Season Three, Episode Seven — “The Return, Part 7″
By Brad Sun. Just in case there was ever a doubt, part seven of Twin Peaks: The Return assures us that Mark Frost and David Lynch know exactly what they’re doing. Even as they wholeheartedly embrace the freedom afforded to them by Showtime, it’s the audience that remains the true focus of their increasingly fascinating 18-hour experiment.
At times, it can feel as though they’re toying with us, indulging in every bizarre and tedious tangent that pops into their heads, just to see how much they can get away with. But if there is an element of mischief in the meandering journey of Dougie Jones or the navel-gazing monologue of Wally Brando, it’s a practical joke executed with a good-natured appreciation for the viewer, one that rewards those who (like Deputy Chief Hawk) are willing to follow the cryptic clues with a patient and open mind.
Nowhere is this better demonstrated than in a peculiar exchange between Gordon Cole and Tammy Preston. “It’s very, very good to see you again, old friend,” Cole recites, counting off the words on Tammy’s fingers. It’s a callback to Cole’s interrogation of Doppelganger Cooper in Part 4, a tense exchange that included an Easter egg caught by only the most studious of viewers.
“It’s YREV, very good to see you,” Evil Coop had said, reversing a word the way he would in the reality-warping Black Lodge. Cole links the backwards words to the imposter’s “spiritual finger”, alluding to his rotten soul. For the average viewer, it’s an easily dismissible bit of nonsensical palmistry. For the devoted, it’s another mystical breadcrumb to obsess over (and evidence of the sharp mind hiding under Cole’s bumbling facade).
The rest of the episode plays out in a similarly fan-friendly fashion. Back in Twin Peaks, Hawk and Truman are finally on the trail of the doppelganger, and it all circles back to Laura Palmer’s long lost diary pages. Explicit references to Annie Blackburn, Howard Smith, and Fire Walk With Me will no doubt excite longtime fans, as will the heavily anticipated appearance of Diane, who actress Laura Dern makes sure is worth the wait.
Even the episode’s obligatory check-in with Dougie Jones ends in a genuinely exhilarating payoff, as the Cooper of old briefly springs into action to violently neutralize a rampaging Ike “the Spike.”
It’s been a pretty damn compelling ride from the very beginning, but nothing so far has captured the addictive feeling of the original’s early episodes as successfully as this seventh hour. After the slow pacing and often grisly developments of the last few hours, “Part 7” pushes the narrative forward at a surprisingly brisk pace. Twin Peaks can at times feel like an impossible-to-navigate labyrinth of obscure allusions and unending wheel spinning, but this seventh episode is reassurance that Frost and Lynch are playing the long game, and that answers will reveal themselves to those with the patience to let the two creators have their fun along the way.
But if all this makes it seem as though the latest episode is an overly generous string of accessible fan service, Lynch hits us with an extended sequence of a guy sweeping the floor, just to remind us who’s still in charge. As this playful “fuck you” stretches on for over two minutes, we nervously wait for “Starring Kyle MacLachlan” to appear on the screen, until a ringing phone breaks the monotony and the episode continues on. As Ben Horne would say, “Well played, David.”
“Fuck you.” – Diane, to every FBI agent she come across.
“I’ll always remember that night.” – Doppelganger Cooper, giving us the creeps.
BEST MOMENT: In another great interrogation scene, Diane confronts the doppelganger Cooper for the first time in decades. As the camera holds on his face in a tight close up, we examine his weathered features with the same puzzlement and trepidation as the concerned team of FBI agents. Something is wrong. Is it his pitch black eyes? His slowed down speech? His unnatural stillness? Are his features transforming more and more into BOB, or is it all in our heads? Lynch’s confident direction makes us feel the unsettling paranoia.
EPISODE’S MVP: Laura Dern steals the show as Diane Evans. After decades of anticipation, her introduction was bound to be captivating, but Dern gives it her all to reward our patience. Her Diane is darker and saltier than most fans might expect, the result of 25 years of trying to forget a traumatic encounter with the Cooper impostor.
There is a real sense of loss here. Just as the doppelganger caused irreparable harm to some part of Diane, so too did he rob us of ever getting to meet the mysterious secretary that’s occupied our collective imaginations for so long, replaced instead with a damaged, alcoholic shadow. Dern makes us believe Diane’s tragedy, but she also sells her toughness.
SLICES OF PIE:
– Major Briggs’ apparent body doesn’t seem to have aged in the past 25 years. Could he have taken an ill-fated journey through time and space? Perhaps not coincidentally, Briggs appeared as a disembodied head to Cooper in Episode Three.
– Was the creepy dark figure that seemed to be approaching Lieutenant Knox the same black-faced ghost last seen in a prison cell next to Bill Hastings?
– Amusingly, the three detectives that interview Dougie and Janey-E are all related. The credits list them as T. Fusco, D. Fusco, and “Smiley” Fusco.
– If the bartender at the Bang Bang Bar looks familiar, it’s because he’s played by Walter Olkewicz, the same actor who portrayed Jacques Renault in the original series. Here, he’s credited as Jean-Michel Renault.
– Episode Seven is dedicated to Warren Frost, the great Doc Hayward.
10 out of 10
Next: “The Return, Part 8”, in one week.
Before: “The Return, Part 6”, here.