One of the major criticisms the Twin Peaks reboot has been getting is that it’s simply not all that fun. It’s a bit dreary. In terms of filmmaking and cinema, it feels a bit pedantic; follow me, the show says. I am a good piece of cinema and I know what I’m doing. It’s prestige television for sure, but the wrong kind of prestige. Think lecture halls, professors, and general stuffiness.
This is all to say, episode 4 was fun. The melodramatic camp of the original series poked its head over the garden fence — turns out, it was hiding behind a hedge this whole time.
The humor begins with Dougie/Agent Cooper. Cooper is now inhabiting the body of a man named Dougie in a Twin Peaks version of Freaky Friday. A very confused Agent Cooper wanders about the life of Dougie, too broken to make much sense of where he is. This Agent Cooper encounters plenty of well-meaning people who are perplexed by Dougie’s seeming inability to form words. Agent Cooper can’t say much as Dougie, but that otherworldly solo cup is helping him win all the jackpots. Twenty-nine mega jackpots, to be exact.
This is also where the rumored guest stars start to make their appearances. There’s Brett Gelman as the casino manager desperate to get his money back. There’s Ethan Suplee as Bill Shaker, an old friend of Dougie’s, and Sara Paxton as bubbly Candy Shaker. When Dougie/Agent Cooper is apprehended by the casino staff, he is sent home in a limo driven by the comedian Jay Mohr. His home, which he can only describe as a home with a “red door,” is populated by one Naomi Watts as an exasperated wife. She hasn’t seen Dougie in three days, and their son Sonny Jim had his birthday party during those three days.
The FBI found Agent Cooper at the end of the last episode, though. I mistakenly assumed they’d discovered Dougie wandering through the halls of the Silver Mustang Casino, change jingling in his pockets. The FBI instead found Agent Cooper Sleazy, whom I refuse to believe is the real Agent Cooper. They discovered him in his car somewhere in South Dakota, the stench of vomit overpowering the agents who investigated the scene.
There’s been a mistake. Agent Cooper was never meant to take over Dougie’s place, it turns out.
“You were tricked,” the one-armed man tells Dougie-Cooper in a mirage. (“You see me, don’t you?” he asks Cooper first, a meta-reminder to us watching that this is a real mirage.) Interdimensional travel: It’s hard. Sometimes you get the wrong body and you have to deal with pancakes, syrup, and re-learning how to tie a tie.
The Log Lady probably knows what’s up, as she generally does. Sheriff Hawk is still hard at work trying to discover what Margaret Lanterman’s message could possibly mean. She claims something is missing related to Agent Cooper, and it has to do with Hawk’s heritage. I have no idea how to decipher this, and neither do the folks down in Twin Peaks.
The message, like Laura Palmer’s death, feels like a MacGuffin for a deeper exploration of Peaks-y activity. For starters, it’s a brilliant excuse for us to see more of Lucy, the quintessential component of Twin Peaks camp. In this episode, she faints when she realizes Sheriff Truman was on a cellular phone. (We’re 25 years from the original series, which puts us in cellphone times.) Mobile phones baffle her to the point of unconsciousness. Similarly, Bobby Briggs returns as a policeman in Twin Peaks. He gives us a nice ode to Laura Palmer when he sees her photo at the station. He cries. So do we, remembering the days of simpler storylines and a singular quest to find one dead girl.
There is a dead girl in the return. Remember Ruth Davenport? The series hardly does, although Constance the examiner discovers that the fingerprints to the John Doe body belong to a man hidden by the military. Who could possibly be so important that the military has hidden his identity? Could it be Cooper?
Agent Cooper Sleazy is still pretty sleazy. In early episodes, he did his fair share of killing, and he’s definitely still up to something. It seems he thwarted Agent Cooper Normal’s attempt to return to their dimension. Agent Cooper Sleazy has a to-do list, and he’s not going to let that tidy fellow with the nice haircut fuck things up.
Agent Cooper Sleazy is on a killing spree. Let us hope he doesn’t get exonerated, as he asks the FBI to ensure.
The episode concludes with the fact that there’s one woman, one person in the world who needs to look at Cooper and attempt to understand his odd behavior. I am not being coy when I say I have no idea who this might be.
— The two guest stars in this episode provided much-needed levity, although the levity felt like inside winks to those of us who know the actors. David Duchovny plays Denise, a trans woman in charge of the Federal Bureau of investigation. She’s mildly envious of Tammy, the attractive FBI agent played by Chrysta Bell. Then there’s Michael Cera as Wally, son of Lucy and Andy. Wally wears a newsboy cap and speaks with a vaguely German affect. Neither guest star seemed absolutely essential to the plot. But still. I laughed.
— The following things were found in Agent Cooper Sleazy’s car: Cocaine, a machine gun, and a dog leg. One wonders.
— Why can’t this show provide one person who seems to know what’s going on? Like a Grandmother Willow type, dispensing advice and explicating all the weirdness.
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