Twin Peaks: The Return – Part 9
From week to week, this season of Twin Peaks can feel like a different show. Even within a single episode, the new Twin Peaks can turn on a dime. From moment to moment, you never know what to expect. After last week’s transcendental journey through Lynchian horror, it probably comes as a relief to some viewers that this week’s episode is more grounded. For others, this episode might feel a bit pedestrian following the grand weirdness of the previous hour. For that reason, it’s probably for the best that we got a week off to process the nuclear-powered origin story Lynch served up in episode 8. Part 9 feels like Lynch gathering up loose plot threads and tying them together so we can start to move on.
Much of this episode dealt with Major Garland Briggs. Little by little, we have been given clues about the mystery of Major Briggs’ death and the decapitated body which seems to be his. The remains belong to a man younger than Major Briggs should be. This week, we are provided with a possible explanation that ties into the murder mystery from the pilot episode.
Shortly after Agent Cooper (or more specifically his doppelganger) returned from the Black Lodge at the end of season two, he met with Major Briggs. Briggs went missing and was presumed dead, but according to murder suspect William Hastings, that’s not actually what happened. Instead, Briggs escaped to another dimension called The Zone. (queue Twilight Zone theme)
For years, Hastings and Ruth Davenport have been investigating The Zone. Hastings even maintains a blog which you can check out here. In the final entry, Hastings claims to have entered The Zone and met with The Major. He tells Gordon that The Major was hibernating which would explain why the decapitated body they discovered is twenty-five years younger than Major Briggs is supposed to be.
There are some juicy details in Hastings’ story that may have been missed in between sobs. He says The Major gave them a series of coordinates which Ruth wrote down on her hand. Presumably, this decision resulted in her death. The high school principle was unclear on exactly how she died except that he didn’t do it. He says there were so many people there that he didn’t know what happened. I’m guessing these were more of the woodsmen we saw last week.
Meanwhile, in the town of Twin Peaks, a trio of the local police met with the Major’s widow. Betty Briggs greeted her son Bobby, Sheriff Truman and Deputy Hawk with an offer of coffee. The men declined the initial offer, but accept the second invitation after Betty gives them a message from her late husband. Before he disappeared, he left something for his son. It was a cylindrical tube, but it came with a message from a proud father who knew his troubled son would be okay in the end.
The scenes with Bobby were some of the most touching in the series. The Bobby Briggs we knew from the original series was a hot mess. As viewers, we missed the intervening years in which Bobby got his act together. But here he is, a respected member of the Twin Peak police force (nothing like that deadbeat Chad who eats his smelly lunches in the conference room). We remember Garland trying to reach his teenage son with what seemed at the time like unrealistic confidence that his boy would grow up to be a good man. Turns out, he was right.
The cylinder contains clues (possibly the coordinates Dark Cooper has been killing people to obtain?). Sheriff Truman can’t figure out how to open the darn thing. But Bobby recognizes the puzzle from his childhood and joyfully throws it to the ground repeatedly until it opens. The clues within also hinge on a shared father-son experience. Only Bobby could interpret the messages his father left him. Who knows where it will take them.
There were lots of little updates throughout the episode. Dark Coop has recovered from being shot and molested by the Woodsmen. He walks to a farm (“THE farm”?) where he meets his lackeys, Chantal and Hutch (played by Jennifer Jason Leigh and Tim Roth). The married couple take their boss’ orders literally to comedic effect. Evil Cooper tells them to kill the warden and leaves them options to do the job at his home, work or somewhere in between. When he tells Hucth to “kill this phone”, he blasts it with a shotgun.
Before the phone’s untimely demise, Dark Coop sends a cryptic text message (“Around the dinner table, the conversation is lively.”) Then he calls Duncan Todd to ask about an outstanding job – presumably the assassination of Dougie. When Duncan tells him the job isn’t done, “Cooper” tells him it better be wrapped up by the next time he calls.
Dougie and his wife are being interviewed by the Buckhorn police department about the attempts on his life. “Coop as Dougie” doesn’t do much, but at one point he focuses on the American flag as patriotic music plays. Kind of a shame this episode didn’t air during the 4th of July weekend, huh? Signs continue to point to Cooper’s gradual return. “Answers,” he repeats. Yes, we’re getting more answers than usual, Dougie.
There’s also lots of police work. We’ve got Gordon, Albert, Tamara and Diane (reluctant as always) investigating Cooper’s disappearance, the discovery of Briggs’ remains and the mystery of the Zone. Gordon gets a call informing him that somehow Dark Coop escaped prison despite his instructions to the warden to keep him locked up. The Buckhorn cops pick up Ike the Spike and also discover that Dougie Jones doesn’t have a background going back more than twelve years. And of course the Bobby, Hawk and Sheriff Truman are following clues left by The Major. All that police work resulted in an hour of minor revelations and confirmations that move the story forward albeit incrementally.
There’s so much more we could talk about. Andy and Lucy remind us why we always wanted to see them together with an argument over which color chair to buy which results in each one giving the other their way. Gordon bums a hit off Diane’s cigarette while Tamara struggles to find the right pose and then ultimately gives up. Ben Horne turns down the opportunity to become romantically involved with his assistant suggesting that he has grown into a good man just like Bobby. His brother, still stones and lost in the woods, has an argument with his foot and loses. And at the Bang Bang Bar, a new character has a nasty rash that is sure to be a bad omen of things to come.