Without doubt, Twin Peaks is the hardest show I’ve ever had to review in this site’s relatively short life. Not only is it dazzlingly brilliant in places, it’s also frustrating, strange and doesn’t follow any of the narrative conventions we’ve all come to know. If that wasn’t enough, this series has required extreme patience, as Good Coop slowly starts to find himself again. There were signs in part six that he was beginning to emerge from his Dougie Jones reverie, and there were more signs in part seven, too.
I’ll admit, the sheer number of new (and old) characters, new storylines and snatches of storylines that have come and gone have led me to get a few things wrong. One of those things was the identity of the character played by the avuncular Robert Forster. I thought he had stepped into the shoes vacated by Michael Ontkean and was playing Harry Truman. But no, this was the first episode where it was explicitly (at least to my mind) where his identity was referred to. He was Harry’s brother, Frank. In a chat to dear old Doc Hayward (the late Warren Frost, co-creator Mark’s father) via Skype, Frank asked him about the day Agent Cooper left The Black Lodge. He was acting mighty strange, the Doc said, after seeing him visit a comatose Audrey Horne in the hospital. (I like to think that Lynch used Skype because of its strange little start-up noise.)
“Well, I hope you work on the sunny side of the river, doc,” Frank smiled at the end of their brief chat. Prosaic, yet strangely emotional, and a phrase that felt like more than just a casual goodbye – it can’t have been long after when Frost passed away.
That first scene in Truman’s office was as expositional as Twin Peaks has been in this series. Hawk filled Truman in on the contents of the letter he found at the end of part six, lodged in the door of a toilet cubicle in the police station. The pages were some missing pages from Laura Palmer’s diary (one was still missing) thought to have been hidden there by her father and murderer, Leland. On these pages, Laura had written that she had had a dream, where Good Coop was trapped inside The Black Lodge and that the Coop who came out was not Good Coop. Annie (Blackburn) was also mentioned.
The thing is, as Truman had asked, was that Agent Dale Cooper came to Twin Peaks after Laura’s death. How could she have known him?
Elsewhere in this episode, there were some interesting scenes. Not least involving Diane (a superb turn by Laura Dern), who was cajoled by Gordon and Albert to go to South Dakota to meet Bad Coop and to try and establish whether he was indeed the man she had known all those years ago. “Fuck you, Gordon,” she spat. “Fuck you, Albert,” she spat again. Her character was all brass and sass and hilariously potty-mouthed. When she met the sashaying Tammy, she asked, “what’s your name?” “Tammy.” “Fuck you, Tammy.”
There was an element to the build up to this scene that was pure Twin Peaks: Gordon professed that he did not think bad Coop was Good Coop, and Tammy’s fingerprint findings had something to do with his inclination (Bad Coop’s ring-finger print was the reversal of Good Coop’s). He noted that this coincided with Bad Coop’s strange greeting to his old boss: “I’m yrev, very happy to see you again, old friend.”
God knows, before you ask.
When Diane met Bad Coop in jail, she became incredibly emotional and suddenly changed from an almost comic character to someone in a melodrama (if anything this series has forgone the melodrama of the first two). This was not the man she knew and spent an obviously special night with before he had left for Twin Peaks. Afterwards, shaken, she wept and necked a miniature of vodka in the parking lot. (It’s funny, I never imagined Diane to look or act like this. I always imagined her to be meeker, stuck behind a desk at the FBI. It was a refreshing surprise to see Diane as this tall, lithe, drinker and swearer of a woman.)
Halfway through the episode, we still hadn’t had any Dougie Jones/Good Coop, which was actually a bit of a blessing. But there was an extraordinary scene when the hitman dwarf, Ike, made an appearance and made an attempt on his life, bursting through a crowd brandishing a gun and pointing it straight at Dougie/Good Coop. As if it was reflex, Good Coop took over, taking down the assailant with a flurry of chops to the windpipe. The spindly tree from The Black Lodge rose from the crack in the pavement, its bulbous head glowing and telling Good Coop that he should “squeeze his hand off”. Good Coop followed the tree’s instructions, not only saving his wife Janey-E in the process but also, perhaps, edging closer to his true self.
He’s not quite there yet, but he is getting there.
The following short scene involved news-style footage shot on shaky cameras, which was unlike anything we’ve ever seen before in Twin Peaks. Bystanders were interviewed, one saying: “That guy didn’t look like any victim. Douglas Jones, he moved like a cobra.” Perhaps more evidence that Good Coop was starting to become the dominant driver of the Dougie Jones vehicle. A forensics team peeled off a patch of skin left by the hitman. Perhaps another metaphor for skins being shed; identities beginning to be revealed.
His doppelganger, after his meeting with Diane, made designs to get out of prison. He did this by blackmailing the jail’s governor about his dog, Mr Strawberry, and demanding a car and an escape at 1am. The governor duly acquiesced. Whatever happened to Mr Strawberry must have been pretty dark.
There were other things, too. Lieutenant Knox also travelled to South Dakota to investigate the headless corpse found at the scene of the Ruth Davenport murder (remember her? So much has happened since her head was found on that body). She found that the body was that of Major Garland Briggs.
And even more stuff: Ben Horne and newcomer Beverly Paige (Ahsley Judd) investigating a strange thrumming noise in the hotel; Horne receiving Agent Cooper’s door key tossed into a mailbox by Jade the sex worker; and Andy arranging a meeting with who I thought was the owner of the truck used by Richard Horne to cause such devastation in last week’s instalment.
And brothers. Brothers everywhere: the Trumans, the Hornes; the two cops who came to question Dougie about his car; the Renaults. Emphasising duality; two sides of the same coin.
And so it continues…
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