When it comes to writing reviews of Twin Peaks, there’s no winning. There’s no way of really evaluating this work until it’s over, and even then, as with every David Lynch project pretty much ever, it’s going to be totally subjective. I mean, I think Wild at Heart is mostly a hot mess and Nicolas Cage’s Elvis impression makes the film borderline-unwatchable. At the same time, friends whose opinions I trust implicitly love the film. I think Inland Empire is a horrible slog to get through with very little payoff, but other friends whose opinions I trust implicitly can’t get enough of it.
All of which means, whatever I think of Twin Peaks Season 3, it’s not going to really have any impact on you, the reader. If you like it, you’ll still like it. If you love it, you’ll still love it. If you hate it, you’ll still hate (Hell, I’m not sure why I feel compelled to write about it at all).
I’m not in any of these camps so far. I don’t love it and I don’t hate it, but at times I don’t know if I even like it.
Watching Twin Peaks: The Return makes me feel like Jerry. I think I’m high and I don’t know where I am.
Which brings us to the latest two episodes. Which also brings us to the best two episodes of the season.
Up until episode 7, there has been a sense that Lynch and Frost are still (after six hours) laying the groundwork for whatever it is they’re actually trying to do with the new season. Technically, we haven’t even made it to the midpoint of the season, so there’s still a chance we’ll return to Shaggy in his jail cell and his newly-murdered wife. There’s a chance Andy and Lucy’s horrible son will return. There’s a chance that there’s more than just dream logic guiding our narrative.
Finally, with this episode, we get some actual forward movement on multiple fronts. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Episode 7 is the most traditional Twin Peaksian episode we’ve gotten. And by traditional, I mean an episode that touches on a variety of storylines and moves them all forward without sacrificing narrative for weirdness, while still keeping weirdness front and center.
Does that make sense?
We not only get a reference to Annie’s dream message to Laura that was revealed in Fire Walk with Me, we also get Deputy Andy (Harry Goaz) actually being a police officer and not a giant doofus!!! Granted, he’s ineffectual as hell and probably got a guy killed, but he wasn’t dumb as dirt. The guy who’s probably dead now is a nameless farmer, but it was his truck that Richard Horne (Eamon Farren) was driving when he ran down that kid last time out.
Did we know his name was Richard Horne? Did I just miss that? Just in the off chance that I didn’t, we are also given a disturbing bit of information relating back to the Season 2 finale all those years ago.
The new and clearly superior Sheriff Truman (Robert Forster), after finding out about the message Deputy Chief Hawk (Michael Horse) found in the bathroom stall door, contacts Doc Hayward (Warren Frost) via Skype, who casually drops the knowledge that the last time he saw Cooper (evil doppelganger Cooper) he was leaving the room of comatose Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn).
OMG! Did evil Coop rape comatose Audrey? Is this awful murdering shitbag their son? Or is Richard the result of her last-minute tryst with good old John Justice Wheeler (Billy Zane) and bad parenting? With ten more hours to go, we may actually find out!
Meanwhile, back in the story I care about, Lt. Knox (Adele René) arrives at the Buckham Police Department to check up on those fingerprints, only to discover that not only are the prints taken from an actual body instead of a crime scene, that body has no head and was in its late 40s when it died. Despite the fact that Garland Briggs should be in his Seventies by now. Late 40s is how old he was when he went missing, give or take.
This scene also brings us the second series appearance of the mysterious sooty woodsman, who happens to stroll down the hallway as this information is being discovered by Lt. Knox. So far, all we know about the woodsman is bupkis, but be patient, Episode 8 is coming.
While this is going on, Gordon (David Lynch) and Albert (Miguel Ferrer) meet with Diane (Laura Dern) and convince her to visit DoppelCoop in prison to confirm that he’s all fucked up and wrong. We should note for future reference that not only did Gordon have a portrait of Kafka hanging in his office earlier this season, he’s also got a wall mural of the Trinity Atomic Bomb Test behind his desk (back in the days of the original Twin Peaks, his mural was a nice woodland scene). Diane confirms without a doubt that Coop isn’t really Coop, but before anything can be done about it, the freaky motherfucker orchestrates his escape through blackmail and utter freakiness.
Oh yeah, Ike the Spike (Christophe Zajac-Denek) tries to kill Dougie-Coop (Kyle MacLachlan) but his instincts kick in and Ike gets his ass handed to him while the Evolution of the Arm urges Coop to “Squeeze his hand off! Squeeze his hand off!!” Dougie-Coop is a hero and hopefully we’ll get more movement on that storyline when Twin Peaks returns from its break.
The only other thing to mention is that the closing credit sequence for this episode isn’t a Julee Cruise soundalike band, but instead is a shot of the diner as Lynch’s son, playing a guy named Bing, bursts in and yells/asks “Has anybody seen Billy?” before running off like a mad bastard on Hat Day. I assume Billy is the unnamed farmer from earlier. It should be noted that due to a subtitling glitch on Showtime’s part, Bing was subtitled asking about Bing, but it has been confirmed that Bing was actually asking about Billy.
There’s also been some commotion about the fact that the clientele of the diner noticeably changes from shot to shot. While Lynch is usually in total control of what he puts on the screen, I think this is just a case of using the shots that worked rather than some strange dreamlike plot point about the nature of reality in Twin Peaks.
I could be wrong, but there doesn’t seem to be any purpose other than getting coverage for the shot. Or maybe Lynch wants to undermine our expectations about everything. Maybe this isn’t even a TV show! Maybe it’s the dream of sleeping lumberjack before a tree falls and kills him.
Um. Well… anyway.
This brings us to Episode 8, which is basically crack for David Lynch fans.
The episode opens with DoppelCoop and Ray (George Griffith) driving through the darkness in archetypal Lynchian style. In case you were wondering why DoppelCoop got Ray out of jail too, it was so he could 1) get some information that Ray has memorized, and 2) kill him by the side of the road. Remember, he knows Ray is working with Philip to betray him. Anyway, the murder attempt doesn’t go as planned and we see for maybe the first time that DoppelCoop isn’t omnipotent. In fact, he takes a few bullets to the stomach and Ray thinks he’s dead.
Then shit gets weird.
Shit gets really fucking weird.
A gaggle of ethereal sooty woodsmen materialize out of the darkness and gather around the fallen DoppelCoop while Ray watches, terrified. They begin circling him, fading in and out of existence, then start pounding on the body and smearing blood from the stomach wound all over DoppelCoop’s chest and face. It goes on for a while and is one of those moments when you suddenly remember that this is the guy who made Eraserhead.
The pièce de résistance, though, is that while Ray watches, a strange globe rises up out of DoppelCoop’s guts and in that strange globe is Bob’s face.
Ray flips the fuck out, as one would, and jumps back in the car and drives away as fast as he can. Meanwhile, the woodsmen disappear, leaving DoppelCoop’s body lying in the dirt. Ray calls Philip and tells him he thinks Coop is dead and he’s going to the Farm.
Then, before we have a chance to really process what just happened, we cut to The Roadhouse and get a full performance of a song called “She’s Gone Away” by this up-and-coming young band called “The” Nine Inch Nails. It’s ponderous and creepy and pretty cool. It’s also about five or six minutes long. It’s the whole damn song and I can’t decide if this is a good thing or not.
Anyway, when that’s over, DoppelCoop sits up in the desert, covered in blood.
I have no idea if Globe Bob is still in him or not. I have no idea if the woodsmen were saving DoppelCoop or taking Globe Bob away. But that’s a discussion for another time as we suddenly cut to White Sands, New Mexico.
The title card says it’s July 16, 1945, at 5:29 AM, and you know what that means! The first Trinity Atomic Bomb Test!!
What follows is a long stretch of dialogue-free experimentation that brilliantly rivals the end sequence of 2001: A Space Odyssey as we slowly move into the explosion and then what I interpreted as a split in spacetime. Along the way, we discover a strange dilapidated gas station with a sign that says “Convenience Store” on it, along with a bunch of sooty woodsmen cutting in and out of existence. It’s a film student’s wet dream.
And it’s all set to the nightmarish tune of Penderecki’s “Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima.”
Is this the iconic convenience store that Mike said he and Bob used to live above? Is it the convenience store that Philip (David Bowie) visited during his disappearance and mentioned in his Fire Walk with Me reappearance (be sure to check out Fire Walk with Me: The Missing Pieces to get even more of that meeting above the convenience store)? Yes, it fucking is. Why is that a question?
We then shift to a bizarre void where an entity (called Experiment in the credits) that looks a lot like the thing that appeared in the glass box back in the first episode, floats and vomits out a stream of… I don’t know what. It’s foamy and eggs are in there along with other flotsam and jetsam. Oh yeah, and GLOBE BOB!!
Then it’s back to fire and explosions and a strange golden globule passing through into darkness and space. From there we fade into a purple ocean and a strange castle that appears to be the White Lodge. Is this where Coop ended up on his transition from the Black Lodge back to our reality? Looks like it.
Inside the White Lodge sits Senorita Dido (Joy Nash) in black and white, listening to some old-timey music on a phonogram. This place is ornate and gorgeous but definitely laid back and creepy. In a totally different way that the Black Lodge is creepy. When an alarm starts to sound (also more creepy than alarmy) the Giant, now known as ??????? (Carel Struycken) apparently, arrives and makes his way to a theatrical space that looks suspiciously like the Club Silencio from Mulholland Drive to watch what we’ve just been watching: the birth of Bob.
So with evil incarnate on its way to Earth, ??????? does what should be expected: he levitates up into the air, spouts a golden cloud from his head, and births a golden globe with Laura Palmer’s (Sheryl Lee) face in it.
Senorita Dido then kisses it and sends it to Earth via a golden horn, as one does.
If that’s not enough crazy for you, we’ve got more!
On earth, that New Mexican desert fast forwards to the year 1956, where a strange egg that looks a lot like one of the eggs spouted by Experiment from the Void, hatches out a weird insect-frog hybrid thing that then scuttles across the sands. Meanwhile, a teen boy (Xolo Mariduena) and teen girl (Tikaeni Faircrest) walk home from some sort of event and chat about their availability while the girl finds a lucky penny! Meanwhile, at least two sooty woodsmen descend from the sky, manifesting into corporeality. They proceed to accost motorists, as the lead Woodsman (Robert Broski), who looks oddly like Abraham Lincoln (not oddly, really – in real life he’s a Lincoln lookalike!) bothers people asking for a light for his cigarette.
That lucky penny may not have been so lucky.
Speaking of unlucky foreshadowing, we then cut to teen boy and girl sharing their first kiss. Aww. It’s sweet and a little romantic, until the Woodsman kills a radio station receptionist, hijacks a DJ’s broadcast and recites a disturbing little poem over the airwaves that puts its listeners to sleep.
This is the water, and this is the well.
Drink full and descend.
The horse is the white of the eyes, and dark within.
As the teen girl falls asleep, the horrifying insect-frog climbs in her window and then makes its way into her mouth and down her throat.
His job done, the Woodsman kills the DJ and then disappears into the desert once more.
All of which raises the questions: What the fuck just happened? But more importantly, did we just see the birth of Bob and/or Laura? Since Bob was already in his globe when spewed out by Experiment, does that mean that the horrifying insect-frog is actually the source of Laura’s entry into the world? Was the teen girl a young Sarah Novack – eventually Sarah Palmer? Does this explain Sarah’s visions (and the horse, in particular)? But does that mean that the woodsmen are in the employ of the White Lodge? That doesn’t seem right; or does it?
Dammit, Lynch! What have you done to me? I think I’m high! And I don’t know where I am!