Agent Cooper gets a new spirit guide; Audrey officially in over her head…
Serving as the close of season one and the beginning of what would prove to be the last of the original seasons, this pair of episodes sees many storylines come to a head with creators, David Lynch and Mark Frost, manning the camera and script duties.
Still undercover at the brothel/casino across the Canadian border, Agent Cooper targets blackjack dealer Jacques Reneau as the main suspect in the murder of Laura Palmer. In between counting cards, Cooper has a drink alone with Reneau where he pretends to be the Bank financing Leo Johnson’s drug enterprise. With Jacques being involved in the trade further down the pecking order, he is enticed to take Cooper’s offer to cut Leo out to deal directly with the Bank. He takes a job that night- just over the border, back in the states.
Their encounter is not over before Cooper manages to get Jacques to spill about what happened the night in his cabin with Laura, Ronette and Leo. In vulgar, slimy detail Jacques gleefully talks about the BDSM sessions that Laura and Ronette were involved in and the bird that pecked at Laura while she was bound and abused. The slowed down and extreme close-up of Jacques mouth as he repeats what they told Laura as they forced a poker chip in her mouth to muffle her screams, “Bite the bullet, baby. Bite the bullet” is unequivocally sickening.
Being dumb, Jacques gets caught in short order but not before getting the drop on Sheriff Truman. Deputy Andy saves the day with an unexpected quick draw that sends Jacques to the hospital. Whereupon hearing that the police may have arrested someone for the murder of his daughter, Leland Palmer unexpectedly murders Jacques in his hospital bed, smothering him with his own pillow. The sudden shift in mood are becoming more pronounced in Leyland; from an animated, albeit helpless, victim to cold, vacant actions. The shift is all the more underlined when appears the morning after with his head a sudden shock of snow white while belting out show tunes.
Concurrently, across town, Ben Horne’s scheme to see the Packard Sawmill go up in flames is in action with Leo Johnson setting the spark; but not before the wounded wife-beater abducts his wife from their home and ties her up to a post in the middle of the mill. Leo with his tied back mullet, duster, and egg timer bomb is a straight up Walker, Texas Ranger villain. As the plan falls into motion, Catherine Martel, co-owner of the mill, has also lured there. By the end of the season both Catherine, Shelley, and Catherine’s husband, Pete, who ran in to search for her, are all unaccounted.
A man with a lot to do in one night, Leo doubles back to his house in time to hide behind the door, waiting with an axe like a prop in a haunted house for her wife’s secret lover, Bobby Briggs, to stumble through the door. And of course, the leather jacket clad dummy does just that. Backed into a corner, Bobby would have been split down the middle if not for a shot ringing out, a bullet fired though the window. Outside, Hank Jennings has shot Leo on orders of his Ben Horne to clean up any loose ends after the commission of the sawmill fire.
And what of ex-con Hank? Why was he in prison in the first place? Turns out, he was the guy Josie hired to kill her husband, Andrew Packard, in a “boating accident” so she could inherit the mill. He ran over and killed a bum to be locked up for vehicular manslaughter and to have an alibi when Josie’s husband died. All to the tune of $90,000. Now that he’s out, $90,000 doesn’t seem like enough and he leans heavy on Josie. He slices both of the thumbs and mixes their blood in a really gross and awkward close to their stilted scene. Their conspiracy feels bloated and is perhaps one to many, unaided by Joan Chen’s insufferably wooden performance. The guy from county lockup just spread whatever Hepatitis he has with you and you rub the blood all over your lips? What are you thinking Josie?
Returning to his hotel room after the arrest of Jacques Reneau, Cooper is shot upon the closing frames of the season ender by an unseen assailant. An extended season two opener, the following episode is allowed room to breathe as we find Cooper in the moments following, bleeding out on the floor of his room. Only a senile and elderly bellhop serving a glass of milk finds Cooper but is of no help. The bellhop’s motions are curious and appear detached from the same reality. Three times he walks out of the room only to reenter with a pronounced thumbs up and a wink, repeating the line, “I’ve heard about you.”
During his near death experience, Cooper experiences a vision. A direct contrast the dwarf that visited his dreams in season one, a giant now stands before him. Having entered from the same doorway the similarly bald bellhop just exited, I have to wonder, was the bellhop actually a spiritual psychopomp, another guide along Cooper’s path? Did he deny him medical care because only in his weakened state could he witness such a vision? The methodology is not uncommon in numerous culture’s shamanic rites of initiation, invoking levels of physical and psychological duress to access alternate states of mind. When Cooper asks from where the Giant originates, the Giant responds, “Where did you go?”
Regardless of how it was accessed, the Giant stands before Cooper, ready to deliver more clues. As the Giants indicates, a path is made by laying one stone in front of the next, one at a time. In this manner, his clues are not to crack the case wide open, but to lead Cooper a little further along a path that will lead to his own discovery. The Giant even takes Cooper’s ring as a sign of permanence, or presence. Also, a ring is symbolic of a bond, of affirmation of commitment. What I find curious is that the Giant tells Cooper to consider him “a friend” and that “we want to help you” and “all that I am permitted to say”. This speaks to a hierarchy of supernatural entities that are invested in Cooper’s pursuits into the murder of Laura Palmer. But why? What would be the vested interest?
Audrey’s investigation into the same murder has found her posing as a “working girl” in One Eyed Jack’s brothel. A bad place to be when the owner wants to try out the new girl, even worse when the owner turns out to be your own dad. Craftily, Audrey pulls a mask off of the wall and is able to stall long enough to evade her father’s perverted advances but the damage is done. For better or worse, Audrey is no longer a child in an adult world. She now knows that her father runs the brothel that takes in girls from his own department store’s perfume counter, the same counter where both Laura and Ronette worked; leaving Ben Horne as a potential suspect.
Many of the characters dovetail for the season two opener at the hospital. Cooper recovers from his gunshots, deflected by his bulletproof vest. Shelley and Pete are treated for smoke inhalation, having both escaped the fire. Dr. Jacoby suffered a heart attack and a beating in a convoluted side-plot, Nadine, Big Ed’s crazy wife, is also admitted after having purposefully overdosed on a cereal bowlful of pills. The scene with Nadine in a pink prom dress, writing a suicide note upon a silver platter and the tender care in which she pours her water and pills is tragically elegant and pitiable. The woman is played for comedy but in this disarming scene we see that there are consequences to her troubled mind and that she should really be in a facility.
Shortly before his death, Jacques admitted to having sex with Ronette and Laura with Leo at the cabin but claims that he and Leo lost sight of the two and had nothing to do with events that followed in the train car. This leaves the “third man” as the new unidentified suspect. This is a hard pivot for the focus of the series. While they played a part in the night’s events, Leo and Jacques were effectively red herrings and the first season’s focus on them was intentionally misguided.
This third man is not without prior reference, however. Consider the vision Laura’s mother had and the matching visage of the killer Bob in Cooper’s dream. Add to that the recording Donna and James steal from Dr. Jacoby’s office of Laura describing a “mystery man” that comes close to killing her during their sexual encounters.
And if that wasn’t enough for you to figure out on your own, the episode closes with Ronette having a nightmare while in her coma of the night she experienced in the train car with Laura. Here, we see the long haired Bob attack Laura, her demonic screaming with a bloody mouth, the mound of dirt with the scrap of paper that read in blood, “fire walk with me”, and Bob howling in distorted mania. The show seems to be telegraphing that this man is the killer but as the Giant said, “only one has seen his true face” there may be more than meets the eye with whomever Bob proves to be.
Additionally, I’d like to add a scene that doesn’t really have a place with the others. Bobby finds his dad enjoying a slice of huckleberry pie at the diner and the typically uncommunicative duo sit together and the father shares a vision he had of his son’s future. He describes a place of great beauty and contentment, one of familiarity. He speaks of an opulent mansion of many rooms added over time infused with a great Light. He claims to have seen his son living a life of great joy and harmony.
He adds how pleased he is that he had the opportunity to share the vision with his son before shaking his hand and walking away. The scene is incredibly moving for both involved and the appropriate tenderness is affected by both actors which is highly admirable considering the emotional and verbal disconnect their characters have with one another. The imagery described is overtly spiritual. Given the father’s clandestine top-secret work with the Air Force, this felt more as a bittersweet farewell to his son.
NEW CAST ADDITIONS
Giant (Carel Struycken): Spiritual guide; tall, well mannered
Bellhop (Hank Worden): Bellhop; possibly the Giant
“I think I may be in over my head.” –Audrey
“He might be a mystery man, but you might be history, man.” –Laura
“We got a trout on the line, Hawk. This one’s a keeper.” –Cooper
“Bite the bullet, baby. Bite the bullet.” –Jacques Reneau
“The owls are not what they seem.” –Giant
“…and it’s another great moment in law enforcement history.” –Albert Rosenfield
The newscaster seen on the television reporting on the sawmill fire was actually show co-creator, Mark Frost.
R.I.P. Miguel Ferrer who played the lovably irascible Agent Albert Rosenfield. Ferrer has already filmed material for the upcoming season three.
The season two opening episode was only one of three episodes to not close on the image of Laura’s homecoming photo.