Season Three, Episode Eleven — “The Return, Part Eleven”
By Brad Sun. Loose ends continue to get tied up in Part 11 of Twin Peaks: The Return. Yet even as developments in the story’s three primary locations move towards the inevitable crossing of paths, more new questions continue to be raised. It may be well into its second half, but the series shows no signs of slowing down its ever expanding intrigue and complexity.
In Twin Peaks, we’re treated to a characteristically off-kilter sequence of events that underscores just how dysfunctional the small town has become. A car-snatching, gun-toting Becky proves she’s nearly as reckless and volatile as her lowlife husband Steven, who is revealed to be a cheater on top of everything else. A crisis is averted and Becky is joined by her parents, Shelly and Bobby Briggs, for a heart to heart at the Double R Diner.
But this moment of tender familial bonding doesn’t last long, as Shelly abruptly regresses into a giddy, fawning schoolgirl at the sight of her apparent beau Red, much to the chagrin of her distressed daughter and heartbroken husband. This scene is interrupted yet again by another incident of careless stray gunplay, all culminating in Bobby witnessing a young girl vomiting and moaning in a distinctly zombie-like fashion. Could her theatrically bizarre symptoms be related to the designer drugs Red and Richard have been bringing into town?
Meanwhile, in South Dakota, Gordon and company seem closer than ever to piecing together the mystery of the Black Lodge and Garland Briggs’ disappearance. Cole himself nearly takes an untimely trip to the other side, saved at the last moment by Albert who, fittingly, has always been the agent most grounded in reality. Even still, Cole’s vision of the Woodsmen, coupled with Laura’s ghostly appearance last episode, appears to have a lasting effect on the FBI Deputy Director, whose shaking hands perhaps allude to a newfound interdimensional connection. At the same time, poor William Hastings is finally put out of his misery, adding one more tally to the growing list of brutally crushed skulls that began with Sam and Tracey all the way back in the show’s second hour. Hastings’ demise may be the most violent example of Frost and Lynch’s steady combining and closing of plot threads, but it’s not the only one this episode.
At the same time, poor William Hastings is finally put out of his misery, adding one more tally to the growing list of brutally crushed skulls that began with Sam and Tracey all the way back in the show’s second hour. Hastings’ demise may be the most violent example of Frost and Lynch’s steady closing of plot threads, but it’s not the only one this episode.
Back in Vegas, the Mitchum brothers finally cross paths with Dougie Jones and find themselves duly drawn into the mystical web that surrounds him. Like Agent Cooper’s original vision of the Black Lodge that set him down the path to Laura Palmer’s killer, Bradley Mitchum (Jim Belushi) is led by a dream that he can scarcely remember, but grows more and more prophetic as their meeting with Dougie draws near.
In an amusing homage to David Fincher’s Seven, the Mitchums are confronted with the random yet completely appropriate peace offering of a cherry pie, and finally realize Dougie is not the calculating adversary they’ve been led to believe he is. Yet despite this happy ending that concludes with the brothers merrily toasting their newfound ally, one can’t help but sense this moment will prove to be the brief calm before the inevitably brewing storm.
Noticeably absent from the last couple episodes are Evil Cooper and his cohorts. Even as our heroes race to uncover the meaning behind the strange circumstances surrounding them, the sinister mechanisms of the Doppelganger cast a foreboding shadow, even in his absence. Unlike the original series with its clearly defined pursuit of Laura’s killer, Twin Peaks: The Return has no central question driving its narrative. Instead, we’ve been given only ominous glimpses of the darkness at play, from the grounded depravity of Richard and Steven to the otherworldly evil of the mysterious Mother demon. Nevertheless, the moment of convergence draws ever nearer and, as the Log Lady warns, there’s fire where they’re going. After eleven hours of patient, masterful build up, we’re more than ready.
“He’s dead.” – Gordon Cole’s astute assessment of Bill Hasting’s bloody, mutilated head.
BEST MOMENT: After discovering his box of cherry pie, as well as their $30 million insurance reimbursement, the Mitchum brothers take Dougie out for a celebratory meal. Cooper’s bizarre journey comes full circle as he reunites with the now wealthy elderly woman he first encountered during his run of jackpots at the casino. Despite his befuddled state, Dale Cooper’s inherent goodness shines through, touching the hearts of even the two hardened gangsters.
EPISODE’S MVP: Though Jim Belushi’s comic chops have often been unkindly regarded by critics (especially in comparison to his late brother John), he’s proven to be the perfect fit for Twin Peaks‘ unique brand of offbeat comedy. His expressive face and low key delivery bring a touch of humanity to Bradley Mitchum, in contrast to his more stoically menacing brother Rodney, played by Robert Knepper. It’s this touch of soulfulness that brings believability to his character’s sudden acceptance of the supernatural and lies at the very heart of the series’ quirky charm.
SLICES OF PIE:
– In an easy to miss cameo, Steven’s other woman is none other than Gersten Hayward (Donna’s younger sister), played once again by original actress Alicia Witt.
– Gordon and Tammy’s power dynamic continues to be an interesting throughline of the series. When he exclaims “the policeman’s dream” as Tammy serves him like a glorified secretary, he may be just referring to the doughnuts… but he’s probably not.
– Could Diane’s attempted subterfuge really be so obvious, or is there something else going on?
– The black insect-like shape once again makes an appearance in this episode, this time with an ominous warning from Hawk. Is it merely a symbol that represents pure evil, or is it associated with a specific entity like the Mother demon?
– Electricity has always been a harbinger of the supernatural in Twin Peaks, an energy source symbolized by a campfire on Hawk’s prophetic old map. Perhaps the iconic phrase “Fire walk with me” will take on a renewed significance. Similarly, a symbol of blackened, rotting corn may be tied to the garmonbozia consumed by Black Lodge creatures.
8 out of 10
Next: “The Return, Part Twelve,” in one week.
Before: “The Return, Part Ten,” here.