This hour of Twin Peaks featured no less than two of the series’ most emotional moments in its entire history, as well as some serious introspection on aging and dying.
Ed and Norma
First and foremost, we get the resolution of Big Ed and Norma’s long-delayed romance, a payoff close to thirty years in the making. I have to imagine that many Twin Peaks fans were weeping profusely into their coffee and cherry pie, given how long everyone has waited to see this. The scripting and staging of this entire event is excellent, from Nadine giving Ed his freedom, to Ed racing to Norma only to seemingly be turned away, to Norma telling Walter she’s done with the RR franchise and wanting to focus on her loved ones. When Norma’s hand slowly moves onto Ed’s shoulder, Otis Redding blaring over the soundtrack . . . few moments in Twin Peaks have been so satisfying.
The acting here is especially wonderful. Everett McGill conveys Ed’s whirlwind of joy, heartache, silent pleading, and relief in just a few facial expressions, while Peggy Lipton is friendly but firm in her ditching of Walter and everything he represents, exactly how Norma Jennings would be in that situation. Also of note is Wendy Robie, who has a difficult line to walk with Nadine, a character always dwelling in that strange borderland between frightening, pitiful, and sympathetic. Unlike in the old series, Nadine has really found herself, through the success of her dream business and also through the inspiration she’s derived from her fixation on Dr. Amp. Robie delivers Nadine’s lines with a unique cadence that puts across both her character’s childish innocence and unsettling intensity. No one else can yell something like “I was a selfish BITCH!” and have it sound so much like an ecstatic, liberating admittance instead of self-pitying deprecation. It’s a wonderful sequence, as sudden as it is cathartic, and acts as a blissful counterpoint to how this episode will eventually end.
Then we have one of the show’s classic metaphysical creepout moments, as Evil Douche Coop takes a detour into Lynch and Frost’s storied mythology. Stopping at the mystical convenience store where the Lodge inhabitants are known to convene (last seen in episode eight), Mr. C ascends to the oft-mentioned realm above the store, where he finds the long lost Phillip Jeffries dwelling in an abandoned motel. Sharp eyed fans will notice that this is actually a nightmare version of the same motel where Leland used to rendezvous with Teresa Banks, but here it appears to be existing in its own little universe, a hiding place for the elusive Jeffries.
People have been wondering all season if David Bowie actually filmed a secret cameo before his death from cancer last year, and a handful of conspiracy theories have been floated attesting that we would indeed see Bowie before all is said and done. However, those rumors are pretty much conclusively false at this point. As with the Man from Another Place, this proved to be another case where the actor was unavailable, and David Lynch had to think outside the box. His solution: Jeffries has mutated into a giant version of the humidifier from Eraserhead.
Actually, no. Jokes aside, this appears to be another of the strange generator/alarm devices that we’ve seen twice before, first with Naido and Cooper in space, then in the Fireman’s living room. In this instance, it spits out steam into a glowing orb meant to represent Jeffries (convincingly voiced by Nathan Frizzell, capturing the spirit of Bowie’s performance without fully doing an impression of him). It’s not entirely clear if we’re actually looking at Jeffries, or if he’s just communicating through this object, but the character is such an enigma (and always has been) that it almost doesn’t matter.
This sequence also represents a major return to concepts from Fire Walk With Me, and not just with the reappearance of the Red Diamond City motel. Evil Cooper walks through the same ugly, flower-wallpapered house that Laura encountered in her dream. One of the Woodsman has taken over the role of the Electrician from FWWM, a figure who manipulated electrical currents to bend reality, and the Jumping Man also makes his return appearance. And finally, Mr. C asks Jeffries a question we’ve all been wondering: who the hell is Judy? The Judy conundrum is particularly important, as it’s never been established if that’s a mystery that was ever intended to be solved, or one of those things best left unexplained. Jeffries’ mention of her in the prequel — “I’m not gonna talk about Judy. In fact, we’re not gonna talk about Judy at all, we’re gonna keep her out of it!” — is so disturbing precisely because we don’t know what he’s referencing, but it seems of dire significance to him.
As many Twin Peaks obsessives have learned since the release of FWWM, when Lynch and co-writer Bob Engels first conceived of Phillip Jeffries and the Judy situation, the initial thought was that Judy would be Josie’s sister who lived in Seattle. (Explaining why Josie would always high-tail it to Seattle whenever things got a bit much for her in Twin Peaks, and providing Joan Chen a chance to return to the proceedings in a new role should they opt to make Judy a twin). There was also a larger backstory, discussed but never shot, surrounding Jeffries’ visit to Buenos Aires, involving a meeting between him, Judy, Josie, and Windom Earle, that would have been a major event for all of those characters.
That’s all well and good, but as none of this was filmed, Lynch and Frost aren’t bound to those answers, so we can only speculate as to Judy’s identity until the show reveals it. If the idea of being Josie’s sister is still in play, the obvious answer is Naido, not just because she’s portrayed by an actor of Asian descent but also because she was found in the Lodge/Zone, Cooper interacted with her in episode three (explaining Jeffries’ statement that Coop has already met Judy), she’s currently in Twin Peaks, and Andy has said that dangerous people are coming for her. That all adds up. If not Naido, my other guess would be that Judy is a code name for Mother, who currently looks to be inhabiting Sarah Palmer, or a version of Sarah. That would certainly jibe with Phillip’s reticence to discuss her. But obviously, this is just speculation. What is exciting, no matter the answer, is Twin Peaks addressing this question after 25 years. Similar to Ed and Norma, it’s thrilling to see this finally paying off, however it resolves itself.
Cooper didn’t return to his full self in this episode, but we watched the pieces begin to click into place once he heard the name Gordon Cole mentioned in a clip from Sunset Boulevard (one of the most influential films in Lynch’s life, along with The Wizard of Oz). While it will be exciting when Coop is officially back, perhaps nothing will be as gratifying as that look on his face when he first hears Cole’s name, an urgency and awareness that this version of Cooper has never displayed before. It’s likely no coincidence that the electrical outlet in the wall began buzzing moments later, an indication that it’s now time for Cooper to wake up.
Did sticking the fork in the electrical socket actually accomplish the task? That remains to be seen. But if he’s not himself yet, I’m willing to bet he’s on the way there.
Speaking of Cooper, Mr. C’s conversation with Jeffries indicated that Evil Cooper is still Coop, as he has all of the Good Dale’s memories. Therefore, this isn’t an impostor Cooper so much as the darkness of which Dale was always capable, made manifest. Perhaps Cooper needs to reunite with his shadow in order to be whole again.
The Log Lady
Lastly, the series says goodbye to one of its most iconic characters, Margaret Lanterman. I’m sure there are people who made it through these scenes without shedding a tear, but I sure don’t know any of them. We all knew this was coming, of course. It’s more or less announced at the beginning of the season, where the Log Lady is shown to be terminally ill. But knowing and experiencing are two different things, Audrey.
Her death lands on several different levels. Over the years, the Log Lady has become such a mainstay of Twin Peaks that she’s often one of the most quoted, imitated, and revered characters. Her death is a piece of Twin Peaks as we know it dying. It can never be the same again without her. That alone gives this moment a kind of blunt impact. And yet it takes on a whole new dimension when you consider that Catherine Coulson was actually dying when these scenes were filmed; Lynch moved them to the front of the production schedule because time was running so short. So this isn’t just a goodbye from Margaret, this is also a goodbye from Coulson herself. And this is also a goodbye from Frost and Lynch to both their character and to Coulson, one of Lynch’s closest friends throughout the years. (The episode is cleverly dedicated to Margaret Lanterman instead of Catherine Coulson, who’d already received an epitaph in the premiere). That is one multi-dimensional webwork of grief right there.
I also have to admit here that these scenes struck on a very personal level for me, as my mother passed away just six months ago. This week is her birthday, the first birthday where she’s gone, and episode 15 airing on this of all weeks made it hit that much harder. (I have to imagine there’s a lot of similar stories going around right now: I’m sure many, many fans had their own losses and grieving link up with the departure of the Log Lady). I don’t mean to be dramatic, but part of me was simply not ready to watch this, and it hurt. The Log Lady even looks like my mother did at the end — her own mother bore a passing resemblance to Catherine Coulson — so the whole thing just resonated very, very strongly. I was a wreck.
But it was also beautiful. That final speech could not have been more poetic or perfect for saying goodbye to Margaret. The Log Lady was always, above all else, a deeply spiritual character, a mystic who could sense things that others could not. If anyone would view death as a transition, not an end, then it would be her. From “there is some fear in letting go” to “my log is turning gold,” every word out of her mouth is a moment of absolute sadness and absolute beauty. And instead of focusing on her physical death, Lynch chooses to simply show the lights in her cabin grow dim, which says more than watching her die onscreen ever could. Ditto the depiction of the other characters’ reactions; Frank Truman silently removing his hat is all manner of quietly devastating, as is Hawk’s stoic but charged “goodbye, Margaret.”
The Log Lady was always a complicated character. She possessed mystical insight and a staggering level of empathy, but could also be abrasive, aloof, rude, and obscure to the point of maddening. In addition, there was a melancholy that always hung over her . . . the sense that her log represented her inability to let go of her departed husband, a dependency that she carried with her at all times. But it’s that very loss that appears to have cemented her connection to the supernatural presence surrounding Twin Peaks. While that connection began in childhood with her abduction by the forces of the Lodges, it blossomed after her husband’s death, turning her into a hermit who was in a way lonely, but also needed to be alone. That solitude allowed Margaret to hear and see and know things. She listened to the woods, and to the owls, and to the wind.
I hope that she’s found her way to a place both wonderful and strange.
More Thoughts That Happened:
- The nature photography in this hour is gorgeous.
- Oddly enough, of all things in Lynch’s past work, the transformation of Jeffries is perhaps most reminiscent of the Guild Navigator from Dune. It encompasses the same basic idea: someone so plugged into the transcendence of time and space that they physically evolve beyond their humanity. Like with the Arm, Lynch films this as an abstract painting, a mostly static image of shadow and smoke that is haunting in its simplicity but unsettling in its otherworldliness.
- Steven and Gersten sure don’t seem to be doing very well, especially given that Steven might be dead. A lot of their dialogue is difficult to hear, but it doesn’t matter very much as the majority is rambling, drug-induced nonsense. There’s something truly pathetic about Steven, and the scene is sad in its own way, despite us not seeing very much to like about him. Also, his probable demise suggests something greater than just drugs, as the ominous shots of the woods implicate the darkness getting ready to overflow in Twin Peaks.
- The gentleman walking his dog was none other than Mr. Mark Frost himself. Frost has since confirmed that he’s reprising his role of Cyril Pons, the newscaster seen in the pilot and in the second season premiere. (Pons also penned a couple of the articles featured in The Secret History of Twin Peaks).
- I could watch the announcer at the Roadhouse dancing to ZZ Top all day.
- Poor James. I don’t think he was being creepy at all by saying hi to Renee, though her husband Chuck begged to differ. (Note that this is probably the Chuck mentioned in the Tina/Billy conversation a few episodes ago). It was immensely satisfying watching Freddie use his powerglove, however. Also, I thought it was very much in keeping with James’ character that he’d be worried about the guys who attacked him and not wishing them further harm. James has always been cool.
- Great callback to the pilot with Bobby and James in the jail, except now Bobby is on the other side of the bars.
- Fuck you, Chad.
- RIP Duncan. You never got up from your desk.
- When Chantal said “I love you, Hutch,” I soooo wanted him to respond with “I love you, Honey Bunny.” Their characters are straight out of an early Tarantino script, given that they’re obsessed with fast food while prone to hitman philosophizing. And both Tim Roth and Jennifer Jason Leigh have worked with Tarantino.
- When I was a little kid, I actually put a key into an electrical outlet in a moment pretty similar to Dougie’s. It didn’t alert me to a past life or alternate reality but it did send a very weird vibration up my arm. Mom found me and stopped things before I died. Thanks, mom!
- Audrey and Charlie got so close to leaving before it all yet again unraveled. I love the absurd Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? situation they seem to be trapped in. Audrey apparently has had enough of it, though, considering that she’s currently strangling her husband. I still have no clue what’s going on with them.
- Charlene Yi puts in an appearance as another rando Roadhouse character, because if Michael Cera is in something then she will eventually show up, and vice versa. Her crawling across the floor to a cacophonous Veils song after being displaced by some cruel bikers, only to let out a soul-shattering scream, is the spookiest Roadhouse scene so far in the revival.