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Twin Peaks’ Season 3, Episode 6: A Dark Age

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the 4th Dimension
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« on: June 12, 2017, 01:13:25 pm »

Twin Peaks’ Season 3, Episode 6: A Dark Age

Twin Peaks


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Balthazar Getty in “Twin Peaks.” Credit Suzanne Tenner/Showtime 
Season 3, Episode 6

One of the best-remembered episodes of the original “Twin Peaks” is the one titles “Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer,” which features Special Agent Dale Cooper’s slipping for the first time into the shimmery dream world we now know as part of the “Black Lodge.” When the episode aired back in April 1990, its climactic nightmare sequence was so startlingly surreal that it helped cement the show’s status as groundbreaking TV. And Coop’s insistence that his dream was essential to cracking the case kept fans busy for weeks, decoding all the symbolism.

That ending was so singular that even now it tends it overshadow another scene from the same hour that’s almost as odd — one that may be essential to understanding a couple of moments in “Part 6” of the new “Twin Peaks.”

Remember how Agent Cooper once narrowed down the suspects in the Laura Palmer case by throwing rocks at bottles while meditating on their names? Consider that in this week’s episode as “Dougie Jones” scribbles ladders, staircases and lines on page after page of insurance paperwork. His Lucky 7 boss, Bushnell “Battling Bud” Mullins (played by Don Murray), somehow understands what all the doodling means, because even in his currently diminished mental and emotional states, Cooper still exposes the truth with his unorthodox methods.

We’re now a third of the way through the 18-episode “Twin Peaks” revival, and after a strong start, last week’s episode meandered so much that the buzz around the show began to shift from “David Lynch is still a genius!” to “David Lynch is wasting our time.” The Cooper-as-Dougie story line is at the center of most of the complaints I’ve been hearing. A lot of longtime “Twin Peaks” fans seem frustrated that one of the series’s most beloved characters has had his personality wiped clean; and they’re finding his slapstick fumbling through the Las Vegas suburbs and office parks tedious and unfunny.
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Twin Peaks

Weekly recaps of the macabre Showtime melodrama.


‘Twin Peaks’ Season 3, Episode 5 Recap: Vegas Baby  JUN 5

‘Twin Peaks’ Season 3, Episodes 3-4 Recap: Falling in Space  MAY 26

‘Twin Peaks’ Season 3, Episodes 1-2: Back in Style  MAY 22

‘Twin Peaks’ Season 2, Episode 22: When You See Me Again, It Won’t Be Me  MAY 16

‘Twin Peaks’ Season 2, Episodes 8-21: The Mumbo Jumbo  MAY 11

See More »


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I get those complaints, but I don’t share them. I, too, am hoping we eventually see the “real” Dale Cooper again. Until then, though, there’s something haunting and mysterious about this Dougie version of Coop, who’s utterly helpless but is also called by the iconography of his former self. He loves lawmen, badges, innocent youth and damn fine coffee, but he doesn’t yet know why ... not even when Gerard, the one-armed man, calls to him from the Black Lodge, warning: “You have to wake up. Don’t die.”

Viewers hoping that Gerard’s little nudge would actually wake Cooper up were probably as disappointed by “Part 6” as they were by “Part Five.” The show right now seems to be moving further away from the story lines and ideas that Lynch and Mark Frost introduced in the first two weeks, and has been bringing in new characters and subplots rather than making any real progress on the Buckhorn murders or the glass cube in New York.

Rather than grumbling about Lynch and Frost’s unwavering fascination with the babbling, childlike Dougie Jones, it’s worth considering what the scenes with this proto-Cooper are really all about. Look at the imagery that recurs — like the rocket ships and cowboys in Sonny Jim’s bedroom, or the streets with names like “Guinevere” and “Merlin.” Think about how Dougie’s wife, Janey-E, is upset but unbowed when she’s presented with evidence of her husband’s gambling and affairs. Later, when she argues with the criminals who are shaking down her man, she sums up the state of a world very different from the one in her son’s bedroom, saying, “We’re living in a dark, dark age.”

It’s not just that Cooper is a shell of a man right now. He’s also wearing the clothes and living the life of a scoundrel, in a society that seems to shrug off Dougie’s misbehavior as acceptable. “Part 6” cuts deep into some of the central “Twin Peaks” themes, using shocking violence and multiple interludes of Lynch’s dark industrial hum to help depict a culture of corruption and distraction, poisoned from the inside.

The episode’s two most memorable scenes involve the fledgling tough guy Richard Horne (Eamon Farren), the young hoodlum introduced at the end of “Part 5” — and presumably some relation to Audrey, Ben and Jerry. Richard gets a lesson in how to be a true “Twin Peaks” weirdo from Red (Balthazar Getty), an offbeat crime boss who strikes strange poses and threatens to “saw your head open and eat your brains,” before doing a magic trick that involves flipping a dime that hangs in the air forever and then briefly materializes in Richard’s mouth.

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Hopped up and still shaken from that encounter, Richard drives like a madman through downtown Twin Peaks, where he runs over a small child. Carl Rodd (Harry Dean Stanton), the trailer-park guru from “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me,” pops up for his first appearance on the show and witnesses the accident. He watches as the little boy’s soul rises from his body as a golden blob before it disappears into the sky. Immediately after that gruesome death scene, Lynch cuts to a telephone pole with a number on it (last seen in the film, I believe), with wires emitting still more ominous static and thrum.

As if that weren’t horrifying enough, this episode also introduces a small man aptly named Ike “the Spike” Stadtler (Christophe Zajac-Denek), who receives a dossier that may have been sent to him by the Vegas businessman Duncan Todd (once again appearing in an episode for just a minute or two, with still no real explanation of who he is or what he’s up to). The dossier contains a picture of Dougie Jones, along with another picture of a woman whom Ike promptly tracks down and stabs to death with an ice pick.

Even worse than Ike’s murder and Richard’s hit-and-run is the way they react. Ike’s annoyed that his pick gets bent, while Richard zooms off to a secluded spot where he can wipe a child’s blood off his grill. Janey-E’s right: This is a dark, dark age indeed.

Somewhere within that darkness though are people like the Twin Peaks deputy chief Tommy “Hawk” Hill, who this week has a Cooper-like moment of serendipity when an Indian-head nickel leads to him finding evidence hidden with a stall door in the men’s room at the station. And then there’s Dale himself, who’s slowly, slowly flickering to life. The question this new series seems to be asking so far, though, is whether a soul as old and pure as Coop’s can make its presence felt in our messy new millennium.

Extra Doughnuts:

• Out of nowhere, Showtime has begun providing episode titles beyond just “Part 5,” “Part 6,” et cetera. For the record, last week’s was “Case Files.” This week’s is “Don’t Die.”

• Our musical guest in this episode is the phenomenal Sharon Van Etten, performing her song “Tarifa” with her band. When the inevitable “Twin Peaks: The Return” soundtrack comes out, it’ll be interesting to hear how all of these live performances sound played back to back. Will they be too dreamy?


• We have a new villain of sorts, from inside the Twin Peaks police department: Deputy Chad (John Pirruccello), who this week mocks Sheriff Truman’s son’s suicide. By the end of the episode, my wife was hoping Ike “the Spike” might drop by the police department and take care of Chad.

• Fewer new guest stars this week, aside from Jeremy Davies, who gives a funny performance as Jimmy, one of the shakedown artists who fails to intimidate Janey-E. Most “Twin Peaks” and David Lynch fans, though, are likely to be buzzing about the way-too-brief appearance of Laura Dern as Cooper’s old F.B.I. contact/secretary Diane. Surely later on she’ll have a lot to say about a world so wild at heart and weird on top.
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