Hello Johnny, how are you today? Hello, Johnny, how…oh! Hello there, dearest Twin Peaks fantastic and Filthy Dreams readers! Are you feeling deeply uneasy by an educational toy? Me too. That must mean it’s time for Lost In the Bang Bang Bar, our weekly obsessing over Twin Peaks: The Return. This time we visit Part 10. Are you feeling sick of it yet? Well, Lynch and Frost certainly don’t shy away from exhausting their audience so neither should we!
“What the fuck! Did we ask her to tell him her life story…for four fucking hours?!”
That exasperated outburst from Bradley Mitchum, one of the two Mitchum brothers who own the Silver Mustang Casino where we saw Cooper hit the jackpots in Parts 3 and 4, seems to express the breathless exhaustion many are feeling by the tenth hour of Twin Peaks: The Return. Lynch and Frost have started to push viewers to their limit in this 18-hour movie apparently designed to appeal to just Lynch himself….and ok, us. This whirlwind narrative with its starts, pauses, atom bombs and repeated stops at the Roadhouse, by Part 10, has become an experiment in endurance.
Not that I don’t love it–I do , but I’ve seen the rumblings on the Reddits and the Twitters. However, is there an aesthetic appeal to exhausting your audience? We, here at Filthy Dreams, have certainly always thought so, as our hours long playlists attest. Why even our imagined club Filthy Dreams would be staged to grate on the patrons’ nerves as the same show occurs on the hour every hour. Was Lynch listening in to our conversations? It certainly seems like it, but more on that later.
As a whole, Part 10 feels like a roller coaster ride through violence, sex and drugged-up Vegas cocktail girls, but more on our new role model Candie in a bit. The episode opens with that little shit Richard Horne, who continues to prove that he’s the incarnate–or maybe, the prodigal son of pure evil. A popular fan theory is that evil Cooper aka Mr. C is really Richard’s dad, perhaps a product of rape when Audrey Horne was in a coma in the hospital. First, gross. Secondly, this theory seems more and more likely since Horne shows repeatedly in Part 10 that he has no moral core.
Remember Miriam, the overly enthusiastic pie eater at the Double R Diner? Well, we meet Miriam again as Richard pulls up in a beater car to her trailer and Christmas decoration-filled yard to threaten her as a witness to his hit and run of the kid in Part 6. Locked inside her trailer, Miriam appears at the door to tell Richard she wrote a letter to the sheriff identifying him as the driver. Richard, unsurprisingly, begins fuming and we see his reflection in the glass of Miriam’s trailer door, creating a doubling effect that is reminiscent of the two Coopers. Instead of the two Coopers though, Richard is just one personification of evil. He breaks into her trailer and kills her. Lynch leaves us with a shot of Miriam laying down in a pool of her own blood as a tacky candle stays lit in front of an open oven. We don’t have to see the flaming finale to know what happens next.
Richard calls that dope Chad at the sheriff’s office to intercept Miriam’s letter (“What a pussy you are! Don’t let that fucking letter get to the sheriff, you chickenshit or I’ll fuck you up bad.”) and drives off in his car. Not to become one of those viewers who analyzes every aesthetic choice, but the various colors of the car Richard drives seem symbolic. One end of the car is red, while the other is white–perhaps representing the genetic combination of evil (a Black Lodge-esque red) and good (Audrey’s white).
Color clearly matters in Twin Peaks’s universe and red pervades the episode whether the red door of Dougie’s house, Janey-E’s red flats or the reference to the “Red River Valley” as sung by Henry Dean Stanton’s Carl. Sitting outside another trailer park, Carl strums the guitar and croons the cowboy standard. As Lynch frequently references cinema history, it seems important to note the song played a large role in the film The Grapes of Wrath. And like the Joad’s depressing odyssey, there are hints throughout Part 10–premonitions–that things are going to get darker before the end. As “Red River Valley” goes:
“From this valley they say you are going
We will miss your bright eyes and sweet smile,
For they say you are taking the sunshine
That had brightened our pathway a while”
Carl stops singing as a coffee mug flies out a nearby trailer window, a symbolic tossing out of the folksy coffee and pie of the original series. “It’s a fucking nightmare,” remarks Carl. That coffee mug originated from Becky and Steven who reenact the physically abusive relationship between Becky’s mother and Leo from the first Twin Peaks.
Much of the episode, apart from Dougie and Janey-E’s rekindling romance, which sees Cooper having the floppiest sex I’ve ever witnessed, adding some much needed levity to the episode, is dedicated to the Mitchum Brothers, their casinos and three dazed and confused scene-stealing cocktail waitresses. What are they on? DRUGS?
The standout of the three is Candie, a space case and true melodramatic diva. Dressed in pink cocktail dresses, the three mainly stare off and make drinks for the brothers. Candie, however, makes a name for herself by attempting to swat at a fly and as it lands on Rodney Mitchum’s cheek, she cracks him across the face with a remote.
Again, with the long scene of Candie chasing a fly, Lynch toys with the viewer’s capacity for endurance. It’s no Breaking Bad fly episode, but it’s just a tad too long. Candie doesn’t take it too well either as she ugly cries through the next entire scene, exclaiming randomly, “HOW…can you ever love me after what I did?”
We later witness Candie in the offices of the Silver Mustang Casino as Anthony, Dougie’s sleazy insurance colleague played by Tom Sizemore, drops in to convince the Brothers that Dougie is responsible for shirking them from a 30 million dollar insurance claim. As Anthony arrives on the casino floor late at night, the brothers ask Candie to go fetch him and she glides out.
Watching her from the security feed, Candie appears to tell Anthony the story of Dougie winning the jackpots, but when questioned by Bradley about what they talked about, she explains, “Um…oh… that we’re in the version layer, that it’s going to be hot and smoggy tomorrow and I told him, ‘We are so lucky to have air conditioning in the casino.’” While this may come out of nowhere, in Candie’s previous bawling scene, she cried all through a local weather report. Maybe she picked up more than we think.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that much of the episode jumps around from character to character. We visit Dr. Jacoby who continues to scream nonsense as an Alex Jones incarnate (“We’re sheep to these monsters and they don’t give a shit!”). He does say, which seems wholly relevant to this nonlinear narrative, “Stop distracting yourself with this diverting bullshit and pay attention! Save the children! Buy yourself a shovel, dig yourself out of the shit and get educated!”
But, what are we supposed to pay attention to exactly? What is the real story here? Is it Richard Horne, who we later see terrifying his grandmother and Audrey’s disabled brother Johnny who sits tied to a chair after he ran into a wall in Part 9? Johnny is propped in front of the most comically disturbing toy I’ve ever seen–a bear combined with a head straight out of Lynch’s artwork. “Hello Johnny, how are you?” it mechanically repeats.
Richard, coming for money from grandma, chokes and threatens Sylvia Horne and Johnny to a saccharine sweet soundtrack courtesy of Mantovani and his Orchestra’s version of “Charmaine,” which Wikipedia tells me is often played as a stereotypical romantic music. Therefore, with the addition of this music, the scene is surreal, campy and more than a tad Clockwork Orange. “Why do you have to make something so simple so fucking difficult. Cunt,” Richard says, echoing perhaps many viewers feeling about this endless trip through Twin Peaks.
Should we be paying closer attention to the clues discovered by Gordon, Albert and Tammy? We see Gordon drinking a glass of wine and drawing a sketch of a hand reaching out to pet a …deer-weasel? With the wine, it plays to my fantasy that Lynch will start advertising Kyle MacLachlan’s Pursued by Bear wine. When will Cooper start schilling? I’m ready for some good product placement.
Anyway, Gordon hears a knock on his door and as he opens, suddenly a vision of a hysterical Laura Palmer appears, from a moment in Fire Walk With Me. Maybe Laura is the narrative, we’re supposed to be paying attention to as Margaret (The Log Lady) tells Hawk:
“Electricity is humming, You hear it in the mountains and rivers. You see it dance among the seas and stars. And glowing around the moon. But in these days, the glow is dying. What will be in the darkness that remains? The Truman brothers are both true men. They are your brothers. And the others, the good ones who have been with you. Now the circle is almost complete. Watch and listen to the drama of time and space. It all comes out now, flowing like a river. That which is and is not. Hawk, Laura is the one.”
Like the hints at darkness previously in the episode, Margaret’s cryptic message from her log foreshadows something ominous to come. What will be in the darkness that remains? And what is even in the darkness now? After Margaret’s message, there’s a long lingering shot at a starless night with a bright moon and howling wind before we return…that’s right! To the Bang Bang Bar!
Tonight at the Bang Bang Bar, there seems to be a pop-up of Club Silencio as Rebekah Del Rio sings “No Stars.” You might recognize Rebekah from Mulholland Drive in which she crooned “Llorando.” Here, though, she wears a dress that appears to have come straight from the Black Lodge collection with the zig-zagged black-and-white design of the floor.
Now, apparently, Twin Peaks viewers are starting to get restless with this endless parade of roadhouse finales, especially the 7-minute long “No Stars.” Sure it might be fun for awhile, but when you realize it’s an endless nightlife purgatory, suddenly people are running for the exits. But, to me, it seems to be Lynch’s point and it plays right into Filthy Dreams’ excessive and tiring aesthetic.
To me, this endless parade of roadhouse performances makes Twin Peaks’ ongoing nonlinear narrative akin to vaudeville. While Lynch always has a musical interlude in his work, this is almost aggressive in its frequency. Like vaudeville, these performances raise questions about the seriousness of the narratives. As viewers try to figure out what the hell is going on each week, traveling on this winding narrative road, interrogating the signs and symbols, they are constantly returned to the same bar with yet another torch song. Does it all mean anything? Who cares, Lynch seems to say, just sit back and enjoy the show.