There will be SPOILERS throughout this piece.
While half the world was having their bums numbed by one of the most dramatically bereft episodes of Game Of Thrones so far, Twin Peaks fans were treated to something moderately more stimulating as Lynch and Frost keep the engine running this week with a lot of bitty moments forwarding some of the season’s lesser characters. This was somewhat to be expected. In Part 9 Hawk (Michael Horse) and Sheriff Truman (Robert Forster) discovered a significant clue that something was coming in two days’ time. Part 10 seems to cover the interim.
Chiefly this week we were treated to a little more Dougie (Kyle MacLachlan) than we’ve had of late, while the rest of this installment’s heavy lifting went to the memorably nasty Eamon Farren as Richard Horne and the previously minor Mitchum brothers, the Las Vegas casino operators played by Robert Knepper and James Belushi. In many ways Part 10 feels a little like the story catching its breath, gathering together a lot of lesser elements as the second act gathers momentum elsewhere. Not exactly filler per se but rather the kinds of story points that might clutter a more ‘important’ installment. This part is also 5 minutes shorter than the others, suggesting we might (hopefully) be in for something quite substantial next week. Things do still move forward here, just in a way that feels tangential to the more pressing developments of Part 9.
Part 10 feels quite transparently about contrasting the dark with the light, offering us some of the season’s darkest scenes, while contrasting these with moments in which key characters experience pure joy with one another. Twin Peaks is about the collision of worlds, about duality and contrast, about balancing the good with the bad, and this is mirrored here.
In terms of the bad – the dark – the show opened this week with two oppressive scenes of cruelty. First there was Richard Horne using physical violence against a woman named Miriam who witnessed the hit and run back in Part 6, quickly followed up by our first glimpse of Shelly’s daughter Rebecca (Amanda Seyfried) since Part 5. Here she is threatened by her husband(?), the lousy Steven (Caleb Landry Jones) while outside Harry Dean Stanton’s Carl can only shake his head in confusion at the pain needlessly suffered by so many. Compressing these scenes together front the get-go opens Part 10 with a sour taste, rather reminiscent of the harsher mood experienced in the Deer Meadow scenes of Fire Walk With Me.
But there is evidence of hope and tenderness here too, albeit taking place outside of Twin Peaks. A small moment in Buckhorn sees Cole (David Lynch) and Tammy Preston (Chrysta Bell) spying gleefully on Albert (Miguel Ferrer) as he enjoys the company of Jane Adams’ local medical examiner; an elaboration of an immediate attraction that was notable in the previous installment. More pressingly, our time spent with Dougie and his wife Jayne-E (Naomi Watts) sees the two of them getting closer in exceedingly intimate circumstances.
Following a long overdue visit to the doctor, Jayne-E is impressed and turned on by her husband’s improved physical appearance. They have sex. In terms of how this is portrayed from Jayne-E’s perspective, this is probably one of the most fulfilling sex scenes Lynch has committed to film since the days of Wild At Heart. It is borderline revelatory for her. Dougie seems very pleased with it as well. His usual vacancy has the glaze of happiness to it. But even this sequence, which suggests a solidifying of the bond between the two of them, is tempered by the ongoing unease at how people are responding to Dougie.
When he is being examined by his doctor (cult TV favourite John Billingsley), it is his physical condition that is the primary focus of the appointment and not the more pressing sense that his mental faculties are at fault or in need of question. Granted, we’ve been given the hazy impression that a prior incident in Dougie’s life causes him to behave strangely from time to time, but since Dale Cooper ported into his body way back in Part 3 the man has been notably debilitated in his faculties. The dismissal of there being anything seriously wrong with him up until now has been strange, almost as though Lynch is discussing the invisibility of mental illness with us, or perhaps societal blindness to it. I had been expecting his visit to the doctor to change this dynamic, but it continued.
In this light, Jayne-E’s actions that night take on a more complicated shade, and one might read her love-making with Dougie as her taking advantage of him, or at least acting selfishly. But sexual desire is selfish. It consumes and preoccupies. It’s also pleasing to see female sexual desire depicted on the screen honestly, so often now even in TV’s revolutionary era, it is the woman who is depicted as more passive (but then, who could be more passive than Dougie?). Still, while he isn’t being forced against his will, there’s a sense that he can’t quite consent to an act outside of his understanding which makes the scene just that little bit unwholesome.
The investigative side of the story, so propulsive in Part 9 stalls as we spend time with criminal elements. Not (surprisingly) Evil Cooper, who only appears in the form of a CCTV snapshot. Rather the aforementioned Mitchum brothers take up a surprising about of screen time. With Ike having failed to kill Dougie, the brothers become puppets of the rarely seen but seemingly influential Duncan Todd (Patrick Fischler). Todd meets with Dougie’s co-worker Anthony Sinclair (Tom Sizemore), sending him into the path of the Mitchum’s with a tall tale designed to steer the brothers into taking out Dougie. This allows us scenes of the brothers at home (with their cadre of vacant not-quite-bunnygirls) and in the office. Lead girl Candie (Amy Shiels) is a riff on the outdated 50’s idealism that feathers much of Lynch’s work. Although in the modern world she is somewhat slow, outpaced by the present she finds herself in.
Richard turns up again later in the episode to wreak havoc at the home of Sylvia Horne (Jan D’Arcy). In an excruciating extended sequence he near strangles his grandmother as his enfeebled uncle Johnny (Erik Rondell) watches from the vantage of the overturned chair he’s tied to. What makes the scene feel all the more endless is the repeating robot voice of Johnny’s bizarre teddy bear. Lynch counterpoints this with the kind of cheery muzak one might encounter on the wards of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. “Why do you have to make something so simple so difficult?” Richard sneers at his grandmother. The same might be asked of Lynch who turns this scene into a charade as weird as it is downright unpleasant. Lynch also employs techniques familiar to viewers of INLAND EMPIRE here, pushing into the faces of his conflicting characters.
Still, we’re at least given confirmation of Richard’s relationship to the Horne family, and a gap has been left in the family tree, one that surely must be filled by Audrey at some point in the show’s future. If not, well, who knows?
Part 10 has a stranger moment up its sleeve, however, when Gordon Cole opens his hotel room door only to be confronted by the image of Laura Palmer (footage taken from Fire Walk With Me) blown up to completely fill the door frame. Cole is momentarily surprised but then accepts the vision. It’s import is not determined at this stage as Cole’s vision is interrupted by the arrival of Albert and latterly Tamara Preston. The scene that follows offers precious tidbits to those still pining to know more about the Glass Box murders from the season’s opener. The aforementioned CCTV footage of Evil Cooper places him at the scene albeit at an indeterminate point in time. The scene also confirms something heavily inferred last week; that Diane is in fact in cahoots with Evil Cooper; that their history is more than the sinister allusions referred to back in Part 7. Their secret connection may also explain some of her outspoken reticence to get involved in the investigation up front.
In the wake of the last two parts of the show, which have dazzled and informed in equal measure, Part 10 feels somewhat less significant. But it also whets our appetite for what’s to come. I suspect Part 11 will contain some watershed moments for the evolving story. And lets not forget, this week we were also afforded a few more precious moments with Catherine Coulson’s Log Lady, offering more of Lynch’s mystic poetry about the battles between light and dark, good and evil. Despite dalliances and diversions, Twin Peaks is displaying more momentum than its significant competitor for ratings right now. Rebekah Del Rio trumps Ed Sheeran any day.