This Week on ‘Twin Peaks’, David Bowie Flashbacks and Monica Bellucci Dreams
Nobody ever truly dies on Twin Peaks. There are always other plains of existence to dwell upon before death can finally exact its mission. Laura Palmer may have been murdered but her face was everywhere, from that iconic photo to the Black Lodge riddles to the appearance of her identical cousin Maddy (also played by Sheryl Lee). Even in this new season, Lee is the ghost that hangs over the world, with her face appearing through the mist in the opening credits and her name forever included in the closing credits. The late Frank Silva, none other than Killer BOB himself, is another ever present force in the series thanks to flashbacks. Death isn’t the end for Lynch’s world - really, it just makes you more interesting.
But not even David Lynch can hold off death’s grip in the real world. The season is haunted by the melancholic reality of the passing of both Miguel Ferrer and Catherine E. Coulson, who died after filming. Yet arguably, there is no absence that is felt greater than that of David Bowie, who played Agent Phillip Jeffries in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.
Jeffries and Cole’s Blue Rose task force, the backstory of which is given in this episode, led them to investigate the less conventional cases of the bureau, but Jeffries went missing while in assignment in Argentina in 1987. Jeffries has been referenced frequently throughout this season: He seems to have some sort of arrangement with Dale Cooper’s evil double, helping to free him from prison, but he also put a hit on him, possibly in order to send him back to the Black Lodge. That’s not going well right now, but for Cole, his memories of Jeffries are much stranger, and just a little bit sillier.
Dreams are the gateway to the truth in Twin Peaks, but that doesn’t mean Lynch can’t have a bit of fun with them. As he explains to Albert and Tammy, Jeffries returned to his thoughts, guided by none other than Monica Bellucci, playing herself. As Cole confesses he had ‘another’ Belucci dream, both looked a tad uncomfortable, which suggests he talks of these thoughts often. Then again, Cole is quite the lady’s man - a delightful self-skewering from Lynch, who once bore the moniker himself thanks to relationships with Isabella Rossellini. The character is Lynch’s knowing wink to the persona of David Lynch: The coffee drinking oddball who delights and confuses in equal measure. Why wouldn’t Cole’s dream guide be Monica Bellucci? He never gets the credit for it, but David Lynch has always been in on his own joke. Aside from Werner Herzog, it’s hard to think of a director so distinctive in his personality and public image who owns it as much as he does.
Of course, this being David Lynch and Twin Peaks, her visit is no mere flighty fantasy. The black and white scene, both hypnotic and unsettling, builds from a casual chat, the kind we’ve all dreamed about having with our favourite celebrity, to Bellucci directing Cole to look behind him, where he sees himself from long ago, talking to Agent Cooper before the dazed Jeffries barges in. This is the flashback to that scene in Fire Walk With Me, and Jeffries’s chilling message holds much more power now that the pieces are all coming together.
Seeing Bowie again, even in that brief flashback, was a moment of unusual clarity. It can’t help but ache a little to see one of the most famous and iconic individuals of our time back on our screens, looking as he always does when we think of him, and then being hit with the reality that he’s no longer with us. Many had theorized that Bowie had filmed some scenes before his death, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Instead, we have the memories, and the episode’s dedication to Bowie hammers that home all the more poignantly.
We have memories, but this week, we also had a ton of plot. When the show wants to, it’s happy to put its foot to the pedal and speed up as desired. Not only did we find out more about the Blue Rose, we also discovered that Diane’s half-sister is none other than Vegas’s finest, Janey-E Jones! Sadly, we don’t seem to be getting the much-coveted Laura Dern/Naomi Watts spin-off we deserve, but it does suggest both women’s fierce allergy to bullshit is a familial trait.
Back in Twin Peaks, Cole and Sheriff Truman have had their talk over the phone, and the connections are being made. Before the return can fully be made, the police department have business to do. Deputy Chad is arrested for his corruption, although his crime isn’t named. He’s just a useless goon who doesn’t even deserve a fun villain climax, so he is disposed of quickly before the true quartet of the department can finally follow Major Briggs’s instructions to Bobby. Deep in the woods, they find Jackrabbit’s Palace, the secret hiding place Garland would take his son for bonding time and to spin tall tales. What they find, in the exact location given at the exact time stated, is stranger than imagined. The eyeless woman from episode four lies naked on the ground, convulsing and barely conscious (although it’s hard to tell without eyes). The portal above them opens, and the (un)lucky one plucked into the black and white realm by the forces that be is Deputy Andy Brennan.
Flung out of space and into the lodge, led by The Fireman (the tall figure previously credited as ????? now has a name), he is shown a series of images, so deftly edited and striking that it may be one of the highlights of the series: Andy sees BOB, the two Dales, the strange figure asking for a light, the visage of Laura Palmer protected by angels, and himself guiding Lucy Brennan to an unknown space. Once he returns to his own world, he immediately takes control of the situation, knowing exactly what the eyeless woman needs and how to protect her. It’s a great moment for actor Harry Goaz, who shifts his stance to convey intense confidence and the kind of forward action not usually associated with kindly Andy. For a town steeped in so many bad men, Andy’s simple devotion to goodness is a shining spot.
Meanwhile, James Hurley, working as a security guard at the Great Northern, hears a strange tale from his excessively Cockney co-worker, played by Jake Wardle. Freddie, who wears a rubber garden globe on his right hand all the time, tells him that the reason he wears it is due to a brief foray into a vortex where he met The Fireman, who then told him to fulfill his destiny in Twin Peaks. That glove gives him incredible strength, so who knows why The Fireman wants him to use it in Twin Peaks. It seems as though he’s the conductor of this incredible plan, whatever it is, between good and evil, and everyone has their part to play. Freddie asked The Fireman why he was the one, and his response was simply ‘Why not?’ There’s no sense to being called into duty. James, who has seen some weird shit in his time, enjoys the story, but whether he believes it or not is another question.
Sarah Palmer is back too, away from the TV and drinking at Elk’s Point. A fellow barfly, clad in a t-shirt with ‘Truck You’ written across the stomach, tries his stuff with her, and her curt refusal to play along is ignored. Watching Sarah’s stiff awkwardness as this creep harasses her with misogynistic abuse and accusations of lesbianism rings so true for many of us, which makes her revenge all the more satisfying, as creepy as it is. I what may be the most unsettling image of the series, Sarah steps back and pulls off her face, revealing a monochromatic void of grinning teeth and reaching hands before declaring ‘Do you really wanna fuck with this?’ Then she lunges for his neck, re-enacting the ravenous nature documentaries she watches on repeat on her giant TV back home. Where Laura Palmer removed her face to reveal light to Dale Cooper, Sarah’s reveals only darkness.
There’s not much left to go this season, and the questions may never be answered. I’ve long since accepted that inevitability, but the journey being propelled forward so quickly this episode offered a tantalising prospect of conclusion. Perhaps that’s its own dream. As Monica Bellucci herself said, ‘We’re like the dreamer who dreams and then lives inside the dream. But who is the dreamer?’