Janey-E (Naomi Watts) guides Dougie (Kyle MacLachlan) out into the foyer of the Lucky 7 Insurance building, telling him about her deal with the moneylenders as they exit out into the plaza. As she scolds him for gambling and instructs him not to do it again, Ike ‘The Spike’ Statdler (Christoph Zajac-Denek) emerges from the bustling crowds holding a small handgun, which he raises and points at Dougie. People scream as they notice the scene unfolding.
Dougie suddenly shifts out of his sleepwalking torpor and races into action, as though life-threatening instinct has temporarily awoken the quick reflexes of Dale Cooper.
He pushes Janey-E – who hasn’t noticed a thing as she keeps on talking – out of the way and he grabs the gun in Ike’s hand. The two fall to the ground in a struggle for possession of the firearm. Ike squeezes the trigger and shoots into the paving. Dougie karate-chops him in the throat and continues trying to pry the gun away from him. Janey-E joins in the struggle, grabbing Ike around the neck.
Out of the bullet hole in the paving sprouts The Ar, presumable for the benefit of Dougie, as nobody else at the scene responds to its presence either now or after. This smaller version of The Arm tells Dougie to, “Squeeze his hand off” – a command that Dougie complies with, squeezing Ike’s hand off of the handle of the weapon. Unarmed, Ike quickly flees the scene. Disaster averted, Dougie returns to his prior vacant state, the implication being that Cooper’s skills will only present themselves in situations of extreme severity and only got as long as the situation lasts. Or, possibly, that someone or something else took possession of him to avert catastrophe – if this were the case, the only likely candidate would be Philip Gerard, the One-Armed Man. Still, it feels to me as though the former might be true.
This in itself sets a strange precedent; one that has the potential to neuter further tense encounters (though ultimately doesn’t). Dougie’s babyish innocence leaves him incredibly vulnerable, yet this scene establishes that, if lethally threatened, instinct or intervention will keep him alive. Of course, it’s a relatively safe gamble on the part of Mark Frost and David Lynch.
If any character in Twin Peaks is generally safe from being permanently removed, its Dale Cooper, regardless of the form he takes. What would happen to the original, authentic Dale Cooper, though, were Dougie to die? It is assumed from Mr. C’s continual attempts to achieve this, that Dale Cooper would die with him, withering away into nothing within the inert shell, either over time or instantaneously. What then would that mean for Mr. C? He is made from elements of Cooper. Can he exist without the original? One assumes so. Until Dougie’s near-fatal investigations with a cake fork some time from now, this is the closest we get to finding out.
As the sounds of police sirens and helicopters flood in (somewhat prematurely, if taken literally; that’s some fast response!), Dougie’s gaze wanders to the skies and Janey-E rests her head on his chest, exhausted with shock. As soon as the encounter with Ike finished, Dougie immediately reverted to his passive state, quickly abating any suspicions that this sudden event rocked Dale Cooper back into control
We cut to later that evening and Janey-E advises two officers of what happened. The area has been cordoned off with yellow tape. Here The Return makes a quick break from the norm and takes on the persona of a reality TV show or sensationalist news broadcast, as varying bystanders become talking heads, giving interviews about the dramatic event. A little girl advises that Ike “smelled funny”, while another speaks highly of Dougie, refusing to hear him called a victim and saying, “Douglas Jones, he moved like a cobra.”
Finally, we see a darkened shot of the gun laying on the floor beside an evidence bag. It appears lit as if by a spotlight to draw us in; an oval of wandering light in the middle of the screen, bringing to mind ’40s film noir, albeit in a decidedly modern and digital age. We see that, bizarrely, a piece of gristle from Ike’s hand still remains on the handle of the gun, as though Dougie really did squeeze part of his hand clean off. A pair of hands in latex gloves gingerly reach into frame to remove the tissue from the weapon. The skin is peeled off and placed in an evidence bag.
Next time: The hum