Milo Garner reviews the next chapter of David Lynch’s return to Twin Peaks.
WARNING: This review contains spoilers.
After a couple of weeks that seemed to tread water a little plot-wise, Twin Peaks: The Return hits us with some forward momentum in Part 7. This is clearest in Hawk’s (Michael Horse) subplot – the documents discovered in the toilet door turn out to be missing pages of Laura Palmer’s diary (though with one still unaccounted for). Using these pages, Hawk and Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster) come closer to understanding the truth of the Bob – Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) relationship – the many plot strands are beginning to close in. Frank goes on to reveal that within his desk is an absolutely incongruous screen that slides up from the woodwork, and using it he Skypes Doc Hayward (Warren Frost, to whom this episode is dedicated) to ask about when he last saw Coop; this is mostly an aside, besides a name-drop of Audrey Horne, confirmed to be in a coma following the Season 2 finale rather than dead, but an interesting invasion of clearly modern tech into the still-leafy town of Twin Peaks.
But despite this movement in Twin Peaks itself, the star of this episode is surely Diane; introduced in Part 6, hers was perhaps the best reveal of the series so far. Now we meet her as an actual character, and in an almost-expected reversal from her absolute silence in the original series, she is mouthy and sassy; she’ll take nothing from no-one, and it’s great to see. Laura Dern pulls this off excellently, as might be expected from an actor of her calibre, and lights up the screen in any of her featured scenes – especially when she is face to face with Bob in Cooper’s form. But we aren’t done with bad Coop yet – we later see him talking to the warden, forcing him into a deal that would set him and his crony, Ray, free unto the world again. This Coop seems to have some serious influence, and the ominous sounding ‘Mr. Strawberry’ sounds like a character we’ll be spending a lot more time with in future episodes, for good or ill.
Besides this eventful business returns a story strand from the first couple of parts – the decapitated body with a different head. Here we find that this body is confirmed to belong to Major Briggs (Don S. Davis) – though with a twist. The body is the age he would have been 25 years ago and it appears to have been dead only a few days. ‘Blue rose’ indeed. Returning to the weird world of Dougie Coop, we get mostly what would be expected. Police turn up at his office and Janey-E ends up doing most of the talking as would be expected (and Naomi Watts is still brilliant as would also be expected). That said, it isn’t entirely uneventful: the dwarf from last episode – Ike ‘the Spike’ – approaches the couple with a drawn gun. What ensues is a bizarre fight scene featuring perhaps more karate chops than the rest of Peaks combined, with the mysterious Arm appearing and telling Cooper to squeeze the dwarf’s hand off. Coop obliges, with some of Ike’s skin ripping off and attaching itself to his gun (for some reason). Ike gets away and we’re thrown into interviews on the scene – interestingly shot from news-eye-view. To my memory, this is the first time Twin Peaks has indulged in interview shots and it is a mildly jarring stylistic decision, but it mostly works. Exactly what is going on with this Ike character, and why Arm seems to have it in for him, is predictably unclear, but it has spiced up Dougie’s subplot quite effectively nonetheless.
Beyond these established stories we also delve into something quite new, returning to Ben Horne (Richard Beymer) in the Great Northern. He and Beverly (Ashley Judd) search for the origin of a mysterious ringing sound, with Ben then receiving the key to Room 315 – the room Coop was shot in. Beverly then returns home to a suspicious and sickly husband. Scant pickings here, but that Ben might have a deeper role the mere cameos afforded to some of the other veteran characters is comforting in of itself. Finally, Lynch offers the audience one of his patented ‘moments’ – the camera sits at a wide angle in the Bang-Bang Bar, showing us the sinister Jean-Michel Renault (Walter Olkewicz) behind the bar as an employee sweeps the floor. But for a good while, there is no cut; we simply watch the man sweeping to the sound of Booker T & the M.G.’s ‘Green Onions’. It’s the sort of thing that probably wouldn’t be replicated in any other TV show, and it’s the sort of thing that really makes me love Twin Peaks.
Twin Peaks: The Return airs Mondays at 2am in simulcast with the U.S. on Sky Atlantic, and is then repeated at 9pm on Tuesdays.