TV review: Twin Peaks – The Return: Brings Back Some Memories

John Preston

Contains spoilers

Somewhat ironically, it’s clear that the biggest change to happen to Twin Peaks is its location. So far we have experienced new characters, and a few old, in South Dakota, Washington, New York and Vegas as well as frequent return revisits to the Black Lodge – which you won’t find on a map. The least amount of time has been spent in the show’s namesake town. In episode 4, however, appropriately titled ‘Brings Back Some Memories’, what feels like a fully fledged return to the town is made and startling reveals are presented for at least one of the show’s original, pivotal characters.

Continuing in a casino in Vegas, though, the good Dale Cooper, who seems to have lost all of his characteristics and has been replaced by a stumbling, childlike innocent, continues to deplete the ringing slot machines of massive amounts. He is guided by floating symbols that display the Black Lodge’s floor and curtains to the machines that are pre-programmed to win. Yes, it’s all still very, very strange.

Episode 4 marks a considerable departure in mood and has nods to slapstick, popping ultra-bright, daylit interiors and bone-dry monologues which reveal Lynch’s funny side. Nothing about any of these elements is remotely naturalist, which only heightens the queasy artifice of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s outside world. When the newly minted Cooper is driven to his suburban home, an hysterical Naomi Watts presents herself as his wife, but the man she believes he is has already been transported to the Black Lodge and is now a small golden ball (it’s suspected that Watts may appreciate this more than Dougie Jones himself). This slimmer, differently styled and near-mute version of her husband is no apparent issue to her once Watts discovers the large sack of money he is carrying.

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There are two long scenes which take place at the Twin Peaks Sheriff Department. One involves Lucy and her morbid fear of mobile phones (I laughed) and the other has Micheal Cera as Lucy and, possibly, Andy’s son, Wally (I didn’t laugh, but you may). The return of bad-boy Bobby Briggs was pure soap opera heaven. With his back to us initially, he turns around to reveal he is now a silver-fox police officer. The investigation room is laid out with old case files and the now iconic photo of Laura Palmer as the prom queen.

Briggs, who 25 years ago slept with Palmer, was a drug runner and murdered a man for her, broke down at the sight of this and the surrounding memorabilia and, for the first time in this almost score-less season, the Laura Palmer theme floated back in. It seemed as though Lynch had decided to finally reward return Peakies with a scene re-connecting them to the place which had originally secured their enduring fandom all those years back.

Back in suburbia, Naomi Watts as Janey-E Jones tries to dress her replacement, incapable husband and even has to help him to the bathroom, but this arouses no more than her irritation levels. Her son, Sonny Jim Jones, finds his new dad hysterical. He gives Coop the thumbs-up sign which, throughout the series, has been an indication of the presence of a doppelgänger. Is this just a coincidence or is the boy connected to the lodge somehow? The Man from Another Place suddenly appears to Cooper and warns him that he has been tricked and that subsequently either Mr C or the good Coop must die, but does this daffy Coop even understand such a dire warning?

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Elsewhere, an old friend of Cooper’s and Gordon Cole’s returns as David Duchovny gives a terrific performance as Denise Bryson, the transgender head of the FBI and Cole’s boss. The scene with Duchovny and Lynch is warm, funny and heartfelt, and goes some way in redeeming David Lynch as a director not known for his diverse casting choices.

Episode 4’s closing scenes are amongst the strongest and most unsettling that we have seen so far, providing viewers old and new with something tangible to grasp in the way of a developing plot. Gordon, Albert and Tammy Preston fly to South Dakota to interview Special Agent Dale Cooper, picked up and arrested on the side of the road. Slurred and repetitive, Kyle MacLachlan gives a masterfully sinister and disturbing performance as Mr C trying to impersonate the Good Coop who Gordon Cole and Albert last saw decades earlier.

‘I don’t think he greeted me properly,’ Cole tells Albert following the meeting, and this indeed is a loaded observation. Watching the interview again, paying close attention to what Mr C says, and you’ll hear that the word ‘very’ is pronounced backwards: a terrifying confirmation that part of him is from – or is already in – the Black Lodge.

‘I hate to admit this, but I don’t understand this situation at all,’ concludes David Lynch playing Gordon Cole, frustratingly summing up the viewer’s experience in a return that continues to confound but finally, thankfully, intrigue.

About John Preston

South London based music obsessive with strong opinions about most things. Doubts Madonna has another good record in her but would love more than anything to be proved wrong.