Well, I was dreading it all week, and - sure enough - now that we're here, I'm absolutely stumped as to what the hell to say about the fifth episode of Twin Peaks: The Return. From the moment this season started, I've maintainted that new Twin Peaks would be all but un-reviewable on a week-by-week basis (my position here is: if the entire thing was filmed as an 18-hour movie, does it really make sense to review it in 18 separate pieces?), and now that I'm up to bat I'm definitely feeling vindicated in that prediction.
I suppose - given the fact that this is just one of many entries from an array of writers who'll be tackling Twin Peaks: The Return here at the site - that I should feel free to put my own stamp on things, which is why you're getting this review in patented Real Talk™ format. Some of my colleagues (almost all of whom are smarter, more insightful, and more thoughtful than I will ever be) would surely have something meaningful to say about the parade of scenes, character introductions, character returns, and weirdo curveballs that David Lynch threw at us tonight. I, however, am a dummy, and will not even pretend like I absorbed all that in one sitting.
But, hey: buy the ticket, take the ride. Let's give it a whirl!
For one thing, tonight's episode struck me as markedly less weird than the four episodes which preceded it. Your mileage will vary, of course, but this one felt the most cut-and-dried to me: very little time spent inside the Black Lodge (and, unless I missed something, even then it happened via flashback), very straightforward on a scene-to-scene basis. This is still Twin Peaks, so even the most straightforward sequences carried a strong whiff of WTF, but - for better or for worse - I feel like this episode was the easiest to follow.
Related: it's also my least favorite of this new batch of episodes. While I was thrilled to see some old faces (and a bunch of exciting new ones!) enter the fray, I'm finding myself increasingly impatient to get through Dougie's storyline. These scenes - where a seemingly-lobotomized Coop (having entered the body of the long-gone Dougie) shuffles about, staring vacantly at things for minutes on end - had charm to spare at first, but two hours later the bit's beginning to wear thin. In short, I'm ready for Dougie to ingest whatever amount of coffee will be necessary to get Coop up and running again. Here's hoping this particular storyline gets put to bed sooner rather than later (side note: at least Dougie's storyline brought a very unexpected Tom Sizemore into the mix).
This episode's most memorable bit involved Amanda Seyfried's Becky and Caleb Landry Jones' Steven, both of whom were mentioned in passing earlier in the season but have remained unseen until now. We meet Steven as he's bombing a job interview, and then catch up with him a few scenes later when he swings by the RR Diner with Becky to score some cash from Becky's mom, Shelly (the always-luminous Madchen Amick). These lovebirds head out to Steven's car, talk for a moment, do a little blow, and then we get a full-on David Lynch money shot: Amanda Seyfried's face lifted to the heavens, staring down the camera as the music swells and the blow works its way into her bloodstream. It's a little too early to be calling any of these shots "iconic", but I'll be damned if that doesn't feel like one that's gonna stick with us. Strong echoes of the late Ms. Palmer here.
The second-most memorable bit: Cooper Bob making a very, uh, powerful phone call in prison. Having been led into an interrogation room and shackled to the table, Cooper Bob is left alone with a phone, and instructed to make a phone call. Outside the room, a trio of increasingly-nervous cop-types watch the action via camera. Cooper Bob addresses the camera directly ("No, I'm not going to call Mr. Strawberry"), picks up the phone, and dials a crazy-long series of numbers that seems to send the entire building into shutdown mode: alarms blare, lights flash, the cops inside look five seconds away from pissing themselves with fear. Then Cooper Bob hangs up, and everything goes back to normal.
This is, as my associate Phil Nobile Jr. pointed out to me in a conversation earlier tonight, Twin Peaks: The Return's first real foray into Lynch's classic "nightmare mode". These scenes are everywhere in the Lynch filmography (think of the way Lynch escalates - and then explodes - tension in Mulholland Drive's espresso scene), but have been largely absent from this new batch of episodes. Oh, there's been weirdness - I'm still shocked how much time this season has spent within the Black Lodge - but this is a very particular tool in Lynch's belt, and it's fun to see him playing with it again. More of that kinda creepy, please.
Elsewhere, Ernie Hudson popped up as a military-type keeping an eye on the case of the missing Garland Briggs, James "The Beloosh" Belushi popped up as a casino-enforcer type, Dr. Jacoby was revealed to be running his own little InfoWars (and selling gold-painted shit-shovels to anyone with $29.99 to spare), we watched Dougie's car get broken into (before it exploded), Candy Clark showed up as Frank Truman's wife and ranted about their plumbing problems, and Andy helped Hawk look for Indians. There are almost certainly other moments I'm forgetting in this moment, but these are the ones that stuck with me on first viewing.
So we're, what, roughly a third of the way through this adventure? Well, while I've got the mic, I'd like to go on record with the following: new Twin Peaks is everything I could have hoped for and more. For months and months, I sweated this show's return (things got really hairy after I revisited the original run of episodes and found myself seriously struggling to get through season two), and though I remained hopeful I was constantly negotiating with myself ("If it's even 50% Fire Walk With Me-style weirdness, I'll be alright with it...okay, maybe 40%"), trying to soften the blow for when the inevitable occurred.
So you can imagine how thrilled I've been to discover that Twin Peaks: The Return is full-blown David Lynch weird. Parts of this revival have felt borderline antagonistic to me, like Lynch is daring some of the audience to stay onboard (I watched the entire run of Twin Peaks with my parents when I was a kid, and I can't imagine them having the patience to sit through The Return; there's simply no way). I mean, really: the balls on this guy, right? I have such profound respect for everyone involved, and particularly Lynch and Frost, who've delivered something that's starting to feel like it could end up being legendary.
Anyway, yeah, tonight's episode didn't really rock my world like the previous four, but whatcanyado? We're only seeing pieces of a much bigger puzzle, and won't really be able to absorb any of this until we can spread it all out in front of us and get to dissecting. I might prefer one episode to another along the way, but whatever: I'm completely entranced by this thing, and I can't wait to see where it'll take us next.