Yep, we’re finishing with the prequel movie. All of our favorite actors are back, except Lara Flynn Boyle. The part of Donna is being played by Moira Kelly, who has done a bunch of stuff but nothing I can place her from. Not all of our favorite characters are back, but there’s limited time.
We start out with the murder of Teresa Banks. Oh, okay. That’s the prequel story. I can dig. We know that she was killed by Bob, had a letter under her fingernail, and the murder wasn’t solved until Laura’s was. But the rest of it is pretty open, so we’ve got someplace to go. For some reason, though, Agent Cooper isn’t being assigned to the case. Instead it’s some dude named Chet and Jack Bauer. They have to get pulled off of arresting a couple of scantily-dressed women in front of a school bus of screaming children. Gordon, as usual, gives the assignment via interpretive dance. Wait, what? That’s not normal for him. Or anyone. I get the people are quirky, but usually what they do at least makes sense via the rules they have made up to live their lives. This doesn’t make sense via any rules of anyone, ever. Chet and Jack have to spend their entire trip breaking down every tiny detail of the interpretive dance to understand case points that are actually really important to know. “A tailored dress is our code for drugs.” Saying the word “drugs” is much faster and cheaper.
So the two agents we don’t care about arrive at the Sheriff’s station we don’t care about and are laughed at until they respond with physical violence. Which used to be a thing, on TV. The hero would be goaded until he finally resorted to using his hands and the audience would cheer. TV now doesn’t do that. Standards and Practices have a firm grip on assault laws and, along with the network, will generally force shows to not make good guys do that kind of bad thing. (Or as Laurie says [writes] on The Leftovers, “violence is weak.”) Then Chet does the thing where he says, “we’re the feds, so we’re taking this case because we say we can.” Which is not actually how it works at all. The FBI and the police have separate responsibilities. There’s no reason to think Teresa’s killer crossed state lines, or she was kidnapped, or the murder was committed by a mailman or other federal employee. So when the Sheriff laughs and tells them to get out, he’s not actually that much in the wrong.
There’s lots and lots of shots of Teresa’s body. Especially the shot of Jack moving her head back and forth must have taken a lot of work on the part of the poor actress. It’s natural for our eyes to track when we move our heads, but she couldn’t do that. Anyway, I think the point is that this is going to be a difficult movie to watch. Which people needed to be warned of. I watched the documentary on the DVD and the actors were commenting that it was much more difficult to watch this than the series. Which, I think people had forgotten about watching Leland kill Maddie and stuff like that. Their memories had been tempered with watching three teenagers sitting around singing a song and Nadine pretending to be 18. Some complained that the small town charm was gone, apparently forgetting about all the cocaine and brothels and domestic violence that was in the series. I’d have liked for at least some of this series to be set in the winter. The real culture of a town like this is how it deals with winter. Anyway, Teresa wore a ring, but it’s not on her body. That will be important later.
Chet and Jack go to the diner where Teresa worked and everyone is surly. Then they go to the trailer park where she lived and the manager is surly, although to be fair, it’s before 9am. So they all have some coffee and it is terrible. Or they lack Cooper’s flair for loving coffee, no matter what. Where’s Cooper, again? Jack is taking Teresa’s body to Portland and Chet goes back to the trailer park. Then they do that Without A Trace thing where he walks off into nothing.
It’s Agent Cooper! Hurray! He’s worried about a dream he had. Then there’s a weird thing where he stands in front of camera in the hall, walks into the security room to see if he can see himself, and back and forth like that for a bit until David Bowie walks in (no, seriously) and his image stays in place because David Bowie is MAGIC and this is not an unknown thing. Then backwards talking and the Man from Another Place and it’s very unclear how much is the dream he’s talking about and how much is a new dream or hallucination. Also, in the documentary, it turns out Michael J. Anderson already knew how to talk backwards before he was cast because that was his and his friend’s idea of fun in high school. I can respect that.
Cooper goes to investigate Chet’s disappearance, but he really doesn’t have the joie de vive we’ve seen him with before. He knows the killer will strike again, and gives some details about Laura Palmer he’s supposedly getting from dreams. And here I was thinking he was just good at his job. Pffft.
And now we move to a year later with Laura Palmer. So from the Teresa Banks story we got… nothing. No insight, no fascinating new view of the story, nothing. Here’s what we already knew about Laura: she was doing and dealing cocaine, she was dating Bobby and Emo-Boy, she ran the town Meals on Wheels program, she was tutoring (we won’t see that part), and she was tormented by Bob the Spirit who lives in her father but wants to live in her. The rest of this will tell us all of that again, plus several gratuitous boob shots. There’s the sense that she’s dating Bobby because he gets her the cocaine, but not much of a sense that she’s doing the cocaine because her father’s torturing her.
Laura and Donna hang out, but it’s one of those friendships where one person is clearly the alpha. Here’s a clue which: she was not recast for this movie. Laura goes home to re-read her diary, but several pages have been ripped out, which means someone else found it. So she goes running straight to the vampire, who tries to tell her it’s her imaginary friend tormenting her. She insists that Bob has been raping her since she was 12, in that way you admit things you didn’t intend to just because you need the person you’re talking to to be as shocked as you are. She tells him to keep the diary and he’ll be safe. Well, from Bob, sure. But not from your best friend. Sorry, kiddo. Then she makes out with him, because that’s the only way she knows to interact with the world.
Laura’s putting together the Meals on Wheels stuff, and Norma tells Shelly to help her. Shelly’s a total bitch about it, which will make sense after Laura starts hallucinating the old woman and little boy, who give her a very creepy painting to put in her room. Laura promptly freaks out and runs off. Does Shelly have to do it now? Laura’s the one who started this program to begin with. My grandmother gets Meals on Wheels. She depends on it, not because she can’t afford food but because if they don’t come she’ll forget to eat. So maybe Shelly had reason to bitch, is what I’m saying, because you can’t say you’re going to do Meals on Wheels and then just not do it.
Laura sees Bob in her room, looking for her diary, and flips out. She hides outside under some bushes and watches the front door, and it’s not until she sees her father leaving that she realizes he’s Bob’s host. Not sure at all how she was able to make this connection now and never in the past 5 years, but that’s what happens. So Laura goes to cry at Donna and we understand why it is that Donna would be so attracted to an Emo-Boy. When Laura finally comes home, her father’s lying in wait for her and does a whole creepy/abusive “wash your hands before you eat” routine that even Sarah can’t ignore, although she tries her damndest.
Getting ready for bed, Leland has a rare moment of lucidity, which seems to shock and horrify Laura almost as much as the creepy abuse. Laura dreams about walking into her new painting, which is of course a doorway into the Black Lodge. Actually, I feel like maybe the series should have covered that? Anyway, Agent Cooper is there and he tells Laura not to take Teresa’s ring. Annie appears as a dead body and tells Laura to write clues about Cooper being trapped in the Black Lodge in her diary, although of course we know Laura didn’t. I think they were still trying for a season 3. I saw some fans of the show when it aired who were pissed at the ending because they thought David Lynch made it a cliffhanger as a “fuck you” to the people who were still watching. For the record, I think it was a sincere attempt to get a third season order. I’m not entirely convinced that’s not what Deadwood was all about.
Leo and Shelly’s house is not yet in the constant state of mid-renovation like we’re used to seeing it, but Leo is just as brain-damaged. Bobby calls around looking for cocaine, which is how we transition away from Leo and Shelly so I guess we were just checking in with them. Anyway, Jacques is hooking Bobby up.
Donna stops in to check on Laura, who’s being all mysterious and alpha and totally unimpressed with the friend who is trying desperately to hang onto her (despite wearing ankle socks with a skirt. Ankle socks with a skirt, you guys). Laura goes to the bar, where she runs into Log Lady, who tries to be all premonitory even though we know this badness has been going on for five years already. The weird band from the series is there, which means they moved up in the world by the time we first saw them, so that’s nice. I don’t think I’ve mentioned them before because musical acts being weird has always been de rigeur and the point is Laura’s there to cry and hook up with a certain type of man who is turned on by crying 17-year-olds. Donna follows Laura and tries to save her from herself, and failing at that, to at least share in the misery and prostitute herself too. Laura tries to call Donna’s bluff, which means going to another club with strobe lights where all the women wear only underwear or are completely topless (or naked and shaved) and all the men are fully clothed because it’s less about what’s sexy than what’ll get past the censors, and the censors are seriously perverted. (Have you seen This Film is Not Yet Rated? Highly recommended if you want the film industry to be your career or serious hobby.) Anyway, everyone takes drugs and the girls strip because we’re not supposed to feel weird about seeing teenager’s breasts, and Donna puts on Laura’s sweater which causes Laura to freak about because wearing her clothes will make Donna act damaged like her. Which I think is supposed to be explaining the whole thing with the sunglasses in the series, but I still like my interpretation that Donna is acting how she thinks Laura would and not that that’s actually how Laura would act.
The next morning, Donna is trying to piece together what happened but Laura just tells her “life is full of mysteries,” like ASSURE YOUR BEST FRIEND SHE WASN’T RAPED. Donna remembers enough to ask Laura why she does all the prostitutin’, which is Leland’s cue to enter and tell Laura they have to leave. While they’re driving somewhere, one-armed Mike follows them in a camper and yells a bunch of nonsense while Leland revs the engine. He starts screaming in faux concern for Laura, but she is way too freaked out to put up with BS and throws it right back at him. Of course, this is the perfect time for him to remember Teresa Banks and getting ready to kill her and her friends until he realized her friends included Laura. Then the kid with the mask shows up and even Leland is like, “this is not relevant.” Laura decides this is the moment to jut out her jaw and confront Leland about seeing him at the house when he/Bob was looking for her diary.
Getting ready for bed, Laura realizes that one-armed Mike was waving around Teresa’s ring, and then some lights shine on the corner of the room while she shakes with rage. She’s spent most of this movie shaking with rage. I think we understood from the series that she had some rage issues. Well-deserved ones, yes, but the point is this is not new information.
Laura and Bobby go to pick up their coke but decide to get totally plastered for the occasion, as you do. Fortunately, their delivery man has really terrible coordination, so when he decides to shoot them, he fumbles for like five minutes trying to get the gun out of his pocket, which is plenty of time for Bobby to sober up and blow the guy’s brains out. Laura does not sober up for such inconsequential things as somebody else’s death, so instead she plants the idea in Bobby’s paranoid brain that the dead guy looks a lot like Snake/Mike. There will be no consequences for anything that happens in this scene.
Emo-Boy goes to pick up Laura on his motorcycle, but she does that thing where she doesn’t talk so he can fill in both parts of the conversation however his emo-ness desires. Laura’s grounded or something, but fortunately she now has a ton of cocaine to keep her company. Leland clearly drugs Sarah (ladies, if your husband INSISTS that you finish your glass of milk, it can only be part of his ritual for raping your daughter) and then Laura just goes ahead and gets ready for Bob, because there’s nothing she can do to stop it so she might as well try to enjoy it. It is exactly as dark as it sounds. But wait! It gets darker! Because Laura starts asking Bob who he is, so she finally sees that it really is her dad fucking her at that very moment, and Ray Wise’s face is especially creepy while Laura’s pushing his cheeks back.
Laura is particularly standoffish with Leland the next morning, but he has no idea why because he’s not entirely aware of what Bob does. Laura can’t even pretend to pay attention in class, but also can’t leave at the end of the day and this might explain why everyone knew she was going to die. Laura makes out with Bobby so he’ll give her some drugs, but won’t sleep with him because… well, I’d say her reasons are understandable, except her reasons for ever saying yes are not understandable, but there you go. Laura goes home to get ready for a night at the cabin in the woods, but agrees to meet Emo-Boy because a ride on a motorcycle is exactly what her vagina needs right now. And then the guardian angel disappears from a painting in her room because of symbolism. Laura smacks Emo-Boy, which makes him smile because “you always hurt the ones you love,” and there’s his whole character right there, isn’t it? Laura realizes that Bob might start lashing out at people she likes, and even Bobby isn’t exactly as neutral as you’d assume from a conversation with him. She’s also clearly hallucinating things that we can’t see, and then she gives Emo-Boy the tears that sustain him and jumps off his motorcycle at an intersection, the way we know happened from the series, except she screams sweet nothings in his ear before she goes. Confused, he is forced to wait for the light to turn red so that he can run it… on an open road, in the middle of the night, with no one else around. Yep, he’s a bad boy, that one.
Laura and Ronette go the cabin with Jacques and Leo, and Jacques ties Laura up even though she begs him not to, but the bird doesn’t say her name, and Leland kicks Jacques a bunch when he goes outside, which is all stuff we know. Leo refuses to untie Laura on his way out, so she is all trussed and ready for Leland when he kidnaps the girls. One-armed Mike gets to the cabin a bit late, but it’s not entirely clear if he wanted to stop them or, per his screaming at the car earlier, he wanted in. Both girls have way more lipstick smeared on their faces than would have been on their lips. There’s an interesting thing where Bob says he thought Laura thought it was Leland raping her and had no idea she could see Bob, much less that she couldn’t see Leland. Bob beats up Ronette and tosses her out of the train car practically on top of one-armed Mike, who just ignores her. Seriously, he just leaves her there, with no reason to think that she’s safe. He literally steps over her body. Then Leland drops Laura’s body in the river and goes to the Black Lodge to… deliver Laura’s soul? Gloat over one-armed Mike and the man in red that they (he? they’re symbolically the same character, right?) couldn’t stop him? Or apparently, even though they didn’t take part in the murder they still get a spiritual price, and he has to pay that? It’s symbolized by corn and a monkey with a night camera. David Lynch!
And thus endeth the life of Laura Palmer, the girl who had everything, including great pain and sorrow.