‘Twin Peaks: The Return’ Episode 11: “There’s Fire Where You’re Going…”

Plus: the fate of two old lovebirds is revealed.
By  · Published on July 24th, 2017

Plus, the fate of two old lovebirds revealed.

If the first half of Twin Peaks season three was a low-simmer, then so far the back half has been a full boil, at least plot-wise. The last two weeks have been pure progression, which after the philosophical meandering (I mean that in a good way) of the first nine episodes feels like a rolling stone gathering speed. There is an epic confrontation on the horizon and forces known and unknown continue to prepare themselves as they advance like chess pieces towards the denouement. This week the momentum only increased, including a returning-character cameo no one saw coming.

The episode starts in the town of Twin Peaks with a few young boys playing catch, a scene just innocent enough you know something wicked is coming. Sure enough, an overthrown ball leads to a gruesome discovery: a very injured woman crawling through the forest. It’s Miriam, and apparently she’s survived the attack by Richard Horne last episode.

But then cut to the Fat Trout trailer park where Becky Burnett (Amanda Seyfried) is receiving troubling news over the phone about her husband, Steven. She’s freaking, so calls Shelly. Being the loyalist she is, Shelly drops everything and runs to her daughter. Meanwhile, Becky’s arming herself with a pistol. Given her frazzled, possibly drug-induced erraticism, this probably isn’t a great idea. Shelly arrives and Becky steals her keys then her car without a word of explanation. Shelly jumps onto the hood to try and stop her daughter from fleeing, but Becks just fishtails mom off and keeps going. All this commotion attracts the attention of Carl Rodd (Harry Dean Stanton), who goes to see if Shelly’s okay. She is, but needs a ride to the Double R. Carl knows about the turmoil between Becky and Steven so summons a VW van to take Shelly back to the Double R, coming along for the ride himself. On the way Shelly calls Norma and asks advice on what to do. Norma’s advice answers a big question: she tells Shelly to call Bobby, confirming that Becky is their daughter, an as-yet unstated fact. Carl has a CB and gets right on that, radioing Maggie at the TPSD. He calls Shelly “Shelly Briggs,” meaning she and Bobby got married, too, though based on the way they talk now, they seem apart. Shelly tells Bobby the situation, including the tidbit about Becky having a gun.

At an apartment building, Becky storms to #208, gun in hand, and starts banging on the door, screaming for Steven to answer. A neighbor pops out to tell her “they” just left. Regardless, Becky shoots the door six times. The camera moves through the building to where Steven’s hiding out in a stairwell with a lady, but not just any lady, Gersten Hayward (Alicia Witt), Donna Hayward’s youngest sister, all grown up. We saw Gersten just once in the original series playing Mendelssohn’s “Rondo Capriccioso, Opus 1” for Leland and Sarah Palmer at a Hayward family dinner. By the way she’s dressed now, in a silky negligee, she and Steven were in her apartment playing something else. Going from an overachieving princess to a druggie-banging harlot? There’s a good backstory here; I only hope we get to hear it.

Calls of gunfire from the residents of the apartment building come into the Sheriff’s Department like crazy. “Someone’s on the way,” Maggie tells them.

But next we know we’re in Buckhorn, South Dakota where Hastings (Matthew Lillard) has led Detective Macklay, Diane, Tammy Preston, Albert, and Gordon Cole to the site where he first encountered Major Briggs, an abandoned house in a derelict neighborhood. Tammy asks how he got inside. Through the fence, he says. How far in did he go? 15, 20 feet. Then? He can’t remember. Based on what he said about the encounter previously, though, we know he crossed through a portal to The Lodge, either White or Black. Just then, a Woodsman appears by the house in question. Albert sees him, as does Cole, but then the Woodsman vanishes. Tammy shares what she learned from Hastings with Albert and Cole. Cole asks Albert if he thinks they’ll “find one in there?” A portal, is that what he means? And that familiar phrasing begs a question: how many have they already found? The two of them go under the fence where Hastings indicated. They advance five feet. Ten. Then Albert stops but Cole continues. Only a few more feet, though, before something causes him to pause; it’s like he’s held in a tractor beam. In Albert’s POV Cole goes blurry. Then we see a blurred, shaky Gordon Cole from the shoulders up, looking to the sky (this is footage shown in the very first TP:TR teaser, though we didn’t know it was integral to the series at the time). We see what he’s looking at, too. The sky becomes a vortex, swirling into a spiral. Only Cole sees this. He raises his arms. Everyone else watches on, oblivious to what he’s doing. From the vortex comes a portal into a realm where three Woodsmen wait on a staircase staring back at Cole. The top most could be our smoker in need of a light. Perhaps these stairs lead to the room above the convenience store? In Albert’s POV again, Cole starts flickering in and out of view as superimposed fire dances over him. Albert thinks quick and pulls Cole back from where he stands, severing the connection. “Well I guess we found out,” Albert says. “We sure did, Albert,” Cole replies. This is an entry point to The Black Lodge for sure.

In the car with Macklay, Hastings trembles with fear. Albert notices something in the underbrush nearby, a body. A Woodsman lurks as they go to inspect it. It’s the body of woman, naked and headless. Ruth Davenport, Albert presumes, the woman Hastings is accused of killing, she whose head was found in the hotel room with Briggs’ body. Meanwhile, the lurking Woodsman sneaks up on the Detective’s car. Diane sees this but says nothing, she only watches as the Woodsman – the same, I believe, who was the non-smoking one in the episode eight flashback sequence, “the water and the well” sequence – reaches the Detective’s door and disappears. Diane purposely remains silent. Back with the body of Ruth Davenport, Albert says there are coordinates written on her arm, he took a picture. Then suddenly, there’s a gross, wet crunch in the back seat of Detective Macklay’s car and he goes nuts, calls for backup to – it should be noted – their location on Sycamore street. A side-note here: there are 12 sycamore trees in Glastonbury Grove, the portal to The Black Lodge in Twin Peaks; the rental home into which good Coop manifested and became Dougie Jones was on Sycamore Street as well, but in the Rancho Rosa development in Vegas. This means all three Black Lodge portals we know of, then, have a sycamore in the name of the location, or are present in actual form. And don’t forget the song sung in The Lodge in the season two finale: “Under the Sycamore Tree.” Could there be 12 total entrances/portals to The Black Lodge, like the number of sycamore trees that encircle the Grove? I’m tingling head to toe and it’s not just the Horne Kush I’m smoking.

Back in the scene, Diane peers through the car window. “There’s no backup for this,” she declares. The others come to see what’s happened. Hastings is dead, the top half of his head is just gone, like the victims of the box monster, the attendant and his girlfriend, back in the pilot.

At the Double R we happen upon a tense family reunion. Bobby, Shelly, and Becky. Bobby asks his daughter what she’s going to do about her husband. She hates him – Steven, not her dad – and wants out, but at the same time she loves him. It’s a song and dance her parents know too well. Bobby says Becky has to pay for Gersten’s apartment door, not that she can afford to. Bobby will loan her the money. From reactions around the table, this seems like something he’s never done, or rarely, at least. Shelly wants Becky out of that trailer and away from Steven. Bobby says the only reason he hasn’t busted the jerk for his many criminal indiscretions is for his daughter’s sake, but this creep isn’t getting any better. Becky defends and defends him, even lies for him when Bobby asks if there’s been physical abuse, but regardless, Bobby’s done covering for Steven, and the next time that jerk screws up Bobby’s gonna throw the book at him. Shelly tries to reason with her daughter and we know why, she’s been Becky, too scared to leave an abusive marriage (to Leo); she’s afraid they’ll lose Becky, she’s afraid Steven will kill her. Shelly lovingly decrees Becky will stay with her tonight.

As they’re hugging it out, though, right in the middle of this heartfelt moment Red (Balthazar Getty) appears at the diner window and just like that Shelly’s out the door and smooching him. In front of Bobby too, who seems hurt by it. Oh Shelly, Shelly, Shelly: why can’t you leave those bad boys alone? (Red, we remember, is a drug dealer). Shelly pulls him out of view and they make out a little more, set up a meeting for later at “the same place.” Shelly’s giddy as a schoolgirl. Red takes off and she returns to the family tableau, grinning ear to ear. Then gunfire shatters the scene and a Double R window. A couple more follow. Norma orders the lights turned off – really quick thinking, almost like she’s used to this scenario – and Bobby goes out to investigate, weapon drawn. The culprit is a young boy in a minivan who discovered his father’s gun and squeezed off a couple. Bobby approaches his arguing parents and gets the weapon, empties it. Some jackass keeps honking their horn. The little boy, seven, eight, looks unapologetic as he stares Bobby down. That fucking horn keep bleating. Deputy Jesse arrives, says he was at Big Ed’s Gas Farm and heard the shots. Bobby leaves him the scene and goes to stop the honker, a very angry woman who’s late for dinner. She’s about to have a stroke she’s so angry. She keeps saying “we,” referring to a girl in the passenger’s seat, a waifish teen, preteen maybe, who is arching her body like she’s possessed and drooling vomit. The woman starts to scream over and over again (a sound just like her horn) as the girl silently writhes. Bobby just watches.

At the Sheriff’s Department Frank and Hawk are checking out the coordinates they found on the message left from Major Briggs. They’re looking on Google Earth, but Hawk has his own map, on hide, very old, he says, but “current, a living thing.” He points out on this map where Major Briggs’ station was, the one in which he supposedly died in a fire. It’s on Blue Pine Mountain, which is a very revered and sacred site. It’s also the right-side mountain of the titular twin peaks. Above this mountain on Hawk’s map is the bug-like black symbol we saw on the Briggs message and on the ace of spades held by bad Coop in the pilot. Frank points out a campfire on the map. Not a campfire, Hawk corrects him, a fire symbol, a type of fire, “more like electricity.” Is this good, Frank asks? Depends on the intention behind the fire, Hawk says, then brings up the date in the Major’s message; it’s the same that the stars on the map read, and that point to a field of corn in the bottom corner of the hide. Corn is a symbol of fertility, but this corn is black, which means it’s diseased, unnatural, dead. Hawk says when you put the fire symbol with the corn symbol, you get another, one of black fire. Frank points out the bug-like symbol and asks what it is. Hawk says Frank doesn’t ever want to know about that. But we do Hawk. We really, really do. Lucy cuts in on the intercom with a call from Margaret Lanterman.

“Hawk? Can you hear me? Hawk, can you hear me? You found something, didn’t you?” the Log Lady asks.

Hawk says he did. She wants to know what, but he can’t tell her that.

“My log is afraid of fire. There’s fire where you are going. Hawk, there’s fire where you are going.”

He says okay and she bids him a tearful adieu. She knows more than she’s saying, and suddenly I’m fearful for Hawk’s life. Then a knocking at the door. It’s Deputy Jesse, wanting to know if the Sheriff wants to see his new car. Tomorrow, Frank says.

Back in South Dakota with Cole, Albert and Diane. We open with Cole’s right hand shaking uncontrollably, something he says has never happened. To him. We remember from the original series, though, the right-hand tremors of agoraphobe Harold Smith when Donna Hayward lured him outside, and the same phenomenon in a random diner guest, Pete Martell, and Agent Cooper in the penultimate episode of season two. Its recurrence here is a bad sign, one that Black Lodge power is very, very near. Albert mentions wanting warm milk over coffee, “for the cat on the roof.” This is either a coded attempt to talk to Cole alone, or a Tennessee Williams joke that doesn’t land. Either way Cole thinks he says something about Ruth Davenport and asks to see the photo of the coordinates on her arm. Albert starts to explain they lead to “a small town in the north…” but then Tammy and Macklay arrive with coffee and Albert stops talking. Coffee is served, doughnuts are eaten, and Diane even convinces Macklay to let her smoke. Macklay then goes over what they have on the scene: no witnesses, but the body has been officially ID’d as Ruth Davenport. There was no sign of Briggs’ head. Cole relates his and Albert’s vision of the Woodsman to the group. Diane says she saw him, too, and places him by the car right before Hastings was killed. Cole remembers suddenly his vision of the three Woodsmen on the staircase, “in a room,” he says.

Then poof! We’re in Vegas at Dougie’s place of employment, Lucky 7 Insurance. Bud Mullins calls Dougie/Coop into his office. Mullins is convinced Dougie’s investigative work has uncovered connections to organized crime and police corruption connected to their firm; the two attempts on Dougie’s life – the car bomb and Ike the Spike – prove this. Furthermore, Bud says Dougie proved the Mitchum brothers’ casino fire was indeed accidental, which means the hit on him is coming from somebody else. More interesting, Bud says the Mitchums’ just called for a personal sit-down with Dougie. Normally Mullins wouldn’t agree to something like this, but since Dougie will be showing up with a 30-million-dollar check, he should be okay despite the fact that the Mitchums are reputed gangsters. It’s a big payout but it’s cool because Bud has an insurance policy that covers the loss. The Mitchum meeting is set for 5:30. The Mitchums of course, thanks to Anthony (Tom Sizemore) as ordered by Duncan Todd (Patrick Fishler), think Dougie intentionally screwed them out of the 30 million, and that’s why they’ve called the meeting, to make him pay, figuratively.

Speak of the devil: the scene jumps to Rodney Mitchum’s (Robert Knepper) place, where he’s enjoying a bowl of cereal over the day’s newspaper. Candie (Amy Shiels) pours coffee and announces the arrival of brother Bradley (Jim Belushi), who sits down and prepares his own bowl of Raisin Bran. He tells his brother he had a dream about killing Dougie, and he can’t wait to make it come true. It’s 2: 23 by a nearby clock: three hours to go but Bradley’s chomping at the bit. He can’t even eat he’s so anxious.

At 5:30, Dougie is being walked out by Bud to the meeting when he sees a vision of MIKE in the Lodge and starts to go to him, but Bud gets him back on track, putting him in a limo. Dougie has a large cardboard box in his arms, and of course the 30 million check.

In the desert, Bradley and Rodney are awaiting the arrival of the asshole who fucked them over to the tune of 30 mil, got their buddy/employee Ike the Spike arrested, and took their casino for 72 grand in the “Mr. Jackpots” fiasco. Bradley brings up his dream again, says in it, Rodney has his “Candie cut,” the cut she gave him last episode hitting him with the remote while swatting a fly. Bradley pulls the scab off and underneath the cut is healed. Bradley says there was more to the dream, but he can’t remember what. They exit their car to await Dougie. He arrives and exits the limo with his box. Yes, yes, it’s like Se7en: a box, a desert, a mystery. Bradley pulls his brother aside and says that box was in his dream, and if what’s in it now is what Bradley saw in it in his dream, then they can’t kill Dougie. Rodney doesn’t have time for this but Bradley is insistent: if Dougie has one certain thing in that box they can’t kill him because he’s not their enemy. It’s a billion to one shot, Bradley says, but he makes Rodney promise him. Rodney says okay, what’s in the box? Bradley whispers it to him. Rodney pulls his gun and asks Dougie if there’s a cherry pie in that box. Bradley goes to see. Sure enough, there is. A cherry pie. Damn fine, I’m sure. Rodney has Bradley frisk Dougie but there’s nothing on him, not even a wallet, just a check with their names on it for the 30 million out of which they thought Dougie screwed them. They are, naturally, elated, and instantly change their tune about Dougie.

Back in Vegas, the Mitchums take Dougie to a nice dinner. They can’t believe Sonny-Jim doesn’t have a gym set, something they’ll remedy for their new friend, I’m sure. They raise a champagne toast to Dougie, but then the lively atmosphere stalls, the restaurant pianist slows his tune, and Dougie/Coop turns to him, notices an invisible glitch over him, like a ghost moving away. This isn’t new, it’s something eagle-eyed viewers – not me – caught last episode in front of Cole’s hotel room door after the Laura Palmer vision. Here, an elderly woman in a blue-sequined dress approaches their table. It’s the old woman from the casino, the homeless woman who owes her good fortune to “Mr. Jackpots.” Coop gave her her life back, she says, which includes a home and a re-connection with her son. She tells the Mitchums what a wonderful man Mr. Jackpots is, and expresses her gratitude once more before exiting. The food arrives along with Candie and her cohorts. Candie, though, is distracted. Rodney wants to know what took them so long to get there. She waits a while before answering: traffic, so much of it, “cars everywhere.” She seems dumbfounded by this, or maybe just stoned. Coop, meanwhile, enjoys the cherry pie. They all do. Rodney calls it “so damn good,” and this naturally jogs something for Coop, but another toast interrupts his train of thought. “Here’s to the pie that saved your life, Dougie.” I’m going to be making that toast for years. Coop finishes his pie and Bradley orders Candie to get him another. “Friend,” Coop tells the Mitchums. They agree. The pianist plays us out.


Like Hannibal, leader of the A-Team was so fond of announcing, I too love it when a plan comes together, and that’s exactly what’s happening on Twin Peaks right now, the stars are aligning, the pieces are moving into place, and the stage is being set for a no-doubt startling collision of these many storylines. For the second consecutive week there was no sign of bad Coop and his cronies, but I have a feeling next week’s episode, if not the next couple, are going to be purely dedicated to that side of the narrative. And the Becky-Steven-Red-Shelly storyline officially became the leading “non-sequitur” subplot. How this is going to tie-in to the Lodge narrative I don’t know, but rest assured it will, this isn’t window dressing or a distraction, it’s all connected.

That’s 11 episodes in the can, seven to go. The final act is looming, and though it feels like there are still miles and miles to go before all these plotlines coalesce, never underestimate Lynch and Frost’s ability to drop a unifying catastrophe that hastens the timeline. You never know what’s around the corner with Twin Peaks, the best you can do is brace yourself.

Til next week.

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