Lost in the Movies: Janey-E Jones (TWIN PEAKS Character Series #35)

Janey-E Jones (TWIN PEAKS Character Series #35)

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 through mid-August before pausing again, although patrons will have immediate access to each entry a month before it goes public. There will be spoilers.

Used to carrying the load for her family, Janey-E is tough on her husband until she slowly realizes that his presence now offers security and, more importantly, love.

Sunday, September 25, 2016
Late at night, Janey-E Jones opens the red door to her home in a Las Vegas suburban neighborhood. Her husband is standing immobile across the front lawn, a limousine behind him and a large burlap sack in his arms. "Is that you?" she shouts (he's slimmed down remarkably during a few days of absence, trimmed his hair, and is wearing a sharp black suit...but this does indeed appear to be Douglas Jones). Striding across the grass to slap him in the face and tug him inside as the limo driver slinks away, she berates him for missing their son's birthday party and not contacting them during his disappearance. He's just come from the Silver Mustang Casino, evidence that he's up to his old gambling, boozing ways and he's even less responsive than usual (mostly just repeating the occasional word while staring off into space as she yells at him). Then a discovery stops Janey-E short: inside that sack are bundles of crisp cash, thousands upon thousands of dollars that he apparently won at slot machines. Describing the day as simultaneously "wonderful" and "horrible" she brings Dougie a slice of young Sonny Jim's birthday cake and thanks him. Her relief is palpable.

Monday, September 26, 2016
Janey-E's frustration, however, has not exactly dissipated. Dougie is fairly helpless the following morning; she has to guide him to the toilet when he needs to pee and she's forced to dress him in his ill-fitting, brightly colored clothes, as he stares blankly into space. For some reason, he chooses to wear his tie on his head and when Janey-E brings him a cup of coffee, he spits it on the floor and then grins ear to ear. After fixing his tie and informing him that she counted the cash and it's $425,000, a tear rolls down Dougie's cheek. Janey-E tells him he's acting "weird as shit." She also realizes she'll have to take him to work because his car is missing, and when she drops him off at the Lucky 7 Insurance plaza she literally has to shove him out of the passenger seat. That night, the doorbell rings to reveal a security guard from that plaza, escorting a lost Dougie. She sits with her husband at the same table where she opened the bag the night before, eating crunchy sandwiches and sending him upstairs to say goodnight to Sonny Jim...before calling him back down in a fury. She's opened an envelope that just arrived at their door, and discovered a photograph of Dougie cavorting with another woman. He shocks her by smiling and proclaiming, "Jade gives two rides," but she doesn't have much time to process this information when the phone rings. It's the men who sent that photo; she quickly takes charge of the conversation, informing them that they will meet in a park tomorrow (at "noon-thirty") to take care of Dougie's debt. Leaving her husband to work late on his case files, she can't help but soften and gently kiss him on the head.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Waiting on a park bench with the red purse she mentioned on the phone last night, Janey-E spots the two shlubby debt collectors and approaches them with resolve. Demanding answers, she learns that Dougie took points on a football game, "got greedy," and lost $20,000 three weeks ago. Interest has now brought this to $52,000. Janey-E angrily explains that they don't have that kind of money, insists that she'll pay just $25,000 which she compares favorably to their bank's interest rate, and scolds the two men mercilessly: "What kind of a world are we living in where people can behave like this, treat other people this way without any compassion or feeling for their suffering? We are living in a dark, dark age and you are part of the problem!" The men are flabbergasted, muttering, "Tough dame..." as she storms off. Already in a bad mood, Janey-E loses her patience waiting outside Lucky 7 for Dougie to emerge, so she enters the office only to find three police detectives questioning her husband about his missing car. His boss Bushnell Mullins, also in the room, is able to get them to admit the car was found - destroyed in an explosion which killed several known car thieves - while Janey-E responds to all of their queries with a mixture of exasperation, assurance, and defensiveness. The cops eventually invite her to call them for a follow-up and Bushnell also recognizes Janey-E's determination to go home. He tells her his planned meeting with Dougie can wait until tomorrow. But the Jones' crazy day isn't over yet. Leaving the building, Janey-E explains what happened at the park until Dougie shoves her aside to tackle an assassin racing towards him with a gun drawn. Together, the couple assaults this criminal, Dougie finally prying the weapon from his hand as he races away. A news crew shows up to capture Janey-E's frantic recounting of the event to two uniformed officers (she has to pause every few seconds to prevent the curious, unflustered Dougie from touching their badges).

Wednesday, September 28, 2016
The next morning, Bushnell encounters Dougie and Janey-E at the police station and tells them to take the afternoon off (the relieved wife plans to take her husband for a medical check-up). A detective brings Dougie a cup of coffee as they wait, and wait, and wait, for further questioning or paperwork. At the check-up, the doctor remarks on how fit and healthy Dougie is and for the first time Janey-E begins to wake up to how attractive her husband is (or has become). That night, she gazes with pure desire as he indifferently munches on chocolate cake. Her questions about his feelings for her and statements about her feelings for him go unanswered. But they go to bed anyway, Janey-E moaning in ecstacy while a grinning Dougie's arms flap up and down. Cuddling, the post-coital Janey-E tells her husband she loves him and he repeats (or shares?), "Love...you."

Thursday, September 29, 2016
Still blissful as she exits the house with Dougie for work, sending Sonny Jim ahead of them into the car, Janey-E informs him that she can't stop thinking about their wonderful night.

Friday, September 30, 2016
That wonderful night is followed by a night of worry when Dougie does not return from work, but in the morning a delivery man appears at Janey-E's door. He asks her to sign for a brand new BMW with a big red bow and a mulitcolored, elaborate jungle gym playground set to be installed in the backyard. These are credited to the Mitchum brothers, powerful new friends that Dougie has made through his job. That night, Janey-E and Dougie watch Sonny Jim play. The happy mother recognizes that her child is in "seventh heaven" and clutches her beloved husband closely.

Saturday, October 1, 2016
Janey-E is all smiles as she gently guides Dougie out of the car for some weekend work. In the evening, feeding him more cake alongside caresses, she sighs, "It's like all our dreams are coming true." And then, a few minutes later: the nightmare. A bright flash illuminates the entire kitchen and she whips around to see her husband shoving a fork into an electrical outlet before collapsing.

Sunday, October 2, 2016
Bushnell and eventually the Mitchums join Janey-E and Sonny Jim at Dougie's hospital bedside. Now in a coma, Dougie has reached the absolute nadir of his unresponsiveness - but all of that will change quite soon. While the Mitchums deliver loads of food to the Jones house, Janey-E and Sonny Jim step out of the room for a bathroom break - when they return, Dougie is sitting on the bed and talking up a storm. In fact, he insists that he'll be leaving and tells Janey-E to pull the car up out front. "Are you sure that's a good idea?" she wonders and he asserts, "It's a good idea." Mother and son are astonished at Dougie's new demeanor and impressed when he takes over the driving, guiding the convertible down the highway toward the Silver Mustang with grace and ease. "You aren't going to start gambling again, are you?" Janey-E wonders nervously, not sure what to make of this new incarnation, but her face brightens with pleasure as she observes his confidence. Then, in the casino, Dougie takes the two of them aside and says that he has to go away for a while but enjoyed spending time with both of them and will return. He makes a strange slip near the end of this speech, referring to himself in the third person before correcting "Dougie" with "I". Janey-E registers the implication immediately and asks - startled and perhaps a bit heartbroken - "You're not Dougie?" Sonny Jim freaks out at this question, and Dougie reassures him, but Janey-E retains her impression. When Dougie starts to leave, she races to him, kisses him on the lips, and thanks him for all he's done for them, "whoever you are." Then she and Sonny Jim stand forlorn amidst the slots, as the man who changed their lives in the past week walks away.

Monday, October 3, 2016
Mother and son race to their door when the bell rings, and sure enough Dougie stands waiting for their embrace outside. In a group hug, in which Janey-E looks like she'll never let go, Dougie - with his old air of childlike absentmindedness but a bit more assurance - simply says, "Home."

Characters Janey-E interacts with onscreen…

Agent Cooper...

...and Agent Cooper ("Dougie 2.0")

Sonny Jim

Detectives Fusco

Bushnell Mullins

Mitchum Brothers


Impressions of TWIN PEAKS through Janey-E
As the last Las Vegas character we'll be discussing until we reach Cooper himself, Janey-E fits in with many other trends. Like the Mitchums and Anthony (and the old woman in the casino for that matter), her life is positively transformed by "Dougie". Like the Mitchums and Bushnell, her personality softens with greater exposure to the magic of his presence. And like all members of the Vegas ensemble aside from the Mitchums entourage, she never actually visits Twin Peaks...even if Cooper brings a bit of the town spirit into her world (the show's theme music plays as he drives them down the highway in his new convertible). If her environment differs from the older seasons, Janey-E's social role is nonetheless familiar: like Catherine and particularly Nadine before her, she is a strong-willed woman who dominates her husband and dictates how things will go in the domestic sphere. She shares Catherine's toughness but not her financial independence; like Nadine, she's a housewife but one who is less emotionally fragile beneath her fiery surface (her temper also recalls Sylvia Horne, though it's less impotent in this case). Most rarely of all, Janey-E is the mother of a young child; wives in the original Twin Peaks were either childless or parent to a quasi-independent teenager. In a season that feels more male-dominated than the old episodes - let alone the prequel film - Janey-E is tightly bound by old-fashioned archetypes. However, she's allowed to carve out her own space within the narrative, adjacent to the central character but with needs, desires, and quirks all her own.

Janey-E’s journey
While the others mentioned above tend to have one big on/off switch moment in their dramatic energies and relationships to Cooper, Janey-E's development is more gradual. She switches gears toward appreciation and affection, then trends back toward her prior mode of bossy exasperation, over and over - essentially every day until the last few - but each time, the appreciation is greater and even the exasperation more affectionate. The overall pattern is clear between her opening and closing scene. First she storms across the yard to slap an immobile "Dougie" at night; finally she opens the door to find that he's already crossed to her and they embrace against a sunlit backdrop. As is often the case with Cooper's Vegas interactions, material interest plays a large part in the turnaround. A sack full of cash and the Mitchums' gifts provide moments of blissful relief for a worried Janey-E, in each case softening the blow of a recent absence. Physical attraction is perhaps the biggest inflection point of all, melting whatever remains of Janey-E's no-nonsense irritation in a conjugal embrace.

More subtle and ambiguous is her caretaking role, something that clearly stretches back throughout their marriage. This is a role she's familiar and even comfortable with, despite the impatience it fosters. As she comes to trust, respect, and even love him again, the old gestures (pushing Dougie out of the car, telling him where to go, gazing with admiration at his impassive expressions) are invested with a new warmth. Maybe the biggest change of all, then, arrives when a more assertive, even commanding Cooper awakens in the hospital and begins firmly if politely ordering Janey-E around - a process she seems to enjoy, at least initially. Here, her pleasure is accompanied by a diminution of her own power, and there's a sense of poignant helplessness and deflation to the farewell scene (if also a kind of elevation - her thank you to "whoever you are" is the first time her and Cooper really appear like adult equals onscreen). The Dougie who arrives at her doorstep that next day holds the promise of just the right balance: more communicative and active than "Dougie" but also with a touch of the innocence, simplicity, and positive aura of the Cooper she came to love during that strange week.

Actress: Naomi Watts
There are actors in Twin Peaks who were already bona fide stars when they arrived on set and then are those who achieved stardom because David Lynch cast them in an unforgettable role. Naomi Watts is both. By the time she was folded into the Peaks universe, she was one of Hollywood's biggest names - joining the ensembles of prestige pictures, working with some of the top directors in the industry, and playing the love interest to one of cinema's biggest blockbuster characters ("Naomi, anyone who sits in the hand of King Kong is a movie star for life!" Lynch himself told Watts when advising her to take Fay Wray's part in Peter Jackson's remake). But the actress had only achieved this success in her thirties after years of struggling through close calls, neglected auditions, and the carousel of agents and casting directors who blew hot and cold in ways that confused and depressed her. This experience would become grist for the mill when Lynch cast her as an aspiring actress in the pilot for his late nineties ABC pilot Mulholland Drive, was amplified when the series was declined ("just my luck," Watts recalled thinking at the time), and then fully flowered in the film that Lynch built from this raw material, which makes the disappointment and insecurity of the Hollywood dream/nightmare crucial to the character's identity (or identities). As Betty Elms/Diane Selwyn, Watts wowed critics and became a screen sensation seemingly "overnight". Mulholland Drive would go on to be acclaimed as the greatest film of the twenty-first century more times than any other.

Watts' journey began in the United Kingdom where she was born to a fledgling costume designer and a Pink Floyd roadie (who can be heard as one of the voices on Dark Side of the Moon). After a divorce and her father's subsequent death, the Watts family re-located to Australia and the teenager dropped out of school to pursue modeling and acting in the midst of other odd jobs. She was cast in recurring parts on TV shows Home and Away, Brides of Christ, and Hey Dad..!, and had small roles in Australian films like For Love Alone and Wide Sargasso Sea as well as a central role in Gross Misconduct, where she plays an unstable student accusing her professor of rape. With her eyes set on making it in America with the help of long-time friend (and by then, superstar) Nicole Kidman, Watts re-located to Los Angeles. She played in the cult flop Tank Girl as well as TV movies and low-profile thrillers and horror films, all while just barely missing out on big hits like Meet the Parents. Arm and arm with Lynch and co-star Laura Elena Harring for the 2001 Cannes debut of Mulholland, she watched all of that change. The next year she had her first big hit as the protagonist of The Ring and the year after that she played a key, Oscar-nominated part in Alejandro González Iñárritu's achronological 21 Grams, going on to appear alongside that film's co-star Sean Penn in a couple political dramas, The Assassination of Richard Nixon and as Valerie Plame in Fair Game. (She also worked with Iñárritu again a decade later in Birdman).

Her filmography includes Ned Kelly, Le Divorce, I Heart Huckabees, The Painted Veil, Ellie Parker, The Ring Two, Eastern Promises, Funny Games, The International, J. Edgar, The Impossible (her second Oscar nomination as a survivor of the Indian Ocean tsunami), Diana as the title princess, St. Vincent, While We're Young, The Divergent Series: Insurgent and Allegiant, 3 Generations, The Book of Henry, The Glass Castle, Ophelia, The Wolf Hour, Luce, Boss Level, Penguin Bloom, and Infinite Storm among many others. Although she stuck to the big screen for much of her career, the same year that The Return aired she anchored the Netflix series Gypsy as a therapist becoming too close to her patients. Several years later she played Gretchen Carlson in The Loudest Voice, a Showtime miniseries about sexual harassment at Fox News. And her recent Netflix series The Watcher, a collaboration between American Horror Story's Ryan Murphy and Scream Queens' Ian Brennan, has just been rewened for a second season. (film pictured: Mulholland Drive, 2001)

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

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

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

Part 7 (Showtime title: "There's a body all right.")

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

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

Part 13 (Showtime title: "What story is that, Charlie?")

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

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

Part 18 (Showtime title: "What is your name?"

Janey-E is onscreen for roughly forty-six minutes. She is in twenty-eight scenes in ten episodes, taking place over nine days. She's featured the most in part 16, when she finally meets full-on Cooper and he promptly says goodbye. Her primary location is the Jones house. She shares the most screentime with Cooper. She is among the top ten characters in parts 4 and 7, in the top five of parts 10 and 16, and second only to Cooper in part 6. And she is the first character in this series whose screentime places her in the top ten of The Return itself, as well as the fourth-highest ranked character introduced in the third season (fifth if we include Diane despite dialogue addressed to her in the original series).

Best Scene
Part 6: Finally seen apart from her husband, Janey-E more than holds her own against two brutish but quickly intimidated loan sharks.

Best Line
“We are not wealthy people, we drive cheap, terrible cars, we are the ninety-nine percenters, and we are shit on enough, and we are certainly not going to be shit on by the likes of you!”

Janey-E Offscreen

Part 5: During the autopsy of Major Briggs in South Dakota, coroner Constance Talbot discovers a golden ring in the corpse's stomach, inscribed "To Dougie with love, Janey-E." She shows it to two detectives, half-joking, "Maybe it's just me but...I'd start with the wife."

Part 9: The Fuscos consider an attempt at further interrogation of Cooper, dismissing the prospect because, as T. puts it, "It's like talking to a dog." D. adds, "And she does all the barking."

Part 14: When Albert informs Diane about the inscribed wedding band, she reveals that Janey-E is the nickname of her estranged half-sister, married to a man named Dougie in Las Vegas. "I hate her," she continues, "so I haven't talked to her in years." Gordon orders two Vegas agents to look for a "Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Jones."

Part 15: Agent Wilson tells Agent Headley that "Douglas Jones and his wife Jane" are ready for questioning, but Headley is furious to discover it's the wrong family.

Additional Observations

• Throughout much of her career, Watts has played strong, intelligent characters who fulfill complicated spousal and/or maternal roles with a mixture of grit and flexibility. Janey-E fits that mould (at least in the early passages) but she's a far more heightened character - almost cartoonish - than the nuanced, hypersensitive personas Watts often adopts. In other words, she's quite far from the despairing, exquisitely detailed Diane we meet at the end of Mulholland Drive...and very much a throwback to the plucky, hyperstylized Betty we spend the majority of that film with. Of course, if Betty's primary mode is naive, bubbly enthusiasm, Janey-E's is cranky, motormouthed determination (both, interestingly, are sexually and emotionally awakened about two-thirds of the way into their stories, setting them on a new course). If Watts' performance as Janey-E never quite shifts into the Diane mode of subtlety and complexity - though she is rather richly textured in her broad strokes - that may be because another Return character performs that role...and she's also named Diane. John Thorne has theorized that Diane isn't merely Janey-E's half-sister but actually another emanation of her fractured identity, a way for Cooper to find happiness with the troubled victim of his doppelganger by distilling her qualities - loyalty mixed with distrust, bluntness alongside a quiet yearning - into sharper, more exaggerated form (which Diane herself ironically hates). It's a complicated idea, fleshed out in the book Ominous Whoosh, but whether or not one takes it more literally or metaphorically, the indirect relationship between Janey-E and Diane is fascinating to consider.

• The moment with Janey-E may well be the terminal point of the series, chronologically speaking, a happy ending to kick off a tragic finale. It's certainly the last moment that could in any sense be considered positive (the closest runner-up is Cooper's melancholy emergence in Glastonbury Grove, another instance in which Diane and Janey-E mirror one another). Depending when/where the desert driving scene and "what year is this?" Odessa/Twin Peaks sequences take place, it's quite possible that this Monday morning in Las Vegas - a day after the curtain definitively falls on most storylines - takes place after everything else. Though it's Cooper (or Dougie 2.0, or whatever you want to call him) who actually speaks in the scene's final moments, this entire event is Janey-E's fantasy come true. How appropriate that she found a way to have the last word in Twin Peaks.

Next (available now): Windom Earle
Previous: Hank Jennings

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 #34 - 25)

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