Ahead of tomorrow night’s new episode, Milo Garner reviews the latest chapter of David Lynch’s return to Twin Peaks.
WARNING: This review contains spoilers.
There’s a moment in Part 13 of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks revival series in which Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), in the guise of Dougie, drinks some coffee. No big deal, this has probably happened in every episode so far. Only this time, his reaction is not one of childlike amazement that we have seen formerly in the series; this time, if just for a moment, a little of the real Cooper seeps out. Despite the essentially frustrating nature of this long game Lynch is pulling, it’s the moments like these that really make it pay off, and MacLachlan’s performance can’t be faulted. After our first taste of his ‘damn fine’ cherry pie, it feels like we’re finally getting close to the real deal. Watching this series in week-long chunks probably doesn’t quite suit it in this regard, as the real nuance of Cooper’s transformation will surely only be clear in a more compact viewing arrangement. But even watching it across a quarter of a year (so far): the slow crawl, one which has been a little inconsistent at times, is falling into place excellently. This part of the story, however, is emphasised by more than its own merits. The parallel story of the evil Bob-possessed Cooper is really what props it up, with MacLachlan’s performance here so opposed to the dazed Dougie that it sometimes seems like they really are two different people, hairstyle notwithstanding. In this episode ‘Bob-Coop’ finds himself at heart of a certain criminal underworld, led there by the treacherous Ray (George Griffith). While there he has television’s strangest arm-wrestle (equal parts funny and sinister) and generally proves he’s still a force to be reckoned with. Even at a conceptual level, the noble Dale Cooper turned cruel is unsettling enough, but coupled with MacLachlan’s newfound fearsome aura – proving his utmost quality as an actor – it is something to behold.
On the domestic side of affairs, a certain sadness dwells over a particular relationship – or set of relationships – that have carried over from the original series. Nadine (Wendy Robie), whose ring was out of sight in previous episodes, seems still to be married to ‘Big’ Ed Hurley (Everett McGill). Though there is some joy in seeing her and Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) – with whom she is infatuated – meet (plus a cheeky Chuck Berry reference), this doesn’t shake the disappointing feeling that the lecherous Ed is still in her life. But for Ed, if anything, the situation is worse. While we see him sitting with Norma (Peggy Lipton) at the diner, as might be expected in any episode of the first two seasons, it soon becomes apparent that the two haven’t achieved their illicit love. While her business partner harps on to Norma about profits and authenticity (‘Norma, you’re a real artist. But love doesn’t always turn a profit’ – or did he mean to say Lynch?), the camera often cuts to Ed’s technically irrelevant reactions. Only we know what they mean. This is emphasised further by the end of the episode, which makes the unorthodox decision to cut from the Roadhouse’s obligatory musical act to Ed, alone. In many ways he deserves sadness, but considering the 25 years that we might assume this behaviour has carried on, it’s impossible to revel in it.
Otherwise there are a few interesting happenings here and there, such as the Las Vegas detectives discovering the truth behind the Cooper double and tossing it aside as a clerical error, Audrey (Sherilyn Fenn) continuing her obscure dialogue with husband Charlie (Clark Middleton), and Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie) watching the same looped clip of a boxing match over and over again. But the absolute highlight must be the aforementioned Roadhouse performance, none other than James Hurley (James Marshall) himself. More than this, he plays ‘Just You’, the song penned by Lynch and Badalamenti for the infamous season 2 scene in which he sings – in a ridiculous falsetto – with Donna and Maddy without any clear context as to why. Aurally recalling the 50s, as Lynch is wont to do, it was a bizarre moment (and cringe-inducing for some) yet seeing in reprised in an almost perfect replication (complete with two female back-up singers) makes for one of the show’s strongest nostalgia hits so far. On reflection, perhaps this scene was put second-to-last not to give emphasis to Ed’s final shots, but to make sure everyone had to sit through James’ song a second time, even if (especially if) they can’t stand it. Either way is fine by me.
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.