This Week on ‘Twin Peaks’, A Lot Happened. Like Seriously, A Lot
I’m already in mourning for Twin Peaks. Even though there are still three episodes left, and in this day and age it feels as though there’s no such thing as a truly cancelled show, there’s an undoubtable sense of loss at the impending climax of what has been one of the most intensely rewarding television experiences of the past decade. It can be easy to just click on Netflix, pick a show and let it run its course over a couple of sittings, your attention half with the story and half with your knitting or ironing or whatever it is you must do before the day is out. There’s a lot of TV out there you’ll never get around to watching, so why not stick with what comforts you? Oddly, Twin Peaks has comforted me in its steadfast dedication to being its own thing, utterly unconcerned with its audience yet still cognizant of their needs. Game of Thones may be bigger, but Twin Peaks has been more generous.
The last time we saw Big Ed, he was alone at work and smothered by his own melancholy having watched the love of his life Norma with her current beau. That makes it something of a surprise to see this episode open with Nadine marching to the gas station, Dr. Jacoby’s patented golden shovel in hand (two coats guaranteed) to giddily inform her that she’s breaking up with him so he can be with Norma. She has her bliss now with her no-noise curtains and dedication to Jacoby’s Alex Jones-style show, and she’s ready to let the man she loves go so she can be happy. It’d be so much sweeter if we hadn’t seen poor Ed have his heart crushed in Norma’s Diner, but there’s still a broad sense of completeness to the moment. His baffled expression makes way for a kind of shellshock, and with one final embrace with Nadine, one of the show’s more disjointed pairings is over.
Then comes the big romantic gesture, as Ed drives to the diner and tells Norma ‘she’s given me my freedom’. The music is perfect - fittingly, Otis Redding’s ‘I’ve Been Loving You Too Long’, there is a glistening of relief in Norma’s eyes, and then it’s gone as she dismisses him for her new guy-slash-business partner. But then, with Ed remaining in the diner, Norma gets rid of her partner, offering to sell her franchise shares to him, and she goes to Ed! He proposes and they kiss and the music swells and its beautiful schmaltz of such dedicated earnestness that it feels like one of the series’ biggest triumphs! This is a town festering in toxic relationships and poisonous men, so any moment where love can truly conquer all is a visceral celebration for goodness in the world.
A moment of pure joy is contrasted with a cut back to Evil Dale Cooper, back driving on the dark road. David Lynch has always been good at capturing the terror of late night driving, surrounded by pitch black with only the lights of your car to guide you. For Evil Dale, his destination is the convenience store we saw in episode 8 during that glorious fury of nuclear power. As he enters the building, he crackles like television static and disappears, cutting back into the dirty room where he asks for Phillip Jeffries. A long walk through an impossible buildng leads Evil Dale to a motel room, where a creepy woman (is there any other kind in Twin Peaks?) speaks backwards and unlocks the door for him. Is this convenience store, seemingly in the radius of the nuclear bomb testing, part of the lodge? It would make sense that the destroyer of worlds would birth a habitat for evil, one that seems to make even the eternally rigid Evil Dale a little unnerved.
In the motel room, we don’t meet David Bowie: Instead, Phillip Jeffries seems to be a large metal teapot with an orb of smoke billowing from the spout, talking like a Southern man stuck down a well. Time flashes back to 1989, via Fire Walk With Me, and talking about someone named Judy, who we’ve apparently already met. Three episodes to go and new questions are still being introduced: Classic Lynch.
Evil Dale needs answers, but before that, he leaves the store to find Richard Horne waiting, gun in hand. Much to Evil Dale’s credit, he almost immediately beats the crap out of that snotty shit. It’s easily the best thing he’s done all season. If Richard is indeed Evil Dale’s son with Audrey (her parentage has been confirmed), it would make a lot of sense as to why Richard is so awful, although being raised by the Hornes in a town like Twin Peaks probably wouldn’t do anyone any favours. With their exit, texting ‘Las Vegas’ presumably to Diane, the convenience store also disappears in a burst of light and smoke, its purpose served for the time being.
In the woods, Steven Burnett, Becky’s abusive drugged up husband, is having a bad trip, but he’s not alone. His companion, not his wife, is Gersten Hayward, the youngest sister of Donna, with whom he’s been having an affair. While Donna has not appeared in the show and apparently never will (no surprise if you know the behind the scenes drama between David Lynch, Kyle MacLachlan and Lara Flynn Boyle), so watching the top achieving young girl of fairy princess fame desperately try to save Steven from his suicidal thoughts is one of the show’s surprisingly bleakest moments. It’s not a town where people can be at their best, so it seems, and all Steven has to offer Gersten before he shoots himself are ‘I like fucking you’. Never have the woods of Twin Peaks seemed so vast and inescapable. Even watching it in the moment, it’s hard to imagine Ed and Norma’s passionate reunion was only 20 minutes prior. Then again, this is a show where time has its own rules. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how much of it has passed in the fifteen episodes we’ve seen. Some suggest days but it could be anything.
There’s no love for James either, as we see the woman he’s held a torch for, Renee, has a predictably brutish husband, one who hears a polite ‘hello’ and reads it as reason to assault a man. Too bad those jerks didn’t count on Freddie, the Cockney Hero with the Fist of Stone! That gardening glove packs some punch, leaving Renee’s husband foaming at the mouth, and so James and Freddie are left in a cellblock with a very Twin Peaks-esque spectrum of oddities. I wonder if Sheriff Bobby Briggs, reformed as he is, got a secret thrill form locking up James Hurley. There’s something so delightfully low-rent about Freddie’s power being symbolised by a garden glove. This season hasn’t skimped on its effects budget - hello, episode 8 - which makes his childlike costume driven power so fun to watch. Every kid’s dressed up in their parents’ clothes and played pretend at some point; Freddie’s just got more juice behind his.
A lot happened this episode. Can you tell?
In Vegas, the FBI are struggling to find the right Douglas Jones. Evil Dale’s assassin comrades killed off a few more people, this time some casino honchos. Dale as Dougie eats some cake lovingly prepared by Janey-E - who is presumably getting a lot more action from her sort-of-husband these days - before trying to stick a fork into a socket. What seems to set him off is Sunset Boulevard screening on the TV, specifically the scene where Norma Desmond visits Cecil B. DeMille at the studio under the delusion that he wants to work with her again. DeMille says ‘Get Gordon Cole’, and a light goes off in Dale’s head. Or at least something goes off, and he crawls to a socket on his hands and knees, fork in hand. We may not have Dale back yet, but this is the most active and determined we’ve seen him since he left the lodge. Clearly, something is coming together in his mind.
Audrey is still having her argument with her husband Charlie, and it’s not going anywhere. This show could return in 25 years once again and I’m sure Audrey could still be having this argument. This plot thread feels like the show’s anti-fanservice. Her scenes are frustrating and obtuse, even for a show driven by it. When we first saw the pair, Audrey was desperate to go out to find this mysterious Billy, but now she is dragging her feet. Can she even leave this place? She says ‘It’s absolutely fucking impossible’ to Charlie, who plays the calm mediator in a way that unsettles her and makes us question the power dynamics of this relationship. Is he in charge of her life? Why won’t he tell her what happened in his phone call? Is this part of his gaslighting tactics or is Audrey projecting? When his coat comes off, she jumps on him and throttles him. Real world or dream, Audrey’s world is especially tough.
So much happened in this one hour of television, but few things hit as poignantly as the death of Margaret ‘Log Lady’ Lanterman. Another call to her confidante Hawk reveals she is dying. These two have a clear relationship built on trust, so when she tells him he’s dying, he doesn’t question her knowledge. He merely accepts it with a ‘sorry’. With some final advice and a goodnight, the pair make their goodbyes, and so we too say goodbye to one of the show’s most iconic characters. Sometimes, even in Twin Peaks, death can be quiet. Upon hearing the news, the department mourn together. Sheriff Truman removes his hat.