Part 6 closes out with a scene of minimal significance at the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department. But there are still insights to be found, particularly regarding the temperaments of Deputy Chad Broxford (John Pirruccello), and of Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster).
We return to the large room previously established as Maggie (Jodi Thelan) answers 911 calls. Sheriff Truman hands some paperwork to Deputy Jesse Holcomb (James Grixioni) and hears his wife Doris (Candy Clark) shouting out obscenities. He turns and lo and behold she is barreling down the hall toward them.
She berates him over trivial matters concerning her father’s car as Chad and Jesse exchange a knowing glance. As previously discussed, Doris is among my least favourite characters added to Twin Peaks for The Return, as her only function appears to be to show how patient – or blasé – Sheriff Truman is. She’s a one-note, grating presence, so it’s a relief, at least, that this marks her second and most importantly final appearance. Truman ushers Doris out into the corridor to lessen the scene that’s unfurling.
The public outburst also allows us, as advised, a little further shading for Deputy Broxford; already established as a corrupt lowlife.
“I sure wouldn’t take that kind of shit off her,” he announces. There’s an undertone here of a violence in Chad in keeping with a long-running theme of the show – it’s concerns over the relationships between men and women. Twin Peaks may have a lot of good things going for it, but there are still plenty of rotten apples in it’s barrel.
His outburst causes Maggie to roll her eyes, and when Chad calls her on it she tells him (and us), “You don’t know what you’re talking about”, before deciding not to poke the bear any further. But it’s too late; Chad’s defenses are up. Maggie continues, “You didn’t know that their son committed suicide?”
Chad – exactly the type of person to defend his actions with the phrase “It’s a free world” (as he does here) – trivialises the tragedy, miming tears and whining, “He couldn’t take being a soldier.” Maggie shakes her head and gives this performance a cold stare of disapproval, and we’re right there with her. A new 911 call defuses the hostility of the moment.
So we know Chad’s a piece of work. We also know now of the family tragedy that haunts Sheriff Frank Truman and his wife Doris. And yes, perhaps it does add some rueful shade to her angry outbursts; misdirected rage and grief. We can empathise. We also understand Sheriff Truman a little better. His grief perhaps manifests in quietude and reflection; qualities he seems to come by naturally.
Chad’s cruel lack of empathy also goes some way to reopening the discussion over mental health that I feel runs right through The Return. Dougie Jones (Kyle MacLachlan) might be it’s fulcrum, but it manifests in other areas of the narrative, such as here. What’s under discussion is the stigmatism still commonly attached to problems of emotional and mental well-being. Narrow-minded viewpoints like Chad’s demonise those fighting against these things, and are emblematic of a mindset that is still rife in the world. Lynch and Frost show that mindset for what it is here; moronic and hateful. They associate it with a character of low moral fibre. Are we surprised at Chad’s actions? Are they shocking? A little. But we need to arm ourselves against these people, metaphorically, acknowledge that they exist and find ways to counteract their ignorance. The 911 call is a little too convenient. I’d perhaps have liked to see Maggie knock Chad down a peg or two instead…
As a side note, but not immaterial, Jesse’s reaction is also a comment on how issues of bad behaviour are addressed in the work place; he’s miles away, seemingly daydreaming and not part of the moment at all. Arms crossed defensively, it is as though he has chosen deliberately to ignore the hostilities in the room, in effect providing Chad with an out for his gross display. This places Jesse in something of a grey area. He’s not as villainous, but his inaction is its own kind of passive approval or even another kind of ignorance.
As he stares into the middle distance, unseeing, Sharon Van Etten’s “Tarifa” starts to play and we transition to The Roadhouse where her song plays us out and the credits roll.
Interestingly, one of the key lines in the song is, “I could taste your mouth“. In Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, BOB sneers something very similar to Laura Palmer during an hallucinatory sequence. “I want to taste through your mouth” he says. Could this echo have been the reason Lynch asked her to perform this particular song for the show…?
Next time: I think I’m high