Cameron Lee ’20 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Spoiler Alert: This review contains spoilers for Twin Peaks: The Return.
“Is it future, or is it past?” This question is posed by Mike in the red room to Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) in part two of Twin Peaks: The Return. And that is the question that David Lynch and Mark Frost are tackling head on in this eighteen hour journey. Twin Peaks: The Return is not a TV show: it’s a an eighteen hour movie. It is not the old Twin Peaks that so many people loved: it’s something entirely original and unique. It’s David Lynch reinventing the television format that he helped define with the original Twin Peaks in new, innovative, and exciting ways. It doesn’t hold the viewer’s hand in any conceivable way and often messes with their own perception of reality, philosophy, story structure, and life itself.
At its core, Twin Peaks: The Return is about the passage of time and what it does to people. Agent Cooper has been trapped in the black lodge for 25 years while his evil doppelganger (also played by MacLachlan) has been murdering, raping, and wreaking havoc in the real world. Once Agent Cooper is literally ejected from the lodge, he is rendered catatonic by taking the place of Dougie Jones a manufactured decoy put in place by Evil Cooper. Agent Cooper is left basically brain dead, and can only perform basic functions and repeat what other people say, but he still loves a damn fine cup of coffee and a slice of cherry pie. Dougie Jones’s wife, Janey E (played brilliantly by Naomi Watts), and her son, Sonny Jim, believe Agent Cooper to be Dougie. Long story short, a lot of weird hijinks ensue, from a dwarf hitman with an icepick, to two Las Vegas casino owners who want revenge on Dougie Jones. They then become best friends with him when Jim Belushi has a dream about Dougie Jones giving them a pie in a box and millions of dollars to help build their casino empire.
That last part sounds made up, but it’s not; somehow David Lynch for thirteen parts makes us really care about a brain dead Agent Cooper (Dougie Jones) and his new family. Kyle MacLachlan gives the best performance of his career as the evil doppelganger, who is cold, calculating, and the definition of unpleasantness. And while Agent Cooper doesn’t return to normal until near the end of this journey, Kyle MacLachlan’s performance as Dougie is a masterclass of silent acting, his facial reactions in key moments some of the most moving images of the entire season.
The Town of Twin Peaks may look the same but our favorite characters from the original Twin Peaks have new problems and their children are going down the same dark paths that they went through. Some families are in a tragic decline like the poor Horne Family or struggling like Becky (Madchen Amick) and her daughter (Amanda Seyfried). Even the Log Lady, played for one last time by the late Catherine Coulson. She died right after she shot her scenes, which is very sad as her character is slowly dying on the show, giving Deputy Hawk (Michael Horse) riddles about the evil that’s coming to Twin Peaks and then passes away on the show. Part eight is best described as a surrealist nightmare or dream come true. It’s hard to say. It’s an origin story for BOB and thus the creation of evil by the first atomic bomb test in New Mexico in 1945 and the creation of hope by the fireman (played by the actor who played the giant in the original show but isn’t the giant) who creates Laura Palmer to combat it.
It’s a fascinating work of art by Lynch, who delivers in part eight what he feels is the origin of evil in modern society; it’s something that will be analyzed for years. Director David Lynch is the true star of the Return, delivering some of the most disturbing and mind-numbing scenes of his career and on TV in general. He did the sound design, which should also be praised: the sound of electricity crackling through the air mixed with the score is brilliantly done. Truth be told, it’s impossible to do a full review of this show as there are so many layers, so look forward for more analysis soon. But as of now, this ranks as a spellbinding tour de force that is one of the most important pieces of television this decade.
Series Grade: A