*honk honk honk honk* Please we have to get home! She’s sick! AAAH! AAAH! OH GOD! AAH! AAAH! OOH! OOH! OH HELLO THERE! Sorry, dearest Filthy Dreams readers and fellow Twin Peaks fanatics, I was just getting into my newest hobby, mimicking my favorite new character on Twin Peaks: The Return–woman in car with the puking zombie child or whatever the hell was going on there. It was possibly the most unsettling moment in an episode with no shortage of them, but we’ll get to it since we’re Lost In The Bang Bang Bar again with Part 11. So grab some cherry pie and let’s go full Lynchian!
“Here’s to the pie that saved your life, Dougie!”
“An academic definition of Lynchian might be that the term ‘refers to a particular kind of irony where the very macabre and the very mundane combine in such a way as to reveal the former’s perpetual containment within the latter,’” writes David Foster Wallace in his 1996 essay “David Lynch Keeps His Head.” Wallace is credited with coining the term Lynchian, a word that is “one of those Porter-Stewart-type words that’s ultimately definable only ostensively–i.e., we know it when we see it.”
It naturally follows that Lynch would know how to do “Lynchian,” but sometimes he goes above and beyond in perfecting his own aesthetic. This is exactly what happened in Twin Peaks: The Return Part 11. Filled with cherry pies, otherworldly electricity, coffee and donuts, shattered American idealism, bad romantic melodrama and more, Part 11 is possibly the most stereotypically Lynchian thing Lynch has ever done. Even more than just being Lynchian, as explored by David Foster Wallace, I’d describe Part 11 as, I’m going to coin it now, “Twin Peaks-ian.” More than just the very macabre and the very mundane, it contains that folksy charm that I think nearly every Twin Peaks viewer has been yearning for since the beginning of this 18-hour series.
Hitting on nearly every theme in Lynch’s obsessed and surreal wheelhouse, Part 11’s Twin Peaksian perfection starts immediately with a seemingly innocuous scene of three brothers playing catch in their yard. This idyllic moment should give even the most cursory Lynch fan pause. If you see some clichéd version of Americana in a Lynch production, oh, things are going to get real crazy, real fast.
And boy, it did. Throwing the baseball too far across the road, the boys chase the ball toward the edge of the woods. “There’s someone there,” remarks one of the brothers before we see the camera pan to Miriam. Yes, that pie-loving, Richard Horne-threatening Miriam I thought was dead as a doornail last week. Bloodied and sooty, she crawls through the grass before collapsing. The scene is reminiscent, in its combination of Middle America and battered bodies, of the moment in Blue Velvet when Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini) shows up on Kyle MacLachlan’s character Jeffrey’s doorstep completely beaten and nude.
This was just the first indication that my predictions about the darkness falling on Twin Peaks, gathered from the ominous atmosphere of Part 10, were spot on. After Miriam–the half-cadaver–shuffles out of the forest, Mark Frost and David Lynch take us on a chaotic spree through their ongoing storylines, while hitting on just about every stereotypically Lynch trope they possibly could.
Domestic melodrama? Check. We see Shelly’s daughter Becky screaming about her idiot drug addict husband Steven in their trailer. Calling Shelly away from the Double R Diner, she greets her mother by grabbing a gun and stealing her car. Shelly doesn’t take this lightly–gripping onto the hood of the car and yelling, “Becky! Stop!” until Becky finally swivels around, tossing poor Shelly, with her red heels flying, off the car.
In a screech of tires, Becky runs into an apartment building, searching for Steven. Even though a neighbor pops her head out to inform Becky, “They left, they just left. There’s nobody in there,” Becky, unhinged and unsatisfied, unloads a clip into the apartment. The camera takes a dizzying, Hitchcock-esque spin down a stairwell to find Steven hanging with that former dweeb Gersten Hayward.
We later see Bobby, who turns out to be Becky’s dad, sitting with his daughter and Shelly at the Double R. Diner. The melodramatic scene reveals just how much has and hasn’t changed in the town of Twin Peaks. Standing in for the viewers, Norma, like a little nebby voyeur, watches on with a concerned but warm gaze. Asking Becky what she wants to do about Steven, as she switches within seconds between love and hate for her deadbeat husband, Bobby shows his transformation from the asshole, coke-dealing jock kid into a concerned dad and policeman. While he still might be wearing his flannel shirt and leather jacket–his typical uniform in the original series, Bobby is now all growed-up.
Shelly, though, hasn’t changed. In the middle of their conversation, Red, that creepy drug dealer who can levitate coins, knocks on the diner window. Shelly beams and sprints outside to smooch with her beloved. Oh girl…oh no…Shelly, despite her concern for her daughter’s relationship, still picks the bad boys. Poor thing. It’s such a tragic scene, made even more heartbreaking when we see Bobby watching Shelly’s actions, looking dejected and shattered as his daughter looks on.
Suddenly…*blam*! A gunshot flies through the Double R Diner. In “David Lynch Keeps His Head,” Wallace lists moments that he would categorize as Lynchian: “Ted Bundy wasn’t particularly Lynchian, but good old Jeffrey Dahmer, with his victims’ various anatomies neatly separated and stored in his fridge alongside his chocolate milk and Shedd Spread, was thoroughgoingly Lynchian. A recent homicide in Boston, in which the deacon of a South Shore church reportedly gave chase to a vehicle that bad cut him off, forced the car off the road, and shot the driver with a highpowered crossbow, was borderline Lynchian. A Rotary luncheon where everybody’s got a comb-over and a polyester sport coat and is eating bland Rotarian chicken and exchanging Republican platitudes with heartfelt sincerity and yet all are either amputees or neurologically damaged or both would be more Lynchian than not. A hideously bloody street fight over an insult would be a Lynchian street fight if and only if the insultee punctuates every kick and blow with an injunction not to say fucking anything if you can’t say something fucking nice.”
The following scene mimics the tenor of Wallace’s Lynchian run-down as Bobby rushes out of the Double R Diner doors to see a van parked with a couple arguing about a gun. Apparently, their son found a loaded gun in the back of their van and shot it out the window into the Double R. As Bobby stares on, the scene gets weirder and weirder as the child, in a camouflage hoodie gives the Deputy the stink eye, and his dad, wearing a similar outfit, does the same. All the while a car behind the traffic jam keeps honk, honk, honking!
Bobby runs to the honking car to try to get its driver to stop. Looking inside, though, he couldn’t be prepared for what he saw–a hysterical woman who bares a striking resemblance to the woman terrorized in the car by the woodsman in Part 8. Here, though the terror is coming from inside the car. “What are you doing? We’re trying to get home! We’re already late! We’re late for dinner…Why is this happening?” she yells. Her rambling yells turn into screams as the child in the passenger seat raises up with her arms stiff in front of her and pukes green bile. What the hell?
In the mood for more Lynchain and Twin Peaksian moments? Maybe electricity opening portals to other dimensions? Dead bodies found unexpectedly in natural settings? Sycamore trees? Enthusiastic munching on donuts and coffee? Quadruple check. We return to South Dakota with the FBI agents, Hastings and of course, that lovely Diane who are all visiting the site where Hastings met the Major. Pulling up to an abandoned property, we see the flash of a Woodsman wander by. This isn’t a good sign…
Sneaking through a hole in the fence, Gordon and Albert approach the house to the audible crackle of electricity. Though less so in his film work, electricity plays a significant role in Lynch’s paintings, some of which he even wires to contain lights. Here though, electricity seems to be how individuals in the different lodges, “zones” or portals travel. Think back to Cooper reappearing through the electrical socket in Part 3.
Gordon witnesses, in the electrical force field, the sky opening up to a swirling portal. There’s an intense whooshing sound, as the camera shakes and pans back to Gordon as he floats in and out of view. Almost walking through the portal, Lynch’s Gordon sees a group of Woodsmen or “dirty men with beards,” as he later describes, on a staircase. Before he can get sucked in, Albert drags him out.
“I guess we found out,” says Albert. Cole responds, “We sure did.” Did we?
Now if this weren’t enough, the duo spot a naked woman’s headless body in the weeds. Of course, this is the rest of Ruth Davenport, her pale body mirroring the sudden startling discovery of Laura Palmer’s body in plastic in the first episode of the show. As Gordon and Albert take photographs of the coordinates scrawled on Ruth’s arm, we see the Woodsman creeping up to the car that contains Hastings.
Aaaaand…his head gets crunched in like the Woodsman did to his victims in Part 8. Splattered with blood, the South Dakota police detective Mackley calls in for backup, revealing where they are–“2240 Sycamore.” As someone else on the Reddits pointed out, all these portals may be connected to “Sycamore.” Cooper came back on Sycamore Street and of course, he originally entered the lodge through the trees in Twin Peaks. Maybe Little Jimmy Scott knew what he was talking about when he crooned, “And I’ll see you in the trees–under the sycamore trees” in the Black Lodge-centric final episode of the original series. Spooky. And thoroughly Lynchian.
Dreams are another of Lynch’s favorite tropes. Lynch’s impressionistic aesthetic, particularly in films like Inland Empire, seems to aim to faithfully (or as faithfully as possible) represent the dream state. And this fascination goes beyond his filmmaking– just think of his album The Big Dream, which not only contains the title track but also a song called “Star Dream Girl.” A dream, in Part 11, becomes a lifesaving force for Cooper/Dougie.
Dougie is tasked by his boss to meet with the Mitchum brothers (who are planning to kill him) in order to let them know the insurance company made a mistake and their $30 million claim is legit. With a $30 million check in his pocket, Dougie begins to wander to his meeting when he’s distracted by One-Armed Mike who appears in front of a coffee shop. Mike beckons him to go in and we see Dougie emerge with a giant box.
Bradley Mitchum, played by Jim Belushi, seems haunted by a dream he had the previous night, rambling about it to his exhausted brother Rodney. Remembering bits and pieces of his dream, including that his brother’s “Candie cut” had healed (which it did), Bradley has an inkling that the dream may be a premonition.
Arriving in the middle of nowhere where he’s presumably brought to die, Dougie steps out with his box. Bradley stops his brother from immediately shooting Dougie, saying, “There’s something in that box and if that something is what I saw in my dream, we can’t kill him…it means he’s not our enemy, Rodney.” And what did Bradley dream would indicate Dougie’s innocence? A cherry pie, of course–the final and perhaps most Lynchian motif in Part 11.
Finding their $30 million check, the Mitchum brothers take Dougie for a night out with the three dazed and confused showgirls who arrive late. Asking where they’ve been, Candie exclaims, “There was so much traffic on the Strip. It was incredible. There were cars everywhere” with wide-eyed surprise. The camera lingers on her blank face before panning down to Cooper, who sports a similar expression. Was Candie another resident of the Black Lodge?
Of course, Dougie didn’t get that cherry pie for nothing as he and the brothers dig in. “This pie is so damned good,” observed Rodney. “Damn good!” parrots Dougie, but something’s different about his delivery. Rather than merely mimicking other people’s phrases, this, for the first time, sounds like Agent Cooper. He’s still in there–maybe he just needs another piece of pie to wake him up.
Now, how do all these quintessentially Lynchian tropes affect us, as the viewers? Do we see innocuous things like cherry pie and coffee differently after these episodes? Wallace seemed to think so, stating, “For me, Lynch’s movies’ deconstruction of this weird irony of the banal has affected the way I see and organize the world.” Same.