There’s no show like Twin Peaks. There really is no other show that I would make a subscription to a streaming service for its merits alone, drink coffee and stay up late writing about. In fact, if it wasn’t for the fact I have a 9-to-5 I would likely have been sat refreshing my browser at 4am when the show is set to air in the U.K. Instead I am here, promising you a recap that’s a little different. Not because I have any particular plans, but because even Twin Peaks recaps resist normalcy.
We begin in the black lodge, watching the conversation between Laura and Cooper once again. “I’ll see you again in 25 years” she told him, and that’s about as much detail you’re going to get on what has happened in the years since Cooper was possessed by the malevolent entity Bob.
We see familiar images and locales play across the screen, before the beautiful theme tune fades in and we’re treated to one of the most beautiful visuals of Twin Peaks falls fading into flowing red velvet curtains, flowing into the black and white patterned floor of the Red Room. Cooper, sits with The Giant, who tells him to “Listen to the sounds,” which sound like some kind of winding of gears to me. “It is in our house now” he continues (I’ll come back to this). I imagine a lot of this will come into play later, much as the clues in the very first dream sequence in season 1 did. The Giant then says “You are far away”, our first reference to Cooper’s doppelganger.
Dr. Jacoby is living in a caravan in the woods, and receives a delivery of some kind. He’s the first we see of the original townfolk, and maybe the first scene set in Twin Peaks – which very little of the episode takes place in. We then cut to New York City, which is jarring seeing as the show has never really left the town and its surrounding area for very long before. Plus, sweeping shots of skyscrapers isn’t usually David Lynch’s thing, as far as I can remember.
An unnamed man watches a glass cube surrounded by cameras, with a circular window showing the buildings beyond it. When the timer goes off, it’s his job to replace the SD card and place the previous in storage. He goes down to meet his girlfriend, who is incredibly transparent about wanting to get in to the room, which he says is “top secret”.
Next, Ben Horne is still working at the Great Northern. All that happens in this scene is that he deals with some business, then Jerry arrives. It’s fucking amazing. Pardon my language, but the way these two have (and haven’t) changed is bloody perfect. These actors are bringing their A game, and it fills my heart with happiness to see them again.
A man comes into see Sheriff Truman, and Lucy (in her own peculiar way) reveals that there are two that go by that name, one is fishing and the other is sick. I’m betting the sick one is Harry, since Michael Ontkean isn’t returning to the show. The other is likely his older brother Frank (from The Secret History of Twin Peaks), played by Robert Forster.
Now, here’s Cooper, but not as we know him. Gone is the suit and tie, instead is a leather jacket, a Killer Bob-like hairdo, black eyes and a penchant for violence. He meets with Darya and Ray, his current partners in crime.
Back to the installation, the the man relents and he brings the woman up. He reveals the purpose of the room, which is financed by an anonymous billionaire: He must watch the box “and see if anything appears inside”. He hasn’t seen anything yet, but the man he replaced once did. One thing leads to another, and the two lovers get way too distracted by each other’s naked bodies to notice an apparition appear in cube. The figure shudders in place, before it launches into the room and attacks the couple. It’s pretty bloody. The spirit itself looks like a hybrid of some of the experiments Lynch did in his earlier short films as well as The Phantom from Inland Empire.
In South Dakota, a farcical scene (I laughed a lot…at first) plays out as a woman calls the police to the scene of a crime. Once the police enter, they find the corpse of a woman named Ruth Davenport. Not only has she been shot, but she has been decapitated. It’s the most gruesome thing the show has ever done. It’s revealed that while the head is Ruth Davenport’s, the body is from an unknown male. The fingerprints from the scene show that the killer is local school principal Bill Hastings (Matthew Lillard). They turn up and arrest him, and he seems to have no clue what’s going on.
The Log Lady appears in a wonderful surprise (I thought the actresses death was before filming, and I’m glad to be wrong). She calls Deputy Hawk, and passes on a cryptic message. There is something missing, something to do with Agent Cooper, and the answer lies in Hawk’s heritage. The Deputy starts to look through old documents. Andy and Lucy appear, in a hilarious exposition dump that begins to irritate Hawk. We learn that Agent Cooper has been missing for 25 years, and Lucy’s baby was named Wally.
In the police station, Bill is interrogated and his alibi starts to fall apart. He seems to think he’s innocent, but he seems to have some memory gaps. The police search his car and find a leftover chunk of flesh. Bill is visited by his wife Phyllis, and it turns out their life together isn’t so happy. She reveals she knew he was having an affair with Ruth, and he knows that she was having an affair with his lawyer George, and maybe one other. The interesting thing is, he says he never went to Ruth’s apartment that night, but he did dream about it. When he is left alone in his cell, we see a blackened man in a neighbouring cell, who then fades away.
Phyllis returns home, only to find Cooper in her home. She seems to recognise him, perhaps as the third man Bill mentioned. “You did good, you follow human nature perfectly,” Cooper tells her, before shooting her in the head.
In Las Vegas, Mr. Todd (Patrick Fischler) hands another man cash. “Why do you let him make you do these things?” the young man asks, “You better hope you never get involved with someone like him” the reply comes. Is it Cooper he is referring to?
Cooper is in a diner with his cronies. He’s looking for some information, and Ray is the man who will get it to him. Ray is going to get this information from “Hastings’ secretary”.
Hawk searches the forest, coming across Glastonbury Grove, the location where Cooper entered the Black Lodge all those years ago. The Log Lady rings him on his cell phone (this is weird for me) to tell him to watch closely, “The stars turn and a time presents itself,” she reminds him. Time seems to not run in a straight line in this world, but certain moments to offer a crossing between worlds.
Now we are back in the infamous Red Room, and this time Cooper sits with Gerard, the other half of The Man From Another Place (who you may remember better as the dancing, backwards-talking little person). Then Laura Palmer approaches, she says that she is dead, yet she still lives. Laura removes her face, showing blinding light within her (I told you this recap would be weird).
Cooper asks when he can go, and she whispers in his ear. Whatever she says, the answer upsets him. Then, in a sequence I can’t quite describe, Laura is whisked away in a horrific fashion. The curtains open, revealing a white horse.
Cooper follows Gerard to a new room, where the most gross tree ever stands. What the one-armed man refers to as “The evolution of the arm” is a leafless tree topped with what I can only describe as a pulsating fleshy swelling, almost a tumour. It speaks, saying “I am the arm”, confirming it is another form of the MFAP. Since Michael J. Anderson said he wouldn’t be working on the show, this is likely his replacement. The tree reveals that Cooper’s doppelganger must return to the Black Lodge before Cooper can leave.
Cooper’s doppelganger kills one of his companions, Jack. Or, more accurately, he plays around with his face until he stops moving. Lynch gotta Lynch. Cooper arrives at a motel where Darya is waiting. He presents a record of her phone conversation, which reveals that Ray is in prison, and Darya was planning to kill Cooper. Who ordered the hit? Someone by the name “Jefferies”. He claims he has a way to avoid going back to the lodge, then kills her.
Cooper makes a call, getting through to a voice he addresses as “Phillip”. The voice asks him if he met with Garland Briggs. They have the following exchange:
“This is Phillip Jeffries, right?”
“You are going back in tomorrow, and I will be with Bob again”
The caller hangs up. Cooper looks in the F.B.I. database for the location of Ray, revealing he still has access to their system. He heads next door to find Chantelle (yay it’s Jennifer Jason Leigh!), who he orders to clean up Daria’s body.
Back in the Black Lodge, the tree tells Cooper to leave. Unfortunately, he finds he cannot, so he heads back the other way. There he meets Leland Palmer, who with tears in his eyes tells him to find Laura. Coop opens another curtain to reveal the highway that his doppelganger is driving down. Suddenly the tree appears in front of him, and the Black Lodge begins to fall apart. “Non-exist-ent” it screams, before Cooper is drops through the floor, landing right in the cube from the beginning of the episode. This has all taken place before the young couple were killed. In an instant, Cooper is gone again, falling through space.
We then see a (perhaps reclusive) Sarah Palmer, who is sat alone surrounded by cigarette butts, intently watching very explicit documentary footage of lions feasting on a bison. Next we get a little time to relax at the Roadhouse, where Shelly is having shots with her friends as The Chromatics play. James enters with a friend. Shelly talks about her daughter, who is apparently dating a boy she doesn’t like.
James is staring at one of Shelly’s friends, who call him weird. Shelly defends him, saying he is just a bit quiet after his motorcycle accident. She then spots a man at the bar (Balthazar Getty, who you might recognise from Lost Highway). It’s at this moment of melancholy that the credits begin to roll. Gone is the familiar shot of Laura’s portrait, as the credits play over the band’s performance.
Woof! I have been pretty damn nervous in the lead up to this revival, and even while watching this episode. The unnamed man’s endless watching of the empty box felt like an apt metaphor for how the fans have been feeling, searching for any morsel of the show we love. But I can safely say that I am glad to have the show back, because it is finding new ways to surprise me.
The high definition visuals will take some getting used to, as will the location hopping, takeaway coffee cups and mobile phones. This definitely isn’t the Twin Peaks we left behind, but something different. And honestly, that’s the best possible outcome. Part of the original series’ appeal was that it subverted expectations, so it wouldn’t make sense for it to settle into formula for its return.
The show feels like a blend of all of Lynch’s cinematic worlds, so your mileage will vary depending on what you like and what you don’t. I’d say there’s a fair amount of Inland Empire here that will turn off a lot of viewers, for example. It’s at the endpoint of a slow evolution of the director’s style, so jumping on here might be a lot easier for those who took the plunge on his last few films.
Saying that, there are some moments where I felt really at home. They were teased out just enough for me to be craving more, but they were there all the same. First of all, when the Angelo Badalamenti’s ominous music kicks in as Hawk’s flashlight barely lights the surrounding forest, it felt like Twin Peaks. Even when its interrupted by his cell phone ringing. Lucy and Andy’s brief scene together was wonderful, another pair of actors who have seemed to have no trouble getting back into character.
Okay, now let’s talk about what the main (new) story is – the death of Ruth Davenport. While this seems to be tied up with Cooper somehow, since Cooper killed Bill Hastings’ wife and was retrieving some information from his secretary, it also has its own mysteries. I’ll ignore the blackened ghost in the prison, since I have no clue where to go with that. But Bill’s story itself is reminiscent of Leland’s. A domestic life that seemed perfect is actually fractured, and the supposedly “good” and trustworthy man is revealed to be the source of unimaginable evil. Matthew Lillard is perfect for this sort of thing, an actor that I never would have guessed would fit so well with David Lynch.
Next we should talk about Cooper, who is actually the one part of the episodes I wasn’t behind. MacLachlan does decent work here, but there’s something about his physicality and appearance that doesn’t seem too scary or intimidating to me. The good news is that the internal logic checks out for me. If Bob brings out the worst in people, then Cooper’s job and violent skills would be a target, whereas Leland’s family was the thing to be exploited in his case.
Finally, it’s time to talk about The Black Lodge. The prequel film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me introduced a few extra spirits, but we spend more time in the lodge here than ever before. While it was impossible to avoid, I do feel like the fact that the spirits have visibly aged is important. Unlike what I believed, the lodge is a realm that can change or degrade.
he most disconcerting part of the episode for me was the use of Laura and Leland. Both of them were tortured by spirits, and held captive in the Black Lodge. While Leland’s fate is unknown, Laura was shown to be saved by her angel at the end of Fire Walk With Me. It was a beautiful moment where she was finally given peace. Instead, it looks like they are both stuck in some sort of endless hellish torment.
By the end of the episode, the lodge is on the brink of collapse. Somehow Cooper’s doppelganger has found a way to avoid returning to the lodge, and maybe that has affected its stability. The Giant has always been a figure of solace or warning to Cooper, and it’s at the beginning of the episode that he says: “Listen to the sounds. It is in our house”. Could this be an unseen entity that threatens the lodge? When Gerard states “Something is wrong”, the tree answers “My doppelganger”. Could this entity be the other side of the MFAP? Is this spirit the same we saw escape the cube, possibly following Cooper into our world? Was it just me or was it the most terrifying thing that’s been on TV in years? Will I ever see Audrey again? Only time will tell.
Most Valuable Player:
Edit: after publishing this, I decided to add a subheading where I talk about my MVP of the episode
The Log Lady (Catherine Coulson)
While I was so very tempted to choose newcomer Matthew Lillard, it would have been a crime not to choose Catherine Coulson. A long-time collaborator with David Lynch, she was brilliant both in the original series and in the prequel movie. In her fleeting appearance here she gives in a heartbreaking performance. Hopefully she appears in another episode this season, but if not, we were lucky to have her.
- The Giant tells Cooper to “Remember 430”; the tree says “253 time and time again”
- “Richard and Linda. Two birds with one stone.”
- The frequently-mentioned name “Phillip Jeffries” may ring a bell for fans of the prequel film. He was the character played by David Bowie, who was due to appear in the show before his death.
- When Cooper tells Phyllis that she imitates human nature well, does that mean that she is not human?
- Garland Briggs (Bobby’s father) is somehow in play, even though the actor Don S. David died a few years ago.
- Cooper shows Darya a black ace, but the symbol is unrecognisable. “This is what I want,” he tells her.
- The white horse appears again. It was previously an omen for Sarah Palmer that someone was to be killed. One of the Log Lady introductions for the original series reads “Woe to those that behold the pale horse”
- Was that Jacques Renault working at the bar?
[EDIT: Thanks to Josh, who let me know that “The bartender was credited as Jean-Michael Renault, presumably yet another Renault brother”]
- The episodes were dedicated to Frank Silva and Catherine Coulson, who played Bob and The Log Lady
“Oh, you’re nice and wet” is definitely not a line I expected to here Kyle MacLachlan say
“But the Morgan’s are coming for dinner!”
Kimmy Robertson has stepped back into her role amazingly. I didn’t realise how much I loved her until today
Doesn’t the old man Cooper meets in his first scene (Otis) look like a male version of Mrs Tremond?
“Chip ain’t got no phone!”
- Ben still has his “BEN” ornament on his desk
The lyrics for the ending song by The Chromatics are pretty relevant to the original series, and particularly for the now middle-aged James and Shelly:
“At night I’m driving in your car
Pretending that we’ll leave this town
We’re watching all the street lights fade
And now you’re just a stranger’s dream
I took your picture from the frame
And now you’re nothing like you seem
Your shadow fell like last night’s rain”
Edited for content, 5/23/17
Edited for content, 5/30/17
Featured Image: Showtime