Sunday, August 20, 2017

REVIEW: 'Twin Peaks' - The Residents of Twin Peaks are Moved by an Engagement and Death in 'The Return: Part 15'

Showtime's Twin Peaks - Episode 3.15 "The Return: Part 15"

There's some fear in letting go.

The moment we have long been waiting for may have finally arrived in "The Return: Part 15." And by that, I mean Big Ed and Norma finally got together! No, that's not the big moment that may or may not have happened in this episode. But it's still a significant moment that will be discussed a little later in this post. The big moment I'm talking about is actually Dougie Jones possibly remembering that he is Agent Dale Cooper. It's been a long time coming. Ever since Agent Cooper came out of that electrical socket and took over the life of Dougie Jones, the audience has been anticipating his return to the agent we once knew and love. Over the course of the season, the audience had to accept that he was going to remain Dougie Jones for the majority of the new episodes - if not all of them. There's a certain tragedy that comes from that realization. The passage of time was still cruel to Agent Cooper even though he didn't spend the last 25 years in the same reality as everyone else. It's affected him in other ways which have likely changed him forever. He may never be able to return to being the special agent everyone loved on the original show. Instead, he's just an amnesic walking around in Las Vegas seemingly struggling to hold down a household and a job. Except the story has revealed that Dougie is often the smartest person in the room. He just has a habit of repeating the last thing someone else said. But he has a habit of always making it out of a precarious situation alive and with even more success for himself and his family. It made it so it's a little tragic that Dougie Jones is being taken away completely in favor for the return of Agent Cooper. He has now lived this very fulfilling and rewarding life that has almost nothing to do with the craziness happening elsewhere in this world.

It's the only glimpse of Dougie Jones and Janey-E in this episode as well. At first, it seems like the FBI field office in Las Vegas has tracked them down and brought them in to interview. But that's just a misleading moment that reveals they've found all the Dougie's in the city but not the right one yet. Instead, the true Dougie is at home enjoying some cake with his wife. Janey-E is so happy right now too. Their life together started off very tense and complicated. In the beginning, she seemed like the stereotypical nagging wife who doesn't put up with her husband's eccentricities. But now, the show has revealed the true love between them. It's been so sweet to watch. She cares for Dougie and the life he can provide for them. Yes, he's different but that's what makes him special. She has no idea that he's about to become a completely different person. She doesn't know how that will change her life. But it will. At first, it seems like all this episode will do is show Dougie eating a slice of cake. But then, he turns on the TV and hears a familiar name. It's not surprising that a memory of the past would bring Agent Cooper back. It was just a mystery as to who exactly. And now, it's revealed to be Gordon Cole. Dougie recognizes that name. And after that, he sees the electrical socket calling out to him once more. It takes him a beat but he finally does get a big reaction out of the common household device. It will just take another weak to reveal if it brought Agent Cooper back to this reality or if it only took him back to the Black Lodge - and thus leaving Janey-E and Sonny Jim all alone once more.

That's a huge moment of uncertainty. This hour is still filled with moments like that. There aren't many episodes left this season. After this one, there are only three more. It still feels like the show has a lot of plot to resolve and mysteries to answer. Big conflicts still need to happen. Characters need to meet and try to make sense of what has been happening in this world. But instead of offering those big moments, the show is spending time on random supporting characters like Steven and Gersten. That scene drags out for a long time. It shows that the passage of time has been cruel even for her - although it seems like she too has escaped the tragic monstrosity of Steven. Moreover, the show once again seemingly returns to the same night and same conversation between Audrey and Charlie. For so long, the audience was eagerly anticipating the return of Audrey Horne to this world. Her return was completely unexpected. It set up a completely new mystery for this season late in its run. It's forcing us to wonder what is actually going on with her. Her scenes feel completely out of time as well. They feel like only seconds separate them in each episode. She and Charlie are just in the middle of this really intense fight. But it doesn't seem to be going anywhere. It just reveals that Audrey is destined to repeat the same patterns over and over again. Before, she was a very active character whose curious mind was a prominent fixture of Twin Peaks. But now, she's completely isolated. No one is around her but her husband, Charlie, whose every single action and response infuriates her. It's just problematic that it seems to be the same thing over and over again without any hint as to what's going on or how it will be important in the future. It's gotten really frustrating.

And yet, this episode finally confirms that Richard is Audrey's son. It's not a surprising reveal at all. From Richard's very first appearance on this show, the audience has speculated that. The season has even revealed that Ben and Sylvia are his grandparents. But it's not until this episode that he actually says that Audrey is his mother. It's a pivotal moment as well because it produces a team-up between Richard and Evil Cooper. Again, that was an anticipated moment as soon as Richard showed up at the barn where Evil Cooper emerged victorious in an arm wrestling match and then killed Ray. But now, it has occurred. More importantly though, Evil Cooper is able to casually walk into the other reality with the bearded men. He pulls up at the convenience store these beings were seemingly destroying in the past back in "Part 8." It's a creepy and eery setting. One that confirms even he doesn't know all in this world. He's still curious as to what's going on with Philip Jefferies. It's still sad that David Bowie died before production began on this new season. His death didn't really change the story at all. The creative team just needed to find a workaround for this particular meeting which is basically Evil Cooper taking to an object that resembles the realm where the Fireman is. So, Philip Jefferies isn't in this world but he can't completely be seen by anyone in this other world either. Plus, his presence only introduces a new mystery. Evil Cooper now has to track down someone named Judy. Apparently, she's someone he already knows. So, that will force the speculation amongst the audience regarding who is about to get new importance in this tale of two Coopers. My guess is Sarah Palmer since she's been possessed by a new being. But it really could be anyone in Twin Peaks.

Twin Peaks is also where the most loving and heartbreaking stories happen this week. The episode starts with Nadine walking on the side of the road to Big Ed's gas station. She's carrying the golden shovel and arrivals with a newfound clarity. This season hasn't really talked about whether these two were still married. It seemed likely since Ed wasn't actually with Norma. But now, it's confirmed. Except Nadine is now freeing him because she sees just how much he has sacrificed to be a good husband for her. She has the clarity that she has held him back from what would truly make him happy. She's come to that realization and is perfectly fine with it. It's so tragic that it took this long to happen. But it's simply good that it happened at all. It happened because of Dr. Jacoby's show which allowed Nadine to shovel her way out of the shit. But after all of this time, is it too late for Big Ed and Norma? They've stayed in the same location following the same pattern of flirtation but never acting on it for a long time. The years have changed things for them. It's now incredible sad that they aren't together. Perhaps they missed their moment. Maybe Ed is destined to run his simple gas station while Norma is a successful manager of a diner franchise. And yet, Norma has the clarity to realize that she would be much happier simply running the diner in Twin Peaks and being with Ed. It's such a grand and sweeping way to kick off this episode. It's rousing and emotional in the best way possible. It gives these characters a happy ending that is just so magnificent to watch. It starts this episode on a high note. It's also one of the best sequences of this season.

Ed and Norma are able to have their happiness. It wasn't too late for them. It's an emotional moment. And then, there's an equally impressive moment later on with another resident of Twin Peaks. Margaret's conversations with Hawk have been such a key part of this season. They've only interacted over the phone. Margaret has only been able to deliver cryptic clues that can potential help the investigation into Cooper's disappearance. But there's also a true history and understanding between these two characters. Hawk is incredibly kind and supportive of Margaret. He listens and accepts whatever she and her log have to say. And now, their friendship has come to an end. She is dying. The audience has known that for awhile because of the frail state that Catherine E. Coulson was in right before her death. And yet, it's so moving to watch her continue to be a significant part of this narrative. She is given this phenomenal sendoff. It's respectful of what the character was on the original show while giving her new importance now. Without her, the deputies in Twin Peaks would have no clue about anything that's going on in this world. She pointed them in the right direction. She was the support when the leads seemingly came up empty. And now, she has died. It's such a tragic moment. But it's beautiful as well. She understands that death is just a change. She's scared but she's finding peace throughout her final conversation with Hawk. He knows that this is the end. He knows that she is a beautiful soul who is moving onto the next stage of human existence. It's a change that marks the end of an era for Twin Peaks. It's sad and disruptive. But it's a really emotionally rewarding moment as well.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Return: Part 15" was written by David Lynch & Mark Frost and directed by David Lynch.
  • The Twin Peaks jail is starting to fill up with people. Now, James and Freddie have landed in a cell because of an altercation that happens at the roadhouse. There's an impending sense of doom that comes when they enter the establishment and Renee is seen with someone else. A fight breaks out and ends with Freddie swiftly punching people in the face. But that simple action carries so much uncertainty because of the power he has and doesn't know how to wield.
  • And yet, everyone in the Twin Peaks jail seems to be there for a reason. The show is calling attention to that fact. So while Chad is a criminal who deserves to be punished, the others seem to be where they are suppose to be for whatever happens next. Sure, it's still unclear what's going on with the guy drooling and repeating what the others are saying. But he's bound to be important too.
  • Series co-creator Mark Frost plays the man walking his dog when he stumbles upon Steven and Gersten in the woods. He walks away before Steven pulls the trigger and kills himself. But he still knows what happened. And more importantly, he tells Carl what happens as well and knows exactly which trailer is Steven and Becky's.
  • Chantal and Hutch have arrived in Las Vegas. They are there to clean things up after everyone else has failed for the entire season. But right now, that just means killing Duncan and Roger. Duncan deserved it for his multiple attempts at killing Dougie. But Roger is completely innocent and just happened to work for the wrong boss.
  • The episode concludes with Charlyne Yi playing a woman sitting all alone in a booth at the roadhouse. She is literally picked up and set on the floor by a couple of bikers. She crawls into the crowd enjoying the performance and starts screaming. It's a disturbing final image. But one that further highlights the isolation the people of Twin Peaks can feel. They may be waiting for friends and living lives. But they still feel all alone and like they just want to scream all the time.