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, I know we said we were going to wait until Sunday night and discuss episodes 3 & 4 together. Then I watched both episodes and realized two things: 1) There is no way I could wait that long (especially since the episodes are already out there for anyone who cares about the show to watch), and 2) Episode 3 is so strange and memorable and relentlessly Lynch-ian that it deserves its own conversation. So let’s do that today and hit the fourth hour later this week.
I’d heard rumblings that Part 3 was weird, but that still didn’t prepare me for quite how weird, as if Lynch had watched the ice cube episode of Legion and thought, “Yeah, that’s real cute, kid. Let me show you how it’s done.” Where the hell should we begin with this, Keith? The woman with no eyes? The bizarre (even by Lynch standards) editing and sound design of the scene by the fireplace? What is in the metal drum atop the metal box? Major Briggs’ head floating through the stars, telling Cooper, “Blue rose”? The electrical panel with its changing numbers? Or should we start off with a relatively coherent idea like the Cooper doppelganger’s creation of a second doppelganger, Dougie Jones, that would be absorbed into the Black Lodge while he got to stay free in the world?
I am both exhilarated and dumbfounded by this one, Keith. Help me out. Please.
Keith: It’s very simple, Alan. See, the changing numbers… Wait, let’s start with Major Briggs’ floating head… Well, the eyeless woman is definitely… Yeah, I’m at a loss. I think the best I can do, yet again, is to refer everyone back to Eraserhead, which this whole segment reminded me of even more than the introduction of The Arm. That film, Lynch’s first feature, opens with a long, wordless sequence involving a head floating in space and a mysterious figure living inside a planet filled with odd levers. It even climaxes with a kind of birth scene, just as this opening does. Beyond that, the comparison breaks down, but I think it’s worth remembering that this kind of experimental, elusive filmmaking is the foundation of what Lynch does. Everything else is built on top of it. And, for the record, the whole scene clocks in at about 15 minutes during which only two words are said, the aforementioned “blue rose.”
As for those words, they most likely refer back to a scene in Fire Walk With Me in which FBI Agent Chester Desmond (Chris Isaak) walks fellow agent Sam Stanley (Kiefer Sutherland) through the decoding of a mysterious woman wearing a blue rose. Every other detail of her outfit doubles as a clue, which always struck me as Lynch goofing on those who try too hard to make sense of his show, and Chester happily lays them out for his new partner before saying he can’t tell him what the blue rose means. So, two possibilities: The mysterious blue rose will be a major clue that will help us understand Twin Peaks: The Return or, once again, it will remain an uninterpretable element whose meaning we’ll never know. Or both. Who knows? (Maybe the disembodied head of Major Briggs?) But even if we never figure out What It All Means — and we won’t, of that I’m sure — this was a thrilling sequence, and one that does serve a plot function by bringing the original Agent Cooper back to our reality. Sort of. Was this what you wanted from a revived Twin Peaks? And what did you think of the rest of the episode?
Alan: It wasn’t literally what I wanted, in the sense that I never could have envisioned all the details of that (even though, in broad strokes, it does feel a bit like the Legion ice cube scene, which I suspect means Noah Hawley has watched Eraserhead a time or 12). Honestly, I’m not sure I wanted anything from this going in, because TV revivals in general virtually never work out. But now having seen four episodes (including one we’ll get to later in the week, because I have much to say about Lucy and Andy’s son), I think I’ve realized that what I want from The Return is exactly what David Lynch gives us in that opening sequence: something so beautiful and singular and confident that it doesn’t even matter if I can make sense of it, nor if everything feels absurdly stretched out.
Think about it: it takes nearly 35 minutes into the episode before we see the amusing sign on the conference room at the Twin Peaks sheriff’s station (a picture of a doughnut, plus “Disturb”), and what exactly happens in those preceding 35 minutes? Cooper finally makes it out of the Black Lodge band back into the real world, taking the place of Dougie Jones, whose head explodes upon leaving our reality, leaving only a metal ball and the ring Laura Palmer was warned not to wear in Fire Walk With Me for Mike to puzzle over. And Evil Cooper has a car accident and vomits into his hand to prevent himself from being pulled back into the Black Lodge. Oh, and hitmen are trying to kill Dougie — and thus, now, Cooper — and a junkie mom lives across the street from where Dougie and Jade the prostitute (a rare African-American character in this world) have their assignations. All of this could have been dispensed with in a fraction of the time, as could Cooper’s amnesiac wandering through the casino once Jade drops him off there. But Lynch’s command of tone is so masterful, and MacLachlan’s physicality still so strong — after 25 years in another dimension, Cooper is basically a toddler still learning how to work the controls of his body — that I could have spent much more time in the starfield, wondering what was making the banging noise inside the drum.
Frankly, the business with Dr. Jacoby spray-painting the shovels felt much more like Lynch and Frost trolling us than anything involving other worlds and doppelgangers. But that was compensated for by perhaps the most purely (or effectively) comic scene of the revival so far, as dim-witted Lucy and Andy try to help Hawk — who’s not exactly bright, either, but has good instincts — solve the Log Lady’s riddle.
How did you feel about the episode as a whole? And about the return of Lynch as Gordon Cole and the late Miguel Ferrer as Albert Rosenfield?