by Francis Friel, The Projectionist and Hanna Lesky
This episode was the first that seemed to perfectly balance the dark and moody aspects with the tightly-structured narrative momentum of Season One. I think the biggest misconception about Twin Peaks is that Frost is the structure and character guy, while Lynch picks up the thematic and atmospheric side of things. While this is largely true, and is the reason they got together in the first place, it’s a fallacy that Lynch is the “weird” one. He wouldn’t be where he is today if he was just a cult underground director making one Eraserhead after another (and that movie is as tightly plotted and executed as a film of its kind can really be). His films always follow their own internal logic, and operate on a level of cinematic storytelling that is emotionally probing and feel almost like epic poems. One thing leads to another, then that thing follows a new thread, leads over here, over there, until it may even circle around to the beginning again, but never forget where they started and never (or rarely) feel like work lacking focus or a sure hand behind the camera. And Frost is a wacko. Have you seen Hill Street Blues?
Episode 6 was the best hour of the season to date, and I can’t help but think it’s got a lot to do with the sidelining of the Doppelganger and his story. It’s a huge part of the narrative, and has taken up more and more screen time as The Return has gone by. This was always a good thing, as it was the most effective tool Lynch and Frost had to convey the true darkness that had always lurked around the edges of the first two seasons. Even at its most brutal, at the moments when you thought Twin Peaks couldn’t be clearer in its depiction of the Black Lodge side of things, it was always under the constraints of American network TV. Now that those censors have been kicked to the curb, things are starting to get Real. But taking a break is also okay, especially since there’s also been an almost ridiculous amount of other characters and plots bubbling up under all this.
This week, Moviejawn’s coverage of Twin Peaks: The Return is a conversation with Hanna Lesky, a Lynch / Twin Peaks fan and one of the first, earliest supporters of Moviejawn.
Francis Friel: So, we’re a third of the way through Season Three. How do you think it’s going?
Hanna Lesky: It doesn’t match the first two seasons stylistically, but I think that does work because it’s twenty-five years later. A lot has happened since the second season ended.
FF: Lynch has called it an eighteen-hour movie. In some ways, it’s unfair to review it hour by hour, since you wouldn’t do that with a movie, but it’s also obviously cut to work as serial tv. How do you feel it’s going in that regard?
HL: Seeing as we’re only six episodes in, I don’t know yet. But I keep thinking about how fun it’ll be to binge-watch all of this once it’s over. It’s a great binge-watch show. Each episode doesn’t really have a beginning or end, it’s just one after another, and it’s hard to remember which episode is which.
FF: The first time you watched seasons one and two, then Fire Walk With Me, and you knew how season two ended, is this at all what you imagined season three would be like? Did you think the story would progress the way it has?
HL: Not at all. I’m completely surprised. I’m not sure what I expected, other than I expected it to be like the original series, but everyone’s older. Or dead. But I like this a lot better, because I was imagining how corny and bad it would be if it was exactly the same as before, but with old people.
FF: Like seeing “Old James.”
HL: Right. Like a reunion show. It would’ve just been so embarrassing to watch.
FF: What are your thoughts on the slower pace of this season?
HL: I’m into it. There are a few times when I tend to fall asleep or dissociate during really long scenes, if it’s something that doesn’t interest me. In episode six, when Red is talking to Richard Horne and it just takes forever, and he’s doing magic…ugh.
FF: Balthazar Getty does the magic trick with the dime. You didn’t like the dime trick?
HL: I don’t know, it just lasts an uncomfortably long time. Most scenes this season last an uncomfortably long time, but I’m okay with most of them.
FF: Earlier this season, Cooper kept winning huge amounts of coins in the casino. Now in episode six, Red does the trick with the dime. Later, Hawk drops his nickel in Sheriff’s Station men’s room. What’s with all the coins?
HL: No idea. Maybe we’ll wait and see, maybe it’ll never be resolved. Which is one thing that I’m afraid of about this: we keep getting new plots and nothing has been resolved yet. It’s making me anxious. But also, I’m okay if it’s never resolved. I’m okay with movies and tv shows that don’t feel they need to tie everything up. As long as they know that they’re doing it.
FF: I’ve written before about how Showtime originally ordered nine episodes, then expanded that to eighteen. With the deliberate pacing of this season being what it is, do you think they could almost have told the same amount of story in nine episodes as we’re now getting in eighteen? Is it simply going to take them twice as long to tell the story they were always going to tell?
HL: It’s possible. But I think the pacing is really important. In the first two seasons, every episode is so slow. I’m not sure this story could work as a nine-episode season. It would just be strange. Abrupt.
FF: Something else to consider - I don’t remember Lynch or Frost ever saying this was the final season, just the third season. So it could also be that they’re able to stretch things out and pace it in just such a way because they know they might have a season four coming that we don’t know about. So we expect it to wrap up in the next few hours, but they may know differently.
HL: I’d be into it.
FF: So. What’s up with Sonny Jim?
HL: He has a stupid fucking name.
FF: One thing I’m noticing is, in episode six, there’s a shot where we see, from left to right, a dinosaur, a rocket ship, Cooper, and the Earth. It’s almost like we’re seeing the “evolution” going all the way backwards through time and ending with Cooper regaining full consciousness. In the same shot we see the cowboy light, referencing the cowboy statue from end of the previous episode and beginning of this one, as Cooper sits on the bed with Sonny Jim.
HL: I think it’s really funny that Cooper leaves a potato chip on Sonny Jim’s bed! But yes, Sonny Jim’s room represents a lot of the things that Cooper’s just gone through. Maybe Sonny Jim will be the person who helps him snap back into himself.
FF: Right. He was standing and almost sobbing next to the statue of the cowboy, Sonny Jim has all this cowboy imagery in his room, and Sonny Jim is clapping the lights on and off. He’s forcing him to see this stuff. Janey says it’s time for Sonny to go to sleep, but Sonny keeps talking to Cooper about staying awake. He’s trying to wake Cooper up. But Cooper keeps trying to turn the lights back off. Like MIKE said, “Wake up.”
HL: Do you think Cooper is a better dad than Dougie was? It seems like Dougie was a really shitty dad.
FF: I don’t know if he was a shitty dad, but certainly he was a piece of shit as a person. He was probably an absent dad, if anything.
HL: And maybe fun, the few times he’d be at home.
FF: What do you think of Naomi Watts in the series?
HL: I think it’s really weird that she hasn’t taken him to a doctor, seeing as he’s showing signs of amnesia. Kinda weird. But she does mention that she can’t take him to Dr. Ben because now she has to go deal with these blackmailers.
FF: It took her a while to realize this is not just Dougie being a weirdo, that something’s probably wrong with him.
FF: At the beginning of the episode we see Cooper struggling with his jacket, balling his fist up in his sleeve. It reminded me of MIKE, and I wonder if this is Cooper wrestling with his various influences. He has the outside world demanding things of Dougie Jones, he has his own Cooper personality buried in there somewhere, but he’s also been locked up in the Lodge for twenty-five years. Could this be MIKE trying to communicate with him?
HL: That could definitely have something to do with MIKE. When he was doing that, though, I also just thought of how sad he looks. His suit’s too big, he doesn’t know what’s going on. He looked like a child wearing their parents’ clothes.
FF: Something else about Naomi Watts: you couldn’t stand that she put that plate on top of the sandwich.
HL: She just puts a plate on top of a sandwich!
FF: Why do you think she did that?
HL: I think maybe Naomi Watts doesn’t usually stack dishes.
FF: She’s too busy being a big-time rich actress to stack her own dishes?
FF: There’s a lot of numbers on this show.
HL: There are. What do you think is the significance of “Lucky 7 Insurance”?
FF: I don’t know. We have the 253 and the 430, which I’ve written about previously. We have the Purple Room with the 3 and 15 outlets that later become the Room 315 Great Northern Hotel key. We have the 6 on the telephone pole, which previously appeared in Fire Walk With Me, though in a different location. I don’t think Lynch is just throwing numbers in for numerology reasons or anything like that, or anything so solvable in such a mundane way. 7 is the number for “God.” But there’s probably some other either more simple solution, or something more intuitive-type thinking going on with the numbers.
HL: Does “Lucky 7” have anything to do with Cooper being Mr. Jackpots?
FF: We know Cooper is good at counting cards.
HL: The thing that Cooper does with the case files, drawing all the ladders and staircases, still kind of confuses me. Is there something I’m not seeing on that paperwork?
FF: I think what we’re supposed to get from it is less about the specifics, and more about communicating that Tom Sizemore’s character is somehow fucking with these case files. The ladders and staircases might have something to do with what really happened. It’s hard to tell. It’s hard to read what’s actually on these reports, but whatever it is, his boss recognizes something in it.
HL: And what about Diane? It’s hard to say, I think. We see who she is and that’s about it.
FF: Is she who you predicted Gordon and Albert were gonna go talk to at the end of episode four?
HL: I think, with your influence, yes. I predicted that. But also it’s nice to finally see this character who was basically a tape recorder in the first two seasons. There’s an actual person there.
FF: And this is more of Lynch’s eye / ear substitution method. In this instance, we finally get introduced to a character who previously functioned as an audio device, and they need this character, narratively, to “take a look at” Cooper. What’s the significance there? What will she find if she “looks” at the doppelganger?
HL: Hard to say. Who exactly is Diane, anyway? Some kind of assistant or something? An office secretary with some kind of security clearance?
FF: I remember in the Dale Cooper book, he makes a reference to her not being real. He says something like “I know I’m just talking to myself” or something like that. But all we can do is go by what’s on the screen. So, yeah. Hard to say.
HL: I always thought it was possible that he had named the tape recorder “Diane.”
FF: I thought that for a long time, too.
HL: It’s interesting, too, that they want her to “look” at Cooper since she never really had that much face-to-face time with him. Or it’s possible that she did before he left for his assignment in Twin Peaks. Is it possible she could've even been his partner after Windom Earle was institutionalized?
FF: That’s definitely interesting. I hadn’t thought of that. Another piece of evidence we already had about Diane’s “realness” is that he asks her for, and later receives, some ear plugs while he’s staying at the Great Northern. But we never see him mailing those tapes anywhere, and it’s not like he’s talking into a cell phone. How is she getting those messages?
HL: And what’s going on with Red? He says there’s something wrong with his liver. It reminds me of the type of thing Cooper would’ve heard in his dreams, or in the Black Lodge.
FF: I don’t quite get Red yet. I get that he’s the new Leo in town, and we see him early on in the Roadhouse with, strangely enough, Walter Olkewicz, the actor who played Jacques Renault, who we saw die in the hospital in season one. I’m assuming that cameo was some meta-textual thing that Lynch was throwing at us so we’d make that connection, that Red is essentially the Leo of season three before we ever see him in action or even hear his voice. But I don’t quite get this character yet. He does mention The King and I, which has been brought up a lot on this show. Leland singing “Getting to Know You,” for example. Even the “legendary burial place of King Arthur” bit seems to hint at all this “king” business we’re getting again. But even so, I don’t get what The King and I symbolism is trying to accomplish.
HL: I remember my family having The King and I on vhs when I was growing up, and watching it a lot. And I just fucking hated that movie. I couldn’t stand it. But it’s because none of the main characters were animals. I was a little kid, so I wanted animals to be the main characters of everything. I haven’t watched it as an adult, so I don’t remember anything that would point to what all the references to it mean. I’ll look into it.
FF: So at this point in the season we’re still meeting new characters and getting to know who everyone is. Is it leading anywhere? Episode six is the most jam-packed of the season so far. We’ve gotten all the Black Lodge stuff out of the way for now, the doppelganger doesn’t even appear in this episode at all. And we’re finally getting some steady forward momentum with the plot. Do you prefer this, or do you think it was working better when it was more mysterious and more keeping you on your toes as far as what’s really happening?
HL: I’m still on my toes! I don’t know what you’re talking about!
FF: As in, the weirdness factor of the show is now on the level of a regular human being doing what appears to be an impossible magic trick as opposed to Lodges and purple oceans and eyeless women and floating space stations.
HL: I think it’s smart that it started the way it did, and I like that there’s a mix of both ways of storytelling. And I’m hoping that, because it is a mix of both, that it’s working to lead us somewhere. I’m really curious about what happened to the high school principal and the lady’s head attached to the decapitated man. I’m thinking that we’ll come back to that stuff and it’ll be relevant again, but I have no idea. It could’ve just been world-building and showing that the doppelganger is operating all over the place and is influencing things. But hopefully we find out whose body that is. Everyone seems to think it’s Major Briggs. I do, too. It’s looks like his body type.
FF: I think it probably is. But I keep running into this issue where I’m predicting things and turn out to be wrong. So now I’m trying to stay away from saying “I think I know who this is.”
HL: But you were right about Diane.
FF: I was right about Diane. But my second guess, sort of my other number one guess, was Sarah Palmer being the person Gordon and Albert were looking for. She’s seen BOB in the real world, and could probably identify his influence and see right through the doppelganger. So, I had two guesses, and they were kind of equal. But I really wanted it to be Diane.
HL: I can’t wait to see more of Diane.
FF: Carl Rod’s another character from the past making a reappearance here. I’m still confused as to why he’s even in this. He has a very important moment where he sees the kid get hit by the car, and he then sees a flame rising up out of the kid and into the sky, sort of like the kid’s “soul.” Or some form of energy. But why do you think it’s Carl, out of all the characters on the show, that gets that moment?
HL: He’s the oldest character on the show. Old men on this show are associated with The Giant.
FF: Do you think Carl is somehow connected to the Black Lodge?
HL: It’s a possibility.
FF: The Tremonds lived in his trailer park, and he was present the day Agent Desmond disappeared. So he was probably questioned by the FBI about that incident.
HL: Heidi, the giggly German lady is still around. Talking to Miriam, who still might be important later. Or maybe it’s just a thing that David Lynch likes to do, have really innocent small town life with really evil shit going on behind the scenes. So they just have to throw that in there, some nice innocent stuff. Heidi and Miriam giggling and talking about how good the coffee is immediately before this kid is killed onscreen.
FF: The little kid getting killed is weird. Normally on this show, the way it’s written and shot and edited is in a way that you might expect that you know what might happen on any normal show. But on Twin Peaks, the ending or payoff will always surprise you. There’ll be some reveal or something more to it. But in this case, every shot leads you to believe that that kid is going to be hit by Richard’s car. Then the kid is hit by the car. There’s no twist. Other than that it’s all happening at the same intersection where MIKE threatened Leland and tried to warn Laura about BOB. Richard even repeats the pattern of pulling out and driving into the wrong lane.
HL: That’s the connection. Carl is reaching the age where he’s getting his powers from the Giant. So he can see the kid’s flame.
FF: So you think Carl will be the new way for the Giant to come back into the world?
HL: Possibly, but he’s not like the bellhop or the mayor. They probably wouldn’t notice that the kid had just died. So Carl’s not quite there.
FF: Not yet.
HL: Not yet.
FF: Maybe the Giant is evolving, too. Maybe he’ll choose a more cognizant person to work through.
HL: Or just a person without dementia.
FF: What’s the deal with the Patrick Fischler character and the red square on the computer screen and the envelope and “Ike the Spike”?
HL: Maybe Lynch is old and doesn’t use computers so he thinks that red squares can just pop up? I don’t know. That’s probably not it.
FF: Do you think David Lynch has never used a computer before in his life?
HL: He had a YouTube channel. He used to do the weather.
FF: He thinks computers are just weather machines.
HL: So the lady screaming out numbers. “1-1-9!”
FF: She’s saying the numbers backwards. Influenced by the doppelganger?
FF: You hate Ike the Spike.
HL: Yeah. He’s a hitman. I have a really hard time seeing people die onscreen, which is why I hate horror movies. And why is he rolling the dice?
FF: I think he’s probably sitting there playing Yahtzee with himself. I used to do that when I’d work overnight shifts at a job. I’d make my own Yahtzee score sheets and sit there rolling dice all night, playing against myself. I get it.
HL: And what, he’s gonna try to kill Cooper?
FF: He’s after him now. He’s after Dougie.
HL: I hate this character.
FF: The woman he kills is Linda, possibly the Linda the Giant talked about. “Richard and Linda.”
HL: I don’t remember that.
FF: The Giant told you to remember it!
HL: I should’ve written it down. But, I love Cooper in the elevator. He just stands there opening and closing the door. I think he probably noticed that that’s the type of thing that makes Sonny Jim laugh, so now he’s trying it with other people.
FF: Oh, he’s doing it to make his co-worker laugh?
FF: Last week the office looked pretty dreary, a lot of beige and grey. This week it’s all primary colors. Is Cooper seeing more clearly now?
HL: Well, also last week, Cooper was wearing a bright green suit. Now, instead, he’s wearing his regular black suit and everything around him is bright.
FF: He’s looking more like Cooper, and probably seeing things the way Cooper would see them.
HL: I think Dougie probably really hated his job. The boss referenced Dougie being kind of a fuck-up and not good at his job. Or, not as good as other employees. But separately, the boss has that giant picture of himself as a young man, as a boxer. I saw a really funny meme where the boss is looking at the files Cooper gives him, but it’s a picture of Kyle MacLachlan shirtless in Dune. I’m so into all the Twin Peaks memes we’re getting now. I love it.
FF: What’s your favorite?
HL: I saw one that’s the scene in the first season, the “fish in the percolator,” but the coffee mugs are replaced with the Starbucks unicorn frappuccinos. “Don’t drink that coffee! There was a unicorn in the percolator!” I’m still giggling about that one.
FF: I love Paulie Walnuts in the Black Lodge.
HL: That one’s a good one, too. And the Winnie the Pooh one.
FF: Winnie the Pooh is my favorite one.
HL: So what do you think is the significance of the boxing poster in the boss’s office?
FF: I don’t know. He’s making the connection that they’re the same man? He’s doing some comprehensive thinking? He understands that the young man is the old man?
HL: Right. I made that connection. He’s looking at the photograph of the young man but seeing an old man sitting there. Cooper’s thinking about himself. He was once a young man, and that’s how he still sees himself, but now he sees that he’s become older. He’s starting to remember his old life, and his old self.
FF: I like that.
HL: If I’m ever blackmailed I hope I have the confidence to yell at the blackmailers the way that Janey does.
FF: In their defense, those blackmailers seem really fucking stupid.
HL: “We are the 99%-ers.” I love that she says that.
FF: She also knows that she has $425,000 at home that those guys don’t know about.
HL: A sackful of cash from Mr. Jackpots. Sneaky. I would do the same thing.
FF: Me too.
HL: Back to Richard, though - he does look like Audrey.
FF: I think we’re supposed to think that, but we still don’t know for sure where he came from. He also looks a lot like Jerry to me. But there’s no reason why Audrey’s son wouldn’t look like Jerry. And also, Richard and Audrey are both conventionally beautiful people. But isn’t it weird that Lynch has said that Audrey has a major role this season but we still haven’t seen her after six episodes?
HL: Yeah! I’m genuinely upset! I want to see Audrey Horne. Maybe she shows up in episode seven and we’ll feel bad for criticizing the show for that.
FF: This episode finally brings us back to the Hawk story and gives us a huge piece of information, finally resolving one of the many narrative threads this season has been holding onto.
HL: Hawk drops his nickel with the Native American face on it, then sees a similar face on the men’s room door.
FF: The Log Lady told him something was missing, and it had something to do with his heritage. He finds the diary pages inside the door. So we’ve found what’s missing. Another prediction I was wrong about.
HL: So how did the Log Lady know the pages were there? Or was it just the Log who knew it was there?
FF: I think it was just the Log. Margaret doesn’t always have to understand what the Log is saying. She just translates, or interprets so the Log can talk to humans. The Log knows that it knows and she passes the messages along. But she understands through context what’s going on.
HL: She was very sick the last time we saw her, and Catherine Coulson died during filming, so my question is: if she dies, what happens to the Log?
FF: That’s a good question. Also, I assume it’s possible that MIKE or BOB hid those pages there, but then why would they leave them out in the open, and let that information float around for the Log to pick up? Why leave that secret where the Log could find it and lead Hawk to it? Why not take those pages back to the Lodge with them?
HL: Why not completely destroy them?
FF: It’s strange.
HL: What’s strange is that at the end of every episode there’s a band playing at the Roadhouse. These famous bands playing in this little town. I don’t know if in the world of Twin Peaks these bands are not famous or what, but if not, those bands would never tour and play a place like that. Wouldn't happen.
FF: Do you think it’s possible that the Roadhouse is a franchise? Or that Twin Peaks is a draw since it’s so close to Seattle and other big cities in the Northwest? There’s always been a large teenage and young adult population in Twin Peaks who might want to see bands like that.
HL: It’s possible. Whatever, though. I accept it. I accept that these bands play in Twin Peaks. It’s fine with me.
FF: Do you miss Julee Cruise?
HL: Yes, I do. Very much. Is she dead?
FF: She’s alive.
HL: But they didn’t put her in here.
FF: She’s another person who had a falling out with Lynch years ago and they forgave each other or whatever, but he tends to blacklist people. It seems like people get on his bad side from time to time.
HL: And I’m sad that Donna won’t be back.
FF: Of all the plots that have come up in season three, which is the one you’re most interested in? Or least interested in?
HL: I’m most interested in what Albert and Gordon are going to discover, and I’m interested to see what’s going to happen with Cooper. I’m always really happy when Cooper is on the screen. He’s a fucking great character. Probably one of the best tv characters ever. My least favorite is Michael Cera.
FF: Wally Brando. I hate him.
HL: Do you have a reason for hating him?
FF: It’s the only time in the show so far that I felt like there was something in the performance that was the actor doing something weird because he was excited to be on Twin Peaks. And obviously that role was written and directed a certain way, but I feel like Cera has very particular talents. And whatever the fuck he’s doing as Wally Brando is not one of his talents.
HL: I think it’s interesting that he’s a Marlon Brando type. Or acting like he is. “Guy with a motorcycle.” And that’s who James used to be, and James had an accident and doesn’t ride anymore.
FF: The character Wally most reminds me of from the original series is Cappy, another random biker. He looked up the info on the Dugpas. He looked like a young Sheriff Truman. Black curly hair, same facial structure. He was only around once or twice. I think he might have been a Bookhouse Boy. He’s a character like the kid with the long curly hair in the pilot who takes Donna to James, when they were establishing a bigger world of sensitive motorcycle guys who hung out at the Roadhouse listening to Julee Cruise music all the time. But Cappy wore a similar sort of Brando outfit.
HL: Interesting. Did Lucy cheat on Andy again? With Cappy?
FF: I think we’re finally seeing the larger world that Lynch is creating here. Lucy was up to some mischief.
HL: Poor Andy.