Six episodes into Twin Peaks: The Return, my husband Aaron lost his patience with the show. "This is ludicrous!" he yelled at the screen.
At first, I laughed it off as an amusing aberration. In the 17 years I've known him, Aaron's always been a stoic viewer—unless he's sighing in exasperation at children who have been placed in convoluted peril or giggling uncontrollably at someone taking a slapstick shot to the crotch. To see him worked up about anything—let alone something Twin Peaks–related, when he's calmly accepted everything else about the series for the past 25 years—was funny. But he was back at it again the next week, proclaiming the proceedings "unbelievable," "unsettling," and "genuinely distressing."
It's not that Aaron's incapable of accepting the show's more abstract, surrealist, and purely David Lynch-ian moments. He was perfectly happy to watch a couple literally torn apart by something billed as "The Experiment" in the premiere, and he made it through the already infamous and beloved Part 8 without complaint or consternation. But the Dougie Jones situation—or, more accurately, the ongoing Dale Cooper–as–Dougie Jones situation—is just too much for him to bear, and it's not even for the reasons that other people are exasperated by it.
The fact that the once eminently capable Special Agent Cooper is still lurching around Nevada, struggling to remember how to use elevators and bathrooms after being trapped in the Black Lodge for a quarter of a century, might slightly annoy Aaron. But Agent Cooper's doing all of this while his hapless non-evil döppelganger was unceremoniously forced to trade places with him and turned into a small golden ball, and no one—not even Dougie's wife, Janey-E—seems to have noticed the difference. This has sent Aaron spiraling into despair.
"I sincerely hope, if I were transmogrified into a different person," he exclaimed in all-consuming earnestness, "that you would notice."
I suppose that Lynch's uncanny ability to tap into people's nightmares eventually comes for all of us. What gets under my skin is the pristine portraits of a murdered teenager, and cars careening down dimly lit back roads in the middle of the night. For Aaron, it's the idea of being forgotten—or perhaps not truly being understood at all.
I'd like to believe that I'd notice if the person that I love and trust above all others—not to mention the person I've shared a one-bedroom home office with for a large chunk of my adult life—suddenly turned into a different person. I feel confident that he'd be able to return the favor, given that he can pinpoint the exact moment at a party when I've had too much alcohol or too many interactions with other people and then skillfully extract me from the situation before anything untoward happens. But his complete despair over Dougie has me questioning myself.
"I hope that I'd notice if, say, Aaron started wearing a tie on his head," I told a friend the other day, because I've reached the stage where I am discussing this with friends like it's a rational concern.
"You would," he assured me. "You would think he was having a stroke."
"But what about the less obvious moments?" I wondered. What about the tiny details that make a person who they are? And how well can you really know someone, anyway?
My friend suggested that we establish a safe word and, because I've somehow become trapped in an marital existential crises thanks to Twin Peaks, I thought that this was the best, most logical advice I'd ever head. I can't promise that I'll notice every single thing that makes Aaron tick, but I can take precautions like this to make sure he's still him. I can take him to the hospital if he's wearing a tie on his head. And I can promise to take better notice of all of the little things that make him the person he is—and the person I would really hate to lose to a transmogrification situation.
Unless, of course, this uncharacteristic concern over Dougie's plight is actually a sign that something is already off. In which case, I would like to apologize to my real husband, who is currently a tiny golden ball in some other realm.
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