Posts Tagged ‘George Griffith’

Quick question : who is the most tragic figure in David Lynch and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks 2017/Twin Peaks : The Return/Twin Peaks season three?

Is it Kyle MacLachlan’s Special Agent Dale Cooper, bifurcated into two distinct beings? I’m thinking no — in part thirteen, “Evil Coop” finally dispenses with the troublesome Ray (played — for presumably the last time — by George Griffiths) once and for all, after winning an arm-wrestling match, placing the infamous “Owl Cave Ring” on Ray’s finger, pumping him for the co-ordinates he’s been needing (along with some info on the ever-enigmatic Phillip Jeffries), and, unbeknownst to him, forging an unspoken bond with the psychotic Richard Horne (Eamon Farren), who I still maintain is his son. And while all that’s going on, back in Vegas, the brothers Mitchum (Jim Belushi and Robert Knepper) are happier than hell with Cooper’s Dougie Jones persona, coming into his insurance agency’s office in an honest-to-God conga line along with their showgirl sidekicks (once again Amy Shiels’ Candie being the only one who actually speaks) and bestowing expensive liquor, cufflinks, and even new cars on both Dougie himself as well as his boss, Bushnell Mullins (Don Murray) as ostentatious tokens of appreciation for an enormous insurance claim being decided in their favor. Heck, Sonny-Jim (Pierce Gagnon) even gets the swing set of every kid’s dreams and Janey-E (Naomi Watts) — well, shit, she’s just happier than ever, and why shouldn’t she be?

Of course, this isn’t good news for everybody — and by “everybody” I mean Tom Sizemore’s Anthony Sinclair and Patrick Fischler’s Duncan Todd. Still, Dougie’s simple-minded fascination with Sinclair’s dandruff — yes, you read that right — triggers a 180-degree transformation in the ethically conflicted con artist, and soon he’s spilling his guts and probably saving his job in one fell swoop just when he was about to commit himself to a truly irreversible decision, and with the comedically incompetent Detectives Fusco (Larry Clarke, Eric Edelstein, and David Koechner) on the case of deciphering Dougie’s true identity and predictably writing off key clues as simple “mistakes,” our empty vessel’s newfound and truly mindless suburban marital bliss seems very secure indeed. No real tragedy to be found here, then.

Could our tragic figure then be Sherilyn Fenn’s Audrey Horne? There’s clearly a lot more going on in the battle of wills between her and her husband (Clark Middleton) than we suspected last week — in fact, this is some MK-ULTA, Chuck Traynor/Linda Lovelace-level manipulative bullshit that’s playing out before our eyes. Audrey doesn’t even seem completely sure of where she is, what she’s doing there, where she wants to go, or how to get there from here — wherever “here” even is. So, yeah, depending on how things shake out in future installments, she might be the character trapped in the most tragic situation of all — but I really don’t think so. She’s always been a survivor, and a devious one when needs be. She’ll work her way out of this mess one way or another.

Who, then? James Hurley (James Marshall)? There was talk way back in part two about him being in a motorcycle accident some years ago, and he does seem a shadow of his former self, but no less an authority than Shelly Johnson/Briggs (Madchen Amick) informed us, if you’ll recall, that “James is still cool,” and he proves it tonight by taking the stage at the Roadhouse (after being introduced by beyond-awesome emcee J.R. Starr) — the same stage recently occupied by the likes of Chromatics and “the” Nine Inch Nails — and making a transfixed female member of the audience cry with his  heartfelt rendering of what’s apparently still the only song in his repertoire, “Just You And I.” Even the two creepiest-looking backup singers you’ve ever seen in your life can’t diminish James’ musical magnetism, so nope, he’s not exactly leading a tragic existence, either.

A brief check-in with Tim Roth and Jennifer Jason Leigh shows that they’re headed through Utah, and that’s certainly tragic, no doubt, but they’ll get through to the other side of the state and make their escape at some point. And, as I predicted in my last review, Russ Tamblyn’s Dr. Amp/Jacoby and Wendy Robie’s Nadine Hurley appear to be on the verge of cosummating their previously-confined-to-the-airwaves romance in the shadow of her silent drape-runners, so these two lonely souls may have just found true love at last. Let’s rule out all four of these “suspects,” then, and move on.

Becky Burnett (Amanda Seyfried) has it rough, there’s no denying that , given that she’s trapped in an abusive relationship with a drugged-out, two-timing loser, but at least her mom still loves her, loans her cash, and feeds her homemade cherry pie — and does she really have it any worse than her father, Deputy Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook), who’s reduced to eating alone at the Double R and pining after the wife and daughter he’s lost?  Hmmm —two strong contenders here, to be sure.

Except that in the end, Bobby doesn’t have to eat alone — he’s invited over to the table shared by Norma Jennings (Peggy Lipton) and (finally!!!) “Big” Ed Hurley — and I think Ed might just be our guy, because this happy trio is soon interrupted by Norma’s new beau, a cheesy financier named Walter (Grant Goodeve) who’s so blatantly phony and insincere that he makes old-school game-show hosts like Wink Martindale and Chuck Woolery seem honest and authentic by comparison. “Big” Ed still clearly carries a torch for Norma, and despite his assurances to Bobby that “nothing’s going on here,” he’s not fooling anyone. McGill gives a truly gut-wrenching (and largely silent) performance here in part thirteen, one that anyone who’s ever been sweet on somebody they can’t have (shit, I guess that includes anyone who was ever in their twenties) can immediately relate to. He’s obviously  envious of Mr. Plastic, but  at the same time you can feel that he wants Norma to be happy above all else — he just knows it sure won’t be with this sleazy operator, who’s convinced her to franchise out her diner (now we know why she’s doing her books all the time), but then has the unmitigated nerve to tell her how she should be running the place. “Big” Ed obviously loves Norma to death — always has, always will — and the final scene of him eating his take-out soup alone in his gas station as the credits roll is enough to rip your beating heart right out of your chest. This is emotional desolation at its most profound — and most profoundly difficult to watch.

Yup, that’s it then, case closed — the most tragic character on the Twin Peaks revival is “Big” Ed Hurley.

But then I remember Grace Zabriskie’s Sarah Palmer, self-medicating away her pain with fifty bucks’ worth of booze and three or four packs of cigarettes every night, her daughter and husband both dead at the hands of forces beyond her understanding that now appear to be coming for her as well, watching blood-soaked nature documentaries and 1950s boxing matches on her giant television every night, basking in the cathode ray (or whatever the hell they’re made out of these days) glow in an otherwise silent home — a woman for whom the end of the world is no longer an abstraction, but something that already happened a quarter-century ago and didn’t even have the decency to take her with it. Imagine an apocalypse so heartless and cruel that it leaves you behind with no road map for how to put your life back together while everyone else goes on with theirs all around you, as if nothing even happened, and you’ll have some inkling as to what Sarah’s going through. Compared to that, shit — even “Big” Ed has it easy.

 

Oh, fuck me — I wouldn’t want to be the first person to “go live” with their review of part eight of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks 2017/Twin Peaks : The Return/Twin Peaks season three. I couldn’t handle the responsibility.

Here’s what we know for sure — about eight hours ago as I write this, Peter Deming, who oughtta know because he shot the thing, tweeted this :

Fans promptly went into frenzied speculative overdrive, because that’s what fans do : was this the night the “real” Agent Cooper would return? Would Michael Ontkean be putting in his long-rumored cameo? Would we finally learn what “Blue Rose” meant for certain? Was somebody gonna — gasp! — die?

What it’s safe to say no one expected was an epi — sorry, a part — so visually, thematically, indeed constitutionally flabbergasting and surreal that it makes part three look like child’s play in hindsight. Like most, if not all, of you reading this, I just got done watching the most flat-out amazing hour of television I’ve ever seen in my life, and I’m not really quite sure how the hell to describe it. Still, if you wanna make a go of it as a critic — even if only of the armchair/internet variety — you’d better not be the type of person who’s at a loss for words too often, so let’s just dive in and see where it goes.

Everything starts innocently enough (at least by Twin Peaks standards) with special agent Dale Cooper’s evil doppleganger (Kyle MacLachlan’s only got the one role tonight) making his prison “break” in a car driven by his sleazebag accomplice, Ray Monroe (George Griffith). Nobody films desolate open roads like Lynch, and this opening scene has a very Lost Highway feel to it, until Evil Coop decides he’s going to get one up on Ray only to find that Ray has double-crossed him first (it’s a bit of a long story) and has him dead(?) to rights. Shots ring out in the night and then the Black Lodge comes to claim its own when a legion of those apparition-type creatures we’ve been seeing hanging out in the Buckhorn, South Dakota police station set upon BOB/Coop’s prone form and proceed to rip it to shreds — or to at least extract a whole shit-ton of blood out of it. Ray watches in stunned disbelief for a matter of minutes before finally high-tailing it out of there, which proves to be a smart move because not-Coop gets up again and doesn’t seem real happy.

Cut to the Roadhouse and our musical guests for the evening, Trent Reznor and “the” Nine Inch Nails, as introduced, if I’m not mistaken (although I could be) by Jimmy Scott, the same guy who sang “Under The Sycamore Trees” in the final episode of Twin Peaks‘ first go-round. This is fun, a good chance to catch a breath, so do that — trust me when I say you’ll need it.

Cut to — I’m not kidding — the New Mexico desert in 1945, site of the first H-Bomb test. And be prepared to go inside — deep inside. Some years back I read the notorious essay “Meditations On The Atom And Time” by Dennis Stillings in the pages of Adam Parfrey’s equally-notorious Apocalypse Culture anthology,  and while Mr. Stillings made a number of astute and otherwise-unspoken observations about the dawning of the so-called “Atomic Age,” among the most profound was his stated belief that “The Bomb” represented the destructive and awesome (in the truest sense of the word) hand of God come down to usher in a conceptual shift too profound for most of our tiny minds to comprehend. David Lynch, though, no more has a tiny mind that Donald Trump has tiny hands (at least if you ask him), and not only do I think he read Stillings’ text, I think he absorbed and understood all of its staggering contents. Which puts him at least three or four steps ahead of me.

The first nuclear explosion as channeled through Lynch’s subconscious and camera is a terrifyingly revelatory experience, far more than “quasi-” religious in nature. It is the God of the Old Testament, whose secret name of Tetragrammaton is spelled out in the Kabbalah.  It is the alpha and the omega, the Trinity (site), the hand and voice of the fire (walk with me), the burning universal absolute that has been the animus of all great artists who are/were “dialed in” to forces beyond perhaps even their own admittedly vast comprehension from William Blake to Austin Osman Spare to Jack Kirby to Lynch himself. It is the Great God Pan. It is the terrible three-headed Jah-Bul-On. It is also BOB’s daddy.

Or, at least, that’s (part of) what I got from it. We’re up to 1956 now, after a long interlude featuring The Giant (Carel Struycken), a female companion, and an abandoned theater in a “house on the hill” unlike any you’ve ever seen, and the face of Frank Silva keeps popping up in the most unusual places. As does the face of Sheryl Lee. Was Laura Palmer’s death inscribed into the book of fate that night another book — that of Revelation — came true? The visual clues seem to suggest that, but if I watch this 60 more times (and I just might!) I’ll probably have 60 more opinions on the matter. What I do know is that the world of ’56, like that of ’45, is a black-and-white one. And the vagrant apparitions we keep seeing in the here and now are all over the desert, after having first strode out of a ramshackle convenience store back when “The Bomb” birthed them. One has even learned to speak. And smoke. “Gotta light?”

He likes that question a lot — so much so, in fact, that’s is all he says, until he gets to a radio station, brutally (and graphically) kills the secretary and the DJ working there, and plants himself behind the microphone, at which point his vocabulary becomes distinctly less limited. “This is the water, this is the well —” he begins, before launching into a brief soliloquy that becomes a repeated mantra of the sort that would make David Tibet proud, a poetic paean of verbalized psychopathology, a meme back when memetic theory still fucking meant something. And something dangerous at that.

Everyone who’s tuned into the station (we see a mechanic and a diner waitress, presumably there are others) drops dead — everyone except a teenage girl, one of a pair of young lovers we meet briefly as they walk home. That’s because out in the B&W desert of ’56 an egg that came through from ’45 hatched. And out of it came a distinctly advanced, evolved, and grotesquely large bug, one whose movements are almost — dare I say it — human. And when out erstwhile New Mexican Juliet falls asleep, it crawls into her mouth. And yes, it’s every bit as disgusting as it sounds, maybe even moreso.

And that’s where it ends. We’ve got two weeks to process this one, since there’s no new episo — goddamn it, when am I gonna get that right, part — next week owing to the extended-for-some holiday weekend. But it’s going to take longer than that to wrap my head around this thing. Probably, like, forever long. On the surface, one could easily posit an argument that the main storyline wasn’t advanced all that much here in part eight, but if you’re into surface-level readings you’re probably not watching Twin Peaks in the first place. What Lynch and Frost have wrought with this particular segment is a thing both lush and terrible, beautiful and horrifying, mind-beding and stomach-churning, a gaze into the abyss and the abyss gazing back. It’s far and away the most important installment of the series to date —  shit, I’m prepared to say the most important thing to ever air on American television screens — but please don’t ask me why yet. I’m still too busy trembling. We were, all of us, touched by the hand of God tonight — and it fucking burns. Fire, walk with me.