This, I think, is the point at which I’ve decided I’m well and truly hooked — although, in fairness, all signs were pointing in that direction already.
Part (not episode, remember?) five of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s 2017 iteration of Twin Peaks — you may add or omit “The Return” as you see fit —features none of the arresting surreal visual poetry we were treated to last week, the “high weirdness” of parts 1-4 is dialed back considerably (although still present and accounted for), and some rather prosaic explanations are offered to a handful of the mysteries that we’ve been served up (the mutilated body in Buckhorn, South Dakota is that of the “real” Dougie, Russ Tamblyn’s Dr. Jacoby was painting those shovels gold to hustle off to the gullible viewers — among them Wendy Robie’s Nadine Hurley and David Patrick Kelly’s Jerry Horne — of his right-wing, conspiracy-themed YouTube show), but I was still glued to the TV despite the fact that this was far and away the most straight-forward installment of the bunch to date.
Plot progression, plain and simple, is the primary order of business this time out, and let’s be honest — there’s really nothing wrong with that, is there? Kyle MacLachlan’sDougie/Dale is still wandering about in a daze, but somehow gets through the work day (we can all relate, I’m sure) and exhibits a new super-power, to boot; Deputies Hawk (Michael Horse) and Andy (Harry Goaz) are still on the case (although no one’s sure quite what that case is yet); “Evil Coop” finally gets to make his phone call; ever-laconic sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster) comes in for some good, old-fashioned brow-beating from his wife; the bizarrely-named Janey-E (Naomi Watts) is still figuring out what the fuck to do with her empty vessel of a husband — in short, life is going on.
Old-school fans will be straight-up overjoyed, I should think, at our first extended look at (and in) the Double-R diner, where Norma (Peggy Lipton) still holds court, Shelly (Mädchen Amick) still works the counter, and long-time customer “Toad” now works in the kitchen, but they’re not the only familiar faces popping back into the proceedings — doucheface Mike Nelson (Gary Hershberger) may have “gone legit,” but he’s still a doucheface, Harry Truman is still ailing and literally “phones it in,” and the deceased Major Garland Briggs once again figures into things in very nearly a prominent manner despite having shuffled off his mortal coil. Yup, the trusty old stand-bys are more than adequately represented here.
And yet for all that, a fair number of new faces are mixed into the stew (okay, shitty metaphor unless you’re a cannibal), as well — Jim Belushi and Robert Knepper are revealed as the mystery men who operate the Silver Mustang Casino; there’s a seriously ominous new psycho who’s muscling in on the ever-prosperous Twin Peaks drug trade; some seriously funky shit is going down in Bueno Aires(!); and at no less than the Pentagon itself we make the acquaintance of the named-no-doubt-in-tribute Colonel Davis, who’s played by none other than the beyond-fucking-great Ernie Hudson. How’s all this going to shake out? What do some of these folks even have to do with anything? Well, shit, that’s all part of the fun, isn’t it?
And a lot of the internet fan speculation is already paying off — if you were one of the people who surmised that Amanda Seyfried must be Shelly’s daughter, pat yourself on the back, and if you likewise had it sussed that the loser Mike is berating in a job interview early on here is probably her previously-alluded-to deadbeat boyfriend, pat that back of yours a second time. Lynch and Frost are still two steps (at least) ahead of us most of the time, but it’s nice when they hit “pause” on occasion and allow us mere mortals to catch up.
There’s a rhythm, a tempo, an overall tone that Twin Peaks: The Return appears to be settling into that feels comfortable now even at its most disconcerting. We went through a lot to get here — much of which we can’t even begin to process yet — but now that we’re on more solid ground, it feels earned. It’s destined not to last, of course — the forces of entropy are still moving in on this temporary stability at a clip that’s more or less entirely unchecked — but it’s good to get a glimpse into the various lives doomed to be disrupted (or worse). I could maybe even deal with a few more “old home weeks” like this one, if I’m being perfectly honest.
So, yeah — that’s how I know I’m well and truly invested in this show in a way I haven’t been in a TV series since the halcyon days of I don’t even know when. When every line, every scene, every facial expression and physical movement of every character matters to me regardless of how much — or how little — is happening, I’m a goddamn fish at on the end of a line just waiting to be reeled in. I liked — even really liked — most of the so-called “important” shows of the past decade or so: Breaking Bad, The Wire, House Of Cards, The Sopranos, all of that. My love for Doctor Who extends all the way back to my childhood and remains undiminished, qualms about many aspects of its current version notwithstanding. But this new Twin Peaks is affecting me on a whole different level altogether from any and all of that — one that hits home with even more precision and accuracy than did its celebrated previous incarnation. I’m not entirely sure why that’s the case after just a few short weeks — but, again, discovering the answer to that question as things go along is all part of the fun, right?
Tags: Amanda Seyfried, David Lynch, David Patrick Kelly, ernie hudson, Jim Belushi, Kyle MacLachlan, Madchen Amick, Mark Frost, Naomi Watts, Peggy Lipton, robert forster, Robert Knepper, Russ Tamblyn, Showtime, TV, Twin Peaks