A little bit of the Dougie storyline goes a long way in the new ‘Twin Peaks’. This week brings us a lot of Dougie. A lot.
For the purposes of these recaps, I still prefer to differentiate between Dougie, who’s dead, and Mr. Jackpots, the mentally-impaired doppelganger that replaced him. All of the domestic satire scenes involving Mr. Jackpots and Dougie’s wife, Janey-E (Naomi Watts), are obviously meant to serve as comic relief filler between the show’s darker storylines. I’m fine with the idea of that. The original ‘Twin Peaks’ certainly had its share of comic relief. However, David Lynch’s fondness for dragging out a comedy bit for maximum viewer discomfort just about hit my limit this week. The Mr. Jackpots scenes seem to go on forever.
The episode starts with Jackpots where we last left him, standing outside his office building staring at a statue. Eventually, a sympathetic cop gets enough information out of him to bring him home. Janey-E hardly seems to have noticed that he’s late. She gets upset at him after an unmarked blackmail envelope is slipped under their front door, containing a photo of Dougie with the hooker, Jade. That anger dissipates when the blackmailers call to demand that Dougie pay the $50k he owes. (Mr. Jackpots was incapable of arranging payment as Janey asked him to do.) Janey funnels all of her aggression toward taking care of the blackmailers. She arranges to meet with them herself the next day.
In the meantime, Jackpots spends the rest of the night staring at the case files that his boss dumped on him. Small dots of light direct him to scribble all over the documents, mostly little sketches of ladders and stairs. He also sees a vision of the One-Armed Man in the Red Room, who implores him to wake up and “Don’t die.”
The next morning, Janey meets with two blackmailers (one of whom is played by Jeremy Davies) and berates them about taking advantage of a poor man who can’t possibly pay off the gambling debt he incurred. Feigning poverty, she pays them only $25k in cash and then storms off, warning that she better never see them again. They both shrug their shoulders, declaring her a “tough dame.”
Mr. Jackpots returns to work, where his boss struggles to make sense of the doodles he’s drawn. Eventually, with no help from the oblivious Jackpots, he deduces some form of pattern that’s presumably related to insurance fraud perpetuated by the rival adjuster played by Tom Sizemore. The boss thanks Dougie for his diligence and says that he has a lot to think about now.
The highlight of the episode lasts all of about ten seconds. Following up on a conversation he had with Gordon Cole, Albert Rosenfield tracks down the elusive Diane, the unseen secretary that Agent Cooper dictated notes to in the original series. She’s played by Laura Dern (because, of course, who else would David Lynch cast for this?) wearing a terrible blonde bob wig. Confirmation that she’s a real person debunks decades worth of fan theories that “Diane” was merely the name Cooper called his tape recorder.
Always Look Both Ways
Also making a return appearances to the universe of ‘Twin Peaks’ are Heidi, the giggly German waitress at the RR Diner (seen in the original show’s pilot episode), and Carl Rodd (Harry Dean Stanton), proprietor of the Fat Trout Trailer Park, previously introduced in the ‘Fire Walk With Me’ prequel movie. Heidi’s role feels like a fan-service cameo, but Carl is given a slightly more substantive part in the episode.
First we come back to Richard Horne, the creepy psycho we first met at the Roadhouse last week. This week, he meets with an even creepier psycho, an eccentric weirdo drug distributor named Red (Balthazar Getty), who intimidates and freaks him out with a magic trick involving a dime. (Seriously, who does magic tricks with a dime?) Amped up on cocaine and fuming about the way Red dismissively called him “kid,” Richard speeds off in his very large and very distinctive truck, runs a red light, and plows down a young boy crossing the street. Carl Rodd, who happened to be sitting in a park nearby, is among the witnesses of this terrible hit-and-run. After Richard races away, Carl sees the victim’s spirit leave his body and float up to the heavens. He then walks over to console the boy’s wailing mother.
This is a very disturbing and traumatic scene, meant to evoke the same type of tragic melodrama as, for example, Sarah Palmer first receiving the news of her daughter’s death, or the car crash aftermath in Lynch’s ‘Wild at Heart’. However, the scene is undone by the extremely awkward – even amateurish – way Lynch directs all the onlookers who stand around gawking at the event.
Other Random Bits
In Las Vegas, police finally get around to towing the exploded remains of Dougie’s car. One cop finds the license plate on the roof of the junkie neighbor’s house. This will undoubtedly lead to police interest in Mr. Jackpots, and possibly with word filtering back to the FBI.
A man in a motel room, clearly a hitman, is slipped an envelope under his door with a single black dot on the outside. He opens it and finds two photos, one of Dougie and one of the bruised woman who hired other hitmen to bump off Dougie. He uses an icepick to mark them both for death. Later, in a scene played for darkly comic relief, we discover that the new hitman is actually a Little Person. Nevertheless, he’s extremely dangerous and brutally icepicks the bruised woman to death at her place of work, as well as other witnesses in the building.
Frank Truman’s wife once again barges into the Twin Peaks police station, this time to scream at him about some issue with her father’s car. When the other cops gossip behind Truman’s back, we learn that the wife wasn’t always so crazy. She lost her marbles after their son committed suicide. The jackass deputy named Chad isn’t very sympathetic about this.
Deputy Hawk finally connects the dots regarding the Log Lady’s clue about his heritage when a loose Indian Head nickel leads him to discover pages of paper hidden inside the door of the men’s room stall in the sheriff’s department. Fan speculation has it that these may be the missing pages of Laura Palmer’s diary.
I have more than one friend who has declared this the best episode of the ‘Twin Peaks’ revival so far. Honestly, I think it’s the worst. Basically, nothing of consequence to the larger narrative happens this week, and Mr. Jackpots has really outstayed his welcome. That storyline was amusing at first, but is fast approaching the “James’ Road Trip” stage of misguided ‘Twin Peaks’ plot threads.
Also, I have to ask, why is Naomi Watts so awful in this show? She’s a talented actress, and was even Oscar nominated for her breakout work in Lynch’s ‘Mulholland Drive’, but her performance in this series is way too broad and unconvincing. Never for a second do I buy her character. I chalk this up to Lynch’s direction. He seems to have lost much of his skill for working with actors.
As a parent, I find the murder of a young boy for cheap shock value distasteful. The scene contributes nothing to the story except to demonstrate that Richard is a monster, which we already figured out when he was introduced last week. The victim and his mother were not part of the show previously and will probably never be seen again, so the mother’s anguish is an unearned ploy to pull at viewers’ heart strings.
Am I being unfair? Am I just too disillusioned with late career David Lynch to enjoy where he’s taking the show? This really ought to be right up my alley, but it’s just rubbing me the wrong way.
Some fans have argued that Lynch describes this revival as an 18-hour movie broken into smaller chunks, rather than a traditional TV series, and say that it shouldn’t be judged until the whole thing is finished. I wonder how far into that 18-hour movie any of them would get before losing patience if they tried to watch it straight through. Lynch’s ‘Inland Empire’ felt interminable at three hours, and I don’t see anyone rallying to the defense of that one.