TV Recap: Twin Peaks: The Return, Part 7
“There’s something that definitely isn’t here.”
Leave it to David Lynch to lull you into a rhythm, only to jerk the wheel askew the very instant you think you’re on a straight road. If the eighteen hours of the new Twin Peaks have an equal three-act structure, this week’s Part 7 marks the start of Act Two, and it has the mounting pace to match. After establishing a pattern of delicately creeping plot threads and scattershot vignettes with meaning withheld, Twin Peaks has begun to light up its road signs. Whether those signs are in a language we can read is another question.
The last few installments have opened on Dale Cooper wandering hopelessly through the life of Dougie Jones, rewarding us with brief glimpses of Twin Peaks itself only after those glacial sequences. Part 7 shatters this formula by dropping us in the woods with a high-off-his-ass Jerry Horne, fretting to his brother via iPhone that he doesn’t know where he is. It’s an opening that’s pure Twin Peaks: funny, heartbreaking, and a metaphor for itself. We are all Jerry Horne, stoned among strange trees and crying for a familiar hand to guide us.
Surprisingly, the show obliges by leading into a scene with some real answers. Those papers Hawk found last week were indeed missing pages from Laura Palmer’s diary, and they’re doozies. Anyone who saw Fire Walk With Me remembers the flabbergasting scene in which Annie Blackburn instructs Laura in a dream to write about “the Good Dale” being trapped in the Lodge, a moment that set fire to the notion of how time works in the Red Room and the meaning of Dale and Laura finding each other after death. We learn now that Laura did write about it in her diary, and those pages have finally surfaced. Intriguingly, though, one page is still missing.
Hawk’s exposition about Dale and Annie prompts Sheriff Frank Truman to call the two people who saw Coop emerge from the Black Lodge: his brother, Harry, and Doc Hayward. Harry is in the middle of what sounds like serious medical tests, and Frank decides not to bother him with mysteries and merely offers encouragement. He Skypes with Doc Hayward, who recalls the disturbing look Cooper gave him in the hospital before disappearing from intensive care, where Audrey Horne lay comatose after the bank explosion. This scene is deceptively loaded—it contains the revival’s first mention of Audrey, presents a touchingly jovial friendship between the sheriff and the doctor, and gives us the return of Warren Frost as Will Hayward. Frost passed away in February, and this episode’s debut on Father’s Day feels like a tribute of beautifully Lynchian alignment—Will was maybe the only good dad in the original run of Twin Peaks, and Warren was the father of co-creator Mark Frost.
Lieutenant Knox arrives in Buckhorn, South Dakota, and is alarmed to find that the fingerprints of Garland Briggs came not from the crime scene, but the headless body itself, which is determined to have died just a few days before, late 40s in age. She calls Colonel Davis (who you gonna call? Ernie Hudson!) to inform him of this convergence of temporal anomalies, only vaguely aware that the shabby spirit we saw in prison in Part 2 is wandering the halls behind her. I have no idea what this entity represents, but I’m elated to find that, even without the living presence of Frank Silva as Bob, Twin Peaks still knows how to be scary as hell.
I wrote about how emotional I was over last week’s reveal of Laura Dern as Diane, but I expected that brief introduction was a tease that wouldn’t pay off for a long time. I’m delighted to be proven wrong here, as Dern steals the show in an extended sequence chronicling Diane’s trek to face Cooper’s doppelganger. Diane is every bit the bold, stylish firebrand we’ve all imagined Dale’s confidant to be, more than ready to tell every F.B.I. agent who crosses her path to fuck themselves. Dern has always specialized in embodying interwoven extremes of strength and vulnerability, and Diane is already proving a stunning vehicle for her skill. She looks the prisoner in the eye and demands he remember the last night they saw each other, before breaking down in an embrace with a confused but sympathetic Gordon Cole.
Diane knows that’s not Dale Cooper in prison, but it may not matter. The doppelganger manages to blackmail the warden with some kind of information connected to the dog leg found in his trunk and the “Mr. Strawberry” alluded to in Part 5, which is enough to negotiate a secret release. Meanwhile, the real Cooper is confronted by police about Dougie’s blown-up car, a conversation which Janey-E maneuvers him out of. As they exit his office, they are attacked by Ike the Spike, triggering Cooper’s self-defense instincts. Cheered on by a manifestation of The Arm (or maybe its doppelganger), he deftly disarms Ike, and for just a moment, we see our beloved special agent present behind his eyes. Police arrive to interview witnesses and collect evidence, Lynch taking special care to show us a strange piece of flesh stuck to Ike’s gun.
That room key has arrived at the Great Northern, and with it, an unearthly tone. Ben enlists his assistant, Beverley (Ashley Judd’s character seen briefly way back in Part 1) to help find it. Recognizing Cooper’s key and remembering Laura, the always-flirtatious Ben dismisses Beverley to return home to her cancer-stricken husband, who is suspicious of her late work nights. Judd brings this new character to life in this scene as a woman torn between her need to care for this man and his unfair demands of her attention. She takes her place alongside Laura Dern as Diane and Naomi Watts as Janey-E in a triptych of female characters dealing with the emotional labor demanded by the oblivious men in their lives.
I said last week that Part 6 was classic Lynch in that you couldn’t point to any forward plot momentum, but a rollercoaster of emotions was had nonetheless. Part 7 swerves into a forest thick with new revelations, but still retains the classic elements of Twin Peaks. We saw some folksy warmth between Truman and Hayward, our F.B.I. heroes confirmed that something is definitely wrong with the man in South Dakota, a bit of chilling horror lingers in the margins, and a strange noise has made itself a plot point. Audrey has at last been mentioned, though her glaring absence from the screen hints at a major reveal to come (my first thought about the tone at the Great Northern was that she may have left something in the crawlspace she once used to spy on her father). The real Dale inches achingly closer to lucidity, his doppelganger is on the loose, and Laura Palmer is quickly becoming the talk of Twin Peaks once more. Part 8 will be the last episode before the only one-week hiatus in the series, and I suspect it’s going to leave us with a lot to consider.