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.
Alan: Keith, there’s a scene midway through Part 9 that captured my feelings about the episode nicely. We have just watched Frank Truman, Hawk, and Bobby Briggs enter the sheriffs station, watched obnoxious deputy Chad have to pack up his entire lunch and carefully carry it out of the conference room because he’s not allowed to eat in there, followed by the three cops attempting to figure out how to open the metal cylinder that Major Briggs left for them 25 years earlier. When Truman and Hawk are finally stumped, Bobby smiles and admits he’s known the whole time how to open it, prompting Truman to ask, “You having fun with us?” Then we follow the guys back out of the station, to the front lawn, where Bobby smashes it against the ground a few times to get it to open and reveal its treasure.
On the one hand, it’s an incredibly charming moment for Bobby, and almost startling in how boyish Dana Ashbrook can still seem, despite the gray hair and the lines on his face. On the other, the amount of time we had to linger on Chad’s lunch, or Lucy telling Truman that she’s not really there because she’s on her own lunch break, just to get to the point of the scene, felt like Lynch and Frost were also having fun making us wait.
This was a much more narratively conventional episode than the insanity of part 8 — what wouldn’t be? — yet there were so many scenes that lingered forever just because they could: Jerry Horne freaking out about his foot, the Detectives Fusco talking in their office about Dougie and a busted taillight, Lucy pulling a “Duck season!”/”Rabbit season!” maneuver on Andy about the chair for the study they’re making in Wally Brando’s old room, Gordon smoking with Diane, even that last scene with two brand-new characters discussing an armpit rash.
There’s some really good stuff in the episode, too — including some marvelous comic deliveries from Laura Dern and Miguel Ferrer that I’d love to talk about — but not enough for my preferred ratio of genius/self-indulgence that many other hours have achieved.
What did you think of this one? Were you disappointed that the only follow-up to last week’s episode involved Evil Coop?
Keith: But the thing is, I liked all those scenes you cite as indulgent, for a couple of reasons. We’re now at the halfway point and I’m starting to realize Twin Peaks: The Return isn’t going to last forever. Sure, it’s going to last a long time and it’s not going to rush to get to the end, but some Sunday night in the not-too-distant future I’m going to turn on the television and it won’t be there. So I don’t mind lingering in this world. But I also find all the lingering compelling on its own terms. Take that smoking scene: My eyes kept flitting from Diane, to Gordon, to Agent Preston and there’s not a moment when one of them’s not doing something interesting to express their discomfort or contempt or confusion and when Gordon finally breaks the tension it has the timing of a good punchline. The Fuscos’ conversation about a taillight made me laugh too. And so did Lucy, in part because I related to her “I’m not here. I’m on my lunch break” moment as she sat behind the desk trying to get just a moment to herself and her sandwich. (Look for this to become my new away message on Slack.)
And, on the other hand, there is a lot going on in this episode in terms of narrative. We return to William Hastings, who’s as broken as before, and we get a bit more about his ill-fated explorations of what he calls The Zone. (And a real blog to go with it. We get the returns of Johnny and Sylvia Horne. And when Bobby finally does crack open that little metal tube, it suggests he and the others will soon be off on an adventure. (And who would have thought that Ashbrook would get the chance to give this revival some of its most emotionally moving moments?) Anyway, this wasn’t the left-field tour de force of two weeks ago, but I still found this a pretty satisfying episode. If nothing else, it makes a solid point about the absurdity of having smoking rules in morgues.
Alan: Laura Dern’s delivery of “It’s a fucking morgue!!!!” was a work of art, for sure. And perhaps the biggest development of the whole episode is the revelation that Bad Coop is communicating with Diane in code — that she is somehow part of whatever his agenda is. Now I want to go back and rewatch their scene together at the prison, to see if Lynch, Dern, or MacLachlan left any hints about it being a work.
I poked around The Search For the Zone a bit, and while the web design is impressively Angelfire circa 1998, I was disappointed there weren’t actually any old blog entries: when you click on that link, it just takes you to a loop of roadhouse musical performances, accompanied by static. Good on someone for making sure there was a real tie-in website, which wasn’t a concern when the show was originally airing on ABC. And I was amused to see that William Hastings was basically still in the same state — head in hands, vibrating with fear and pain — we left him in waaaaay back on that first night of the series.
Ashbrook was pretty great in this one, with the scene at his mother’s house recalling Major Briggs sharing his vision with Bobby at the Double-R. The first half of the season has suggested Lynch and Frost are ambivalent at best about revisiting most of the original characters — I wouldn’t be shocked, for instance, if this was both the first and last we’ll see of poor Johnny Horne, who may have killed himself smashing into that wall. But Bobby maturing into the man his father always believed he would be — and being able to acknowledge his Garland’s pure goodness in a way he really couldn’t 25 years earlier — was a lovely linkage of this new story to the old ones.
Have you a particular theory on the code Garland left for them to find? It recalls the message he read out from the space telescope, which also had Cooper’s name mixed in with a lot of numbers — in this case pointing out that there are, as Hawk says, “Two Coopers.” Also, how long do you reckon Lynch and/or Frost have been waiting to use the phrase, “Cooper has flown the coop”?