Twin Peaks: The Return – Parts 3 and 4
If David Lynch was going to return to Twin Peaks, one thing was clear, it was going to be on his terms. Lynch nearly walked away from the project early on when Showtime didn’t approve his budget. But ultimately the eccentric auteur got his way and for better or worse, the new season of Twin Peaks reflects Lynch’s singular vision. Showtime gave David Lynch a pile of money and complete creative control. If nothing else, it will be interesting to see what he did with it.
As an avowed Lynch fan, I went in to this series with an open mind. The one thing I was reasonably sure of was that Lynch would subvert any expectations I might have for a Twin Peaks revival. I had read comments that the third season would be different. That it would be wider in scope and take place in locations outside the town of Twin Peaks. But nothing I had read prepared me for the third and fourth hours of the new season.
The second two-hour chunk of the revival deals largely with Agent Cooper who has escaped the Black Lodge after twenty-five years of imprisonment. Not surprisingly, a quarter of a century spent sitting in a red room has taken a toll on our hero. If there’s one this episode makes clear, Coop’s not himself. He may not be anybody anymore.
What does that mean? I don’t know. Let’s walk through some of the weirdness and see if we can sort it out. Coop enters a room where he meets a woman in a red dress. Her eyes are covered in scar tissue. There is a loud and ominous banging noise and the woman warns Cooper to be quiet. Then they go up through a hatch into an infinite star-field. The woman pulls a lever activating something electric. After receiving a shock, she is blasted out into space and drifts away into eternal darkness. Whoa.
Coop continues staring into space where he sees the face of Major Garland Briggs (played in the original series by the late Don S. Davis to whom the episode is dedicated). The face says “blue rose” – a term familiar to those who watched Fire Walk With Me. The really strange cases in the FBI files are Gordon Cole’s Blue Rose cases. Kind of like the Twin Peaks equivalent of the X-Files only weirder because David Lynch.
Cooper goes back down into the room where he meets a different woman in a red dress. Or at least the two women are played by different actresses. The one who got blasted into space was portrayed by Nae Naido. But this woman, whose eyes are visible, is played by Phoebe Augustine who also portrayed Ronette Pulaski. Is this woman Ronette? There is no indication one way or another. This opening sequence is mostly silent but the woman tells Cooper that when he returns, he will already be there.
On a nearby wall, there is a large panel that looks like a wall socket. It’s sparking electricity. As Cooper approaches it, he meets resistance. But the closer he gets, it draws him in to its sockets. “Ronette” warns Cooper that he had better hurry because her mother is coming. Indeed, Coop is moving with a frustrating lack of urgency. Eventually, he is sucked through the wall socket with the exception of his shoes which fall to the floor.
This bodes ill for Dark Cooper, aka the Doppelganger. He’s driving along a desert road looking for the coordinates he obtained last week. As the real Cooper makes his return, the cigarette lighter in Dark Coop’s car starts flashing. Looking distressed, the Doppelganger looses control of his car. Pulled over to the side of the road, Dark Cooper starts seeing flashes of the Black Lodge while the sound of electricity sparks from the cigarette lighter. Despite efforts to muffle his mouth, the Doppelganger begins vomiting a mixture of what looks like creamed corn and black bile. This is likely the substance referred to as “garmonbozia.” In Fire Walk With Me, we are told that it is “pain and suffering”.
Meanwhile, we are introduced to another character played by Kyle MacLachlan. Dougie is a heavier look-a-like with an unfortunate head of hair. When we meet him, he is finishing up his business with a prostitute named Jade. He complains to Jade that his arm is tingling. He is wearing the owl cave ring also seen in FWWM. When Jade leaves the room to take a shower, Dougie vanishes to the Red Room where Mike is waiting for him.
Poor Dougie is understandably confused. When he asks what is going on, the One Armed Man tells him that he has been manufactured for a purpose but that purpose has now been fulfilled. Basically, Dougie has been living his life as a placeholder of sorts for Coop. But now that Coop is back, Dougie isn’t needed anymore. So he disappears. First, the hand with the owl ring withers away and then his head turns into a black cloud with a gold orb floating in it. Mike hides his eyes as Dougie vanishes in a sparking field of electricity. Then he picks up the ring and the little gold ball left in Dougie’s chair.
Back in the real world, a black cloud oozes out of a wall socket and forms into Agent Cooper. By his head is a little bit of nastiness that looks like vomit. It’s not the same yellow and black substance Dark Coop puked up. In fact, it sort of looks like someone barfed up a slice of cherry pie.
When Jade sees “Dougie” lying on the floor, she initially thinks he’s goofing around. Not only is Coop now wearing a dark suit, he is sporting a shorter haircut. Jade assumes he has been wearing a wig the entire time which is an odd explanation, but I guess it makes more sense than what actually happened. When Coop stares at her blankly, Jade goes through his pockets to see if he has the keys to his car. Instead, she finds his key to the Great Northern Hotel.
Realizing that “Dougie” can’t get himself home, Jade decides to give him a lift. As they pull away in her yellow jeep, they are being watched by a couple of dangerous looking guys. Fortunately, Cooper drops his room key just as they are passing surveillance. When he bends down to pick it up, the guys assume that Jade has left him back at the house. With no target in the hairs of his sniper rifle, Jake radios his partner who plants a device on “Dougie’s” car.
There is very obviously something wrong with Agent Cooper. His only means of communication is to repeat back what people have said to him. Jade is concerned enough to give him $5 to call for help when she drops him off at a casino. Her concern is echoed by a cashier who exchanges the $5 bill for quarters. Coop takes his cup full of change and wanders from one slot machine to another. Whenever one of the machines is ready to play out, he sees an image of the Red Room floating above it. Much to the chagrin of the casino management, Coop earns the name “Mr. Jackpots” after thirty consecutive wins.
After extracting a promise to come back and try his luck at the casino again, the frazzled manager sends Cooper home in a limo with a bad full of money. Thanks to an encounter with one of Dougie’s friends, Coop knows the street he lives on and that his house has a red door. “Dougie’s” worried wife, played by Naomi Watts, comes out that red door scolding her husband for his disappearance and for missing their son’s birthday. She can tell something is wrong with the man she believes is her husband, but she’s too wrapped up in her own problems to dig into these mysteries too deeply.
Some of Janey-E’s problems are alleviated when she realizes that the sack Cooper is carrying with him is filled with money. She questions her husband regarding the source of his winnings, but doesn’t press too hard. After recovering from the initial shock, she offers to make Cooper a sandwich and then bring him a slice of Sonny Jim’s chocolate cake.
The next morning, Cooper struggles with relearning how to relieve himself. Afterwards, he stared into a mirror in a scene that is reminiscent of the end of the original series. This time, he does not see Bob’s reflection in the mirror. That’s gotta count for something.
After Janey-E dresses “Dougie” in ill-fitting and unsightly clothes, he joins his son for a pancake breakfast. Comedy ensues as Cooper, wearing a tie on his head, discovers the joy of breakfast. He spits out his coffee which I suspect he did not realize would be hot.
These two episodes contain a lot of scenes that are intellectually funny without actually eliciting laughter. I found myself growing impatient with Coop’s Rain Man act at the casino, for example. But this is David Lynch’s story and he’s going to tell it at his own pace. Apparently, he finds this stuff funny enough to support at least two episodes. But I find myself hoping Coop comes to his senses sooner rather than later and not just because I am concerned for one of my favorite TV characters.
The episodes also checked in with some of our supporting characters. At the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s office, Lucy, Andy and Hawk go over all their files to try to figure out what is missing. Lucy suggests that it could be a chocolate Easter bunny that she ate. Overwhelmed, Hawk insists “It’s not about the bunny.” Then second guesses himself “is it about the bunny?” Eventually, he concludes with some degree of certainty that “No! It’s not about the bunny.” It’s probably about the bunny, folks.
Scenes like this feel more like the old TV show than the scenes in which Coop is hanging out in space. The show’s cast of eccentric characters inspired a lot of copycats. When we check in with the old Twin Peaks characters here, it almost feels like a satire of the original episodes. For example, when Bobby Briggs, now a deputy on the force, sees Laura Palmer’s high school picture, the theme song starts to play and Bobby begins crying a little too much. “Man, it brings back some memories,” he says between sniffles. It sure does.
There were two bits that actually had me laughing out loud. The first was Lucy’s reaction to cell phones. Not only does she not understand how they work, cell phones freak Lucy out so badly that she is startled right out of her chair every time. Later in the episode, we meet Lucy and Andy’s son, Wally Brando played by Michael Cera. Wally dresses like he stepped right out of The Wild Bunch and talks like Marlon Brando right down to the Godfather references. Much like James Hurley, Wally imitates “coolness” without necessarily being cool.
We also catch up with Gordon Cole and Albert Rosenfield. Gordon is overjoyed when news comes in that the long-lost Agent Cooper has been found. Before leaving, Cole has a meeting with Chief of Staff Denise Bryson to let her know they are going to South Dakota to retrieve Agent Cooper (who is actually the Doppelganger).
Desnise chastises Cole for bringing along a beautiful young agent on their trip. Apparently Gordon has a profile that involves female agents “barely 30”. Cole reminds Denise that when he was her boss, he used to look out for her. That and a little flattery assuages her concerns. But later on when Albert and Gordon are in South Dakota with Agent Preston, they treat her dismissively and Albert even goes so far as to comment on her figure as she walks away. This sexism isn’t all that surprising coming from a couple of G-Men, but it’s unexpected behavior for Gordon and Albert.
The interview with Cooper’s Doppelganger is awkward. He requests more than once to be debriefed by Gordon. To their credit, Cole and Albert know something is up with their old friend even if they don’t know what. After admitting that they don’t understand the situation, the two men agree that this is a Blue Rose case and they need to get in touch with one specific person. Albert doesn’t know where she is, but he says he knows where she drinks.
Who could they be referring to? My guess would be Diane, Cooper’s previously unseen assistant who is rumored to be played by Laura Dern in the revival. If not her, I’m going to go with Audrey who is one of the most prominent cast-members from the original series still absent.