Twin Peaks: The Return, Part 11

We have Briggs family drama, we have me sitting on nails worrying about Alfred, we have a Cooper story that keeps going nowhere, and we have Amanda Seyfried absolutely nailing the attractive-yet-criminally-stupid girlfriend trope.

There's a certain other review site who tried to make a "profound" comment this week about how "the long chapters of Cooper shuffling through Dougie’s life aren’t a distraction from the story. They are the story."

I don't normally reference other sites like this, and I usually avoid even reading reviews until I've posted mine but I really can't help myself here: Yes. We know that. The real question isn't if they "are the story." The question is if that story is worth telling.

If Twin Peaks was only "the story" about Agent Cooper, then as it stands right now, I find that story wanting. Cherry pies be damned. Despite excessive screentime, he hasn't had any form of character progression since the first episodes.

Yes, I know. It's funny with Cooper saying "damn good coffee." This is really all there is to it at the moment. It's a stale wink-wink-nudge-nudge routine encouraging old fans to slap themselves on the back for recognizing the 143rd reference, but it isn't effective television. Kyle McLachlan can't save it. He's played his tricks. He's stuck in a repetitive role, thus inevitably his attempts to inject emotion to his presence turn repetitive.

Fortunately, that's not all there is to this, and first of all, this episode does a fair deal of driving the plot forward. We find out that Becky is the daughter of Bobby and Shelly, who got married. We find out that Miriam survived her encounter with Richard Horne, which is probably bad news for the latter. Hastings gets unceremoniously offed as Alfred and Cole find the corpse of Ruth. Finally, Zombie Cooper makes friends with two crooks who wanted to kill him.

With the creepy Laura Palmer cutout scene as Cole met Alfred in the hallway in the last episode, I have now become utterly convinced that Alfred is a goner, and that lends a welcome urgency to the FBI team's investigations. As they went to that abandoned complex in this installment, I genuinely feared for their lives. And, I don't trust Diane. I really don't trust Diane.

I think the real significance of Dale's storyline in this episode is that with meeting the Mitchums, he's injected into the criminal world. I will now chance a prediction that this contact is what will somehow finally lead to his confrontation with Twooper.

As for the Briggs story, raise your hands: Is there anyone who thought that the kid of Bobby and Shelly would turn out a genius?

Amid the stone cold silence of the response to that question, I have to notice: Becky makes for an effective, comic-book-esque role that recaptures the spirit of the original television show, overflowing with ridiculous yet strangely charming characters. She might actually be the only new face that does. She's also pretty damn believable as Shelly's daughter, though I can't recall Shelly ever being that much of an airhead. Then again we do find out that after her prolonged stint with Bobby, Shelly's back to dating more criminals... as she runs off to make out with Red practically right in front of her daughter and ex-husband, in the most heartbreaking scene of the episode.

I reserve the right to add more to this review. Right now, I'm criminally late, and I can only say: For all my whining, this was an enjoyable episode. Let's see where we go next.

13 comments:

Keith Kotay said...

I found this episode rather bland (or my patience is wearing thin). Yes, there are advances in several arcs, but they are incremental at best. The Buckhorn arc appeared to have promise, but other than some nice effects we didn't really learn much.

One interesting thing about Twin Peaks is that it doesn't protect its characters--which means we often see a dark side to a character to which we would normally be sympathetic. Becky is a good example. She is the daughter of Shelly and Bobby, so we want to like her--even though Shelly and Bobby had their own dark sides in the original series. In the previous episode we see that Becky is in an abusive relationship with her husband, so that makes us feel some empathy for her. However, in this episode she drives off with Shelly on the hood of her car--apparently oblivious to the possibility of seriously injuring her mother. Perhaps this is an effect of the proximity of the Black Lodge to Twin Peaks, and/or F&M believe that everyone has some darkness within...

Speaking of Becky, who warned her husband that she was coming to shoot him? Or did Steven arrange for that call to me made himself?

In Buckhorn we see an inter-dimensional rift open, and some Woodsmen inside (as well as another one lurking in the real world, phasing in and out of visibility). Before it opens, Cole asks, "Think there's one in there, Albert?" Clearly, Cole is familiar with this sort of thing, although he may never have actually looked into one before since he didn't immediately recognize the Woodsmen.

My 'Diane-coercion-theory' appears to be incorrect. She doesn't warn anyone when she sees the stalking Woodsman, and there is no surprise on her face either--clearly, she has seen one previously. Based on Cole's previous statement that something didn't feel right when he hugged Diane, I'm now wondering if we are actually seeing Diane's doppelganger.

Shelly kissing Red is a questionable plot twist, in my opinion. I think fans would rather not see Shelly mixed up with another psychopath--either because they think of her fondly after all these years, and/or they would like to believe she has matured now that she's an adult and a mother.

What's going on with the young boy in the van, his father, and the weird (poisoned?) little girl in the car behind them? Who is the 'uncle' they are meeting? Is this the start of yet another arc?

We now know that the Major's directions lead to the Black Lodge portal, but why would the Major direct Bobby, Hawk, and the sheriff to such a bad place? Was he planning on using that portal himself when his 'hibernation' was over? If so, who's going to come out now that he's dead? Or is he dead? Is there a doppelganger involved here? The one thing we do know is that Don Davis--who played the Major--has passed away. However, given that TMFAP has evolved into a 'tree', perhaps if the 'Major' is alive he has evolved as well?

The Dougie saga drags on. I suppose the Mitchum brothers may help protect Dougie/Cooper against Bad Cooper in an upcoming episode, but it's still frustrating to see Cooper so disabled (and strange to watch the people around him act like he's normal). The cherry pie and the music seem to be bringing Cooper closer to the surface, but at this rate it won't be until the last episode.

Nice review Thomas! I think you meant Amanda Seyfried as Becky, not Amy Shiels (who plays Candie). I agree that the Dougie story is weak, but I think it's more about F&M not wanting Cooper to reappear too soon--which implies they don't know what to do with him until the climax.

Thomas Ijon Tichy said...

Thanks for the correction, Keith. This show loses me sometimes. :)

Keith Kotay said...

You're welcome. Yes, I sometimes think F&M are trying to set a record for cast size and/or story arcs for a TV show... ;-)

Anonymous said...

When Lynch announced that Twin Peaks was returning, I wondered if people who didn't live through the original airing of the show on ABC would be able to follow it. You've answered that question for the most part, they can't. The initial shot of Josie Packard in the mirror was so ground-breaking you never forget it. The comic/tragic autopsy of Laura Palmer was something never seen on TV. It takes 25 years to understand Twin Peaks You can't play catch-up. You should accept that this show is is beyond your experience and show some humility and respect for one of the great film achievements of all time.

Josie Kafka said...


I thought the scene with the horn and the kid with the gun was the most memorable this week. That little kid was miniature evil, right? Bobby didn't seem to know what to do with him. It's like all the evil is bubbling out of Twin Peaks all over again.

Anonymous said...

You guys are completely lost. You should suspend judgment and learn. And with that, goodbye to your blog.

Josie Kafka said...

Goodbye!

Keith Kotay said...

Well, I was going to reply to Anonymous--but I guess she/he is gone. Despite the tone, her/his post made me think about how I watch Twin Peaks. I'll admit I'm initially a plot person. I want to know how the story ends, whether the goods guys win, the philosophical meaning of the Lodges, how this scene fits into the overall story, etc. When I read a book or watch a movie for the first time, it's all about the plot--and if it's a book I race through it to find out what happens. Later, if I reread or rewatch it I care more about the characters, the dialog, the setting, and how it makes me feel. That's just how I am.

This may not be a good approach for viewing Twin Peaks. Twin Peaks is about atmosphere, mood, imagery, sounds, and vignettes that are intended to evoke an emotional response. It's not necessarily about the plot, but about the moment--and how it makes you feel in that moment. I am frustrated about Cooper being Dougie, but maybe that's the point. I am supposed to be frustrated, and perhaps that reflects the frustration we all feel about our inability to connect with the people around us. To them, everything appears normal--but we know that we are trapped in a world where we cannot express our innermost thoughts and feelings.

It's worth noting that my favorite episode was #8, which didn't have much plot at all (in a traditional sense). It was mostly a surreal experience, and that was precisely why it worked for me: there wasn't any definite plot, so I was free to enjoy the display of imagery for its own sake. Yes, at some level I was trying to figure out how it fit into the Twin Peaks universe, but mostly I was enjoying the ride.

So, thanks Anonymous whoever you are. I need to be more open to viewing the world in different ways. Now I can relax and not fixate about the overall meaning of the Twin Peaks story. Maybe it will say something profound, and maybe it won't--but I will try to simply respond to the beautiful, suspenseful, sad, wacky, horrific, touching, funny, scary, frustrating, bizarre moments as they come along. I think I'll enjoy it more that way...

Keith Kotay said...

Josie, I agree that the boy seemed malevolent, as did his father. Lynch used a slow motion effect to tell us something not-normal was going on. The horn was also extremely annoying, which helped make the scene more intense (I was saying "Stop blowing the horn!" to the TV).

The way the young girl in the car seemed to grow or 'inflate' was also very odd, not to mention the stuff coming out of her mouth. It reminded me of the poisoned girl in The Sixth Sense.

I think you are correct that it's all building up to something--probably having to do with the Black Lodge portal opening...

Josie Kafka said...

I was thinking of The Exorcist, too.

TheShadowKnows said...

"I think you meant Amanda Seyfried as Becky, not Amy Shiels (who plays Candie)."

I was a little confused by this as well. I don't pay attention to the credits, but I was sure that was Amanda Seyfried. No one else has eyes like hers! :oD

(I doubt anyone remembers this, but Ms. Seyfried starred in a Twilightesque Red Riding Hood movie in 2011. My wife and I actually saw it at the theater for... some reason. Anyway, Ms. Seyfried had to deliver the "What big eyes you have!" line from the classic fairy tale. When she did, everyone in the theater starting laughing. Needless to say, her eyes were twice as big as "Granny's"!)

(Okay, here's another parenthetical note about Ms. Seyfried, whom I really like despite teasing her large eyes a little. Because of those eyes, some conspiracy nuts have seriously claimed she's one of the so-called "Nordic" ET's. These alleged aliens are supposed to be seven feet tall. At around five-foot-nothing, Ms. Seyfried must be the runt of their cloning vats.)

Thomas Ijon Tichy said...

Wtf is a Nordic ET?

If anything she's close to a certain Slavic archetype I've always found ridiculously attractive...

Oh and as for that anon, I really can't resist. All his comment is a mix of ad hominem et verecundiam. I loved the original run as I watched it as a late teenager, and I've loved a lot of Lynch movies (Eraserhead, Mulholland Drive, Inland Empire...) I just think that several aspects of the new show don't really work specifically as a television show.

And coming at a show from a perspective of "humility" has to be one of the worst approches ever for a critic. Your very job is to state your opinion good or bad rather than function as some sort of cheerleader.

TheShadowKnows said...

I'm right there with you with Slavic women, my friend, although I prefer brunettes (such as Nina Dobrev). Ms. Seyfried's big eyes are certainly striking - I doubt anyone finds them a detriment to her appearance, even if they make occasional jokes about them.

As for the "Nordic" ET thing, saucer nuts believe a wide variety of aliens are visiting Earth - multiple types of "greys", reptilians, "hairy dwarves", etc. One of the types is known as "Nordic" aliens, because they supposedly look like humans of Scandinavian ancestry, but taller and with bigger eyes. Because of her coloring and large eyes, some conspiracy types at one point were seriously claiming Amanda S. was one of these alleged aliens (if you do a Google image search for "Nordic aliens", the fourth image is her). I guess they didn't notice that she doesn't exactly meet the "taller" criteria.

And hey, Twin Peaks has an "alien" connection, with the mention of Project Blue Book and so forth. Coincidence? :oD