Twin Peaks “The Return, Part 2”

The unique part of this new season operating like an 18 hour film, is that what’s introduced in act 1 (more or less the first 6 episodes) might not be returned to until act 2 or even act 3 (end of season).  For instance, in a regular movie, the introduction of one character might pop back up again in 20 minutes, whereas here, it will take significantly longer.  It’s a seamless story that’s doesn’t lend itself to be serialized, yet self contained within each hour.  With that, we continue the story straight into South Dakota…

Bill Hastings, the principal is visited by his wife, Phyllis, and told that he will not be released on bail. These two are strange and in this scene seem above and beyond the role of the stereotypical white suburban married couple (“but the Morgans are coming for dinner!”). Their confrontation in the cell felt like a chess match where a larger truth was at stake. Bill tries to spin the intriguing notion that he wasn’t in Ruth’s apartment but the strangest thing is that he dreamed he was, hoping she could rescue him from such a fantastical injustice, despite her making the facts clear that his fingerprints are all over the place. He swears it’s the truth though yet Phyllis snipes back with a “Fuck you!” and goes on to state she knows he’s been there. She’s known about the affair all along. Just when you think he’s going to submit, his entire innocent victim persona slips away and he reveals, in a ferocity, how he’s known about her and George and maybe someone else (Cooper’s doppelganger?).

There’s a little bit of fear in her when he’s saying this but she remains stoic, finally ensuring that he’s going away to prison for a very long time, almost as if saying, “it doesn’t matter if you know, you’re done”. I’d say Bill has been set up. Maybe his dream was him put in an unconscious state by Bob before being brought over to the apartment for a frame job? Or maybe under some form of trance, he actually did do it? I’m clueless, but his final “oh my God, oh my God” seems to suggest that he’s aware his wife had some part in orchestrating his involvement, possibly using his cheating as the perfect M.O. He learned something about his wife in that moment. She states to George directly after, “he knows”. Is this implying something more than just an affair? Because when she returns to the house, she seems completely fine with alt-Cooper being there. “You follow human nature perfectly…” Is she not human? Or is she just unattached and talented at playing a role beyond who she is? And what was that blackened spirit that eerily sat two cells down from Bill? Somehow it’s more creepy that such a supernatural thing happened so close without requiring Bill or anyone else to witness it.

It is at this point, we’re introduced to Las Vegas, Nevada, accompanied by that beloved snare drum scoring in the establishing shot. Mulholland Drive’s Patrick Fischler plays Duncan Todd, a man of exemplary wealth considering he routinely hands a hefty amount of cash to his assistant. Roger, who’s instructed to “tell her she has the job.” For someone who seems to command such power, he goes on to warn his assistant to never get mixed up with anyone such as the man he works for. Does he speak of the billionaire? Or Bob? Also, this is a bit unrelated, but I wonder where David Lynch shot this scene because it’s incredibly reminiscent of Don Draper’s original Sterling Cooper office, a set which has been confirmed to be used by other shows (Better Call Saul included). Regardless, I couldn’t help but think of Jimmy Barrett from season 2 of Mad Men manning this parallel helm.

Bob or Cooper’s doppelganger is shown at a diner with Ray, Jack, and Daria. He seeks information from Bill Hasting’s secretary, who is assumed to know exactly what Bill knows. What does Bill know, beyond the possibility of Ruth and the John Doe’s murder that is so important to a more complex spiritual entity such as Bob? The stress of ‘want’ over ‘need’ is made by Bob (again, explaining the Mercedes) which I couldn’t help think of when Bob grabs Jack’s face and moves his cheeks around. Unless some deeper voodoo is behind that (like garmonbozia/corn meal/love and sorrow), it seemed like something he just wanted to do (not needing), as a way to play with the idea of a much more serious ‘want’ in killing Jack later. Despite the car being wired, Jack, more interested in the wants of his stomach (3 meals in a sitting), doesn’t seem like the guy who would concoct a plan like this on his own. It seemed more under Ray’s instruction, so even with Bob becoming wise to all this, I imagine he could have easily kept Jack around despite his hiccup in following Ray’s orders. Then again, we never got to know much of Jack (never even speaks). Perhaps he’s not as much of a glutton (considering he’s not overweight) and ordered 3 meals in that prior sitting out of anxiety knowing it would likely be his last if Bob becomes aware of their betrayal? Perhaps this was the the obvious tell for Bob, being able to sense fear, that something was off, which could explain him moving Jack’s mouth around as a way of putting two and two and together.

The red room scenes from 25 years ago are subject matter that has launched countless amounts of theories, following themes of Greek mythology, astronomy, life and death, time, all riddled through abstract metaphor. It’s not something finite you can figure out in a paragraph, even if we had all 18 episodes in front of us. People will be interpreting these scenes for years. Nonetheless, I’ll give my best thoughts on what we were shown, and if anything jot stuff down just for sake of reference. One thing being clear, Mike is aware of Hawk’s arrival outside the entrance of the red room. I appreciated the continuity of the sycamore trees having grown since the season 2 finale, much like the shocking change in the ‘man from another place’, which he foreshadowed in saying “the next time you see me, it won’t be me.” ‘The arm’ as a tree/brain creature was nightmarish. It indeed seems to confirm itself when it attempts the strange siren noise that ‘the man from another place’ made in Fire Walk With Me, this time more ventilated. It is also appropriate that Mike, the one-armed man, is present, seeing as the ambulance from the film made the same original sound.

“Through the darkness of future past, the magician longs to see, one chance out between two worlds, fire walk with me” – Mike (episode 13, “Demons”)

“Is it future or is it past?” is our first major hint towards what seems to be happening, being that Bob has escaped the red room (between the lodges) and entered the physical universe. When I think of the magician, is everybody above the convenient store (and yeah, we’re getting very Fire Walk With Me heavy here) tools of the magician? Or a representative? In terms of future/past, there was a lot of repeating throughout this sequence such as the iconic manner in which Laura approaches Cooper and again when she whispers in his ear. Just as well, all of past dialogue from the original series is repeated while we’re clearly watching future, aged versions of these characters, although Cooper technically hasn’t aged from his original dream version, which again begs the question, future or past? Mike asks this question twice as if time is going in a circle, yet straying from its cycle at the same time. Is the concept of ‘future’ or ‘time paradox’ what the giant refers to as ‘has entered our house’?’, or am I thinking too much into what’s obviously inevitable for a premise that takes place 25 years later, no matter what dimension we’re in? One thing that came to mind when Laura seems to get ripped from space, screaming, (especially after Mike’s quote from “Demons”) is her quote from the film:

Other than that, the part where she takes her face off to reveal empty white light, as if performing a trick, also reminded me of the manner in which the boy removes his mask during the convenient store sequence. After Laura’s horrific exit, the curtains blow open to show, as Mike once suggested, the darkness, and from our perspective, we’re pushed through it. As Bob sets off for, what I assume is South Dakota, ‘the arm’ mentions “253…time and time again…Bob…Bob…Bob…go now (Mike listens)…go now (Cooper listens)”. Cooper ends up not being able to follow Mike entirely, so he goes back to eventually find Leland who gives the message “Find Laura”. Mike acknowledges that something’s wrong, alluding to Cooper’s inability to follow and ‘the arm’ which answers with “my doppelganger”. This would explain the version of ‘the arm’ that damns Cooper as “non-exist-ent!”

Was this somehow under Bob/altCooper’s plan? He checks his watch as if he had to drive down the highway at an exact, intended moment before our Cooper falls through the floor into an abyss, ultimately leading him to the mysterious glass box in New York. It’s interesting that this takes place as soon as Sam exited to meet Tracey before both of them coming inside. Was it fate that nobody could witness Cooper’s arrival or is it because Sam wasn’t there, that Cooper got transported elsewhere? Did it not matter regardless? I wonder if we’re going to return to this location later on by the billionaire or somebody and see if Cooper’s arrival was caught on film. Can film even capture such a phenomenon?

Bob kills Daria, which was a very hard scene to sit through, seeing as the scene uncomfortably drew itself out as she tries to escape Bob’s grasp in three helpless attempts, while he squeezes out any remaining information from her that might be of use to him. During this, he brings her attention to a strange looking card. An ace with a peculiar symbol which what seems to have bird pecks or scratches above and below it. This definitely will be an item to put a pin in as we continue. Afterwards, Bob contacts David Bowie’s Jeffries but has reason to doubt whether it actually is Jeffries. All I could say is it’s great how much FWWM tie-ins there are, even Jeffries playing a significant role despite Bowie’s passing.

Gordon Cole might be going deaf, but David Lynch has an excellent ear. I’ll let “Shadow” by Chromatics play the read out which is such a fitting, atmospheric song to go along with the remarkable distance there is between Twin Peaks and the Dale Cooper we know and love.

To show Sarah Palmer attentively watching a gruesome wildlife video, featuring a pride of lionesses taking down a water buffalo, and then roughly cut to the roadhouse with this beautiful track made for quite the stirring transition. It’s here that we find Shelly in a booth with friends, reassuring the audience that despite the drama, the strange, and the horror, life blossoms and still goes on in Twin Peaks. In what I consider one of the most profound final moments of the episode, James enters with a buddy and scans the bar before his eye is drawn to Shelly’s table. Shelly defending James in light of her friends’ slight hesitance towards him and going on to assure that “James was always cool” ended up emitting this wonderfully cosmic feeling that the two characters share between one another despite never having any scenes together in the show’s original run. It goes on to say that to be in Twin Peaks during the time of Laura Palmer’s death, everybody was affected by it, whether directly or indirectly, and 25 years later only they could understand what that meant.

Finally, I love how we’re shown “Shadow” by Chromatics on stage to the point where you’re waiting for something to happen. You’re enjoying the song, but you’re waiting for a return to a certain character or story point to punch out the episode. And you’re waiting…and you’re waiting, and suddenly the credits just start to roll. It’s such a creative way to go out and creates this lovely feeling of endlessness.

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