Season Three, Episode Ten — “The Return, Part Ten”
By Brad Sun. As Twin Peaks: The Return enters its second half, the pacing has quickened, the action intensified, and all those disparate plot threads are finally starting to converge. While last week saw key players involved in the investigation of Major Briggs and Cooper finally meet in South Dakota to share their findings, Part 10’s movement comes primarily from the series’ ancillary characters. Save for a darkly comic sequence of Janey-E indulging in Dougie’s impressive new physique, this episode is all about the bad guys.
Richard Horne’s wrathful trail of terror continues, first murdering an eyewitness to his fatal hit and run, then violently robbing his grandmother, Sylvia Horne. Given the chaotic recklessness of his rampage, it’s hard to imagine how the town of Twin Peaks has survived the twenty-something years since his birth. But he’s hardly the only scumbag to leave an impression. Deputy Chad reveals the depths of his vileness by helping Richard cover up his misdeeds, and frothing shithead Steven menaces a terrified Becky, echoing her mother Shelly’s similarly abusive marriage to Leo Johnson.
On the Vegas front, casino strongmen Rodney and Bradley Mitchum (Robert Knepper and Jim Belushi respectively) continue their search for the elusive Mr. Jackpots, ultimately setting their sights on Dougie Jones, thanks to a local news report and the duplicitous assistance of Anthony Sinclair (Tom Sizemore).
Even as momentum builds towards the inevitable confrontation between the still oblivious Agent Cooper and the myriad sinister forces swirling around him, Part 10’s most memorable moments come not from its plot points, but from its wealth of haunting, impressionistic visuals.
The serenely spiritual Carl Rodd (Harry Dean Stanton) strums a gentle acoustic ballad, interrupted by the shattered glass of an alarming domestic dispute. A trio of beautiful Vegas hostesses stare blankly in a glassy-eyed daze, oblivious to the foreboding darkness that surrounds them. Poor Johnny Horne futilely fights against his restraints while his weird-ass teddy bear asks him about his day. And perhaps most memorably, a ghostly Laura Palmer appears to Gordon Cole, crying desperately before fading away. For all its addictive soap opera trappings, Twin Peaks‘ most lasting impressions have always been its atmospheric, instantly iconic visuals, and episode ten is an embarrassment of riches.
But even as it briefly pauses for these sublime vignettes, it’s clear that Twin Peaks has begun nimbly laying the foundation for its end game. Frost and Lynch’s slow and steady pacing may have perturbed some impatient viewers in the past, but as the plot thickens and anticipation builds, the weeklong wait between episodes has never been so excruciating. “Now the circle is almost complete,” the Log Lady promises us. “Watch and listen to the dream of time and space.” We will.
“Hello, Johnny. How are you today? Hello, Johnny. How are you today?” – Johnny Horne’s stuffed friend.
BEST MOMENT: Lynch switches to handheld cameras to capture Richard Horne’s vicious assault and robbery of Sylvia and Johnny, all while a bizarre glass-domed toy drones on repeatedly and wholesome orchestral strings swell in the background. The combination of idyllic suburban splendor and its rotten vile underbelly have long been a theme in Lynch’s work, going back at least as far as the beetle-infested opening of Blue Velvet. Its potency here comes by way of its expertly crafted auditory dissonance — not just from the soundtrack, but also through its canned daytime drama dialogue, brought to life with shocking believability by the riveting line readings of the actors.
EPISODE’S MVP: Eamon Farren’s Richard Horne never fails to terrify, and he brings another memorable performance to “Part Ten”. The underlying darkness of Twin Peaks (previously confined to off screen implication by network television restrictions) is now given free rein by way of the character Richard, a creature of pure evil who, if fan theories prove to be true, was birthed from an equally abominable act. More than Doppelganger Cooper, or arguably even BOB, Richard has come to personify the twisted horror hidden just below the surface of Twin Peaks‘ simple small-town facade.
SLICES OF PIE:
– Despite her apparent airheadedness, Lucy is pretty suspicious of Chad’s behavior. His comeuppance seems imminent.
– David Lynch continues to show he’s having the most fun out of everybody, first giggling boyishly at Albert’s date, then taking a moment to show off a quirky little doodle.
– Nadine’s shop is called “Run Silent, Run Drapes”, an allusion to the Clark Gable film, Run Silent, Run Deep.
– Chrysta Bell’s terrible acting has gone from distractingly bad to amusingly so. It works as an interesting meta-commentary on Gordon and Tammy’s relationship, but whether or not Bell is in on the joke is still indeterminable.
– Is Diane really working for Evil Coop or, knowing Albert and Cole would discover her messages, is she actually laying a trap for him?
– There are a lot of siblings on Twin Peaks: The Hornes, the Trumans, the Mitchums, the Fuscos, and all of Coop’s different iterations too.
– The three Vegas girls are named Candie, Sandie, and Mandie. The similarity might explain why Candie didn’t realize she was being called… or maybe not.
– Rebekah Del Rio, who also had a memorable performance in Mulholland Dr., wears a dress patterned after the Black Lodge’s floor. The red curtains of the Bang Bang Bar complete the effect.
9 out of 10
Next: “The Return, Part Eleven”, in one week.
Before: “The Return, Part Nine”, here.