So this week we've got gun-happy "Peaks-ians", Soundgarden-esque spiraling vortexes, a disturbing beheading…cherry pie sitting-in for Gwyneth Paltrow's head…and wow, has Gersten Hayward (Alicia Witt) grown-up! Or as I like to call it? Twin Peaks Season 3, Episode 11: There's fire where you are going...
But first, a couple of things to keep in mind before we kick this thing off:
● This isn't a formal review — more of a recap-ish type thing — but it will cover some themes and takeaways involving major and minor storyline developments from the episode. I'm sticking with thoughts, observations and recaps for this second half of the season, reserving overall judgment until the season is over and then reviewing how each individual strand of storytelling plays out. I'm going to respect the work as a whole and reserve any hard judgments…for now.
● If you're just coming aboard this twisted little journey, then you've got some serious catching-up to do. I would recommend my friends at Wikipedia and Showtime to get you up to speed, because attempting to recap the previous episodes would read like a serial killer's manifesto without proper context. I'm applying the J.J. Abrams/Damon Lindelof/Lost approach: at some point, you need to move forward and cater to the faithful who've been along for the ride during the entire run; and the newly converted will have to play a little catch-up…because it's worth it, dammit!
● This might be a little nit-picky, but from now on I'm referring to the series as just Twin Peaks instead of Twin Peaks: The Return and this season as the third season. A point of personal privilege that I'm gifting myself moving forward, even if David Lynch decides to go with a fourth season (fingers crossed) made up of 72 15-minute episodes with dialogue in haiku form (…and when it happens, remember you read it here first).
So let's start with Showtime's painfully brief look back at There's fire where you are going:
Overall Takeaway: Grabbing my bullhorn and jumping on my soapbox for a few minutes, folks, because I'm hijacking this week's Overall Takeaway to address something that's been eating at the back of my brain for the past 11 weeks. Hold on, let me turn this thing on…do a quick volume check, OK…
Attention, all of you "real Lynch fans"! You can criticize Lynch and the series and still be a fan of the man as an artist! Just because you happen to know who the ex-girlfriend was of the best friend of the third key grip on The Elephant Man's second unit production doesn't make you a "better fan", it just means you have more time on your hands.
I'm going to let all of you in on a little secret: I thought Mulholland Drive was overrated and Lost Highway was a mess. And that's okay. That doesn't make me less of a fan, and it doesn't diminish my opinion of the man overall as an amazing artist. I made this analogy last week but I'll repeat it again here: Lynch "swings for the fences" creatively every time he comes out of the box. Does that mean he gets a home run every time? Nope. Sometimes, it might only be a single or a double. For me, Lost Highway was a ground-out to first that was converted into a double play. And that's okay, because that's what happens when you live a life of never playing it safe artistically.
Now, see what you've made me do? I'm using painfully cliched baseball metaphors to make my point, and I'm not even a big fan of baseball. Dammit.
Oh, one more thing before I get to Spare Parts: realize that there is a decent percentage of people out there watching Twin Peaks for Twin Peaks and not Lynch. Maybe they were fans for 25+ years. Maybe they just became fans after binge-watching the first two seasons, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me and The Missing Pieces. Either way, they're bond is with the characters and storylines first and the creators second. So I get it when I see those fans complaining that Lynch isn't concentrating enough on the characters from the town of Twin Peaks and not giving enough "Where Are They Now?" info on original cast members. I'm not saying they're right or wrong, but their perspectives are just as legitimate as yours and shouldn't be met with metaphorical eye rolls and condescending responses about them "just not getting it." Trust me. They get it. They just don't "get it" the same way you do.
Oh, and fair warning? If I don't get my Dale Cooper (Kyle Maclachlan) back before Episode 18, I won't be happy. You can throw an entire semester-long syllabus from a UCLA course in the "meaning" of Lynch's work and it won't make a difference. We're going to have problems.
Spare Parts: Random thoughts, quotes and observations from this week's episode to keep in mind, whether you're watching this episode for the first time or sleuthing every second of it for the eighth time:
● "There's someone there" is usually not a the best thing to hear from a kid looking into the woods. It's one of those things that usually doesn't end well — in this case, for Richie (Eamon Farren), because Miriam (Sarah Jean Long) is still alive and about to get some help. Seeing Miriam crawling out of the woods brought back memories of Ronette Pulaski and Teresa Banks…a sign that it's "happening again"?
● Can't shake that feeling that Becky (Amanda Seyfried) might be playing the unfortunate role of this cycle's "Laura Palmer", though she's not showing Laura's ability to manipulate those around her.
● Damn. Becky made sure her mom Shelly (Mädchen Amick) got to show-off her T.J. Hooker impersonation, whether she wanted to or not.
● Carl's (Harry Dean Stanton) whistling for his VW van reminded me of Yondu and his whistle-controlled arrow from the Guardians of the Galaxy films.
● Norma (Peggy Lipton) will always me the town's "uber mom" with expressions that speak volumes.
● So Becky decides to leave six round reminders for her boyfriend Steven (Caleb Landry Jones) and Gersten that she knows he's cheating on her. Another example of the growing madness afflicting the town? The Sheriff's Department sure seems to be pretty busy…
● Cole (David Lynch), Albert (Miguel Ferrer), Tammy (Chrysta Bell), Diane (Laura Dern) and Det. Macklay (Brent Briscoe) take Bill Hastings (Matthew Lillard) to the location he spoke of during his interrogation, where Cole appears to be in-tune with the electricity and sees the vortex that Hastings referenced. Looking into the vortex, Cole sees The Woodsmen in a room at the top of a set of stairs. Thankfully, Albert is able to bring Cole back to reality before he faded into the vortex's influence.
● Well at least they found the rest of Ruth Davenport (Mary Stofle), with an interesting set of coordinates inscribed on her arm that might lead them to a certain town in the northwest part of the country. Hmm…
● Diane: "There's no backup for this." Diane is keeping her cards close, picking and choosing what info she shares and what she keeps to herself. She has to know that Albert and Cole would pick up on it, right?
● Cole: "He's dead." Cole with the biggest understatement of the year, though there were others. With Diane's silence and behind the other's backs, one of The Woodsmen tears off the top half of Hastings' head with Det. Macklay none the wiser.
● Shelly: "We just don't want to lose you." So we learn that Becky is the daughter of Shelly and Bobby (Dana Ashbrook), and you can't help but feel the ghost of Laura Palmer hovering over that diner booth during this scene.
● For someone so concerned about her daughter, Shelly wasted no time running out to make plans for later with her new boyfriend Red (Balthazar Getty). You could feel Bobby's heartbreak through the screen…damn.
● That kid who grabbed the gun in the van and started shooting up the diner? He looked righteously pissed and the only thing he looked sorry about was getting stopped from shooting up the town more.
● Yeah…the kid vomiting and doing a decent The Exorcism of Emily Rose impersonation? Might be a good idea to get them to a hospital stat.
● Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster) and Deputy Hawk (Michael Horse) are going over an ancient map to prepare for whatever's about to happen in less than 48 hours. Hawk makes a direct reference to electricity being a form of fire before warning off Truman from learning too much about what the map has to tell them ("Frank? You don't ever want to know about that.").
● Hawk: "Goodnight. And thank you, Margaret." Margaret/"The Log Lady" (Catherine E. Coulson) contacts Hawk to warn him of the dangers that's coming their way ("My log is afraid of fire. There's fire where you are going, Hawk. There's fire where you are going."). Hawk's parting line to Margaret is heartbreaking and bittersweet because of the finality surrounding it on several levels.
● In Cole's defense? "Roof" and "Ruth" could sound the same even if you have quality hearing.
● Albert: "I don't suppose you've found Major Briggs' head anywhere…?" Nope…not yet.
● Definitely have to agree with Bushnell Mullins (Don Murray): an exploding car and an assassination attempt are definitely signs that confirm someone's very displeased with the services you've been offering them.
● I think it's safe to assume that Bradley (Jim Belushi) and Rodney (Robert Knepper) Mitchum aren't inviting Dougie/Cooper out to congratulate him on costing them over $30 million…though that check and that mysterious box might make a difference.
● The Mitchum Brothers' breakfast…brought to you by our friends at Kellogg's Raisin Brain!
● Yeah, Dougie/Cooper…you're not going to Santino's and you're not getting an optimistic look from the limo guy.
● Minus the high tension wires (electricity!), this scene reminds me of a vague takeoff on the end scene from Seven…with a lot more cherry pie and a lot less human head.
● I'm not sure who this Angelo Badalamenti guy is, but after hearing Heartbreaking I think Lynch should use him a helluva lot more in the future. He's got serious potential.
● That last comment was a joke. Wanted to see if you were paying attention…
● The Mitchum Brothers now have a new friend in Dougie/Cooper after Rodney trusted Bradley's dream and they both benefited from his faith in the form of a cashier's check for $30 million in Dougie/Cooper's jacket pocket. So it's time for The Mitchum Brothers to take their new friend out on the town for champagne, coffee and cherry pie!
● The combination of hearing from The Jackpot Lady (Linda Porter), the piano player's playing and the cherry pie appear to be slowly dragging Cooper back to a sense of himself…yes, it's damn good, Coop!
● The Mitchum Brothers' "girls" remind me of One-Eyed Jacks, and I'm wondering if Candy (Sara Paxton) isn't haven't visions of other dimensions that keep her distracted — but how?
So that's it for this week. Hope you enjoy next week's ominously titled episode, "Let's Rock." But for those feeling a bit nostalgic, here's how we got here in the first place: