At least I wasn’t alone. In evaluating the first two episode of the relaunched Twin Peaks it seemed like many people weren’t really into whatever the heck and David Lynch and Mark Frost were doing. It was weird for the sake of being weird, full of non-sequiturs and oddities, and they dealt precious little with the titular town or any of the menagerie of beloved characters left behind in 1991. I’m not sure if the turn was purposeful, but admittedly, it did seem like a little bit of that old Twin Peaks peered out from behind the bushes in episodes three and four.
Let’s skip over the better part of episode three, which was all about how Cooper re-entered our world from the Black Lodge, and how the Lodge tried to take Bob/Cooper back. There’s more traveling in space, more weird dimensions where people move in a stilted fashion, and more oddball characters, in this case a woman with no eyes that spoke in an incompressible hiss. After electrocuting herself and being cast off into space, Cooper gets sucked into an electrical socket and he’s back on Planet Earth. That was about the first 35 minutes of the “Part 3”.
Along with that was how Bob/Cooper would react to Agent Cooper’s re-entry. Still driving through the Black Hills of South Dakota, Bob/Cooper felt himself being pulled back to the Lodge. As he drove, the red curtains appeared before him and he began to have a physical reaction that forces him to lose control and crash off road. Of course, getting rid of Bob wasn’t going to be that easy, and we see a second Cooper doppelgänger named Dougie Jones who lives in Nevada and seems vaguely like a down on his luck realtor with his ugly mustard sport coat, terrible haircut and the fact he’s using a home for sale in a dilapidated subdivision to have sex with a hooker. Fortunately for Dougie, all his problems are over.
Instead of absorbing Bob/Cooper, the Black Lodge sucks up Dougie through an electrical and deposits him in the red room. Phillip Michael Gerard is a little surprised by the appearance of a third Cooper, and tells Dougie that he was designed for a purpose, the purpose being a sacrifice to keep Bob on the loose in the real world. It begs the question: how and when did Bob create a doppelgänger of a doppelgänger, and how did Dougie come to live a complex life with a wife and child, and owing money to someone or someones that were apparently prepared to blow up Dougie in his car?
If there are a lot of unanswered questions about Dougie’s life, then there’s even more for Agent Cooper to deal with now that he’s taken Dougie’s place in that life. The smartly dressed Cooper is mistaken for Dougie by Dougie’s own friends, and the employees of the Silver Mustang casino where Cooper learns he now has the mysterious ability to see which slot machines will pay out on the next pull. Might that ability have something to do with Dougie’s money issues? For surely Agent Cooper would ask that question if he had full control of his faculties, but right now he seems like a blank slate only able to understand things on a basic level.
You have to give Kyle MacLachlan credit for putting himself as putty in the hands of Lynch, because there’s been about four versions of Cooper now and counting. Despite the bare bones Cooper, I’ll admit to enjoying MacLachlan work because there were shades of the old Cooper in the way he wandered around the casino floor chasing that red flame that pointed to the winning slots. Watching MacLachlan wander, I think I was finally able to let go of the things that frustrated me about the first two episodes, and just ease back into the world as it was being given to me by Lynch and Frost. On the other hand though, maybe it was because we finally got some more Twin Peaks in our Twin Peaks.
Episode four probably had more time spent in Twin Peaks then the previous three episodes combined, and it was more than a little bit of a relief. We meet the new Sheriff Truman, Frank Truman, played by Robert Forster, who seems to have taken over for his brother because Harry is sick. In real life, Michael Ontkean has retired from acting, so I guess Harry being unseen and sick somewhere is the direction we’re choosing to explain his absence. It seems kind of lame so far as excuses go, so I’ve got my fingers crossed for some kind of reunion between Harry and Cooper before the end of the season; their partnership was gold in the original series. In the meantime, we must ask the question: why does Frank dress exactly like Harry? I mean, aside from the uniform.
While in Twin Peaks we meet Lucy and Andy’s son Waldo, who’s played by Michael Cera, dresses like he’s Marlon Brando in The Wild One, and talks like he’s an English dub of a French movie. Harry is Waldo’s godfather, and he stops by the sheriff’s department to tell Frank he’s thinking of his brother. The scene, with its excessive detail and pregnant pauses was pure Lynch, and it was at this point the show truly felt like its old self again. It really served no point other than to have Cera pop up, and utter the line, “my dharma is the road”, but if there’s currently was a reason to be glad they brought back Twin Peaks, it was that scene.
Also making news at the sheriff’s station is that Bobby Briggs is deputy. That’s interesting because one would have thought that Bobby’s record would have excluded him from a career in law enforcement, but there he was, being sucked into Hawk’s mission to discover what’s missing and how it ties to Agent Cooper. Bobby, after being slightly taken aback by the site of the picture of his old girlfriend, Laura Palmer, offers an interesting clue: Agent Cooper visited his father the day before Garland Briggs died in a fire. Bobby doesn’t know what they talked about, but we know it was Bob/Cooper, and that someone was very interested in the fact that Bob paid Garland a visit. Back in South Dakota, the police get a hit on the John Doe, but the I.D. is blocked by the military. Say, wasn’t Garland Briggs in the Air Force?
Elsewhere, we caught up with other familiar faces. The FBI is investigating the murder of Sam and Tracy at the New York loft where a glass box unleashed some kind of monster on them, which means that Albert Rosenfield and Gordon Cole are on the case. But before digging too deeply into that bizarre morass, Cooper’s old colleagues get a call that their friend was found in South Dakota and locked up after his crashed car is found with cocaine, a gun, and a severed dog’s leg in the trunk. After conferring with the Bureau’s Chief of Staff, Denise Bryson, Cole and Rosenfield head out to South Dakota to find out what Cooper’s been up to for two-and-a-half decades.
Meeting up with Bob/Cooper, the agents immediately smell a rat. Bob/Cooper explains that he’s been working undercover for Phillip Jeffries this whole time and was on his way back east to brief him when he got into the wreck. Two problems with that. First, Bob/Cooper was driving west when he got into his accident, and second, Jeffries has been “off the radar”, as Rosenfield put it, for years. Cole and Rosenfield agree that this is a job for the Blue Rose, meaning Lil, a dancer who briefs agents though interpretive dance who we first encountered in Fire Walk With Me, where she had a blue rose pinned to her dress. Cooper, the real Cooper, was also told to find the “Blue Rose” during his etherial journey. Coincidence?
So we leave episode four, I think, a little more invested in where this new season is trying to take us. I find it interesting that after eating up so much time in the first two episodes, the murder mystery in South Dakota is only addressed in the one scene, but if we’re being honest, I think we were fine without it. Lynch and Frost seem to be setting up some kind of ultimate showdown between Cooper and Bob, so it’s pretty important that our favourite special agent get his faculties back. I thought for a minute that a sip of black coffee would do for Cooper what spinach does for Popeye, but alas, we’ll have to wait and see how Cooper gets his groove back…