There will be SPOILERS throughout this post.
Despite my assumptions last week that Part 10 was tangential filler before our arrival at ‘the day’ for Hawk (Michael Horse) and Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster) to follow the trail left by Major Briggs, Part 11 found us still two days away from that important event. No matter, for this week Mark Frost and David Lynch put together one of the tightest installments in the new season so far, which reduced focus in the main to three continuing concerns, in the process seeding new worries in our minds.
Following a beautifully shot sequence in which Miriam emerges from the brush, bloodied from her encounter with Richard Horne in Part 10, the first third of this week’s offering focused quite pleasingly on the dynamic between Shelly (Madchen Amick) her daughter Becky (Amanda Seyfried) and Shelly’s former boyfriend and now deputy Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook) with a key scene taking place in Twin Peaks’ very own RR diner.
Longtime fans will likely cheer at the confirmation that Becky is indeed Bobby’s daughter and that Shelly’s last name is now Briggs, but the scene also reveals that their marriage exists very much in the past tense; that the intervening 25 years have untold stories we may never fully come to know. The genesis of this family reunion is Becky’s volatile reaction to her lowlife husband’s evident infidelity. She steals Shelly’s car, drags her poor mother halfway across the Fat Trout Trailer Park (which has clearly upped sticks from Deer Meadow), waving a gun around in the process. When her mind is set to it, Becky’s passions run at a volatile level. Witness her reckless shooting of the hotel room door (loved the camera wooshing to Becky’s eavesdropping husband Steven [Caleb Landry Jones]).
This all may seem like a minor aside to the more pressing supernatural plot that drives the show, but it adds plenty of texture to our exploration of Twin Peaks circa 2017. Seyfried gets her meatiest work yet, while those frustrated by the minor appearances from Ashbrook and Amick so far will relish getting to spend more time with these longtime favourites. Seyfried’s Becky prompted much speculation around her first appearance in Part 5 that she might prove to be this season’s Laura Palmer, but Part 11 suggests this isn’t likely to be the case.
There is a hint of history repeating however, as the diner scene between the family is interrupted when Shelly abandons the sit down to arrange a rendezvous with her current beau; amateur magician and drug dealing psychopath Red (Balthazar Getty). The knack for picking bad apples doesn’t just run in the family; it’s evidently a habit Shelly herself is far from breaking. This reveal spells trouble for Shelly and places the character in harm’s way where previously she seemed safe. Time will tell.
Nor was this the only notable interruption during this family reunion. Accidental gunshots from a car stuck in traffic bring the conversation to an unexpected halt as Bobby puts on his Deputy hat and maintains order on the road. Lynch’s fondness for the warped comedy that can be wrangled from repetition is evidenced again here as a fraught driver repeatedly blasts her horn. Things get weirder when Bobby confronts her and she starts screaming intermittently, her voice recalling the blurts of the horn. Even stranger is the cause of her screams; a child passenger in the car who begins vomiting beside her as Bobby watches, baffled. I feel like this scene will likely have no follow-up and will remain one of the most oddball diversions of Season Three, but it’s another interesting case of Lynch alerting us to wonky relationships across familial generations (remember “119”?). Generation gaps are key this season, and its obvious why Lynch and Frost would choose to acknowledge this. Frequently the past and the present struggle to reconcile even as they are intrinsically connected.
The second main development is in Buckhorn, as Cole (Lynch), Preston (Chrysta Bell), Diane (Laura Dern) and Albert (Miguel Ferrer) head out to the location described to them by William Hastings (Matthew Lillard), who rides along under the supervision of Detective Macklay (Brent Briscoe). He takes them to a rundown patch of land, all scrub and dilapidated housing, citing this as the location Major Briggs told him about. Here Cole’s evident psychic abilities are revealed further as he – and only he – encounters a powerful vortex in the sky above one of the houses. In this vortex he sees an image of more of the dirty bearded woodsmen that have dotted the season and featured prominently in Part 8. Another bad omen.
While Cole is the only one who sees the vortex (and the scene strongly recalls the imagery seen in season 1 of True Detective when Rustin Cohle [Matthew McConaughey] sees a spiral of birds), both Albert and Diane see one of the woodsmen separate to this. My feeling is that Diane does too, though she denies it later. The woodsmen’s influence in our world is clearly strong, as one of them manages to pulverise Hastings’ head, killing him without Detective Macklay being able to stop it. Interestingly, Albert is far more open-minded here than he was in the show’s original run, even saying to Cole before he approaches, “Think there’s one in there?” Clearly he’s now more versed in the inhabitants of Cole’s “blue rose” cases. They sound, momentarily, like would-be exterminators.
The site also uncovers the missing body of Ruth Davenport, the latest breadcrumb on the trail back to Twin Peaks. In a follow-up scene Albert is cut-off as he reveals the location of a set of co-ordinates written on the arm of the body, but what is said sounds likely to end up bringing the agents to the show’s titular hometown. These initially disparate story threads continue to weave together. The feeling of this is remarkably satisfying.
The final third takes us back to Vegas and sees Dougie’s (Kyle MacLachlan) luck improving, albeit with outside assistance. Set up to meet with the Mitchum brothers (Robert Knepper and Jim Belushi) who are intent on killing him, Dougie receives his latest piece of ‘divine'(?) intervention from the Black Lodge, as the One-Armed Man (Al Strobel) coaxes him to make a purchase that ultimately saves his life. The ‘what’s in the box?’ set-up, along with the meeting location brings to mind the pivotal finale of Se7en, though Lynch’s drama turns joyously comic and absurd here, rather than grimly horrifying. It’s one of the series’ lightest scenes; its coda in which Dougie is taken out to celebrate by the Mitchums (now his best friends) closes out Part 11 on an almost carefree note.
While Part 11 feels tight and episodic due to it’s clear three-pronged focus, there’s a small but exceedingly significant scene sandwiched in all of this which readies us for Hawk and Truman’s journey into the woods. Hawk shows Truman an ancient Native American map of the area which features multiple coded messages. He explains that an image of fire can also refer to electricity. Electricity has long been a signifier in Lynch’s work, often faltering when dark forces are near. That it is interchangeable with fire opens up the meaning and intent of messages like “fire walk with me”. The lore of Twin Peaks expands. Hawk goes on to note that a black fire drawn on the map is in itself a warning. Another omen of trouble to come. The Log Lady (Catherine Coulson) confirms this when she speaks to Hawk on the phone. Her log is afraid of fire and fire is where they are going. Also of note is a symbol on the map for black corn which contributes to Hawk’s unease. Corn also plays an important role in the Black Lodge, where it has been established to double for “garmonbozia”; pain and sorrow. The beauty of Twin Peaks‘ mythology is how varied and unusual its reference points are.
Understanding the meanings in the map feels similar to how it felt when Lynch asked us to follow the riddles of Cooper’s dream in season one or the clues listed by the Giant at the beginning of season two. Seven parts of the revival remain and its beginning to feel like the push to the end is in sight. Following the map will reveal more secrets. It really is a strange world.