4:12 – The blue rose

A time cut relocates the agents to outside the prison, near a diner or cafe. Agent Tammy Preston (Chrysta Bell), whose presence we’ve not had much time to evaluate up until now, makes one of her first substantive contributions. She dismisses Mr. C’s (Kyle MacLachlan) alibi as it doesn’t hold water; the direction he was travelling in contradicts his stated intentions.

She is understandably put out when Deputy Director Gordon Cole (David Lynch) instructs her to go and wait in the restaurant while he talks with Agent Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer). Tammy is clearly under the impression that she has been dismissed because her input is unwelcome, and there may be some truth to that. Her reaction also implies that she may have been discredited based on gender. I has the feeling of being something that she has encountered time and time again, sadly. This would make Cole a liar, as he made quite a show of defending Tammy in the scenes earlier with FBI Chief of Staff Denise Bryson (David Duchovny). I believe this is Tammy’s impression of the situation, but not Cole’s intention.

Cole has another reason to ask her to leave their company. Tammy is wearing a wire at his request, but what he wants to share with Albert should not be overheard by anyone listening in, or recorded.

Albert says he feels better with Tammy out of the conversation, and as she walks away Lynch has cinematographer Peter Deming appear to check her out, moving the camera ever-so-slightly up and down, as if admiring her figure.

Once she is in the restaurant, Cole turns his hearing aid up so that he can speak softly to Albert. He questions Albert’s reaction to seeing Mr. C. Albert reveals to Cole that he once gave Cooper the authority to share some information with Phillip Jeffries. Gordon is surprised by this. Albert says that Phillip called him and told him that Cooper was in trouble. Jeffries wanted to know who “their man” was in Columbia, and that a week later that man was killed.

Twin Peaks‘ occasional diversions and references to goings on in South America are incredibly teasing and conjecture is abound. Part 5 will see us take diversions not to Columbia, but to Buenos Aires, while deleted scenes from Fire Walk With Me place Phillip Jeffries’ (David Bowie) spontaneous appearance in the Philadelphia offices into even stranger context, suggesting he was violently teleported there from south of the equator. Then there’s the photo of Mr. C outside of a villa shown in Part 3.

These disparate occurrences refuse to connect in any meaningful way. Given the large quantity of cocaine found in the trunk of Mr. C’s car – combined with his apparently vast wealth – one might assume his Columbia connection has something to do with the cartels… but nothing is solidified (I need to re-read Mark Frost’s associated books, but nothing jumps into my recollection from these that ties everything together).

Cole repeats Albert’s name and the two face-off as a noise like cicadas shimmers on the soundtrack and then disappears. In retrospect, knowing Cole has some psychic abilities, this could be construed as a moment in which Cole reads Albert to discover if he is telling the truth. There is no reason to believe, however, that Albert would like to him.

“This business that we witnessed today with Cooper,” Cole goes on to say, “I don’t like it.”

The two men agree that something is wrong with Cooper and they dismiss the possibility that it is merely his recent accident.

“I don’t think he greeted me properly if you take my meaning,” Cole says, and Albert does take his meaning; they were both attuned to the feeling that Mr. C was putting on a facade for their benefit.

Cole is worried that he doesn’t understand the situation, which doesn’t lend the audience any comfort. Lynch is the ‘man behind the curtain’ on Twin Peaks (not to do Mark Frost’s significant contribution a disservice, just go with me here), so his embodiment of Gordon Cole does, by extension, imply the same mastery of circumstances to the FBI Deputy Director. He is in charge of the agents of virtue that we have seen throughout the show; the agents with the knowledge and experience of these strange Blue Rose cases. That he feels out of his depth adds an extra layer of danger to proceedings, suggesting that they might spiral out of control of comprehension.

When asked of his comprehension of events, Albert replies, “Blue Rose.”

“Don’t get any bluer,” is Cole’s response.

The concept of a ‘Blue Rose‘ case was first articulated in Fire Walk With Me, when Agents Chester Desmond (Chris Isaak) and Sam Stanley (Kiefer Sutherland) were confronted with a woman named Lil who gave details of their assignment in code as Cole’s behest. Desmond had to explain the encounter to Stanley; an outsider to the special task force. But while Desmond was able to decipher from him the intentions of Lil’s appearance, he could not speak more directly about the Blue Rose. Later in the film, Agent Cooper refers to Teresa Banks’ murder as “one of Cole’s Blue Rose cases’. This, coupled with the strangeness we have seen involving these otherworldly entities, the Black Lodge and the Convenience Store, implies that a Blue Rose case is paranormal in nature – something confirmed much later on in The Return when the origins of the term are revealed. Albert’s summation is correct.

Appropriately, this entire scene is colour-corrected to a blue hue (see header photo for this post). The interview was set for 9am, but it now looks to be much later in the day. A dusky mood. Either we’ve skipped ahead several hours for this conversation, or the blue tint has been applied specifically in light of the talk of the Blue Rose.

“Albert, before we do anything else, we need one certain person to take a look at Cooper,” Cole says and Albert agrees. At this stage in the narrative that certain person isn’t given a name and many fans of the show guessed it might be Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn), however this doesn’t turn out to be the case…

“You still know where she lives?” Cole asks.

“I know where she drinks,” says Albert.

Cutting to the Roadhouse from here is something of a deliberate mislead, suggesting that this is the watering hole Albert was referring to. It is not. Instead, this trip marks the end of the plot developments for Part 4. Au Revoir Simone play their song “Lark” and the credits roll.

When The Return aired, the first four parts were released together within the same week. After such a long wait, four new hours of Lynchian intrigue was something huge to digest, especially the strange roads travelled here so far.

In retrospect, however, this was a very good idea.

The first four parts of The Return together set up the story going forward. Part 4 in particular sees a certain pace and sensibility assert itself after the unusual and unfamiliar events in Parts 1 through 3. Given the size of the narrative and how Mark Frost and David Lynch shaped it to play as an 18 hour film, delivering the first four parts together allowed an audience to adapt to it. If it had taken a month for us to get to the point we’re at by the end of Part 4, one suspects that a fair portion of the audience may have simply bowed out through simple impatience. This isn’t very trusting of an audience, granted, but the material here has been, at times, obtuse even by Lynch’s standards. As it is, viewing figures for the series overall were very low.

And very little so far has taken place in the town of Twin Peaks. We’ve mostly spent time in either new places (Las Vegas, Buckhorn) or places where rules can only be assumed (the Black Lodge, the Purple Realm). This lack of familiarity can prove disarming, and it appears at this stage as though Lynch and Frost have little to no interest in appeasing their fan base’s desires to rekindle the magic of those early seasons. In truth there will be plenty of nostalgia and fan service going forward – the scene here in Part 4 with Bobby and the Laura Palmer case files points directly toward how this will be achieved.

Parts 1 through 4 advise the viewer that nostalgia is not the only order of the day and that The Return has intentions beyond tying up loose ends and giving the fan base a hug. There is new story to tell, new experiences to be had, and a new tone through which this will be conveyed. In its belated third year, Twin Peaks is less cosy. It is riskier, more likely to roam into dangerous territory. Yet Part 4 softens this by handing us some of the familiar and featuring fewer diversions to the truly fantastic. It reassures the first time viewer that balance is possible and reminds that there is still a long road ahead.

Next time:  Lorraine

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