TV Recap: Twin Peaks: The Return, Part 15
“I’m waiting for someone.”
I’ve already written about the ways in which David Lynch makes us wait. The possibilities within pauses, the tension in delay, and the power of negative space are tools he wields perhaps better than any other living filmmaker. With this week’s installment of Twin Peaks, Lynch promises to reward us for our patience, whether it’s in gratification for a quarter-century of longing, a plot twist we’ve been hoping for all season, or the permission to mourn someone we’ve long known is already gone.
Dr. Amp’s golden shovels, so easily dismissed earlier in the season as a commentary on the temptation to read too much into the show’s secrets, are indeed doing some good. Nadine has gained so much confidence from “shoveling herself out of the shit” that she’s ready to tell Big Ed something he’s been waiting decades to hear. She knows he belongs with Norma, and she wants them to be together. She walks all the way to the Gas Farm to tell this to an incredulous Ed, who hurries to the Double R as soon as he’s sure she means what she’s saying.
Norma doesn’t have time for Ed, though, as she has a meeting with her flirtatious business manager, Walter. The anguish of Big Ed missing the chance he’s been aching for since high school is palpable, as we watch him sit in silence at the counter, wanting to die. But Norma’s hand slips into frame and onto his shoulder. She’s rejected Walter’s advances and the idea of expanding the Double R, and she’s more than ready to accept Ed's marriage proposal. They kiss, and Lynch shows us the very trees and skies vibrating, Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” swelling, as all of nature sings the joy of such a slow-burning dream come true.
While Ed and Norma’s romance is the very real, human face of heartfelt waiting in Twin Peaks, there’s a darker, more cosmic question waiting to be answered. Mr. C arrives at the Convenience Store and demands to see Phillip Jeffries. A squadron of Woodsmen lead him deep into the space last seen in the painting on Laura’s wall in Fire Walk With Me, visions of trees and the Jumping Man and the strains of Krzysztof Penderecki's “Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima” blending to create classic Lynchian dread in an extended build-up to a conversation we’ve long been waiting for.
It’s unclear whether the thing the doppelganger finds is a communication device or the new body of the chronologically-displaced Agent Jeffries, but it’s waiting for him in a strikingly sinister composition of electricity, smoke, and shadow. Mr. C asks the question that has haunted so many fans since 1992: “Who’s Judy?” The voice from within the machine answers, “You’ve already met Judy,” while spouting numbers from smoke like a Wonderland caterpillar. The disinterested and disembodied spirit of Jeffries banishes the double to the outside of the Convenience Store, where he finds that Richard Horne has followed him from the Farm. Richard wants to know more about this man he recognizes from a photo his mother had, and Mr. C promises they’ll talk en route to his destination.
In Vegas, the F.B.I. has called in Douglas Jones and his wife, Jane, but it’s not the right Jones family. Duncan Todd is also still concerned with Dougie’s fate, until he’s assassinated by Chantal. One half of their Vegas Double Header down, Hutch and Chantal share some drive-thru while discussing the relative morals of life and death in America. Meanwhile, our Janey-E gives Dale-Dougie a piece of cake, which he eats while jabbing absently at the remote control. This brings Sunset Boulevard onto the TV, blending the fiction of Twin Peaks with the reality of David Lynch. Lynch named Gordon Cole after a minor character from Billy Wilder’s classic film, and a voice on the television telling him to “get Gordon Cole” drives Cooper to shove his fork in an electrical socket.
In the woods outside Twin Peaks, Gersten Hayward is trying to comfort Steven Burnett. They’re both high and talking in anxious non-sequiturs, until an off-screen shot suggests to us that Steven has committed suicide. On a lighter note, the most surprising music cue in all of Twin Peaks happens as ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man” blares over a scene of James inadvertently starting a fight with his love interest’s husband. Freddie’s superpowered fist comes to his rescue, resulting in both of them being locked up alongside Chad, Naido, and the mysterious parroting drunk. Hawk returns to his office to find that Margaret Lanterman is on hold with one last call.
“I’m dying,” Margaret tells Hawk. “You know about death…that it’s just a change, not an end.” She tells him to remember the things they’ve talked about, before observing that her log is turning gold. They bid each other goodnight, and Hawk gathers the staff to share the news that Margaret has passed away. Truman salutes, Lucy cries, and the moon leaves the sky as the wind blows through the trees and her window darkens.
“And now, the sadness comes, the revelation,” Margaret said in her introduction to the episode of the original series that revealed Laura Palmer’s killer. “But there is still the question, why? And this question will go on and on until the final answer comes. Then the knowing is so full there is no room for questions.” Her words echo here as the entire world of Twin Peaks mourns her passing. Only three hours remain of this fulfillment of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s promise that they would see us again in twenty-five years. Audrey is confronting Charlie, Mr. C is going to tell Richard what he knows about his mother, and Dale Cooper has exposed himself to the power of electricity. Soon, there will be no more Sunday evenings of new revelations from Lynch and Frost, and we will be left with the duty to explore what it means to us.
Each time a deceased actor has entered Twin Peaks, the episode has been dedicated to their memory. The credits already acknowledged the passing of Catherine Coulson in Part 1, but Part 15 is dedicated to Margaret Lanterman. I wrote in my recap of Part 10 about the importance of the bridge Margaret provided between the audience and the world of Twin Peaks. She spoke directly to us, welcomed us in, and made sure we were learning what we needed to learn from the story. In so doing, she became as real as any actor, and as mortal. The death of Margaret, the loss of Catherine, and the preparation to let go of Twin Peaks are all one and the same. All that’s left for us is to do as she instructed Hawk: