‘Twin Peaks: The Return’ Episode 6: “Don’t Die”

In which one of the series’ biggest mysteries is answered.
By  · Published on June 12th, 2017

In which one of the series’ biggest mysteries is answered.

With the airing of this episode, we’re officially a third of the way through Twin Peaks’ return, and after weeks of build-up, introductions, and re-introductions, a lot of viewers were wondering if this was going to be the episode where some of the fog started to clear. In a few ways it did, while in many others it didn’t, but in one very specific way, this episode provided an answer to perhaps the series’ most enduring mystery: who is Diane?

But before all that, things start off with Dougie, a.k.a. good Coop, right where we left him at the end of episode five, standing by the statue of the man with a revolver outside the Lucky 7 Insurance offices. The security guard who already told him to move along returns. The guard’s badge distracts Coop from the statue and this behavior along with Coop’s general disorientation concerns the guard enough that he and a colleague take Coop home to Janey-E and Sonny Jim. In dropping him off they also point out an envelope waiting on the Jones’ stoop. Lost Highway moment here: that film starts with several unaddressed envelopes – like this one – showing up on the protagonists’ doorstep. In those envelopes were videotapes. In this one? We’ll have to wait and see. First, though, come sandwiches, and Janey’s announcement she’s decided to take “Dougie” to see a doctor the very next afternoon. Next on Janey’s agenda for Dougie’s night is bedtime for Sonny-Jim. Coop finds the boy reading in bed and is asked to stay until he falls asleep. In the process, Coop discovers the clapper, which is as entertaining as it sounds.

Downstairs, though, the fun has come to an end. Janey opens the mysterious envelope and whatever she finds pisses her off big-time. She orders Coop downstairs and presents him with a picture of Dougie and Jade leaving their love nest. Whatever suspicions Janey has, Coop inadvertently confirms by gleefully recognizing Jade and recalling her line about giving “two rides.” The pic has been sent by whoever it is Dougie owes money, which he was supposed to repay with the casino winnings, but apparently that task slipped Coop’s scrambled mind. Before the argument can get any more heated, the phone rings. It’s them, the pic-senders. Janey takes the call, and control: she wants to know how much Dougie owes? Sounds like 50k. She sets up a drop for the next afternoon in a public place. Somehow when all is said and done, this scene ends with a kiss for Coop from Janey instead of the smack Dougie deserves. The way Janey is with Coop, how she dominates and directs him, it makes you wonder what the marriage looked like when it was actually Dougie in the husband role. Presumably he was a bit more responsive than Coop, though we may never know.

In the town of Twin Peaks we see that familiar harbinger of dread, the stop light. It changes color to searing red and next thing we know we’re in The Black Lodge with one-armed MIKE feeling the air for a communication portal to good Coop. He finds it and in Vegas Coop, now going through case files his boss gave him, sees MIKE in the carpet.

You have to wake up,” MIKE tells him, “Wake up. Don’t die. Don’t’ die. Don’t’ die.

That does not sound good.

Coop comes out of this communication and notices a name on the file open in front of him: Jake Cavallo. He’s guided to it by a pinprick of gold light, like he was guided to the slot machines in the Silver Mustang Casino by icons of The Black Lodge. He draws something on the file we don’t see, then moves to another file, another little light, and another name, a pair of them this time: Anthony Sinclair and Nancy Deren (this latter last name is no doubt a nod to experimental filmmaker Maya Deren, who is often cited as an influence of Lynch’s). Coop draws again on the file and this time we see what: a ladder with a long vertical line on one side and a staircase on the other side, but one that starts at the ladder’s bottom rung, not the top like logic might dictate. Coop draws a circular scribble as well, it looks like a little explosion or a puff of smoke; something violent and/or destructive, seems to be the connotation. In a third file he’s directed to two more names: Detectives Loomis (Psycho reference) and Stockton. Here Coop draws the same thing as before, except the staircase starts above and to the left of the top rung, and at its peaktanother line slopes down to another scribbled explosion. Sound confusing? Of course it does, confusing is Twin Peaks’ M.O.

Cut to the inside of a car on a rainy night where Albert is talking on the phone to Cole. Cole calls the work Albert’s doing “very, very important,” which Albert understands but wishes were taking place under more forgiving weather conditions. Cole doesn’t make him feel any better by openly enjoying a bottle of Bordeaux brought to him by a sultry-voiced lady. The call ends and Albert parks the car. He gets out on a busy city street, Philly, no doubt, as Albert made a reference to going home later. He enters a place called Max Von’s Bar, and this is the moment I openly exclaimed, “Oh shit, this is where SHE drinks!” We remember at the end of episode four Cole and Albert had a conversation about the one person they needed to take a look at bad Coop, and how Albert didn’t know where she lived, but he knew where she drank. We all knew who he meant: Diane, The Diane, Coop’s Diane, and by god, she’s here and she is … Laura Dern!!! With a sick-ass bob hairdo, too. I’ve been calling this since the moment Dern was cast, and it’s never felt so sweet to be right. Another new tidbit: according to the credits, Diane’s last name is Evans. Diane Evans. How perfect. And I don’t know about you guys, but when I pictured Diane in the past, I was always thinking more Moneypenny than Natasha (yes, that’s a Bullwinkle & Friends reference), but man oh man do I love the look of this Gal Friday. This is a truly perfect moment in Twin Peaks’  history.

But tantalizing as all this is, it’s also all we get of Diane this episode, as suddenly we cut to Twin Peaks where Red (Balthazar Getty) and Richard Horne are conducting a little business of the nose-candy kind, complete with really big guys carrying really big guns. This is just a taste test, and Red tells Richard he can pick up the rest “at Mary Ann’s,” a name Richard is surprised Red knows, seeing as he’s new to town, come down from Canada to peddle Sparkle, that Chinese designer drug Sheriff Frank and Deputy Bobby Briggs were talking about in episode three. A bizarre rant from Red ensues – he’s like a more chill version of Frank in Blue Velvet – that makes mention of a problem with his liver and The King and I. Red starts making sense again when he tells Richard that as they don’t know each other yet, Red’s gonna be keeping a close eye on him. Richard, or Dicky as I’m now calling him, cuz he’s a real dick, has gotta be Ben’s kid; Audrey wouldn’t raise a creep like this. Red closes the scene with a magic trick, a dime flipped up that never drops, it manifests instead in Dicky’s mouth. That’s some Criss Angel shit right there, especially when the dime falls from the sky into Red’s hand and Dicky realizes he’s not holding it anymore.

Okay, so be honest: how many of you thought about Mrs. Tremond’s grandson the magician during this scene? Red’s just “Red” in the credits, but Dicky does mentions he seems to know the area. While he’s probably not Red Tremond, don’t be surprised if he totally is.

Driving away from this meeting, Dicky’s really pissed Red called him “kid,” and he’s also really high. This isn’t a good combination.

Cut to the Fat Trout Trailer Park in nearby Deer Meadow where Carl Rodd (Harry Dean Stanton) is still in charge. He and a couple other parkers are going into town. Guy with him, he seems to be the caretaker for some unseen character named Linda. Is this the Linda of “Beware Richard and Linda?“ Seems too much of a coincidence to be a coincidence.

At the Double R we see another familiar face, Heidi the waitress. She’s still there and she’s still got that giggle. Today it’s directed at a regular named Miriam, a local teacher and pie aficionado. More on her in a sec.

Meanwhile Dicky’s still driving high, feeling his invulnerable youth.

And nearby Carl’s enjoying the day, smoking a cigarette and having some coffee on a park bench, listening to the wind through the trees. This whole series of scenes is starting to feel ominous, more so when a mother and young son run by Carl playing some stop-and-start game of tag.

Then there’s Dicky again, soaring on Sparkle. This is going to be bad.

A traffic holdup causes Dicky to jump a line of cars, which results in the really graphic running over of the little kid in the crosswalk. This is all violently reminiscent of the scene in Fire Walk With Me when MIKE accosts Leland and Laura at another crosswalk-induced traffic jam. In this scene Miriam, going to her car, gets a good look at Dicky as he drives by; Dicky notices. File this away for future episodes.

Back at the scene, the kid’s dead. Carl seems particularly shocked, especially when he sees a yellow amorphous light, presumably a soul, rise from the boy and ascend into the heavens. Carl approaches the hysterical mother and offers her the comfort of his hand on her shoulder and a dead stare.

Then, something very interesting: cut to a pole in the trailer park marked number 6. We know this pole, it too is from Fire Walk With Me and was outside the trailer of Teresa Banks. It was noticed by both Agents Chet Desmond (Chris Isaak) and Coop in investigating Teresa’s death. The camera pans up the pole to its juncture box and power lines, all crackling and humming as though they just got a surge.

Next we’re in Vegas again, back with Duncan Todd, the mysterious man in an office last seen in episode one. A red square appears on his computer screen, giving him pause. He takes an envelope out of a drawer, on which is printed one pea-sized black dot, and nothing more.

Across town in Rancho Rosa, the cops are hauling off the smoldering remains of Dougie’s car. Across the street junkie mom’s still shouting “119.” Which is “911” backwards. She’s totally working for The Lodge. Cops find the car’s license plate on a roof, just like that pizza in Breaking Bad.

In yet another Vegas location, a cheap motel, Ike “The Spike” Stadtler plays dice with himself in front of a mirror and a mean-looking icepick.  An envelope is slid under his door, an envelope with one black dot printed on it. In it are two pictures, one of Dougie and one of Lorraine, the woman who put out the car-bomb hit on Dougie. The way Ike stabs both pictures with his icepick, we can guess where this is going. Is this what MIKE meant when he told Coop, “Don’t die?” Was he warning him of this assassination attempt?

Coop, oblivious to this and most everything else, is at work enjoying the elevator. His boss, Bud Mullins, wants to see him and it doesn’t sound good. He’s found Coop’s scribbles on the case files – all the files. He starts by recommending Dougie get professional help, but as he flips through the files, studying the drawings, all of which are variations of the ones we’ve seen, they seem to be having some effect on Bud, he starts trying to make sense of them, trying to solve them. His mood shifts to confounded, curious, almost frightened. And then he actually thanks Dougie. “I want you to keep this information to yourself,” he says, calling it “disturbing” and telling Coop he’ll take it from here. It’s like some sort of spell or incantation has been worked on Bud by the drawings.

At the same time, Janey-E is in a public park waiting for her meeting. Two lowlifes approach. Janey takes the reigns, demanding an explanation as to who they are and how Dougie came to owe them money. They’re bookies, and Dougie was betting football, lost 20k, and owes 52k with interest. Janey renegotiates the terms: 25k, cash, right now. She’s not just the boss at home, turns out, and she leaves the lowlifes dumbfounded but holding her money.

Then comes one of the most violent scenes Lynch has ever shot: Lorraine is in her office when she hears screaming and in walks Ike, his “spike” already covered in blood. If you thought the kid getting creamed by the truck was graphic, this murders that scene. Ike is vicious, he’s not some hired-hand assassin, he’s a fucking psychopath, and he kills at least two other people besides his intended victim. Dougie has pissed off the wrong dude. Ike goes so HAM he bends his icepick. I mean, shit. Adding to the senselessness of this carnage, there’s not a word of dialogue in the scene, just screams.

Back in Twin Peaks Dicky Horne is checking out the blood on his truck grill. He cleans it off best he can.

Hawk, meanwhile, drops a coin in the rest room. This might seem insignificant, but come on, this is Twin Peaks. It rolls into a stall and lands heads up. Hawk retrieves it, notices it’s an “Indian Head” nickel. This conjures The Log Lady’s words about Hawk’s heritage, Native American, as integral to finding “what’s missing” from the Coop file. When Hawk turns around he notices another Native American icon on the stall door’s manufacturing stamp. This attracts his attention to the door itself, whose inside panel is peeling off at a corner. He removes the panel. Inside there are a few pieces of paper, a letter, it looks like. A buddy of mine who I watched the original series with back in the day and who I talk to now after each new episode has a theory these pages are other missing ones from Laura Palmer’s diary, specifically the ones mentioned in Fire Walk With Me that carry the message sent by Annie in Laura’s dream: “The good Dale is in the Lodge.” This makes sense to me, as Hawk is one of the only characters who could correctly interpret such a message; his people have known of The Lodge for centuries.

Elsewhere in station Doris shows up with another angry complaint for her husband the Sheriff, Frank, this time about her dad’s car. She chews him out in front of the team, but Frank takes it in stride, almost coddling her like she’s not well in the head. This is confirmed the next second when the communications operator says Doris didn’t use to be like this, it was only after her son, a soldier, committed suicide. There’s going to be way more about that in the future, no doubt.

As always, the episode winds up in The Bang Bang Bar for another musical scene, this one by Sharon Van Etten and band.


So there we have it. We’re one-third of the way through, and though there’s still a lot of connections to be made, things are starting to inch closer together: the drug plotline is thickening, good Coop’s mortal peril is becoming more imminent, and of course there are the drawings and the letter Hawk finds. But all anyone can think of in the end is Diane. For as many questions as her reveal answers, in true Twin Peaks’ fashion it poses way, way more. Lynch and Frost (together, at least) have never been the sort to work in a standard three-act structure, but this episode definitely feels like the opening at the end of a bottleneck; from here the details should start to pour.

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