Lost in the Movies: Emory Battis (TWIN PEAKS Character Series #81)

Emory Battis (TWIN PEAKS Character Series #81)

The TWIN PEAKS Character Series surveys one hundred ten characters from the series Twin Peaks (1990-91 on ABC and 2017 on Showtime as The Return), the film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992), and The Missing Pieces (2014), a collection of deleted scenes from that film. The series will be rebooted in 2023 to reflect the third season (and patrons will have immediate access to each entry a month before it goes public), but this entry will remain intact. There will be spoilers.

As cowardly as he is sleazy, Emory desperately tries to survive despite choosing very dangerous company.

Wednesday, March 1, 1989
Emory Battis, manager of Horne's Department Store, cheerfully greets the owner's daughter, Audrey Horne. Remembering her as a little girl who visited the store, he welcomes the teenager to her first job with the offer of a part-time slot in gift-wrapping. Audrey has other ideas. Within minutes she's gripping Emory's tie close to his throat, threatening to accuse him of sexual harassment if he doesn't place her at the perfume counter. Emory acquiesces, disgusted but ultimately not particularly shocked by a Horne's ability to manipulate him.

Thursday, March 2, 1989
While Audrey deals with a surly customer at the perfume counter, Emory asks to speak with her stylish young co-worker Jenny. Inside his office, Emory gives Jenny a glass unicorn - "an ancient symbol of purity" - and then surreptitiously offers her the role of "hospitality girl" at One Eyed Jack's, providing contact information for the bordello's madam, Black Rose (aka Blackie).

Saturday, March 4, 1989
It's the weekend, and Emory is ready to relax across the Canadian border. Visiting One Eye Jack's, he's up to his usual erotic routine: blindfolded, tied with his hands and feet in the air, toes painted red, a girl in a cowboy outfit vacuuming nearby, while another girl approaches with a bucket full of ice. "Frosty?" he asks, when the vaccuum stops. "My little snowman...I feel a cold front moving in!" Instead a cord is wrapped around his neck as his blindfold is yanked off - to reveal Audrey wearing a black dress and a sneer. As he chokes, she demands information, forcing him to confess that her father owns One Eyed Jack's. She also asks him about the recently murdered Laura Palmer, and he admits she came up there for a weekend and slept with Audrey's dad, but was soon fired for drug use. He then compares Laura's willfulness to Audrey's. That night Emory gets his revenge, informing Blackie of Audrey's identity. Blackie hangs up Audrey's phone in the middle of a tearful conversation, and as Emory hovers smugly behind her, the madam tells the owner's daughter that she's about to find out what trouble really is.

Sunday, March 5, 1989
Now it's Audrey's turn to be tied up...and drugged up too, while Emory videotapes her. Blackie plans to ransom the girl but Emory is terrified of possible reprisals from Ben. Ignoring his demand that they "get rid of her," Blackie easily dominates the nebbishy underling. Later that day, she shows him a surveillance video of a man in a tuxedo visiting the casino, and Emory recognizes FBI Agent Dale Cooper. One shock follows another when Blackie introduces Emory to Jean Renault, a Canadian crime boss who plans to kill Cooper in the process of acquiring Ben's ransom. Jean, Blackie, and Blackie's sister Nancy mock the flustered Emory, who is clearly in way over his head.

Monday, March 6, 1989
Feeling a bit cockier now, Emory drags the woozy Audrey to a meeting with Jean. She practically collapses into her seat, out of her mind on heroin but conscious enough to inform Jean that Emory hit her. Sensing that Jean disapproves of this abuse, Emory spouts conciliatory gibberish, not noticing until it's too late that Jean is holding a pistol. By the time his body and chair hit the floor, Emory is already dead. The sprawled, bloody corpse lies unattended as Audrey sobs and Jean comforts her.

Characters Emory interacts with onscreen…

Audrey Horne

Blackie O'Reilly

Jean Renault (his killer)

Nancy O'Reilly

and Laura Palmer is mentioned
*retroactively added in March 2024

Impressions of TWIN PEAKS through Emory
Emory is a very typical Twin Peaks resident: one thing on the surface, another underneath. The professional veneer cloaks his involvement with sexual exploitation and criminal conspiracy. It's also clear his interest in One Eyed Jack's isn't purely a business matter: in a narrative full of offbeat sexuality, few characters' (very Lynchian) kinks are explored as fully as Emory's. The cowardly henchman is a classic type in crime fiction, and Emory crosses this figure with its close cousin, the sniveling middle manager, again expressing the duality of Twin Peaks even in its fidelity to genre conventions. How appropriate that his two locations represent two extremes of the series: an upscale downtown department store with a ritzy perfume counter, and a plush backwood whorehouse. Emory reveals these locales as different but connected corners in Ben Horne's vast web.

Emory’s journey
Emory seems disingenuous from our first encounter and it doesn't take long to discover his dirty secret. From there he only becomes more cowardly and unsavory. It's amazing to consider how much happens in less than a week of Emory's life, dragging him down to his death with Audrey in tow (sometimes she's the one doing the dragging). On a Wednesday, he looks like a respectable department store manager interviewing the well-dressed boss' daughter for an afterschool job; by the following Monday he's administering heroin and slapping her around in a Canadian brothel, before being shot dead for his rough treatment. Of course, while Emory likes to fret and feel sorry for himself, his predicament is of his own making nearly every step of the way, rooted in years of corrupt, predatory behavior. This is one of many Twin Peaks characters whose onscreen evolution results from revelation rather than inner change. His journey is also something of a roller coaster...or perhaps the best analogy is a tug-of-war between him and Audrey. In the end, she wins the battle without even trying; as both he and she acknowledge, she always gets her way.

Actor: Don Amendolia
Amendolia, like so many other actors on the show, was friends with the Frosts in Minneapolis before he came to Hollywood. He already had a busy career in the eighties and nineties, mostly in television (including "The Rye" episode of Seinfeld) although he branched out into feature films by the mid-nineties. He played a priest in two back-to-back projects (A Walk in the Clouds and My Brother's Keeper) as well as appearing in Wayne's World, Fearless, Ed Wood, and Boogie Nights. One of his most interesting roles is in the short film 12:01 PM, in which he plays a scientist, the only man who can explain to the protagonist why he's repeating the same hour of the same day in an endless loop. The film was remade as a TV movie in 1993, but by then a major theatrical release had already stolen its thunder: Groundhog Day uses a very similar premise (repeating a day instead of an hour), albeit with different themes and structure. The filmmakers and author of the 1973 short story attempted to sue the producers before giving up. (None of this has anything to do with Amendolia, of course, but this series is all about interesting anecdotes, so there you go.) Anyway...the actor's screen work has slowed in recent years, as theater consumed more of his time. In 2009, he began playing the Wizard of Oz in the national touring production of Wicked, which he discusses (along with his work in Twin Peaks of course) in an interview with Brad Dukes. (film pictured: 12:01 PM, 1990)

Episode 5 (German title: "Cooper's Deams")

Episode 6 (German title: "Realization Time")

*Episode 9 (German title: "Coma")

Episode 10 (German title: "The Man Behind Glass")

Episode 11 (German title: "Laura's Secret Diary")

Emory is written individually by Mark Frost, Harley Peyton, and Robert Engels - his final appearance is credited to all three, plus Jerry Stahl. He is directed by Lesli Linka Glatter twice, and once each by Caleb Deschanel, David Lynch, and Todd Holland.

Emory is onscreen for roughly eleven minutes. He is in seven scenes in five episodes, taking place within a week. He's featured the most in episode 9, when Audrey catches him in One Eyed Jack's (his primary location). He shares the most screentime with Audrey.

Best Scene
Episode 9: Audrey takes Emory's fetish play into an unexpectedly sadistic direction, finding out things she does but also doesn't want to know.

Best Line
“Laura always got her way...understand? Just like you.”

Additional Observations

• As always, Jennifer Lynch's The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer provides keen, wry insight into a member of the ensemble through Laura's eyes. The narrator writes, "Mr. Battis, the store's manager, reminds me of a large fruit - something slowly rotting .... What is he doing here and when will he leave? Poor guy." That note of pity doesn't last very long, as the entry details all of Emory's obnoxious qualities, complaining that he hovers around the perfume counter too much. "He's a constant pest," she writes, "who won't allow me a bullet blast or a pat on Ronnette's ass ... somewhat rotund and older, less distinguished than I had imagined and far less interesting to be around. Either way, I have to tell him sometime quite soon that he's more annoying to everyone down here than he is helpful, and that I personally am tired of pretending to smile at his ridiculous face and boring sense of humor." Later she meets with him in his office, observes to herself that he likes her, and accepts his invitation to One Eyed Jack's. The encounter drives her back to cocaine after a stint with sobriety.

• What is Jean talking about when he asks Emory to contact Ben and get Cooper to show up? Jean handles this by himself in the next episode (before casually killing Emory, whom he obviously has no further need for). Perhaps Jean and Blackie are stringing Emory along, making him think they needed him until they figured out the best time to get rid of him. Regardless, once he informs Blackie of Audrey's presence, and identifies the man in the tuxedo as Cooper, Emory's utility has ended. From that point on, he's more of a burden to the conspirators than an asset.

• Emory is mentioned again in episode 17, when FBI Agent Roger Hardy and Mountie Preston King confront Cooper with photos of dead bodies from One Eyed Jack's. Humorously, Emory's picture shows him sprawled out on the floor, just as we left him in episode 11 (a full day earlier than Cooper's raid), suggesting that Jean never saw fit to move, let alone bury, the body! However, this is obviously just a continuity oversight since there's no body in that room the day of the raid.

• Update 2023: This entry was written in 2017, before the third season, and did not need to be revised as Emory did not re-appear. Only the description/intro at the top and the ranking were updated. In the original character series, Emory was ranked #53, between Sternwood and Betty.

SHOWTIME: No, Amendolia is not on the cast list for 2017. Emory is dead, and it looks like he'll stay that way. I do wonder about the fate of the Horne's Department Store/One Eyed Jack's trafficking ring that Audrey exposes, especially since the police seem so unconcerned with breaking it up - or even charging Ben - but I'll leave that investigation for Ben's entry.

Next (active on Wednesday, February 1, 2023 at 8am): FBI Agent Phillip Jeffries
Previous: Judge Sternwood

To read advance entries every week...

(When the series resumes publicly, all new or revised entries will be published at least a month in advance for patrons.)

No comments:

Search This Blog