Sunday, July 9, 2017

REVIEW: 'Twin Peaks' - Gordon and Sheriff Truman Have Big Breaks in the Major Briggs Case in 'The Return: Part 9'

Showtime's Twin Peaks - Episode 3.09 "The Return: Part 9"

This is the chair.

Whomever at Showtime is in charge of scheduling Twin Peaks did a very smart thing in allowing there to be a two week break between "Part 8" and "Part 9." The last episode was one of the more bizarre, experimental, horrifying and strangely mystifying and beautiful hours of television I have ever seen. It had almost nothing to do with the main narrative of the season. And yet, it was so bold and original. It deserved to sit with the audience. Allow it to fester in our minds for a long period of time before returning to relative normalcy in this crazy universe. The two week break because of the 4th of July holiday was truly significant. It also helps "Part 9" feel less like a letdown. This hour is good. It would just be hard for any kind of episode to follow up what happened in the previous one. The show doesn't try to do an even grander experiment that alters everything in this story. Instead, it returns to the main plot which is still only making a small amount of progress. Yes, the narrative threads are starting to come together. And yet, they better be at this point in the season because this run is now half over with. Everything needs to start making more sense. Characters need to start becoming more aware of what's actually going on in this world and how all of the different narrative threads are actually connected.

No, this wasn't the episode where Dougie Jones finally woke up and realized that he was Agent Cooper. He's still not the FBI agent who needs to track down his evil doppelganger and send him back to the Black Lodge. That moment is still coming sometime in the future. Nor is this the episode where all of Cooper's old friends discover him in Las Vegas. He's interacting with the police more now than in previous episodes. But right now, that largely consists of the three detective brothers being perplexed by just how slow Dougie is and how he could be effective at any job. Of course, the hour finally gives an explanation for how the people in Dougie's life aren't completely thrown by him suddenly being a new person over the last few days. He had a car accident years ago that has left his mind a little scattered and unpredictable at times. That explanation is necessary though it perhaps comes a little too late in this story since it seems clear that Dougie Jones will be discovered very soon. Of course, he'll need to be because Evil Cooper is calling Duncan Todd to finish the assassination attempt while also lining up two jobs in Las Vegas for his friends Hutch and Chantal. The brother detectives have a theory about Dougie being in witness protection because there's no trace of him before 1997. They collect his prints and DNA to run through the database. That should alert Gordon and company to his existence. They could provide answers. Or it could be just as confusing despite them potentially being aware of Dougie Jones.

Gordon and company make one major connection in South Dakota this week. They find themselves getting up to speed on the Major Briggs murder investigation. They have no idea that Evil Cooper is connected to this investigation in some way. The family lawyer is still believed to be responsible for killing William Hastings' wife while the explosion of his assistant's car is just a mystery. But Gordon and Albert do think it's odd that they traveled to South Dakota to follow a lead on Agent Cooper and now someone who Cooper had a meaningful relationship with in Twin Peaks is the center of an odd murder investigation elsewhere in the state. It's worth making the venture to this morgue - despite it being an inconvenience to Diane. She just wants to go home. Of course, the narrative makes it clear that that won't be happening anytime soon because she's getting cryptic text messages from Evil Cooper. That probably means he has the ability to contact her and continue being an unsettling presence in her life. But the potential is there for her to be in on all of this. That seems unlikely given her reaction to seeing him in prison. But this cryptic text has the potential to mean something more than it is. Of course, that's the core message of Twin Peaks. Any little detail could be meaningful so the characters have to consider every single possibility.

And then, Agent Preston actually gets to interview William Hastings about the events leading up to the murder. That's such a strange and perplexing scene. Matthew Lillard hasn't been seen since the season premiere. Sure, not a lot of time has passed in the show's timeline. But it's been awhile since he's appeared and that's what makes it so alarming when he's so emotionally unraveled throughout this entire interview. It's hard to make sense of it at first. Is it just some hyper-stylized thing that Lynch wants to do for some reason? Or is it a comment on the human condition and its frailty under extreme circumstances (like a murder investigation)? Either way, it's so strange but weirdly intimate as well. The scene is just two characters talking and confirming that other-worldly aspects are at play in this story. But it's very engaging to watch. William has a connection to the alternative dimensions as well. It's something he has been studying for a long time and has even operated a blog with that research. He claims to have entered a different dimension he refers to as the Zone. Now, this could be the Black Lodge. It makes sense because that location has been so crucial throughout the story of the entire series. But it could also be the place Cooper fell to at the start of the third episode or where the Giant was in the eighth episode. That place doesn't have a name. Plus, Major Briggs' floating head was seen there giving a message to Cooper. William tells a tale of giving Briggs coordinates only for something to go awry which killed Briggs and the librarian Ruth. All of this is within the realm of possibility in this show. But then, anything could be after what happened in the previous episode.

Meanwhile, the Twin Peaks police department is making significant progress in regards to the Major Briggs investigation as well. This corner of the world hasn't been as strong as the other stories going on. The show returns to Twin Peaks in order to check up on the old characters or to give some colorfully amusing thing for the people in the police department to do. But now, they are just as important as the other officers elsewhere. The new Sheriff Truman, Hawk and Bobby talk with Bobby's mother (and Major Briggs' wife) about the day before Major Briggs disappeared and his final visit with Agent Cooper. It's a story that reveals that Major Briggs knew that all of this was one day going to happen. He hid away a secret message that only these three officers could see after all of this time. It's a puzzle that puts Bobby at the center of the story. This season hasn't done a whole lot with Bobby so far. He was revealed to be a police officer and he got incredibly emotional after realizing Hawk was looking into the Laura Palmer case once more. But now, he could be the key to unlocking so many of the mysteries in the show. He has the knowledge of how to unlock the cylinder that Major Briggs wanted these three to have. He knows the exact spot where the message tells them to go in a couple of days. It's all just minor plot movement that suggests that something big is about to happen very soon. Something that could connect these characters to the Black Lodge as well. This hidden message has the same markings that the audience has seen elsewhere as well as numbers and letters with two Coopers spelled out. It's all very mysterious and intriguing. But it all works because of the emotional center with Bobby. He's suddenly a sympathetic character where it's so wonderful and rewarding to hear his mother say that his father knew this life was inevitable for Bobby and that he has finally found his place in the world. That is so significant and moving in a truly surprising way.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Return: Part 9" was written by David Lynch & Mark Frost and directed by David Lynch.
  • Elsewhere in Twin Peaks, the flirtation continues between Ben Horne and Beverly. Maintenance hasn't been able to find the source of the noise in the office. It's a mesmerizing tone that brings the two of them together. But Ben does pull away before anything physical actually happens between them.
  • And Jerry Horne is still lost in the woods and incredibly high. That's a strange cutaway too. It's a ton of fun because he makes for a very paranoid stoner. He believes that his foot is talking to him and claiming that it is not his foot. He even attacks it which is delightful to see.
  • In even more Horne family updates, Johnny is seen running around his house with his mother chasing after him. It seemingly ends in tragedy after he runs into a wall. It looks like he has died which is a sad way for that character to go. But wouldn't it be surprising if a minor and random story like that is what leads Audrey to return to Twin Peaks? She's been alluded to so much. But she doesn't return because of any of the main stories but because of what happens to her brother.
  • Diane proclaiming that "it's a fucking morgue" is one of the best moments of the season to date. Again, that has proven to be a truly great character in such a short amount of time. She has great reactions to everything. Of course, Albert has some great lines this week too. I especially enjoyed the crack about a Season 2 to all of the drama happening in this South Dakota town.
  • The oddities at the Twin Peaks police department are still largely hit-or-miss. It's mostly a matter of timing as some bits drag on for a little too long. So, Andy and Lucy are deciding which particular color they want in a new chair. And then, Chad is eating his lunch in the conference room when he shouldn't be. Both are fine bits that just go on past the point of amusement.
  • Meanwhile, Gordon and Diane share a cigarette. That's a scene that goes on for a much longer time than it should too. And yet, it's very special to watch because it's the two of them getting along for just a moment. Agent Preston is there too but she's not really let in on the bonding.
  • The hour ends once more with a trip to the Roadhouse with a musical performance as the credits roll. But before that happens, the story cuts to two new girls sitting in a booth and talking. They are old friends who haven't seen each other in awhile. One complains that she was fired for being high at work flipping burgers. She also has a weird rash in her left armpit. They also mention a zebra and a penguin. All of this may have purpose or it may not. Again, it's Twin Peaks.