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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.

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Posted on July 10, 2017, in TV, twin peaks. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. daffystardust

    You do a good job here of pointing out how much fun this episode was.

    Bobby’s happiness at the posthumous confidence his Father had in him was indeed wonderful. I do wonder if the show will address whether or not Bobby has gotten away with murder, though.

    I have to admit that I’m consistently engaged with the Buckhorn portions of The Return. Both Matthew Lillard and Jane Adams’ characters keep me interested. If we’re not going to be in Twin Peaks proper, Buckhorn has been preferable to Vegas for me. Is it possible that Albert is interested in this small town coroner?

    Some actors appear to be more adept at surviving Lynch’s style than others. The fact that he often withholds character motivations from actors and prescribes the outward aspects of their performances makes this no mean feat. He somehow has similarities in his expectations of actors with David Mamet while arriving at something mostly very different.

    Jerry’s talking foot made me giggle gleefully, while Diane’s reaction to a No Smoking admonition garnered a full-throated laugh.

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    • Both Albert and Diane can be counted on for at least one clever vulgarity or cynical wit.

      I saw Naomi Watts on The Late Show recently describing what it was like to work with David Lynch. She said he always speaks to his actors through a megaphone even if he is standing right next to them and the direction is “obtuse”. As an example, she described Lynch telling her to “yell at his feet”. You’re right that some actors (MacLaughlin, Dern, Watts) thrive under this kind of collaboration while others seem a bit lost. Anyone stand out to you as not responding well to Lynch’s direction/style?

      I assume you are referring to the drug dealer Bobby killed in Fire Walk With Me that Laura said was Mike (but obviously wasn’t). Can we assume that really happened? If it did, then yes, Bobby got away with murder. It’s also possible the whole incident was a hallucination. I won’t be at all disappointed if it goes unaddressed.

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      • daffystardust

        Well obviously, James Marshall was notoriously stiff throughout the original series, and I’m guessing that his status as a young actor made Lynch’s style more difficult to assimilate into his process.

        There are times when I get the feeling that Richard Beymer has no idea what’s going on so he just falls back into a performance approach that makes him comfortable. That’s not always going to result in something natural or interesting, but can result in a mildly “stagey” effect.

        Eric DaRe might just not be a very good actor to begin with, but I would be forgiving and assume that he was put in positions where he felt the need to “act” for effect rather than producing the scenes in a more natural way.

        Acting for the camera can be very unforgiving if you’re not very very natural and Lynch’s approach doesn’t really promote that. With that in mind, you have to be pretty impressed with many of the performances his actors give him.

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        • So, we’re mostly talking about the original series? I can agree with your three examples. James Marshall appears to have been cast based on how he looked in a leather jacket. I think Lynch casts based on whatever “look” he is going for. Sometimes it works out surprisingly well. Sheryl Lee was just supposed to play a corpse and a prom picture initially, but it turned out she could really act! James Marshall? Well, Shelley thinks he’s cool.

          Eric Da Re’s mother was the casting director on Twin Peaks, so, yeah.

          Richard Beymer is a good actor, but sometimes he clearly had no idea what he was supposed to be playing. During the original series, they were always trying to making him a believable suspect for Laura’s murder. They would even film alternate takes to throw off fans. Even when Beymer knew what was going on, he was still asked to play his part in a way that he could act as a red herring. I think “stagey” was often an accurate description. I do think he fared pretty well given the difficult circumstances. See also: Piper Laurie. At least Beymer never had to dress in Asian drag.

          For the most part, I think Lynch’s all-star cast in season three have been doing well by the material.

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        • daffystardust

          There are times when even actors whose intrinsic performance delivery fits into Lynch’s style can go a little too far in my eyes, but I have to blame Lynch for that in the end. For example, most of the time both Kimmy Robertson’s Lucy and Harry Goaz’ Andy work extraordinarily well within the contexts Lynch puts them in. But take a look at their big scene last night, for example: The late bits of the scene worked very well and reminded us why we love these characters so much. Unfortunately, the moments when the actors are physically getting up from their desks and motioning with their arms like they have penguin flippers give us an extremely presentational style that is again what I would call “stagey.” I don’t know how other people reacted to those moments, but for me, they absolutely required recovery from.

          The lead and exit time Lynch sometimes gives his scenes in editing is often very effective in keeping the audience off balance and in giving us something either painfully honest or oddly off-putting (in a good way). The same can be said for some of the “flat” line readings his actors give at times. It’s a part of the target style that some actors handle better than others. The above-mentioned penguin flippers, however, rub our nose in the fact that we are watching people acting rather than actual characters we like and can relate to in some way. If that’s the point of the entire piece, that’s fine. But in the larger context of Twin Peaks which includes uncomfortably realistic scenes and beautiful indoor and outdoor cinematography, it doesn’t work for me.

          I almost get the feeling that they really want Lucy and Andy to star in their own version of Eugene Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano – – but dumber.

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        • I had the same reaction to the marital squabble. I was initially very put off by the fighting which did feel staged. I forgave the setup because the payoff was so sweet.

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