The return of Twin Peaks is a lot to process. After each episode, Uproxx’s Alan Sepinwall and Keith Phipps attempt to hash out what we all just watched.
Keith: A few weeks back, Kyle MacLachlan (he’s the guy who plays Dougie) gave an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in which he said of Twin Peaks: The Return, “ultimately everything will come back together and make sense.” I’m starting to think that wasn’t just crazy talk. The past few weeks have felt like the series is starting to draw all its narrative strands together. Lynch has never been a director you go to for narratives that work with a satisfying, clockwork precision — I’m not sure he and Christopher Nolan would have much to say to each other at a cocktail party — but this home stretch of The Return has felt like he and Frost are bringing out the best in each other. I’m not privy to how their collaboration works, but it seems like Lynch gets space to do strange, wonderful, stylistic excursions like this episode’s long encounter between Andy and The Fireman (Carel Struycken’s character is no longer billed as “? ? ? ? ?”) and the freedom to make everything part of a clash between good and evil as defined by a highly personal logical system. Frost keeps it pushing forward and makes sure it tells a story. The editing can be a bit shaggy at times, but I’m increasingly getting a sense that things will, in MacLachlan’s words, come back together.
That this episode just flat-out answered some lingering questions certainly added to that sense. Where to begin? I definitely want to get to Andy, Truman, Hawk, and Bobby’s mystical walk in the woods, but maybe we should start with the scene between Tammy and Albert and then Gordon and Diane: the origins of the Blue Rose and what it means to Bad Coop and Dougie.
Alan: I’m a bit less confident than you that it will all fit together, if only because there are only four episodes left, and a lot of ground to cover. Even if you assume that Lynch and Frost intend to flat-out ignore some of what’s happened before — remember Beverly’s ailing husband? Or the question of who built the New York cube? Or when Red seemed like he might be a major new character? — we still have to have both the FBI and Hutch/Chantal arrive in Vegas, get Dougie to Twin Peaks, have some kind of confrontation between the two Coopers, have Andy explain at least some of what the Fireman told him, and get into more detail about what is going on inside of Sarah Palmer (about which we should have much to say in a bit), to name just a few events that seem inevitable and/or necessary. At the pace at which much of this season has moved, I could easily see it ending on a cliffhanger — maybe a reversal of “How’s Annie?” — to set up another season that may or may not happen, if only because there doesn’t feel like room for everything.
That said, last night’s episode certainly worked overtime to advance and explain things that had been lingering for months, though also was a reminder that straightforward exposition tends not to be the strength of either creator (but especially Lynch). It’s nice to have some clarity about the Blue Rose, Phillip Jeffries (even if David Bowie passed away before he could film a cameo, and thus had to be represented by Fire Walk With Me footage), and even the link between Diane and half-sister Janey-E, but even with Gordon’s strange Monica Bellucci dream mixed in — which felt a bit like an excuse for Lynch to fly to Paris to hang with Monica Bellucci (who can blame him?) — Andy’s trip into the White Lodge was by far the more compelling of the episode’s two big explanatory sequences, and that’s even though it didn’t explain much of anything! The Return has tended to work best in a dream-like state — to quote Bellucci, “You’re like the dreamer who dreams and then lives inside the dream” — when the sounds and images are so strange and compelling that the actual story becomes a distant concern. Andy sitting opposite the Fireman and seeing glimpses of all we’ve witnessed over the previous 13 hours was a thrill, and right when I was ready to mock the Fireman for picking the absolute worst member of the hunting party to give all this important information to, Andy materializes in the woods in full hero mode, clearly having understood everything. Maybe his simple-mindedness helped in this case, since his hard drive wasn’t quite as full as Bobby or Frank’s would have been?
Did you find the Blue Rose explanation satisfying all these years after the movie, Keith? How did you feel to see the eyeless woman in the real world, and Andy of all people in one of the Lodges?
Keith: On the first point, Albert just laying out the first Blue Rose case in such direct language felt a little anti-climactic — or set up to a great prequel series. (If nothing else, it would be fun to fan cast young Albert, Gordon, and Phillip.) On the second point, that was my first thought too: Why Andy? But the scene worked beautifully. Andy may not be the smartest Twin Peaks policeman — though Chad seems to be giving him a run for the title of its dumbest — but he has a soulfulness that Harry Goaz plays beautifully here, just like he always has. (Think back to the pilot, with Andy breaking down at the crime scene.)
And what a scene, right? “We are like the dreamer who dreams and then lives inside the dream,” Monica Bellucci tells Gordon. In a series filled with moments in which dreams and reality start to bleed together, Andy’s encounter with the Fireman doesn’t even make it into the top tier of Twin Peaks‘ strangest moments. But it’s a weirdly elegant swirl of past images that plays like a turning point, for Andy and for those in Twin Peaks working on the side of good. It’s not clear who the eyeless woman is or why she needs rescuing, but it feels heroic. There’s a lot at stake here, even if no one involved in the moment can articulate what. But the world of the Lodges and the world they call their own are starting to talk to each other in ways we’ve never seen before. The show is building to something.