Twin Peaks: The Return (2017) – Part 6, dir. David Lynch

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Janey-E (Naomi Watts) struggles to reconcile herself to Dougie (Kyle MacLachlan)’s lost identity, lacking the husband and father she and her son so desperately needs. In Season 2, Nadine’s lost identity was a source for comedy and pathos, seeing its effect on relationships and teenage jealousy. Janey-E deals with Dougie’s actions, remarking at how Jade “gives 2 rides”, dealing with owed debts, speaking to peddlers from her corded telephone; a scorned woman. In the playground, handing over a wad of notes, Watts delivers a sheer powerhouse of a performance, acknowledging her financial position as a 99 percenter, struggling to get by for a father and child. Lynch places our sympathies within Janey-E; the cartoon of the 1950s housewife has faded away, revealing a reality.

Dougie struggles to perform a fatherly role, unable to say goodnight to Sonny Jim (Pierce Gagnon). Amid cowboy memorabilia in his bedroom, we sense something deeper the courtyard statue reminds Dougie of, unable to access. Dougie and Sonny Jim develop an affectionate relationship, clapping lights on and off as a form of play, before being reminded by Janey-E’s shouts and screams of the reality. Dougie’s boss, Bushnell Mullins (Don Murray), epitomises this contradiction of identity: behind his desk sits a framed poster of his younger self, boxing champion, in congruence to his current self in the insurance world. As Dougie mimics boxing poses, does his sportsman aggression still stand up? Lynch touches more into the Red Room mythology, largely absent from the past few episodes, appearing briefly in the form of MIKE (Phillip Michael Gerard). Enraptured, Dougie doodles scribbles and ladders over case files, inadvertently finding a surreal solution that Mullins congratulates him on.

Perhaps the most welcome presence is Carl (Harry Dean Stanton), reprising his role living in a trailer park from Fire Walk with Me (1992). 90 years old, Dean Stanton remains an endearing icon of cinema; interviewed for Universal’s DVD of Repo Man (1984), Stanton confronts us to an entire philosophy of life. Dean Stanton’s career is wide and diverse, from earlier work like In the Heat of the Night (1967), 80s classics like Escape from New York (1981) and Christine (1983), to his confounding yet appreciated cameo in The Avengers (2012). Dean Stanton is a committed actor, never failing to light up every film and project he is involved in.

Carl is in stasis: living in a trailer park, nowhere to move forward in life, still smoking the same cigarettes after 75 years. The trailer park’s residents live with instability, waiting months for wheelchairs or government handouts. Richard (Eamon Farren) becomes caught up in a life of drugs and crime, leaving tragedy in his wake as his truck blares down the highway. In the series’ most powerful moment so far, scored by Badalamenti, Twin Peaks becomes united by tragedy: a young boy runs out across the road, as his mother holds back, crushed by Richard’s unsympathetic truck. Lynch slows the world down, everyday people standing in grief and shock, cradling each other in the senselessness. Carl embodies this grief, offering a shoulder for the mother as a yellow apparition rises to the sky. Through one awful action, a community comes together.

The child is a counterpoint to Carl: Carl, in his old age, stands on the shoulders of death, waiting for his time to bide. For the young to pass seems implausible. In the Double R, we sense the light and passion of Twin Peaks: barmaid Heidi (Andrea Hays) speaks to teacher Miriam (Sarah Jean Long) as she enjoys her second piece of cherry pie, an unending laugh and happiness. Twin Peaks isn’t prepared for another Laura Palmer; Twin Peaks has life. Lynch subverts Doris’ (Candy Clark) comic relief from the previous episode about her car not being fixed, becoming a joke to Chad (John Pirruccello) and the rest of the Sherriff’s Department; a co-worker has to remind us of the realities of life, as her son committed suicide. Hysteria is justified.

Lynch litters the episode with his signature smattering of classical film references. Albert (Miguel Ferrer) parks his car in the rain in his yellow coat, speaking to Cole (David Lynch) on the phone, yelling “fuck Gene Kelly”; Albert can’t sing in this rain. Albert enters Max Von’s bar in Philadelphia, counterpoint to the Bang Bang, a la Max von Sydow. Later, reference is made to The King and I (1956). Lynch is interested in building mythology and mystery: Diane (Laura Dern), no longer the disembodied voice for Cooper to speak to in his FBI tapes, is given a face, in her silver bob of hair and cigarette. Lynch might be spoiling his own ambiguity, but adds a welcome connection to the original series. As Ike “The Spike” Stadtler (Christophe Zajac-Denek) stabs photographs of Lorraine (Tammie Baird) and Dougie and wanders down a corridor, leaving a bloodbath in his wake, Lynch switches genres, reminding us of the joy of the botched assassinations of Mulholland Drive (2001). But Lynch also continues Hawk (Michael Horse)’s investigation into his own Nez Perce heritage, finding the reappropriated face of his tribe as a symbol to a manufacturing company, as problematic as the Native American mascots of sports teams and colleges. Hawk uses a wrench to force open the back of a door, a set of notes contained within. The mystery deepens.

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