twin peaks'

8

“Diane, it’s Tuesday, August 1st and I’ve stumbled upon quite a few mysteries here at Fashion Peaks. Tully the horse has been sent to the glue factory, The Ascension has a very peculiar taste in music, and my partner, Deputy Dango, has been abducted - possibly by extraterrestrials. That leaves me with two questions: One, who kidnapped Fandango? Two, why didn’t I just call you instead of record this?”

What I love about the Roadhouse in Twin Peaks is it’s presented as simultaneously the best and the worst place to be. As a concert venue it’s cooler than any place you’ve been to. They book everything from local talent like James Hurley, cool indie acts like Sharon Van Etten and Chromatics, and are even able to get Nine Inch Nails to play there somehow. Their range of artists is eclectic but also feels expertly curated, aesthetically unified. (Of course, this is because it’s actually the soundtrack to a TV show.) Even the fact that the performances are pre-recorded adds to the illusion that every live show at the Roadhouse sounds perfect. With its in-house emcee and pine cone mic stand, it retains the quirky, small-town vibe of Twin Peaks while being an apparently thriving and successful venue, capable of drawing big acts and large crowds. It seems like the coolest place ever.

Look closely, however, and there’s all sorts of dark, ugly shit going on there. Nearly every time we go there, we’re shown a new band playing, the crowd dancing and having a great time, but just off in the wings there’s some little story playing out - some women being sexually harassed, some drug-addled teens, a girl minding her own business only to be dragged out of her booth and placed on the floor by some scuzzy bikers. When the lights go down and the bar is empty, we see that the bartender, keeping with Roadhouse tradition, is in the business of child prostitution. The Bang Bang Bar is the gathering place of the entire town, a place where people come to unwind and meet up with friends and have some good old-fashioned fun. But like the town itself, it hides corruption and human cruelty in plain sight.

With these little vignettes that have closed nearly every episode, it’s as if Lynch is painting a larger picture, and like most of his paintings, it’s black and distorted and grotesque, a painting of a world infected by something ugly, and now that infection has spread to Twin Peaks. I don’t think Lynch traffics in “social commentary,” but as the season’s gone on, the Roadhouse in particular has begun to look more and more like a funhouse mirror Lynch is holding up to the modern zeitgeist. The girl in tonight’s episode crawls on her hands and knees through the crowd but nobody pays her any mind. She screams but nobody can hear her over the blare of the music. Perhaps they just don’t want to. As the series nears its end, this episode’s Roadhouse scene struck me as a breaking point; a scream punctuating what I’ve increasingly come to see as Lynch’s impression of the state of the world in 2017.

Anyway, however you choose to interpret these scenes, I just really like them. I know a lot of people see the Roadhouse scenes as non-sequiturs that take time away from the main plot, but I think they add up to something oddly poignant and it’s one of my favorite parts of The Return.