Twin Peaks: The Return – Part 8
Halfway through this week’s episode of Twin Peaks: The Return, I started to panic. I realized that the episode was half over and almost nothing had happened in the conventional sense. How the hell was I supposed o write a recap in the morning? After nearly thirty minutes that resembled an experimental film with almost no dialogue, I figured it was very likely the back half of the episode was going to follow suit. While I couldn’t imagine what images would flash across my television screen next, I was correct that the entire hour would be devoted to surrealism. This was the strangest, most disturbing, most ambitious hour of television I have ever watched.
Early on, Part 8 seems like it’s going to be typical installment of the Twin Peaks revival. Weird, sure, but more strange than the previous seven hours. Cooper’s doppelganger is on the road with Ray after having escaped from prison last week. Ray has the coordinates Dark Coop needs in order to avoid being sent back to the Black Lodge. The pull over to the side of the road for what promises to be a good old fashioned bad guy double cross. For the first time, it looks like the Doppelganger has been out-maneuvered (or has he?). His gun is empty. Ray shoots him. Then, things get weird.
Ray’s moment of triumph is cut short by the arrival of a group of spectral hobos. They swarm around Dark Coop’s body dancing and smearing his blood all over his face. They rip into his woulds and tear him open revealing the face of Bob to Ray. He flees as the ghostly men begin to swarm around him. As Ray drives away, he leaves a message for Phillip (presumably Phillip Jeffries, the character played by David Bowie in Fire Walk With Me who has been referenced several times in The Return). Ray tells Phillip he thinks Dark Coop is dead, but he can’t be sure. He glosses over the spectres, but admits that he saw something in Cooper that might be “the key to what this is all about.”
For a split second, we see Dark Coop revived. Then we’re introduced to a performance by Nine Inch Nails.
That’s the kick-off to a large wordless sequence which is (I think) the origin story of Bob, the Black Lodge, Laura Palmer and the entire mythology of Twin Peaks. Usually, origin stories lay out facts in easily digestible bites so that audiences will understand how things got to be the way they are. But this one defies explanation. What we know is that it all starts with nuclear testing in New Mexico in 1945. Lynch treats us to several minutes of mushroom clouds and fiery chaos. As the camera zooms into the heart of the explosion, it looks as though the gates of hell are ripped open and the flames are consuming everything in their path.
I’m not going to attempt to summarize all of the strange imagery of the hour. You just need to experience it. But the explosion unleashes evil on the world in the form of Bob’s face in a glowing globe. There are a lot of other globes out there which suggests to me that there are untold stories like Twin Peaks unfolding all over the world. In a room that resembles the one Cooper found himself in after escaping the Black Lodge, the giant watches these events on a large screen. He starts to levitate. Somehow, he manifests a globe of his own. This one contains the image of Laura Palmer who will one day thwart Bob’s attempts to control her.
In 1956, we’re introduced to a young couple. She finds a penny which she believes will bring her good luck. We know there is no such thing in Lynchian horror story. The vagrant specters who attended to the doppleganger have come to earth. One in particular approaches strangers asking them in an inhuman tone for a light. He wanders into a radio station where he kills the unfortunate souls inside and takes control of the broadcasting equipment. The dark, spooky man says the same thing over and over again:
This is the water. And this is the well. Drink full and descend. The horse is the white of the eyes and dark within.
Everyone listening to the broadcast falls asleep including the young girl who found the “lucky” penny. Outside her window, a strange insect-reptile creature is hopping towards her. This mutation looks like a frog with bug-wings. As it approaches, the girl opens her mouth wide. We know what’s coming. You don’t want to see it, but good luck looking away as the frog-bug thing jumps into her open mouth. What’s it all mean? I have no idea. My best guess is that this girl is related to the Palmers and that this moment kicks off their family tragedy. Thanks to next week’s holiday weekend, we’re going to have two weeks to mull it over before the next installment.