Twin Peaks Recap: Tell Me When This Is Over

Twin Peaks

Part 6
Season 1 Episode 6
Editor’s Rating *****
Laura Dern. Photo: Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

One of the most bizarre and disturbing revelations of modern science comes from something called the double-slit experiment. It goes like this: If a wave of light passes through two holes in a plate, it will leave a banded pattern on the other side. But shoot a single photon through each hole, do it over and over, and something very strange will happen. Instead of simply passing through and colliding with the other side, the photons will eventually create the same banded pattern as a wave — as though each photon knows about the existence of the others, interfering with the way they move and the direction they take. It’s almost as if the photon knows about its duplicates, as if they feel and pull each other, as if somehow that is possible.

Bad Coop and Good Coop are not supposed to inhabit the same space at the same time, but now somehow they do. As the jagged pattern of its floor bisects Dougie’s kitchen, the one-armed man appears, screaming with the outrage of classical physics: “You have to wake up,” he backwards yells at Coop. Something is wrong. Even when they don’t realize it, the two Coops are pulling at each other, dragging each other into accidents and casinos and any number of bad decisions. It cannot hold.

As “Part 6” continues, the Shitty Guy who’s related to the Horne family — the one who assaulted the girl in the last episode because he was bad, so bad — emerges as little more than a bit player in whatever new drug drama is going down in and around Twin Peaks. He meets with the men who are more important in the organization than him, the ones who have more drugs, more power to throw around.

“Have you ever studied your hand?” the older drug dealer asks as they negotiate, like every philosophical stoner I have ever met filtered through the lens of cocaine. He punches and kicks like a would-be Bruce Lee; he talks about bringing the “sparkle” down from Canada. He throws a coin into the air, and it hangs there like like a question with a piercingly long metallic ring before the shitty young man realizes that somehow — somehow — the coin is already in his mouth. Then, of course, it ends up back in the man’s hands.

It was in one place and the other at the same time. It was heads and it was tails, both and neither. This is the worst kind of magic, the kind that emerges after the fact to explain a violation. Why did it happen? Why did you let it in? It was inside you, it was over before you even realized, and then gone before it can even sink in. Who can say what happened?

“This is you,” the older man says, flipping it over to make it heads again. “This is me.”

We could say they’re just two sides of the same coin, which is true but too easy, and not anywhere weird enough. They push and they pull against each other; they feel the possibility of the future rubbing up against them in the wrong way. After settling business and almost bursting to tears on the ride home — “stupid magic motherfuckers” — the younger man decides that his best way to deal with his fragile, bruised ego is to put the pedal to the floor and disregard anyone who gets in his way. He immediately hits a child with his car because toxic masculinity is designed to kill us all.

As the boy’s mother gathers the broken body of her child in her arms, the extras of the town gather round and weep. Carl — the wide-eyed, elderly owner of the local trailer park — sweeps in to comfort her, but there is no way to hold what is happening, and a puff of yellow something rises into the air over the body of the boy because it’s Twin Peaks, I guess. Somewhere, a traffic light turns red, sizzles, and fades in a hiss of electricity.

Elsewhere, Deputy Chief Hawk walks into a bathroom at the Twin Peaks police station and drops a coin. It comes up heads, too. He immediately takes a metal tool and starts wrenching open the door to one of the stalls, and finds a letter waiting inside. This is the another possibility, another way you can be if you want to: not the person who is so insecure that he kills things, but the person who takes things apart so can he finally understand them.

Coop, for his part, remains largely useless. At best, he is a baby-faced oracle reciting sounds that he can barely comprehend. It’s now officially tiresome: We are six episodes into this series and we still have not had a single conversation with Agent Cooper that didn’t feel like reading a picture book with a child. At the end of the episode, Sharon Van Etten sing a song where she croons, “Tell me when, tell me when this is over?” It’s a question I ask myself every week about this Dougie story line, but a month and a half in, even after Lynch rewards us with a fleeting look at Diane herself, there’s no end in sight.

We see Coop grasping again and again at symbols of his earlier life: case files, cowboys, badges, coffee. He is drawn not by narrative or logic but iconography; he is trapped in his own version of Twin Peaks, where symbols float into view and everyone think it’s nonsense because we’re looking at what things are and not what they mean.

When Coop turns in Dougie’s case files at the insurance company the next morning, full of scribbles of ladders and steps and circles leading to other circles, his boss initially dismisses him. “What the hell are all these childish scribbles? How am I going to make any sense out of this?” Moments later, after holding the papers next to each other like Twin Peaks’ most devoted puzzle solver, the boss looks at Coop with a strange and worrying recognition dawning on his face. “I want you to keep this information to yourself. This is disturbing, to say the least … You’ve certainly given me a lot to think about.”

It’s the same promise Lynch keeps making over and over again in his work: If you look at it long enough, in context, somehow it will make sense. He’s always giving us a lot to think about, from the heartbreaking scenes of little boys dying in the street to the coins that drop impossibly into people’s mouths to the strange shots of electrical wires, crackling with a power that no one sees.

Cooper is unfazed by his success, and continues meandering around Dougie’s life with profound cognitive impediments that very few people seem ready to recognize out loud. Although he’s supposed to renegotiate a payoff for his creepy loan shark pals, he doesn’t do it because he’s only sort of a person right now. He’s more of a symbol, too, if you want to see it that way: an icon of one show being conjured into another.

Meanwhile, an envelope marked with a small brown spot like dried blood is delivered to a bald man. It contains two photographs, one of a woman and one of Dougie Jones. The man stabs both the pictures with an ice pick, and soon he actually stabs the real woman because he is a hit man and because this is a show that likes to tear women apart. As a friend of mine said recently, Lynch’s work often feels threaded with an unsettling undercurrent toward women, “dazzled by these wondrous toys, captivated by all the things he can make them do, but prone to breaking them should the mood arise.” The hit man kills another woman for good measure, and soon we are watching Sheriff Truman’s wife return to the Twin Peaks police station to harangue him about something else, as wives in this series are wont to do.

This time around it’s about her father’s car, which isn’t working and she’s furious. As Truman disappears down the hallway with her to deal with this, the aptly named Chad announces to the room that he “sure wouldn’t take that shit off her.” A female officer informs him that her out-of-control behavior is largely due to the suicide of her son, because women have to be emotionally broken to be loud and shitty and weird, while men just get to view that as their birthright, I guess.

When Dougie’s wife Janey-E shows up to deal with the loan shark goons coming after her husband, she too is shaking with anger, and manages to negotiate them down for half the price. “Tough dame,” says one of them as they leave, and maybe that is the message too: that we mistake toughness for shrillness because it happens in a higher-pitched tone. Or this: Something is very, very wrong here, and somehow the women in this series are the only ones screaming about it.

Twin Peaks Recap: Tell Me When This Is Over