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. With Alan on vacation this week, Josh Kurp will be subbing in for him.
Keith: Josh, thanks for stepping in for Alan while he’s stuck in the Black Lodge (or on vacation; I’m unclear). There’s a lot to talk about this week, but let’s start with two sequences that almost bookend the episode and whose origins go all the way back to the Twin Peaks pilot. In the episode’s opening, Nadine (Wendy Robie), feeling empowered by Dr. Jacoby’s message (and her golden shovel) gives Ed (Everett McGill) his freedom. He makes a beeline to the RR Diner where Norma (Peggy Lipton) seems to reject him for the big-time, restaurant-franchising Walter only to give it all up and embrace Ed, all while Otis Redding’s scorching Monterey Pop performance of “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” swells in the background.
It’s a tremendous scene, beautifully played by Lipton, Robie (who keeps Nadine’s menacing edge even as she’s expressing her love and best wishes for her husband), and especially McGill (who takes Ed from ecstasy to heartbreak and back again with just a few words). It also feels like the closing off of one of the series’ longest-running storylines and a strong indication that, with only two weeks and three episodes left, we’re getting close to the end of Twin Peaks.
So, when Lucy asks late in the episode, “The Log Lady is dead?” it hits on a few levels: The show has lost a beloved character, but we also know that actress Catherine Coulson, a longtime friend and collaborator of Lynch, died in the time between the production of The Return and its release. And when the show first aired in 1990, the Log Lady became one of the elements that became shorthand for the show itself. (I even had a Log Lady t-shirt that I procured at the local mall.) It’s getting on closing time in Twin Peaks. Josh, did you get a similar sense of things coming to an end this week? That said, it seems like there’s an awful lot of plot to get through before Frost, Lynch, and everyone else can close up shop. And are we ever going to talk about Judy?
Josh: To quote the Log Lady herself, death is “a change, not an end.” It was an appropriately haunting and mysterious exit for a haunting and mysterious character, someone who I knew about before I even watched the show. Speaking of changes: where did “mystical steam-spewing teapot above a convenience store” land on your list of ways to get Phillip Jeffries on the show following the death of David Bowie? Definitely top five for me. I had to watch the scene more than once, because a) the first time I was distracted by Nathan Frizzell’s Ziggy Stardust impression, and b) a lot of crucial information was dropped. Most importantly, that Dark Cooper has met Judy before, and he now has her number. Or, at least a number: 480551. It gives Dark Cooper somewhere to start, because even he seems puzzled (note his quizzical reaction when Jeffries confirms “You are Cooper”); it’s one of the first times in The Return that a character has straight-up asked, what the heck is going on? I stopped wondering that weeks ago. It’s clear we won’t get all the answers we want, so might as well enjoy the ride for a few more episodes.
And there was a lot to enjoy in “Part 15.” I don’t know about you, Keith, but while dragons are cool and all, I might prefer green Hulk hands, Otis Redding (making his second Prestige TV appearance of the year) and ZZ Top songs, Jennifer Jason Leigh as an assassin, and Dougie startling himself both literally, by sticking a fork into an electric socket, and figuratively, by turning on Sunset Boulevard at the moment a character named — this is totally real, by the way — Gordon Cole is introduced. I guess we should discuss about Audrey and Charlie, too, or perhaps more accurately, scream about them.
When are they going to get to the fireworks factory, er, roadhouse?!?
Keith: It doesn’t seem imminent, does it? We’ve now had three episodes in which Audrey and Charlie talk about going to the roadhouse only not to go, though this one ended in Audrey attacking Charlie. This is not a healthy relationship, Josh! I’m also not entirely sure I understand it. Alan and I tossed around some crackpot theories a couple of weeks ago and there’s nothing here to disprove them. If nothing else, they seem to be experiencing time in a different way. How many hot roadhouse acts have performed while they dilly-dallied? They even missed ZZ Top night!
Speaking of, while I recognize that the whole “Sharp Dressed Man”/dance floor assault sequence is pretty low on the Twin Peaks Weirdness Index, it has to be one of the least predictable, right? Like, if last week you told me that Jeffries would return as a talking tea kettle (or whatever that thing is) sounding not very much like David Bowie attempting a Southern accent, I’d have said, “Sure. That’s consistent with what we’ve seen before.” But that scene? Who saw that coming?
We should probably talk about Cooper and Dougie. Is the fork incident going to be what brings Dougie full circle back to Good Coop? I’d say it’s the most likely moment so far, particularly since we saw the Jones’ kitchen turn unearthly white for a moment, but who knows? As for Dark Coop, I’m not sure what he’s up to or what those numbers mean or where the partnership with Richard (now confirmed as Audrey’s son) will take him but, like the rest of the series, there’s a mounting sense of urgency around him.
I found the convenience store sequence pretty stunning, particularly the walk down the hallway that kept dissolving into a forest. But just as haunting, in its own way, the long freak-out sequence between Steven and Gersten in the woods, one that seemingly ends with Steven’s suicide. But why are they there in the first place? And why haven’t we seen Becky? I have a bad feeling about where this is going, and a bad feeling that happiness filling Shelly as she watched Ed and Norma finally get together in the RR Diner won’t last much longer. Any thoughts on that or where the convenience store scene fits into everything else?
Josh: Gersten (a very game Alicia Witt) has only appeared in two episodes in The Return — “Part 11” and “Part 15” — both of which were the weeks I filled in for either you or Alan. We’re apparently tied at the hip. She’s going to need the company, too, after Steven possibly committed suicide. I was initially worried that Cyril Pons (played by none other than co-creator Mark Frost) and his dog were the ones who got shot, but they safely returned to the New Fat Trout Trailer Park and informed Carl of what happened. Maybe Steven is still alive? If only there was someone around who could donate blood…
As for your other questions: I have a bad feeling for pretty much everyone on the show right now. Janey-E can’t turn her back for a second without Dougie nearly killing himself; Charlyne Yi is crawling on the disgusting floor of the Roadhouse and howling bloody murder; and James and Fred are in jail, along with the eyeless woman Naido and a slobbering drunk. They’re still making animal noises, like they did last episode, but now the clamor is beginning to make sense(-ish).
If you’ll recall, there’s a moment in Fire Walk with Me (which is proving more important to the mythology of The Return than the original series) where a monkey says “Judy.” Considering Bad Cooper is looking for a “Judy” and an incarcerated Naido (who previously interacted with Agent Cooper before he left the Red Room) is howling like a monkey in her cell, could there be a connection between the two? And are Bad Cooper and Richard, the most murder-friendly road trip partners since Farouk and Oliver on Legion, going to Las Vegas or Twin Peaks? Or somewhere else both wonderful and strange?
Keith: That’s a good question. Maybe none of the above? This is Twin Peaks we’re talking about. You’re dead-on about Fire Walk With Me. For years I thought its more cryptic elements were just Lynch messing with us, especially the scene with Lil, which seemed like a jab at ever fan that felt like ever fan who felt entitled to an explanation of what it all means. I’m still not ruling that out as a possibility or that Lynch decided to take all the Fire Walk With Me weirdness seriously years after the fact. On the other hand, it’s also possible that this was all part of a grand design and that I’m a dope for thinking otherwise. (Let’s say that might be the more likely explanation.)
So who is Judy? We learn nothing this week. We might learn nothing next week. Or about what’s going on with Billy or freaking out Charlyne Yi’s character or whether Becky’s still among the living. Or maybe we’ll learn it all. Either way, I’m already starting to dread the conclusion, and not because I worry about getting all the answers. The Log Lady is dead and I’m already starting to miss Twin Peaks.
Josh: I began with a Log Lady quote. I’ll end on one, too.