Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Falling: Twin Peaks and Angelo Badalementi, David Lynch and Julie Cruise

“Harry, I have no idea where this will lead us, but I have a definite feeling it will be both wonderful and strange,” says Special Agent Dale Cooper to Twin Peaks’ Sheriff Harry Truman.

After an entrancing season and a half of cherry pie, strong black coffee, the whisper of Douglas Furs, donuts spewed with parrot blood and a trip into the surreal Black Lodge, Twin Peaks presumably ended with Cooper’s own fall. The final image is of our beloved Coop smashing his forehead into the mirror and then raising his head, grinning sickly. Bob is now in the building.

After solidifying itself in its first season as the most wonderfully strange visual and psychological treat network television had ever hosted, Twin Peaks took a fall in its second season, misdirected away from its uncompromising fusion of soap opera, hard-boiled mystery, melodrama, teen drama, doo wop 50s cool and horror.

It says a lot about a character if you can say he made you a better---and more interesting—person. Coop did. What seemed banal about my hometown became creepy and full of clues. Sunday night walks in Winter Wisconsin brought me as close as lawfully and uncreepily possible to huge picture windows and dark family rooms with huge televisions flashing the Cartoon Express, professional wrestling, 20/20, Andy Griffith. Sauce and bones from chicken dinners on paper plates, half gallon ice cream containers on laps, six pack cans balanced on feet.

The opening song of Twin Peaks is the ethereal “Falling”, composed by Angelo Badalamenti. For television, it is an instrumental. Single guitar notes, warm keyboard. Bird twitches its neck, dissolves into the mill with smoke billowing up on a cold day. An airy, heavily melodramatic keyboard progression lifts the song into the air like Coop himself lifting Laura’s body up and then letting it rise and float away on its own once her killer has been revealed. Gather yourself and come back down, dissolve to a winding road, a welcome sign to Twin Peaks, the mountains, a waterfall and the forest, which houses the owls who are not what they seem. A brook.

Julie Cruise sings vocals on the alternate version of “Falling”, with David Lynch himself writing the lyrics. The chorus takes the ironic turn of rising with painful beauty as Cruise sings, “Falling, Falling, in love.” Earlier, we get a few clues that have led Twin Peaks freaks on a trail for the persona behind them.

“Don’t let yourself be hurt this time.
Don’t let yourself be hurt this time.
Then I saw your face.
Then I saw your smile.”

Revisiting the lyrics, it could either be from Laura’s or Cooper’s point of view. If it’s Laura, she’s looking down on Cooper who never allows himself to get as close to anyone as he does to a case itself. I was always touched by his integrity as he attributed his lack of taking a romantic leap to his job (bureau policy he always said). But if it’s Laura speaking to Coop, maybe she’s saying the warm distance he maintains is actually because of the pain he suffered in his last relationship with Annie Blackburn. Now I’m getting as melodramatic as the music. Or maybe it’s Coop speaking to Laura from a dream where he meets her in the Black Lodge.

I crapped my pants when news came out that Lynch and Mark Frost were bringing back their fallen show 25 years later, the same time span Black Lodge Laura Palmer had indicated would be the next time she and Coop would see each other. I’m only on episode 5, and I’m admittedly disappointed in myself for not falling in love with it again.

For kicks, here are my favorite Twin Peaks moments.

1. “Tracker?” Cooper inquiring about Deputy Hawk

2. Benjamin Horn entering the room of his bonded daughter at ONe-Eyed Jacks and reciting from Shakespeare’s the Tempest: “Such stuff as dreams are made on.”

3. Cooper admonishing Harry Truman to accept a daily gift, whether it’s a piece of cherry pie or a cup of coffee.

4. Cooper asking for the names of the wonderful trees. (Douglas Furs)

5. The boy holding cream corn in his hands at Harold’s apartment.

6. Log Lady saying to Major Briggs, “You wear shiny objects on your chest. Are you proud?” and Briggs responding, “Achievement is its own reward. Pride obscures it.” And then she asks whether Briggs has met the log and he says, “I don’t believe we have met.”

7. Leland Palmer having a fit at the Great Northern and having a fit which is then turned into a dance by Catherine Martell so as not to scare the guests.

8. Cooper giving a thumbs up to the Giant Bellhop after the Giant Bellhop delivers a glass of milk while Cooper nearly bleeds to death.

9. Hank getting his butt kicked in the dark at the diner by Josie’s handler.

10. Albert setting Harry Truman straight about what he stands for, citing MLK and ending with the phrase, “I love you Sheriff Truman.”

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