Some characters from the original run of Twin Peaks simply don’t have a use in the narrative being told throughout The Return. It’s lamentable for some (Donna, most notably), but for others the bitter pill is easier to swallow. And, with some generosity, Mark Frost and David Lynch still give some of these lesser characters footnote moments, so we know where they ended up; how things worked out.
Take Mike Nelson (Gary Hershberger) for example. A high school football player and wannabe drug-dealer, Mike appeared with some regularity in the first season of Twin Peaks, often as back-up to Bobby (Dana Ashbrook). The sullen jock was also, for a time, Donna Hayward’s love interest, until she got swept up in other matters… and other people. Mike – left out in the cold from the evolving main story of the show – wound up stuck in a fairly ridiculous B-story involving Nadine Hurley (Wendy Robie) for much of season two.
Now, cutting back to the town of Twin Peaks, he gets his sole scene in The Return.
Like his former buddy Bobby Briggs, it seems as though Mike has cleaned up his act somewhat, though he hasn’t strayed far from home. Through him we also get to meet one of the new characters of Twin Peaks being introduced in The Return.
We find Mike in an office environment. His desk is busy, if not downright chaotic. He asks an assistant over intercom to send in Steven.
Steven (Caleb Landry Jones) is a scrawny, sickly looking young man, presented here in an ill-fitting and untidy suit. Landry Jones is a talented and versatile young actor who has made a name for himself playing such spindly and untrustworthy characters. He has proven popular with a number of auteurs, having worked notably with the Safdie Brothers on their brilliant feature Heaven Knows What, Sean Baker on The Florida Project and Jordan Peele on Get Out, to name but a few.
Steven, we will learn, is married to Becky (Amanda Seyfried); daughter of Shelly (Mädchen Amick).
Mike quickly lays into the dischevelled young man before him.
“You think you’re some kind of hotshot?” (and apt term to use given that Steven is almost certainly high in this scene)
He continues, “This resumé is one of the worst written I’ve ever seen and you didn’t even fill out this form properly,” adding that Steven’s approach overall is “worse than sloppy”. The exact nature of the job is unclear – Mike’s office work is left generic, which is fine for the purposes of the scene.
“I wanted to see you to tell you that if you ever want to find work anyplace, that you better get your act together and do things properly and start showing some respect for a possible future employer, because base don this shit, you’d never get hired here and I would never recommend you for any work, anywhere.”
This, coming from Mike, is both rich and strangely fitting. It is wholly inkeeping with his bolshy, holier-than-thou attitude as expressed in the early seasons. To find him so buttoned down – the very vision of the authority figures he used to butt against – seems like the kind of wry irony of time that’s so true of people like Mike.
He tells Steven to get up and get his ass out of there, which Steven does. The scene – and Mike’s gruff feedback – also serves to introduce us to Steven. Mike seems to be right… this Steven isn’t up to much.
With no sense of irony, Mike sums up the failed candidate; “What an asshole.”
Next time: Doris