A taut episode heavy on blood and guts hints at a narrative shoe about to drop
So we’re up to six hours of Kyle Maclachlan acting like a gluehead.
Okay, maybe I’m being reductive, but let’s deal with Dougie first. Continuing the sleepwalking routine Dougie/Cooper has been trapped in since returning to this “real” world, we get an intimate and tender glimpse into the intrinsic nature of Dale Cooper- a tender, compassionate man who loves puzzles.
Staggering into his “son’s” room, it is amazing how the father and surrogate-son bonding before bedtime was conveyed between Dougie/Cooper and his son without a complete sentence let alone most motor skills offered. The bonds of love, of human decency go deeper than the world of superficiality that swirls maddeningly about Dougie who remains on his own private island. His wife’s justified anger over his infidelity, the loan sharks, the importance put on insurance claims- these are the window dressing, the insubstantial that bears no weight on a psyche still acclimating to hard reality.
And things seem to be clicking into place. After another Red Room prompting, Dougie/Cooper’s scribblings on his case files appear to depict a ladder and then a great fall- spiritual metaphors abound. The stirring Badalamenti score as Dougie/Cooper uses his sixth sense to work his case file was titillating as it teases a more concrete return to the Cooper we know and love
But he’s far from safe. Dougie Jones has a serious hit out on him and I don’t think it has anything to do with the loan sharks, which are a red herring for the real danger Dougie is in. A dwarf is given a dossier with a picture of a Dirty Cooper associate and Dougie. The dwarf wastes no time and graphically mutilates the associate with an ice pick in a scene so damn visceral it has be a commentary that I feel will be more evident in retrospect. If nothing else, it portends some dark clouds on the horizon.
This season has played with the concept of luck and magic quite a bit already. Bringing Cooper to a Las Vegas casino first was not by accident. What appears as slot machine luck to the rest of the patrons is anything but to the audience and Dougie/Cooper because we have a skewed perspective to their slice of reality. The work assignment scribbling seems like random nonsense until Dougie/Cooper’s boss adjusted his perspective and loosened his grasp on reality and was enlightened. The boy run over in the middle of the street appeared to the horrified bystanders as a freak coincidence but given that our perception of their reality is wider, we know it is anything but. The point being, reality is dependent upon perception. What the denizens of these towns assume is far from what is really happening. What we’re seeing may not be what is really happening either.
Speaking of the boy run down in the street- we are reunited with Lynch alum Harry Dean Stanton aka Carl Rodd, the geriatric but lovable trailer park camp owner that was last featured in the prequel movie. Like Dougie/Cooper, Rodd will not be moved by the trivial nonsense of the daily world when he can otherwise enjoy a nice cup of coffee on a park bench and enjoy the sunny afternoon while a mother and son play, encased in their innocence. Well, skew that perspective a bit more and we can see Richard Horne barreling down the street in a pick up truck. We all know what was coming next. What appeared as a vile coincidence haphazardly spilling into the bucolic street corner is anything but. The darkness that is always there just out of eyeline but always threatening to impede is coming closer frame by frame.
Here, Richard Horne portrays the mindless, petty, childish violence and ignorance lashing out at the world. His boss, Red, is a more subdued smiling form of matured evil, a patient slow boiling cauldron of danger poised to spill over.
Harry Dean offers a burlap tenderness in his portrayal. It is in this patient softness that he has forged his connection with the spirit world. The fact that the spiritually in-tune person is an elderly fragile man in this hard and dangerous world speaks to the fragility of innocence and spirituality in a world where men like Richard Horne and Dirty Cooper exist. Men like Rodd can do nothing to stop this aggression, this atavistic hate. But that is not their purpose, theirs is something quieter, something nobler and perhaps even more profound.
At her weakest, while she more alone than her entire life, it was only the fragile old man who had the conviction to approach her, to put a hand on her shoulder and attempt to at least share in the burden of her tragedy. In a world of truck drivers (as Buela laments to Dirty Cooper in part 1) these gentle souls are all the more critical when we consider that these evil forces of the Black Lodge and beyond literally feed off of fear and pain.
Another gentle soul in this world that appears to be getting darker by the day is Chief Deputy Hawk. Still looking for what was missing from Laura Palmer’s case load, the Deputy comes across coincidence of his own. Through a series of events, a fallen dime behind the toilet leads his eye to the “Nez Perce” manufacturers of the stall door which then leads him to find some mysterious notes hidden within that could have been lying in wait for the past twenty-five years.
What is written in the notes may be less important than the act of Hawk following his intuition, much like Agent Cooper did so many years ago when the two were working the same case. Because he altered her perspective, Hawk was able to piece a string random daily minutia together as a divine message that calls him (and us) to likewise alter our perceptions if ever so slightly to allow the seemingly random string of scenes to coalesce into larger mystery hiding in plain sight just out of focus.
Dispatches from the Black Lodge
- Finally someone is calling a doctor for Dougie!
- Naomi Watts chewing out the loan sharks was a great bit scenery chewing
- DIANE! Interesting hairstyle Laura Dern.
- The traffic light motif returning was a small but perfectly timed grafting of the original series ominous tones to this brighter, more comedic world which is soon to get grimy.
- Dougie/Cooper smiling as his wife shows him pictures of Jade is oddly endearing. Totally removed from scandalous context of the association, he only knows her as a person defined by her patient aid. “Jane give two rides” after all.
- Chad’s an asshole.
- Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer): “Fuck Gene Kelly! You motherfucker!”
- Richard Horne (Eamon Farren): “Don’t call me kid.”
- Diane Evans (Laura Dern): “Hello, Albert.”
- Red (Balthazar Getty): “Heads I win, tails you lose.”