TV Recap: Twin Peaks: The Return, Part 14
“Who do you think that is there?”
When Phillip Jeffries suddenly walks onto the screen in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, his presence throws all sense of time and place into chaos. Sure, David Bowie had similar mind-bending effects on us every day, but his role as the long-lost Agent Jeffries opens new doors within the world of Twin Peaks by hinting at the aftereffects of an encounter with the Black Lodge. His uncertainty of where and when he is, combined with his suspicion of Dale Cooper (knowing, as only the audience does, that an evil Cooper waits in the future), served as an unnerving clue to the narrative potential of dreams to unlock chronological anomalies. “It was a dream,” Jeffries says as he fights to remain lucid. “We lived inside a dream.”
Like many things about Fire Walk With Me, the brief and perplexing Bowie cameo is gaining new relevance in The Return. Not only is Jeffries hovering unseen over the story like a phantom puppet master, but characters getting unstuck from time and events occurring out of order feel like increasingly important concepts as the series enters its final stretch. Portals yawn open, disparate characters lurch toward each other, and scenes dare you to question their connection to the larger narrative.
This week’s Twin Peaks presents us with a dream that instantly establishes itself as one of the most important scenes in the Lynch canon. Gordon Cole has had “another Monica Bellucci dream” in which he’s having coffee with the actress and her entourage. Dale Cooper is there, though Cole can’t see his face. “We’re like the dreamer who dreams and then lives inside the dream,” Monica tells him. “But who is the dreamer?” Lynch enthusiasts will recognize this quote as a translation from the Sanskrit philosophical texts known as The Upanishads, which the filmmaker has long been fond of. His book, Catching the Big Fish, was largely built on ideas from The Upanishads, and the appearance of these words here solidifies Twin Peaks as the ultimate personal expression of Lynch’s spirit on screen.
In the dream, Cole turns around and sees himself from many years ago, as he gazes directly into a scene from Fire Walk With Me. Cooper is telling the young Gordon about a dream he had, just as Phillip Jeffries appears (and doesn’t appear). Gordon and Albert remember this moment together, as if both of them had it blocked from their minds until just this moment. A dream within a flashback within another dream within a story may be the key to where Lynch and Frost are taking us in the final four hours of their odyssey.
While this dream is perhaps the most significant sequence in Part 14 of Twin Peaks, it’s far from the only major revelation to come to our F.B.I. heroes. Albert briefs Tammy on the first Blue Rose case investigated by Cole and Jeffries, in which a woman murdered her double. Cole returns a call from Sheriff Truman, who shares the news about Laura Palmer’s missing diary pages and the two Coopers mentioned within. And Diane, when confronted with the wedding ring found in Garland Briggs’s stomach, reveals that Janey-E Jones is her estranged half-sister. She still doesn’t want to talk about the last night she saw Cooper, though.
Truman, Hawk, Bobby, and Andy prepare to set out to keep their appointment at Jackrabbit’s Palace, but not before jailing that despicable Chad for the various crimes we (and they, we now learn) have seen him commit. Deep in the woods, surrounded by humming electricity, they follow the Major’s coordinates and find a woman they’ve never seen, but who we know to be Naido, the eyeless woman who tried to help Dale Cooper in the Purple Room in Part 3. The first one to rush to her aid is Andy, who quickly finds himself transported to the place where Cooper sat with the being who resembled The Giant in the show’s very first scene. That being appears again, and introduces himself as “The Fireman” before sharing a series of sounds and images.
Andy sees “The Experiment” birthing Bob in the wake of the atomic blast, the Convenience Store, and the “Got a Light” Woodsman. The Red Room’s curtains flutter into view, bringing with them a vision of Laura and the angels who met her at the end of her life. Dale Cooper splits in two before his eyes. Fear, dread, and electricity reveal themselves to him. Andy then reappears in the woods and informs his partners that they need to protect Naido from people who want her dead. They take her to a cell, where the otherworldly hiss of her voice sets off a wailing, bloody-faced drunk, much to the chagrin of the imprisoned Chad.
At the Great Northern, James is on a break from his security guard shift with his extremely cockney partner, Freddie, who has a rubber glove he can never remove that gives him superhuman strength in his right hand. Freddie explains that a man calling himself “The Fireman” appeared to him in what may or may not have been a dream, and instructed him to buy this particular glove and move to Twin Peaks. Clearly unnerved by Freddie’s strange and rambling tale, James sets about his duty to inspect the hotel’s boiler room. He hears that strange tone that’s been haunting Ben Horne, and follows it to a closed door.
Sarah Palmer is drinking again, this time at a dive bar with an unsavory clientele. A horrifying scumbag sidles up to her, and grows increasingly abusive when she rejects his advances. When even threats of eating him fail to drive him away, she removes her face, much as we saw Laura do in Part 2. Unlike the blazing light inside Laura, though, Sarah is full of black smoke, a disembodied grin, and a hand with a distinctive ring finger (“the Spirit Finger,” you think about that, Tammy). She lunges at the man, and a second later, he’s dead on the floor with his throat torn out.
At the Roadhouse, we’re treated to another seemingly random vignette of two women talking in a booth, but this time, something’s different. We eventually catch on that they’re talking about Billy and Tina, the names from Audrey’s story. Billy was last seen with a bloodied nose and mouth, just as in Audrey’s dream, and is still missing. Ominous reverberations and deliberate line deliveries leave us to wonder just what’s happening between these women, and who’s dreaming which dream.
Twin Peaks is nearing its final climax, and even in its fourteenth hour, David Lynch and Mark Frost continue to throw us unexpected curves and revelations that change what came before. Diane and Janey-E are related, James is working with a superhero who talks like a chimney sweep, a denizen of the Purple Room has arrived in our dimension, and sweet Deputy Andy has been chosen as a cosmic messenger. If Part 14 has a unifying theme, it’s the ways in which we communicate the inconceivable to each other. Gordon’s matter-of-fact recounting of his Monica Bellucci dream, the montage unfurled for Andy, Freddie’s long-winded backstory of mystical intervention, and the disappearance of Billy all put us in the position of people desperate to communicate when mere words fail them. All of them are struggling with events that are both real and impossible, as if each is living in a dream. But if they are, we must ask, who is the dreamer?