This post will contain SPOILERS throughout.
I’m sitting here as the UK enjoys a sweltering spell, biting great chunks from a baguette filled with (what else) brie and butter, desk fan blowing hot air at me, thinking about how Dougie Jones (Kyle MacLachlan) seems to divide the audience of new Twin Peaks. There are those who find him endearing, soulful, even strangely funny, and those who are continually frustrated by his babyish dithering, seeing him as symptomatic of a comatose sense of momentum in recent installments. I thought I might take some time this week to burrow into Dougie some, but wouldn’t you know it, Twin Peaks has shifted focus, largely, for Part 7.
Last week we didn’t get anything new from the Bad Coop (also MacLachlan), and Part 7 seems keen to redress that balance. There are major developments in his story which should have a domino effect on several strands on the narrative. For one thing, Diane (Laura Dern) is onto him. Though it took some convincing to get her on board, she joins Gordon Cole (David Lynch), Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer) and Tamara Preston (Chrysta Bell) on a trip to South Dakota to get a better feel for the incarcerated Cooper. Their exchange (in that super moody interrogation room) hints at a history after Cooper emerged from the Black Lodge, but the specifics are left out of the conversation. Still, one wonders whether Bad Coop forced himself on Diane. Dern, for what its worth, is making the character her own, spitting out expletives at Cole and Rosenfield as quickly as she can muster them. Her line about coffee and cigarettes was a hoot.
Part 5 already intimated that Bad Coop shared some history with or knowledge of the Yankton warden Murphy (James Morrison), something bared out here. Bad Coop quite quickly has the warden under his thumb, threatening to expose information about him (another cryptic ‘strawberry’ reference), and through this influence orchestrates his own prison escape; something which ought to see the warden’s days numbered, but also put a spanner in the works of Cole’s investigation. This could very conceivably precipitate a confrontation between the two Coopers somewhere down the line (a logical narrative assumption, but what should any of us assume with Lynch at the helm?).
This strand wasn’t the only element of the ongoing story to move forward this week. Though it was only fleetingly visited in those early installments, more and more of the series is returning to the town of Twin Peaks itself. The pages found by Deputy Hawk (Michael Horse) turn out to be from Laura Palmer’s diary, fulfilling the Log Lady’s prediction. The pages feature the words we saw Laura write in her diary at the behest of her visitation from Annie Blackburn in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. With the aid of Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster), Hawk quickly comes to the conclusion that it was not the Good Dale who emerged from the Black Lodge all those years ago. This is a major development, for while we’ve known this all these years, the people of the show’s reality have not. This could prove pivotal.
Dale Cooper’s room key has also found its way back to the Great Northern Hotel, causing Benjamin Horne (Richard Beymer) to reminisce on the good Agent Cooper also. His memory is being rekindled in the town here and there. A mutual awakening that is slowly mirroring that seen in Dougie. Ben has a couple more scenes this week. Chiefly he investigates a strange hum brought to his attention by his assistant Beverly (Ashley Judd). At first they think it’s coming from a lamp, but that doesn’t prove to be correct. It’s a strange, ambient sound, though the scene ends with the camera lingering on the pine walls, bringing Josie’s weird fate back to mind. Ben also appears at the top of Part 7, on the phone with his brother Jerry (David Patrick Kelly) for a scene almost as trying as their last appearance together back in Part 1.
Fortunately this is one of the rare occasions in which Part 7 feels as though it lacks focus. It quite conspicuously feels as though we’re moving toward events again this week, something which some of you may well feel relieved by. Good as they both were, Parts 5 and 6 lacked the propulsion expected from conventional television (something Twin Peaks most certainly isn’t), whereas Part 7 functions more in-keeping with contemporary serial drama – plot progressions are clearly notable on most fronts (even if we are ‘treated’ to a couple of minutes of floor-sweeping at the Roadhouse; a sly wink to the impatient from behind the camera?).
Even the Buckhorn investigation gets a little nudge forward, as Lt. Knox (Adele René) arrives to confirm the identity of the headless corpse, relaying to her superior that it appears to be the body of Major Briggs, but for the age discrepancy of the body. More tantalising in this scene is the appearance of a heavily clad mystery figure in the background who adds more than a touch of menace to developments. Back in Twin Peaks, Andy (Harry Goaz) follows up a lead that presumably connects to the hit and run last week, but the witness is a no-show. Lynch cuts back to the door of the witness’ home, unpleasantly ajar…
But there’s still time for a little Dougie and this week’s scenes are not without import. He is visited at work by detectives who inform him and Jayne-E (Naomi Watts) that his car was involved in an explosion, but the primary focus of the scene is Dougie’s continuing preoccupation with police badges. Following this, however, is a landmark moment. Upon leaving the building, Dougie and Jayne-E are attacked by Ike ‘The Spike’ (Christophe Zajac-Denek). After shuffling comatose through the last four parts of the show, Dougie leaps into action as if on reflex, protecting Jayne-E and saving both of their lives. During the struggle he is visited by The Arm from the Black Lodge (now resembling a brain on a dead tree, remember?) who implores Dougie to “squeeze his hand off”. Dougie doesn’t quite manage that, but still, it feels like a minor miracle, and suggests that Cooper might snap-out of his Dougie persona at any moment. For the record, however, my sense is that we still have a way to go before that happens.
All of which makes this a rather brisk visit to Twin Peaks. though there are still asides to make us wonder. Following Beverly home to meet her sickly husband feels like a strange tangent to open up with so many others already growing from the central trunk like branches. Much like the scenes with Sheriff Truman’s wife in the last two parts, one wonders if this is really valuable time spent. Likewise, the telephone call Jean-Michael Renault (Walter Olkewicz) takes at the Roadhouse serves little purpose other than to further the suggestion that life in Twin Peaks is a series of ever-turning circles. The same old abuses, the same old crimes, the same old persons responsible.
As we visit the Roadhouse during the episode, Part 7 follows the pattern set down by Part 5 and ends somewhere else, so no Jools Holland moment this week. Instead credits roll at the bustling Double R to the sound of “Sleep Walk” by Santo And Johnny.
I feel aware that I’ve done little more than document events in the show this week, but that’s the kind of hour it’s been, which is by no means a slight against this installment. Far from it. In many ways it’s one of the most satisfying so far. The mix between scenes in and out of Twin Peaks felt right, and the developments made up for the areas in which the show has left us dangling for the time being (Shelly’s daughter, the Glass Box murders).
Its worth remembering that this season of Twin Peaks was designed by Lynch as an 18 hour movie. We appear to be entering the second act. But with this in mind it’s perfectly reasonable for story elements to wander in and out of the experience, perhaps going AWOL for several weeks at a time. The idea that all of these elements will coalesce into an overall whole somewhat forgets Lynch’s style. Not everything is about narrative connectivity. Some things are there for colour, for shading, some things purely because they tickle Lynch. His indulgences when they come might ‘slow’ things down, but they also help build a universe unlike any other.
I think that’ll do for this week. Perhaps more on Dougie when we get more on Dougie.