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Stress test

Rodney (Robert Knepper) and Bradley Mitchum (Jim Belushi) sense the stress building on a suburban Vegas street in "Twin Peaks: The Return."
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OKLAHOMA CITY – “People are under a lot of stress, Bradley.”

So says Vegas casino operator Rodney Mitchum (Robert Knepper) to his brother, Bradley Mitchum (Jim Belushi) after both witnessing a “Polish accountant” (Jonny Coyne) shoot up a van which included Chantal and Hutch, two hillbilly assassins who were waiting to take out Dougie Jones/"Good Coop," outside his Las Vegas home on Lancelot Court.

How apropos, with Las Vegas's international notoriety as "Sin City" and just down the road from where atomic bombs were tested and secret projects were/are conducted. The stress mounts.

This takes place in Part XVI of Twin Peaks: The Return. Coop, soon returned, will become the "knight in shining armor," at least for a short time, who, with the help of the "hearts of gold" Mitchum brothers, return to Twin Peaks to do his duty as the "FBI." He will save the "damsel." David Lynch loves those fairy tale tropes. Hell, might as well throw in The Wizard of Oz, while we're at it ... 

In any event, the loathsome Chantal and Hutch (Jennifer-Jason Leigh and Tim Roth, respectively) are repeatedly shot up by the put-out accountant, who seemed to be there not so much to ask the bumbling assassins to move their van from the entrance to his driveway, but to settle a score, perhaps. To avenge the way another character of Polish heritage – Ronette Pulaski (Phoebe Augustine), Laura Palmer’s prostitute friend – was treated by the evil brought into our world via BOB? The "absurb mystery of the strange forces of existence," as Agent Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer) puts it. Or, to quote David Lynch, who made that statement years ago, in describing a film project, Ronnie Rocket: "It's about electricity."

Avenging angel? Or just a "Polish accountant"? (Showtime)

Maybe. But that is pure speculation on my part. Just like so many prior scenes over the course of Twin Peaks: The Return’s 18 episodes, we are left with more questions than answers. A final scream from Carrie/Laura (Sheryl Lee) and roll the credits. Is this the curtain call?

But, deep down, didn’t we expect that?

As Eileen G. Mykkels wrote at Twin Peaks fan site 25 Years Later, Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) is essentially a heroic “doomed” figure of mythic proportions who means well, and with unprecedented hubris wants to right wrongs.

But, as Mykkels writes: “We are who we are in the moment, who we were can never be retrieved and who we could have been had we done things differently, can never exist.

Essentially, you can't go home again.

The Kafkaesque, “Existentialism 101” (as Charlie – a gloomy “Charlie Brown,” perhaps? - tells a stressed and confused Audrey) presented in Twin Peaks: The Return, that feeling that things are not normal, that we’re not feeling like “ourselves,” is David Lynch and Mark Frost tapping into deep veins of the current zeitgeist. There is a mixture of sadness, betrayal and confusion. Superman, where are you now?

The stressed-out Polish accountant (Jonny Coyne) does the FBI a favor. (Showtime)

I felt that Tim Burrows, at the UK Guardian, captured the “perfect sense” of Twin Peaks returning now, and not at any other time, as it "chimes" with our times.

No shit!

Unresolved crises. The threat of nuclear annihilation. Gangsters using technology for evil purposes and ill-gotten gains. Good, hard-working people being screwed by sinister forces too immense for them to understand. Heroic types trying to right wrongs, as Cooper attempted, only to be thwarted again and again, caught in some karmic time-loop, where the same mistakes keep being made over and over again.

See why we're all feeling a bit stressed? A little tired? Rodney Mitchum hit the proverbial nail on the head with that simple statment. 

"Now I am become death. The destroyer of worlds" ... A stress test, indeed. (Showtime)

Yes, Mitchum Brothers, the truth of the matter is is that lots and lots of people in our reality in 2017 (“What year is this?”) are under a lot of stress. It seems as though the entire planet is under stress.

First, with Mother Nature throwing us for a loop, first with Hurricane Harvey (note "Crossroads"), and now with his angry little sister, Hurricane Irma. (Irma, I noticed, is an anagram for “Amir,” a name which translates from Persian as being “the one whose spirit and memory will never die.”

Hmmm. That's intense.

"The one artist that I feel could be my brother is Franz Kafka." - David Lynch (Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report)

But I think a theme that was getting some serious play this summer, as fans analyzed and picked apart each episode of Twin Peaks that the recent problems infecting the world seem to (in our time/space/place) go back to that moment, presented in Episode VIII - "Gotta light?" - also called "the most sublime hour in television history," where the "anthropocene" epoch began, with the Trinity atomic bomb test in New Mexico (a subject which interests Lynch and Frost greatly) - and when the "Atomic Age" kicked off. But kicked off to where? To when? What was lost? What was gained? Are we progressing? Or have we actually regressed

Did big cars, TV dinners, rockets and "plastics" get us all to a happier place? Are we, as a species, happier? More content? More centered and at peace? I would argue that we are not. But then, were we ever, beyond the mythical Garden of Eden? Is that when our dual natures really kicked in, with our yearning for the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil? It would appear that that is the case, my friends. As hard as we try, we are still monkeys hitting keys on a typewriter, and with one finger on "the button."

To conclude, I'll leave you all with this insightful (and somewhat hopeful) quote from David Lynch's brother-from-another-mother, Franz Kafka: You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quite still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” 

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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