Milo Garner reviews the next chapter of David Lynch’s return to Twin Peaks.
WARNING: This review contains spoilers.
Following the journey into the depths of Lynch’s mind that made up Part 8, this week’s episode of Twin Peaks is a return to relative normality. Gone are the monochrome murderers and nuclear adventures, back is the ever-expanding ensemble cast (say hello to Tim Roth and Jennifer Jason Leigh!) and the strange – if not too strange – happenings about town. As far as plot is concerned, the episode does essentially pick off where the last left off, with the villainous Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), returned from the dead, arriving at ‘the Farm’ and meeting the aforementioned new cast members. Shot but not got, his nefarious mechanisms are still unravelling. What exactly these are naturally escapes the audience, but it may become clear soon.
In the world of Dougie Coop things are also moving forward – Ike the Spike (Christophe Zajac-Denek) is arrested, and the three detectives we were introduced to earlier try to crack the case of Dougie. They do this by laughing a lot, in a way Lynch makes both amusing and uncomfortable, as is his wont. But the key to this section of the show this week is less the ongoing Dougie drama and more the unending tease that we might finally be reunited with Agent Dale Cooper. Not Bob, not Doug, not the Coop that was zoned out in the Red Room for over two decades, but the Coop we love. He glances to the American flag and music starts to play – perhaps his overwhelming sense of duty to the flag will awaken him? It would be an uncharacteristic moment of intense patriotism for Lynch if that had happened, but at this point we’ll take anything. Glancing from the flag he sees two key items – two outlets and a pair of red shoes. A reminder that he came from an outlet from the Red Room, though apparently not quite strong enough that he snaps out of his stupor. Once again Lynch leaves us on the edge, once again we hope it’s next week, now in the unsettling knowledge that the halfway point has been passed.
Back in Twin Peaks an assortment is going on, including a minor domestic dispute between Andy (Harry Goaz) and Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) on what kind of chair to get. More pressingly, Bobby (Dana Ashbrook) and the Boys™ set out to discover the truth about Major Briggs by asking his wife (Charlotte Stewart) exactly what he told Coop before his disappearance and presumed death. We find out that he had instructed his wife that should this day come, or rather when it came, that she would give them a small metal tube. Bobby, who had been more a miscreant while Briggs was alive, knew what to do with the tube and how to interpret its instructions – his father had somehow predicted his exact course in life, and it feels as comforting for Bobby as it does from the audience. The few scenes Briggs and Bobby shared in the original had some excellent moments showcasing the emotional, if distant, connexion Briggs had to his son. Even beyond the grave these moments are still quite effectual. But as far as the narrative is concerned – the Twin Peaks police department are on Coop’s trail, now with set of cryptic instructions to follow.
But they aren’t the only ones, with Gordon (David Lynch) & Co.’s FBI squad still reeling after learning of cruel Coop’s escape. They decide to take another route and go to South Dakota, to figure out what’s up with Briggs’ mysteriously young corpse. While there we catch up with a plot strand that kicked off in the first episode but has been left dormant since – that of William Hastings, the headteacher-cum-murderer (apparently). As it happens he is more than a victim of the supernatural, but an enthusiast of it, running a blog that talks of various strange happenings, and other ‘dimensions’, one he has said to have visited. More than the potentially interesting direction this takes his subplot in, it was a display of very raw emotion in what is often an intentionally sterile show. Matthew Lillard gives a powerful performance – one that might well be classed as overacting, but in effect this counteracts the underacting that is often employed around him. It is Twin Peaks’ continued devotion of a significant amount of its length to deadtime that gives these moments of emotion or extremity their power, and it’s a formula that works consistently.
Beyond this we get various strands of various other subplots, though none get particularly far – Twin Peaks is a show that inches along, a little happening over a lot of characters. These include Ben’s (Richard Beymer) continued search for the hum in his building, Jerry’s (David Patrick Kelly) escapade with The Talking Shoe, and Sky Ferreira’s uncomfortably loud rash-scratching in The Roadhouse. These are intriguing, entertaining, and unsettling in that order which, I suppose, is a succinct description of Twin Peaks as a whole. Entering the second half of this new (and probably final) season the overall quality has remained fairly consistent, with twin peaks (haha) in Parts 3 and 8 – here’s hoping this consistency will be maintained to the finale.
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.