Mr. Reindeer wrote:This Part has so many different energies, many of them really intense. The raw emotion of the Ed/Norma reunion, and Margaret's death, the surreal mythological excitement of the Dutchman's, the existential terror of the Gersten/Steven scene, the weirdly horrific "Axolotl" closing. This one leaves me feeling like I've been through the wringer maybe more than any other installment of TR.
Series wraps for Ed, Nadine and Norma. Episode 29 redeemed Nadine and Ed in a small way after the debacle of season 2, and TMP gave us a beautiful Ed/Norma deleted scene. But this Part really brings a truly wonderful resolution to the love triangle. The acting in the Ed/Nadine scene sort of veers back and forth between genuine emotion and camp, but it works perfectly. It kills me when Nadine says she loves Ed and always will. I love her joy in letting him go be happy. It's so pure and genuine. Their last hug is so heartbreaking, and Everett McGill is maybe better than he's ever been watching Nadine walk away (it's very subtle, but he chokes back two sobs). However flawed the marriage was, this is the end of a 45-year relationship with real emotion there, and McGill really sells it. If this ends up being the last thing he ever acts in (and that certainly seems likely given that he's been in retirement for this entire millennium barring Lynch calling him up again for TR), what a way to go out.
Note that Ed and Nadine no longer live next door to the Gas Farm (he’s shocked that she has walked there). I believe this is the third Gas Farm location (after the Pilot and series)? Or was there another one somewhere along the way?
Ed dusting off his butt before he goes in to profess his intentions to Norma is such a beautiful little Lynchian touch. His giddy little wave when he walks inside the Diner too. What a perfect scene.
"I thought you told me you didn't have any family," is an interesting line, in light of Annie. Norma contradicts Walter, saying she has a wonderful family (seemingly talking about Ed, maybe?), but it's not really clear if Norma actually told him she didn't have family or not. From Episode 29 on, it seems like Lynch is weirdly set on forgetting that any family ties existed between Norma and Annie.
I've never really been that engaged with the Walter/franchise storyline, which seems like just an excuse for some very easily resolved conflict. But knowing that these are the last scenes Peggy Lipton will ever appear in as Norma, it hit me with a lot more impact this time. When he talks about the seven diners, and she says, "I'm happier with just the one," it feels like such a perfect mission statement for the character.
I know some people have interpreted Ed's slightly growing smile before Norma touches him to mean that what comes after is a fantasy scenario. I don't buy it. I think he is eavesdropping on Norma and Walter and hears that she's just kicked him to the curb.
I'm pretty sure that both McGill and Lipton are terrific all the way through that "Marry me" scene, but I can't tell you for certain because I've never watched it all the way through without tears clouding my vision. Finally. Good for those two crazy kids.
I've always loved this part. For many people, it was Part 14 that appeared to be the best part in some time. For me, it was Part 15, which I've always described as feeling like what the shortened, leaner, meaner, FWWM-esque version of The Return might have been.
The Ed/Nadine scene...given its odd tones, is there any chance that it's not actually happening? There were a lot of theories that, given Ed's sadness so evident at the end of Part 13, he may not have survived that night, and then in Part 15 Nadine suddenly appears and grants him his freedom, and Ed's reaction, at first, is very much in the heightened, almost parodic register of Naomi Watts in the first half of Mulholland Dr. Also, cars are driving on the wrong side of the road as Nadine makes her approach. Is there some lodge-related significance to that? I don't want to think about that because it would naturally follow that Ed's encounter with Norma is also unreal.
About that Ed/Norma scene: It's one of Lynch's greatest standalone scenes. It made me so sad that some people couldn't enjoy it because they felt it was too fan-servicey. It transcends any notion of such nonsense as it is the logical end of the two characters' journey in a series with virtually no happy endings, and the way it is shot, scored and edited is so beautiful and unexpected that it feels profound. Lynch even looks towards the heavens as a result of the rightness and joyfulness of this pairing. (Before whiplashing to the dark energy of the powerlines, of course.)
As far as Ed's slightly growing smile, I've always found that it wasn't so much that Ed was overhearing what was happening, but that he was practically willing the outcome into existence. This fits with the idea that it's not really happening, but again, I don't want to talk about that. It very much fits with the idea of finding peace within, and that peace manifesting itself in the outside world. Seems like transcendental meditation stuff to me. At the time it aired and I gravitated to that feeling, I know I had found other instances of such occurrences popping up in the series, like other characters were bringing certain moments into being, but I can't remember which right now.
As far as Norma/Walter, I know that we've talked about this and you're fully aware of everything going on in those scenes, but I don't ever see them as an excuse for easily resolved conflict because they are indeed multi-layered. First, it's the playful whiplash set-up of seeing she and Ed together in Part 13 before Ed says nothing is going on and then Walter arrives to really put the nail in the coffin; it fits perfectly with the eavesdropped/25-years-later/slice-of-life storytelling style. Secondly, mostly it's about the meta-text of true originals vs. copies; it's a commentary on the state of the filmmaking industry and the TV landscape, of course, and it's fun to observe the slightly-rigid tone of the scene, as though Lynch/Frost are delivering an address and making sure that it is heard; given Lynch's difficulties getting funding, Frost's knowledge and disdain of other TV series, and the slight hiccups in getting this thing made, it even almost reads as a "fuck you" to any demands some people at Showtime might have initially made. Similar to some of Audrey's dialogue mimicking her behind the scenes ordeal, I can't shake the feeling that I'm witnessing a thinly veiled barb at the very network that made The Return possible. At any rate, the scenes' focus on artificiality and love as a mere business arrangement not only speaks to the nature of the money-minded industry as anathema to art, but also fits in perfectly with your feeling that Walter is just an excuse for easily resolved conflict. Everything about him is artificial, and I've come to think this artificiality, all around, is very much part of the point, which then gives way to something truly and gloriously real.
It's interesting that Mark has denied any knowledge of most of Lynch's visual trickery/Easter eggs in the new show (Ed's reflection, the Double R extras moving around), but he seemingly was not only aware of the subtle Sarah/Jumping Man hybrid shot, but liked it enough to use it as the end piece in TFD.
Perhaps Mark acknowledges the Jumping Man connection because it was something he suggested or they thoroughly discussed? It seems to me that is more plot related, while the other stuff is more abstract. I do agree with you that the Ed reflection in Part 13 was intentional, by the way. I studied the scene frame by frame a couple weeks ago and reached that conclusion.
I'm still really intrigued by the fact the the Dutchman's presents itself as the Red Diamond City Motel, the site of Leland's initial sin (Teresa Banks). I'm not sure what that means, but it certainly seems to tie Cooper's doppelgänger to Leland in an even more meaningful way besides just being Bob's next host. “Find Laura,” Leland told Cooper. Here, the doppel finds himself at the place where Leland inadvertently found Laura.
Jeffries is in Room 8. Interesting in light of the 8-like symbol he projects for Cooper in Part 17. Can anyone with knowledge of the shooting location say if this is the same room where Laura & co. were in FWWM? I don’t think it is, based on the angles/direction of the courtyard.
I'm still trying to wrap my head around what the hell Jeffries's role is in all of this (it's harder since it's never quite clear when Jeffries is actually him as opposed to someone impersonating him), but it's worth noting that here, Jeffries (seemingly the real one) is in the Mansion Room, which is seemingly a White Lodge space...but is accessed via the Dutchman's, which is guarded by Woodsmen, whom I believe are Judy's envoys.
I've never been quite sure if Jeffries's "We used to talk" is solely referring to the brief Philadelphia meeting or to some further congress between the two after Cooper entered the Lodges. The Doppelgänger's memory immediately goes back to the FWWM scene, but maybe the real Cooper and Jeffries had further talks which the doppelgänger's isn't privy to? The doppel seems to retain all Cooper's memories before the doppelgänger left the Lodge, but he seemingly doesn't have those memories that occurred after they switched places. So Cooper and Jeffries may have formed further plans the doppelgänger isn't privy to.
It annoys me to no end that L/F in both TR and the books seem to have retconned the FWWM Jeffries scene from 1988 (as it appears in the edit of FWWM to this day) to 1989 (as it was originally scripted/shot before the scene was moved in editing, and as it appears in TMP). But an interesting possibility presents itself: given the strangeness that's going on throughout the series with seemingly intersecting/slightly-alternate timelines, what if the "alternate" 1989 take used in TMP was actually a bit of misinformation/false memory Jeffries used to trick the doppelgänger? Maybe the real Cooper remembers the "correct" FWWM version, and Jeffries can somehow tell that this is the doppelgänger because he remembers the other version that took place in 1989? After Mr. C references 1989, Jeffries immediately responds, smugly, "So you are Cooper," almost as if he's leading him on.
Jeffries says Cooper has already met Judy. Or the doppelgänger has. Is this referring to Sarah, or something else?
Some really fascinating thoughts here that are almost too complex/convoluted to even expand upon. All I can really add is something I'm sure we've already addressed in prior correspondence. I like your new thought on the "So you are Cooper," but not if it contradicts what I see as the central idea behind the line, which is arguably the most important in the series thus far. Primarily, I thought the line is meant to finally clue the viewer in that Mr. C is not simply the opposite of Cooper, nor separate from Cooper, but is the dark part of Cooper, and therefore is indeed Cooper himself, and that we have therefore been exploring different pieces of a man's psyche in terms of Dougie and Mr. C. Once Mr. C recalls a conversation he had with Jeffries back in FWWM, Jeffries then states that Mr. C is Cooper, since they share the same memories, even though Jeffries apparently thought that FWWM's Cooper was evil. He's now seeing/clarifying that, since Mr. C knows what Cooper knows, they're one and the same. Does that sound right, and how might that fit with your new observation? Also, for the record, tying into what I've just outlined, I assumed that Jeffries was saying that COOPER has already met Judy (as Sarah, I guess), which further makes sense if the idea is that Mr. C and Cooper are the same.
At the beginning of the Margaret scene, as the phone is ringing, she's staring down at her log and affectionately stroking it. That moment rips my fucking heart out every time, knowing the reality of Coulson's situation.
Blue Pine Mountain again gets name-checked as Judy's domain.
It was only on this most recent viewing that I put together some details from the map and things the Log Lady says and realized that the one under the moon on Blue Pine Mountain must be Judy since that is where the symbol is located on the map. All this time, I really wasn't sure to whom she was referring.
Part 18 preview: Interesting that this Part not only has Janey-E screaming as Cooper electrocutes himself and blacks the house out, but then also has the Part end on Ruby screaming, with the lights flashing and then going to black.
I've always found this fascinating. But within Part 15, without thinking ahead, I find the really interesting connection to be not only how there is screaming and lights going out, but how both Cooper and Ruby are crawling around on the floor in a similar fashion just prior to the screams and the lights. It's another moment where you feel connections that your brain is not capable of understanding (and which are enabling multiple paths of potential possibilities at once - is Ruby actually part of Cooper, or is she, like the other Roadhouse Randos, related to Audrey, or is the Roadhouse itself some sort of receptor?). Something is going very wrong, at any rate, in the mirroring of that final scene, with people crawling on the floor and screaming into darkness, that once again feels like a portentous culmination of all that we've just seen. It's the perfect end to an episode that, as you've said, really puts you through the wringer. It's also another perfect ending to an episode. I would say that the final scenes of Parts 11 thru 18 are all perfect and increasingly awesome.