it’s about tone. Yet I’ve not been applying this barometer to the new Twin Peaks. A change in perspective was clearly in order, and I found myself embracing Part 6 a lot more readily as a result.
Let’s talk also about titles. In the past week I’ve started introducing some of the other people in my house share to season one. In the process I found myself conceding that the opening titles are very long, and noting that the new series’ titles are a lot shorter. Chiefly, this is because the roster of actors in the new series changes week to week and the only sure-thing so far is Kyle MacLachlan. But moving the cast list to the end of each part of the story has another bonus effect; the reprisals and cameos that dot the season are more surprising. Long term fans are very familiar with the actors who appeared in the show, so a credit at the beginning will act as a spoiler robbing these moments of their warmth and surprise. I’m very happy for the cast to be credited at the end while we listen to something new at the Roadhouse (this week Sharon Van Etten).
This week there were a couple of delightful surprises; one was a return of a particular favourite of mine from Fire Walk With Me, the other a showstopping first for the series (I’ll come to that in a minute). Around halfway through Part 6 we’re suddenly zinged back to the Fat Trout Trailer Park in Deer Meadow and Harry Dean Stanton, old and rickety as time itself. His Carl was a memorable and profoundly sad addition to Fire Walk With Me, haunting as he told Agent Desmond that he just wants to stay where he is, as though he’s spent a lifetime falling foul of the entities from the Black Lodge (also suggesting the alien abduction theme that courses through Mark Frost’s recent book on the series and which popped up in season two). Here he takes a ride to Twin Peaks where he is witness to a terrible event.
Richard Horne (Eamon Farren), frustrated after a meet with his Canadian drug connection, speeds through a crossing, in the process mowing down a little boy. It’s a quick and shocking event, even as Lynch prepares us for it. The mother screams and the crowd looks on aghast. But Carl sees something the others don’t; a flame-like light rising up from the boy, one presumes his soul transitioning to heaven. Underneath this moment we are treated to one of the most memorable new synth moments from Angelo Badalamenti. The scene is serene and awful at the same time, and one of the strange contradictory highlights of Part 6.
Richard Horne is put into some context this week after his grotesque introduction at the Roadhouse in Part 5. While he is still clearly a vile individual, he also appears trapped by circumstances of his own creation. He’s reminiscent of Bobby Briggs under the thumb of Leo Johnson, albeit with a less sympathetic and more combustible temperament. Of the younger characters introduced to us last week, he’s the only one to appear again here. That sense of history repeating is reinforced by the affirmation that drug deals across the Canadian border are still very much an issue in Twin Peaks. Elsewhere in the town we are treated to an inconsequential visit to the RR (the pie’s still good) and Hawk (Michael Horse) finds a letter stuck inside a cubical door at the sheriff’s station, though it’s contents are not yet revealed.
The rest of Part 6 takes place elsewhere. In a brief but pivotal scene in an unnamed rainy city, Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer) visits Max Von’s Bar where he meets the person he and Gordon Cole were speaking about at the end of Part 4 – the person most likely to tell if the incarcerated Cooper is the real deal – and it’s Laura Dern as… DIANE! We’re left dangling on what her character will be like as Lynch wryly cuts away, but Dern looks fabulous in a wig; a shock of blonde hair in a neatly cut bob. The inclusion of Diane may prove controversial. Would fans have preferred her to have remained tantalisingly anonymous? I for one am intrigued as to what we’ll learn and what Dern will bring to the series. Between her and Harry Dean Stanton, Twin Peaks is really starting to feel like a David Lynch victory lap.
Disturbing violence crashed back into the show this week as the shady dealings on the fringes of the plot caused chaos in an office building. Patrick Fischler’s character (last seen in Part 2) opens a safe and retrieves an envelope with a dot on it. Later we see this envelope delivered to a diminutive bald hitman. It contains two photos; one of Dougie Jones, the other of the woman seen at the beginning of Part 5 tentatively sending a message to Buenos Aires. This woman meets an incredibly violent end at the hands of our bald hitman. Again we’re exposed to shocking violence against a woman, but this at least serves a purpose; identifying for us the horrific consequences in store for Dougie should these people catch up to him – something that would currently prove frighteningly easy to achieve as he shuffles around the story.
Much of the remainder of Part 6 is spent with Dougie, who may be in danger, but certainly has a couple of guardian angels on his side. One is most definitely his wife, Jayne-E (Naomi Watts), who puts in some sterling work this week protecting her family from the thugs that Dougie was previously gambling with. Her scene at the park at the end is a riot as she puts the two low-life moneylenders firmly in their place (and gets Dougie out of a serious jam, albeit one they can definitely afford following his hot streak as ‘Mr Jackpots’). Jeremy Davies’ scrawny ruffian is moved to describing her wistfully as a “tough dame”, and she is. Watts’ Jayne-E is by far the most driven female character in this new season.
Dougie’s other guardian angels are somewhat more esoteric. The One Armed Man (Al Strobel) pays him another visit beamed in from the Black Lodge, pleading “Wake up” and “Don’t die”. Immediately following this a guiding light helps Dougie out with his ‘homework’; the case files from the insurance company. While Johnny Jewel’s haunting “Windswept” recurs on the soundtrack (fast becoming Dougie’s theme) he scrawls ladders, stairways and scribbles on the documents. It’s another long, beautiful moment, lilting with discombobulated significance. This is the kind of thing that surely polarises people with Lynch. On the one hand it feels like total indulgence, on the other being indulged is such a treat for those who enjoy his tendencies. Regardless, it’s paid off later on as Dougie’s boss finds significance in the doodles. Someone or something is most certainly looking out for Dougie, who also finds himself a better-fitting suit this week. And what’s more, it’s black. Dougie is starting to look like Dale Cooper again, though signs of Coops’ return are limited to Dougie’s preoccupation with a police badge this time around.
That’s about our lot this week, save for a minor scene of police tending to Dougie’s detonated car outside of the drugged-up mother’s house (“119!”) and a brief but welcome return of the stop light at Sparkwood and 21. We’re a third of the way now and Twin Peaks has nestled into an unhurried groove. This is where the new show lives, drifting forward like a dream we’re all caught in on the edge of waking. Of course we’re all still hoping for Dougie to wake up, and for the disparate narrative threads to come together. But it’ll take time. You can feel Lynch slowly drawing his pieces in. You can sense there’s a plan to it all, even if it is to a singular, woozy false-logic. The point now is to enjoy the ride, weird, ugly and hypnotic as it is.