Following those blissful, ever-so slightly chilling titles (
play them at 1.5 speed for audio terror) we come straight back in to Jerry Horne (David Patrick Kelly) in his Hawaiian shirt and ( possibly?) mother’s hat, stood in the middle of the woods… somewhere. His point of view shows no sign of a trail, so mark of human civilisation.
He raises a cell phone into frame – an alien object in this wilderness – and speed dials his brother Ben (Richard Beymer) at the Great Northern Hotel. Ben is clearly concerned for his brother’s safety, while also a little impatient with him. We’ve seen plenty of reasons why he might be in the series’ initial run so many years ago.
The difference in their apparel and surroundings speaks much of the gulf between the two brothers. Ben at his desk in his business suit embodies capitalism and all those hard-working aspects of the American Dream. Jerry looks like a hippie these days; out in the wilds, rejecting these same notions that Ben symbolises. It’s possible that the two of them represent, for David Lynch and Mark Frost, an aspect of their own youth, when these two polemic standpoints tussled one another through the ’60s over the shape of America’s future.
“Someone stole my car,” Jerry eventually tells Ben. The whole of The Return (which covers around a week in real time, though opinions on that vary) sees Jerry take a long and strange woodland pilgrimage that eventually sees him cross state lines before being retrieved. One wonders, in retrospect whether this mini odyssey of his was planned at all. Though it seems like something his kindred spirit Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) might do on purpose, Jerry’s befuddled state suggests more of an incident than a plan.
“Jerry what’s going on? Someone stole your car?” Ben responds. His manner over the phone – he has the call on speaker in his office – is slightly reminiscent of Gordon Cole’s (David Lynch) usual manner of communication. Maybe Ben is getting a little deaf in his advancing years.
“You say the same thing,” Jerry notes, troubled, as though he’s encountering a feedback loop or echo instead of another person.
Considering some of the things we later learn occur out in the lesser charted depths of the forest, is it possible he’s already encountered such phenomenon as the vortexes, where the rules or time and space are radically challenged? This seems unlikely, as it would’ve been noteworthy enough to include in the show’s ample running time. He’s clearly tripping. Ben, confused by Jerry’s mumblings gets a clear confirmation when his brother yells, a note traumatically, “I think I’m high!“
“I don’t know where I am!” he exclaims before ending the call, leaving Ben in bemusement behind his desk at the Great Northern Hotel. It remains one of the funnier openings to any installment throughout the run of The Return, especially considering some of the dark turns coming toward us down the road…
Next time: Missing pages