Those serene night shots of the Las Vegas skyline fade through to the breaking of dawn, suggesting a new day is upon us.
This doesn’t quite track. The last time we were with Dougie (Kyle MacLachlan) it was around the breakfast table, and Part 5 will continue that day’s journey when we are reunited with him soon.
An establishing shot of the Rancho Rosa billboard at night is displayed with a shaft of light illuminating its far left side. Here, on the housing estate, it still appears to be night. Presumably we have jumped back just a short while. The slice of light illuminates a portion of the sign showing a heterosexual couple and a young child; a daughter. Though the sex of the child differs, this seems like a clear reminder to the audience of the dynamic in the Jones household. A family unit that is, in a sense, exposed and in danger.
In a car parked on the Rancho Rosa estate, Gene (Greg Vrotsos) sits in the driver’s seat talking on a cellphone. Would-be marksman Jake (Bill Tangradi) sits beside him in the passenger seat. As “I Am” by Blunted Beatz starts up on the soundtrack, Gene gives an update to his boss over the phone. This Blunted Beatz tune develops into a defacto theme music for the person on the other end of the line; a woman named Lorraine (Tammie Baird).
Baird is more predominantly known for her work as a stuntwoman.
“We just drove by. His car’s still there,” Gene says.
We cut to a darkened office somewhere as the source music intensifies. Lorraine sits behind a cluttered desk – the usual office stationary. On the wall in the darkness behind her is a strange kind of safe. Though the gloom in this instance makes it hard to distinguish, its appearance later on in The Return makes it appear to be made from cardboard. A curious and inexplicable detail.
Lorraine is highly strung. “This job was supposed to be done yesterday,” she tells the hired goon, confirming that this is likely the early hours of the day following Cooper’s transformation into Dougie. That she is so panicked is understandable. Like Duncan Todd (Patrick Fleischer), Lorraine is subservient to Mr. C. She is middle management; under his thumb and justly concerned about not following through on his wishes. She has clearly been tasked with taking out the vulnerable Dougie Jones. When Gene is unable to placate her, she yells, “Fuck!” down the phone and slams the handset onto the receiver.
“She’s a worrier,” Jake notes breezily, negating Lorraine’s justified sense of alarm.
In her office, Lorraine quietly appears twitchy. Her fingers looking for some way to fix this present inertia. She reaches into a drawer and, with some apprehension, producers a Blackberry which she rests on the desk. From her body language we are advised this is some kind of last resort. She frames the Blackberry on a pad of paper, squaring it off as though trying to create the smallest amount of order.
Now, a curious cut.
Elsewhere. A bare lightbulb illuminates a patch of uneven wall. Blunted Beatz is immediately cut from the soundtrack, indicating to us that we have moved far from the scenes in Vegas. In fact, we are in Buenos Aires, Argentina, though Lynch won’t reveal that insight to us until much later in Part 5.
Next we see a shallow bronze coloured bowl that looks to be nestled between a pair of tracks on the ground; this last is assumed. With so little context, we may even be looking at something affixed to a wall. But the angle, in combination with the previous shot, gives an impression of it being on the ground. As though the lightbulb were pointing toward it. In the bowl is a black box with two LEDs. Looking at this device, we are reminded of some of the tech we have seen Mr. C carrying. A tone suggests it is about to intercept something. Cutting back to Lorraine establishes that her actions and the box are connected. Simple cinematic language imparted to us by editor Duwayne Dunham. We are being shown parallel events. The unspoken word is, “meanwhile”.
Lorraine types a message into the Blackberry. pulling the device down into shot for our benefit. The message reads, “ARGENT 2“.
‘Argent’ is French for ‘money’, so this could be a request for additional funds. The FBI have already established that Mr. C has concerns in Latin America, so this would track. ‘Argent’ may also be an agreed shorthand for ‘Argentina’, which is where the black box is located. As for the 2? It’s significance is less easy to guess at. Perhaps, if the request is for money, it denotes the two men in the parked car; a request for a further day’s salary for her hired goons? We can only speculate.
In it’s bowl, the black box beeps twice, as though intercepting/receiving the coded message.
Next time: To Dougie, with love