The fifth part of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s return to Twin Peaks is the most difficult one yet. For the first two parts, we were starving for a glimpse of familiar characters, for parts three and four, we were inching along on our bellies picking the smallest bits of information out of the carpet like a drug addict hunting down that rock that tumbled from their fingers. What have we been given so far? We’ve been given boxes, and we’ve been given numbers. Lots of boxes, and lots of numbers. And what do we know about boxes and numbers? Boxes are meant to be filled with stuff, and numbers add up to something. Sometimes. And the world of Lynch is all about sometimes, like one of those Magic Eye pictures that some people can make out, and some people can’t. It seems like with the world of Twin Peaks, now more than ever, things make sense when you focus less and simply let your eyes absorb rather than snatch. There’s nothing tangible enough to snatch here even if we wanted to. It’s all just a dream, and it looks different depending on who’s dreaming it. As we hear from Dr. Lawrence Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) in the middle of “Part Five”, “You must see, hear, understand, and act.” The seeing, hearing, and acting parts are coming along nicely for us. The understanding part, well, we’re gonna need a shovel to dig our way out.
The end of “Part Four” left us with a cliffhanger when Gordon Cole (Lynch) told Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer) that before they do anything else, they need a certain person to take a look at Evil Cooper. Since then, there have been theories flying all over the Internet as to who that someone could be. Audrey Horne? Diane? Sarah Palmer? If I had to make a Mr. Jackpots-sized wager, my quarter would flip to the latter. Naturally, one would assume (and we should know by now to never assume when it comes to Lynch) that we’d learn the answer to that riddle in “Part Five”, but we didn’t. Lynch rarely gives us what we want, he gives us what we need. We’re on a need-to-know basis here. And what do we know? Well, I now know how to whisper-scream “WHAT. THE. FUCK?” at my TV without waking my wife.
To “Magic Eye” this latest installment, here’s what I’d like to lay on the table: We’re being fed the outer edges of a puzzle, and all of the pieces are themes. There is repetition, darkness, and time. Glue these down so they don’t move on us, and let’s try to fill in the middle over the next 13 parts of this season. There are thugs staking out the house where Cooper took over Dougie’s life. But, there are two sets of thugs: There’s the first set, which I believe were hired by Evil Cooper to keep an eye out for the real Cooper (you know, so he doesn’t get sucked back into the Black Lodge), and then there’s the second set, who’s likely trying to shake down Dougie for mounting debts. Of course, neither Cooper or Dougie are around, which prompts a woman with a bruised face, credited as Lorraine (Tammie Baird), to yell at the first set of thugs, “Fuck, this should have been done yesterday,” before firing off a message on her Blackberry that says “Argent 2.” The receiving end of the message is a black box with two blinking red lights on it. We’ll see this box again later on and learn that “Argent” stands for Argentina. Why a Blackberry was used for this is just another indication that we really don’t know what the hell time this is all taking place in.
Meanwhile, Constance Talbot (Jane Adams) is in an examination room back in Buckhorn, South Dakota (not a real place, BTW), having spent some time with the headless body discovered in “Part One”. She discovers that a gold wedding band inscribed with “To Dougie, with love, J.E.” was lodged in the throat of the corpse. J.E. must stand for Janey-E (Naomi Watts), so this must be Dougie’s wedding ring. What is it doing in the throat of a corpse all the way in South Dakota? Is this the corpse of the “real”, non-manufactured Dougie? If so, that would mean there are conceivably three versions of him: the version whose head became a gold marble in the Red Room of the Black Lodge in “Part Three”; the version that Cooper took over; and this human version, who sired Sonny Jim (Pierce Gagnon), aka the likely new host of The Giant (another bet from moi).
Over in lockup, Evil Cooper is lying on his back in his jail cell and says “and now food is coming” to himself, as though he’s staring in his own sleek version of Groundhog Day and has cycled through that very moment countless times before. Whether it makes complete sense or not, there’s a feeling that we’re being shown in many different scenes that time isn’t as we know it in this universe (or universes). Rather than go from point A to point B, this universe folds in on itself like an envelope with lines and corners touching in many different configurations, at least depending on where you crease it. After he’s given his tray of food, which he puts off to the side untouched, Evil Cooper looks in the mirror as footage from the original series, featuring Evil Cooper and Bob laughing manically together in the Black Lodge, flashes across the screen. Mind you, this isn’t the first time we’ve been shown this footage over the past few episodes. Though, in an unlikely and horrifying twist, Evil Cooper’s face starts to faintly morph into the shape of Bob’s face (the late Frank Silva) as he says: “You’re still with me, that’s good.” Do you get the sense that he’s talking to us there, just as much as he is to Bob? Yeah, we’re still with you. Hanging on for dear life though. This is exhausting.
Back in Twin Peaks, we reunite with Mike Nelson (Gary Hershberger), who’s working behind a desk at a car dealership. In an ironic twist, the former bad boy is criticizing the resume of a young troublemaker, Steven Burnett (Caleb Landry Jones), who we eventually discover to be a cokehead dirt bag. Full circle upon full circle, like a gold ring held up to your eye. From old character to new scenario, we’re then taken back to Rancho Rosa, where Janey is trying to pull Cooper (aka Dougie) together so he can go to work. She’s rattling off information about his casino winnings — the same winnings that cost Supervisor Burns (Bret Gelman) his job and got him kicked out of Vegas by Jim Belushi’s mysterious figurehead, Bradley Mitchum — and how it’s enough to pay off his huge debt. Off in his own world, Cooper instead stares off at Sonny Jim, who’s sitting in the backseat of their waiting car, and slowly sheds tears. (It should be noted that Sonny Jim looks like a robot whose switch has been turned off, and I’m guessing that’s because he doesn’t have a task to perform?) Shortly after, Cooper gets literally dumped off at work — seeing how Dougie’s car is still parked back at the house that’s currently being patrolled by Vegas’ finest scumbags — where he sees a bronze cowboy statue pointing a gun. As he’s not wont to do, Cooper mimics the statue for awhile before making his way inside.
Now, if you remember at the end of “Part Four”, Gordon Cole made mention of the fact that he knew Evil Cooper wasn’t really Cooper because he didn’t “greet him properly.” We learned in the original series that Cooper and Cole greet each other by pointing at one another off to the side. Is this why Cooper is so fixated on this statue? Is it bringing back memories of Cole and his life as an FBI agent? Food for thought. Once inside the office building — eventually, we learn that he sells insurance, and isn’t a realtor like I guessed previously — he stands in the main lobby and looks around in a childlike manner. At the end of the row of elevators in front of him, you can see a bit of the trees outside, the only real thing visible in the room. Essentially, this is 1990 Cooper coming to terms with 2017 Cooper; in other words, where once there was an FBI agent swooning over the smell of Douglas Firs and Damn Fine Coffee, there now stands a man “born again” into the age of fake wood and fake coffee. Speaking of fake coffee, Cooper is soon spotted by one of his co-workers (Josh Fadem), who’s carting two trays’ worth upstairs to his colleagues. Cooper follows him and reaches for a cup himself, which he receives — much to the chagrin of his fellow co-worker, Frank (Bob Stephenson), as we soon learn — and slurps the stuff down while composer Angelo Badalamenti sparkles his familiar magic. “Damn good Joe, huh Dougie,” his co-worker says with a laugh, which is a bit too heavy-handed of a wink for this writer.
Returning once again to Rancho Rosa, the “119! 119!” druggy mom is passed out and her kid (Sawyer Shipman) — vaguely credited as Little Boy — sneaks out of the house and heads across the street to get a closer look at a blinking red light coming from underneath Dougie’s abandoned car. Right when he gets to it, however, the second set of thugs pull up — the ones looking for their debt money — and pop the locks to steal the car. The blinking device turns out to be a bomb, though, and three of the guys are incinerated. Immediately, the Little Boy runs back into his house and watches the flames from his window. Something is making me think that this mother son duo could be the new Tremond/Chalfont team from the original series and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, whose presence always seem to preclude tragedy. Remember how there’s a red balloon in the druggy mom/kid’s apartment? Well, watch the last scene of “Part Five” closely and see if you don’t spot something very familiar in the background as Cooper loiters around the cowboy statue.
In another (albeit glaring) example of repetition and time folding in on itself, we make our first trip back to the RR Diner in 25 years and find Shelly (Mädchen Amick) and Norma Jennings (Peggy Lipton) still working behind the counter. (Could you imagine working somewhere for 25 years, let alone a townie diner, no matter how quaint it is and how amazing the cherry pie tastes? And they’ve been there longer than 25 years!) As we soon learn, Shelly has a daughter now named Becky (Amanda Seyfried), who hits her up for money and then takes off in a Firebird with … you guessed it … the same jerk who got turned down by Mike earlier, Steven Burnett. As the credits later tell us, Becky is married to Steven, which seems to mirror Shelly’s prior marriage to Leo, seeing how this guy’s a similar bad seed. When she jumps in, he whispers some cool dude nonsense to her, toots some coke (and she does too), and then turns on the car stereo. As they drive away, The Paris Sisters’ “I Love How You Love Me” plays and Becky stares into the sky looking delirious and sort of hysterically happy, as though she hasn’t seen the sky for a really long time. Is Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), who just recently got expelled from the Black Lodge, hitching a ride inside of Becky? Or is this just history repeating itself in its truest form?
Towards the end of “Part Five”, we finally get to learn why Dr. Jacoby has been busying himself with those rows of golden shovels. Turns out he operates a one-man TV station in his trailer and, aside from a poetic rant about freedom and conspiracy theories, presents an infomercial for a product called Dr. Amp’s Gold Shit-Digging Shovel, which retails at $29.99. (Literally, I’ll take two.) Nadine Hurley (Wendy Robie), who we see for the first time, watches from what looks like an office desk, and Jerry Horne (David Patrick Kelly) catches it all from an iPad as he smokes pot in the woods. Both parties are very into it. “Shovel your way out of the shit, and into the truth,” Jacoby tells his viewers. Again, this seems like a message meant for us.
Over at the Pentagon — yes, that’s game in this universe, too — one Colonel Davis (Ernie Hudson) is notified by his assistance that the fingerprints of Major Garland Briggs (the late Don S. Davis) have popped up in the database for the 16th time in 25 years. He suggests they, too, must head to South Dakota (via first class, of course) and that the FBI will soon need to be notified of these occurrences. Does this mean the headless corpse actually belong to Briggs? Eh, probably not. What’s more likely is that Evil Cooper figured out a way a long time ago to take Briggs’ fingerprints and use them as his own in order to gain full access to top level government information. Then again, just to offer a third option, maybe the long lost Phillip Jeffries (the late David Bowie) has ownership over the identities of lost souls, seeing how he’s also a lost soul. We’ll go with the second guess.
Finally, down at The Roadhouse, a pervy and Frank Booth-esque villain (Eamon Ferrin), who’s surreptitiously credited as Richard Horne (!) in the credits, violently grabs a girl named Charlotte (Grace Victoria Cox), and we’re once again reminded that the darkness of Twin Peaks gets you while you’re young and spreads like a disease. (Kudos to Charlotte’s friend, Jane Levy‘s Elizabeth, for trying to stop him.) In another surprising twist, the action doesn’t end at the Roadhouse, but back in South Dakota, where Evil Cooper is given his one phone call and uses it to fuck with the warden asking him if he should call “Mr. Strawberry”, which seems to strike a nerve, and then uses the phone’s electricity to send a message (“the cow jumped over the moon”) to an unseen person that I’m guessing is Jeffries, who may or may not be at the other end of that black box with two red lights blinking alone in Argentina. Once the message is received, the box dissolves into a little clump of metal.
When you put enough pressure on something, you’re left with its base elements, and that’s what we’ll chew on until next week’s “Part Six” rolls around.
DAMN FINE QUOTES
— “Okay Dougie, you’re acting weird as shit.”
— “Shovel your way out of shit and into the truth”
NEXT WEEK ON TWIN PEAKS
— Seriously, is it Sarah Palmer???
— We start learning who is still coupled with who. (Hank and Nadine? Bobby and Shelly? Audrey and ??)