TV Recap: Twin Peaks: The Return, Part 11
“Depends upon the intention…the intention behind the fire.”
Is there anything David Lynch loves more than fire metaphors? They have always been rampant across Twin Peaks, in the “Fire Walk With Me” chant, in Bob’s threats, and in the Log Lady’s wisdom. The power of fire to simultaneously create and destroy, to burn a singular passion across the universe, has clearly been a lifetime fixation for him as an artist. One spark of warmth growing beyond control, spreading through a connected landscape, fits perfectly at the heart of what Twin Peaks has always been. If last week’s grim, violent installment left us in the dark, this week’s strikes the match and sets the story on fire again. The light of hope is reignited, but the danger burns brighter than ever.
We open this week on a classic American scene of some young boys playing catch. If Lynch and Frost have been teaching us anything, though, it’s that our staid definitions of Americana need to be broken down to make way for awareness of the suffering around us. The kids stumble upon Miriam, who has survived Richard’s attack (I knew that shot of her still breathing was important) and is crawling in search of help. It’s a brief glimpse at this sweet character’s plight, but it’s a huge comfort to know that her resilience may still lead to the downfall of the violent man who appeared to be in power a week ago.
Speaking of which, Becky is ready to murder Steven, and who can blame her after what we’ve seen? She calls her mother, Shelly, for a ride, and ends up carjacking her and peeling off with a gun in her hand. Fortunately, Shelly has a friend in Carl Rodd, who summons a ride by blowing a whistle. En route to stopping her daughter from behaving rashly, Shelly calls Becky’s father, Deputy Bobby. Rarely has Twin Peaks left me quite so overcome with emotion as it did with this series of revelations that Bobby is indeed Becky’s dad, Shelly is good friends with Carl, and Harry Dean Stanton has some kind of magic VW-summoning flute.
Becky unloads some gunshots into an apartment door in a rage, but Steven is hiding downstairs with Gersten Hayward (yes, Donna’s piano-playing sister). Her parents sit her down at the Double R to comfort and advise her, Norma looking on knowingly like a second mom. There’s heartbreak afoot, though, as this scene reveals that Bobby and Shelly are no longer together, and Shelly is dating Red, who we know to be some kind of drug lord with Richard Horne in his employ. The weight behind the eyes of Mädchen Amick, Dana Ashbrook, Peggy Lipton, and Amanda Seyfried says everything we need to know about the soap opera drama that has continued during the quarter-century we’ve been away from Twin Peaks, simultaneously wrenching and comforting in the reassurance that nothing has really changed.
Well, one thing has changed, and that’s Bobby Briggs’s bravery. We get further confirmation here that he’s a good cop, as he intervenes in an accidental shooting at the hands of a child who found his father’s gun in the family van. Chaos ensues among the backed-up traffic, including an Exorcist-like scene of a young girl writhing and vomiting. Between this and a visit to the swamped switchboard at the Sheriff’s Department, we’re getting the suggestion that a sick and violent strangeness is in the air in Twin Peaks.
Even stranger things are afoot in South Dakota, where our F.B.I. heroes visit the abandoned house where Bill Hastings encountered Major Briggs. Waiting there is some kind of portal, some of the soot-covered Woodsmen, and the headless body of Ruth Davenport, who has some coordinates on her arm. Hastings does not survive the trip, his head suddenly caved in in exactly the same fashion as Sam and Tracy in Part 1. At the Buckhorn Police Department, Albert and Gordon (whose hand is shaking like those of the citizens of Twin Peaks when the portal to the Black Lodge opened in season two) look over the coordinates, taking subtle note of Diane’s attention to them. They then indulge in the “policeman’s dream” of donuts and coffee.
Coffee is also on the mind of our dear Dougie-Dale, who is being sent to greet the Mitchum Brothers with the good news that the insurance company will be paying them for the arson. We know from last week that the brothers intend to kill Dougie, but Mike is here to intervene, luring Dale into a coffee shop before he hits the road with their driver. Bradley Mitchum, meanwhile, is fixated on a dream he had about killing Dougie, and when Dale arrives at the rendezvous point with a box, Bradley insists to Rodney that if one certain thing is in that box, they can’t commit the murder. That thing is a cherry pie, and it is what’s in the box.
The brothers, joyous upon receipt of the insurance check, take Dale out for dinner. The homeless old woman from the casino in Part 3 happens to be there, and she is delighted to thank her "Mr. Jackpots" for helping to turn her life around. The perpetually-distracted Candie arrives with Mandie and Sandie, just in time for the brothers to treat Dale to cherry pie. The taste, coupled with the phrase “damn good”, triggers an intense memory deep within our agent’s eyes, but he’s lost again in the bittersweet music of the restaurant’s pianist.
When this episode was listed with the description “There’s fire where you are going,” I had a feeling Hawk would be getting another call from Margaret. He does, because she is concerned about the plan to travel to the coordinates left by Major Briggs. “My log is afraid of fire,” she confides. “There’s fire where you are going.” Hawk assures her he will be careful, but this warning from the Log Lady leaves him clearly disturbed.
There’s fire on Hawk’s map, too, which he describes to Sheriff Truman as “something like modern-day electricity”. Fire and electricity are humming loudly now in Lynch and Frost’s story, shining further light on the mysteries and rousing us out of the starless void of Part 10, but leaving people burned in their wake and promising more dangers to come. The symbol from Mr. C’s playing card reappears again here, hovering over the two titular peaks on the map. “You don’t wanna know about that,” Hawk warns Truman. He may not have a choice, if Part 12 is as eventful, as it has the potential to be. Its description on Showtime’s schedule promises an explosive echo of Twin Peaks’s past in two deceptively simple words: “Let’s rock.”