by Benjamín Harguindey
A weekly review of Twin Peaks, the 2017 revival of the 1990 cult classic. Created, produced and written by Mark Frost and David Lynch. Directed by David Lynch. Spoilers.
Maybe it’s because it’s the first episode to air without a companion piece, but number five in the Twin Peaks revival feels disappointingly inconclusive and little more than a cursory update on the numerous plot threads already established in the preceding four entries.
Are you keeping up with all of them? There’s the odyssey of Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), spirited out of a spiritual limbo and into the shoes (quite literally) of a Vegas family man targeted for assassination; the crime rampage of Cooper’s doppelgänger with an end to who knows what; the parallel investigations into a gruesome double murder in New York and another in Buckhorn, South Dakota; and the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department own review into its storied paranormal activity – all of this intercut with some kookie slice-of-life vignettes from the title town.
On top of that, episode five introduces to the cast celebrities Jim Belushi, Ernie Hudson, Caleb Landry Jones, Robert Knepper, Amanda Seyfried and Tom Sizemore.
The zoned-out Cooper partakes in a day in the life of Dougie Jones. Wheeled to work by the clueless Mrs. Jones (Naomi Watts), Cooper wanders around the office space chugging down coffees and repeating back familiar words like ‘agent’ and ‘case files’. In this state of catatonia he manages to flirt with a colleague, make enemies with another (Sizemore) and have a meeting with his boss. It plays out like a comedy of errors with a zombie for a protagonist – think of David Lynch’s Mad Men.
Meanwhile, he eludes a second assassination attempt – a car bomb – by another awesome stroke of luck, and Dougie’s whore Jade (Nafessa Williams) mails Cooper’s hotel key back to the Great Northern. Is the key the thing that the Log Lady (the late Catherine Coulson) mentioned to Hawk (Michael Horse) to be missing, “regarding Agent Cooper”? Is Jade the “chocolate bunny” alluded to by Lucy (Kimmy Robertson)? Does Hawk’s “heritage” somehow connect him to the hotel? In any case this sets up hotel owner Ben Horne’s (Richard Beymer) part in the story, and hopefully reunites Cooper with fan favorite Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn).
In other Twin Peaks news, we finally go into the Double R Diner and see Norma (Peggy Lipton) and Shelly (Mädchen Amick). The show’s being deliberately stingy on the details of their lives – did Norma leave Hank for Ed? Is Shelly married to Bobby (Dana Ashbrook)? – but we meet Shelly’s daughter Becky (Seyfried), who much like her mother fell for the wrong guy, one creep named Steven (Landry Jones). This Steven – a jobless junkie mooching off Becky, mooching off Shelly – makes young Bobby Briggs look like Prince Charming. We see him earlier getting decimated by none other than Mike ‘Snake’ Nelson (Gary Hershberger) at a job interview, which retrospectively is immensely satisfying.
We also see Sheriff Truman (Robert Forster) patiently suffer his nagging wife Doris (Candy Clark), Hawk and Andy (Harry Goaz) leafing through Cooper’s case files to no avail, and we finally get a pay-off for all things Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn): he’s become the host of a crackpot webcast in which he rambles on about conspiracy theories and as “Dr. Amp” sells his “gold shit-digging shovels” for a whopping $29.99. His viewers include Jerry (David Patrick Kelly) and Nadine (Wendy Robie). Good for him.
Back on the main story, if it is indeed the main story, if there even is a main story, the owners of the Silver Mustang Casino (Belushi and Knepper) take an interest in Cooper/Dougie, the Pentagon’s Colonel Davis (Hudson) decides to fly in to Buckhorn to review new information regarding the fate of the late Major Briggs (the late Don S. Davis), Talbot (Jane Adams) retrieves Dougie Jones’ wedding ring from that one headless corpse and Coop’s doppelgänger makes a mysterious, power-jarring phone call to… Buenos Aires, Argentina, of all places. “The cow jumped over the moon,” he says. More on that.
There’s so much more going on, so many characters and so many scenes that cannot be immediately connected to the story and don’t amount to anything just yet (will they?). There’s Hailey Gates as one Drugged-out Mother who, two episodes in, has yet to say or do anything. There’re any number of characters making phone calls and pulling strings in the background to who knows what effect. There’re also a couple of unsavory people over at the Bang Bang Bar whose presence is underlined with much pomp and circumstance but do little but harass other patrons – such as Red (Balthazar Getty) and Richard Horne (Eamon Farren). You don’t even know their names unless you look them up in the credits. And this Horne is related to the other Hornes how?
Twin Peaks is so many things at once, yet the show has an eerie sense of cohesion to it. I don’t think it’s just fans giving Lynch the benefit of the doubt. Reading through the many plot threads and character subplots and keeping a balance of all the callbacks and all the foreshadowings might seem a little confusing and intimidating at first. But just as the original show melded two different TV formats – the soap opera and the police procedural – and created something new, so does this Twin Peaks with its absurdist comedy of errors and the lure of cosmic horror and kookie slice-of-life and CSI: Buckhorn routine.
Lynch and Frost have replicated the intriguing allure of their past show without really repeating themselves. It’s obvious they thought of the story first and decided to fragment it into a series of episodes afterwards rather than writing each as a three-act, self-sufficient entry, which makes each viewing a little frustrating by the end if you don’t have anything to chase it with. But what a joy it is when you do.
Benjamín Harguindey / Managing Editor, Writer (Mar del Plata, Argentina – 1989) Screenwriter graduated from Universidad del Cine, Buenos Aires. Benja’s worked for EscribiendoCine as a film critic since 2010, covering the Biarritz, San Sebastián and Venice festivals. He judged the CILECT Prize and won several writing & criticism contests. He’s published one novel, Noches de Tartaria (2006).