Gene (Greg Vrotsos) gets out of his car and goes over to inspect Dougie’s, still parked out front of the house on the Rancho Rosa estate. This is witnessed by a little boy (Sawyer Shipman) who is looking out of his front window from across the street.
Behind the boy his mother sits at a table. She is played by Hailey Gates and is credited simply as Drugged-Out Mother. She is thin and has bad teeth; as her character name suggests, she’s evidently a junkie. On the table in front of her are a deck of playing cards, some prescription drugs, an open safety pin, a pack of cigarettes and a hall-filled ashtray, an empty glass and a well-depleted bottle of Jack Daniels. Behind her near the wall is a red balloon.
The red balloon may be a deliberate acknowledgement of the French short film The Red Balloon from 1957, directed by Albert Lamorisse which also prominently features a young boy.
“1–1–9” the Drugged-Out Mother calls out, repeatedly.
This number hasn’t appeared before explicitly in Twin Peaks, but it has occurred before in Lynch’s work. In Mulholland Drive, near the beginning of the film, there is a shot of a firetruck. On the front of the firetruck is the number ‘119‘. I had wondered whether 119 is written on the front of firetrucks in the United States so that when viewed in a rear-view mirror it is more easily recognised as ‘911‘ (as if the accompanying fire truck wasn’t enough of a clue) – but this doesn’t appear to be the case. Nevertheless, when reversed, 119 is the number to dial to receive help from emergency services in America.
Backwards speech is prevalent in Twin Peaks. It is in the creation of the language used in the Black Lodge. Later on, in Part 7 of The Return, FBI Deputy Director Gordon Cole (David Lynch) will say, “yrev”, the word “very” backwards.
The significance of the Drugged-Out Mother to the series overall is minimal, but she appears in more than one part of the story, always repeating “1–1–9“. It is traditional in science fiction and fantasy stories for children to be open to seeing supernatural entities with greater ease than adults because their minds are still open and they are much less clouded. Perhaps, in Twin Peaks, those who are in an altered state through drugs have the same facility. Drugs helped quell MIKE when he was inhabiting Phillip Gerard (Al Strobel) in our world, but might other drugs open people up to this otherness?
The scenes with the Drugged-Out Mother suggest so. Her calling out of “1–1–9” plays like a misunderstood psychic connection to the dangers surrounding Dougie or the criminal elements, like Gene, present outside her house.
Outside and witnessed by the young boy, Gene places a device on the underside of Dougie’s car. Then Gene drives away. The boy turns to look at his mother, who prepares to take her final pill, washed down with Jack Daniels. Appeased by the pill, she lights a cigarette as her son eats scraps from a box.
Next time: Something bad in this vehicle