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.
Would you believe me if I told you this week’s episode of Twin Peaks starts off by straightening out part of the series’ murky mythology?
Albert (Miguel Ferrer) explains to Tammy (Chrysta Bell) that in 1970 the US Air Force shut down “Project Blue Book” – their investigation into UFOs, previously referenced by Major Briggs – and that from its ashes rose “Blue Rose”, a top secret task force created by the military and the FBI dedicated to exploring Blue Book’s unsolved “troubling abstractions”. The task force was headed by Phillip Jeffries and included three other people: Albert, Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) and Chet Desmond (Chris Isaak, last seen in the movie Fire Walk With Me).
Tammy is subsequently sworn into Blue Rose, and Diane (Laura Dern) is deputized (“Let’s rock,” she says, quoting the Man From Another Place). We see she’s still colluding with Mr. C behind their backs, and that Albert is keeping tabs on her cryptic texts. He confides this to Gordon (David Lynch), who doesn’t seem very troubled about it and would rather be spending his time sweet-talking the French dame (Bérénice Marlohe) in his room. Meanwhile, Diane has memorized the code written on Ruth’s arm and learns they’re coordinates leading to where else but Twin Peaks.
We cut to Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie), shopping at a grocery store and freaking out at the register. Later Hawk (Michael Horse) drops by her house as a courtesy call, but Sarah is reluctant to talk about the scene and even appears to be concealing something in her home. The way the house is framed, I can’t help but think of the Bates manor from Psycho (1960), with the officer ascending the stairs from the bottom right and sensing something foul within. Only the mother is alive, and her child is dead.
The next important scene has Sheriff Truman (Robert Forster) drop on Ben Horne (Richard Beymer) to deliver the bad news – that his grandson Richard has killed a kid and attempted to murder the witness – as well as to receive Cooper’s old hotel room keys, which Ben seems to think would make a great memento for the ailing Harry. They probably will, because functionally there’s nothing to really glean out of those keys, other than further alerting Frank about the renewed importance of Agent Cooper.
Speaking of which, we only catch a single glimpse of “Dougie” in this episode as his son tries to play catch with him, even though he has the receptiveness of a lamppost. Meanwhile, Hutch and Chantal (Tim Roth and Jennifer Jason Leigh) make good on their word and murder the Yankton prison warden at the front of his home with a sniper rifle.
We catch some more snippets about life in Twin Peaks. Carl Rodd (Harry Dean Stanton) loans some money to one of his clients at the trailer park. Jerry Horne (David Patrick Kelly) finally makes it out of the woods while doing his best Michael Palin impression. And “Dr. Amp” (Russ Tamblyn) continues doing his webcast, selling his gold-sprayed shovels and ranting about politicians, much to the admiration of Nadine (Wendy Robie).
And now what we’ve all been waiting for: the reintroduction of Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn)… in all of its stupefying disappointment.
It’s a single scene. She doesn’t get an entrance or even a close-up. She’s there before you know it, standing in front of the minute Charlie (Clark Middleton) and outraged at the disappearence of “Billy”. Who’s Billy? A friend of “Paul”. Who’s Paul? Charlie tries to calm down his wife. Wait, they’re married? Audrey insists “Tina” was the last person to see Billy. Who’s Tina? Charlie calls her. We only get his half of the conversation, which is made up of sentences broken by awe or indecision. He finally hangs up. Does he tell Audrey what he learned? Get out of here.
Everything in this 10-minute scene appears to be designed to annoy the viewer with its deliberate vagueness. The reappearence of one of Twin Peaks‘ most beloved characters is fraught without context and centered on someone else altogether, and all the while unseen characters are name-dropped for extra obfuscation. The whole conversation feels like one half of a mind-numbingly tedious phone call, and adding insult to injury that’s exactly what we get once Charlie manages to dial Tina’s number while Audrey herself apes the audience’s impatience. You haven’t seen this level of self-awareness since Invitation to Love.
And then we’re back at the Roadhouse, where the Chromatics are playing another gig. Does the ending scene even matter? Two women are talking about some friends and then a third person (hello, Lynch regular Scott Coffey) arrives in a state and tells them somebody almost run him over. Maybe it was Richard. I dunno. What’s the point of these overly drawn-out codas, which invariably feature young anonymous people engaging in tepid after hours chit-chat?
Episode twelve was the first time I didn’t feel like sitting through the credits, such was my overall disappointment. I hated the way the show handled Audrey’s return, and I hated that it would mock me for it. Now I’m aware Twin Peaks has always toyed with its audience, throwing in cliffhangers and red herrings and all sorts of soap opera ruses designed to make you hold your breath and keep expecting. Why are these new developments so infuriating in their frivolity? Maybe it’s that with every passing episode there’s only so much Twin Peaks left, and that the “waste” that are its weaker parts hew deeper in the sensibilities of its fans.
Or maybe it’s that the cheeky trolling has become so self-aware.
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).