TV Recap: Twin Peaks: The Return, Part 6
“You’ve certainly given me a lot to think about.”
“I’ve been adamant about having no particular expectations for the show,” I said in my reaction to the first two hours of the new Twin Peaks. I can tell you now, after three weeks and another four hours of story, that I wasn’t being entirely honest then. From the day this revival was announced in October of 2014, I had one not-so-secret hope. I wished for a reveal that would recontextualize the original series by casting someone hovering just off screen from the beginning. I prayed that a character fans have been waiting to meet since 1990 would be embodied by one of my favorite actors, someone who’s been David Lynch’s friend, creative partner, and muse for over thirty years. In Part 6, my prayers were answered.
Laura Dern is Diane.
But we’re not gonna talk about Diane just yet, because all we’ve gotten so far is a brief glimpse of her bold, white bob and coordinated bracelet/nail polish combo as she greeted Albert Rosenfield with a sad inevitability. Lynch is withholding their conversation about the Bob-infected doppelganger of Dale Cooper for another day, teasing us with a drawn-out “hello” stuck like an oasis into the real Coop’s catatonic drift through the life of Dougie Jones. Escorted home by police, the not-all-there Cooper has a lovely moment of bonding with Sonny Jim (who speaks here for the first time) over the clap-on light in his bedroom, before getting to work on the case files given to him by his boss. In a vision from the Red Room, Mike pleads with Cooper to wake up and not die, seemingly driving the agent to scrawl ladders and stairs all over the files. The next day, his boss sees something brilliant in the doodles and thanks Dougie-Dale for alerting him to some “disturbing” truth.
Janey-E, meanwhile, is fed up with Dougie’s inability to answer her many questions and alarmed by a threatening photo of Dougie with Jade left at their doorstep. Realizing she has to take matters into her own hands, Janey-E meets with the men to whom her husband owes money the next day. She gives them the “Mr. Jackpots” cash, but firmly insists it’s all they’ll get. Naomi Watts is particularly dynamic in this scene, terrified but unyielding as she asserts control over the mess her life has become.
For the first time, we don’t see the doppelganger/Bob-inhabited Cooper this week, though the murderous ramifications of his machinations appear with a vengeance. A diminutive assassin is dispatched to slaughter Lorraine, the woman who failed to ensure Dougie’s assassination, by Duncan Todd, the casino manager we met briefly in Part 2. And Red, the man last seen at the Bang Bang Bar at the end of Part 2, threatens Richard Horne, the repellent young cretin we met last week, with the most sinister close-up magic act in television history. Evil Cooper’s absence in this hour, coming after his insidious phone call, somehow feels even more unnerving than his presence ever could. Hawk, meanwhile, follows a dropped “Indian Head” coin into a bathroom stall, and notices its “Nez Perce” branded door is peeling at its corner. Is this the piece of his heritage the Log Lady alluded to? Prying the door apart, Hawk finds a handful of handwritten pages shoved deep inside.
The centerpiece of this installment of Twin Peaks reacquaints us with Harry Dean Stanton as Carl Rodd, manager of the Fat Trout trailer park from Fire Walk With Me. Mark Frost’s Secret History of Twin Peaks revealed that Rodd vanished into the woods for a brief period as a child, along with his classmate, Margaret Lanterman. This suggestion that he was blessed with the same cosmic awareness as the Log Lady comes to fruition here, as he witnesses the death of a young boy mowed down in a hit-and-run by a coked-out Richard Horne. An awed Rodd watches what appears to be the child’s soul leaving his body, before moving in to comfort the anguished mother. It’s a sequence that does little to move any plot threads forward, but is rich with Lynchian observation of strangers colliding in tragedy.
The sixth part of Twin Peaks’s return is beautifully emblematic of what’s always been the show’s strength. It’s hard to pinpoint much forward momentum in any of its intersecting story threads, yet this hour felt like an emotional rollercoaster. We got a dash of sweet nostalgia at the Double R with loveable waitress Heidi and her distinctive titter, heart-wrenching tragedy in the senseless death of a child, the offbeat humor of “Ike the Spike” mourning his bent icepick, and the vicious shock of the murder that caused the damage in the first place. All the while, David Lynch taunts us by drawing out Cooper’s comatose entrapment in the life of Dougie Jones to what he surely knows is an unbearable length.
Stepping back from the details, we see the themes of this eighteen-hour piece beginning to crystalize as its first third draws to a close. The horrors of war creep into its corners, with a friend of Carl Rodd’s bemoaning his wife’s injury in military service (a high point in the series: Harry Dean Stanton grumbling, “Fucking government.”), and we learn that Frank and Doris Truman had a veteran son who committed suicide. Coins, present in the show since Cooper wandered into the Silver Mustang, quietly flood the screen here, in the form of Hawk’s guiding nickel, Red’s disappearing dime, and the paperweight on the desk of Dougie’s boss. When Janey-E furiously identifies her family as “part of the ninety-nine percent” and compares the interest rate demanded by Dougie’s creditorsto the meager one she receives from her bank, it’s impossible to ignore that the evil of America’s financial systems is the unspoken sinister force behind the darkness of Twin Peaks.
And, even as the story’s wheels seem to spin in futility, intriguing new questions lure us toward the next installment. From which Horne is the irredeemable Richard descended? Are those pages from Laura Palmer’s diary that Hawk just found? What does Dougie’s boss see in his seemingly inscrutable work? And what is Diane like? It’s a question as old as Twin Peaks itself, one that Lynch and Frost have just assured us they’re going to answer.
But, not yet.