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: We started this season with three remarkable episodes that quickly established Twin Peaks: The Return would have strong ties to the original series while also letting David Lynch be David Lynch, sometimes at length, as in the amazing, virtually wordless 15-minute opening of “Part 3.” You raised the possibility of mid-season sag, which I brushed away. Mid-season sag is for other shows.
This was a pretty saggy episode. We talked before about how the deliberate pace and the show’s tendency to linger a beat too long — and then a beat more — is part of what makes it work. this is the first time I felt like it wasn’t working. I’m enjoying MacLachlan’s performance as the naive Good Coop (a.k.a. “Mr. Jackpots”) and I welcome Naomi Watts in anything, but I started to lose patience with his domestic scenes. Then there’s Wally Brando, who I’m sure we’ll be discussing at length. This was the most overtly comedic episode of the series so far and I thought it was the least successful — maybe not by coincidence, even though I tend to find Lynch pretty funny. (I think I might be the only fan of Lynch and Frost’s short-lived, post-Twin Peaks sitcom On The Air.) All of which is to say, I liked this episode but I liked it least of this first bunch, and by a sizable margin.
Alan: Yeah, I wanted to discuss “Part 3” on its own because I felt it deserved the special attention. The flip side of that is that we wind up with an episode without much meat on it. Arguably more happens here, plot-wise, than in the previous hour, but it all feels like it’s moving much more slowly, in part because so much of it is just scenes being elongated for humor’s sake. And even though I’m also a sucker for the Lynch/Frost sense of humor — and incredibly relieved that the humor is back, after Fire Walk With Me was such a grim slog — doing an episode that’s virtually nothing but that is a lot.
Kyle MacLachlan is a great physical and verbal comedian, so it’s fun to witness Good Coop parroting other people’s phrases (“HellOOOOOOOOO!”) and gestures, but it felt like that was nearly the whole hour, which… maybe Showtime wasn’t wrong (before Lynch tried to quit the project in protest) to suggest fewer episodes might be necessary? Cooper stumbling around in Dougie Jones’ life feels very much like Netflix streaming drift — or like various cougar or amnesia-related stories midway through 24 seasons — designed solely to elongate the story and keep our hero from getting to where he needs to faster. It’s more fun than most delaying tactics, because Lynch + Frost + MacLachlan (with a little sprinkling of Watts and the charming Pierce Gagnon as Sonny Jim), but it’s the most impatient I’ve felt through these early episodes about anything non-shovel-related.
And yet… I think I could have watched an entire hour that was just Michael Cera doing a pitch-perfect Marlon Brando as Lucy and Andy’s son, Wally Brando. It’s such a weird idea, even for Twin Peaks, and yet I’ve watched so many Brando interviews in my life (and listened to my pal Matt Zoller Seitz’s impression of so many more), and Cera and the script get it perfectly. It seems to have nothing to do with anything — other than providing closure to the pregnancy/paternity story from season two (Wally’s affectations feel like DNA he inherited from Dick more than he might have from Andy) — yet listening to Cera go on and on and on about Dharma and his travels and his great respect for both Sheriffs Truman was delightful to me. And Robert Forster was the perfect straight man for it. Forster’s a character actor for whom I can pay the highest compliment: He always seems so natural that it almost never feels like he’s actually acting, but is just a sheriff or vacuum cleaner repairman or bail bondsman who happened to stumble into a casting call. With Michael Ontkean retired, Forster makes for an excellent sane man at the center of the town’s usual weirdness.
I know you have issues with Wally Brando, Keith, so let’s hear them. How did you feel about Forster as Frank Truman? And are you surprised that we’re four hours in and have barely spent any time with Twin Peaks characters who don’t work at the sheriff’s station? The conclusion of “Part 2” suggested we were going to dive back into personal drama involving Shelly, James, etc., and since then… nothing.