Twin Peaks: The Return - Episode 6 "Don't Die"
Slead Score: C+
Anyone else feeling that strong need for our old buddy? Where's Cooper?
Here we are, six episodes deep into Twin Peaks: The Return and the lingering hope that Kyle MacLachlan will once again be at the top of his investigative game as Agent Dale Cooper is fading away each week. The only semblance of a return to the good old days is that Dougie does seem to be picking up on little beats of Cooper's life. We left him last week standing in awe in front of the lawman statue, which is exactly where we pick up with him again this week. This could just be another "humorous" gag from Lynch and Frost, but there is the possibility seeing this figure of authority and judgment is sparking memories for Cooper as a detective. As for the rest of the Dougie saga, we finally understand a little more about the money trouble Janey was mad about when Dougie first returned home. It seems he lost a low-level sports bet and the ragtag team of low lifes who he owes has tried to up his penance about fifty percent. Thankfully, while Dougie claps his son's light on and off, Janey takes care of business, arranging a meeting with the thugs to tell them they'll only be receiving the sum of $25,000. It's always great to see Naomi Watts have something to do in a role, and it's a blessing to know she'll have more of a presence here than what it originally seemed. Of course, she could disappear tomorrow for all we know, but for now, she's the strong "law enforcement" character we need.
While Janey was taking care of the money business, Dougie was having flashes to the Black Lodge, in which the one-armed man warns him: "Don't die." A mantra we should all live by, of course, but in Dougie's case, it holds so much more weight. Immediately after the visions, Dougie begins seeing strange glowing dots forming on his work forms, and what begin to just look like doodles may be another sign from beyond that something is trying to bring the intelligence back out of his body. We even see this to be true, as while at work the next day, Dougie is called into his bosses office where he's berated for not properly doing his paperwork. Upon closer examination, his boss begins putting the disjointed work together and realizes a client or employee at the company needs to be investigated. Could this be the same man that Dougie blurted out was a liar in the weekly meeting? Regardless, Dougie has somehow managed to fumble his way through another work assignment, coming out on top.
Back in Twin Peaks, this is where things take a turn that is hard to swallow. Richard Horne, the same sleazeball from the Roadhouse scene in episode 5, has a meeting with a drug dealer in town, and after a lengthy discussion on how to accurately survey a hand, some pure Lynch-level craziness ensues. The dealer flips a dime in the air, which somehow floats close to the ceiling for a reality-bending amount of time, only to end up inside of Richard's mouth. However, when he goes to pull it out, the dime is gone and mysteriously back into the dealer's hand. Now, Richard had just done some strong cocaine, perhaps a dime's worth (hint, hint), but this feels more like a Black Lodge influence. This dealer seems far too eager to be in sleepy Twin Peaks and the conversation he has with Richard about being a kid, which Richard has a strong aversion to, feels extremely reminiscent of Audrey's talk with Blackie while working at One-Eyed Jack's. We don't know for sure how Richard connects to the Horne name, but it's most likely this troubled young man is Audrey's son. After escaping that crazy meeting, Richard believes he can prove to himself, and apparently, everyone that sees him, that he's more than just a kid. His remedy is to drive recklessly through the streets of Twin Peaks, and while we slowly watch a mother and son play a strange game of tag through a park, it becomes increasingly clear this little boy is not going to be alive much longer. Sure enough, he jumps into the road just as Richard is barreling through, tragically running him over. We get a protracted scene of bystanders reacting in shock and horror to the scene of the mother gripping her son's bloody and cold body, but what's more is one of our new characters, Carl, notices a yellow specter floating out of the boy and into the air. This almost feels like it's supposed to be Laura Palmer 2.0, but it didn't have the same emotional impact; well, it just felt a little cheaper if anything. The ghost-like figure was intriguing though, and perhaps we'll see this child again in the Black Lodge.
If this felt brutal, the introduction of Ike the Spike ramps up the violence to a 10. While this assassin receives his own theme song when on screen, the actions he takes are nothing to cheer for. We first meet him in his hotel room, when a mysterious envelope is slipped under his door with two new photos of hits he needs to make: one of them is Dougie, while the other is a random woman. The next time we see him is in a very horrifically staged scene where he runs into the woman's office brandishing a metal spike and begins to stab her savagely. Just before this we also hear over the phone that he's already killed three people in the office building before getting to her, and he even takes out another woman after he's finished with his hired target. This definitely has Wild at Heart vibes to it, and apart from the jolt of electricity it brings to the slow-moving show, it does add a threat that feels real and terrifying to the situation.
Sadly, the beat that feels most relevant only receives a few minutes of screen time, and that's the introduction of Diane. We've had so many thoughts about the mysterious assistant to Cooper for all of these years, but we've never had the chance even to put a name to a face. Albert seems to be finally heading to meet up with the woman that knows Coop best (of course it was Diane) when we see the exciting reveal of a platinum-haired Diane, played gloriously by Laura Dern, turn to greet the detective. But that's it. That's all we get. While it could be argued things shouldn't move too quickly in a show that will last 18 hours by the end, there is an intense level of frustration attached to how many new characters are continually added to the mix, while the old barely get cameo credit each episode.
Twin Peaks has always been a strange series thematically, narratively, and technically, but a significant portion of the love for the original series came down to its memorable and engaging characters. So far, perhaps one or two of the dozen new people actually leave a positive impression, and yet, Lynch and Frost want us to feel strong sympathy for the random events they endure. It could just be the lack of coffee, but my nerves are close to shot at this point, and I need something to wake me back up if we've still got 12 more hours.