GLIMPSES OF THE MYSTERY
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In screenwriting lingo, when a story begins and ends with a framing treatment of roughly the same theme or insight, it's called "bookending." The idea is that if you sound the same note on the outset and at the conclusion of the story, the viewer will take the interpretive cue that the narrative--however convoluted--has brought one "full circle" and will thus be able retrospectively to reconstruct a certain continuity throughout the drama.
Once a fairly common framing tool, bookending has largely fallen out of favor. As screenwriting conventions have evolved over the past several decades, and storytelling on screen and elsewhere has become decidedly less linear, many writers have come to think of bookending as a cheap ploy--something that writers resort to when they haven't done a sound enough job of constructing the narrative to enable readers to put the pieces together themselves. Bookending, or so the critique goes, is lazy writing for lazy viewers. Whereas ideally writers construct a careful, subtle, challenging, but ultimately continuous narrative that repays close attention and active interpretation from the viewer (leaving plenty of underdetermination and ambiguity for the active viewer imaginatively to bask in as she ranges over possible readings of the story before her), bookending fails to challenge writers or viewers to uphold their ends of the bargain--the writers simply tell the reader what the story is "about" (at the beginning to set the stage, and at the end to drive the point home) and readers passively receive the information.
Leave it to Lynch and Frost to use an almost imperceptibly subtle form of bookending--a framing tool that is often used as a lazy means of orienting readers in a loose-jointed, poorly-constructed plot--as an ingenious way of disorienting readers in one of the tightest, most fastidiously-constructed plots ever to appear on television.
The bookends, in this case, are Jerry Horne and Bing, and the theme that their characters foreground at the beginning and the bitter end of the episode is personal dislocation: "I don't know where I am!". In Jerry's case, the conveyance of the theme couldn't be more straightforward: he veritably screams it into the phone in a scene that seems otherwise to be entirely gratuitous.
Bing's role as a bookend is decidedly more subtle--so subtle, in fact, that most viewers will not have experienced him as a bookend at all. To see that his character's appearance is functioning as a bookend here, one must do three things that take her outside the usual parameters of the narrative itself: (1) she must consult the credits for information on who is playing the character "Bing" (Riley Lynch, David Lynch's son); (2) she must turn on closed-captioning to clear up confusion about what Bing actually says in the scene ("Anyone seen Bing?"); and (3) she must watch through to the bitter end of the credits, literally until the last second before the Lynch/Frost Productions frame, in order to appreciate the full significance of the scene. Why must she do these things?
She must do (1) to learn who "Bing" is, since that character has not been identified or addressed as such on screen by any other character, appearing only twice so far in very minor roles--once as the guitarist in "Trouble" performing "Snake Eyes" in the Roadhouse in Part Five (the scene in which we first meet Richard Horne) and once as the young man who bursts into the R&R Diner and exclaims, almost unintelligibly, "Anyone seen Bing?" (as depicted in the photo above). The exclamation is so garbled that in early online discussions of this odd scene, people were rendering the line as "Anyone seen Billy?" and wondering about who Billy was and the significance of his having gone missing. With some help from (2) closed captioning, however, we know that what he actually said is "Anyone seen Bing?". And if we watch until the (3) bitter end of the credits, we see that the self-same character--Bing, again--returns to the diner, seemingly in the company of a young woman, standing right in front of the register (as depicted in the photo below) at 57:57--after all the credits have rolled literally one second before the Frost/Lynch Productions frame. The musical cue that leads up to Bing's reemergence--a foreboding drone deeply at odds with "Sleep Walk," the song that has been playing throughout the credits--makes the significance of the moment unmistakable.
With these extra-narratival pieces of information in place, we can now juxtapose the experiences of the average viewer (who is not in possession of this extra-narratival information) with that of the viewer who has this information. The average viewer sees a young man she is not likely to recognize in the moment as Bing (the guitarist from Trouble) burst into the R&R looking for Bing. Her assumption will be that Billy (or Bing or whatever that garbled name was) has gone missing and that this man is a friend of his on a frantic search for him--it's weird, given that there is no precedent for it and it doesn't seem to connect to any previous scenes, but it doesn't seem particularly significant (at most, perhaps, it's a signal of a new plot development, as Joanna Robinson indicates in a recent Vanity Fair Article). But for the viewer who is possessed of this extra-narratival information, the scene is well beyond weird into utterly baffling territory: Bing himself enters the R&R, causes a huge commotion looking for himself (?!), leaves in a panic, and then reappears minutes later, calm and collected, perhaps with a significant other, and no one seems to bat an eye. The scene is all the more strange given the odd edits that shuffle customers around (though those could just be depicting the passage of time).
But now consider this bizarre scene in the broader context of Jerry Horne's dislocation in the first scene. "I don't know where I am!", after all, is an apt description of Bing's performance at the R&R too: "Hi, I'm Bing! I'm looking for myself. Has anyone here seen me? I'm in a panic to find myself. Oh, and I'll be right back in a minute acting as though nothing happened." Bing is the second bookend in an episode in which the guiding theme of the series--derangement, dislocation, not knowing where we are--is reaching a fever pitch. As the audience, we are right there with Jerry Horne, Bing, and Cooper, not knowing where we are in a narrative that simply refuses to make us feel at home. What we have here, it would seem, is yet another case of doubling, in which the characters and the viewers are simultaneously experiencing time-out-of-joint. In this particular case, fascinatingly, the viewer's ability to orient herself literally requires her derangement--that is, she must go beyond the range of the narrative that is absorbing her and take stock of extra-narratival information that sheds light on the story unfolding before her. She must rouse herself from the "Sleep Walk" and reemerge awake.