Thunder cracks overhead as we view a clouding sky over a treeline and then cut to a motel somewhere. Room 6 with a red door. Headlights swoop over it and Mr. C (Kyle MacLachlan) parks up and makes for the room.
Inside, Darya (Nicole LaLiberte) is in her underwear, sitting on the bed, talking on the phone. On hearing Mr. C’s approach she says, “Shit, he’s coming, I have to get off the phone.” Mr. C enters as she puts the receiver down; she’s been rumbled.
He asks who that was as she makes nice. She says she was talking to Jack (which will be her undoing) about Hastings’ secretary’s car. Above the bed are two paintings of fish. Darya, Ray and Mr. C are characters who exist beneath the surface of society; they swim in a different stream. It’s an underworld of crime. The bed is a place for sleeping. To sleep with the fishes is an old euphemism for dying, more specifically, to have been murdered. Most often associated with organised crime.
Darya says she is happy to see Mr. C and he questions this. He tells her that Ray (George Griffith) was supposed to meet him that afternoon but didn’t show. Mr. C is fishing here. He talks to Darya from the shadows of the room. He only comes closer when he makes a round of the windows
(drapes everywhere) and suggests that he might want to borrow her gun for a job.
Mr. C cosies up with Darya on the bed and she plays the adoring kitten routine, folding into the nook of his arm. He tells her that Jack is dead and that he killed him 2 hours earlier. Darya immediately tries to escape Mr. C’s grasp but he is too quick for her. Her head is slammed against the headboard, his arms wrapped around her. The threat of violence is heady in the scene. In the audience, we flinch, readying for further escalation.
A recurring theme of Twin Peaks is violence against women. It’s a deeply unsettling topic for a TV show to focus on, but an important one for discussion. Mark Frost and David Lynch acknowledge that domestic violence, incest, misogyny and chauvinism – all vile – are realities of life. These acts are always, always depicted as deplorable in the series, and they raise the question of how exploitative or gratuitous their depiction may be.
Twin Peaks, in its initial run, worked within the remit of the TV censors of the time, and even when the showrunners decided it was time to explicitly address the underlying themes, the events themselves were shrouded in the supernatural. BOB and the Black Lodge and all the spirits that come with it could be seen as a sort of screen for the audience that allows the harsh realities to be filtered through the fantastic. Does this somehow make the violence more palpable or easy to digest?
The most horrific episode of the show prior to the arrival of The Return was the episode in season two in which Leland Palmer (Ray Wise) kills Madeleine Ferguson (Sheryl Lee). Though Leland and BOB were intercut within this sequence to underline the paranormal nature of the event, the act itself was protracted and terrifying. Directed by Lynch, the episode is arguably the best of the second season, but how much of this is due to shock value?
Fire Walk With Me showed things more explicitly still. What’s more, it made the victims of these crimes into dimensional people and not abstract plot points. We spent time with Laura Palmer, saw her trauma and confusion. It helped make the film the powerful indictment of incestuous violence that it is. The film is a masterpiece of ugliness.
The Return continues within this mindset. What makes this scene more troubling than others is Darya’s seemingly arbitrary state of undress. Coming so soon after Tracey’s nude and violent death in Part 1 (if watched together as often screened/aired) and the seemingly directionless killing of Phyllis Hastings at the top of Part 2, it all comes to feel a little sordid. This is what I was referring to earlier when I said that the scene between Ben and Jerry Horne felt like Frost and Lynch preempting and distancing themselves from such criticism.
Back to this scene. Mr. C plays Darya a tape recording of her phone conversation.
Lynch’s villains have a history of using recording devices (think the Mystery Man in Lost Highway). Darya, it transpires, was on the phone with Ray, who revealed he is now in federal prison in South Dakota after carrying weapons over the state line. Ray also says he’s received another call from Jeffries, referring to missing FBI Agent Phillip Jeffries (who was played by David Bowie in Fire Walk With Me). Jeffries has told Ray that he has to ‘hit’ Mr. C if he is still around the following night (and we are reminded of Mr. C’s impending personal event – his escape from the clutches of the Black Lodge).
This is a conspiracy against Mr. C and Ray, Darya and Phillip Jeffries are co-conspirators.
“Let’s see what happens tomorrow,” Darya is caught saying on the recording, “If I have to I’ll take him out.”
Mr. C stops the recorder and Darya tries to get away again. He hits her head against the headboard repeatedly and holds her as before.
“Are you going to kill me?” she asks and he tells her yes. Again she struggles. He punches her and her nose bleeds, she becomes dazed and whimpers. It is uncomfortable viewing.
“Who hired you and Ray to kill me?” Mr. C asks, and she acts evasive, deflecting the question to Ray, saying that he knows.
“The game begins,” Mr. C muses, then asks why ‘they’ want him dead and how much ‘they’ are paying Darya and Ray. The implication being that Jeffries is not a sole outside agent, and that he is in cahoots with unknown persons. The amount is half a million. Darya tries to placate Mr. C but he isn’t listening. His eyes are jet black.
In a surprisingly forthcoming moment, Mr. C tells her (and by extension us), “Tomorrow I’m supposed to get pulled back into something they call the Black Lodge. But I’m not going back there. I’ve got a plan for that one.” This will be somewhat meaningless to Darya, one suspects, but it sets up a suspenseful time ahead for the audience as we attempt – on first approach – to second guess the moves ahead.
Mr. C asks for the information from Hastings’ secretary (was it her car being placed in storage by Jack earlier?). He asks specifically for co-ordinates. These co-ordinates become an increasingly integral plot point as things move forward. Darya doesn’t know anything about co-ordinates and she doesn’t know what Hastings’ secretary knew.
Mr. C reaches into his jacket pocket and produces a card.
It’s an ace of spades, but the central spade has been replaced. Instead, the card shows a round shape like a head with two long horns or ears sprouting from the top. It’s an image we’ll see again when Deputy Chief Hawk (Michael Horse) is explaining his ‘living map’ to Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster). This seems to be the symbol for Judy. Mr. C asks her if she’s seen it before. “This is what I want,” he says to her. She tries to look away. Darya tries one last time to get away and fails. She screams and Mr. C gets on top of her and punches her unconscious. He then covers her head with a pillow and shoots her. Darya’s body goes limp.
Mr. C washes his hands in the en suite and then brings out a case. He sets it on the table in the room and sits down, plugging in an appliance which he switches on. He looks at his watch and waits. A light on the device goes red and he appears to be connected. The device doesn’t look much like a phone or a radio, but it allows him to speak to someone. He asks if it is Phillip.
“You’re late,” the voice on the other end says, and Mr. C says it couldn’t be helped.
“I missed you in New York,” says the voice, and through this we get a further implication that Mr. C is in some way connected to the Glass Box murders. It is confirmed that Mr. C is still in the vicinity of Buckhorn, which makes sense if the car being stored in the prior scene belonged to Hastings’ secretary.
“You’re still nowhere, is that correct?” Mr. C asks, but the question is ignored. It is assumed, and there’s not much reason to doubt it, that Mr. C is talking with FBI Agent Phillip Jeffries. Jeffries is one of the other agents (along with Dale Cooper and Albert Rosenfield) who worked on Gordon Cole’s Blue Rose Task Force. Jeffries disappeared under mysterious circumstances. In Fire Walk With Me, he appears to have been affected by the otherworldly spirits and even to have met with them. He moves in and out of space and time in connection with strange electricity. Mr. C’s question about Jeffries’ whereabouts is telling. He has reason to suspect that Jeffreis is outside of normal space. Later in The Return Mr. C pays a visit to Phillip Jeffries via the Convenience Store. We come to realise that ‘nowhere’ isn’t merely a turn of phrase – Jeffries appears to be guest (or perhaps prisoner) of a kind of pan-dimensional motel complex. He is nowhere; off the grid, between realms.
“You met with Major Garland Briggs,” the voice of Jeffries says. It’s half question, half statement. Mr. C asks him how he knew and this question, too, is ignored.
“Actually, I just called to say goodbye,” Jeffries tells him.
“This is Phillip Jeffries, right?” Mr. C presses. Another ignored question.
“You’re going back in tomorrow,” is the response, “And I will be with BOB again.” Mr. C demands to know whom he is speaking to and the call cuts off. If it is indeed Jeffries, then his desire to be with BOB again is intriguing. Little is known about Jeffries’ past, although from deleted scenes on the Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery bluray boxset we are given to understand he has spent some time in Buenos Aires. There doesn’t seem to be a time in the life of the show in which Jeffries and BOB have had a chance to meet, but this could be referring to an incident before the deaths of Laura Palmer or Teresa Banks. Or, indeed, between season two and The Return…
Mr. C logs into the FBI server and downloads the security information for Yankton Federal Prison, transferring the information to a handheld device. This completed, he leaves the room.
Next time: Next door