Twin Peaks: The Return, Part Nine

"Fruitcake?"

First, let me state that I'm immensely happy I didn't get to review episode eight, and I'm equally happy I get to review this one. In fact, I was fully expecting us to stay in La-la-land for a couple of more episodes seeing as David Lynch has demonstrated absolutely no interest in making a traditionally watchable television series, but I was wrong, and that makes my job far easier. There's a lot of plot development here, depending on how much the show is set to utilize.

I admit that I have been slightly cynical about this season, but I guess that's okay, because Lynch seems a bit cynical too. I'm a huge fan of Throbbing Gristle, Karlheinz Stockhausen, you name it, but with the acting talent involved in this show it seems a shame to waste it on overly-extended audiovisual indulgences. While some review sites seem desperate to buy into the Emperor's new clothes and only really dare to criticize it when they actually understand it, I'll take solid character moments over experimental music videos eating half an hour of screentime any day. There were lots of good character moments here, too.

Special Agent Dale Cooper is the main character of this show, and he's changed so much he's practically unrecognizable. His first incarnation is the Devil on Earth. His second is a vegetable. Couple this with the fact that the actor has aged so much he hardly even looks like the same person - sorry, Kyle, but Father Time does that to all of us - and you have a role that doesn't really function as an emotional bridge to the show's history.

Hawk, Lucy, Bobby, Albert, Ben, Gordon and Andy do. While most of them definitely look a lot older they are still identifiably the same people. Thus, using them while centering the episode on Major Garland Briggs is a very clever way for the show to reconnect with its own past. While other roles were designed to be set on character journeys - most notably his own son - Briggs is a developed, static character in the manner of an Alfred on Batman, who never changes. It doesn't even matter that Garland is dead; his memory echoes in the voices of those who knew him.

The story of this act takes place in two parallel investigations by the Twin Peaks police department and the FBI.

When it comes to the former, the case involves visiting Bobby's mother to get a plain-looking metal rod which is revealed to contain a couple of notes that the Major wrote well-in-advance for them, predicting events to take place over 24 years later. As for the latter, it takes place in a morgue examining the dead body of Garland and later at the Buckhorn police station speaking to William Hastings, who tells the agents that he didn't kill Ruth Davenport and more or less proves that he met the Major in a vision or in a travel to an "alternate dimension".

If we're talking Twin Peaks mythology - where was Garland? Surely he can't have been in the Black Lodge, as he didn't age like Cooper did. If he was in the White Lodge, that's rather disconcerting, since it implies that Twooper (look, I found a name for the bastard) was able to enter it and kill him. I'll stash that under "questions likely never to get answered."

The Twin Peaks scenes were all good character moments for Bobby, who should probably win the award for "most improved character on the show." As in, he's the only one in the Twin Peaks universe who started out a villain and ended up a good guy - mostly it's the other way. That's tied into the talk between him and his father in the second season in a rather emotional way, confirming that Garland was right claiming he'd "turn out okay."

As for the scenes with Jim & Co., let me just say I love Albert. The scene of him wiping away tears of laughter as Ed tells Cooper the story of how Nadine lost her eye is one of my favorites of all time. I'll miss Miguel Ferrer, and I wonder how many episodes he got to do. Also, am I the only one who saw Albert meet his first possible romantic interest in this episode?

I actually think this is one of the notable letdowns about this season - the original show created characters. Awesome, stunning characters. Those characters mostly remain. In this incarnation it hasn't created anyone remarkable - Diane, while certainly passable and great in her interaction with the FBI team, is several levels below a Benjamin Horne or an Audrey, and yet she's the best new addition. Speaking of which, we do get confirmation in some way that Ben has changed by him repeatedly turning down his assistant's advances. What has prompted this? And where the hell is Audrey? At least we got a scene of her brother Johnny running into a wall...

All in all - there's a lot of stuff going on in this episode. With Garland's note, the Truman gang is put on a mission to go to "Jack Rabbit's Palace." Dale gets his DNA swiped off a coffee cup which will probably, hopefully lead to him reuniting with his old crowd before the show is over - his story has grown increasingly stale over the last episodes. "Ike the Spike" is arrested. Jerry Horne has a fight with his own foot. (That was a great scene.)

Furthermore, Twooper is revealed as the boss of Duncan and sends his minions Hutch and Chantal to kill Warden Murphy. As a side note, these are the first two people he's been seen being friendly with, which should probably tell us they aren't very nice people. Even more importantly, we find out he is still contacting Diane by text messages, which will surely be revisited. Like I said, lots.

This really is a challenging show for me to review. I guess that's why unlike Josie's, my reviews are so short. The bottom line is: I enjoy this. I truly do. I don't think it's a masterpiece, and it can be rather aggravating at times, but the visuals are stunning, the characters are great, the plot... Actually, all the content actually there is great.

This concludes the first half of the season. With all the pieces being set in motion in this installment, here's hoping it picks up the pace somewhat down the stretch.

3 comments:

Keith Kotay said...

I think #8 was the best thing I've seen on TV for a long time, but then again I enjoy surrealism...

I believe Cooper will look better when he wakes up--I recently watched a video of Kyle and he looked pretty good, so I believe the slack-faced Cooper is some clever makeup and stone-faced acting...

Did we see Audrey when her brother ran into the wall? Or was that his Mother?

Ben appears to have improved, but I doubt it--although he's probably settled down a bit. The usual soap opera reason for a guy having an "I don't know why I can't do this" moment is because the woman is his child (or close relative)...

The key moment in this episode is the text to Diane. I've watched it three times and I'm still not sure I know what her reaction means. It's clear she is anxious about receiving the text, and possibly relieved to get it--but at the same time not really happy. That suggests Bad Cooper may have some hold over her. As if he is threatening her or someone she cares about, and as long as he is alive (and on the loose) that someone is safe. But at the same time the fact that he's still alive (and on the loose) means he still poses a threat. The strange thing is that she was willing to tell Cole that the incarcerated Cooper was not the Dale Cooper she once knew. I don't see why she would do that if she was in truly cahoots with Bad Cooper...

Overall, the pacing of the show takes some getting used to--it's much slower than normal 2017 pacing. Even in 1990 the pacing was slow at times, bordering on awkward. Now that feels even more pronounced. Lynch likes to keep the audience unbalanced with awkwardness and/or random (or seemingly unrelated) plot elements. I think some of it was overdone in the early episodes--or have I adapted?

I've enjoyed the first half, but it took a while for me to get "plugged in" to the show. Of course, I enjoyed seeing the old characters but at times I felt the show was "off"--and not on purpose. However, #8 was so good I feel I am hooked once again (for reference, I watched the original series in 1990). It will be interesting to see the disparate plot lines converge. I hope Cooper wakes up soon, since he was such an anchor in the original series and now he's missing in action. On the other hand, Lynch may want to do another season--and then it's better to postpone Cooper's awakening as long as possible. However, I still think we need at least a few episodes of the real Cooper to fully recreate the gestalt of the original series...

Josie Kafka said...

If he was in the White Lodge, that's rather disconcerting, since it implies that Twooper (look, I found a name for the bastard) was able to enter it and kill him. I'll stash that under "questions likely never to get answered."

I think we could theorize that Matthew Lillard opened a metaphorical door that let Twooper in to kill Major Briggs in the White Lodge. I think. Maybe.

By the way, the website Matthew Lillard mentioned is real: http://thesearchforthezone.com/

TheShadowKnows said...

"In fact, I was fully expecting us to stay in La-la-land for a couple of more episodes..."

I expected exactly the same. In fact, I wouldn't have been surprised if the remainder of the season had been the same sort of light show.

"...here's hoping it picks up the pace somewhat down the stretch."

I trust you're not VERY hopeful. :oD