The insane return of ‘Twin Peaks’ continues as Lynch sets the stage for Cooper’s adventures through the looking glass
“It’s not about the bunny…Is it about the bunny?”
Well helloooOOOooo, and let me just say that if anyone was ever curious what David Lynch’s take on Multiplicity might resemble, look no further!
I remember after Twin Peaks had originally been cancelled and some of Lynch’s supposed plans for a hypothetical season three were revealed. The supposed plans were for things like Sheryl Lee returning to play yet another character on the series (this time a red-haired cousin of Laura’s). However, one of the many details was the incorporation of a planet of creamed corn that was the home for many of the inhabitants of the Black Lodge. I remember hearing such an idea and thinking that there’s no way that Lynch could have made that coherent to the series. That being said, the situation that Cooper finds himself in at the start of “Part 3”, flung out into some confusing galaxy of “non-exist-ence,” feels exactly like how this creamed corn planet would have been brought into the fold. It’d have been one of his pit stops on his journey to escape from the Black Lodge. It’s also a great glimpse of Lynch doing his best impressions of Terry Gilliam and Michel Gondry while fondly creating visuals that feel like they’re ripped straight from out of Eraserhead.
The final episode Twin Peaks’ second season was widely regarded to be the series’ best episode, one of the most memorable things that Lynch had ever directed, as well as being a general feat to have even aired on network television. It’s crazy to see that Lynch practically uses that episode as the benchmark this season. That season two finale felt impossible at the time, but just as much time of “Part 3” is spent in a confusing world of chaos. It even manages to exceed the disorienting feeling that Lynch created in the former series finale. This is a very exciting realization, but it’s also one that’s a little worrisome. I trust Lynch to do whatever he wants with this world, but it’s still very early on into things and the series has already flirted with dangerously sailing off the rails and being too crazy for its own good. Granted, I think people are coming to this show wanting that to some degree, but some people are definitely going to be like, “Fuck this. Where’s Audrey?” One thing’s for sure, Lynch seems to be making this to please himself, not an audience, and that’s really the best blueprint for this season. Just brace yourself for the ride.
“Part 3” in a lot of ways feels like the quintessential Twin Peaks episode and Lynch at his most unleashed. After the thoroughly insane re-introduction to this sorely missed world last week, these episodes appropriately start off right where “Part 2” ended. Cooper finds himself still continuing his trip through Glitch Land while the malfunctioning Black Lodge tries to figure out what to do with him.
Rather than Cooper being sent back to the Black Lodge or the Land of the Living, he instead seems to be transferred to some magenta purgatory that expands the insanity parameters of this show to an even larger degree. The sort of world Lynch depicts here makes me feel like if we had ever gotten a feature film out of Lynch’s One Saliva Bubble or Ronnie Rocket screenplays, their skewed worlds would have looked something like this. This connection does not seem accidental as Albert’s ominous line about “the absurd mystery of the strange forces of existence,” is actually the subtitle that Lynch used on his Ronnie Rocket screenplay. He wants to invite this comparison as Cooper finds himself in a world of non-existence.
If you thought things were crazy in the Black Lodge, the world is truly a mess in Purple Land. Actions might be contorted and backwards in the Black Lodge, but here the narrative struggles to even move forward with how broken things are. It’s like Lynch is presenting a short film made on decaying film stock. It’s ambitious as hell and arguably going to be too much for some of the crowd that are less Lynch crazy.
This purgatory sees Cooper in a sort of Being John Malkovich situation where Cooper is almost seeing through Bob/Evil Cooper’s eyes. It’s a rather interesting development with all of this. It also seems to act as a way station of sorts where people can enter others through giant electrical sockets. An idea that sounds so preposterously Lynchian, you almost wouldn’t believe that it’s in here. Then again, Lynch has been saying that the Black Lodge entities move through electricity since the start of the series. This is nothing new, he’s just presenting the same information in a terribly inventive new way. The visual of smoke billowing out of an electrical socket and slowly forming into Agent Cooper, who then proceeds to crawl towards vomited creamed corn (garmonbozia; see: pain and sorrow) is something that won’t be leaving you anytime soon.
It seems like this destination is where all of the souls that have lost their bodies—or “existence”—find themselves. At first I thought that the eye-less woman that attempts to guide Cooper might be Josie Packard, but the credits list this gatekeeper as “Naido.” That being said, there are familiar faces in the form of Garland Briggs (whose face is serenely floating through the cosmos) and Ronette Pulaski. I joked a lot that this new season would spend an entire episode with Josie inside of the doorknob that she’s trapped in, but this episode basically delivers on that idea, while still managing to be eye-opening stuff.
While Cooper is here he also is able to apply some of the cryptic numbers he was given by the Giant and Evolution of the Arm. The number “153” corresponds to the “15” and “3” of the electrical sockets that Cooper has to use to properly escape. Additionally, “253” is given significance in regards to the time that Bob needs to pass over back into the Black Lodge. “119” still hasn’t been given a function yet, but it’s a little surprising to see these clues already coming together in some cases. Furthermore, it’s been pointed out to me that the repeating sound that Cooper hears on the Victrola is actually the slowed down noise of a slot machine arm being pulled down, something that also drastically comes into play in these installments. This unusual noise also seems to be pulling Bob into the Lodge/out of consciousness. It’s a definite trigger that holds power and Lynch knows when to warp the sound design to make it cut deep.
On that note, David Lynch has grown into being a true master of sound design over the years and his skills are in prime display here. While music is so essential to the series, so much of this season has been vacant of it so far, almost like it’s commenting on how this world has been absent of Cooper for all of this time. The emptiness is definitely felt and adds a new layer to the series as well. That being said, when “Laura Palmer’s Theme” kicks in while the camera lingers on a grieving Bobby Briggs (who’s a deputy now!), it almost becomes too much to bear. All of the beauty of the previous seasons comes rushing back. You almost see the young Bobby come to life on his older self’s face. His pained “reunion” with Laura really reminds you of how much she put him through. It’s the most beautiful, nostalgic moment of the entire episode.
Lynch also plays with the idea of using non-Badalamenti tracks for Evil Cooper’s scenes to insinuate that he doesn’t belong here and is not of this world. It’s a deeply symbolic move, but one that works. It also feels like as the real Cooper slowly re-acclimates to the world, the series’ ambient sound might also slowly diminish and the series’ trademark tunes will gradually return. As Cooper becomes whole again, so too will the soundtrack. Or not. We’ll see soon enough.
The Blue Rose from Fire Walk With Me gets brought up by Garland Briggs’ floating head, but receives another mention later on, too. The true significance of Gordon Cole’s Blue Rose cases was never revealed in the Twin Peaks feature, but considering the circumstances at the moment, it might have been the code designated to cases involving FBI agents that vanished into the Lodge. Or it may just be the lingo for the high-priority matters. As Cole puts it, “it doesn’t get any bluer than this.” The recently published Secret History of Twin Peaks (which is written by Mark Frost) makes heavy reference to Briggs’ and the military’s involvement with Project Bluebook, a secret designation of files having to deal with alien encounters. It even charts all the way back to Richard Nixon having involvement with Bluebook. It’s also hard to not imagine the beast in the glass case that mutilated Sam and Tracey last week also not being of interest to Project Bluebook. The Secret History of Twin Peaks incorporates a lot of plot points, planning, and characters from the series cancelled third season, so it’s rather interesting to see which elements from the text are now continuing to work their way into the series.
While on the topic of blue roses and Fire Walk With Me, just as things begin to feel like they’re sort of making sense, a second Cooper doppelganger by the name of Dougie Jones all of a sudden shows up. This is something that I truly wasn’t expecting, especially with how he’s wearing the alluringly dangerous Owl Cave ring that Theresa Banks had that eventually made its way over to Chester Desmond, Laura Palmer, and Dale Cooper (at least in the Black Lodge).
Dougie is quickly informed that he “was manufactured for a purpose, which has now been fulfilled.” Cooper is told that he can’t leave the Black Lodge unless his doppelganger returns. On top of this, Bob/Evil Cooper is telling Daria that he has a “plan” to avoid being sent back to the Lodge. While this is still a very complicated scenario, it seems as if Evil Cooper somehow manufactured Dougie, this second Cooper doppelganger, for the express purpose of replacing him when “a doppelganger” has to be sent back to the Lodge.
When Cooper is re-entering the real world, we see both Dougie and Evil Cooper struggling to keep their garmonbozia inside of themselves (what a glorious sentence that is, huh?). It’s hard to say for sure, but perhaps because Evil Cooper knows what is going on here and is able to hold his garmonbozia in longer than Dougie can, that’s why Dougie is the doppelganger that’s sucked away to the other world. This seems to be confirmed when Dougie replaces Cooper in the Black Lodge and Mike remarks that they’ve “been tricked.” He’s able to disassemble Dougie and see that he’s an imposter, but he also comes to the more sinister conclusion: if Cooper and Evil Cooper are now both out in the real world, an imbalance has been created and one of them is going to have to be killed. And just like that, we’ve got a pretty strong, kick-ass story engine to this new season.
All of the Dougie material is thoroughly fascinating, even if it is short-lived. To begin with, Dougie’s arm begins to go numb before he’s sent to the Lodge, just like what happened to Theresa Banks and Laura Palmer before him (and I’d wager this is also what that weird “shaking hands” epidemic in episode 28 of season two was also corresponding to). Debate still seems to be split as to whether wearing the Owl Cave ring is a safe thing to do or not. Some believe that wearing the ring protects you from being possessed by Bob. Others say that putting the ring on is what allows passage to the Black Lodge to begin with. A few more details are still needed to fully figure this out, but it’s clear that as soon as Dougie stops wearing the ring is when he’s taken over and destroyed.
It’s kind of devastating to see Cooper so broken after he gets back into the real world. It’s joked that he might have had a stroke, but it honestly seems like it. He’s rendered a puppet that’s only able to repeat phrases back to people. He’s probably having a hard time just hearing people talk to him without it coming out all garbled and backwards. The world around him seems so foreign that he’s still not positive that he’s not just in another layer of the Black Lodge or another place in between. He seems to forever have an after image of the Lodge burned into his vision, as he follows it hopelessly. It’s all he’s known for so long. I didn’t expect Cooper’s return to be such a startling experience for the man, but it’s appreciated to see Lynch handling it in such a serious manner. Thankfully, after Cooper gets some coffee into his system, he might be back on the track to normalcy. We don’t get to see much after the fact, but he does at least get out a “Hi” which is some original thought, albeit a small move forward. Earlier, when Cooper and his escort, Jade, pass a Sycamore Street, it seems to act as another sensory memory that’s so strong that it somewhat pulls him out of this catatonic state.
This Cooper-as-Dougie section leads to some entertaining developments, such as Cooper’s escapades at a casino. He stumbles into nearly $28,500 and doesn’t even blink at it. He hits enough Mega Jackpots (30, to be exact) to earn himself the nickname Mr. Jackpots, at that. There’s a welcome appearance here from Brett Gelman as the owner of casino. His interaction with Cooper is a stand-out scene and it’s amazing how so many people are able to have full, engrossing conversations with Cooper while he practically says nothing at all. It’s the sort of thing that I bet Lynch thinks is hilarious.
Lynch mainstay Naomi Watts also enters the picture as Dougie’s wife, Janey-E, which is wonderful, but does muddle the picture a little. If Evil Cooper created Dougie, where did his wife and child, Sonny Jim, come from? They surely weren’t manufactured, too. Is it possible that Dougie Jones was just his own person out there in the world and then Evil Cooper somehow morphed him into a doppelganger? Or maybe Evil Cooper simply manufactured Dougie ten years ago or something (Cooper’s been out of the game for a while now) and he made a family after the fact. Regardless, it’s a real treat to see a perplexed, near-mute Cooper get thrown into a family that he has no recollection of having. It’s like a bizarre sitcom from Hell, and it brings to mind the experimental satire of sitcoms that Lynch attempted in Rabbits. It feels like that and the life Cooper’s now living could easily be an hour-long programming block on Black Lodge cable.
Back in Twin Peaks, seeing Hawk working alongside Lucy and Andy continues to be great, great stuff. Especially when Lucy thinks she’s cracked the case with some Easter chocolate that she’s eaten. Hawk even gets so lost in their ramblings that he briefly considers that Lucy’s chocolate breakthrough could be of value. With no one else there to throw rocks at bottles to help them find their way north, perhaps Hawk is going to need to start thinking a little more outside of the bun. What Would Cooper Do?…The Good Cooper of course. At this point we know that the Bad Cooper would smother somebody with a pillow and then shoot them in the face. There’s also some beautiful synchronicity here concerning the original run of the series where Cooper tells Hawk over 25 years ago, “If I ever get lost, I hope you’re the man they send to find me.” Now they find themselves in the midst of that prophecy fulfilling itself.
While we’re discussing Lucy and Andy, I truly don’t know if I was ready to see Michael Cera saunter in as their son, Wally “Brando” Brennan. Cera is awarded a glorified, extended cameo where he’s basically just doing a ridiculous Marlon Brando impression for several minutes. It’s a truly surreal moment in the episode that’s arguably just as bonkers as anything Cooper is going through. The whole thing is a colossal, weird joke, but I’m glad the episode goes for it. This might be the only time we see the offspring of Andy and Lucy, but at least we know that he’s out there, where the road is his dharma.
As the series is hopping around America, it finally reaches Philadelphia and checks in with Albert, Gordon, and the rest of the FBI regarding Ruth Davenport’s murder in New York. There’s also a new FBI agent along for the ride in the form of Tammy Preston (Chrysta Bell), who should make for an interesting addition to their road trip. She’s a canonical character that’s been featured in Frost’s The Secret Files of Twin Peaks, so it’s great to actually get to meet her in the flesh. She’s got the stuff, according to Cole. Cole and company head for South Dakota after receiving a call about Cooper (actually Evil Cooper) and there’s some real momentum and dot connecting going on between these ethereal, lucid first batch of episodes. Once Cooper’s faculties return, maybe the show’s extremeness will calm down some, too. Either way, the story is definitely building and that’s very exciting. Cole and Albert’s car banter makes for a great delight, as does Cole’s disappointment that they won’t be passing Mount Rushmore (“faces of stone”). Thankfully Albert’s already got his back courtesy of a handy photograph of the monument. I could seriously watch an entire episode that’s just the two of them in a car together, but weirder stuff is instead afoot.
At times it certainly feels like Lynch is making a joke out of a lot of these returning characters as well as the roles that they inhabit. Bringing back David Duchovny’s cross-dressing Denis(e) Bryson made me shout out loud in delight, but it also really feels like fan service. That’s not a bad thing, especially when it’s resulting in more Duchovny, but hopefully Lynch won’t run the risk of turning so many of his original characters into punchlines. This is continued in the fact that Lucy and Andy literally seem to be ripped from the ‘90s with modern technology like cell phones outright terrifying them. It’s a bold gag, but one that can work with characters as weird as those two at least.
The scene where Cole, Albert, and Tammy reunite with Evil Cooper is really something else. MacLachlan was so good in the original episodes of this show, but he’s going above and beyond in his multi-faceted performance(s) here. The way in which he delivers a dead-eyed cover story for what he’s been up to is utterly chilling. Cole and Albert don’t fall for the act and are aware that something is up (their dual admission that neither of them have any idea of what’s going on is fantastic), but Albert does reveal that he unknowingly contributed to the problem a few years back by giving Jeffries some intel. Seeing Cole and Albert dig deeper into this as the real Cooper hopefully slowly makes his way back to Philadelphia or Twin Peaks is going to be a lot of fun. They’re both at least on the same plane of existence now, which is saying more than before. And who’s betting that the mystery woman that they’re talking about turns out to be Diane next week?
I think Albert Rosenfield put it best with, “The absurd mystery of the strange forces of existence.”
Or maybe Dougie Jones did: “That’s weird.”