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.

Popular posts from this blog

I’m smarter than a beaver.

Prey (2022) (SPOILERS) If nothing else, I have to respect Dan Trachtenberg’s cynical pragmatism. How do I not only get a project off the ground, but fast-tracked as well? I know, a woke Predator movie! Woke Disney won’t be able to resist! And so, it comes to pass. Luckily for Prey , it gets to bypass cinemas and so the same sorry fate of Lightyear . Less fortunately, it’s a patience-testing snook cocking at historicity (or at least, assumed historicity), in which a young, pint-sized Comanche girl who wishes to hunt and fish – and doubtless shoot to boot – with the big boys gets to take on a Predator and make mincemeat of him. Well, of course , she does. She’s a girl, innit?

Everyone creates the thing they dread.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) (SPOILERS) Avengers: Age of Ultron ’s problem isn’t one of lack. It benefits from a solid central plot. It features a host of standout scenes and set pieces. It hands (most of) its characters strong defining moments. It doesn’t even suffer now the “wow” factor of seeing the team together for the first time has subsided. Its problem is that it’s too encumbered. Maybe its asking to much of a director to effectively martial the many different elements required by an ensemble superhero movie such as this, yet Joss Whedon’s predecessor feels positively lean in comparison. Part of this is simply down to the demands of the vaster Marvel franchise machine. Seeds are laid for Captain America: Civil War , Infinity Wars I & II , Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok . It feels like several spinning plates too many. Such activity occasionally became over-intrusive on previous occasions ( Iron Man II ), but there are points in Age of Ultron whe

If you ride like lightning, you're going to crash like thunder.

The Place Beyond the Pines (2012) (SPOILERS) There’s something daringly perverse about the attempt to weave a serious-minded, generation-spanning saga from the hare-brained premise of The Place Beyond the Pines . When he learns he is a daddy, a fairground stunt biker turns bank robber in order to provide for his family. It’s the kind of “only-in-Hollywood” fantasy premise you might expect from a system that unleashed Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man and Point Break on the world. But this is an indie-minded movie from the director of the acclaimed Blue Valentine ; it demands respect and earnest appraisal. Unfortunately it never recovers from the abject silliness of the set-up. The picture is littered with piecemeal characters and scenarios. There’s a hope that maybe the big themes will even out the rocky terrain but in the end it’s because of this overreaching ambition that the film ends up so undernourished. The inspiration for the movie

This entire edifice you see around you, built on jute.

Jeeves and Wooster 3.3: Cyril and the Broadway Musical  (aka Introduction on Broadway) Well, that’s a relief. After a couple of middling episodes, the third season bounces right back, and that's despite Bertie continuing his transatlantic trip. Clive Exton once again plunders  Carry On, Jeeves  but this time blends it with a tale from  The Inimitable Jeeves  for the brightest spots, as Cyril Basington-Basington (a sublimely drippy Nicholas Hewetson) pursues his stage career against Aunt Agatha's wishes.

I’m the famous comedian, Arnold Braunschweiger.

Last Action Hero (1993) (SPOILERS) Make no mistake, Last Action Hero is a mess. But even as a mess, it might be more interesting than any other movie Arnie made during that decade, perhaps even in his entire career. Hellzapoppin’ (after the 1941 picture, itself based on a Broadway revue) has virtually become an adjective to describe films that comment upon their own artifice, break the fourth wall, and generally disrespect the convention of suspending disbelief in the fictions we see parading across the screen. It was fairly audacious, some would say foolish, of Arnie to attempt something of that nature at this point in his career, which was at its peak, rather than playing it safe. That he stumbled profoundly, emphatically so since he went up against the behemoth that is Jurassic Park (slotted in after the fact to open first), should not blind one to the considerable merits of his ultimate, and final, really, attempt to experiment with the limits of his screen persona.

I think it’s pretty clear whose side the Lord’s on, Barrington.

Monte Carlo or Bust aka  Those Daring Young Men in Their Jaunty Jalopies (1969) (SPOILERS) Ken Annakin’s semi-sequel to Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines tends to be rather maligned, usually compared negatively to its more famous predecessor. Which makes me rather wonder if those expressing said opinion have ever taken the time to scrutinise them side by side. Or watch them back to back (which would be more sensible). Because Monte Carlo or Bust is by far the superior movie. Indeed, for all its imperfections and foibles (not least a performance from Tony Curtis requiring a taste for comic ham), I adore it. It’s probably the best wacky race movie there is, simply because each set of competitors, shamelessly exemplifying a different national stereotype (albeit there are two pairs of Brits, and a damsel in distress), are vibrant and cartoonish in the best sense. Albeit, it has to be admitted that, as far as said stereotypes go, Annakin’s home side win

Death to Bill and Ted!

Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991) (SPOILERS) The game of how few sequels are actually better than the original is so well worn, it was old when Scream 2 made a major meta thing out of it (and it wasn’t). Bill & Ted Go to Hell , as Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey was originally called, is one such, not that Excellent Adventure is anything to be sneezed at, but this one’s more confident, even more playful, more assured and more smartly stupid. And in Peter Hewitt it has a director with a much more overt and fittingly cartoonish style than the amiably pedestrian Stephen Herrick. Evil Bill : First, we totally kill Bill and Ted. Evil Ted : Then we take over their lives. My recollection of the picture’s general consensus was that it surpassed the sleeper hit original, but Rotten Tomatoes’ review aggregator suggests a less universal response. And, while it didn’t rock any oceans at the box office, Bogus Journey and Point Break did quite nicely for Keanu Reev

Just because you are a character doesn't mean that you have character.

Pulp Fiction (1994) (SPOILERS) From a UK perspective, Pulp Fiction ’s success seemed like a fait accompli; Reservoir Dogs had gone beyond the mere cult item it was Stateside and impacted mainstream culture itself (hard to believe now that it was once banned on home video); it was a case of Tarantino filling a gap in the market no one knew was there until he drew attention to it (and which quickly became over-saturated with pale imitators subsequently). Where his debut was a grower, Pulp Fiction hit the ground running, an instant critical and commercial success (it won the Palme d’Or four months before its release), only made cooler by being robbed of the Best Picture Oscar by Forrest Gump . And unlike some famously-cited should-have-beens, Tarantino’s masterpiece really did deserve it.

Poetry in translation is like taking a shower with a raincoat on.

Paterson (2016) (SPOILERS) Spoiling a movie where nothing much happens is difficult, but I tend to put the tag on in a cautionary sense much of the time. Paterson is Jim Jarmusch at his most inert and ambient but also his most rewardingly meditative. Paterson (Adam Driver), a bus driver and modest poet living in Paterson, New Jersey, is a stoic in a fundamental sense, and if he has a character arc of any description, which he doesn’t really, it’s the realisation that is what he is. Jarmusch’s picture is absent major conflict or drama; the most significant episodes feature Paterson’s bus breaking down, the English bull terrier Marvin – whom Paterson doesn’t care for but girlfriend Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) dotes on – destroying his book of poetry, and an altercation at the local bar involving a gun that turns out to be a water pistol. And Paterson takes it all in his stride, genial to the last, even the ruination of his most earnest, devoted work (the only disappoint

Piece by piece, the camel enters the couscous.

The Forgiven (2021) (SPOILERS) By this point, the differences between filmmaker John Michael McDonagh and his younger brother, filmmaker and playwright Martin McDonagh, are fairly clearly established. Both wear badges of irreverence and provocation in their writing, and a willingness to tackle – or take pot-shots – at bigger issues, ones that may find them dangling their toes in hot water. But Martin receives the lion’s share of the critical attention, while John is generally recognised as the slightly lesser light. Sure, some might mistake Seven Psychopaths for a John movie, and Calvary for a Martin one, but there’s a more flagrant sense of attention seeking in John’s work, and concomitantly less substance. The Forgiven is clearly aiming more in the expressly substantial vein of John’s earlier Calvary, but it ultimately bears the same kind of issues in delivery.