Jade (Nafessa Williams) pulls up outside of the Silver Mustang Casino and indicates to Dougie (Kyle MacLachlan) that he should go inside, “someone will help you in there”.
“In there,” parrots Dougie.
Jade gives him five dollars and recommends that he call for help. Call for help is the key line of dialogue in Part 3 that also serves as the title of the episode. He parrots, “Call for help” back at her. Jade suggests he might want to call a doctor as she thinks he may have had a stroke.
Interestingly, Jade is one of the few people that Dougie interacts with who shows any real concern for his present well-being. Despite his evident difficulties functioning in day-to-day life, it is surprising how many people choose to either accept or ignore that there is a problem or notable change from the norm. This could be read as Mark Frost and David Lynch commenting on a prevalent issue in modern society; that we are more and more involved in our own personal problems; that there is an epidemic of narcissism in Western culture that blinds us to the plight of those around us. Its behaviour that is slightly sociopathic.
Is this a criticism of a trend inspired by social media? The Return doesn’t point fingers in the slightest. Still, it’s worth considering how the internet – an incredible and relatively new tool – is changing human behaviours, whether we’re aware of it or not.
Or, more specifically, it could be read as a comment on how mental illness is still something that largely goes unspoken in American life, especially when it concerns men. Societal constructs surrounding patriarchy remain that men should act a certain way and exist within a set of perceived parameters. One of these parameters is the supposed strength that needs to be maintained both physically, emotionally and mentally. Granted, this perspective has soften somewhat over the last fifty years, but one might argue that there is still progress to be made in this area, and that a lot of people remain dismissive of these issues.
Dougie’s regressive actions wantonly call for a discussion of his overall health, but those who encounter him opt to dismiss or avoid this concern. It is an indictment of how we treat one another because convention dictates that these things ought not be talked about or accepted as increasingly common.
Jade uses the phrase, “You can go out now,” and Dougie remembers Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) in the Black Lodge saying the same thing. This tells us plainly that remnants of Cooper remain within him, and that this is the man we have follow and remain faithful to as the narrative strands of The Return intertwine. He is still our hero, just in a diminished state.
Jade eases Dougie out of the car and leaves him to his own devices (her concern only goes so far). Dougie enters the casino after uneasily navigating a revolving door. Lynch is already coding that we can laugh at Dougie’s misfortune, playing him here as a Buster Keaton-esque figure; the bumbler. Fortunately this hand isn’t overplayed to the point of awkward exploitation or crude victimisation; a balancing act that shouldn’t be taken for granted.
“Call for help,” Dougie parrots to a security guard (Brian Finney), who directs him to the cashier’s desk. Dougie mimics the guard’s pointing gesture. He shuffles to the cashier (Meg Foster) where the five dollars he has been given to make a call is traded in for change. When she asks him what game he is going to play, he repeats, “Call for help“. This should be a sign to her that this customer needs some kind of assistance or care, but she does not take that responsibility. She makes up his change in quarters. Once again Dougie is framed as though imprisoned, this time through the bars of the cashier’s window.
He wanders over to the slot machines and watches another man (John Ennis) play. Dougie watches long enough to take in how the slot machine works. The man says, “Helloo-ooo” when he wins. Dougie then sees the first of a series of visions sent to him by the inhabitants of the Black Lodge (one assumes, safely, via Phillip Gerard, who consistently shows willing to help Cooper/Dougie). Encircled in fire, a floating red room corridor appears suspended in the air over one of the slot machines. The appearance of these visions is accompanied by the signature electric guitar strum often heard on visiting the Black Lodge.
Dougie duly trusts the floating symbol and plays the machine. He mimics the man he watched, saying “Helloo-ooo,” as the machine pays out. He’s a winner. A fellow gambler congratulates him.
The Walking Dead fans might well recognise this cameo; it is Josh McDermitt who plays cowardly Eugene on that show.
Dougie sees another red room symbol floating above another slot machine and shuffles over to it. Again he plays a quarter and hits the jackpot. Floor Attendant Jackie (Sarah S Sutherland) congratulates him for winning two mega-jackpots, totaling $28,400. Though Dougie parrots “Call for help” yet again, this is interpreted as a request for a larger vessel for his quarters – another misinterpretation of his sad situation.
He’s not done yet, either.
Dougie is guided to three more machines. They all pay out. The Black Lodge is helping Dougie to become a big winner; the first of a series of ‘divine’ interventions that will aid Dougie over the course of The Return. On seeing his success, a filthy old lady credited as ‘Lady Slot-Addict’ (Linda Porter) plays another machine that Dougie pointed toward. She wins a jackpot, too.
It is here we leave Dougie until Part 3, sleepily causing havoc at the Silver Mustang Casino.
Next time: Kafkaesque