Sunday, June 4, 2017

REVIEW: 'Twin Peaks' - Agent Cooper Spends the Day in a New Job in 'The Return: Part 5'

Showtime's Twin Peaks - Episode 3.05 "The Return: Part 5"

Case files.

I've mentioned before that episode-by-episode coverage of the new season of Twin Peaks may not be that smart. It may not be the best way to cover the experience that is watching this show. This season has already produced a number of really outrageous and phenomenal moments. However, it also feels like a test with patience. It plays as David Lynch seeing just how far and long he can drag things out before the audience starts turning on him. When an episode opens with a metaphysical sequence like the start of "Part 3," the parts that drag later on don't matter as much because it's clear that Lynch still knows how to deliver visual pleasures on a week-to-week basis. "Part 5" really doesn't have a moment like that. It's instead just continuing to have fun with Agent Cooper in the life of Dougie Jones with no memory whatsoever. Plus, it's still just setting up so many different stories and characters throughout this world. So, a lot of it does play as the action just cutting away seemingly at random. One moment the action is on Cooper in Las Vegas, then it's in Twin Peaks, then it's in South Dakota, now it's in Argentina, then it's an FBI office. It's jumping around all over the place. It's telling a very widespread story. As such, it has so much ground to cover in these opening episodes. But there wasn't as many pleasures in this hour as there were in the previous four.

Once again, the effectiveness of this episode will depend entirely on how the audience feels about amnesiac Cooper. It was a fun conceit when it first started. It allowed for a main premise that was fundamentally about the growing conflict between Agent Cooper and his evil doppelganger. Evil Cooper is still in a prison in South Dakota. He's not roaming around this world continuing to put his master plan into motion. It's still not abundantly clear what he's trying to accomplish in this world. He's been free for 25 years. He's changed a lot as a result. He still enjoys chaos and evil deeds. But he's also more polished because he's been at this awhile. And now, he is just meant to be an unnerving presence. The sequence of him getting his one phone call delivers on that. He hits a bunch of numbers on the phone seemingly at random which causes the systems at the jail to malfunction. He delivers a cryptic message and hangs up which restores order to this world. It effectively teases that there is still something otherworldly to him. But he isn't making much progress with his endeavor. And neither is Agent Cooper. He still hasn't woken up to his true identity. He is still just living Dougie Jones' life and not being that good at it either.

This is the third episode where Agent Cooper is just being dragged around this life in Las Vegas not sure what any of it means. It has gotten tiring. That was already starting to become apparent in the second hour last week. His domestic scenes with Janey-E and Sonny Jim were amusing but dragged by the end of the episode. This episode does pivot the action elsewhere. Now, Agent Cooper is in Dougie's work environment. So, he's just randomly wandering around this insurance office. It's the exact same premise for the main story as the fourth episode. But it doesn't have the excitement of him magically being able to win over and over again at a casino. It's interesting to still see the ramifications of that fateful night. The pit boss is not only fired but beaten up as well. The additions of Robert Knepper and Jim Belushi to this story likely means it will continue to be important in the future as well. That feeling is also apparent when Tom Sizemore shows up as Dougie's co-worker who may be lying about a payout the company has to deliver on. Things are just a little more bland and cryptic with this workplace environment. It doesn't really tell the audience anything new about Dougie Jones' life. With his wife and son, it was important to see that he had a family. That was something Agent Cooper never had. But with this job, it just seems a little too minor and mundane to be all that interesting from a narrative perspective.

The connections between Dougie Jones and Evil Cooper are still tenuous as well. It all continues to be minor teases that something major is coming that will connect all of these disparate narrative threads together. So, people were hired to kill Dougie Jones. They tracked him to the for sale house where he was with Jade. And yet, they lost track of him because Agent Cooper didn't know to take a car to drive away. And now, that car finally explodes. It doesn't kill the curious kid across the street. Instead, it kills a couple of rowdy teenagers who planned on stealing it. It's a brutal sight that's very effective because it doesn't show the actual explosion. It's just the aftermath through this young kid's perspective. But more importantly, the woman who hired these men to kill Dougie sends a cryptic message to a black box elsewhere. Later on, that black box is seen in Argentina and magically transforms into a different metal object. Evil Cooper's message may have something to do with that as well. Meanwhile, Dougie's wedding ring is found inside the stomach of the mysterious dead body found in South Dakota. The local police still haven't identified the body. And yet, it's looking likely that it is Major Briggs because the military is sending their own investigators out there as well. With Evil Cooper already making his presence known in this case, the connections are starting to become very apparent. But they are still just teases. Enough to whet the audience's appetite for more.

The most pleasurable moments of this episode may come from the show actually spending more time back in Twin Peaks. So far, this season has been very focused on its main story with Agent Cooper and his evil doppelganger. It's a story that will very likely come back to Twin Peaks eventually. But right now, most of the action is happening away from the main town. That's weird and interesting. It makes the characters there almost irrelevant to the overall narrative. So instead, it's just amusing to see what those classic characters are up to now. The original Twin Peaks was many different shows at once. This new season is pretty consistent with its main mystery narrative. It only breaks away from that in small doses. Brief scenes that feature random characters doing random things. And yet, that can be very entertaining to watch as well. This season has established Dr. Jacoby as a character of importance. He's living in a cabin and painting shovels gold. And now, he reveals that he has a show online where he makes a very long winded sales pitch for these shovels that will serve as a symbol for digging oneself out of life's shit. It's a wonderful scene because of all the bells and whistles that Jacoby does with it. It's incorporating technology of the past with the technology of the present. It can connect characters in meaningful ways. Both Jerry Horne and Nadine are watching this performance. It shows that Jacoby has changed over the years. That's delightful to see even if it has no larger point in the grand scope of the story.

Elsewhere, the younger characters from the original show are now the parents of the new troublemakers in Twin Peaks. It's comforting to see both Norma and Shelly still working at the diner. But Shelly's concern isn't about her relationship with Bobby. It's now all about giving money to her daughter Becky despite knowing its fueling a drug addiction. Characters getting high have become so common throughout this medium. And yet, Lynch somehow finds a new way to depict it. That car drive away with Becky looking up at the sky is a very beautiful shot. And then, the episode ends with a mystery man smoking at the Bang Bang Bar. That location has gotten a lot of attention this season. He's clearly involved with the local drug trade. He's also the new abusive man in town as he's very aggressive with another girl at the bar who simply wanted him to let her cigarette. But more importantly though, the end credits reveal that this character is named Richard Horne. So, is he Audrey's son? It wouldn't be surprising in the slightest that Audrey's child would turn out to be a troublemaker. It's significant that Audrey herself hasn't shown up in the new season at all. That's strange given how important she was on the original show. Perhaps this will be her entry point for the story. It could turn out that she has nothing to do with the investigation to find Agent Cooper. Instead, she may just be dealing with a child who has gotten into the dangerous underbelly of Twin Peaks - just like she did all those years ago. Of course, that's just speculation . Right now, Richard just reveals himself to be a terrifying presence who won't be good for any of these new female characters.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Return: Part 5" was written by David Lynch & Mark Frost and directed by David Lynch.
  • Last week's episode closed with Gordon and Albert saying they needed to find a specific woman to help confirm their suspicions about the Cooper they have just met. And yet, that's a narrative thread that isn't mentioned in this hour at all. However, Agent Preston does show up and is analyzing fingerprints from Cooper's time at the FBI and the new Cooper in jail in South Dakota.
  • Even though there is a new Sheriff Truman in town, we are still getting updates about the old one. They just come from phone conversations. So now, he's waiting to hear back on some tests. Of course, the conversation is cut short because the wife of the new Sheriff Truman comes to the precinct to complain about a leaking pipe and the vehicle her dad is driving. It's one of the more random scenes of the hour.
  • Dougie owes people $50,000. Janey-E is pleased that he came home with so much money - even though she doesn't want him gambling again. And yet, Cooper never calls the people who want this money. He doesn't know how to. So, this story is probably going to get more intense with Cooper still lacking any memory for the immediate future. But again, how long can this successfully play out?
  • Something more is clearly going on with Cooper as well. At the casino, he won so much because he saw lights above the machines that will hit jackpots. And now, his co-worker is talking about a claim and he sees another light. This time he reacts by saying the man is lying. So now, he may actually be a human lie detector. That could come in handy should he ever return to being an FBI agent.
  • Deputy Hawk still hasn't found what he's looking for. He and Andy are still looking through the paperwork of the Laura Palmer case. Andy is literally just looking for any Indians while Hawk is looking for something more. This story better have a great payoff after all of this buildup.
  • New returning cast members this week include Gary Hershberger as Mike, who is doing well for himself and complaining about Becky's boyfriend's lack of work ethic; Wendy Robie as Nadine, who is one of Jacoby's viewers; and Peggy Lipton as Norma, who still runs the diner and offers Shelly advice.
  • This episode is dedicated to Marv Rosand who played the cook in the background of the diner. It was such a minor role. It wasn't all that notable. And yet, it carried significance as well. He died shortly after production began as well but still managed to put in another appearance here.