Back to the Police Department in Buckhorn. Bill Hastings (Matthew Lillard) sits in an interrogation room with his head in his hands. Det. Macklay (Brent Briscoe) observes him through the obligatory two-way mirror. The decor is grey scale; it feels as though we’re deep in the belly of some grim ocean liner.
Don Harrison (Bailey Chase), State Police from Rapid City is introduced to both Macklay and us.
Fans of cult TV might recognise Chase from Buffy the Vampire Slayer; he had a recurring role in The Initiative during season 4. He’s on board to help rather than take over – no doubt Rapid City doesn’t want two ‘red balls’ (see Minority Report , The Wire ) on their books anymore than Buckhorn. One wonders if Macklay isn’t fishing to lose the double murder to another department in this exchange. Macklay confirms there have been no further developments in the case and the detectives turn their attention to the sorry man cradling his head in the next room.
Harrison urges Macklay to talk to Hastings because of their established friendship, and in he goes.
Macklay asks if he knows Ruth Davenport and Hastings acts as though his recollection is vague. Lillard’s performance – which is very ‘big’, in-keeping with Twin Peaks‘ tradition of asking regulars and day-players alike to push into the register of soap opera and melodrama – tells the audience much about Hastings. He’d be a poor poker player, for one.
Later in the season we’ll come to realise why Hastings – a soft-bellied, middle-aged man – would lie to the police about his knowledge of Ruth in spite of the terrible risks of doing so at this juncture. He’s evidently not capable of murder. The weakness of infidelity, maybe, but Lillard shows us from the off that the man is a pussycat; hardly the type to venture outside of the law for fear of the consequences. A glance at Macklay’s notes later in the scene confirms as much. Hastings’ priors amount to a speeding ticket in 1994 and an incident of jay-walking in 1997. He’s hardly America’s Most Wanted.
Hastings confirms he’s not been to Ruth’s apartment, even as Macklay makes his own transparent attempt to trip him up. He goes on to account for his recent whereabouts (confirming, in the process, that ‘today’ is a Saturday) and Macklay picks him up on a discrepancy.
On the Thursday, Hastings advises that he was at a bi-monthly curriculum meeting that ended around 9:30, but that he didn’t get home until between 10:15 and 10:20, despite having gone home directly after. Macklay’s look tells us the geography that’s absent from our experience. Hastings clearly lives closer to the school than this journey dictates.
“Well, how long does it take you to drive home usually?”
Hastings doesn’t answer. He can’t. And Lillard’s bugging eyes tell us that this is a disturbing revelation for the man, happening in (no pun intended) real time.
The hole in Hastings’ story prefigures the portal-like holes between dimensions that occur later on in The Return. Indeed, an encounter with one of these – leading to the place Hastings later refers to as ‘The Zone’ – may well account for his missing time. If Hastings had the kind of pan-dimensional experience he will go on to talk about in Part 10, then the suspension of normal time could very well be linked to that event.
The idea of ‘missing time’ is a phenomenon closely linked with tales of alien abduction, also. As previously mentioned, the theme of alien abduction has appeared in both Twin Peaks during season 2, and in Mark Frost’s bridging book ‘The Secret History of Twin Peaks’.
“Oh yeah, now I remember,” Hastings fluffs, “I gave my assistant Betty a ride home. Something wrong with her car.” It feels like a hastily conjured lie – a foolish move if so, because it’s something Macklay can easily check on, one assumes. Again, Hastings is not in his comfort zone here.
As if realising this himself he then asks, “I think I’d like to speak to [his lawyer] George.”
Macklay – with some reservation and reluctance – tells Hastings why he’s being questioned. Hastings appears panicked, incredulous.
While Lynch largely maintains the claustrophobia of Hastings’ mild interrogation by Macklay, he does cut away briefly to show Harrison watching, and being apprised of the status of a warrant for their suspect’s home. He’s told it took a while to get because the judge was “up the mountain”. One wonders, idly, if he’s gone fishing with one Sheriff Frank Truman. The unseen judge is another of Part 1’s missing authority figures, an element which lightly builds a feeling of events happening unsupervised… even during a scene that features literal supervision.
Det. Harrison effectively interrupts the scene, suggesting over intercom that Macklay show Hastings to his ‘new room’. Following the suggestion, Macklay does so. Hastings is led to a holding cell.
Bill Hastings isn’t the first man in Lynch’s filmography to find himself imprisoned for the murder of a woman with no corresponding memory of the event. In Lost Highway Fred Madison finds himself in the same position, although in that story the matter of guilt is revealed to be quite different. Still, there’s a mild sense of narrative deja vu here, and Lynch pricks lightly at our fears of incarceration and how quickly the wheels of justice can turn against us. Hastings being a sensitive man, his reactions of fright and confusion are clear to be seen. Hastings asks if he can see his wife, Phyllis, and Macklay more or less sighs, “I’ll see what I can do.”
Hastings is left in his daunting ‘new room’…
Next time: In the trunk