Lost in the Movies: Deputy Chad Broxford (TWIN PEAKS Character Series #66)

Deputy Chad Broxford (TWIN PEAKS Character Series #66)

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. A new character study will appear every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday although patrons will have immediate access to each entry a month before it goes public. There will be spoilers.

A collection of every cruel, crude, and repulsive tendency, Chad exhibits the rot of modern Twin Peaks.

Sunday, September 25, 2016
When Sheriff Frank Truman enters his command center at the Twin Peaks station after a weekend fishing trip, Chad eagerly butts into the dispatcher's rundown of recent activity. He wants to make sure his boss knows that he booked the DUI, and when Frank asks where Deputy Hawk is, it's Chad who explains that he's in the conference room before Maggie can get another word in. Keen to be wherever the action is, Chad invites himself to the meeting between Frank and Hawk, slouching against the wall as the two discuss an old murder case and examine dusty evidence spread across the table. Chad clearly isn't welcome here, especially after Lucy the receptionist and Deputy Andy join them; he ridicules the local eccentric known as "the Log Lady" (who advised the department to re-open this case) and refuses to take multiple hints until Frank firmly tells him goodnight. On the way out, he sneers that he's going to "go have a word with my pinecone," one last dig at the beloved old woman. Instead, he heads to the Roadhouse in civilian clothes. Rather than tell the young punk Richard Horne that he can't smoke there, as the bartender pleads, Chad asks for a pack and receives a stash of hundred dollar bills where the cigarettes are supposed to be. Not only is Chad a jerk, he's clearly on the take.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Shuffling into the station restroom with a book and cup of coffee, all ready to settle in for the long haul, Chad is alarmed to discover Hawk taking apart one of the stall doors. He's sent away to the ladies' room, grumbling that he'll tell the sheriff. Later on, before he can get a chance, his boss is interrupted by Mrs. Truman on a tear. When the couple is out of earshot, he huffs, "I sure wouldn't take that shit off of her," and dismisses Maggie's pleas for pity. When she reminds Chad that the Trumans' son killed himself and the mother hasn't been the same since, Chad pretends to rub weepy eyes and whimpers with a scornful pout, "He couldn't take being a soldier!" Repulsed, his co-workers turn away. Even Chad's criminal colleagues treat him with contempt (which he's glad to reflect back at them). That afternoon Richard calls to demand that Chad intercept a letter Miriam sent to the sheriff about a crime she witnessed. Chad nonchalantly explains that this might be too difficult. It isn't; he's just happy to annoy the anxious, foul-mouthed young punk.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016
The next morning, Chad approaches Lucy's desk with false good cheer and friendliness. Lucy is immediately suspicious. Declaring what a beautiful day it is, the deputy strolls outside to greet the mailman, collect the letters, and not so subtly tuck one from Miriam behind his shirt; both the postman and Lucy are now watching him closely.

Thursday, September 29, 2016
Alone in the conference room with two microwave dinners, a soup, a mug, and a magazine, Chad contentedly slurps his lunch until the sheriff and several deputies interrupt to kick him out. Assuming the same passive-aggressive manner he does with everyone, Chad protests that they eat coffee and donuts there all the time and then very slowly gathers his goodies, forces Hawk to open the door for him, and loudly sighs as he makes his drawn-out exit.

Saturday, October 1, 2016
Once again intruding into the conference room, Chad is told by Frank that several of the cops are about to go on a day trip involving some old business. Before he can get any more answers, Chad is cuffed, disarmed, and held at gunpoint by Frank and Deputies Andy, Hawk, and Bobby. Astonished, protesting his innocence (they won't tell him why he's under arrest although they assert he knows), Chad is led down to the jail cell. There he spends the rest of the day and night accompanied by a grotesquely bleeding drunk who repeats everything he says and eventually three more prisoners: a mysterious, chittering woman with eyes sewn shut (Lucy and Andy deposit her down there upon Andy's return from the trip to the woods), local Great Northern security guard James Hurley, and James' British friend Freddie, who apparently just assaulted a bar patron with his mysteriously green-gloved fist. Kept awake by the cacophony of the drunk and the woman in particular, Chad tries to reach for his boot while the drunk appears to be sleeping but lies back down in disgust as soon as the noise picks up again. 

Sunday, October 2, 2016
Finally, as the woman becomes more agitated, James and Freddie are preoccupied with her behavior, and the drunk conks out again, Chad reaches into the heel of his boot to withdraw a trick fold-out key, slipping it into the lock and sneaking away amidst the distractions. Retrieving his gun, he returns to the cell and threatens Andy. Mocking the "great good cop"'s proficiency (as he did the night before while behind bars), he pulls closer and closer with his weapon drawn...until Freddie punches his cell door so hard that it swings open and smacks Chad in the face, knocking him down. Andy cuffs him to the door before hustling everyone else upstairs for some important event. The utterly defeated, unconscious Chad remains behind, a crumpled heap on the floor.

Characters Chad interacts with onscreen…

Frank Truman

Deputy Andy

Lucy Brennan

Deputy Hawk

Bobby Briggs

Richard Horne

Freddie Sykes (punched out by)

Musicians whose performance he is present for


Impressions of TWIN PEAKS through Chad
Chad's best and most ironic scene involves him extolling all of the conventional Twin Peaks values: enjoying the fresh air, connecting in a folksy manner with your fellow townspeople, even savoring the succulent taste of a morning donut. In fact, the deputy who's supposed to be serving the town spends every other scene demonstrating how antagonistic he is to its best qualities and in this moment he's only pretending otherwise in order to cover up a murder (both murder and cover-up are, fortunately, botched). The corrupt cop exists in the tradition of many prior Peaks baddies but he carves out a unique space by subverting law enforcement from within rather than opposing it from without - suggesting that a rot has set in since we last visited the community. Indeed, the figures he most resembles from the original cycle are the Deer Meadow policemen, especially the sarcastic, drug-dealing Deputy Cliff (in that sense, Bobby gets to participate in taking down two different devious deputies, albeit in very different fashion between 1989 and 2016). From his first scene, embedded in dialogue about drunk stops and drug overdoses, he emerges as a tumor manifesting the deeper cancer troubling Twin Peaks the town - as well as the more brooding 2017 version of Twin Peaks the show - although his cartoonish villainy also serves as comic relief from the more somber depictions of violence surrounding him. As he proceeds to sneer at traumatized veterans, collect cash from the loathsome Richard Horne, and even mock Twin Peaks' holiest of holies, the Log Lady, Chad becomes the embodiment of everything wrong with the current era. His punishment (and, admittedly, ours as viewers) is fitting: the relentless serenade of the bleeding drunk in a nearby jail cell followed by a quick knock-out punch from the "green-gloved freak" he ridiculed the night before.

Chad’s journey
We don't like Chad much on first meeting - he's pushy and boastful, trying to re-direct all attention to himself - but it takes a couple scenes before he really gets on our shit list. By the time he's revealed to be in cahoots with one of the few townspeople more despicable than himself, Chad has become a figure that viewers will love to hate. For much of his screentime, Chad doesn't have an arc so much as a consistent beeline to get under other characters' skin. He keeps needling away, scene after scene, episode after episode, until it's his turn to suffer. Chad's story neatly divides into two halves. In the first half, he's a sneaky obstructionist flying (he thinks) under the radar, irritating everyone yet resentful when they push back on him. In the second half, Chad's comeuppance is delivered not just via imprisonment but sonic bombardment, before he stumbles upon one last attempt at revenge. Chad certainly doesn't learn and grow onscreen; nor does his character worsen exactly - he's a bastard from start to finish. Seldom driving the plot himself, he's more acted upon than acting but he earns every bit of ill fortune he encounters.

Actor: John Pirruccello
Pirruccello hails from a family with deep Air Force roots; both grandfathers served in World War II and his father was killed in Vietnam (which means the birth year listed on several sites - 1979 - must be wildly inaccurate). In his twenties, the aspiring actor drove a cab in San Francisco while studying improv. He has been cast several times as cops or private eyes - not just as Chad but on Two and Half Men (among several guest appearances on that show), Mayans MC, Your Honor, the TV movie Phil Spector, and most prominently as Detective John Loach in two seasons of Barry. Other appearances include Nash Bridges, Criminal Minds, Enlightenment, Lie to Me, House of Lies, Little Fires Everywhere, She-Hulk, and as Larry's penny-pinching golf partner on Curb Your Enthusiasm. Although the bulk of his work has been on television, his film work spans from Edtv in the late nineties to Godzilla vs. Kong a couple years ago. Pirruccello was a huge David Lynch/Twin Peaks fan before entering the cast (he's since joined forces with Kimmy Robertson to record videos for fans), and has frequently discussed the experience of walking onto the set of a favorite show for the first time. Lynch's direction was simple: "You're an asshole." When the actor sought some empathy or nuance, Lynch countered, "No. You're an asshole." And Pirruccello took it from there. (series pictured: Barry, 2019)

Part 4 (Showtime title: "...brings back some memories.")

Part 5 (Showtime title: "Case files.")

Part 6 (Showtime title: "Don't die.")

Part 9 (Showtime title: "This is the chair.")

*Part 10 (Showtime title: "Laura is the one." - best episode)

Part 14 (Showtime title: "We are like the dreamer.")

Part 15 (Showtime title: "There's some fear in letting go.")

Part 16 (Showtime title: "No knock, no doorbell.")

Chad is onscreen for roughly seventeen minutes. He is in about eighteen scenes (although the last four are part of a long sequence intercut with simultaneous scenes) in eight episodes, taking place over a week. He's featured the most in part 17, when he breaks out of the jail cell. His primary location is the sheriff's station. He shares the most screentime with the bleeding drunk cellmate among all characters, and with Frank among the major characters. He is never one of the top ten characters.

Best Scene
Part 10: In a complete (yet ultimately consistent) change of character, Chad plays nice in order to trick Lucy and protect a would-be murderer from his victim's letter.

Best Line
“Pinocchio's friend!”

Additional Observations

• The letter scene is a little confusing; as we'll discuss further in Richard's entry, the timeline of everyone's actions doesn't quite line up. Dramatically, it would make the most sense for Chad to intercept Miriam's letter shortly after Richard tries to kill her. That way, no one knows yet that she's survived and Richard can get the call and proceed to his grandmother's within a few hours - heading out of town on the heels of his crimes rather than sticking around an extra day. Indeed, this was probably how the story thread was conceived. Unfortunately for continuity's sake, Miriam tells Richard that she mailed the letter the same day that Richard storms her house - meaning it wouldn't arrive until the next morning. Hence I've placed the call to Chad and the interception of the letter on two different days.

• One other detail involving the letter is a - supposedly - confirmed mistake; although we're told that her name is Miriam Sullivan in other scenes, the name on the letter reads "Miriam Hodges." According to a vaguely sourced tweet at the time, this was a prop department error; nonetheless, of course, theories abound about alternate universes and doppelgangers. I prefer a more mundane but amusing notion: maybe the bumbling Chad pulled the wrong Miriam's letter from the batch, accidentally handing the incriminating missive over to Lucy and exposing Richard after all.

• Why was Chad arrested? Acceptance of bribes? Involvement in the drug trade? Tampering with the mail? Accomplice to homicide? Take your pick; whatever the charge, within twenty-four hours they'll be able to add menacing a police officer to the list.

• One of my favorite fan theories about Chad involves the identity of the bleeding drunk, as previously discussed in my round-up of minor characters. I'm not sure which podcast put this forward first (I think it was either Bickering PeaksDiane..., The Twin Peaks S3 Podcast, or The Gifted and the Damned), but it's been suggested that maybe only Chad can see and hear this figure, a spectral presence projected from his own state of being: the physical embodiment of Chad's own extreme negativity. (The podcast in question referenced David Lynch's description of this sort of attitude as a "suffocating rubber clown suit.") Anyway, that supernatural explanation would certainly make more sense than leaving someone in a jail cell overnight in that condition!

Next (active on Monday, March 8 at 8am): Ernie Niles

To immediately read a month of upcoming entries, updated weekly to stay a month ahead...

(at the time of publication, this includes full entries on new or revised characters among #65 - 42)

No comments:

Search This Blog