Season Three, Episodes Three & Four — “The Return, Part 3”, “The Return, Part 4”
By Brad Sun. The first two hours of Twin Peaks: The Return were a mostly somber affair. Sure, there were bits of low key humor (the Horne bros, Evil Coop’s terrible hair), but events proceeded at a steady, tension-building clip. Its tone vacillated largely between surreal horror and scene-setting intrigue.
All that changed with episodes three and four, as the plot machinations slowed to a leisurely pace. It seemed that co-creators Mark Frost and David Lynch finally paused long enough to have some fun.
Previously, I remarked that the absence of big-hearted nice guy Dale Cooper left Twin Peaks a bleaker and sadder place. Sure enough, Coop’s return to the real world (or at least what amounts to the real world on this crazy show) brought with it a newfound warmth and humor, though not in the way anyone could have predicted.
Frost and Lynch tossed one curveball after another, first revealing there was yet another Cooper running amok, an apparent decoy named Dougie Jones. Presumably created to replace the evil doppelganger in the Black Lodge, his presence facilitated real Coop’s quicker than expected escape. But that triumphant moment found itself undercut by the revelation that Cooper’s mental faculties hadn’t made the return trip with him.
From there, we followed the shell-shocked brain-fried Coop as he wandered through a hilariously goofy day at the casino. The excruciatingly slow sequence was made all the more exasperating by the fact no one seemed to notice something was seriously wrong with poor Dougie.
As we followed Dale’s aimless journey from slot machine riches to Jones’ suburban home and perpetually irritated wife, one couldn’t help but think this entire subplot would, under ordinary circumstances, be first on the chopping block by the corporate powers that be. While we’ll probably never know what exactly precipitated the brief contract drama between Lynch and Showtime, I like to think silly moments like Mr. Jackpots’ Las Vegas Adventure were precisely the kind of thing he fought for. This is what artistic freedom looks like.
Joining in on all this fun was Harry Goaz and the delightful Kimmy Robertson as Andy and Lucy Brennan, eternally testing the limits of Deputy Chief Hawk’s stolid calm. The absurdity flowed fast and free at the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department, culminating in the introduction of the Brennans’ son, Wally Brando. (Wally was played with moronic perfection by Michael Cera, in a surprise guest appearance for the ages.)
Despite all the fun Frost, Lynch, and the entire cast were clearly having in these episodes, events were inevitably steered back on course by the end of the series’ fourth hour, a tantalizingly ominous encounter between the now imprisoned Doppelganger and a trio of FBI agents (led by Lynch’s own Gordon Cole).
How things progress from here is anyone’s guess. Episodes three and four have shown Twin Peaks will follow whatever bizarre course suits the fancy of its idiosyncratic creators. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Hellooooo!” – Special Agent Dale Cooper, aka Mr. Jackpots.
“My dharma is the road.” – Wally Brando Brennan.
BEST MOMENT: A grownup Bobby Briggs is moved to tears at the unexpected sight of Laura Palmer’s photo. Yet even as we are swept up in Angelo Badalamenti’s iconic score, the mood is abruptly broken by the sudden appearance of Wally Brando, who launches into a seriously silly soliloquy about his life on the open road. It’s a masterful manipulation of tonal dynamics, the moving sincerity of Dana Ashbrook’s performance immediately contrasted with Michael Cera’s hilariously awful Marlon Brando impression.
While some might chalk moves like this up to weird for weird’s sake (not that there’s anything wrong with that), such moments ultimately add up to something more profound than the mere sum of their quirky parts. Twin Peaks (both the town and the show) is, above all, not just a place where anything can happen… it’s a place where everything happens. Heart, humor, horror, and everything in between are all placed side by side in an often surreal and always surprising microcosm of the human experience.
EPISODES’ MVP: Kyle MacLachlan shows off his silent acting chops, conveying a wealth of texture in his nuanced facial tics and body language. But it’s David Lynch that really steals the show, returning to the fan favorite role of FBI Deputy Director Gordon Cole. Whether in a heartwarming reunion with David Duchovny’s Denise Bryson or in a tense interrogation of the menacing Cooper doppelganger, Lynch is a dynamic presence, and his good-natured charm and concealed cunning are electrifying to watch. Even in moments of fear or doubt, the twinkle in his eye lets us know that David Lynch is enjoying this return to Twin Peaks more than anyone. We can’t wait until he sees Shelly again.
SLICES OF PIE:
– One of the women Cooper meets during his escape from the Black Lodge is played by Phoebe Augustine, who portrayed Ronnette in the original series. Here she is credited as “American Girl.”
– Augustine’s watch reads 2:53, referencing the Arm’s words: “253… time and time again.”
– More mysterious numbers: The outlet that sends Cooper back to the real world is first labeled “15”, then later “3.” His key to the Great Northern is for room 315.
– Special Agent Tammy Preston was first introduced in The Secret History of Twin Peaks, assigned by Gordon to investigate the dossier that comprises the text of the book.
– Don S. Davis makes a surprise cameo as Major Garland Briggs, despite having passed away before the filming of the series. Could David Bowie’s Phillip Jeffries make a similar appearance?
– The revelation of a modern professional police station hidden in another room in the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department was particularly inspired.
– “Blue rose”, also mentioned in Fire Walk With Me, is a classification that seems to be associated with FBI cases of a supernatural nature.
– Gordon and Albert agree to have one other person meet the Cooper doppelganger. The most likely candidate would appear to be Sarah Palmer, who was last seen drinking alone in her house and has displayed the ability to sense BOB’s presence in the past.
– Episode Three is dedicated to Miguel Ferrer and Don S. Davis, Special Agent Albert, and Major Garland Briggs respectively.
9 out of 10
Next: “The Return, Part 5”, in one week.
Before: “The Return, Part 1”, “The Return, Part 2”, here.