Warning: This recap for ‘Part 5’ of Twin Peaks contains spoilers.
There’s been a lot of debate over the past two weeks regarding how one should consume Twin Peaks. Should it be picked apart and analyzed like a Westworld plot, with timeline charts and character graphs and an online course in numerology? Or should we view it like a painting, a piece of art which transcends logic and is open to endless interpretation?
In a recent interview with Vulture, actress Sheryl Lee (who plays Laura Palmer) said that Twin Peaks is “…like a dream world, it’s not meant to be dissected.” Lee’s assertion echoes the thoughts of her fellow cast and crew members, especially co-creator and director David Lynch, who has always been reluctant to discuss his work in detail, at least in any narrative sense. Lynch chooses to talk tone, mood and feeling as opposed to plot points, character motivation and story speculation.
Of course, that hasn’t stopped fans from launching a thousand wild theories over the past two weeks (myself included), scrutinizing every frame of the new episodes for clues and connections to help work out just what the hell is going on. In a way, we’ve all become Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn), or should I say Dr. Amp? The eccentric former psychiatrist turned expert shovel painter and Internet conspiracist. Of course Dr. Jacoby would become the Alex Jones of Twin Peaks! It’s so perfect, I’m slapping myself for not seeing it coming earlier.
I like to think David Lynch and Mark Frost were purposely poking fun at the overanalytical viewership of modern day programming when they came up with Jacoby’s story. They made us watch ten minutes of a man spray painting shovels gold, knowing that our inquisitive minds would search for hidden meaning and metaphor. Perhaps the shovels were for ceremonial purposes? Maybe for a new land development with Ben Horne? What if the gold is somehow linked with the gold ball used to manufacture Dougie? No, no, and again, no.
Jacoby is simply trying to hawk his gold-coated shovels to impressionable viewers of his rant-filled videocast so that they can dig their way out of the “global corporate conspiracy.” And at $29.99, that’s a bargain. “Shovel your way out of the s**t and into the truth,” is the slogan of his homemade infomercial. Those viewers include a weed-smoking Jerry Horne (David Patrick Kelly) and Nadine Hurley (Wendy Robie), a woman with a history of mental issues and an obsession with silent drape runners.
The scene is a highlight in an episode of stand-out moments. It works as both a straight-up comedic piece and a commentary on clue-hunting fans who see every scene as a puzzle to be solved. Sometimes a shovel is a just a shovel. It can also be read as a critique on the Alex Jones’ of the world, the armchair broadcasters with their pent-up rage and conspiracy theories and distorted facts. The irony is not lost on me that one of the avid viewers is a woman who previously patched up her problems by escaping into the world of daytime soap operas. Nadine has replaced one melodramatic fiction with another.
You can enjoy Twin Peaks as a puzzle or a painting. There is no right or wrong way to watch this show. You can dig into the theories like Dr. Jacoby, or you can just go with the flow like Dougie Jones. Twin Peaks has always been this blend of dreamy art-house cinema, late-night soap-opera, and intriguing mystery drama. If you want to sit back and just let the Lynchian weirdness wash over you, then go ahead. Or you can buy a corkboard and an endless supply of post-it notes and try to break the code. Either is fine.
THE ADVENTURES OF DOUGIE JONES
Our electricity-travelling good agent, Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), is still adjusting to life as Dougie Jones — the stand-in doppelganger manufactured by Evil Coop. Unfortunately, the coffee he spat out last week didn’t snap him out of his brain dead state, although it did return his insatiable taste for the caffeinated beverage. One of the biggest laughs of the episode is the image of Dougie passionately guzzling down his coworker Frank’s (Bob Stephenson) latte — although Frank seemed pretty pleased with his green tea replacement.
The Dougie scenes are like something out of an 80s sitcom, and not one of the famous ones, one of those that disappeared after a single season and only seem to exist in vague fragments of your parents’ memories. You’ve got to hand it to Kyle MacLachlan for his performance, making Dougie sympathetic one moment (tearing up over his son) and a comic buffoon minutes later (being shoved out of an elevator by a dozen disgruntled coworkers). The fact he’s also bringing a malevolent energy to Evil Coop at the same time is truly exceptional.
What kind of person was Dougie before he was sucked into the Red Room and turned into a golden pebble? Nobody seems truly perturbed by his conduct, at least not enough to call a doctor. Not his friends or his family or his coworkers at Lucky 7 Insurance (he’s not a real estate agent like I assumed last week). They cover for him, hold his hand, and shuffle him into ladies restrooms so he can pee. When his wife, Janey-E (Naomi Watts), drops him off at work, she mentions him “having one of [his] episodes,” which suggests that Dougie is no stranger to odd behavior. I suppose a guy that wears a lime green jacket to work at an insurance firm is known to be somewhat on the quirky side.
But memories are very slowly coming back to Dougie-Coop. The cowboy statue outside the offices unearth the law enforcement man hiding beneath the oversized jacket; Dougie is fascinated by the smart suit and the pistol, and maybe even the Stetson is tapping into a blocked memory of his old pal Sheriff Harry Truman. Words like “Agent” and “case files” momentarily snap Dougie back into detective mode, allowing his remarkable intuition to resurface, calling out a deceptive coworker (Tom Sizemore) for lying.
It may be frustrating to see Cooper in this state, but it’s also fascinating how Lynch and Frost have twisted the narrative and thrown everything we love about Cooper into a new context. Also, Dougie was eyeing up that donut something fierce; I think once he gets that pastry/coffee combo he’ll be really cooking.
WHO YOU GONNA CALL?
Meanwhile, Evil Coop is adjusting to his new world — federal prison. Actually, the prison is adjusting to Evil Coop, as he seems to be regaining his otherworldly powers. In the creepiest scene of the night, Evil Coop stares into his jail cell mirror where he sees the reflection of BOB staring back; the late Frank Silva’s face stretched and morphed with MacLachan’s to create an unsettling image. “You’re still with me. That’s good,” Evil Coop proclaims, confirming that BOB is indeed still riding with the Cooper doppelganger and not possessing some other poor soul (like Bill Hastings). It’s great that Silva is still a presence on the show given how important he was to the original series.
It’s this union with BOB that likely gives Evil Coop the ability to set the alarm system off while making his phone call, disrupting the recording and allowing him to speak in private. He leaves an ominous message to whoever is on the other end of the line — “The cow jumped over the moon.” I assume that’s a coded message, but given this is Twin Peaks, that might be something that literally happened.
OLD AND NEW
Part 5 is packed with characters, both old and new. Alongside eye-patch wearing Nadine, we also catch up with her ex-lover Mike Nelson (Gary Hershberger), who is now the owner of a car dealership, and Norma Jennings (Peggy Lipton), who is still holding things down at the Double R Diner. It’s through these scenes we learn more about Shelly’s (Madchen Amick) troubled daughter Becky (Amanda Seyfried) and her skeevy, drug-addict boyfriend (Caleb Landry Jones). Actually, they might be husband and wife as they both have the surname (Burnett) in the credits.
Of all the new characters introduced so far, Seyfried and Jones seem most comfortable in the world of Twin Peaks. Steven is a scummy loser who can’t even piece together a decent sounding resume to get a job. Becky has shades of Laura Palmer, the beautiful blonde saddled with a cocaine habit and a toxic relationship, forced to borrow money from her mother (yes, it’s odd that 31-year-old Seyfried is playing 46-year-old Amick’s daughter). Lynch uses Seyfried’s recognizable eyes to great effect in a gorgeous POV shot, filmed from above, as Becky beams in drug-fueled ecstasy.
Steven isn’t the only new bad boy in town; we’re also briefly introduced to Richard Horne (Eamon Farren), smoking and violently harassing women at the Roadhouse. It’s unclear whose Horne offspring this is, we know Ben liked to get around, but we can’t rule out Jerry or perhaps even Audrey, who we’ve yet to see in these first five parts. We do find out that Deputy Chad (John Pirruccello) is up to no good, as Richard hands him a cigarette carton stuffed with cash. I assume Chad and Richard are the ones smuggling drugs across the border, which was mentioned by Bobby Briggs in Part 4.
It’s an episode full of nasty men. Robert Knepper and Jim Belushi turn up in Las Vegas, beating the hell out of the Silver Mustang Casino owner (Bret Gelman) for letting Dougie-Coop walk (well, shuffle I suppose) away with $425,000 in winnings. Knepper and Belushi make perfect villains, intimidating and ruthless, and, of course, the scene is given the Lynchian weird touch by the three Vegas showgirls (one played by Amie Shiels) nonchalantly watching the ass-kicking go down.
As for some friendlier characters, at least on the surface, we meet Colonel Davis (Ernie Hudson) and Lieutenant Cynthia Knox (Adele René) at the Pentagon. Cynthia informs the Colonel that they’ve had another hit on Major Garland Briggs’ prints, which seems to confirm the theory that the headless body in Buckhorn does indeed belong to the Major. The Colonel tasks Cynthia with a mission to Buckhorn to investigate.
Meanwhile, Agent Tammy Preston (Chrysta Bell) is doing some fingerprint investigating of her own. She’s comparing the fingerprints of Agent Cooper and Evil Coop, and it seems that Evil Coop’s prints are reversed. There was some criticism last week that the character of Tammy was overly sexualized, and I think that’s a fair comment, especially with that awkward butt-ogling scene. However, this short moment implies that there is more to Tammy than meets the eye, she perhaps has that brilliant intuition that Cooper has (or had, at least).
Now it’s time to shine our cosmic flashlight on some of the theories of the week.
THEORIES FROM ANOTHER PLACE
Who did Evil Coop call?
We know it wasn’t Mr. Strawberry — apparently, he doesn’t take calls anymore. Evil Coop appeared to be calling the flashing black box in Buenos Aries, Argentina — a box that magically turned into some sort of black stone? The importance of Buenos Aries will be known to fans of Fire Walk With Me, as it’s where Agent Phillip Jeffries was last seen before his time-travelling escapades.
Is Jeffries who Evil Coop is calling? He previously thought he was conversing with Jeffries back in Part 2 on his Inspector Gadget do-it-all briefcase computer thingy. But we also heard from Darya that Jeffries had hired her and Ray to kill Cooper (Evil or Good?). There are too many clues (here we go again) at this point for it not to be Jeffries —Buenos Aries, the flashing lights, and the focus on security cameras which is what happened when Jeffries suddenly appeared at the FBI Headquarters in FWWM. The question is, who will be playing Jeffries? (the role was originally played by David Bowie, who sadly passed away before filming of the new series).
Are the hitmen also working for Jeffries?
The useless assassins who missed their shot to take out Dougie last week inform their boss Lorraine (Tammie Baird) of their failure. Another mysterious character who appears to be working for someone higher-up who she’s legitimately frightened of — just like Mr. Todd in Part 1. She makes a call to that same flashing box Evil Coop called in Buenos Aries. Are Lorraine and the hitmen also working for Jeffries? Is Jeffries trying to eliminate all known Coopers?
Side-Note: We saw some violent carjackers get blown to smithereens when they tried stealing Dougie’s car — the one the hitmen planted a bomb underneath last week. The kid in the house with the junkie mom watched from across the street. I’m not sure what their connection to the story is, but there’s playing cards on the table and we know Evil Coop carries around that deformed Ace of Spades card.
Is Harry Truman going to die?
I love that Lynch and Frost didn’t simply recast or kill off Harry Truman; despite Michael Ontkean not reprising the role, they’ve kept him present in conversation amongst the Sheriff’s Department. However, the frequent references to his health — this episode Frank mentioned Harry getting some tests — has me wondering if Harry is going to pass away off-screen. I’m not sure how I’d feel about that — unless Ontkean secretly filmed a death scene, that might be the only way to stomach it.
Side-Note: We also met Frank Truman’s wife, Doris, who seems to come from the Nadine Hurley school of spousal support. Robert Forster has the best deadpan look, though.
How did Major Briggs know Dougie?
With the Pentagon scene all but confirming that the body in Buckhorn belongs to Major Briggs, we have an interesting development with Dougie’s wedding ring being found inside the corpse. How did it get there? Well, the obvious answer is probably that Evil Coop forced him to swallow it.
My theory is that Evil Coop kidnapped or coerced Major Briggs into coming with him, perhaps somehow using him to get in contact with Jeffries (that special briefcase computer could be military operated, something that Briggs might have owned). When Briggs ran out of use, Evil Coop killed him, planting Dougie’s wedding ring inside him, either as a calling card or to point the blame towards Dougie himself.
Let us know your own thoughts and theories on the new series in the comments below.
Twin Peaks airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on Showtime.