Season Three, Episode Fifteen — “The Return, Part Fifteen”
By Brad Sun. This week opened with a moment fans have been waiting decades to see.
The ten minute sequence, which plays out like a mini-episode within the hour long show, begins with an uncharacteristically sunny view of Twin Peaks’ normally ominous wooded vistas. Gone is Angelo Badalamenti’s moody score, replaced with the chirping of birds (and not an owl in sight). This cheerfulness continues as a newly self-actualized Nadine reveals to Ed that he is free to pursue his true love.
By now, we’ve been trained to be wary of Twin Peaks‘ propensity for perverse pranks, and this reviewer was immediately suspicious that we were witnessing a calculated scheme that would enable Nadine to pursue Dr. Jacobi. Hell, maybe Dr. Amp’s Radio Show is itself just a ploy to not only peddle golden shovels, but also seduce impressionable listeners.
All this may still be true, but it hardly matters to Big Ed, who makes a beeline to the Double R in time to see Norma face a crossroads of her own. But any lingering cynicism finally melts away as Norma ends her professional and personal relationship with her profit-focused investor. We hear Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” and are treated to blue skies, a long overdue kiss, and a much deserved happy ending for Ed and Norma.
The crackling of electricity abruptly ends this brief moment of optimism, and another long awaited meeting unfolds.
Led by the Woodsmen, Evil Coop takes an inter-dimensional trip through the infamous room above the convenience store to a super spooky old house and ultimately to a rundown motel. It’s here that he finally encounters Phillip Jeffries, or at least some version of him resembling a massive tea kettle. The meeting plays out as one would expect, filled with more numbers and riddles to puzzle over, but it’s interesting to see the doppelganger, for once, not completely in control of the situation. Jeffries’ intentions are still a mystery, but he appears, to some extent, to be calling the shots.
The rest of the episode is filled with interactions between couples, though none are as pleasant as Ed and Norma, and most involve death. The Log Lady tells Hawk that death is “just a change, not an end” before succumbing to her illness, and her words resonate beyond the series itself. Actress Catherine Coulson, along with David Bowie and many of Twin Peaks‘ cast, died before this season aired, yet their characters remain for us to watch week after week.
In a similarly subversive way, Dougie Coop sticks a fork in an electrical socket, an act that would usually mean the end, but which viewers are hoping will do just the opposite — bring Dale Cooper fully back to life. At this point, it’s impossible to predict if and when Cooper will regain his faculties, but this sequence, spurred on by hearing the name “Gordon Cole” while watching Sunset Blvd, is the most proactive and deliberate action we’ve seen since he returned to the real world. Whatever the case, it seems at the very least to be a turning point in the Vegas plotline and an end to Dougie’s monotonously mundane routine.
If Special Agent Cooper is indeed back (and that’s a big “if”), it comes just as Hutch and Chantal are finally closing in on him. The two endearingly loving psycho killers share a fast food dinner together and gaze up at a completely unremarkable night view that Hutch describes as “beautiful” nonetheless. It stands in contrast to the bright blue skies that ended Ed and Norma’s saga, yet still serves as a darkly funny commentary on the transformative power of love.
Love, death, and the other side are again the topics of conversation for Steven and Gersten as they cower pitifully in the woods. Becky’s status is (somewhat alarmingly) unknown, but this appears to be the end for Steven. And while some mysteries, such as Audrey’s strange and disconnected whereabouts, are still very much up in the air, “Part Fifteen” was largely about wrapping up loose threads to focus on the end game. From the touching conclusions to Ed, Norma, and Margaret’s stories, to Steven’s unceremonious departure, the stage seems finally set for the inevitable confrontations in Las Vegas and Twin Peaks. With just three hours left before the series’ conclusion, it’s still anyone’s guess what exactly Frost and Lynch have in store.
“So called Christian nation… might as well be ‘thou shalt kill’.” – Hutch, suddenly launching into a hilariously woke rant about American hypocrisy.
BEST MOMENT: This week featured another head-scratchingly random interaction at the Bang Bag Bar. But this sequence, starring Charlene Yi and a performance by The Veils, manages to build to a strangely poignant climax of psychological horror. Beginning with a darkly amusing moment of Yi being placed on the ground by two men who want her booth, the terror builds as she crawls along the floor, first weeping, then screaming in primal fear. Taken as a short film by itself, it’s a surprisingly effective portrait of social anxiety and isolation.
EPISODE’S MVP: Tim Roth and Jennifer Jason Leigh bring the demented charm as two killer dumbfucks in love. It’s a delightfully sick “us against the world” relationship that plays as a farcical version of Lynch’s already bonkers Wild at Heart.
SLICES OF PIE:
– The creepy house that seemed to serve as a dimensional wormhole to Phillip Jeffries looks to be the same place Laura entered through a painting in Fire Walk With Me.
– According to Evil Coop, the entire season has played out over five days so far.
– Who is Judy? Behind-the-scenes info tells us she was originally planned to be Josie’s sister. That seems to no longer be the case, but her increasing significance might mean she has something to do with Laura. Perhaps the name of Laura’s pure form?
– Freddie’s green glove is so powerful that it can short circuit the Roadhouse’s sound system. Besides being totally rad, it’s yet another tie between electricity and the supernatural.
– As if to comment on the blurred lines between actors and their roles, “Part Fifteen” was dedicated to Margaret Lanterman, the fictional character known as “The Log Lady”.
7.5 out of 10
Next: “The Return, Part Sixteen,” in one week.
Before: “The Return, Part Fourteen,” here.