When I was a kid, I had a massive crush on Sherilyn Fenn. Or, more specifically, on her character of Audrey Horne. And who wouldn’t? She was that alluring combination of cute, calculating, and maybe even a little crazy (although the “crazy” was downplayed significantly as the original run of Twin Peaks progressed) that whispered, “I’m gonna take you down the road to hell, and you’re gonna love every minute of it.” A true femme fatale for the “Generation X” set. So, yeah, the older version of me that shambles around, half-dazed, through the world of 2017? He was extremely curious to see what David Lynch and Mark Frost were going to do with her in Twin Peaks 2017/Twin Peaks: The Return/Twin Peaks Season three — and, fully 2/3 of the way through, we finally have our answer.
We know all (or some) about her kid already, of course — Richard’s been rising holy hell for some time now, and in part twelve tonight, that finally comes back to bite his grandpa Ben (Richard Beymer — who seems to have cooled off his percolating “office romance” with Ashley Judd a bit and gets a genuinely nice extended scene with Robert Forster’s Sheriff Frank Truman) in the ass. If Audrey knows about any of this, though, she seems completely unperturbed by it, and is far more concerned with the recent disappearance of a guy that she’s been stepping out on her perpetually-tired, workaholic husband (played by Clark Middleton) with. This appears to be an unconventional marriage, to put it mildly — the word “contract” is mentioned more than once — and, as such, it makes for plenty of old-school “prime time soap” intrigue, but to have this all dropped on us this late in the game? Well, let’s just say I’m waiting to see how successfully Lynch and Frost are going to shoe-horn yet another subplot into the mix here on top of everything else (or maybe that should be subplots, plural, because at the tail end of Part Twelve, we meet three new characters altogether, and who they are and what they have to do with anything is anyone’s guess at this point).
Anyway, while Audrey’s long-awaited return may have been a highlight for me personally, there were plenty of other developments that merit a mention: Gordon Cole (Lynch) and Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer) officially induct Tammy Preston (Chrysta Bell) into the brotherhood — or maybe that should now be brother/sisterhood — of the Blue Rose (and we get our fullest explanation beyond the printed page of Frost’s “novel” as to what the Blue Rose is all about); Cole makes time with an exotic and alluring French mystery woman who sure knows how to take her time making an exit; Dr. Amp/Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) continues his love-affair-via-the-airwaves with Nadine Hurley (Wendy Robie), whether he knows it or not; Harry Dean Stanton further reveals himself to be the guardian angel of Fat Trout Trailer Park, and perhaps of this entire series; Tim Roth and Jennifer Jason Leigh pop back into the picture to perform a sniper-rifle “hit” on some poor sucker; Dougie (Kyle MacLachlan) and “his” boy, Sonny Jim (Pierce Gagnon) play a decidedly one-way game of catch in the backyard; Laura Dern’s Diane is discovered to be a double-dealer by Albert and cryptically exclaims “Let’s Rock” when officially deputized back into the FBI fold; Jerry Horne (David Patrick Kelly) finally makes it down off the mountain — plenty to mull over, indeed.
Tonight’s show-stealer, though, has gotta be Grace Zabriskie as the long-suffering Sarah Palmer. The years have been every bit as hard on her as one would expect given the compound tragedy that befell her family a quarter-century ago, and her breakdown at a grocery store checkout lane is downright painful to watch. There are even hints dropped that the Black Lodge hasn’t had the decency to leave her alone yet — her ceiling fan is still doing “that thing” (whatever it is), she talks as if there’s another entity taking up residence within her body and mind, and Deputy Hawk (Michael Horse) hears inexplicable noises in her kitchen when he drops by to check on her well-being (or lack thereof). She’s doing her best to hold it together — but is anyone’s “best” good enough under such circumstances?
Zabriskie’s acting is straight-up dynamite in this segment (who are we kidding? It always is), every raw nerve and strained-beyond-the-breaking-point thread on full display in a gripping and altogether unforgettable tour-de-force right up there with the best we’ve seen in this series. It’s not easy stuff to watch, by any means — but it’s downright impossible to look away from.
Wrap it all up with a return appearance from Chromatics at the Roadhouse, and we’ve got yet another ridiculously compelling installment of the darkest and most irresistible siren call to ever play out on American TV screens under our collective belt. With six parts to go, the prospect of all of our myriad questions being answered seems remote, indeed, but I’m not really sure that’s the point — giving us a map and a methodology by which to find the answers ourselves (even if it takes another 25 years) is what Lynch and Frost are building towards, and in that respect, they’re succeeding in a manner that’s equal parts harrowing and beautiful.
Tags: Ashley Judd, Chromatics, Chrysta Bell, Clark Middleton, David Lynch, David Patrick Kelly, Grace Zabriskie, Harry Dean Stanton, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kyle MacLachlan, Laura Dern, Mark Frost, Michael Horse, Miguel Ferrer, Pierce Gagnon, Richard Beymer, robert forster, Russ Tamblyn, Sherilyn Fenn, Showtime, Tim Roth, TV, Twin Peaks, Wendy Robie