4:2 – Burns

Most recently recognisable for appearing in hit 2019 shows Fleabag and Stranger Things, Brett Gelman plays Supervisor Burns at the Silver Mustang Casino.

Dougie (Kyle MacLachlan) is brought to his office, where the man appears to be in some distress. His hand is to his throat as though checking to see if his glands are swelling. He’s clearly not that boss – more a middle management type – and from this alone we can gauge that he’s a) possibly a hypochondriac and b) whoever is above him is worth being afraid of. By extension this tells us a little more about the position Dougie is in, and that it might be a precarious one. Luck can quickly turn into something else.

Burns’ office is pretty dark. Walls are painted dark grey while most furniture fixtures are black. Behind him lines of black binders emphasise this feeling of a man sitting in a black pool. The environments we inhabit are thought to play a significant role in our moods; it makes perfect sense. If that is the case then its no wonder Burns appears burdened with stress.

Dougie is brought in and directed to sit in one of two red chairs – the only pops of colour in the set. That they’re red makes one think of the phrase ‘sitting in the hot seat’ – again a near subliminal suggestion of danger for him.

Underling Warrick (David Dastmalchian) makes a gesture to Burns that Dougie is not all there, which receives a welcome grin as a response. Where others have shown only fleeting concern for Dougie’s well-being, here his diminishments are perceived as an opportunity to be exploited.

Dougie is immediately distracted by the only flash of colour on Burns’ desk – a pen holder shaped like a cluster of red dice. It’s unclear whether this is another of the items/encounters that trigger memories of Dale Cooper deep within him. It’s possible that they serve as a reminder of the investigation into One Eyed Jack’s, just north of the Canadian border, but really there’s no telling.

Burns produces a sack full of money; Dougie’s winnings. Burns asks if there’s anything they can do to help, but his tone is touched with sarcasm.

Dougie parrots, “Call for help” again and Burns raises an eyebrow.

“Call who?” Burns asks and Dougie merely repeats, “Who?” staring down at the pen holder. It’s worth noting that Dougie does remember he has things to do. Call for help has not been forgotten. This tendencies, this meager quest, may be another sign of the suppressed Cooper trapped within. As I intend to explore much later, Cooper has something of a ‘white knight’ complex and this subtly recurs in his slumbering Dougie persona.

“Would you like a room? Good meal? A drink? A little companionship? On the house.” Burns offers – they’d like him to stay and conceivably play further games of chance so they can recoup (no pun intended) his winnings. “Think of us as a home away from home.”

“Home,” Dougie parrots, having already been made familiar with this word in the previous scene. Burns takes this as something Dougie wants and asks where he lives. Dougie parrots more information acquired from Bill Shaker; “Lancelot Court. Cab ride.” (Is the ‘Lancelot’ in Lancelot Court a coincidence? Or am I getting too caught up in my own theories, Room 237-style…?)

Burns organises a limo for Dougie and pushes the sack full of money across his desk. When Dougie goes to take hold, Burns tenses the bag. Dougie looks at him. They square off in a comedic flourish; there’s probably no winning in a staring contest with Dougie. Dougie mirrors Burns’ behaviour – its not just words he copies – and the two end up leaning toward each other, comically close.

“[Promise me] you’ll come back and try your luck with us again, soon, anytime, day or night…” Burns urges. The message is clear… to us; Dougie is free to go, but the Silver Mustang Casino knows him now. There’s an implicit warning in Burns’ invitation, though this level of nuance will have been lost on Dougie.

“Or night,” Dougie parrots, before getting distracted by the security camera buttoned into the ceiling – another reminder that there are people above Burns to worry about.

Next time:  Red door

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