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Twin Peaks: The Return, Part Three

There's something inherently futile about reviewing ongoing serialized television.

This problem isn't really something that rears its head when you're reviewing Star Trek The Next Generation. It certainly doesn't apply too much to The Big Bang Theory. However, Twin Peaks is next-level television. It's television that's fully embraced the strength of the medium - the ability to tell long stories. The extension of time constraints is what's allowed it to supersede movies as the most interesting form of entertainment available today.

Unfortunately, this means that you're forced to write reviews while missing major pieces of the puzzle. Would anyone have judged the first season of Lost favorably had they known about that horrid ending? This, at least, is something I doubt we'll be served on Twin Peaks, with the creators spending several years completing the script. No, there is a sense of direction here.

Also unfortunately, it means a show like Twin Peaks, reveling in this artistic freedom, will most likely never regain a large audience. This isn't easy television, it's art-movie television, and while some enjoy art movies, others merely pretend to enjoy them, and most do not. It's not Inland Empire, but it certainly isn't Twin Peaks season one either.

Reviewing Twin Peaks, for me, is about finding what I think the director has to say to me. Often, it's not a lot. Whenever I go into a Lynch movie, I know he is a brilliant mind, and he does have something to say, but his world is very different from mine. I'm a modern man, and David Lynch is a postmodern director. At least, he's a rather "modern" postmodern director. This separates him from a Peter Greenaway, his work wrought with so much symbolism one often wonders if he has any message, or a Kieslowski, who somehow represents the ultimate self-parody of empty, pompous nineties cinema.

Still, at some times the editing of the show is almost making me seasick. The stuttering, in particular, makes me wonder if there's something wrong with my media player, and this is hardly easily-accessible television. But, yet again - what did you expect?

So, after that rather tiring and lengthy intro, let's get into what really happened this episode.

The most significant development of part three is Cooper escaping the Black Lodge, and a few confusing scenes and five scoopfuls of symbolism later - I'm not sure if the first woman he meets in front of the fireplace is supposed to be a stand-in for Josie - he's dumped in the place of a third Cooper, one apparently created as a decoy by Evil Dale. That doesn't mean Evil Dale (Bob!Dale? Doppler? Help!) gets away without a scratch - he ends up crashing his car as Cooper transitions to the real world. As it's explained to us, this means there are now two Coopers in the world and the two will have to fight it out, which is rather bad news for poor real Dale, who isn't even in any condition to tie his own shoelaces.

Remarkably, he seems in even worse shape after getting out into the real world, which admittedly should come as a shock after twenty-five years in Hell. It should also probably be stressed that Cooper's life is very much at stake here - Lynch isn't one to coddle and cater to the audience, no matter how much we may want the lovable fellow from the original run back. Still, if he were to remain in this sad state for the rest of the series that would probably grow tiring, which obviously is no reassurance they won't go that route anyway.

As Dale returns to the real world he's thrust into the care of a hooker who ends up leaving him at a casino. Neither she nor any other people he encounters reacts in any way believable towards him - any normal person would assume he's had a stroke and call the hospital - but that's just classic Lynch, even a constant. This simply isn't realistic television, and normal people behaving in a bizarre manner is par for the course. He ends up breaking the bank due to some paranormal power, and at the conclusion of the episode we learn that the FBI, with Jim, Albert and new recruit Tabby, has found Agent Cooper who's "in trouble" - unknown which one.

The adventures of Dale and his evil counterpart consumes by far the lion's share of the installment's screentime. I've heard complaints about Kyle not being at his best as the apparent chief antagonist, but I think that's unwarranted. He certainly manages to come off as menacing, and there's a fair bit of the signature "Bob" madness to his performance.

"We laid everything out, Hawk, and we can't find anything that's missing."
"If it's not here, then how do you know it's missing?"

Other characters making appearances are Andy, Lucy and Hawk trying to figure out the case of what they're "missing". In a world where most of the people involved have gone through major transformations, Andy and Lucy seemingly haven't changed at all.

In conclusion, while hardly being easy to review, this has to be the easiest show in the world to screencap. You can literally pause the episode at any time and end up with a great picture. It's really, really pretty.


  1. This is getting really good. i can't wait for the next review!

  2. Would anyone have judged the first season of Lost favorably had they known about that horrid ending?

    Yes! Because once you know the ending it's actually clear what the show is trying to do. (That's my random Lost defense of the week.)

    This show is difficult to review, but I really like the way you anchored this discussion in both the events and the style. I think Lynch has something wonderful to say, but it's also fascinating to explore how he says it.

  3. Knowing Lynch as I do, fans of Twin Peaks should be grateful "The Return" isn't literally eighteen hours of him giving them the middle finger. (Unless that's what it turns out to be - in which case, don't be grateful, but don't be surprised either.)

    I will add my voice to Josie's in defense of the way Lost ended: it was in keeping with the show as a whole, ESPECIALLY the first season. I really don't understand how anyone who was still watching at that point was either surprised at, or aggravated by, the finale.

  4. I was aggravated and puzzled at the time. But I've changed my mind.

  5. Twin Peaks discovery! I watched the first 30 minutes of Fire Walk with Me and realized that Dougie Jones's ring is the same one that Chris Isaak picks up at Theresa Banks's trailer park before he disappears.

  6. You gotta admire Lynch's commitment to keeping FWWM relevant, regardless of how much everyone hates it.

  7. I'm looking forward to next installment with both anticipation and trepidation. And I guess that's what I get for bashing Lost when I really am not that familiar with it. I should've used Battlestar Galactica as an example instead. Gotta stop doing that... ;)


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