We begin where last week’s episode left off, with Cooper staring transfixed at the statue outside Dougie’s office. A security guard arrives to take him home, where Janey-E seems to finally start picking up on his abnormal behavior. She makes plans to take him to a doctor, and sends him upstairs to say goodnight to Sonny Jim. In Sonny Jim’s bedroom, he and Cooper play around with his clap-activated lamp. Downstairs, Janey-E opens an envelope found on their porch and finds a photo of Dougie with Jade. As chews out Cooper for his infidelity, the phone rings, and she speaks with the people to whom Dougie is indebted. She angrily makes plans to hand over the money.
In the Black Lodge, MIKE again finds Cooper. He urges him to come to his senses soon, and implies that there may otherwise be fatal consequences. Cooper then takes a look at the case files he was sent home with. A light similar to the one he saw in the casino appears on the paper. He follows it with a pencil, and doodles ladders and staircases on the forms. Meanwhile, Albert drives in the rain to meet the unnamed woman mentioned at the end of episode four. This turns out to be Cooper’s previously-unseen secretary, Diane.
Richard Horne, last seen sexually harassing a woman at the Bang Bang Bar, meets with drug dealer Red, last seen flirting with Shelly in the same place. Red makes some enigmatic comments and does a slight-of-hand magic trick with a dime, confusing and frustrating Richard. Richard snaps when he tells Red to stop calling him a kid, and speeds away angrily in his truck.
Carl, owner of the mobile home park where Teresa Banks lived, has apparently moved the location much closer to Twin Peaks. He takes a ride into town with one of his tenants named Mickey, who talks about his struggles to get government disability aid for his wife Linda. At the Double-R Diner, Heidi giggles with a regular customer named Miriam, who leaves for her job as a schoolteacher. Carl sits contentedly on a park bench, and smiles as he watches a mother and son run around. As the kid crosses the street, he’s run over by Richard’s speeding truck. People gather to watch the child’s mother cradle his body and cry, but Carl walks over to comfort her. He sees a yellow light similar to the one Cooper saw float out of the body and ascend into the sky.
Duncan Todd, last seen in episode one, sees a red box suddenly appear on his laptop. He walks over to a safe and pulls out an envelope, which is delivered to an assassin named Ike “The Spike” Stadtler. The envelope has two pictures inside: one of Dougie, and one of Lorraine, the anxious woman from episode four who failed to kill him.
Cooper returns to work, where he’s again called into his boss’ office. Mullins looks over Cooper’s case files while Cooper looks over the poster of a young Mullins as a boxing champ. Mullins is angered by Dougie’s scribbles at first, but he slowly begins to see a pattern. All of the forms Cooper drew on feature the same agent – the same one Cooper called a liar in the last episode – and the same detectives. It seems this agent has a racket going under Mullins’ nose. Mullins thanks Cooper for his work, and says he’ll be in touch.
Janey meets with the moneymen. She rants at them for exploiting her husband, and cuts a deal to pay less than what they initially demand. Ike “The Spike” arrives at Lorraine’s office. He brutally murders her and two other women with an ice pick, and he looks disappointed when it gets bent out of shape. Meanwhile, Richard desperately tries to clean the blood off the front of his truck.
At the Twin Peaks Sheriff Department, Hawk drops a coin in the bathroom and it rolls into a stall. As he bends down to pick it up, he notices that the logo of the company which manufactured the stall door is a Native American man’s head. He looks up and sees that a bolt is missing from the door, leaving a gap large enough to slip something inside. He pries open the door with a crowbar, and finds several pieces of paper which appear to be from Laura Palmer’s diary. Sheriff Truman’s wife again shows up to berate him, but the 911 dispatcher explains that her emotional state is a result of her son’s suicide.
Back at the Roadhouse, Sharon Van Etten performs “Tarifa.”
Unlike last week’s more muted hour, this episode is dominated by shock, delight, horror, and melancholy. If episode five was the series in an emotional valley, episode six shows it at its, er, pinnacle. There’s a lot to discuss, but I want to start with the reveal of Diane, played by Laura Dern. Myself and others have been speculating that Dern would be playing the character for a while now, and it’s great to see that come to fruition. We only get a single line out of her in this episode, but her appearance certainly matches Cooper’s description of her as “an interesting cross between a saint and a cabaret singer.” She comes across as a bit jaded and standoffish, perhaps stemming from Cooper’s lengthy absence. It’s clear that they were quite close, and besides Gordon she’s the only person we’ve seen thus far who really knew Cooper before he disappeared. Lynch and Frost have so far depicted the modern world as a brutish and ugly place, tying this to Evil Cooper’s twenty-five year crime spree. It’ll be interesting to see how Cooper’s time in the Black Lodge affected someone on a personal level.
Of course, the scene which this episode is really built around is the death of the child under Richard’s wheels. Lynch puts his talent for building tension to classic use here. He sets up all the pieces (Richard’s road rage, Carl watching the mother and son, the pie-loving Miriam heading out) and brings them crashing together in heart-dropping fashion. His constant cuts back to Richard stand out from the rest of the season up until now. Lynch has tended to let scenes stand on their own in singular chunks, like the extended scene of Jacoby painting his shovels, rather than intercutting them with other events. It’s created a sense of separation, like everyone and everything we see are impossibly far away from one another. By cutting back to Richard so much, he instantly instills a powerful dread. We know Richard is about to collide with another story. Will it be Carl? Becky and Steven? When the mother and child show up, your heart sinks even further. A lesser director would have capitalized on that one anxious moment and chickened out when it came to the follow-through, or used the child’s death as a sudden shock moment without building up to it. The horror of this scene works because Lynch tells you exactly what he’s going to do, and then he does it. It’s not the first time I’ve found something in Twin Peaks hard to watch, but it’s probably the most stomach-churning the show has ever been. Concluding the scene with Carl watching the boy’s spirit leave his body got me teary-eyed. Perhaps the fact that he can see this has some lore implications (particularly since it takes place at the exact same intersection where MIKE screamed at Laura and Leland in Fire Walk With Me) but in the moment it couldn’t have felt less important.
Speaking of lore implications, Hawk’s quest to unravel the Log Lady’s riddle finally reached its end. The pages he finds appear to be from Laura’s diary, which had pages torn out of it in Fire Walk With Me. This could be a way of Lynch and Frost reconciling one of the film’s more pernicious loose ends, that being Laura’s vision of Annie telling her to write in her diary about Cooper being trapped in the Black Lodge. Obviously, those pages weren’t in either diary found during the investigation, so did she just not write it down? Or were those pages stolen? It’s important to note that Laura finds the missing pages before she has the vision of Annie, but there’s no reason more pages couldn’t have been stolen. Whatever’s written on them, it’s possible that they were hidden there by MIKE, as he had a meltdown in the same stall when he was first brought in for questioning. It’s also possible that Leland hid them there. We’ll likely find out soon.
The scene where Ike “The Spike” murders Lorraine was almost certainly the bloodiest thing Lynch has ever shot. He’s never shied away from depicting violence, but it’s never been quite so graphic as it is here. Going so far over the top in this scene is likely his way of ensuring that everyone is properly terrified of this guy, and scared for Cooper’s safety. Those feelings become more deep-seated as the level of violence in the scene increases. Hiding the murder out-of-frame or toning down the gore would have been in better taste, to be sure, but it wouldn’t have imparted the same emotions. Much like with the death of the kid earlier, Lynch isn’t afraid to show his audience something deeply discomfiting if it means they’re truly engaging with the show.
The Cooper scenes seem to be wearing thin for some viewers, who just want to see him return to his old self already. I’ve enjoyed them all, especially for MacLachlan’s excellent physical comedy which is likely inspired by the films of Jacques Tati. They took on a much more melancholy tone this week, however. The scene of Cooper drawing ladders and staircases was heartbreaking. It’s like he’s desperately trying to climb his way back to sentience but he can’t. The way he mumbles “help Dougie” and “home” are powerfully sad. Hopefully the emergence of Diane and the return of his hotel key to Twin Peaks mean that he’ll be rescued in the near future, but I’m still satisfied with the Dougie scenes. I take issue with the idea that Lynch is deliberately trying the patience of the show’s fans. I think that’s an unfair judgement of an artist who has only ever wanted to tell stories that mean something to him. Lynch isn’t trolling you, he’s not trying to piss off loyal viewers, and he’s certainly not doing anything randomly. He’s making art the way he’s always made it, and I continue to be thrilled week after week that we’re privileged enough to experience it.
Most Valuable Player:
Janey-E Jones (Naomi Watts)
The scene where she hands over the money is an episode highlight which was overshadowed by its flashier moments. She doesn’t attempt to play dumb to get the two enforcers to lower their guards, she charges forth and lays into them with unbeatable confidence and moral righteousness. She’s lying, given that Cooper brought home much more money than the men asked for, which only makes her performance more astounding. Presumably Cooper’s awakening will mean we’ll have to say goodbye to this character, but I hope we get plenty more of her in the meantime.
- The Giant mentioned a “Richard and Linda” in the first scene of episode one. Last week introduced Richard Horne, and this week we hear about a Linda. She’s the wife of one of Carl’s tenants. It’s unclear what relevance this has yet, but Linda is only a couple degrees separated from Richard thanks to the car accident.
- As previously mentioned, the intersection where the accident takes place is the same one where MIKE yells at Laura and Leland in Fire Walk With Me. Lynch replicates shots from the film of a telephone pole to ensure that we get it. The number on that pole looks exactly like the ones Cooper saw on the outlet he traveled through in episode three, by the way. There’s been an implied connection between the Lodge and electricity going back to the original series, though nothing’s come of it as of yet.
- Sonny Jim’s first spoken words in the series are “But I already brushed my teeth.” This recalls Evil Cooper’s repeated line from the season two finale, “I need to brush my teeth.” Sonny Jim has done the backwards blinking we see in the Lodge several times, so it’s becoming clearer that he has a connection to it.
- One of the names on Cooper’s case files is Nancy Deren, possibly a reference to the hugely influential avant-garde filmmaker Maya Deren.
- Balthazar Cooper as the eccentric Red recalls both Blue Velvet and Lost Highway, the latter of which he actually appeared in.
- Albert yelling “Fuck Gene Kelly!” is the funniest moment of the season so far.