One of my favourite scenes of all of The Return is this one. Though we’ve seen a lot of familiar faces over the course of Parts 1 and 2, for some reason our return to The Roadhouse is the first moment that really feels like coming home.
Following on from our dark encounter in the Palmer house, we’re greeted with another reflection. The famous ‘Bang Bang Bar’ neon sign that hangs on the exterior of The Roadhouse shimmers in a puddle as a light rain falls, dappling its image. It’s one of the most prominent, evocative recurring images of The Return (so much so that it has made a fitting album cover for one of the show’s two soundtrack albums). The soft opening bars of Chromatics’ “Shadow” – admission: my favourite song – usher us inside.
More than half of the instalments in The Return end with a band playing at The Roadhouse. It’s a near and welcome new routine. Our first visit back features – as indicated – the Chromatics, on stage, bathed in dreamy blue light. Chromatics are the brainchild of Johnny Jewel, who was also involved in providing/producing additional score for the season. His “Windswept” acts as a kind of unofficial theme for Dougie Jones in Parts 5 and 6. Jewel’s record label Italians Do It Better has a meticulously crafted aesthetic, in part influenced by 70’s Italian giallo films, but also significantly indebted to the work of David Lynch. The version of “Shadow” being ‘performed’ here is an extended mix of the song, allowing for some miniature dramas to play out in the bar; the first of what I affectionately like to call Scenes From The Roadhouse.
Shelly (Mädchen Amick) sits in a booth doing tequila shots with some friends. One of these is named Renee (Jessica Szohr).
James Hurley (James Marshall) enters, accompanied by his work colleague and friend Freddie Sykes (Jake Wardle). Freddie wears the magic green gardening glove that proves so improbably integral to the story later on. The bar is lively.
As in the late 80’s / early 90’s, The Roadhouse still seems like a popular haunt for bikers, but the crowd is a fair and contemporary mix of people.
Shelly protests that her daughter is with the wrong guy. So, Shelly had a daughter. We will meet her later.
“Everybody loves Steven,” Renee counters. We’ll meet him too, and find this statement tough to justify.
“I know Becky, I can see it in her face. There is something really wrong,” Shelly replies. Following the extreme scenes we’ve been exposed to with Mr. C and within the Black Lodge it is almost comforting to know that there are everyday human dramas still unfolding in Twin Peaks.
James looks longingly at the booth and at first we might assume he is looking longingly at Shelly, as she is the character we know the most, but it transpires that it is Renee he is fixated on.
When one of her friends says there is something wrong with James, Shelly defends him and we’re told, “James was in a motorcycle accident. He’s just quiet now.” James does seem different.
“James is still cool,” Shelly smiles, “He’s always been cool.” And for Lynch with this 50’s sensibilities, this is probably very much the case. James is a character who causes much eye-rolling within the Twin Peaks fan base. The rebel whose actions are always so square. Yet there is a coolness about James, now more-so than ever. A lot of his posturing from seasons one and two seems to have fallen away. There is something very cool about a decent guy with nothing to prove.
Shelly has her eye on someone else. A character sat at the bar named Red (Balthazar Getty – former Lynch co-hort for 1997’s Lost Highway). Futures scenes will show us that Shelly’s habit of falling for bad boys isn’t quite behind her (like mother, like daughter).
Behind Red, long-time viewers may get a surprise when they spot the bartender, played by Walter Olkewicz, largely because his character Jacques Renault was killed off in the original run, smothered with a pillow by Leland Palmer (Ray Wise). It is only by checking the credits that we come to realise Olkewicz is playing another previously-unseen Renault family member; Jean-Michel, although his only substantive scene later on suggests there’s not too much difference between Jean-Michel and Jacques.
Red makes a gun with his hand and fires it as Shelly. This, too, reminds us of Jacques Renault who, in Fire Walk With Me, made a similar gesture pointed at his own end, claiming to be “as blank as a fart.” Red’s indication to Shelly seems much more in-keeping with the burgeoning romance between them.
The mood in The Roadhouse is euphoric and as the Chromatics’ song soars, the credits begin.
Part 2 is dedicated to the memory of Frank Silva (BOB).
Next time: The purple realm