Skip to main content

A wrong has been made right, and the Sun is shining bright.

Twin Peaks
3.13: What is the story, Charlie?

(SPOILERS) After the relative wheel-spinning of the previous episode, What is the story, Charlie? makes up for it and then some, with hugely satisfying Evil Coop and Dougie Coop plotlines and several really nice little moments back in Peaks itself. Damn it, they’re making me care about characters I always found tiresome in the original!


Anthony Sinclair: Dougie saved my life. Thank you, Dougie.
Dougie-Coop: Thank Dougie.

I’m betting Tom Sizemore loves playing Anthony Sinclair. It’s so entirely against his type – “a weak fucking coward” as John Savage’s bent cop puts it – there’s an added enjoyment factor to seeing Sinclair break down and confess upon having Dougie-Coop massage his dandruff-coated shoulders. Dougie-Coop’s idiot savant ability to unknowingly bring about exactly the most positive solution is verging on the Clouseau-like (“I tried to poison Dougie, he saw right through me”), such that now even the crooked cops are implicated (while the incompetent ones, the Fusco brothers, manage to discard the evidence of who Coop is, in a mischievous Lynch dismissal of what he surely knows is the audience’s paramount desire to get our Coop back). And there are two helpings of cherry pie: Dougie’s and, prospectively, Becky’s.


I have to admit, I’m not so sure about Janey-E, since almost everything we see about her affection for Dougie-Coop suggests the shallowest of characters. She has an entirely oblivious husband with great abs who gives her wild orgasms and elicits confessions of “Oh Dougie, I love you so much” when she sets eyes on the amazing new sports car that’s been delivered courtesy of the Mitchum brothers. Who knows, maybe Lynch is making a wry commentary on the ideal husband, but Janey-E comes across as entirely materialistic (entirely likably so, though, thanks to Watts’ fantastic performance). But more to the point, which is better: Sunny Jim’s insanely-lit-up-like-the-Vegas-Strip gym set or Ray’s gang’s insanely-oversized monitor screen?


Bushnell Mullins: Dougie, you might want to call your wife?
Dougie-Coop: Wife?

So just when did that ball-tossing scene in the back garden take place last episode? Not between the Mitchums taking Dougie out to celebrate and his arriving at the office the next day – Robert Knepper doing the conga is priceless, whereas Belushi looks like he does it all time – that’s for sure (Lynch likely just doesn’t care with some of this stuff, like the auto incident of the previous episode involving Bobby not occurring on the same day as his finding his dad’s message and later relating that to Ed in the diner in this one).


Muddy: No one can beat him at arm wrestling. If you lose, Ranzo’s your boss.
Evil Coop: What’s this, kindergarten? Nursery school? What do I get if I win?
Muddy: You be our boss.
Evil Coop: I don’t want to be your boss. But if I win, I want him (points to Ray).

The hands-down sequence of the episode is Evil Coop’s visit to Ranzo (Derek Mears) and his gang, with the aim of settling a score with Ray. It pulls one of my favourite devices of putting you suddenly on the side of the bad guy, as Coop, outnumbered and roundly mocked over his chances of winning at arm-wrestling, and whacked on the back of the head (it was probably this act that sealed the boss’s fate), proceeds to entirely take the piss out of Ranzo’s macho bullshit.


Evil Coop: Starting position’s more comfortable.

Evil Coop’s succinct delivery here has a touch of the Dougie about it, and both have a stillness that contrasts effectively with those they come into contact with. I half expected Coop to pull a Jeff Goldblum in The Fly and bloodily snap Ranzo’s arm, but instead he merely breaks it and puts his nose through his skull.


Ray: He said that you’ve got something inside that they want.

It’s interesting how much this series is revolving around characters who can no longer make an live appearance. Bob, Major Briggs, and now Phillip Jeffries. I’m wondering if they’ll end up recasting Bowie, but give an unreal explanation for it. So Jeffries’ idea was to put the ring on Evil Coop and have him transported back to the Black Lodge… And isn’t it going to be a major let-down for Evil Coop when he learns the coordinates lead him back to Twin Peaks, somewhere he’s studiously avoided for a quarter of a century?


Other things to note of this scene: we get to connect the dots between Richard Horne and the bad crowd he’s in with (there seems to be online expectation of Richard being revealed as Evil Coop’s son, which I guess is possible, but even crueller of Lynch towards Audrey if so): the man in the corner (“Do you need any money?”): Jeffries is at the Dutchman’s (presumably flying, so in some place of limbo, outside of time?)


Big Ed: Good to see you, Walter.
Walter: What’s his name again?

Aw. I never much cared for Big Ed in the original Peaks, dismissing him in much the same way Albert did, but seeing the poor sap still forlorn, never catching a break, bereft without the love of his life, ending the episode nursing a cup-a-soup at Big Ed’s Gas Farm (the site of the convenience store with the smelly demon tramps?) is terribly sad.


The uber-soapy plot of Norma’s Double-R franchise is also a sign that Lynch and Frost are very much prepared to take the show on to another season should there be a greenlight – there are only five episodes left! – and it seems Showtime will be happy to wave them through if they’re willing. Walter (Grant Goodeve) is surely a new contender for most hissable tool, trying to undermine Norma’s natural, organic, made with love service with a smile. How dare he, and then have the audacity of asking her to dinner!


Nadine: Can I call you Dr Amp?

And is this romance between Dr Jacoby and Nadine? Or what approximates the stirrings of it, as he recalls seeing her seven years previously, looking for a potato on the floor of the supermarket. There was a big storm that day, apparently. Anyway, this one may not go anywhere, much like Dr Amp’s circular broadcasts (“Thanks to you, I’m starting to shovel myself out of the shit”)…


… and the TV show Sarah Palmer is watching on a seriously deranged alcoholic loop (“And now it’s a boxing match again”). Is this a very obvious comment on the perma-inebriated state, or is there something else going on, complete with signature Lynch electrical sound effects? Probably both. I kept expecting some really weird shit to transpire, the scene dripping with pregnant menace, but instead with get teased some more.


Audrey: I feel like I’m somewhere else. Have you ever had that feeling, Charlie?
Charlie: No.
Audrey: Like I’m somewhere else and I’m someone else. Have you ever felt like that?
Charlie: No, I always feel like myself. And it may not always be the best feeling.
Audrey: Well, I’m not sure who I am, but I’m not me.
Charlie: This is Existentialism 101.
Audrey: Oh, fuck you! I’m serious.


I wouldn’t say Audrey isn’t still acting the bitch this week, exactly, but she’s clearly got some screws missing which makes her a touch less unsympathetic. On the other hand, I found Clark Middleton hilariously deadpan as Charlie, and I’d like to see him interacting with more of the show’s iconic characters. Get him out and about. Audrey still wants the lowdown of his phone conversation with Tina, and she’s all conflicted about going to the Roadhouse. Most indecipherable is the end of their conversation, and the title of the episode:

Charlie: Wow, are you going to stop playing games, or do I have to end your story too?
Audrey: What story is that Charlie? Is it the story of the little girl, who lived down the lane? Is it?


Well, is it? Ed had me feeling for him, and so did old James Silk Hurley, hitting those impossibly high Smurf notes with an encore of Just You that Renee (Jessica Szohr) seems to think is just for her. At least, she’s responding that way. An episode so satisfying, Lynch even pulls off a solid toilet gag when Anthony disposes of his poisoned coffee (“That bad, huh?”). 3.13 gets five stars. It’s that good.










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

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Who’s got the Figgy Port?

Loki (2021) (SPOILERS) Can something be of redeemable value and shot through with woke? The two attributes certainly sound essentially irreconcilable, and Loki ’s tendencies – obviously, with new improved super-progressive Kevin Feige touting Disney’s uber-agenda – undeniably get in the way of what might have been a top-tier MCU entry from realising its full potential. But there are nevertheless solid bursts of highly engaging storytelling in the mix here, for all its less cherishable motivations. It also boasts an effortlessly commanding lead performance from Tom Hiddleston; that alone puts Loki head and shoulders above the other limited series thus far.

Here’s Bloody Justice for you.

Laughter in Paradise (1951) (SPOILERS) The beginning of a comedic run for director-producer Mario Zampa that spanned much of the 1950s, invariably aided by writers Michael Pertwee and Jack Davies (the latter went on to pen a spate of Norman Wisdom pictures including The Early Bird , and also comedy rally classic Monte Carlo or Bust! ) As usual with these Pertwee jaunts, Laughter in Paradise boasts a sparky premise – renowned practical joker bequeaths a fortune to four relatives, on condition they complete selected tasks that tickle him – and more than enough resultant situational humour.

Damn prairie dog burrow!

Tremors (1990) (SPOILERS) I suspect the reason the horror comedy – or the sci-fi comedy, come to that – doesn’t tend to be the slam-dunk goldmine many assume it must be, is because it takes a certain sensibility to do it right. Everyone isn’t a Joe Dante or Sam Raimi, or a John Landis, John Carpenter, Edgar Wright, Christopher Landon or even a Peter Jackson or Tim Burton, and the genre is littered with financial failures, some of them very good failures (and a good number of them from the names mentioned). Tremors was one, only proving a hit on video (hence six sequels at last count). It also failed to make Ron Underwood a directing legend.

Why don't we go on a picnic, up the hill?

Invaders from Mars (1986) (SPOILERS) One can wax thematical over the number of remakes of ’50s movies in the ’80s – and ’50s SF movies in particular – and of how they represent ever-present Cold War and nuclear threats, and steadily increasing social and familial paranoias and disintegrating values. Really, though, it’s mostly down to the nostalgia of filmmakers for whom such pictures were formative influences (and studios hoping to make an easy buck on a library property). Tobe Hooper’s version of nostalgia, however, is not so readily discernible as a John Carpenter or a David Cronenberg (not that Cronenberg could foment such vibes, any more than a trip to the dental hygienist). Because his directorial qualities are not so readily discernible. Tobe Hooper movies tend to be a bit shit. Which makes it unsurprising that Invaders from Mars is a bit shit.

I’m just glad Will Smith isn’t alive to see this.

The Tomorrow War (2021) (SPOILERS). Not so much tomorrow as yesterday. There’s a strong sense of déjà vu watching The Tomorrow War , so doggedly derivative is it of every time-travel/alien war/apocalyptic sci-fi movie of the past forty years. Not helping it stand out from the pack are doughy lead Chris Pratt, damned to look forever on the beefy side no matter how ripped he is and lacking the chops or gravitas for straight roles, and debut live-action director Chris McKay, who manages to deliver the goods in a serviceably anonymous fashion.

You nicknamed my daughter after the Loch Ness Monster?

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (2012) The final finale of the Twilight saga, in which pig-boy Jacob tells Bella that, “No, it's not like that at all!” after she accuses him of being a paedo. But then she comes around to his viewpoint, doubtless displaying the kind of denial many parents did who let their kids spend time with Jimmy Savile or Gary Glitter during the ‘70s. It's lucky little Renesmee will be an adult by the age of seven, right? Right... Jacob even jokes that he should start calling Edward, “Dad”. And all the while they smile and smile.

I'm offering you a half-share in the universe.

Doctor Who Season 8 – Worst to Best I’m not sure I’d watched Season Eight chronologically before. While I have no hesitation in placing it as the second-best Pertwee season, based on its stories, I’m not sure it pays the same dividends watched as a unit. Simply, there’s too much Master, even as Roger Delgado never gets boring to watch and the stories themselves offer sufficient variety. His presence, turning up like clockwork, is inevitably repetitive. There were no particular revelatory reassessments resulting from this visit, then, except that, taken together – and as The Directing Route extra on the Blu-ray set highlights – it’s often much more visually inventive than what would follow. And that Michael Ferguson should probably have been on permanent attachment throughout this era.

I hate natural causes!

Body Bags (1993) (SPOILERS) I’m not surprised Showtime didn’t pick this up for an anthology series. Perhaps, if John Carpenter had made Coming Home in a Body Bag (the popular Nam movie series referenced in the same year’s True Romance ), we’d have something to talk about. Tho’ probably not, if Carpenter had retained his by this point firmly glued to his side DP Gary Kibbe, ensuring the proceedings are as flat, lifeless and unatmospheric as possible. Carpenter directed two of the segments here, Tobe Hooper the other one. It may sound absurd, given the quality of Hooper’s career, but by this point, even he was calling the shots better than Carpenter.

Call me crazy, but I don’t see America coming out in droves to see you puke.

The Hard Way (1991) (SPOILERS) It would probably be fair to suggest that Michael J Fox’s comic talents never quite earned the respect they deserved. Sure, he was the lead in two incredibly popular TV shows, but aside from one phenomenally successful movie franchise, he never quite made himself a home on the big screen. Part of that might have been down to attempts in the late ’80s to carve himself out a niche in more serious roles – Light of Day , Bright Lights, Big City , Casualties of War – roles none of his fanbase had any interest in seeing him essaying. Which makes the part of Nick Lang, in which Fox is at his comic best, rather perfect. After all, as his character, movie star Nick Lang, opines, after smashing in his TV with his People’s Choice Award – the kind of award reserved for those who fail to garner serious critical adoration – “ I’m the only one who wants me to grow up! ”

What's a movie star need a rocket for anyway?

The Rocketeer (1991) (SPOILERS) The Rocketeer has a fantastic poster. One of the best of the last thirty years (and while that may seem like faint praise, what with poster design being a dying art – I’m looking at you Marvel, or Amazon and the recent The Tomorrow War – it isn’t meant to be). The movie itself, however, tends towards stodge. Unremarkable pictures with a wide/cult fanbase, conditioned by childhood nostalgia, are ten-a-penny – Willow for example – and in this case, there was also a reasonably warm critical reception. But such an embrace can’t alter that Joe Johnston makes an inveterately bland, tepid movie director. His “feel” for period here got him The First Avenger: Captain America gig, a bland, tepid movie tending towards stodge. So at least he’s consistent.