Twin Peaks 3.09

‘Twin Peaks’ 3.09 Recap: “Fruitcake, Anyone?”

After a week’s absence to let viewers mull over that mind-bending freakout David Lynch dropped on their heads, ‘Twin Peaks’ returns with a much more plot-oriented episode. Either by design or purely by incompetence (I can’t decide which), this one features one of the worst acting performances you’ll see on TV all year.

On the Lam

Mr. C is alive and pissed. He walks all the way to the rendezvous point with a new accomplice named Hutch (Tim Roth), as well as Chantal (Jennifer Jason Leigh) whom we’ve seen before briefly. Chantal cleans up his wounds, and Hutch gives him a phone and new truck. Connecting some storylines, Mr. C calls the guy in Las Vegas named Mr. Todd (Patrick Fischler) and asks, “Did you do it?” He isn’t pleased to hear that whatever “it” is (presumably killing Dougie) hasn’t been completed yet. He tells Mr. Todd to get it done before he calls again, then he instructs Hutch to murder the prison warden he’d blackmailed earlier.

Before leaving, Mr. C sends out a text message with the cryptic sentence, “Around the dinner table, the conversation is lively.”

Las Vegas

Following the failed attempt on Dougie’s life, Mr. Jackpots and Janey-E sit in the waiting room at the police department while Dougie’s boss is interviewed by the three goofy police detectives, all of whom are apparently named Lt. Fusco (brothers, I assume?). The one named D. (David Koechner) seems to be in charge and have the most brains, not that there’s a lot to go around.

When Dougie’s boss leaves, the Fuscos discuss the case. They’ve identified the assailant as known hitman “Ike the Spike.” Because they can’t find any record of Dougie’s existence prior to 1997, they theorize that he might be in Witness Protection. Before sending him home, D. surreptitiously collects a coffee mug Mr. Jackpots has been using in order to take a DNA sample. (No doubt, this will put him on the FBI’s radar.) While waiting, Mr. Jackpots is transfixed staring at an electrical outlet.

In his motel room, Ike leaves a message for someone named “J.T.” explaining that he failed in his objective. The Fuscos then storm the motel with a police squad and arrest Ike as he tries to slip away.

Twin Peaks

At the sheriff’s department, Andy and Lucy squabble over the color of a chair they want to purchase online.

In the woods outside town, Jerry Horne has another bad drug trip and believes that his foot is talking to him. Meanwhile, we catch a brief glimpse of Ben Horne’s mentally-disabled son Johnny (the one Laura Palmer tutored) as he runs headfirst into a wall. Ben has a moment with his assistant, Beverly (Ashley Judd), that almost leads into a kiss, but he pulls back and resists her advance.

Frank, Hawk and Bobby pay a visit to Bobby’s mother, Betty Briggs (Charlotte Stewart), to ask about her late husband’s connection to Agent Cooper. Betty already knows what they’ll ask and has waited 25 years for it. She says that the Major told her that this day would come. He left a secret message inside a metal tube hidden in a secret compartment in the living room chair. The tube is a weird puzzle that only Bobby knows how to solve. Once they get it open, they find a couple of tiny pieces of paper, one of which has instructions to go to “Jack Rabbit’s Palace” – which, again, is something only Bobby understands. The message was specifically for him. Betty tells Bobby that, for as sternly as the Major may have treated him, he never lost faith in Bobby and always knew he’d straighten out his life eventually.

South Dakota

While flying back to Washington, Gordon receives two phone calls. The first is from Air Force Col. Davis, who informs him that Major Briggs’ body was discovered in Buckhorn, SD. Gordon instructs the pilot to turn the plane around. Diane is not happy about this. The second call is from the prison warden, who tells Gordon that Mr. C has escaped.

Gordon, Albert, Diane, and agent Tammy arrive in Buckhorn and meet the police detective working the case, as well as Lt. Knox from the Air Force. Diane sits in the waiting room while the others do their business. When no one is looking, she checks her texts and finds the message “Around the dinner table, the conversation is lively” from Mr. C. She does not tell Gordon about this.

The coroner, Constance (Jane Adams), fills Gordon, Tammy and Albert in on the details of the corpse, and shows them Dougie’s wedding ring, which she found in Briggs’ stomach. She’s a little rude and sarcastic. Albert takes a quick liking to her.

Next, Tammy interrogates Bill Hastings (Matthew Lillard), the school principal accused of murdering his mistress Ruth, whose head was discovered with Briggs’ body. Hastings is a bawling mess all through the conversation. He tries to explain that he and Ruth published a blog called “The Search for the Zone” about an alternate dimension. He claims that the two of them entered this dimension, where they met a man called The Major, who was “hibernating” there. He says that the Major asked Hastings to bring him some coordinates. After he did, scary men took the Major away. Hastings then woke up in his own bed and later heard the news that Ruth was dead. Tammy then presents an assortment of photos to him, and Hastings IDs Major Briggs.

One More Stop in Twin Peaks

The episode ends as so many do, with a quick stop to watch a band play at the Roadhouse. A skeevy junky girl (Sky Ferreira) with a nasty rash on her armpit talks to a friend in one of the booths. As far as I can tell, we’ve never seen either of these characters before and the details of their conversation seem inconsequential. I assume they’ll come back around again later. Then again, with this show, who knows?

Episode Verdict

It’s difficult to talk about this episode without making fun of Matthew Lillard’s embarrassing, over-the-top blubbery performance in the interrogation scene. He is an ugly crier. Lillard of course spent much of his early career appearing in really bad movies as a dopey comic relief sidekick to Freddie Prinze, Jr. He’s probably still best known for playing witless stoner Shaggy in the live-action ‘Scooby-Doo’ movies and voicing the character in innumerable cartoons. He’s almost an easy target to blame for the scene.

The thing is, Lillard has actually matured into a respectable character actor and has proven that he can give good performances in shows like ‘The Bridge’ and ‘Halt and Catch Fire’. What he’s doing in this scene is downright puzzling. Unfortunately, I’m inclined to think that David Lynch is really at fault. Throughout this ‘Twin Peaks’ revival, he has either struggled to direct actors (even good actors like Naomi Watts seem stranded) or has intentionally instructed them to overplay their roles.

The episode is filled with long awkward silences, which have always been a hallmark of Lynch’s offbeat humor but seem to go on forever here, long after the joke has played out.

The episode has a number of classic Lynchian moments, both humorous and otherwise. (The way all the other Twin Peaks cops dismissively treat Deputy Chad is priceless.) The actual plot also has some interesting revelations, especially involving Hastings’ connection to Major Briggs. It looks like the disparate story threads in this show may actually tie together after all. I also really like the emotional beat when Bobby realizes that his father always loved him and believed in him. That’s a nice moment.

Nevertheless, it sometimes feels like every good scene is this show has to be undercut by another that’s a lot less good.

Also, why the hell aren’t all the police in Twin Peaks hunting for Richard Horne after he hit-and-run murdered a little boy in plain sight of numerous onlookers? A crime like that ought to be the biggest thing going on in a sleepy small town like this, yet the show has treated it like an afterthought. That really bothers me.

8 comments

  1. Darkmonk

    -“Also, why the hell aren’t all the police in Twin Peaks hunting for Richard Horne after he hit-and-run murdered a little boy in plain sight of numerous onlookers? ”
    The show doesn’t show you EVERYTHING that is happening in the world.
    Some things are understood to happening. Of course there is probably another group of TP cops investigating that. They just aren’t showing it. (Until it becomes needed).
    That’s like asked how a character got from point A to point B because they failed to show the scene of him travelling there.

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      Twin Peaks is a small town. There aren’t that many cops there. What we’ve seen in the sheriff’s department is the entire police force in the town.

      This blatant hit-and-run should be the only thing anyone in town is talking about, but the show apparently forgot about it the moment it was over.

  2. Thanks for saying how awful that crying performance by Lillard was. All over the Net today (and in the show-related) podcasts, all I’m hearing is how great he was in that scene. But you’re right, Josh, he was laughably BAD.

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      I picture Lillard on set repeatedly asking, “Are you sure this is what you want, David? Because I can dial it back. Really, it’s no problem. No? Bigger? Well, OK.”

  3. Ben

    So I may be completely off with this, but recall in Episode 2, there was a scene with Matthew Lillard and his wife, in which he declares he knows about her cheating with the lawyer and shouts at her for it, though briefly. I kinda took the blubbering and crying in this episode to be a fake and was intentional as a result (though there have been plenty of other scenes of questionable acting I don’t believe to be wholly intentional, more like Lynch doesn’t care). Throughout all his crying he kept making declarations of how much he loved her and stuff like that and it just didn’t gel with the relationship we saw portrayed in Episodes 1 and 2.

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