Photo: Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME.
Watching Twin Peaks is a lot like anticipating a far-off sneeze. For each hourlong episode, it's as if my nose itches, building towards that heaving and sputtering release. Most episodes don't provide that achoo-ful release, though — Twin Peaks is an exercise in forever approaching, but never arriving. (If I were Miley Cyrus, I would say it's not about how fast we get there; it's all about the climb.)
That being said, episode six provided a few much-needed releases. We're six episodes into an twelve-part season, so these moments were deserved. There was the revealing emphasis on "lucky number 7," there was Laura Dern, and, because it was fabulous to see a female character take charge, there was Naomi Watts' eviscerating eleventh-hour monologue about the 99%. (Would that Janey-E Jones could negotiate all of our troubles away. The lady is a boss.) Then, the episode gifted us with two almost abhorrently violent situations: death by hit-and-run, and death by ice pick.
The number 7 has been in the background of the show since the first episode. You may recall that when Tracy (may she rest in peace) brought coffees to her future flame Sam (may he also rest in peace), the cups were branded with the number "7," without explanation. Since, the number has routinely made an appearance in the show. Wherever there is a numeral onscreen, it seems, seven makes a brief appearance.
When Dougie/Agent Cooper fingers through a pile of papers from his workplace, he chances across the name "Lucky 7 Insurance," presumably the name of the insurance company he works for. Dougie runs his finger over the embossed page, transfixed. Later, Dougie puts pencil to paper, scribbling across the pages in a nonsensical fashion. When Dougie's boss finds these inscriptions, he first writes them off as scribble-scratch. Upon closer inspection, though, it seems Dougie has uncovered a revelation.
"Dougie, thank you," his boss says with reverence. "I want you to keep this information to yourself." (A closer look at the frame-by-frame of this moment reveals that Dougie has underlined two reports from Mr. Anthony Sinclair.)
"Diane," FBI agent Albert Rosenfield says, looking at the back of a tidy grey bob. When the bob turns around, it's Laura Dern, looking dramatic in some spectacular winged eyeliner.
"Hello, Albert," she says ominously. It's all we get of Dern, but it's worth it.
Then, within the episode, David Lynch presents a small-scale film about the coming-together that occurs during tragic events. It all starts with Richard Horne (Eamon Farren), the violent customer from the Bang Bang Bar last episode. Farren has a vampire-like look to him (not unlike Richard Harmon on The 100) that in and of itself promises discord. Not to mention, we know he's violent (see: him strangling another customer at the Bang Bang Bar.) In episode 6, he takes a whiff of presumably cocaine — this show has always had a fascination with drugs — before a pep talk with a fidgety boss Red (Balthazar Getty).
"I'm gonna be watching you," he mutters. It's enough to scare Horne, who — still coked-up, mind you — drives away frantically. Meanwhile, Carl Rodd (Harry Dean Stanton) heads into town for his daily trip, one of the last things he has, he tells us. Miriam (Sara Jean Long), grabs two slices of pie at the diner. She's a teacher at the local school, who presumably doesn't have enough money for two slices of pie plus tip. (This is according to Shelley, who is remarkable in this episode only for a pair of uncharacteristically large hoop earrings.) These characters, like people in a touching episode of High Maintenance (or, for that matter, Master of None), all cross paths during the horrible hit-and-run. Richard Horne does the hitting and the running in large truck, and a character dubbed unceremoniously "hit and run mom" is the one doing the grieving. When the young boy dies, matted in blood, it is Carl who does the comforting.
As that occurs, the telephone poles above buzz ominously, as if fed by the blood, sweat, and tears.
Between this violence and horror of the ice-pickery at the end of the episode, Janey-E Jones' strategic trading with Dougie Jones' loan sharks is pure television triumph. She discovers that Dougie owes $50,000 for a gamble gone wrong, and the sharks are asking for an additional $2,000 as a late fee. The initial loan was but $20,000, so Janey'E's logic is this: In any other loan situation, a 25% interest would be generous in heaps. So, she'll give the two men $25,000, and they'd better be on their way. She reminds them that Dougie doesn't make that much money ("We are the 99%," she says, in a cheeky reference to the political language of Occupy Wall Street) and hisses just evilly enough to get the men spooked. They take the $25,000 — remember: Dougie has a sweet $485,000 from his winning at the Silver Mustang Casino. This is petty cash for the Joneses now, and it's savvy money-exchanging on Janey-E's part.
The finale of the episode is just as bloody, if perhaps less sensible. First, we see a man with two photos: One of Dougie, the other of Lorraine (Tammy Baird). The order comes from Mr. Todd (Patrick Fischler), a man who's made it clear his intentions on this show are dishonorable. (I have a working theory he is connected to the deaths of the two college students in New York.) After the orders are received, they're put in action: Lorraine, who was last week grumbling about Gene finishing up a project, is swiftly plucked apart like a human iceberg. (Her body is study enough to ruin the pick, though. The picker looks at the bent rod and whines, "Oh, no," as if his day's been ruined.) Of the two horrifying acts of violence in this episode, at least Lorraine's death leans toward camp. She was killed with an ice pick; the ice pick then bent in half, and the murderer is disgruntled. Hard not to find that funny, at least in the twisted world of Twin Peaks.
The episode doesn't leave us without a glimmer of hope, thankfully. Sheriff Hawk finds a letter buried within a bathroom stall; presumably, it's a clue that will help Hawk decode the missives from Margaret Lanterman.
And with that, we sneezed.
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Photo: Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME.