We gave it an A-
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Let it be weird.
No need to explain it. No need to figure it out. No need to tame it with reason or theory.
Just let it be weird. For now.
Part 8 of Twin Peaks: The Return was the “David Lynch on heroin” we’d been promised. For the most part, it was a mesmerizing rush of pure-cut WTF, albeit one that made a certain amount of sense for those versed with the show’s symbol system and Lynchian motifs. Still, I officially gave up trying to make sense of everything during my first viewing right about the time the eyeless transhuman entity known as Experiment started barfing foamy ejaculate containing speckled eggs and a creamed corn glob of BOB’s face. I quit taking notes, quit pressing PAUSE so I could Google things like The Manhattan Project, quit sweating that I wasn’t getting it. I decided to accept “Gotta light?” as an act of pure Strangelove. I stopped worrying about it and just enjoyed all the crazy bomb drops.
This is not to say we won’t be trying to understand it in this recap. We will! We should! Part 8 was this show’s version of Lost’s “Across the Sea” episode — a big bang creation myth for the evil that haunts Twin Peaks America, an origin story for the show’s cosmic horror predators; it was Lynch’s version of a ’50s sci-fi/horror movie, spliced with some pure cinema philosophizing about the nature and fate of mankind reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Still, everything I have to offer in the way of being Mr. Explainer is mostly speculation, and the last thing I want to do is confuse you more than you might be. So I’ll try to be disciplined in my theories. I do hope Lynch and Mark Frost offer some illumination for what we saw here in the episodes to come, especially since some of it was literally hard to see; this was a dusky, dim episode, appropriate for a story about spiritual darkness, but some things were hard to make out. Example: the shot of the BOB embryo harvested from Dirty Cooper. But for now, I’m okay to just delight in that weirdness and (to borrow from a song recently heard on The Leftovers) let the mystery be. Also, it’s my girlfriend’s birthday, and I promised I’d celebrate her with an energetic, attentive presence unimpaired by a recap-broken brain. Priorities, people.
Part 8 opened with Dirty Cooper and Ray, newly sprung from prison, traveling by yellowy rental car at night to a place Ray liked to call “The Farm.” Fitting for a creature from the deep web of Black Lodge space, Dirty Cooper used one of his infernal devices — some kind of black magic cell phone full of cheat codes for techno-reality — to exorcise the vehicle of three tracers and/or cast them upon a truck. (Poor hexed scapegoat truck!) He then threw the phone out the window, the big litterer. The earth cried from man’s indifference to the environment, and not for the last time in this episode.
Tension between these two criminals: palpable. Dirty Cooper knew that Ray had accepted a $500,000 contract to rub him out. But he needed to extract some information from his treacherous associate before he made him say hello to his little “friend” hidden in the glove compartment. (No, not Ike the Spike — a gun!) What Dirty Cooper didn’t know was that Ray was pretty hip to all this. He had no intention of giving up whatever it was that he knew — a string of numbers; coordinates, I believe — unless the man he called “Mr. Cooper” wished to pay for them, or so he intimated; I think Ray has no intention of giving Dirty Cooper anything he wants. Ray also knew all about the concealed weapon, and he wasn’t worried abut it for a few reasons, including the fact that he had a revolver of his own, courtesy, we might assume, of the warden whom Dirty Cooper blackmailed last week. Truly, there is no honor among thieves and their corrupt jailers.
Dirty Cooper directed Ray to exit the highway and take an alternate road to their final destination. This led to some long, Lynchian shots of Cooper and Ray driving in silence or shots from their point of view of the car following highway lines and directional markers and pushing into darkness across rough, uneven, unpaved terrain. In retrospect, Lynch’s filmmaking choices foreshadow the protracted odyssey to come: This was an episode that basically departed from the show’s main narrative (such as it is) to go off-roading into the wilds of Twin Peaks mythology.
Ray stopped the car in the woods because he had to take a leak, because by now, it just wouldn’t be an episode of Twin Peaks without someone peeing. (The show’s biggest whizzer, coffee-chugging Dougie, was MIA this week.) Perhaps Dirty Cooper could smell the bulls— on Ray. He retrieved the gun, checked the chamber, and demanded that Ray cough up the digits in his head. Ray spun around with a gun of his own. Dirty Cooper was the first to pull trigger — but the gun didn’t fire. Click-click-jammed! “Tricked you, f—er,” quipped Ray, who then put Dirty Cooper down with two bullets in the chest.
And that’s when s— got freaky.
(Recap continues on page 2)