“Have you ever seen ‘The King and I’? What’d you think?”
Naomi Watts steals this week’s episode, which is a grim and violent hour tinged with a little magic, a little hallucination, and a lot of sweet-eyed Dougie mooning over his coffee. Her Janey-E is exasperated, exhausted, cuckolded somewhat, and forced to henpeck her sudden dunce of a husband — or, if he was perhaps sweetly dingy before, he now has a new flavor of vacancy. She also finally suggests that he make a doctor’s appointment to address all the ways in which he’s behaving bizarrely, and Takes Care Of Family Business, all with a brisk mania that always stops short of cartoonish. She is so very, very good, especially when you stack her scenes against the similarly aggravated Doris Johnson, whose acting choices are broader than the side of a barn. I’m sure a lot of that is intentional — and Doris definitely has a different backstory than Janey-E’s, if also a more sane name — but what it makes you realize is how in control of her instrument Naomi Watts is. And that it is an instrument. By the time she snaps and tells off Dougie’s loan sharks, I am right there with her. Honestly, I keep hoping Agent Dale Cooper will return to Dougie’s body and then have a torrid affair with her, just so Janey and Naomi can finally enjoy something about this marriage.
Elsewhere: I read a theory on Vox that watching Twin Peaks feels so much like quiet channel-surfing at times that maybe this is part of the David Lynch metastatement:
“[That the series is] about the act of watching television, of sitting back passively and taking a story in, rather than trying to become a part of it. […] It’s not that the show is anti-viewer, or anti-plot, or anything like that. It’s that it keeps flitting between a bunch of different shows, all of which are progressing at their own rhythms, then drawing little connections here and there, when and where it can.”
Thoughts? While you ponder it, let’s move onto the pressing questions: The whos, whats, whys, and hows.
What’s the status of Agent Dale “Dougie Jones” Cooper?
Dale is still in the throes of his Brain Fog, and thus still acting like knees are a confusing apparatus indeed. (He’s not wrong. The human body IS an engineering marvel.) And he’s also drawn to more trappings of his former life, including a policeman’s badge. But he’s no closer to regaining his mental moxie. Whatever golden spirals from the cosmos are guiding him — the ones that showed him where to play for jackpots, or clued him into Tom Sizemore’s dishonesty — are now appearing on his case files, which a) impresses his boss, and b) implicates Tom Sizemore’s Anthony Sinclair in some insurance wrongdoing. Before these revelations come, Dale receives a hallucinatory a visit from MIKE, who is in the Red Room still, and compels Cooper, “Wake up,” and, helpfully, “Don’t die.” He does not snap him out of his trance or teach him how to use an elevator.
Dale does have a moment of bonding with Sonny Jim, who calls him dad even if he’s not Dougie’s son (it’s unclear how close Dougie was to any of these people, other than legally speaking, but sometimes I get the vibe that Dougie was always slightly on the outside of this family unit), and who seems fairly amused by his father’s spacey shenanigans. Some of what’s jarring about these scenes mimics the show’s first season itself: The world of Las Vegas feels fairly real, which makes Dougie/Dale stick out like an even more throbbing anomaly, just as Twin Peaks itself twisted so strongly against so-called regular television. Trying to watch this man blend in with his environs, akin to expecting Twin Peaks to nestle sweetly into the broadcast TV schedule of 1990, is entertaining but ultimately probably fruitless.
What was Naomi Watts’s big moment?
Well. They’re all big with her, even when they’re small, because she’s so fantastic. Here, she discovers an envelope from Dougie’s loan sharks with blackmail photos of him and Jade. “YOUR LATE” is scrawled on the back, although no one corrects the grammar. Agent Dougie clearly would not know grammar at this point if it took a swim in his coffee. Anyway, Janey-E is is aghast at Dougie’s public wanderings (“Jade gave two rides,” Agent Dougie drones; “I’ll BET SHE DID,” snaps Janey-E), and hurt in a way that she quickly swallows because she’s forced to by a call from Dougie’s debtors. Or is she just embarrassed? What was he, ever, to her, and what is he still? She seems to mother him; is that by necessity because his mind has been blitzed, or was it always that way? Their relationship is a bit of an enigma, although in most of their interactions, she seems to end on a pitying note — here, with a kiss to the head as she sighs and clears the plates, having made all the arrangements to amend his debts. Forever cleaning up Dougie’s messes, and receiving no thanks, except perhaps in the form of a frisson of pride she displays in a twitch of a smile after she’s arranged the payoff meeting.
And when she takes those reins, she does it marvelously. It turns out Dougie borrowed $20k to bet on sports and lost it, and now two slouchy ne’er-do-wells are trying to extort payment with interest to the tune of $52,000. And Janey-E is not having it. “We are not wealthy people,” she snaps at the meeting she’s set, which is at a public playground. “We drive cheap, terrible cars. We are shit-on enough, and we are certainly not going to be shit on by the likes of you.” She further explains that 25 percent interest would be enough to send most bank customers into paroxysms of glee, so she will pay them not a cent more than $25,000. When they try to snatch it from her, she pulls it back in and scolds, “What kind of world are we living in where people treat other people like this? We are living in a dark, dark age, and you are part of the problem.” Then she roughly hands it back to them and orders them never to return, before stomping off in a heroic cloak of her own pique. The shlubs gaze after her in wonder. “Toooooooough dame,” one of them says. And she is. Because for all her lectures, they are not poor any longer; she’s sitting on more than $200k from Dougie Cooper’s casino windfall. So Janey-E fought back just to do it, on principle, rather than take the path of least resistance and hand them $52k she easily could’ve spared. I love her.
What’s the strangest thing that happens in this episode?
That honor goes to Meanface’s story. If he is related to the Horne clan as his character name suggests, then they have a lot to answer for with this one. (I am surprised, though, that any of this information was leaked to IMDb. It feels like spoilers — like we shouldn’t know his name any sooner than David Lynch wanted, and therefore that we’re cheating.)
Anyway: Richard has a bizarre interaction with Balthazar Getty, who is a drug supplier looking to Richard to move his product in this wacko little hamlet and beyond. (I gather his name is Red, but whatever.) Their scene is the most classically odd thing in the hour. Balty’s guy is a mixture of threats — “I will saw your head open and eat your brains if you f**k me over” — and mystical non-sequiters like,”Have you ever studied your hand?”, for example, or the query about The King and I. He moves in a herky jerky flow that evokes a sort of violent tai chi, and at one point brings out a dime and flips it in front of Meanface. It stalls in midair, flipping and turning over and over, before appearing in Meanface’s mouth and then disappearing again so that it can materialize in Getty’s hand, having switched to tails. “Heads I win, tails you lose,” Balthazar grins at a freaked-out Meanface. He’s like if David Blaine were also an assassin.
Meanface also has snorted the product — “You can pick up the rest at Mary Ann’s house,” Balty says, and we’ll get to that — and it puts him in an irrational, sweaty rage when Balty refuses to stop calling him “kid.” So he hops in his truck and road-rages his way through the town… and plows over a kid, which he handles by speeding away and then cleaning blood off his bumper. But not before making eye contact with a perplexed witness by the name of Miriam. We’d just met her at the diner, and she’s wielding big bills despite not making a ton of money, and acting sweet as the cherry pie she’s eating. So at first I thought maybe Balty said “Miriam” and not “Mary Ann,” and that she’d be the against-type drug mule who is our connective tissue. But the closed captioning suggested otherwise. Unless it turns out Miriam has an unimaginative nom de drugs.
What about the kid?!?
Harry Dean Stanton — the kindly old Fat Trout Trailer Park resident from Fire Walk With Me — witnesses the whole thing with immense pity and sorrow, and also sees a large golden ball of energy (the kid’s soul?) drift upward into the sky and disappear. That was also fairly weird. But not, like, Criss Angel Murderfreak weird.
Who else died?
Glad you asked! There is a pint-size assassin in our midst. He receives a red-stamped envelope under his hotel room door with pictures of Dougie and another woman in it. He finds the woman first, and goes on a complete homicidal rampage at her office, stabbing her so energetically that I didn’t actually watch any of it (there was plenty of warning) and offing two of her colleagues as well. Dougie, he has not yet found. But because Agent Dougie Cooper is ONLY wearing that split-pea-green sportcoat, the photo Tiny Killer has of him will always be current.
Who is Laura Dern playing?
She is Diane, whom I gather is a long-alluded-to confidante of one Agent Dale Cooper. So she’ll be able to sniff Agent Creeper’s bullshit.
How is Deputy Hawk’s investigation coming along?
At long last, he has a breakthrough, which does actually involve breaking something. He drops a coin — also a dime — in the office’s bathroom and it rolls into a corner under the flush pedal. When he retrieves it, it’s on heads, which is styled like a Native American; as he slowly turns around, his gaze falls upon the stamp on the hinge of the maker: Nez Perce Manufacturing. From there he notices a corner of the door has been pried slightly apart thanks to two missing screws. The Log Lady did say something was missing and needed to be found, and it was to do with his heritage; as if guided by the log (can we keep the log, even in her tragic absence?), he jimmies open the entire stall door and retrieves a roll of scribbled notes on lined paper. AT LAST.
Lingering issues, potential important notes, and/or absent storylines:
– What is the significance of the numbers on the phone pole near the dead boy, on which the camera lingers considerably? They are 324810, and the pole itself seems to be numbered 6.
– We don’t see her son, but we do see Meth Mom shouting out “ONE NINE NINE! ONE NINE NINE!” — that’s 911 backwards, obviously — when the cops arrive outside to clear up the debris of Dougie’s exploded car. They’ve got the license plate, so just as Janey-E was asking what happened to the vehicle, she might get her answer.
– There is no Agent Creeper here, nor anything with Major Briggs’ fingerprints, nor FBI Agent Gal Gadot — sorry, Tammy Preston. We’ve had no more James, or Bobby. No more Sarah Palmer or anyone particularly connected to that world other than Shelly, and of course Deputy Hawk.
– WHAT DID THE MORGANS DO FOR DINNER? Matthew Lillard is in prison, and Phyllis is dead. Has anyone even found her body?