Sunday, August 6, 2017

REVIEW: 'Twin Peaks' - Change Has Affected Everyone From Twin Peaks Differently Over Time in 'The Return: Part 13'

Showtime's Twin Peaks - Episode 3.13 "The Return: Part 13"

What story is that, Charlie?

Change as it pertains to the passage of time has been a huge overall theme of Twin Peaks: The Return. This entire season has focused on how many things can be different 25 years after the last time an audience saw them while other things are completely the same just a little older. It's been really fascinating to watch. Twin Peaks: The Return is a vastly different show than the Twin Peaks that aired for two seasons on ABC in the early 1990s. That divide is why the new episodes are polarizing to fans of the original series. For the section of the audience that simply wanted to spend more time with the beloved characters of the former show, the revival may be a letdown. But for the section of the audience that just wanted David Lynch and Mark Frost to tell a completely inventive story with familiar characters, then it has been satisfying. The two can be incredibly different. The passage of time has really affected some characters. For the majority of the season, Agent Cooper has been Dougie Jones. He's a shell of his former self with no indication of whether he'll ever return to his old personality. The time spent in the Black Lodge took that away from him. He missed out on those years because of the trickery from his evil doppelganger and Bob. But for other characters, there's a comfort and sadness that comes from seeing them living the same lives in Twin Peaks that they did all those years ago.

Of course, it's still so much fun to see Dougie Jones praised as this incredibly agile mind that works in a very specific way. Many people would probably classify Agent Cooper as that as well. He first came to Twin Peaks to investigate a murder and had a very specific way of solving the crime. It was unconventional but he had the freedom to pursue the leads no matter where they ultimately took him. It revealed Twin Peaks as the home he always wanted. That was taken away from him shortly thereafter. And now, he resides in Las Vegas as Dougie Jones. It's a completely different life. One that has been quite an adjustment. He still needs the people around him to do menial tasks for him. Janey-E still has to drive him to work, unbuckle his seatbelt and open the door. He still runs into the door in front of the office building. He still largely repeats whatever was just said in any conversation. But his actions have proven to be very wise and insightful as well. He's providing for his family in a significant way. Even though the rest of the world looks down on him because of the disability he apparently has, he is still capable of love and appreciation. That's a very moving message that the show delivers here. Janey-E is more in love with Dougie now than she has ever been before. That's wonderful to see - especially because it allows Naomi Watts to be so happy in playing this character.

But death surrounds Dougie as well. So many people have tried to kill him over the course of this season. It all seemingly connects back to Evil Cooper who needs to rid the world of his doppelganger so that he can stay in this world forever. He created the third version of Cooper in order to not get sucked back into the Black Lodge when his time finally ran out. He's been able to trick numerous otherworldly characters over the course of the series. And yet, Dougie Jones is still standing. Every assassin that has come his way has either been killed or apprehended by the police. With some, it took the FBI reflexes that Dougie still recalls from his days as Agent Cooper. With others, it relied on something more mystical. He evades death here seemingly because he gets distracted by the dust on Anthony's suit. It could seem incredibly trivial. But it's not. It's just a simple way for him to show his connection to another human being. Feeling that touch is enough for Anthony to change his entire outlook on life. He knows he needs to kill Dougie in order to remain in good favor with his business associations. But now, he's willing to turn on all of them in order to go back to a normal life of being an insurance agent. The passage of time has been cruel to him and he wishes he can go back. Dougie has shown him the way. With kindness, Anthony has the opportunity to do better in the future.

Of course, the show is still setting up darkness by bringing two nefarious characters together for the first time. When the action cuts to somewhere in Western Montana, it felt annoying because the show doesn't need to be adding a new location with new characters at this stage of the season. But it's not completely new. It's Evil Cooper finally catching up to Ray and getting the information he has needed all along. It's a stage sequence as well because it all revolves around an arm wrestling match. That moment is just so unusual but really rewarding. There is an inevitability to it because Evil Cooper isn't destined to become a henchman to some crime boss in Montana. He has a bigger agenda at play. But the actual match is completely unexpected. It's not a simple victory where Evil Cooper defeats his undefeated opponent quickly. Instead, it's all about Evil Cooper toying with the guy. He makes it seem like he's won. But mostly, it's just a show of force that reveals he can trick this guy into moving his arm all across the spectrum with ease. All of it is relatively simply. But it does end tragically with Evil Cooper killing the guy. That wasn't all that necessary but it puts a definitive end to his reign of this crew. Ray meets the same grim fate after telling Evil Cooper he was ordered to kill him by a man claiming to be Philip Jefferies. It's most likely not him (for the simple fact that David Bowie didn't film any scenes on the show before his death). But it's still mysterious to think about. More importantly, Richard happens to be here as well. His presence isn't revealed for a long time. And yet, Richard and Evil Cooper joining forces is a very unnerving thought. There's already the popular theory that the two of them are actually related. They are both so carefree about death. So even if that theory isn't true, they will still make a deadly pairing.

Those are all of the big plot developments of the hour. The rest of the time is actually spent on the citizens of Twin Peaks and how time has truly affected them. The show has already done a lot of this with most of the characters. We've seen that Sarah Palmer is still living in her house all alone and drinking a ton of alcohol each night. We've seen that Shelly still doesn't quite have her life together despite still having the job at the diner and a daughter with Bobby. We've seen Nadine be successful with her silent drape runner business. All of these are important glimpses into that generation of Twin Peaks citizens. That continues in this hour as well. It's revealed that Norma has actually franchised her business. The diner in Twin Peaks is actually the least successful one largely because it costs too much to make her pies. Those economics are interesting to think about. The sleepy town of Twin Peaks could almost represent a different era. That feeling was present in this community in the original show. It was a place where everyone knows everyone else. It was a throwback to the way people used to live. But then, Laura's death exposed the dark underbelly of the town. And now, it's important to see how the modern world has done damage to the various businesses of the town. Nadine and Dr. Jacoby seem successful because they are "digging themselves out of the shit." Norma is as well as long as she is open to lowering her standards a little bit. Meanwhile, Big Ed makes his debut for the season and reveals himself to be in the exact same position having not changed at all. He is still hopelessly pining after Norma (who is married to someone else) and running the gas station. But now, it's tragic because of the passing of time. It's sad that all he really has to show for his life is eating a cup full of soup at his gas station which isn't drawing any customers at all.

And finally, there is the grand mystery of whatever is going on with Audrey and Charlie. That was such a random and bizarre introduction in last week's episode. It proved to be really divisive as well. Some were celebrating the long-awaited return of a beloved character while others were enraged by the never-ending story within the scene. It was annoying but in a very specific way as well. This week it's still Audrey and Charlie interacting with each other in their own little world. The audience still has no connection to what they are actually talking about. The two of them are completely distant from everything else happening in the show. That is by design as well. It's also likely slowly revealing something crucial about Audrey as well. For a long time, the audience was hoping for her to return and to really bring everything together in this story. That doesn't appear to be the case. Instead, she is just ripping it further apart. The passage of time has been cruel to her as well. She's much more vulgar and angry now. But see seems to be suffering from other problems too. She doesn't feel like herself. Those are her words. She's unhappy with her life and believes she's living it from someone else's perspective. That shows that there's perhaps no reason to care about Billy or anyone else the two of them are actually talking about. It brings the focus back on Audrey. Is this actually a marriage between two people? Or is Charlie actually providing her with help as a therapist? He does seem very calm and collected. He's helping her through a troubling time. He's there for her in a world where no one else seems to care or mention her at all. But is Audrey exactly like Dougie Jones in that she doesn't have the same control of her body she did on the original series? Her mind is much more active than his. But she also doesn't remember where the roadhouse is. Again, it's a mystery that will be revealed in time. It just gets much more intriguing with each passing episode.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Return: Part 13" was written by David Lynch & Mark Frost and directed by David Lynch.
  • The musical performances at the roadhouse that close out almost each episode can seem completely random. It has forced the question of how the establishment is able to book these guests in addition to being a hub for criminal activity. But James showing up to perform the "Just You and I" song turned out to be really emotional. Even after all of these years, he's still singing that song. It's comforting while also a little artificial because the vocals sound exactly the same despite how he now looks.
  • Chantal and Hutch are heading to Las Vegas now. They are still only in Utah which forces a conversation about Mormons and how it's great to marry multiple people but sucks not to drink anything alcoholic or caffeinated. The scene largely just serves as a remainder that even more people are coming to kill Dougie.
  • The Detectives Fusco seemed on the verge of bringing all of the various story threads together simply by running Dougie's prints through the system. They had a suspicion that something more was going on with him. And yet, they now just toss it aside after learning he was an FBI agent and escaped from prison two days ago. It seems like a malfunction and nothing more.
  • Becky calls Shelly to once again complain about Steven. He didn't return home for the second night in a row. Shelly can't really talk about it because she's at work. And yet, she does prove herself as a good mother by telling Becky to come to the diner and enjoy some cherry pie. That's good parenting.
  • Nadine and Dr. Jacoby actually interact. It's a moment of revelation and happiness for both of them. It's two completely unexpected characters from the original show actually coming together now. That's refreshing and different. Nadine has achieved her dream while Dr. Jacoby has this entirely new life. But a golden shovel has brought them together. That's sweet.
  • There is nothing inherently unsettling about watching Sarah Palmer in her living room drinking as much alcohol as she can find. But the audio of the program she is watching seems to keep repeating itself. She's also watching boxing which is the second instance of her watching something violent on that TV this season.