Skip to main content

I have a problem with my liver.

Twin Peaks
3.6 Don’t die.

(SPOILERS) The season resumes form with the sixth episode, and incongruity abounds – as much as anything in Twin Peaks is any more or less incongruous than anything else – from the most endearing to the most alarming. The latter of which is up there with the very nastiest nastiness witnessed in a David Lynch joint in the form of butcher for hire Ike “The Spike” Stadtler (Christophe Zajac-Denek), the most alarming killer dwarf since Donald Sutherland led himself on a wild goose chase around Venice in Don’t Look Now.


Lynch’s use of music in Don’t die is both eclectic and exemplary. He concludes with Sharon von Etten crooning Tarifa over the credits, but it’s Ike going on a bloody frenzy to the innocuous and innocent sound of BluntedBeatz’ “I AM” Oldschool HipHop Beat that really sets the episode on edge. This is Lynch at his most visceral, immediate and palpably perturbing. You hear it before you see it, the screams of the first victim in Lorraine’s office, before the pint-sized professional hit person bursts in and makes a very final mess of her. There’s the same quality here David Fincher exerts over the reservoir murders in Zodiac: sudden, unstoppable, dreadful, relentless. And even after that, there’s the twistedly amusing sight of Ike upset over the state of his now-twisted murder implement.


Contrast that with the uplifting Coop-as-Dougie plotline. Last week I expressed my reservations about this thread running and running, but for now I’m just going to roll with it, particularly when the action is reduced to a crawl the way it is here, to mesmerising effect, and accompanied by Johnny Jewel’s Windswept. Before that, we’ve had Coop fixating on a police officer’s badge and a similarly snail-paced sequence in which he ends up sitting at the end of Sonny Jim Jones’ bed eating crisps and clapping the light on and off. 


The implication that Coop has to become Coop soon is emphasised by Mike appearing in the carpet once again (“You have to wake up. Wake up. Don’t die. Don’t die. Don’t die” – in an episode where death is all around and very immediate). If his mind isn’t ready to return, there’s an enervating sensation to realising Coop’s being guided on his path yet again, to imprint seemingly abstract lines and ladders and squiggles on this case files. 


Bushnell MullinsWhat the hell are all these childish scribbles?

It seems like there must be some rhyme or reason, but the pay-off, in which the gloriously-named Bushnell Mullins (Don Murray), all ready to chew Dougie out some more, happens upon some inscrutable revelation they conceal, is a stroke of genius (“Dougie, Thank you. I want you to keep this to yourself. This is disturbing”). Notably too, Dougie is wearing a Coop suit in this scene, as if subtly regaining something of himself (and his realisation of Bushnell’s boxing younger self may be setting the scene for more extensive connecting of the fragmented dots of comprehension).


Dougie at least appears to have some reprisals delayed, thanks to Janey-E’s spirited confrontation with a pair of extortionists, Tommy (Ronnie Gene Blevins) and Jimmy (Jeremy Davies). Davies, wholly unsurprisingly, is playing exactly the same dishevelled small-time sleazebag he essayed to perfection in Justified. He seems to have willingly typecast himself in this kind of role. But since Dougie also looks to be on Ike’s prospective hit list (sent to him by Duncan Todd, at the behest of the Mitchum brothers, presumably), an attack on Coop with a bent instrument could be shortly in the offing.


Albert: Fuck Gene Kelly, you motherfucker!

Most of the rest of the episode is Twin Peaks-heavy, but for the continued teasing of Blue Rose… who is indeed Diane! And is indeed Laura Dern, in a blonde Louise Brookes bob. It’s tantamount to seeing Mrs Columbo, or ‘er indoors, in the flesh, but I’m sure Lynch and Frost know what they’re doing. 


Twin Peaks itself also offers interesting reversals, twists and illuminations. After such an unsettling introduction, Richard Horne is put entirely in his place by an altogether weirder and more lunatic specimen (Balthazar Getty’s Red), one who can do some seriously weird shit with coins that remain in the air far longer than they ought, and which appear and disappear in surprising places. He’s also given to typical impenetrable Lynch statements (“I have a problem with my liver”, “Did you ever see the movie, The King and I?”) 


It has been pointed out that the appearing/disappearing act has also been seen with Mrs Tremond’s grandson and the handful of creamed corn, which suggests some kind of garmonbozia thing going on there, it being “pain and sorrow” and Richard losing the coin toss before falling victim to his own pain and sorrow (and inflicting it on others). I’m not sure Red is up there in the pantheon of threatening Lynch psychos at this point (Ike steals his thunder rather, lathering red over the whole episode), but it’s nice to see him take addled Dick down a peg or two, to the extent that the latter’s actual humanised… until he ploughs into a wee bairn in his truck (“I’ll showing you ‘fucking kid’”, he announces enraged, before mowing down a kid). And even then, he’s gone from being a one-note psycho to one who desperately and incompetently wipes the blood off his radiator grill. 


This incident gets to the nub of the episode (Don’t die), from the first appearance of the amazing Harry Dean Stanton as Carl Rodd (almost 91 and looking just about the same as he ever was), from Fire Walk With Me – as is the Number 6 on telegraph poles – and The Secret History of Twin Peaks, talking about how he goes into town every day just to get out of the trailer park (“Not much to look forward to except the hammer banging down at his age”) and cheerfully announcing “I’ve been smoking for 75 years, every fucking day” (which totally came from Lynch). 


Carl, who sees the mother and child in the park before the accident and is no stranger to spiritual experiences, views the child’s spirit ascend heavenwards in a fizz of yellow light, before going to silently console the mother. It’s a scene that plays at the not untypical Lynch midpoint between all-consuming emotional depths and the absurd, the reactions of the inept extra onlookers bordering on the farcical, with the crackle of electricity pylons (following the earlier red stop light) that tops the scene underlining that this is indeed the director’s oeuvre through and through.


While I don’t particularly relish further episodes of Ike utilising Spike, a nasty end for Deputy Chad (John Pirruccello), who is proving to be a particularly deplorable specimen (“He couldn’t take being a soldier” he mocks of Frank and Doris’ dead son), wouldn’t be completely objectionable at this stage (although the show being what it is, I wouldn’t be surprised if he is turned around into a sympathetic character). 


More significantly – and also involving Chad, who threatens to tell Frank on Hawk taking apart the toilet cubicle, the reveal of the Log Lady’s cryptic message and the importance of the Deputy Chief’s heritage are bound in a coin with the head of a Native American on it (another coin, following the Red spectacle) leading him to pieces of paper lodged down the Nez Perce American Manufacturing door, also with a Native American pictured. The most obvious conclusion is that they’re from Laura’s diary… (“The good Dale is in the Lodge, and he can’t leave. Write it in your diary”).


An episode that keeps you on your toes, running the gamut from sedentary to shocking and, in the middle, somewhere between the two. What’s most interesting is how long Lynch is sustaining all these different threads, with no urgency for any of them to dovetail; this is, in its way, ground-breaking long-form storytelling, with only really the credits and weekly performance at the Bang Bang Bar betraying any sense that this is structured in any traditional TV sense, rather than an 18-hour movie divided up for purely logistical reasons.


Agree? Disagree? Mildly or vehemently? Let me know in the comments below.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

She writes Twilight fan fiction.

Vampire Academy (2014)
My willingness to give writer Daniel Waters some slack on the grounds of early glories sometimes pays off (Sex and Death 101) and sometimes, as with this messy and indistinct Young Adult adaptation, it doesn’t. If Vampire Academy plods along as a less than innovative smart-mouthed Buffy rip-off that might be because, if you added vampires to Heathers, you would probably get something not so far from the world of Joss Whedon. Unfortunately inspiration is a low ebb throughout, not helped any by tepid direction from Daniel’s sometimes-reliable brother Mark and a couple of hopelessly plankish leads who do their best to dampen down any wit that occasionally attempts to surface.

I can only presume there’s a never-ending pile of Young Adult fiction poised for big screen failure, all of it comprising multi-novel storylines just begging for a moment in the Sun. Every time an adaptation crashes and burns (and the odds are that they will) another one rises, hydra-like, hoping…

Move away from the jams.

Aladdin (2019)
(SPOILERS) I was never overly enamoured by the early ‘90s renaissance of Disney animation, so the raves over Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin left me fairly unphased. On the plus side, that means I came to this live action version fairly fresh (prince); not quite a whole new world but sufficiently unversed in the legend to appreciate it as its own thing. And for the most part, Aladdin can be considered a moderate success. There may not be a whole lot of competition for that crown (I’d give the prize to Pete’s Dragon, except that it was always part-live action), but this one sits fairly comfortably in the lead.

He made me look the wrong way and I cut off my hand. He could make you look the wrong way and you could lose your whole head.

Moonstruck (1987)
(SPOILERS) Moonstruck has the dubious honour of making it to the ninth spot in Premiere magazine’s 2006 list of the 20 Most Overrated Movies of all Time. There are certainly some valid entries (number one is, however, absurd), but I’m not sure that, despite its box office success and Oscar recognition, the picture has a sufficient profile to be labelled with that adjective. It’s a likeable, lightweight romantic comedy that can boast idiosyncratic casting in a key role, but it simply doesn’t endure quotably or as a classic couple matchup the way the titans of the genre (Annie Hall, When Harry Met Sally) do. Even its magical motif is rather feeble.

Why would I turn into a filing cabinet?

Captain Marvel (2019)
(SPOILERS) All superhero movies are formulaic to a greater or lesser degree. Mostly greater. The key to an actually great one – or just a pretty good one – is making that a virtue, rather than something you’re conscious of limiting the whole exercise. The irony of the last two stand-alone MCU pictures is that, while attempting to bring somewhat down-the-line progressive cachet to the series, they’ve delivered rather pedestrian results. Of course, that didn’t dim Black Panther’s cultural cachet (and what do I know, swathes of people also profess to loving it), and Captain Marvel has hit half a billion in its first few days – it seems that, unless you’re poor unloved Ant-Man, an easy $1bn is the new $700m for the MCU – but neither’s protagonist really made that all-important iconic impact.

Bleach smells like bleach.

Million Dollar Baby (2004)
(SPOILERS) I’d like to be able to say it was beyond me how Clint’s misery-porn fest hoodwinked critics and the Academy alike, leading to his second Best Picture and Director double Oscar win. Such feting would naturally lead you to assume Million Dollar Baby was in the same league as Unforgiven, when it really has more in common with The Mule, only the latter is likeably lightweight and nonchalant in its aspirations. This picture has buckled beneath the burden of self-appointed weighty themes and profound musings, which only serve to highlight how crass and manipulative it is.

You're reading a comic book? What are you, retarded?

Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut (2009)
(SPOILERS) It’s a decade since the holy grail of comic books finally fought through decades of development hell to land on the big screen, via Zach Snyder’s faithful but not faithful enough for the devoted adaptation. Many then held the director’s skills with a much more open mind than they do now – following the ravages he has inflicted on the DCEU – coming as he was off the back of the well-received 300. Many subsequently held that his Watchmen, while visually impressive, had entirely missed the point (not least in some of its stylistic and aesthetic choices). I wouldn’t go that far – indeed, for a director whose bombastic approach is often only a few notches down from Michael Bay (who was, alarmingly, also considered to direct at one point), there are sequences in Watchmen that show tremendous sensitivity – but it’s certainly the case that, even or especially in its Ultimate Cut form and for all the furore the change to the end of the story provoked,…

I’d kill you too, Keanu. I’d kill you just for fun, even if I didn’t have to.

Always Be My Maybe (2019)
(SPOILERS) The pun-tastic title of this Netflix romcom is a fair indication of its affably undemanding attributes. An unapologetic riff on When Harry Met Sally, wherein childhood friends rather than college attendees finally agree the best thing to be is together, it’s resolutely determined to cover no new ground, all the way through to its positive compromise finale. That’s never a barrier to a good romcom, though – at their best, their charm is down to ploughing familiar furrows. Always Be My Maybe’s problem is that, decent comedy performers though the two leads may be – and co-writers with Michael Golamco – you don’t really care whether they get together or not. Which isn’t like When Harry Met Sally at all.

You're always sorry, Charles, and there's always a speech, but nobody cares anymore.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019)
(SPOILERS) To credit its Rotten Tomatoes score (22%), you’d think X-Men: Dark Phoenix was a travesty that besmirched the name of all good and decent (read: MCU proper) superhero movies, or even last week’s underwhelming creature feature (Godzilla: King of Monsters has somehow reached 40%, despite being a lesser beast in every respect). Is the movie’s fate a self-fulfilling prophecy, what with delayed release dates and extensively reported reshoots? Were critics castigating a fait accompli turkey without giving it a chance? That would be presupposing they’re all sheep, though, and in fairness, other supposed write-offs havecome back from such a brink in the past (World War Z). Whatever the feelings of the majority, Dark Phoenix is actually a mostly okay (twelfth) instalment in the X-franchise – it’s exactly what you’d expect from an X-Men movie at this point, one without any real mojo left and a variable cast struggling to pull its weight. The third act is a bi…

They went out of business, because they were too good.

School for Scoundrels (1960)
(SPOILERS) Possibly the pinnacle of Terry-Thomas’ bounder persona, and certainly the one where it’s put to best caddish use, as he gives eternally feckless mug Ian Carmichael a thorough lesson in one-upmanship, only for the latter to turn the tables when he finds himself a tutor. School for Scoundrels is beautifully written (by an uncredited Peter Ustinov and Frank Tarloff), filled with clever set pieces, a fine supporting cast and a really very pretty object of the competing chaps’ affection (Janette Scott), but it’s Terry-Thomas who is the glue that binds this together. And, while I couldn’t say for sure, this might have the highest “Hard cheese” count of any of his films.

Based on Stephen Potter’s 1947’s humorous self-help bestseller (and subsequent series of -manship books) The Theory and Practice of Gamesmanship (or The Art of Winning Games without Actually Cheating), which suggested ungentlemanly methods for besting an opponent in any given field, gam…

I should have mailed it to the Marx Brothers.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
When your hero(es) ride off into the sunset at the end of a film, it’s usually a pretty clear indication that a line is being drawn under their adventures. Sure, rumours surfaced during the ‘90s of various prospective screenplays for a fourth outing for the whip-cracking archeologist. But I’m dubious anyone really expected it to happen. There seemed to be a natural finality to Last Crusade that made the announcement of his 2007 return nostalgically welcome but otherwise unwarranted. That it turned out so tepid merely seemed like confirmation of what we already knew; Indy’s time was past.