TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN Review: Episode 9

Things return to "normal".

Two weeks ago, David Lynch delivered one of the most visually stirring hours of television in the history of the medium. Over the July 4th holiday, everyone wondered if the third season of Twin Peaks had strayed into some abstract mélange of Eraserhead, Lost Highway and Lynch’s finest unproduced screenplay, Ronnie Rocket. This week’s episode – the ninth out of eighteen – snapped viewers back into what now passes for normalcy in this ever-confounding show. Depending on your affection for Lynch’s oeuvre, this could be cause for celebration or disappointment.

Hopefully, you’ve learned to accept that this gift of a third season is never going to conform to expectations. You’ll get answers when Lynch and co-writer Mark Frost are ready to dole them out, and you’ll like it. But considering that we’re now at the halfway point of this narrative, it might not be a bad time to start paying off – or at least expanding on – a few of the myriad threads that have been dangled over the last two months. Episode 9 didn’t provide any major eureka moments, but it did seem to draw things into tighter focus. Or not. Honestly, I’ve given up trying to predict where this show is headed, and I’d advise you to do likewise. Let’s wade in…

Bad Cooper is not dead. If anything, he’s supremely pissed off after Warden Murphy tried to have him rubbed out, and there is going to be a cosmic reckoning for the correctional capo’s stupidity. One of the joys of this season has been Lynch’s kamikaze casting, so it was nice to have Jennifer Jason Leigh back as Chantal (who at some point became Bad Cooper’s woman) and to at last introduce Tim Roth as Coop’s henchman Hutch. Cooper’s clearly not happy with how business is getting done in Las Vegas, so now he’s taking a more hands-on approach to this conundrum. Once Chantal and Hutch dispose of Warden Murphy, their next errand is Las Vegas, which will likely entail the murder of Dougie Jones (the corporeal vessel for Good Cooper) and probably Duncan Todd (Patrick Fischler) whose attempts to knock off the former have been heretofore thwarted. Dougie’s spitfire wife Janey-E Jones (Naomi Watts) may also be a target, but woe betide the fool that tries to take her down.

Speaking of Dougie, there are many of you who wish he’d go away and magically become Agent Dale Cooper. It seemed possible that his disarming (and de-palming) of Ike the Spike might’ve garnered nationwide news coverage and alerted Gordon Cole, Albert, Sheriff Truman or Hawk to the presence of the good Cooper, but Lynch and Frost aren’t there yet. In Episode 9, the Twin Peaks trio of Truman, Hawk and the reformed Bobby Briggs have just discovered the concept of two Coopers (thanks to a message hidden in a thin metal rod that was hidden by the deceased Major Garland Briggs twenty-five years ago). They’ve still got some shoe leather to burn before they get to Dougie. It seems most likely that Cole, Albert, Tammy and Diane will get to him first.

And let’s talk about Diane. She just wants to go back to boozing at home, but Cole needs assistance on the Blue Rose case that involves the escaped Bad Cooper and the impossibly young corpse of Major Briggs (his headless body belongs to that of a fortysomething-year-old man, but he should be in his seventies in this timeline). Diane is communicating with someone via phone and text. It’s an unknown caller, and she’s feeding them coded intel (“Around the dinner table, the conversation is lively”). Is she is cahoots with Bad Cooper? She seemed spooked by him two episodes ago, but that could’ve been for show. You can’t underestimate Diane: she’s a steely player who smokes and drinks wherever the hell she pleases. And she coerces Cole into a drag off of her cigarette while they’re examining Briggs’s corpse in Buckhorn. I don’t have a read on her yet. I do, however, know that she can rock the hell out of a green pantsuit.

Tangent: I love the Fusco brothers (Dave Koechner, Larry Clarke and Eric Edelstein), and I was relieved when the successfully apprehended Ike the Spike. I thought that might go down twisted. They’ve also got Dougie’s fingerprints, so they’ve now got the inside track to solving the mystery of Dougie Jones – who we now know was a virtual non-entity until 1997. They think he might’ve been in witness protection. We also learned that Dougie was in a car wreck, and has suffered “lingering effects” ever since. This explains why no one’s terribly alarmed by his space cadet behavior. It was also nice to see Bushnell sticking up for him while being interviewed by the Fuscos.

What to make of William Hastings (Matthew Lillard) and Ruth Davenport (Mary Stofle)? They were running a blog called “The Search for the Zone” and came into contact with Major Briggs after he was alleged to have died in a fire. Briggs gave them coordinates (which are written on the deceased Ms. Davenport’s hand), and uttered, “Cooper, Cooper” as he ascended to the heavens. Lillard is magnificent in his interrogation scene with Bell; he’s always been a talented actor, and it’s a pleasure to see him stepping outside of the teen movie box in which he was trapped throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s. Hastings was obviously framed for the murder of Ruth by Bad Cooper, but the show is now indicating that Cooper had nothing to do with the death of Briggs. He was “hibernating”? Make of that what you will. I’m just thrilled that Briggs is front and center on this season, and I’m especially heartened that Bobby has fulfilled the promise his late father saw in him.

Benjamin Horne (Richard Beymer) and Beverly Paige (Ashley Judd) are still haunted by the “mesmerizing tone” that is echoing throughout the Great Northern. They nearly hook up, but Horne (who once nearly bedded his daughter at the brothel One Eyed Jacks) pulls back. Ben hints that there’s a reason why he can’t take their flirtation any further. Is he a changed man, or is Beverly one of his many illegitimate children running around Twin Peaks? Also worth noting that it’s a real bummer Donna Hayward (Lara Flynn Boyle/Moira Kelly) is M.I.A. this season.

Still no sign of Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn), but her mentally challenged brother, Johnny (Robert Bauer), made a shockingly violent (and perhaps final) reappearance. It appeared to me as if he had killed himself, but my viewing companions weren’t entirely sold on that conclusion. Feel free to share your thoughts.

The episode ends with a puzzling scene at the Roadhouse in which a drugged-out Sky Ferreira is frantically scratching at a nasty rash under her armpit. There’s talk of a “zebra” and “penguin”. Is that code for the cops or a prisoner? Most of the unsavory business at the Roadhouse has centered on the Renaults, but perhaps this has something to do with Richard Horne (Eamon Farren)?

Story-wise, this was an atypically dense episode of the new Twin Peaks. Storylines appear to be getting swept together like debris on the Roadhouse floor, but it would be a mistake to make any bold predictions. Lynch and Frost are taking their time, and forging a path unlike anything ever seen on television. Is there a version of this season where Cooper never escapes from the shell of Dougie Jones? Absolutely. Would I mind? Not at all. I’m here for eighteen hours of new David Lynch. That’s all that matters.