You know that zebra’s out again, dearest Filthy Dreams readers? Wait…what? Oh yes, that mixed feeling of confusion, horror and fascination must mean it’s time for part two of our Lost In The Bang Bang Bar double-header this week with a look at Twin Peaks: The Return Part 9. So scratch at your rash, muss up your hair and, by the way, have you seen that penguin?
“Memory is really a magical thing,” enthusiastically and characteristically bizarrely explains David Lynch in an interview with AnOther Magazine, “They say that memory in Vedic language is smriti. And in the transcendent, in the unified field, there is the memory of everything that has ever been, the memory of everything that is now, and the memory of everything that will ever be. That’s memory.”
While a seemingly typical–or well, typical for an atypical show–episode, Part 9 of Twin Peaks: The Return explores the transcendent, temporality-spanning nature of memory as discussed by Lynch. Not only does Part 9 remind viewers that the show does, in fact, have some semblance of a narrative, but it also mines the memories of several key characters on the show, as well as the viewers.
Like many of the earlier episodes, Part 9 resembles a random spin around the dial. Here though, it feels like more of a check-in with all the prominent characters after the explosion of Part 8. Jerry’s still high in the forest, Ben is still looking for the tone in his office and Andy and Lucy are buying chairs. While some reviewers…*cough* The A.V. Club criticized this, the show can’t all be atom bombs. Come on…
Part 9 opens with Mr. C. staggering down a dirt road, covered in blood. I’m not going to lie, he’s looked better. Apparently this was the farm Ray was talking about in the beginning of Part 9. After meeting some white trash cohorts, Ray gets a swanky new pink bedazzled flip phone, on which he texts a mystery person, who is later revealed to be Diane, “Around the dinner table conversation is lively.”
Even though many of these scenes could end up being significant, the show seemed to be the most engaging when drawing on the memories of both the characters and the viewers. For example, Dougie/Agent Cooper is at the police station after surviving the attempted murder by Ike the Spike. As the three detectives, who seem right out of a Coen Brothers’ film, question Dougie’s boss and grab a mug of coffee in order to get Dougie’s finger prints, we see Cooper stare longingly at an American flag. The camera rests on his woebegone face, which in its drawn sorrowful gaze resembles an Egon Schiele work (thanks Mama for the observation).
As he gawks at the flag, the soft sounds of “America the Beautiful play.” It’s all very camp. There’s nothing like some good U.S.A. reminiscing.
Suddenly, a woman walking by interrupts Cooper’s zonked-out patriotism. In particular, her red high heels capture Cooper’s attention. As many have already pointed out, this scene resembles a moment from the original series in which Audrey takes off her little 50’s style loafers to slip on some sexy red high heels. The lingering shots on the shoes are almost identical. Are these ruby red heels triggering a memory in Cooper? Did they trigger a memory in YOU? Speaking of, where the hell is Audrey?
Memory plays an even bigger role in Bobby Briggs’ storyline in Part 9. We last saw Bobby weeping over a photo of Laura Palmer in the sheriff department of Twin Peaks. I mean, who doesn’t get all maudlin and teary when looking at Laura? I know I do.
Bobby, Hawk and Sheriff Truman visit Bobby’s mother to ask her about the last meeting Major Briggs had with Cooper before Briggs’ death and Cooper’s disappearance. She eerily explains that Major Briggs foretold that Bobby, Hawk and Truman would come to the house to ask about Cooper, asking her to give them something when they did. “He squeezed my shoulders when he told me this,” she says in an oddly specific, Lynchian detail.
More than just a moment of revelation for the show’s plot, it’s also a tender moment between Bobby and his departed father. “When your father told me this, you were a very long way from where you are today. Somehow he knew that it would all turn out well. He saw this life for you. Your father never lost faith in you.” She’s right, considering Bobby in the first Twin Peaks was a hilariously overacted, sulky little shithead, hence one of my personal favorites.
Like Lynch’s understanding of memory of both past, present and future, Major Briggs’ seems to transcend normal boundaries of temporality, particularly in dealing with Bobby. We’ve seen this previously in the original series when Major Briggs runs into Bobby huffing around the Double R Diner and tells him about a vision he had in which Bobby was “happy and carefree, clearly living a life of deep harmony and joy.” Major Briggs continued, “We embraced, a warm and loving embrace, nothing withheld. We were, in this moment, one. My vision ended. I awoke with a tremendous feeling of optimism and confidence in you and your future. That was my vision–it was you.” Bobby responds with a guileless, “Really?”
But, what did Major Briggs tell his wife to present to the trio? Well, a little tube from a decadent-looking red chair. This object gives Bobby the opportunity for another moment to shine in Part 9. Back at the department, Hawk and Sheriff Truman try to figure out how to open the device and Bobby grins goofily in the background. He knows how to open it. Slamming the tube into the ground to hear the right tone, he throws it again, opening it up and revealing to pieces of paper. One contains directions to a place called Jack Rabbit’s Palace, which Bobby explains, “My dad, when I was a little kid, he took me to this place. It was near where our station used to be. It was our make believe world where we made up stories…I was the one who named it Jack Rabbit’s Palace.”
“He saw all this. Whatever this is,” says Sheriff Truman. Yeah, right? What the hell is going on?
However, the best aspect of Part 9 isn’t even technically in the episode itself. It’s revealed that William Hastings, the poor sap accused of the murder of his librarian girlfriend Ruth whose head is found with Major Briggs’ headless body, has a blog he co-wrote with Ruth called Filthy Dreams…I mean, The Search For The Zone, in which they describe, research and attempt to reach an alternate dimension. His last entry states, “Today we finally entered what we call “The Zone” and we met the Major,” who is presumably Major Briggs.
Later in the episode, Tammy questions Hastings, who continually sobs throughout the interrogation. Explaining to Tammy his meeting with the Major, he reveals the Major asked for coordinates, maybe the same coordinates sought by Mr. C. in Part 8. “We gave him the numbers and he started to float up and he said some words. Cooper. Cooper. Right before his head disappeared. It was something like no one has seen before. I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve never read anything like it. You don’t know. You weren’t there. It…he…he…it was beautiful,” he opines, continuing, “And then Ruth was dead. It was so terrible.”
After this he sails into messy territory, reminiscing about how he and Ruth were going to go to the Bahamas (“We were going to go to the Bahamas. We were going to go scuba dive and drink mixed drinks on the beach. And we were going to soak up the sun. And look at he beautiful sunsets.”) Even Tammy, not exactly known for showing emotions, looked stunned. Jesus, pull yourself together, Bill.
After the episode, the Interwebz discovered that someone, presumably Lynch and Frost, created an actual website The Search For The Zone (thesearchforthezone.com), which looks like a Geocities page from about 1997. Between some wonky academic articles and an intro by Hastings, the bottom of the page contains some coordinates, which, if you click, you get sent to a short static-laden video of the convenience store from Part 8. Spooky. This is Lynch and Frost suggesting that Twin Peaks and its alternate dimensions are a part of our world, beyond the screen.
Another part of the page is equally compelling. Clicking on old journal entries, curious visitors get sent to another static-filled video, but this video has less imagery and more sound. It runs through clips of the songs like Chromatics’ “Shadow,” Julee Cruise’s “Falling” and other songs played at the Roadhouse. You can also hear some faint talking as if it was a radio tuned to a wrong frequency. Does this mean the Bang Bang Bar is the zone we’re searching for? Is it some sort of alternative dimension for night owls? Was Lynch listening to all of Marion and my drunken plans for the club Filthy Dreams?
There are also some creepy comments in the site’s guestbook, including a reference to a video: “I couldn’t tell–was that light really fire? Was the boy burned? His face looked burned. When will you do the ‘thing’?” What thing? Some commenters aren’t as nice, even Twin Peaks characters get trolled: “Are you people crazy? There is no fucking ‘zone.’ Fuck you and the spaceship you rode in on.” Everyone’s a critic.
Speaking of the Bang Bang Bar, Lynch leaves us with another song and dance, but this time he also introduces us to Ella, a hot mess played by musician Sky Ferreira. Singlehandedly proving that Twin Peaks does have a drug problem, Ella talks to a friend in bizarre code about penguins and zebras. Ella also mentions and keeps scratching a “wicked rash” under her arm. It makes the most excruciatingly disgusting grating sound. Thanks for leaving us with that, David.