Sunday, July 16, 2017

REVIEW: 'Twin Peaks' - Richard Terrifies His Family While Dougie Gets New Enemies in 'The Return: Part 10'

Showtime's Twin Peaks - Episode 3.10 "The Return: Part 10"

Laura is the one.

Last week I praised the scheduling people at Showtime for knowing that it would be wise to have a two week break in between the eighth and ninth episodes of the season. It proved to be very beneficial to the overall experience of the show because it allowed the weird artistry of the eighth hour to linger in the audience's minds for awhile. And now, the scheduling department has also done a wise thing though this one seems more unintentional. They debuted probably the weakest episode of the season on the same night of one of the biggest premieres of the year in HBO's Game of Thrones. It's as if the Showtime executives knew that that show would be getting all of the buzz and conversation this week. As such, it was okay to deliver only a subpar episode of Twin Peaks. Of course, all of that seems unlikely and is just the way the schedule happened to fall. But it also proves how quickly the buzz has died down on Twin Peaks in such a short amount of time. The conversation was crazy and everywhere after the eighth episode which heralded the series as one of the most experimental and brilliant episodes of all time. And now, the show produces an hour that is almost entirely wheel-spinning with plots that don't seem to be going anywhere in the grand scheme of things. As such, it's a little too dull and boring. It could be setting up big things to come in the next stage of the season. And yet, I've been saying that for a lot of the middle stretch of episodes so far. Sooner or later, the payoffs need to start happening to make the whole experience worth it. "Part 10" is probably the first episode that I've really been frustrated with this year because of the pointlessness of it all.

Last week's episode was a cool down as well. Nothing could have topped the craziness on display from the eighth episode. But the ninth was still quite good and entertaining because it felt like it was pushing the narrative forward in an important way. It was setting up big confrontations that made it clear that the current status quo wouldn't remain for too much longer. It set up a time frame for big events to occur. But it's also important to note that the timeline of this season has been moving very slowly. It has only been a week (if that) since Agent Cooper came out of that electrical socket and began living as Dougie Jones. It's crazy that it has taken Janey-E this long to take him to a doctor. But that finally does occur here. It doesn't inform anything new in the story though. The doctor just reaffirms everything that already seemed apparent to the audience. Agent Cooper and Dougie Jones are two completely different people. Cooper has yet to return to his former self but he does have his old body. He's much more fit even though he's still an amnesic with mysterious powers of some sort. But the whole purpose of the story this week is Janey-E realizing that her husband is suddenly hot. It was just a few episodes ago that she was furious with him for continuing to gamble and have an affair. But now, she's so attracted to him because he heroically saved her life from Ike the Spike and the doctor reveals that he is in perfect health after being overweight for a long time.

And yes, there is amusement to be had about the sex scene between Dougie and Janey-E. That's the big moment for that story in this week's episode. It's Janey-E seducing Dougie and him going along with it in the same way he's been going along with everything that has happened over the past week. It's a new sensation for him. It's delightful to see him experience sex for the first time. Agent Cooper was never really a sexual character. He was more focused on the various investigations. But he was desired by a number of different characters - largely Audrey and Annie. So, it's fasciating to see this familiar character in such an unfamiliar way. But it's not really a big performance either. Some of the Dougie Jones stories have dragged on for way too long for seemingly no point whatsoever. And yet, they have the possibility of working simply because of Kyle MacLachlan's performance. He's done so many things on this show and it has confirmed just how stellar an actor he really is. He can make Evil Cooper absolutely terrifying while also having Dougie Jones be silly and so much fun to watch. But this story doesn't really give Dougie any big moments. The sex scene is brief and is largely focused on Janey-E shouting out Dougie's name over and over again which wakes up their son, Sonny Jim. Again, it's amusing. But it's also too brief and also a story that has been told before in various different ways over the years.

Meanwhile, other stories this week just seemed to further confirm certain plot points and feelings the audience should be having towards the characters. Margaret the Log Lady returns to deliver another cryptic message to Hawk. It's a much longer one this time. It essentially boils down to this whole mystery coming to a close very soon, he can only trust the two Sheriff Trumans and the officers he's worked with for a long time and that Laura Palmer continues to be the key to this whole investigation. That last point seems especially derivative. Does the audience really need to be told of Laura's importance at this stage of the show? We know that she is an important character. We know that there is still so much mystery and purpose surrounding her death. That event still holds a ton of clues for what's happening in the present day. We've seen that play out with Hawk finding the missing pages of her diary and using that to build a case connecting Agent Cooper and Major Briggs. Laura has already been an important part of this investigation. So, this message largely just confirms that she will continue to be important. As if that wasn't clear enough, Gordon actually sees an image of Laura crying when he opens his hotel room door to Albert. It's a startling image. One that he has never experienced before. Nor has something like this ever happened outside of Twin Peaks to someone other than Cooper. So, Gordon will continue to be important as well because he's putting these different narrative threads together. But again, the audience is already aware of which characters are important and which are not. So, it seems redundant in a way that plays as a stalling technique.

Plus, Gordon and company are no closer to discovering Dougie Jones in Las Vegas. Nor are Sheriff Truman, Hawk and Bobby out in the woods decoding the message that Major Briggs left behind for them to find. Last week both of those stories seemed on the verge of coming together with Dougie being exposed to the rest of this world. But that is still a day away apparently. Some progress is at least made in Gordon and Albert's side of things though. They learn that Diane got a text from a mysterious number. The audience knows that that was Evil Cooper. And now, we learn that she actually responded with a message talking about William Hastings. So that makes it seem likely that Diane is actually working with Evil Cooper. So how does that make any sense? Was it just a performance when she went to see him in prison? A way for her to build trust with Gordon because of a horrifying experience she endured in the past. It's a cryptic mystery in a show that seems to be overly enjoying the mysterious qualities of its narrative right now. That includes the reveal that Evil Cooper once appeared in the glass box in New York as well. That's information that Tammy comes forth with. Again, it's all very interesting. Everything is interconnected in a surprising and important way. But the narrative also spends a lot of time on Candi failing to kill a fly and give directions to Anthony, the insurance agent plotting to kill Dougie. So, it's very frustrating in a way that isn't satisfying or building the anticipation for greatness later on.

Of course, "Part 10" seems to finally confirm that Richard is Audrey's son. No, this isn't the episode where Audrey finally appears. That's still one of the most anticipated moments of the season. I'm still hoping she comes back with enough time to actually do something this season instead of being a cameo appearance. Instead, the story is interested in Richard as he attempts to go on the run after killing the boy a few episodes ago. It too is largely just confirmation that he is an absolute monster who is willing to kill or intimidate everyone in his life. He kills Miriam after learning that she identified him to the police as the person who killed the boy. Plus, he then calls Chad at the police precinct to intercept a letter addressed to Sheriff Truman about the incident. That just confirms that Chad is the worst of the new police additions this season. He is actively working against the main criminal investigation. But the most important scene with Richard this week is when he shows up at his grandmother's house to steal all of her money. It's clear that something like this has happened before because Sylvia has no love for her grandson. But she's also powerless to stop him. He just believes he can come in and take everything because it's him finally giving her what she has always wanted - for him to disappear from her life. But it's very cruel and horrifying to watch. The tension of that sequence is so powerful. It's easily the most thrilling part of this episode. The audience is left to wonder just how unhinged Richard is. Will he actually harm Sylvia and his uncle Johnny? Or will he just be content stealing all of the money from the safe? Sylvia and Johnny end up fine. But this is a pivotal moment for the series in an hour that seems destined to be remembered as mostly filler story.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Return: Part 10" was written by David Lynch & Mark Frost and directed by David Lynch.
  • One moment the Mitchum brothers are saying they can't trust a single thing that Anthony tells them. And then the next, they are filled with rage because Anthony says they have an enemy in Dougie Jones. It's entirely because they've learned that Dougie Jones is Mr. Jackpots. Anthony doesn't even do a great job telling his elaborate lie. And yet, they still believe him somehow. That's crazy.
  • It's a good thing that Johnny survived his major head injury from last week's episode. Of course now, he's all tied up so he won't hurt himself again which makes him powerless to do anything when Richard shows up. It's also haunting to listen to his toy say the same phrase over and over again as Richard is robbing the place.
  • Becky shows up for the first time in awhile. This time she is getting beat up by her boyfriend, Steven. In her first appearance, she seemed destined to be the new Laura Palmer. But now, she doesn't feel that important. She's just the latest symbol of violence and drug use in Twin Peaks. Time can change some things but not all apparently.
  • There was mystery to Dr. Jacoby painting the shovels in the beginning and then delight when it was revealed to be a part of his web show. That story had a nice and simple beginning, middle and end. There really didn't need to be more of it. Of course, this episode does more. It's basically the same routine. But this time we see that Nadine actually succeeded in opening a business for silent drape runners. That's good.
  • There was sexual chemistry between Albert and Constance last week. That's confirmed here with the two of them being spotted out on a date of sorts. Gordon and Tammy seem to approve of it as well without inserting their own opinions onto it. That's enjoyable too though brief.
  • The musical performances at the Roadhouse have become an inherent part of this season that close almost every episode. This week's performance though was so haunting and beautiful. There was no reason for it to stretch as long as it did other than it just being a fantastic moment to see firsthand.