Season Three, Episode Six — “The Return, Part 6”
By Brad Sun. After wallowing in some grounded grimness last episode, Twin Peaks brings back the strange for its sixth hour. Cooper’s slow, sad odyssey as Dougie Jones continued to amble along, and Hawk finally solved the Log Lady’s mystery. But the most memorable moments of Episode Six were two shocking outbursts of unflinching violence.
Both served to deepen the mystery of what sinister forces are at play, not to mention how exactly all these disparate events are really connected. After all, weren’t we supposed to be looking for Laura Palmer?
First, we followed Richard Horne as he made contact with the enigmatic Canadian drug supplier Red, who indulged in a classic bit of Lynchian weirdness by performing a surreal and vaguely threatening magic trick. Does this seemingly supernatural feat imply a connection to the otherworldly Black Lodge, or is this merely a surreal moment of atmospheric ephemera? Lynch’s patient, playfully withholding style left the answer ambiguous. (Though Red’s impossible coin manipulation brought to mind a similarly mystifying encounter Donna once had while delivering meals-on-wheels.) Like much of the series so far, we are handed yet another oddly shaped puzzle piece with only the slightest hint of where it fits.
At any rate, Richard seemed just as confused as the rest of us, and angry in the way only a humiliated youth can be. He was so confused and angry, in fact, that he ended up barreling through a stop sign, brutally killing a small child in broad daylight. Add fatal hit and run to his growing list of despicable crimes. Richard is not a pleasant person.
The second scene of savagery involved the shady Vegas organization that’s been stalking poor Dougie Jones. It’s Lorraine (“the worrier”) who met her graphic end here, at the hands of Ike “The Spike” Stadtler, a little person assassin wielding an ice pick. Her sudden, violent end was filmed just a few seconds over the line of gratuitous, with a Freudian sexual subtext added for maximum viewer discomfort. In another classic Lynch move, the shocking violence was punctuated with Ike pouting like a child over his broken ice pick.
There’s been a perverse poetry to previous moments of supernatural horror in Twin Peaks, a knowing wink to soap operas and slasher flicks that made the violence less intense, even fun. That sense of goofy genre pastiche was largely absent this week; there was no postmodern hyper reality to shield us from the harshness of the proceedings. In its place was a cold randomness that contrasted starkly with the more methodical build of the show’s otherworldly evil.
It will be interesting to see how deep Twin Peaks dives into the more grounded horror present in its last couple episodes. With the stylish surreality of the Black Lodge taking a backseat to the events of the real world (and Dougie’s journey becoming increasingly more pathetic than amusing), events are proceeding at an increasingly dour trajectory, save for small welcome bursts of subtle humor.
It’s a daring balancing act that Frost and Lynch have so far masterfully navigated, but now at the 1/3 mark of this 18 hour epic, viewers will no doubt be expecting to see some pay off for their investment.
“You have to wake up.” – MIKE to Cooper, echoing the audience’s sentiments.
“Fuck Gene Kelly, you motherfucker!” – Albert Rosenfield, expressing his displeasure over the weather.
BEST MOMENT: After Richard’s aforementioned slaughtering of a small child, we get a bizarrely drawn out sequence of reactions from concerned eyewitnesses. Their exaggerated, canned responses (couples holding each other, a driver giving himself a slow, sad facepalm) are brilliantly staged. Complete with swelling melodramatic music, the shocking brutality gives way to the cheesy beats of an after-school special. It’s weird and hilarious in the most uncomfortable way.
EPISODE’S MVP: Naomi Watts has been single-handedly carrying her scenes with the close-to-catatonic Cooper for several episodes now, but her performance reached new heights as she berated the shady bookies that have been hounding Dougie. “We drive cheap, terrible cars!” she exclaimed with complete outraged seriousness.
Perhaps it’s due to her soap opera roots, or her previous work with Lynch on Mulholland Dr. Whatever the case, no one walks the fine line between campy satire and emotional believability like Watts. Do yourself a favor and watch her enraged monologue on mute to see just how delightfully expressive her performance is. “Tough dame,” indeed.
SLICES OF PIE:
– Laura Dern is introduced as Diane Evans, Cooper’s former secretary who has never before appeared onscreen.
– Harry Dean Stanton reprises his role as Carl Rodd, owner of the Fat Trout Trailer Park from Fire Walk With Me, and seemingly relocated much closer to the town of Twin Peaks.
– We don’t see her, but Linda is mentioned in a conversation between Carl and Mickey. Her ties to Richard, as implied in the Giant’s clues, remain unknown.
– Cooper’s psychic abilities appear to have uncovered some underhanded dealing from co-worker Anthony Sinclair (played by Tom Sizemore). Even in his brain-addled state, Cooper seems to be better at this job than Dougie was.
– Hawk finally discovers what’s been missing: mysterious handwritten pages hidden within a bathroom stall door. Could these be the long missing pages from Laura Palmer’s diary?
– It’s remarkable how much information can be gleaned only by studying the credits at the end of each episode. A surprising number of characters’ identities and relationship are only known through their cast listing.
7 out of 10
Next: “The Return, Part 7”, in one week.
Before: “The Return, Part 5”, here.