For every bit of sensible dialogue or clarifying moment, Twin Peaks also provides a bewildering tidbit. That's part of the package, I suppose — every episode is one step forward, two steps toward confusion.
Episode two, which also aired Sunday night in a two-part premiere, does a little cleanup clarification for the premiere episode. For starters, I'm beginning to understand just what's going on with two Agent Coopers. There's Agent Cooper Normal, who's hanging out in the Evil Lodge, and there's Agent Cooper Sleazy, who wears a leather jacket and a snakeskin shirt (pictured above). The show has yet to explain the dual existence of these two characters, but I'm developing a theory. (More on that later.)
Agent Cooper Sleazy kills two people in this episode — both times, it's not entirely clear why he did it. The first victim is Phyllis (Cornelia Guest), Bill Hastings' wife. Phyllis is having an affair with George Bautzer (Neil Dickson), and after hissing to her adulterous husband, "You're going down. Life in prison," she encounters Agent Cooper Sleazy in her home. How'd he get there? It's still not clear whether Agent Cooper Sleazy is operating on a different dimension. He seems to exhibit otherworldly traits and he's got the calm assuredness immortal villains tend to have in sci-fi.
Agent Cooper Sleazy knows everything. He knows that Phyllis is having an affair, and he knows that Darya (Nicole LaLiberte), the freckled young woman whom he fetched last episode, is planning to kill him with Ray (George Griffith). He doesn't "need" anything, either. As he so eloquently tells Jack (Steve Baker) at the diner, he wants.
"If there’s one thing you should know about me ray, it’s that I don’t need anything, " he says simply. "I want. And I want that information."
One step forward: Okay, Agent Cooper Sleazy wants info! Two steps back: What info? And what does that have to do with Darya and Ray?
After killing Darya — she was plotting to kill him remember? — Cooper sets up a radio and communicates with a man named Phillip Jeffries. Phillips bids an ominous goodbye to Cooper, which leads me to my theory.
In the Red Room, where Agent Cooper Normal looks just as confused as you or I, Laura Palmer does some explaining. This is Laura Palmer in 2017, so it's an older Sheryl Lee sporting a blonde bob.
"I am Laura Palmer but she is dead yet I live," she says. Hot take: Cooper is dead and yet he lives.
Palmer is slurped from the Red Room by an "ominous whoosh," which is looking to be the season's villain as of now. I blame the ominous whoosh for the death of the college kids last episode. (RIP Tracy and her dumbass suitor. Never have sex in front of a whoosh-emitting glass box, kids.) After Palmer leaves, a tree with a viscous human mass at the center appears.
"I am the arm," it says by way of introduction. Lovely to meet you, arm. The tree has this explanation for Cooper's captivity in the Black Lodge: In order to leave, he must lure Killer Mike to the Red Room. This gives me pause, because, if you'll remember, Killer Mike is Agent Cooper's doppelgänger. Is it possible that Killer Mike is Agent Cooper Sleazy?
Other evidence: At the very end of the episode, after the "arm" goes a little bonkers — otherworldly trees are very sensitive, you know — Agent Cooper Normal opens the curtains of the Red Room and sees the real world. He looks out onto a highway. Then, we cut to Agent Cooper Sleazy, who's driving a car. Call me crazy, but I think these two are destined to meet in the next episode.
There's also the moment when Agent Cooper Sleazy tells Darya, "Tomorrow I’m supposed to get pulled back into the Black Lodge." Somehow, these two Coopers are connected. TBD exactly how.
The spooky glass box makes another appearance, in case you were worried. Agent Cooper, while attempting to leave the Red Room, finds himself trapped into, looking out onto the couch — the very same piece of furniture where Tracy and her boy met their unfortunate end. Shortly after Cooper leaves the box, we witness the same flirtatious sequence we saw last episode. Tracy notices there's no guard at the warehouse; she asks to come upstairs and see the glass box. (We know what happens afterwards. No need to dwell on it, although my nightmares certainly will.)
Just when the action gets so bonkers that I genuinely had to pause the episode, Twin Peaks takes us back to a familiar spot: The Bang Bang Bar. The final sequence feels like the show reassuring us that, hey, we're still in the land that you love. Yes, there's a slick brain-looking thing listing numbers (I have written in my notes: "253 time and time again bob bob bob"). But there's Shelley, played by Madchen Amick! There's James Hurley, played by James Marshall! There's the Bang Bang Room! The scene is refreshingly expository. (In a land where action takes precedence over exposition, these types of over-explaining scenes are welcome.)
"You guys, my daughter is with the wrong guy," Shelley insists to her pack of friends, one of whom is Gossip Girl's Jessica Szohr.
"Are you kidding? Everybody loves Steven," Jessica from Gossip Girl responds. See? Harmless, straightforward dialogue. We learn that Shelley's daughter is Becky and Becky is dating Steven. Then, we learn that James Hurley has a thing for Jessica from Gossip Girl, who does not have a character name as far as I'm concerned. James is quiet these days, courtesy of a motorcycle accident, but according to Shelley, he's still "cool."
"James has always been cool," Shelley reminds us.
It's a sweet reminder that the characters in this show have all aged — they have kids, they've been in motorcycle accidents, and some of them have been trapped in the Black Lodge for 25 years. But they're all still cool. (It's also one the first genuinely uplifting moments in these rather dreary episodes.)
— When Bill Hastings and his wife Phyllis are arguing in the prison, the camera pans to another cell, where a figure in all black looks more than a little frightened. He then fades slowly, leaving the prison cell empty. So, is this a fellow from the Black Lodge?
—When Agent Cooper Sleazy kills Phyllis, he leaves a gaping hole where one eye should be. This is the same way that Ruth Davenport looked last episode. Did Agent Cooper Sleazy kill Ruth Davenport?
— We know that we have at least one very real villain. In the words of Mr. Todd (Patrick Fischler), “Better hope you never get involved with someone like him." The bright-eyed Roger (Joe Adler) seems too curious about this villain to last long in this series.
— Bill Hastings wasn't at the murder scene. However, he had a dream the night that Ruth Davenport died, and his fingerprints are all over Ruth's home. There's some Black Lodge magic afoot, methinks.
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