Lt. Cynthia Knox (Adele René) arrives at the police station in Buckhorn, South Dakota and introduces herself to Detective Macklay (Brent Briscoe). They shake hands. She reveals that she has arrived to verify the source of the fingerprints that were blocked in the system when Constance Talbot (Jane Adams) ran them for a match. Lt. Knox assumes that the prints were lifted from a crime scene, and is surprised and intrigued when Macklay advises that they were lifted from a corpse.
“There’s a body all right,” he tells her, in the process speaking Part 7’s official subtitle.
We cut to the morgue where Talbot retrieves the headless corpse of Major Garland Briggs from their modest bank of refrigerated drawers. Lt. Knox notes immediately the discrepancy in the age of the body. The body before her is that of a man in his late forties, but Major Briggs ought to be in his seventies by now. Talbot, however, confirms that the death took place within the last 5 or 6 days. Lt. Knox finds this hard to believe. Her look speaks volumes.
“It would sure help our investigation to know who this is,” Macklay says, not so subtly suggesting that Knox knows more than she’s letting on, and underscoring an element of imbalance between the two of them.
Instead of answering the question directly, Lt. Knox excuses herself and goes out into the hall to take a call, confirming to Colonel Davis (Ernie Hudson) that it’s not just prints “this time” and that there is a body. This heavily infers that Major Briggs’ prints have appeared inexplicably before, though when and where is never made explicit. Of course, the very need for this mystery comes from the sad passing of Don S. Davis who played Major Briggs. David Lynch and Mark Frost have creatively worked around his absence; using archival footage for his floating head in the Purple Realm in Part 3, and making much hay of the headless corpse routine as evidenced here.
Lt. Knox advises of the unexplained variance in age and that the head is missing.
Coinciding with a menacing note that appears on the score is the appearance in deep background of the a darkly clothed figure. This figure starts walking the length of the long corridor toward Lt. Knox. The sound sting underscores the significance of this mysterious figure’s presence. The figure appears to be male. As he approaches, Lt. Knox becomes aware that she is not alone and turns. Lynch pulls focus and we see that the person coming closer is a Dirty Bearded Man, similar in appearance to the one that disappeared in the cell adjoining William Hastings’ way-back-when at the beginning of Part 2.
This is the first sighting of a Dirty Bearded Man since then and therefore tips the hand of their potential importance to the unfurling narrative. That prior appearance as not merely a kooky one-off. These soot-covered drifters have some purpose to perform. As this one grows nearer, the soundtrack resonates with mild crackling, as though the man is causing electrical interference. The import of electricity and its connection to malevolent forces is already well established in Twin Peaks and indeed in the greater body of work that belongs to David Lynch. Because of this and the heavy tip of that uneasy musical accompaniment, we’re being advised to treat the Dirty Bearded Men with caution and suspicion. We’ll talk more about their physical appearance in Part 8.
Lt. Knox ends her call with Colonel Davis and returns to the room with Constance Talbot and Detective Macklay. Macklay again presses for more information and Knox acquiesces.
“You didn’t hear it from me,” she says, “but I don’t think this is going to be your investigation for too much longer,” hinting at the forthcoming FBI involvement. Col. Davis, meanwhile, hangs up and immediately places another call, though we are not privy to the details of his follow-up.
It is strongly intimated, however, that this call is to the FBI, as the exchange in Part 5 between these two characters establishes.
Outside in the hallway, the Dirty Bearded Man passes on without stopping or paying their conversation any mind.
For now, the intent of this figure remains a mystery…
Next time: The whistler