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‘Twin Peaks’ Season 3, Episode 7: Absent Friends

For those who’ve been growing impatient with all the long sequences involving Agent Cooper’s addled alter-ego “Dougie Jones,” this episode had to come as something of a relief. It only has two relatively short Dougie scenes: one where the police drop by his office (at the same time Janey-E is there to translate for him, thank goodness) to let him know that his car has been found blown to bits; and one where Ike the Spike races out of a crowd intending to assassinate him. Before the killer can pull the trigger, Cooper’s instincts and muscle memories kick in, and thanks to some advice from a helpful vision of “the Evolution of the Arm,” he peels Ike’s hand away from the weapon, leaving a hunk of bloody flesh on the butt.


A scene from “Twin Peaks: The Return”


The rest of the hour’s as actively engaged with this season’s various crime story lines as the show’s been in weeks. Deputy Andy investigates last week’s hit-and-run; but gets stymied when the man whose truck Richard Horne used in the manslaughter refuses to cooperate. Army Lieutenant Knox reports back to Colonel Davis that Garland Briggs’s headless body has been found in Buckhorn, South Dakota, and that it’s the same age the Major was when he disappeared over 20 years ago. And FBI Deputy Director Gordon Cole coerces his ex-employee Diane to visit the Cooper doppelgänger “Mr. C” in a Black Hills prison — shortly before this embodiment of malevolence persuades the warden to let him go.

So there’s a lot going on. Yet what stands out about this episode is how readily it pushes two particular buttons: the one marked “unease,” and the one labeled “sentimentality.” Just seeing Diane wrestle with all of her complicated feelings about Cooper is powerful, in part because Laura Dern has a lot of experience with grounding Lynch’s bizarreness in real human emotion, and in part because something clearly happened to Diane after Mr. C replaced the good guy she once knew. After initially acting foul-mouthed and standoffish with Cole, she crumples into his arms after her meeting at the prison, pointing at her heart and saying of the fake Cooper, “There’s something that definitely isn’t here.”

That’s a touching moment, especially given Cole’s reply to her: “That’s good enough for me, Diane. That’s good enough for me.” But it’s only the second most-affecting emotional beat in this week’s episode. Even more moving is when Sheriff Truman uses Skype (and some kind of awesome retractable video-screen in his desk) to reconnect with his old friend Dr. Will Hayward, to ask about his memories of the last time Cooper was in Twin Peaks.

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It’s a pleasure to see Warren Frost (who died earlier this year) one last time as Doc, and nice to hear him revive the old “Twin Peaks” tradition of raving about food, by talking up his breakfast of pan-fried brown trout, scrambled eggs, and english muffins with huckleberry jam. The real sweet spot of his scene though, is when he tells Frank, with genuine concern and affection, “Whatever this is about, I hope it turns out all right for you.”

Those little dots of warmth and light are welcome this week, because if any one image defines this episode, it’s the shot of the shadowy man last seen in Principal Bill Hastings’s jail cell in “Part Two,” here slowly walking up behind Lt. Knox in the hallway outside the Buckhorn morgue. He passes on by in the background, chillingly. On the whole, this was a night for the monsters, loosed and creeping.


A scene from “Twin Peaks: The Return”


At least that’s what appears to be afoot with this hour’s biggest plot development: the freeing of Mr. C, by Warden Murphy, who apparently harbors secrets that the crime lord is willing to spill, involving men named Strawberry (previously mentioned in episode five) and McCluskey. Mr. C insists to Murphy that he only tosses these names around as warnings, and that he has no long-term interest in the warden’s business. The threats work, and by the end of the episode the dark Cooper is back on the road, his confederate Ray Monroe by his side, with plans unknown.

Given that Mr. C carries with him the spirit of Bob — the lousiest father-figure of all time — and given that he’s living on the Black Lodge’s borrowed time, expect more chaos and pain in the days ahead. To stop his look-alike, Agent Cooper’s innate crime-fighting skills may be needed again, and soon.

Extra Doughnuts:

• Ben Horne and Jerry Horne respectively look (and kind of act) like a pre- and post-retirement David Letterman.

• One possible source of Ben’s elusive humming noise? Agent Cooper’s room key, which just showed up in the mail, some 20 years after the Great Northern switched over to key-cards.

• Still no sign of Audrey Horne, although Doc Hayward does reveal that she fell into a coma after the explosion at the bank in the season two finale.

• A nice visual detail in the Diane scenes: Because everyone’s dressed in black, her platinum hair and red blouse pop out of the frame.

• I don’t think we’re supposed to attach any significance (yet) to the wheelchair-bound, tube-laden man named Tom Paige whom Ben’s secretary Beverly comes home to toward the end of the episode. I don’t think we’ve seen him before, nor has even he been alluded to to the best of my recollection. He is however played by Hugh Dillon, who was amazing as a burned out punk rocker in the Canadian cult film “Hard Core Logo,” so he’s welcome to stick around.

• No closing musical performance tonight. Instead, we get two consecutive mysterious, unsettling scenes, set in Twin Peaks and scored to classic pop songs (and linked by the show’s standard overhead shot of hypnotically swaying trees). In the first, a man slowly sweeps up debris, while “Green Onions” plays on the jukebox and roadhouse boss Jean-Michael Renault talks on the phone with someone who owes him money for two 15-year-old prostitutes. In the second, a full house of customers at the Double R is listening to “Sleepwalk” when someone barges in briefly and catches Norma and Shelly’s attention by shouting, “Anyone seen Billy?” An ominous end to an ominous episode.

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