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The closer we get to the end of Twin Peaks: The Return, the more I’m content to go with the flow of its intensely played feels and meticulously crafted freakiness. Part 15 (“There’s some fear in letting go”) certainly had an abundance of both. The opening stretch melted our hearts by having Big Ed — released from the marital covenant by Nadine — propose to Norma, a sequence that made marvelous use of Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long.” David Lynch toyed with out hearts first, building some suspense in which we thought Norma was going to smooch anew with beau/business partner Walter. Nope. She was breaking up with him, in more ways than one. (She’s out of the franchise business and refocused on attending to her singular work and masterpiece, the original Double R Diner.) Ed spent those long seconds at the counter with his eyes closed, and I got the sense that he was trying to will his desired outcome into being with the power of positive thinking. Norma’s hand entered the frame to touch his shoulder like a dream intruding on reality and coming true. They kissed. He popped the question. I swooned.
The closing stretch broke our hearts by giving us the death of Margaret Lanterman, a.k.a. the Log Lady, a sequence made all the more poignant by knowing that the actress who played her, Catherine E. Coulson, was ill during production and died shortly after finishing her work. I was deeply moved by the images of Margaret sitting alone in her home, cradling her log, and talking herself into the next stage of her eternal adventure; of Hawk listening to her from his office, offering silent witness from afar, wishing her farewell; of the lights in the window going dark. A moment of silence was held in the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department.
In between those two emotional poles, sinister, absurd, and overtly meta strangeness charged Part 15 like all the otherworldly electricity crackling and coursing through the wired world of Twin Peaks USA. Almost everything after Norma and Ed defied the transcendent satisfaction of their long-awaited union tilted more toward the themes of mortality and subversion. We got scenes and story that cast shade on the notions of happily-ever-after and seemed self-aware that this enthralling, baffling journey is drawing to a close and we still really don’t know what the hell is going on. It was a dark installment, steeped in Lynch’s unique psycho-spiritual/surreal-horror formulations of film noir moods.
Several characters met abrupt violent ends.
Rest in mob underworld peace, Duncan Todd and Roger, shot dead by Chantal in atomic blond assassin mode. (She celebrated with drive-thru French fries and more glib banter with hubby Hutch, but she’s starting to hunger for some torture.) Good riddance, skanky-scuzzy Sparkle-itchy Steven, I think; we were led to believe the misogynistic tweaker took his own life in Ghostwood Forest amid intensifying existential crisis and perhaps in the aftermath of some event not yet shown to us. (The woodland dog walker who witnessed his final, chaotic, increasingly abusive moments with his mistress, Gersten, was Cyril Pons, played by series co-creator Mark Frost. Cyril was a TV reporter in the original Twin Peaks. He appears to have escaped the box and retired to the Fat Trout Trailer Park.)
In a sequence we’ll be analyzing for days to come, Mr. C sought out Phillip Jeffries at the unreal place known as The Dutchman’s, which turned out to be a roaming poltergeist version of the A-bombed convenience store in New Mexico from Part 8. (Ghost Mart!) Within the shadowy environs of this nightmare space, home to Woodsmen in various styles of flannels and smears of oil-face, Mr. C found the former FBI agent residing in Room 8 of a courtyard motel…except that he had taken the form of a magnificent kettle, a modified version of the diving bell-like alarm device that The Fireman had in the White Lodge. (If this is the what afterlife is like, could I be a Keurig at the Chateau Marmont?)
The scene touched on mysteries of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, most notably, the identity and whereabouts of a woman dubbed Judy; Mr. C was told he (and perhaps we) had already made her acquaintance. A scene that seemed poised to give us revelation instead frustrated that expectation by giving us more riddles. The Phillip Pot puffed a series of numbers from his kettle snout, then transmitted Mr. C via telephone wire back to the highway for an encounter with the wayward dick who might be his son, Richard Horne. They’re now traveling companions, destination unknown. Maybe Vegas, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were back to Twin Peaks.
Part 15 teased a major transformative turn for Mr. C’s goodie-goodie blank slate doppelganger, Dougie Jones, only to short-circuit the hope. While gobbling some chocolate cake, Dougie turned on the TV and caught the moment in Sunset Boulevard in which the name “Gordon Cole” is said aloud. So much meta in this scene. Sunset Boulevard, a meta-Hollywood film noir, is one of Lynch’s favorite films; “Gordon Cole” is, of course, the name of the character he plays on Twin Peaks. The name triggered Dougie, and for a moment, you wondered if the mind of Dale Cooper had finally asserted itself behind those vacant eyes. He took to the rug and began crawling toward an electrical outlet — the conduit that brought him into the world from the power station in ultraviolet space. He then inserted a fork, and Janey-E screamed as the house went dark and her “seventh heaven” existence went kablooey. Will Dougie still be in the house when illumination is restored? Or is he now traveling the spectral super-highway back to Twin Peaks?
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An episode that saw characters reaching doorways of perception and thresholds of transmigration but, for now, denied them (and us) full enlightenment and forward movement also saw Audrey Horne come within inches of finally leaving her maybe-unreal mansion for the Roadhouse, only to give her a reason — or scapegoat, in the form of dubious husband Charlie — to keep put, to remain in stasis, to stay trapped in her prison of pathology, relationship, and place. But what lies beyond that door? Her should-I-stay-or-should-I-go? clash is the show’s and ours. Her baffling arc speaks to our want for narrative progress and desire to never see this show ever end and go away again. As the Log Lady told us, there’s some fear in letting go. And many other emotions besides.
Speaking of jails, James and Freddie got locked up with Chad, Naido, and maybe-Billy after James cruised for married woman Renee and Freddy knocked out Renee’s husband, Chuck, and his buddy with his magical green-gloved iron fist. Oh, and Part 15 ended with another young person at the Roadhouse doing something bizarre while a band played us out. A woman named Ruby, waiting for friends who may have stood her up, was forcibly removed by from a booth and placed on the floor. She crawled on her hands and knees, an action that mirrored Dougie’s own crawl earlier in the episode, and slowly moved into the milling throng swaying to a performance of “Axolotl” by The Veils. Then — mirroring Janey-E’s reaction to the Dougie shocker — she screamed in agony, and Lynch cut to black.
Hurry home, Agent Cooper. Twin Peaks has gone noir and needs your light.
That’s an overview. As usual, I’ll be spending most of tomorrow working on a scene-by-scene recap of the episode, so come back Monday night for my longer wallow (UPDATE: Read the full recap here). Darren Franich and I will also have a podcast recap for you by Monday afternoon. Until then, what did you guys think of Part 15?