Thursday, 22 June 2017

Twin Peaks The Return: Part 7

I've finally cracked open my bag of David Lynch coffee to get me through the early Monday morning viewings of Twin Peaks. I have a lot of admiration for you UK Peakies who stay up until 2am to watch but my work schedule simply won't allow it. I highly recommend Lynch's coffee - it feels like a much needed inner hug and is both rich and smooth. Aside from my coffee, Part 7 gave rather a lot of fuel and the plot is certainly heating up rapidly (with the exception of a hypnotic floor sweeping to Green Onions sequence).

Part 7 opened in the luscious green woods where Jerry Horne, who looks like a quintessential hipster one would see drinking craft beer in East London, is having a drug fuelled freak out and calls his brother Ben in a state of panic. Just like Agent Cooper, he doesn't know where he is or what he is.

Elsewhere in Twin Peaks, Hawk shows Sherriff Truman three of the four missing pages to Laura Palmer's diary which explicitly state that the Good Cooper is trapped in The Lodge and can't escape. This prompts the Sherriff to Skype Doctor Hayward to ask for his memories of the last time he saw Agent Cooper. This was a really touching scene with the late Warren Frost who I hope is now somewhere fishing for trout in a beautiful location and eating lovely breakfasts (read my tribute to him here). I also have a lot of appreciation for the Sherriff's incredible wooden, pop-up computer monitor and one fingered dad typing. Doc Hayward reveals that he believes Agent Cooper visited a comatose Audrey Horne in intensive care before he disappeared. We know this was in fact Cooper's Evil Doppelganger and the implications here have lead some fans to consider the origins of the maniac Richard Horne. It is a truly sickening thought that Richard Horne could be the son of Audrey and Evil Cooper following a rape.

Sherriff Truman also continues to check in on his sick brother Harry over the phone, which he has done I think in every episode so far. We've been told that Michael Ontkean who played Harry is in retirement somewhere in Hawaii but the constant reference to his character, which could have been left alone, is leading me to wonder if we will see Harry at some point in The Return. Lynch is adored by the actors who work with him and I highly doubt he wouldn't be able to get someone to put their retirement on hold for a month...

Deputy Andy Brennan is investigating the tragic hit and run of Part 6 and has located the vehicle Richard Horne was driving. He politely and meekly interrogates a Farmer who begs him to meet elsewhere. The meeting spot: the infamous Sparkwood & 21. But he, unsurprisingly, doesn't show up. Who is The Farmer and why was he so spooked? And how does Andy afford a Rolex watch? Perhaps living in a small town means one doesn't burn their wages on exorbitant rent and avocado toast brunches.

Speaking of Rolex, we need to talk about product placement. There has been a noticeable amount of brand logos flashing up in The Return and I've found it puzzling due to Lynch's stance on product placement as "total bullshit":

We've seen Apple, Ford, Blackberry, Mercedes Benz, Skype and I'm sure more. One eagle eyed viewer noticed that some of the brand logos being used were dated and not reflective of the year the scenes are set in which could be a clue to timelines. But maybe the branding is simply funding this lavish Return to Twin Peaks.

At The Great Northern Hotel Ben Horne and his assistant Beverly flirtatiously attempt to find the source of a pretty little humming sound that has appeared in the last week. She also gives Agent Cooper's returned Room 315 key to Ben which he ponders over and pockets. I sure hope Ben will do the sensible thing and report this to the Sherriff's station but Ben hasn't ever been on the right side of the law himself. The humming noise marks a shift in the energy around Twin Peaks provoked by Agent Cooper's release from The Black Lodge - hopefully it will call him back there eventually.

Agent Cooper (it's not fucking Dougie - thank you Benjamin Louche of The Double R Club for promoting this) is interrogated by some lousy looking Cops at the Lucky 7 offices and thankfully Janey-E comes to his rescue. This lady is super woman - she gets shit done and she stands by her man. So much so, that when the vicious little hitman Ike The Spike storms Cooper with a gun she immediately jumps on his back and starts strangling him. Go Janey-E! Muscle memory serves Cooper well and he superbly knocks Spike back and disarms him (with some cheerleading from The Extension of The Arm who hilariously appears out of the ground screeching "squeeze off his hand"). This was a really exciting scene - Coop has still got it!

In Buckhorn, South Dakota, Lt. Knox visits the body of who we now presume has to be Major Briggs. But there is something very odd going on. The headless corpse has his finger prints but is not the correct age from the time Briggs died in the fire and the time of death which is recorded as 5-6 days prior. The biggest indication that this reeks of 'the blue rose' is the malevolent appearance of the blackened figure who we've seen once before floating away in the prison cell. He stalks the corridor by the body and is a most ominous presence.

In Philadelphia we are treated to another dynamite scene between Gordon Cole and Albert Rosenfield who have the best chemistry and lines. Together they visit Diane whose elegant style does not match her balshy personality. But just as I was beginning to think Diane makes Albert appear incredibly charming, it becomes apparent that there is just reason for Diane's 'fuck you, and fuck the world' attitude. When she visits Evil Cooper in prison their meeting is filled with emotional turmoil on her behalf. It transpires that after escaping The Black Lodge, Cooper's Evil Doppelganger visited Diane at home and we can only imagine the nightmarish evening that followed. The memories of that night have clearly left a hate filled void in Diane and she knows that something cannot possibly be right with 'Cooper'. It sickens me to think that it may be possible Evil Cooper has sexually assaulted both Audrey Horne and Diane but then, BOB is still with him and that is exactly what the premise of Twin Peaks has always been about. It was horrifying then with Laura and Leland and it's horrifying now with Diane and Cooper's Doppelganger. Laura Dern is extraordinary in this heart breaking scene. As she asks Evil Coop "who are you" it reminded me immediately of the scene in Fire Walk With Me when Laura asks BOB the same question, finally discovering the truth.

In a troubling finale, Evil Cooper manipulates Warden Murphy into allowing him to escape prison with his associate Ray. Please allow me a moment to gloat - I just knew that Mr Strawberry was a threat towards Warden Murphy and it isn't often I work anything out on my own! I hate to think about the three dog legs travelling in the post to whoever the recipients are. What's worse is the thought that Evil Cooper is free to reak havoc in the world. Could he be travelling to Buenos Aires, the last known location of Agent Jeffries? Or maybe he knows exactly where Agent Cooper is and is heading to Vegas for a showdown...

Lynch has left us with a lot to think about as the credits roll over The Double R Diner. Did anyone notice the sudden change in diner customers when the man looking for Bing burst in? I was too busy debating the meaning of 'dramatic irony' with an academic friend who is visiting as well as if Twin Peaks: The Return is the first programme to leave so many clues in its credits. But it's worth going back to see the sneaky little trick at the end. Until next week, hang loose Howies!

Friday, 16 June 2017

Laura In London

Every day on my way home from work I change lines at Waterloo station and walk along the platform for the Southbound Northern line to see this glorious sight. I still can't believe that Twin Peaks is back and everywhere!

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Chrysta Bell at The Borderline

Usually on a Sunday evening you can find me on my blue velvet sofa watching a film with one last glass of wine before the weekend is over but last Sunday I did something exceptionally more interesting. I had the great pleasure of seeing Lynch protogée and muse Chrysta Bell perform her music at The Borderline near Tottenham Court Road in London as part of her We Dissolve tour.

As soon as I saw the statuesque beauty singing dreamily and swaying up on stage I understood David Lynch's description of Chrysta Bell as "the most beautiful alien ever." She is absolutely stunning in an other worldly way and has an incredibly captivating presence. Her music, described as "dream pop" is moody and sensual and Chrysta Bell's vocal arrange is seriously impressive. I particularly loved the creative lighting used during the set which really set the tone and made the venue feel very 'Roadhouse'. It's a shame that Chrysta Bell will presumably never be a Roadhouse singer in Twin Peaks The Return due to the fact that she is playing the role of Special Agent Tammy Preston, unless Tammy is revealed to have a side talent!

The Borderline is an intimate venue with a 300 person capacity, which meant there was fabulous interaction with the band and the opportunity to meet Chrysta Bell afterwards. We lined up patiently for the chance to say hello and as we waited one of her band mates chatted to us about his experiences touring. They all hail from Texas and are travelling across Europe to promote Chrysta Bell's new album We Dissolve which was released on the 9th of June.

Chrysta Bell: beautiful alien. Me: excited dwarf.
Meeting Chrysta Bell was a truly wonderful experience. She exudes positivity and took so much time to chat and take photos. It's made me very excited to see more of her in Twin Peaks The Return and I must admit I am truly a real fan of hers now and hope her involvement in Twin Peaks leads to great success with her music. If you're a Twin Peaks fan based in Italy, Belgium or Germany I really recommend that you go to see her. Tickets and tour info can be found on her official website.

Chrysta Bell signed this amazing photo of her with David Lynch for me.
My friends and I travelled home absolutely thrilled by our experience seeing and meeting Chrysta Bell. Hopefully there will be many more new Twin Peaks alumni to meet in the future. Thank you to my gorgeous friend Laura for organising the night and to Will who took the photos!

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Twin Peaks The Return: Part 6

We have now seen exactly one third of Twin Peaks The Return and it's been utterly wonderful and strange so far. I am delighted that it's being drip fed to us week to week. Can you imagine if all 18 parts had been uploaded to a streaming service and we all binge watched it? This is definitely a show which needs time to percolate, to be re-watched and endlessly discussed. It's fascinating how many different takes on the same scenes people have, the details that mean a lot to one person but can be overlooked by someone else and the myriad of clues the sharp minded are honing in on.

We follow Coop/Dougie for the first 20 minutes of Part 6 as he ever so slowly bumbles through the life of Dougie Jones with the much needed assistance of everyone around him. Still nobody questions his odd behaviour. I have to admit I am a big fan of the Coop/Dougie story line. Many fans are getting frustrated by the slow pace and lack of Special Agent Cooper as we know him but I find Coop/Dougie so adorable and hilarious. The slow pacing ensures that every time we get a glimmer of the real Cooper peeking through the lime green suit I feel completely elated. It just wouldn't be the same if a few parts in he simply snapped out of it and imagine the pay off that will come if he does.

It also makes me wonder if there is more at play here then meets the eye. The One Armed Man contacts Dougie from The Black Lodge and urges him to "wake up". Could it be that Cooper is in a coma and the experiences he is having as Dougie will provide him with the clues and tools needed when he awakes to track down and defeat his evil Doppelganger? Ever so subtly signs that he is finding himself emerge. He ends Part 6 dressed flawlessly in his classic black suit and the guiding lights and symbols he is able to see are pointing him in the direction he needs to go in. Rather than get fired by his boss for scribbling ladders, stairs and circles all over the insurance claims he was asked to investigate, he has made sense of it all and I presume his colleague has been rumbled for foul play.

I'm unsure how anyone can complain about the pacing of The Return when in the following scene one of the most significant reveals of Twin Peaks is gifted to us when Albert heads to a bar in the pouring rain ("fuck Gene Kelly you motherfucker" has to be my favourite line yet) to find, who other, than DIANE herself! As he approaches a glamorous and mysterious figure at the bar, martini glass in one hand, cigarette in the other, she turns and we finally find out that the utterly brilliant and long time Lynch muse Laura Dern is playing this pivotal role. The faceless tape recipient is faceless no more and wow is she not at all what I expected. I'm really feeling her platinum blonde hair, multi-coloured manicure and Cleopatra eyeliner - she definitely isn't a typical FBI administrative employee, even judging by the cocktail bar she drinks at where I cannot imagine Gordon Cole would frequent for a glass of Bordeaux. I am so excited to see more or her and learn who the lady on the other side of the tape recorder is.

The following scene has to be one of my absolute favourites so far. We meet Red played by the divine Balthazar Getty. He sure is a guy that makes you wish you spoke a little HellooOoooOooo! The dweeby Richard Horne discusses drug dealing for Red in Twin Peaks and Red certainly puts him in his place with a concoction of intimidation, charm, karate moves and magic tricks. The coin trick he performs is utterly eerie and reminded me of Mrs Tremond's magician in training grandson who can vanish creamed corn. It's an impressive trick but threateningly inauspicious. "I will saw your head off and eat your brains" Red warns Richard but it's the fact that he called him a kid that causes Richard to throw a snivelling tantrum.

Just when I thought that Richard is actually a lot more pathetic and a lot less dangerous than The Roadhouse scene in Part 5 suggested, he commits an atrocity so horrific it's still playing over continuously in my mind. In the most heart wrenching and traumatic scene of The Return so far, Richard ploughs down a small boy who had been innocently playing with his mother before crossing the road. His lifeless, bloodied body is scooped up into his shocked mother's arms and Richard speeds off without a second thought. There are plenty of witnesses to the scene, specifically a school teacher with a penchant for pie who locks eyes with him as he speeds passed. Hopefully Richard will receive his comeuppance in an appropriately miserable way.

This scene holds so much more weight than tragic melodrama. The crossing where it takes place is the same crossing where in Fire Walk With Me, Leland and Laura Palmer were confronted in by The One Armed Man. We also see the same electricity pylon shown in the prequel film and many of the shots include the presence of pylons and electric wires. Electricity has been a strong, recurring motif in the Twin Peaks series since the beginning and arguably provides a pathway into The Black Lodge and other dimensions. Cooper did arrive in Rancho Rosa through the electric socket and when Phillip Jeffries visited the FBI HQ in Fire Walk With Me his dialogue was interrupted heavily by electrical static.

The tragic hit and run is witnessed by Carl Rodd, owner of The New Fat Trout Trailer Park - many have been confused by the location move from Deer Meadow to Twin Peaks but the sign suggests a relocation. Carl, played by the tremendous Harry Dean Stanton, was the last man to have seen Agent Desmond alive before he disappeared in Fire Walk With Me. He's a man who has seen things, "I've already gone places, I just want to stay where I am." he tells the FBI Agents who visited him 25 years previously. Now, Carl rides into town every day to enjoy a coffee and a smoke and get out of the dingy trailer park. When he sees the horrific accident on the crossing, he witnesses the boy's soul float upwards into the atmosphere and unlike all of the bystanders, is urged to be with the grieving mother, staring deeply into her eyes during her distress. This scene has left my brain in meltdown - the heightened emotion, terrible acting from the extras, mythical reference to Fire Walk With Me and Carl's role in this horrible disaster leaves a lot to ponder...

Lynch and Frost are really taking advantage of having no censorship constraints this time around. The hit and run is gruesome but it gets worse when a hitman known as Ike 'The Spike' storms into an office in broad daylight and stabs to death the woman who was attempting to arrange a hit on Dougie Jones. The juxtaposition of a mundane office, hip hop beats playing on the soundtrack and the bloodthirsty ice pick murder is truly disturbing. Next on The Spike's hit list is Dougie Jones so I really hope Cooper listens to The One Armed Man and wakes up before it's too late.

Part 6 ends with another magic coin trick, leading Hawk to discover what I can only assume are the missing pages of Laura Palmer's secret diary. If Laura did what Annie told her to do in her dream and wrote down that "the good Dale is in The Lodge and he can't leave" then maybe Hawk is the man who will find him. I feel that we have been left hovering on a gigantic precipice and events are about to turn really insane. Janey-E was right when she said "this is a dark, dark age we're living in". 

Monday, 12 June 2017

Twin Peaks The Return: Part 5

I had a terrible dilemma regarding Part 5: do I take my laptop on holiday with me to Italy and hope the Wi-Fi in rural Sardinia will be good enough to view it while I'm away or do I wait until I return to the UK and watch it days later than everyone else? Ultimately I decided to leave life behind in London and wait it out and I really appreciated the social media ban that came with this. When I finally got home to London it was 1am and the sensible side of me knowing I had work the following morning said 'go to bed' but of course I stayed up and watched it!

I'm still experiencing sublime chills when the opening titles roll and even though we are now almost a third of the way into The Return it feels very much that we are only at the tip of the iceberg with an enormous amount of unravelling to take place.

Opening over a sprawling night skyline, I cannot get enough of the lavish aerial shots of Vegas and the other incredible new destinations in the show. I hate to admit it but I don't feel too sad that Twin Peaks the town isn't as big a feature this time around. It's so exciting that the world has expanded in such a dynamic way.

Mr C + BOB = no sleep.

The scene from Part 5 which has stuck in my mind the most is when we visit Mr C (this name is the most heavily adopted by fans to reference Cooper's evil doppelganger) in his prison cell. Mr C is absolutely terrifying. Talk about black as midnight on a moonless night - those soulless eyes with the deep, penetrating stare are so creepy and these powers he has to manipulate the environment, know what people are thinking and still see BOB in his reflection has been playing on my mind in the most troublesome way. Last night I imagined him standing in the darkness of my hallway as I rounded the corner to visit the bathroom - he gives me the absolute creeps. Back when I watched Twin Peaks for the first time I was terrified by BOB but having spent years obsessing over Twin Peaks, BOB almost lost his terrifying appeal (I even have an action figure of the evil dude). Seeing BOB in his newest form has totally reminded me of how viciously evil and scary he is. When Mr C goes to make his phone call and does everything he can to intimidate and terrorise the prison wardens and guards he references a Mr Strawberry. This particularly shocks Warden Murphy and I believe means something personal to him that nobody, especially Mr C, could know about. I remember how eerily upsetting it was when Leland under BOB's possession in the original series mentions Pittsburgh to Cooper - Cooper witnessed his wife's murder in Pittsburgh and there's no way Leland could know this but BOB is everywhere and seriously spooky. We have to commend Kyle Maclachlan for his tremendous performance. In comparison to Agent Cooper as a dumb 'Dougie' it's easy to forget this is the same actor.

Speaking of dumb Dougie - why does absolutely nobody think that something is seriously up with him? Which leads me to question whether this truly is reality (albeit in a Twin Peaks realistic sense)... I also find it bemusing that everyone who encounters him constantly uses his name - they repeat his name nearly every time they speak to him which is completely unnatural. It's beginning to feel utterly uncanny to spend so much time in the mundane shoes of an insurance salesman. And there is definitely something of the blue rose about his son, Sonny Jim. Cooper shed a tear staring at him and I am absolutely 100% certain that the boy blinked backwards. And if I'm right about that please allow me some gloating time because I'm not usually one to spot the subtle clues. There's absolutely more happening here than meets the eye. And how did Dougie's wedding ring end up inside the John Doe corpse in South Dakota? I remember Dougie wore the Owl Cave ring so they must have been switched some how. I have a feeling this has something to do with Mr C.

Dougie loves covfefe.
I'm glad that coffee continues to be the elixir of choice but our special agent will need more than caffeine to return to us. I saw him eyeing up a donut in the boardroom scene and wondered if the heavenly trinity of coffee, donuts and cherry pie could do the trick. I am patiently waiting and hoping that Cooper will return to us in full force eventually. But I'm now concerned that all those years in The Black Lodge has literally turned Cooper insane with no going back.

There are now a great deal of locations, characters and threads weaving, presumably at the same time but it's hard to be sure. The scrappy wee kid with the drug addict mother at Rancho Rosa nearly gets blown up by the bomb attached to Dougie's car. Returning to him and his mother has proven for me that no scene we see is insignificant for a 'Lynchian' effect alone - everything will lead somewhere. We also see Jade again who finds Cooper's key to The Great Northern Hotel. The keyring is adorned with the immortal words 'A Clean Place Reasonably Priced' and some fans are outraged that the quote Cooper uses can't possibly be the tagline for the hotel but come on... you desperately seek reference to the old but then go up in arms if a little tribute doesn't entirely make sense. I buy it as pure frivolous homage.

We do get a healthy dose of nostalgia with a visit to the Double R Diner where history is repeating itself. Shelly's daughter Becky visits the diner where Shelly, Norma, Heidi and Toad (played by Marv Rosand who died shortly after filming) all still work. Becky, played by Amanda Seyfried, is a Lynchian beauty - angelic looking with a troubled dark side. She's dating a loser drug addict and asking her mother to bail her out with some cash. As the young couple sit in the car and take coke it reminded me of the first time we see Bobby and Shelly get it on in the same car park in the Pilot episode. They had the most electric chemistry and so do these two but their predicament doesn't seem as innocent. We receive a perfectly Lynch moment as Becky knocks her head back in a blissful high and the romantic song I Love How You Love Me plays on the car radio. The mysteries we are left with from this scene - who is Becky's father and what is a charbroiled burger?

Becky and Steven Burnett. The new Shelly and Bobby?
Finally we find out what Dr Jacoby has been intending with his spray painted gold shovels. Dr Amps as he now goes by is preaching his frustration with the state of the world in an online broadcast complete with wacky props and sound effects. But despite his arguably accurate world view the real motivation behind his broadcast is a money making scam. His spray painted gold shit shovelers aren't so reasonably priced. I loved seeing Nadine blissfully watching with a serene smile of agreement across her face and I'm sure that was a protein shake she was drinking.

Dr Amps and the golden shit shoveller.

This week Trouble play at The Roadhouse with David Lynch's son Riley on guitar and Lynch's sound man Dean Hurley on drums. A total prick smokes nonchalantly next to a no smoking sign and bribes a heck of a lot of money to an off duty cop to allow him to continue. The code of The Bookhouse Boys must have diminished over the years as this cop does not have the same moral fibre the good old boys did. We're treated to yet another scene of brutal violence towards a woman when this prick assaults a young girl in a Frank Booth of Blue Velvet maniac way. He's a nasty piece of work. I was perplexed by the non-reaction of her friends who just watch blankly. Which makes me hope in the next scene with Agent Tammy Preston studying Cooper's finger prints that Tammy will come through as a bad ass female hero that I feel the show lacks the majority of the time. She discovers that Mr C and Agent Cooper's fingerprints are identical but reversed.

Just when you thought there weren't enough violent molesters in this town...

I will end with a public service announcement: study the closing credits as they often have some interesting pieces of information. The total prick in the Roadhouse's surname is Richard Horne. Could this mean he's Audrey's son? And Sheryl Lee was credited as Laura Palmer but I do not remember seeing her in this part at all. Is her credit included merely because her image appears in the opening titles? Or is Laura lurking in disguise? My brain is turning to mush trying to decipher all of this but it's proving to be one hell of a ride along the way.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Twin Peaks The Return: Parts 3 and 4

Having gone to bed at around 4:30am on Monday morning after Parts 1 & 2 aired, I awoke feeling like it could have all been a bizarre dream and my head was filled with that place both strange and familiar. It was a beautifully hot day here in London and my sister and I sat in the sunshine drinking coffee and discussing what we had experienced hours before. We agreed it needed time to percolate and a re-watch could be beneficial but I was already desperate to see more. Despite the glorious sunshine we soon retired to the dark TV room to watch Parts 3 & 4. After such a trippy beginning I was desperate to see where the next parts would take us and couldn't bare to wait longer.

The first 20 minutes of Part 3 confirmed for me that David Lynch has successfully and absolutely brought art house experimental film to mainstream TV. The opening purple universe scenes are artistic, mesmerising and disturbing. The energy in this purple place is completely different to The Black Lodge, heightened by the jumpy editing making this unknown world unsettling compared to the chevron floored, red curtained lodge which we now feel some comfort being in. Twin Peaks is going to be, once again, groundbreaking. The vast purple ocean stretching into the darkness beyond was so beautiful yet ominous and I loved being able to sit and observe the oddness. It's refreshing to feel as though you are experiencing something rather than mindlessly binge watching the usual plot driven material common on Netflix and the like today.

Questions in a world of purple...
I found the opening scenes revealed a lot about who Cooper is after spending more than 2 decades pacing around The Black Lodge. He appears comfortable as a mute observer and unafraid to approach the strange other-wordly beings he comes across such as the blind woman who omits a raspy barking noise to communicate with him.

Cooper still has a trusting instinct and need to help others. He willingly follows the blind woman out of the purple room and on to a rooftop. By pulling a lever the eyeless woman falls into the galaxy of stars that surrounds them and I remembered a scene from Fire Walk With Me: Donna asks Laura what she thinks would happen if you were to fall in space and Laura replies that you would fall "Faster and faster. And for a long time you wouldn't feel anything. And then you'd burst into flame. Forever... and the angels wouldn't help you. Because they've all gone away." Cooper looks out into the stars and I wonder if he is considering jumping himself, ending his torment trapped so far from home. As he contemplates his next move the giant, shadowy face of Major Briggs floats by sideways (much like a scene in Eraserhead) and says 'BLUE ROSE'. A sad reminder that Don Davis who played The Major is no longer with us but his character's role could still serve some importance in the new series. It seems these words are what Cooper needed to hear to remind himself of a potential mission greater than himself but one he has become somewhat responsible for.

"Burst into flame."
Back inside the purple room a different woman sits by the fire waiting for Cooper. If you think she looks familiar you'd be right - the 'American Woman' is Phoebe Augustine who played Ronette Pulaski in the original series. She tells Cooper "When you get there you will already be there". With that he faces some sort of industrial electricity panel on the wall which previously said '15' but now reads '3' and an electrical force allows him to move through it, leaving his shoes behind.

Kyle Maclachlan is in the next scene but he isn't Agent Cooper or Evil Doppelganger Coop (who many have begun referring to as Mr C but my personal preference is Doopy Coopy), he's an overweight man with poor taste in suits who lives in Las Vegas called Dougie and he is handing over a wad of cash to sex worker Jade. Lynch has always loved actors playing multiple rolls (see Mulholland Drive and Lost Highway for more examples) so you just learn to roll with it and watch where it leads. But finally something I understand happens - Dougie is wearing the green ring that Theresa Banks and then Laura wore before they died and his left arm has gone numb, just like Theresa's did. At the same time Evil Coop careers down the open road in South Dakota and crashes spectacularly into the hillside, Dougie throws up something nasty onto the floor and is forced into The Black Lodge. Evil Coop throws up a party above the convenience store's worth of Garmonbozia and passes out. It seems he has somehow used Dougie as a means of not returning to The Black Lodge himself.

A third version of Cooper??? "This is weird."
The real Agent Cooper passes through an electric socket on the wall where Dougie just disappeared from. The American Girl was right, he is already there, for he has taken Dougie's place and for some reason everyone who comes into contact with him assumes he suddenly got a slick hair cut, lost some weight and bought a tailored suit. Even Jade who only just left him to take a shower thinks he might have had a little stroke but doesn't think it could be someone else altogether. I get the impression this is a woman who has seen it all and more. Jade searches Cooper's pockets for his car keys but only finds his old room key for Room 315 at The Great Northern Hotel. In fact, Jade is the nicest, most caring prostitute in all of Nevada. Not only does she help Cooper get his shoes on, find his keys and give him a lift to The Silver Mustang Casino, she also gives him $5 to call for help. And help is something our Special Agent is in desperate need of. Having involuntarily taken Dougie's identity, he has taken Dougie's financial issues too - the sight of two hitmen trying to get a shot at Cooper thinking he is Dougie leads me to believe that Dougie has spent too much time at the Blackjack table and could owes someone a lot of money.

Jade has to give Dougie two rides.
The real Dougie is now in The Black Lodge, "This is weird" he remarks. Finally, a character on Twin Peaks says what we're all thinking! The One Armed Man tells him that he was manufactured to serve a purpose which has now been fulfilled. Since Evil Cooper is still on the loose, although passed out after his crash and soon to be locked up in a jail cell for carrying cocaine, an automatic weapon and a dog leg, this seems to be what Dougie was used for. How on earth Evil Coop pulled this off is yet to be seen. He is a seriously bad man with a lot of intelligence. The real Dougie's days are numbered and he ends them by exploding into a tiny, golden marble. The troublesome ring he was wearing is placed back on its podium in The Black Lodge.

Back in Vegas, as Cooper hilariously attempts to pass through a revolving door into the casino it becomes very clear that having spent 25 years trapped in The Black Lodge slowly and silently ageing without having to eat, sleep or go to the bathroom, (presumably he had the odd cup of coffee if he came across it) his transition into the real, modern world is going to take some rehabilitation. He's only able to repeat the words of others (worse than Waldo the Minor bird did) and soon finds himself holding a cup full of dimes and in slot machine heaven.

HellooooOoooOooo Mr Jackpots!
Returning to the town of Twin Peaks we are granted with some classic light relief in the form of a 'Donut Disturb' sign and some Andy and Lucy humour as they ponder over what could be missing in regards to Agent Cooper and the Laura Palmer case. Is it about the chocolate bunny Lucy ate? No. Hawk decides it is not about the bunny...

Now living out in the woods in a caravan, Dr Jacoby has replaced his Hawaiin fancies for more of a rustic, hillbilly aesthetic. This scene is literally watching paint dry as he has designed a complex contraption to spray paint some garden spades gold. Not that I was bored watching this - by the end of it I wanted to own a golden spade of my own.

At the Silver Mustang Casino Cooper finds himself in LUCK. Something or someone is somehow guiding him to the slot machines which will payout the big bucks with one pull of the lever. The black lodge appears in flame above the winning machine and with a call of "HelloooOoooOoooo!" Cooper makes a fortune. This has now become the only greeting in my household. 29 mega jackpots later and he has been nicknamed Mr Jackpots - the casino owners are not impressed. They send him 'home' in a limo with a bag full of thousands and thousands of dollars.

Dougie's wife played by fabulous Naomi Watts meets Agent Cooper when he arrives home. She too doesn't seem to notice that this isn't in fact Dougie and berates him for missing 'their' son Sunny Jim's birthday party. Upon noticing the bag full of money she changes her tune somewhat and Cooper just goes along with it... He continues to have visions of The Black Lodge as The One Armed Man seems able to communicate with him through the atmosphere and occasional signs of familiarity trigger something inside him - a hooting owl, a street named Sycamore. But how long will it take for Agent Cooper to gain back his memory? I yelled out "someone get the man a coffee!" and when the coffee finally gets served he spits it out in what I hope is a tremendously over the top expression of revival!

Please someone make a 'I am Dougie's coffee mug' and I will gladly pay you for it.
Away from Las Vegas the rest of Parts 3 & 4 take place in Philadelphia, where Gordon Cole and Albert Rosenfield still reside as members of the FBI. I have to pause to fan girl for a moment. I just adore David Lynch and Miguel Ferrer together and I love their characters. The humour is still very much present - Cole still shouts due to his hearing impairment and constantly mishears people. Albert is still mean old Albert. Although their banter is hilarious, it's tainted with the knowledge that Miguel is no longer with us. I absolutely relish every second these two are on screen together. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly Lynch had the following to say about working with Miguel:

"I fell in love with Albert on this trip through Twin Peaks, and I just loved working with Miguel. This relationship between my character, Gordon Cole, and Albert is so important to the story. Now knowing that he’s gone, I’m even more grateful we did this and it was captured on film. It’s just really sad he’s gone."

We are also introduced to Agent Tamara Preston played by long-time Lynch protogée Chrysta Bell.  Lynch has been collaborating with Chrysta Bell for 18 years now and seems hell bent on turning her into a household name. Their special relationship has lead to her casting in what could be a significant role in the new series and although she is beautiful with the real life moves of Jessica Rabbit, Chrysta Bell is not the most skilled or natural actress. I felt uncomfortable by the outrageous oggling from the male characters but ultimately concluded that since the male gaze and objectification of her is so overt, particularly on the directors part, it is probably meant to be subversive. I'm interested to see how her character develops and hope there are some brains to balance out the beauty. I've also got tickets to see her perform in London next month and will report back on her performance on stage in due course...

"The first time I saw her perform I thought she was an alien. The most beautiful alien ever." - Lynch on Chrysta Bell
Cole receives a phone call informing him that Cooper (although it is really his doppelganger) has been found and is locked up in a South Dakota jail cell. He and Albert make plans to visit first thing in the morning and in the meantime Cole visits the now head of the FBI, Denise Bryson. David Duchovny reprises his role as the transgender agent in a touching scene which also has an essence of filler about it. I could be wrong but I have a feeling there will be a few of these cameo scenes from beloved characters of 25 years ago mainly for the fans enjoyment and some closure. Lynch also gives himself a pat on the back by referencing the fact that Twin Peaks included a transgender character all those years ago as Cole remembers telling Denise's colleagues when she transitioned to "fix their hearts or die".

Speaking of  old characters, Bobby Briggs is back and handsome as ever. Surprisingly the bad boy has supposedly reformed and is working at the Sheriff's Station but hasn't lost that cocky swagger. The town of Twin Peaks still has a rampant drug problem and I have a sneaking suspicion that maybe Bobby might have something to do with it, despite the badge he now carries. I always loved Bobby's crying scenes and we're finally treated to the classic Laura Palmer Theme song which begins to play when Bobby sees Laura's high school prom photo laid out amongst the evidence from the case Hawk is re-examining. Bobby is overcome with emotion and sobs at the sight of his long dead high school girlfriend. Finally, a healthy dose of Twin Peaks melodrama!

Bobby Briggs: bad boy, hearth throb, drama queen.
This moment of emotional outburst is cut short by the arrival of who has to be my favourite new character. We meet Wally, the adult son of Andy and Lucy who was born on Marlon Brando's birthday. As soon as Michael Cera appeared on screen dressed as Brando in The Wild One, lisping about wanting to pay his respects to his Godfather (wonderful Robert Forster who is playing Sheriff FRANK Truman receives the respects on behalf of his brother Harry) I began ugly crying and was hysterical with laughter. This to me is absolute Twin Peaks comedy - completely bizarre and a little out of place but manically funny. I need more Wally.

Michael Cera as Wally in the most hilarious cameo to date.
Part 4 ends poignantly. Having visited Cooper in a chilling scene thanks to Kyle Maclachlan's terrifying portrayal of Evil Cooper, Cole and Albert step outside to discuss what in the hell is going on. The scene is bathed in blue, to convey the mystery surrounding them. Cole and Albert agree that something real fishy is going on but have no idea what. It's a blue rose case, a case shrouded in the supernatural and unexplained, "it doesn't get any bluer than this" Cole exclaims. There's one woman who may be able to tell exactly what is going on with 'Cooper' and Albert knows where she drinks... My bet is on us finally meeting Diane for the first time. Who do you think it could be?

Me neither Cole but that's OKAY.
I cannot get enough of the new episodes and although I shouldn't complain, a trip to the Italian island of Sardinia means I won't get to watch Part 5 until the end of next week! I'll have to go cold turkey on social media before I see it which is probably the best way to enjoy a holiday in the sun. This downloadable PDF of the 'donut disturb' sign Hawk sticks to the meeting room door in the Sheriff's Department should help...

One more thing - Lynch took Twin Peaks to Cannes last week and after the incredibly savage reception Fire Walk With Me had there 25 years ago I was truly moved, and clearly so was David, to see the audience give him a standing ovation after the screening of Parts 1 & 2. Trés bien Mr Lynch!

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Twin Peaks The Return: Parts 1 and 2

The morning after Parts 1 & 2 aired a close friend messaged me apprehensively asking for my verdict. I told her I was thrilled, ecstatic even, for The Return was everything I hoped it would be whilst being completely unimaginable. She said she was relieved as she wouldn't have known how to console me had I been disappointed... Needless to say after all the hype, the mystery has been kept alive and this journey is definitely going to be both wonderful and strange.

A policeman's dream. Settling in for a long night.

Because we had to stay up until 2am to watch in the UK we made quite an evening of it. My sister decorated her house with Twin Peaks collectables gathered over the years along with dominoes, playing cards, a chess board and some wooden owl candle holders. For dinner we cooked Doctor Jacoby's Hawaiian burgers from Lindsey Bowden's Twin Peaks recipe book 'Damn Fine Cherry Pie'. I love this book and having tried a few of the recipes can testify that they are simple to follow with delicious results. The burgers were exceptional and we followed it up with some cherry pie (which I'm still not too keen on, just like Kyle Maclachlan!).

Damn fine cherry pie!
We named these two owls 'Not' and 'Seem'
Waiting until 2am was far more of an endurance test than I was expecting it to be. I felt like a child  trying to stay awake for midnight on new year's eve when it seems impossibly late but you know it will be worth it. To while away the time we played cards, made some owl origami, did a Twin Peaks quiz and drank more coffee. At midnight my sister proclaimed "Right, I think I'm going to have to eat donuts or I might as well give up". I was starting to pace and felt as though I was deliriously wandering the halls of the black lodge for an eternity... but finally it happened again.

Someone give me a job at One Eyed Jacks.
The origami owls are not what they seem... nor do they look much like owls.
I didn't think I would cry but as soon as Laura appeared on screen and the titles rolled of course I did. Laura spoke the first words of The Return, "Hello Agent Cooper" and as the camera slowly panned towards Laura's homecoming queen portrait it seemed we were being presented with a reminder that although the world of Twin Peaks is expanding, the catalyst of all of this is still Laura Palmer. I hope her story will continue to be significant.

The opening titles are so lush and memorising. The stunning aerial shots of the woods and famous waterfall demonstrate where technological advances and budget have been significantly increased for The Return. How wrong I was to predict that they would keep the old titles. As much as I miss the bird, these titles represent new beginnings and are utterly perfect.

The Giant (or is he? I was amused to see Carel Struycken's characrer billed as ????? in the closing credits) delivers typically cryptic messages to Agent Cooper who is trapped in the Black Lodge in a scene heavy with Eraserhead vibes. "Remember 430 and Richard and Linda" Some numbers, some names, none of it made sense to me but Cooper responds "I understand". Is this a joke at our expense? The thing about all of Lynch's work for me, is that I don't have a problem with not understanding. I just enjoy the experience and I hate to over analyse. Life is mysterious and unpredictable and being presented with new secrets is a wonderful thing.

Carel Struycken returns as The Giant or ??????
After seeing some old faces tinkering around Twin Peaks, it was a shock to jump to a stunning shot of the New York City skyline. New York's inclusion in the Twin Peaks universe is unexpected but provides a great excuse for me to visit one day (Twin Peaks tour of New York anyone?!). Inside a sky scraper a student looking to make some cash stares at a glass box having been given the arduous task from an unknown billionaire of watching it endlessly in case something appears. Much like us, as an audience, gazing at our own TVs in avid anticipation. The pace of this scene is slow, silent and all the more intriguing for it.

What follows is our long awaited introduction to Cooper's evil Doppelganger and boy is he bad. His beady black eyes are soulless and there isn't a speck of Cooper's optimistic demeanour to be found here. He is violent and vicious, taking out a backwoods log cabin guard in a few swift moves. Are we witnessing the combination of Cooper's FBI training with the evil of BOB equating to a man with an unprecedented brutality? He reminds me of Frank Booth in Blue Velvet - unpredictable and deathly dangerous.

Terrible tan and terrible hair. This is not our Special Agent.
Returning to New York and the mysterious glass box, the young man is joined by a hot date who sneaks in with him as the security guard is inexplicably nowhere to be found. Quicker than a right swipe, they get naked and get it on but as they do the glass box turns to black and a subhuman creature appears, smashing the glass between them to smithereens and slashing the couple into a bloody mess (this is exactly how I fear my Tinder dates could end). The creature looks alien and definitely something which Major Briggs' Project Blue Book may know a thing about.

We jump from New York to, of all places, South Dakota where a funny woman with a small dog named Armstrong calls the police in a fluster of panic having discovered a terrible smell emanating from her neighbour Ruth Davenport's apartment. In a scene very reminiscent of Mulholland Drive the horrifying corpse is revealed: Ruth's decaying head is there, her eye blown out, but her body is missing and has been replaced by the bloated corpse of an unknown John Doe. Finger prints lead to High School Principal Bill Hastings who claims total innocence (although he has dreamt about being in Ruth's apartment) but detectives find a bloody piece of flesh in the boot of his car... Has he been framed? Is he possessed? Or just an average homicidal maniac?

The next scene caused me to audibly gasp and breakdown with emotion upon realising who we were looking at, at once so familiar yet shockingly different. I thought we would see our beloved Log Lady in The Return and knowing that she sadly passed away from cancer in 2015 wasn't sure how, but there she was with little hair, a weakened body and oxygen tubes to assist her breathing. She looked weak and in pain so this must have been filmed in the last weeks of her life. It made the message the Log Lady delivers to Hawk even more poignant "something is missing" in relation to Cooper and the Laura Palmer case and Hawk must use his heritage to find it. "Goodnight Margaret" Hawk says. Catherine Coulson, a life long Lynch collaborator who always had so much time for the fans of Twin Peaks, will always be missed.

Goodnight Margaret
Back to South Dakota where Bill Hastings sits in a jail cell anguishing over his fate. After a visit from his wife who wishes him to rot in hell, the camera pans to another jail cell where a shadowy figure stares out and then disappears into the atmosphere. Inexplicable and unsettling - I loved it! Bill's wife soon becomes the next victim of Evil Coop who shoots her right in the eye... an injury similar to Ruth Davenport's. Is he the man behind the murder?

Next Las Vegas, Nevada and finally a little Badalamenti jazz shuffling plays to set the mood. The brilliant Patrick Fischler of Mulholland Drive tells a colleague to let a girl know "she's got the job". His colleague asks him "why do you let him make you do these things?" and he responds by saying "You better hope you never get involved with someone like him." Are they speaking of the billionaire funding the glass box portal in New York? Could it be evil doppelganger Cooper? Or someone yet to be revealed? Many different threads of plot, places, times and characters are being established.

Meanwhile (yes, that was on purpose) Hawk takes a stroll in the woods at night, searching for what's missing. I've always adored Hawk and it seems he's running the show at the Twin Peaks Sheriff Department these days although is still only a Deputy. The woods feel familiar and comforting despite the evil we know lurks there and upon finding the circle of sycamore trees, the red curtains of the Black Lodge come forward transporting us to the red room. What follows is pure Twin Peaks nostalgia - The One Armed Man asks Cooper if it is future or is it past? Laura Palmer shows up again and is both creepy and mystifying. She tells Coop he can "go out now", whispers a secret into his ear, delivers a classic Laura shriek of agony and then shoots off above.

Keeping to her word, Laura Palmer is seeing us again 25 years later (more or less)
Some of the visual effects have a distinctly old school student film feel about them which I find adds to the absurd unsettling mood of it all yet technological advancements have allowed for the Black Lodge to turn into a never ending sprawling universe. This combination of 'DIY' with seamless CGI is perfectly demonstrated in new breakout star The Evolution of The Arm. It seems since dancing Little Man From Another Place actor Michael J Anderson is not returning (he supposedly demanded more money to appear and then said some vile things about Lynch on Facebook) the joke's on him as his replacement is a sycomore tree with a fleshy, bubblegum like mass for a 'face'. It looks as though the head was moulded by the hands of Lynch himself, harking back to the baby in Eraserhead. Whilst The One Armed Man seems to be acting as a somewhat helpful tour guide of The Black Lodge to Cooper, The Evolution of The Arm holds some dubious wisdom - he tells Cooper that he can only leave The Black Lodge when his doppelganger returns to it. Not such good news.

"When you see me again it won't be me" Never has something uttered in The Black Lodge been so logical.
Evil Cooper knows he is meant to return to The Black Lodge but has no intention of doing so. Instead he is seeking something marked on a playing card that looks like a creepy fat owl (that's the best I can offer). In true vicious, animalistic BOB form he violently punches a lingerie clad girl who had been hired to kill him and then blows her brains out. "BOB was always a puncher" Miss Rose Thorne of The Double R Club reminded me, alluding to the fate of poor Maddie... Without a second thought towards his victim Evil Coop then makes a phone call to who he thinks is Phillip Jeffries (the missing agent played by David Bowie in Fire Walk With Me). But is it Jeffries? It doesn't sound like him and Evil Cooper isn't so sure himself, "You're going back in tomorrow, and I will be with BOB again" the mystery man on the phone tells him.

Owl cave symbol gone horribly wrong?
Evil Cooper also appears to kill a man by massaging his cheeks... did he make him swallow his own tongue and choke to death? I laughed at this scene and passed it off as general weirdness but my friend watching with me came up with that conclusion... Grim.

Death by pinched cheeks. A horrible way to go.
Back to the Good Cooper trapped in the Black Lodge, The Arm says "253, time and time again" and then repeats "BOB" three times. On exit Cooper meets Leland's doppelganger who solemnly asks him to "find Laura" before The Arm's evil doppelganger attacks him screeching "non-exis-tent". The Black Lodge is shaken up and Coop drops into a pool of darkness landing smack down in where else but the glass box in New York. Is this a man made portal to The Black Lodge? 

The first two parts soon come to an end in where else but Twin Peaks. Sarah Palmer is a shell of a woman, chain-smoking and drinking in the same house where her husband sexually abused her daughter and murdered her niece. Her TV screen is absurdly enormous and she watches lions graphically maul a buffalo... After what she endured 25 years ago I'm not that surprised by her miserable existence. Cutting to The Roadhouse, Julee Cruise has been replaced by The Chromatics performing 'Shadows' which I actually found perfectly fitting. There are familiar faces: Shelly Johnson is still a babe and speaks about her daughter Becky. She spots James Hurley in the crowd and explains that he has been in a motorcycle accident but he's "always been cool" - take that James haters! Balthazar Getty flirts with Shelly from the bar (he's a man I'd like to get to know) and weirdly the actor who played Jaques Renault is serving drinks... but Leland killed him??? The credits roll and reveal him to be yet another Renault brother called Jean-Michel. Hilarious.

Girls Big Night Out at The Roadhouse - wait, is that Vanessa from Gossip Girl?!
What a wild ride and I loved every moment of it. After so much anticipation it would have broken my heart if I didn't like it but I always trusted in Lynch and Frost and doubted this could possibly be the case. I wonder if Twin Peaks purists unfamiliar with Lynch's oeuvre won't be so keen on the direction events are taking? One thing I did miss was Angelo Badalamenti's original score to lighten the mood and jazz things up. Instead we had mainly eery silence with industrial hums and buzzes - a new mood which I can get behind. But I really enjoyed the insane song American Woman (by Muddy Magnolias) David Lynch remix.

In reflection, the viewing party we had was a perfect send off to the old Twin Peaks. There's no longer any cherry pie and coffee drinking frivolity and I'm OK with that. The old Twin Peaks is a show which we have quoted, discussed and watched to death. I'm thrilled to have more to indulge in and to go to places we never dreamed of before. It's going to be a hell of a Summer!