"When this kind of fire starts, it is very hard to put out. The tender boughs of innocence burn first. And the wind rises. And then, all goodness is in jeopardy."
-The Log Lady
As we delve further into the bottomless Chinese box Lynch and company have been devising for us, it again grows ever clearer that the boughs of innocence extended far beyond the youthful visage of whitebread American goodness in Laura Palmer, but in everything we grew to know as familiar within Twin Peaks' particular town limits. For sure, the weird has always been a pervasive element. But never before has it been captured with such an ominous set of oils. On the surface, it may look like classic Peaks. But gone is the bonkers humor or reaches for sheer camp. On top of this, these last two episodes seem ready to keep us at bay for any real answers for quite some time.
Six hours in, and the story continues to spread across the country, yet seems ready to ease itself defiantly in Vegas as long as Lynch and Frost feel comfortable challenging the average viewer with extended and crushingly awkward moments of Dougie/Cooper, continuing his voyage back to total selfhood. And why not? So much of his reactions to the world around him, and the in turn utter confusion and exasperation from everyone else seems to be playing hard against the very gawking audience that pushed the original series into an early grave. But what such viewers may be missing , is both the cackling humor of it all, coupled with some truly touching moments as Kyle MacLachlan patiently and often brilliantly delivers hints that things are coming together. Whether it's his fascination with a classic statue of a dutiful lawman, or uttering terms like "case file", pieces seem to be coming back for our favorite G-man. It's a singular and affecting performance that a television show, let alone a feature film could rarely deliver.
He's in a dazed. Probably not too different from how Lynch himself views the contemporary landscape. Like anticipating a return to an almost infant state as age takes hold. It's both a distressing and hilarious feeling that almost renders parts of the series hard to watch.
But. Take heart.
Just going to up and say it, Dougie Jones is one lucky guy. Yeah, sure he seems to have a gambling problem. The mob seems to be hot on his tail. He has extramarital concerns. He doesn't even seem to exist anymore. But through the eyes of a dazed, half alive Special Agent Dale Cooper, we are host to the man's world, a host of both the hyper-ordinary, coupled with extraordinary circumstance. He's no simple Las Vegas insurance salesman. Heck, just take one good extended look at his family life, and take in the fact that despite all the drama surrounding him, he's just damned lucky to have run across a morally upright, understanding firebrand like Janey E. She'll meet with potentially deadly thugs out in a public park, talk shop, and end a threat with some common sense based on current percentage figures as per her job at the bank, and end it with a solid counter offer. The kind with the kind of rare authority, that even said thugs have to step back and admire it. This together with their amazing child, Sonny Jim, it almost seems terribly tragic that very soon, they may come to realize that Dougie, is indeed gone.
I bring this all up at the very beginning, because It seems important to highlight the complications that are mounting in lieu of the events that are now swirling well beyond the town limits of the show's titular community. Even as Evil Coop has been in a cell in South Dakota, pieces are moving about wildly, ever glacially drawing events closer to where it all began. Unfinished business is at the heart of Twin Peaks: The Return, and it seems ready to tease matters out as far as possible. Not at all unlike a novel. With the author savoring every opportunity to bask in these moments with characters one clearly has affection for.
Hawk, after some dogged investigating, has stumbled upon what could be a nuclear revelation connected to the events of twenty five years past. And it wasn't among the mountain of case documents and articles left behind during the Laura Palmer case. Wilder yet, it may very well have been hinted at in a dream she had days before her murder.
Albert, has at last found who he and Gordon were speaking of a few episodes back. Red herring edit to the Bang Bang Bar aside, we are at last somewhere in New York where we meet the never before seen Diane(Laura Dern!) before cutting away.
Meanwhile, we at last have who will likely become a central figure in this 18 hour saga. And we get it within the most familiar of Twin Peaks locations, the Double R with Shelley Johnson revealed to still be working for Norma, being approached for money by her teenaged daughter, Becky(Amanda Seyfried). This is not long after being introduced to Becky's loser boyfriend, Steven (Caleb Landry Jones) who has been struggling to get work in between hits of coke. The stage seems to be assembling for a repeat of history, while events thousands of miles away seem to be ever gravitating closer to the origin point.
Couple this with the fact that some of Dougie's Vegas pursuers have been killed by another party by mistake. The ensuing chain reaction, has activated what has become one of the series' most utterly baffling characters. Ike the Spike, who's diminutive stature and accompanying hip-hop theme music have done in three minutes what takes most horror films 90 minutes to make frightening. This is no joke when I unpack just how genuinely scary and milk spitting hilarious this guy is. It seems to come completely out of nowhere, and will be a character worth watching out for. Especially since Dougie seems to be next on his hit list! One can only hope that Cooper wakes up soon enough to put his long neglected boxing abilities to the test. Because in his current state, we'd be lucky to get a sprint out of our hero.
And let's not wind down without considering Peaks' next generation of pure sociopaths in Richard(Who may very well be a Horne), who's allegiance to the clearly psychotic magical gangster Red(Balthazar Getty, doing a mean Frank Booth) is being tested by being endlessly called "kid". Richard, also in record time, has gone from being wholly detestable to outright pathetic monster as his mission to traffic a Chinese designer drug hits a speedbump in the form of a child in the street. A scene that again melds sheer horror with over the top cackle fuel. Thankfully, Fat Trout manager, Carl (Harry Dean Stanton) witnesses the whole awful event with what seems to be a reassuring epiphany.
And all of this as we have yet to find out just who Linda is from the Giant's message at the very beginning. "Two birds, one stone", he said. Whether this means incarceration for the duo, or a straight up hit list, remains to be seen.
Which brings us to what seems to be gnawing at the corners of the entire series for me this far. Not unlike Margaret's troubling words in Fire Walk With Me, the bugs had only begin to infect the community of Twin Peaks during the days of the Palmer investigation. While the powerful were feuding over the fate of the Packard sawmill, and Ghostwood, these were elements that invited small time thuggery as extension. In the past, elements like th3 Renault brothers, were but a fixture on the outskirts of town. But what seems to be bubbling up now in lieu of economic uncertainty, is both an arms race of entropy and apathy. This is exhibited by a deputy, who's not only an openly cruel human being, but a man on the take. Janey E's impassioned retort to the gangsters, and ultimately the former Doctor Jacoby's nutbar InfoWars conspiracy/marketing scheme show. Let's also consider the show equating the gangsters with the bank Janey works for, not to mention Dougie's job at an insurance company rife with the adulterous, and venal side by side during group meeting. The world of Peaks, has gone full opportunist vampire. The show seeming to suggest that in the years since the disappearance of Dale Cooper, and the emergence of Bob/Coop, the ensuing moral chasm that appeared in the wake of these events threatens not only some of our beloved friends in the north, but of America as a whole. It's a vision of a society aimlessly longing for an illusory past, despite considering the world so vibrantly passing them by. Too many find themselves in planted denial. Unyielding. Thereby inviting the classic Lynchian bugs that once thrived beneath Lumberton, North Carolina. And while we really should be pacing ourselves with any semiotic reading since this is much closer in form to a feature film than a series, it could be way too early to hone in on what exactly Frost and Lynch have in mind for the series thematically. But even at six hours, its ambitions cannot be underestimated. Here's hoping a long neglected slumber is about to come to a well-earned end.