In addition to the two-hour premiere, Showtime has also made the following two episodes of ‘Twin Peaks’ available early via On-Demand. Assuming you weren’t turned off by the premiere enough to give up, these two are a decided improvement, especially Episode 4.
Of course, an argument can be made that taking nearly four hours to warm up is a major failure of conception for the revival series. It needed to start on a much stronger note than it did. However, fans who stick with it should start to feel a little more confidence that this may be a worthwhile endeavor after all. At least, I have.
I complained in my last recap that the premiere focused too much on the weirdness without bothering to draw viewers in with a compelling story first. I’ve taken some heat from other, more forgiving fans of the show for that opinion, but I stand by it. Nevertheless, the third episode dives headfirst into full-blown David Lynch insanity at the director’s most whacked-out…. and I’m OK with it this time. The weirdness has a somewhat clear plot to follow, which makes it more interesting in my book.
We resume with Agent Cooper falling through space. He lands on the balcony of a featureless cement building overlooking an endless ocean. Climbing through a window, he finds a girl with no eyes sitting on a couch. The entire scene is filmed in a bizarre form of live-action stop-motion, with numerous repeated and skipped frames, and herky-jerky back and forth action. It resembles Lynch’s most experimental short films, told in a form of film grammar entirely his own. No other artist could have ever made this.
Cooper tries but is unable to communicate with the girl. A frightening banging noise sends them climbing up a ladder, where Cooper finds himself standing on what looks like a buoy floating in space (no ocean in sight anymore). The girl pulls a lever and receives an electrical jolt that sends her plummeting off into the void, but the banging has stopped. A ghostly face (which I believe may be Garland Briggs) appears in the darkness and says, “Blue rose.”
Cooper climbs back down the ladder into a similar but different room than the one he left. Another girl is on the couch, this one with a normal face. It’s Ronette Pulaski (Phoebe Augustine), the other victim attacked by BOB on the night Laura Palmer died. The banging starts again and Ronette says, in backwards-speak, that her mother is coming.
Cooper approaches an electrical panel on the wall and is drawn to look at it very closely. Ronette tells him, “When you get there, you’ll already be there.” Cooper is then sucked in through a small port in the panel, his shoes dropping to the floor behind him.
In the real world, Mr. C (the evil Cooper doppelganger) is driving down a desert road when he’s overcome with nausea that causes him to swerve the car and crash. He tries to hold it in with his hands, but is overwhelmed with a need to vomit.
We’re then introduced to another Cooper doppelganger, never seen before. His name is Dougie Jones and he’s a schlubby middle-aged realtor in Las Vegas. While having an afternoon tryst with a hooker, he doubles over, pukes on the floor, and vanishes. He then appears inside the Black Lodge, where the One-Armed Man tells him that he was manufactured for a purpose that has now been fulfilled. Dougie’s body deflates like an old balloon and his head pops in a puff of black smoke. In a few seconds, all that’s left of him is a tiny metal ball.
In the house Dougie disappeared from, a string of black smoke comes out of an electrical outlet and forms into the body of Agent Cooper. The hooker, Jade, finds him on the floor and is confused at how Dougie could have gotten a haircut and new suit so quickly. Something is clearly wrong with Cooper/Dougie. He acts robotically, practically catatonic. He hardly speaks and will only respond to the most basic of instructions. Jade thinks he may have had a stroke, but doesn’t want to deal with it. She loads him into her car and drops him off at a casino with a $5 bill, telling him to go inside and ask someone for help.
Meanwhile, two hitmen enter the empty house looking for Dougie. Out on the desert road, a couple of Highway Patrol cops find Mr. C’s crashed car and are repulsed by a sickening smell coming from inside it.
Finally, the action returns to Twin Peaks. Based on the hint the Log Lady gave him, Hawk asks Lucy and Andy to dig up the old boxes of case files and evidence pertaining to Agent Cooper. Something is missing, but they don’t know what. The scene turns comical when Lucy frets about having eaten one of the chocolates from the original show’s pilot episode. (“Diane, I’m holding in my hand a small box of chocolate bunnies.”)
On the outskirts of town, Dr. Jacoby spray-paints a collection of shovels gold in interminable real time.
That’s it for Twin Peaks. Then we’re back to the casino, where Cooper unwittingly cashes his $5 bill for quarters and wins a big payout at slots. In fact, guided by a vision of a tiny red curtain and zigzag floor, every machine he goes to wins big. Other patrons at the casino quickly give him the nickname “Mr. Jackpots.”
Cut to Philadelphia. FBI Bureau Chief Gordon Cole (David Lynch himself) and Agent Albert Rosenfeld (Miguel Ferrer, who was dying of cancer as he filmed these scenes) receive word that long-missing agent Dale Cooper has finally turned up and is being held in a South Dakota prison.
The oblivious Mr. Jackpots collects a major payday of thousands of dollars without any concept of what money is. A friend of Dougie’s named Bill Shaker (Ethan Suplee) runs into him and directs him home. The casino manager supplies him with a limo to get there.
Upon arriving at the address, Dougie’s furious wife, Jane (Naomi Watts), screams at him for being missing for three days. He has no reaction to her. She calms down when she looks in the bag he’s holding and sees piles of cash in it. Money makes everything better.
In Philadelphia, Gordon meets with FBI Chief of Staff Denise Bryson (David Duchovny) and receives permission to travel to South Dakota to look into the report about Cooper.
Back in Twin Peaks, Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster), the brother of Sheriff Harry S. Truman, returns from a fishing trip and inadvertently terrifies Lucy, who cannot grasp the concept of how cell phones work. Former bad boy Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook) apparently turned his life around and is now a deputy. Entering the conference room where Hawk has laid out the old evidence, Bobby is overcome with emotion upon seeing a photo of Laura.
The episode stops dead for an extended scene where Lucy and Andy are paid a visit by their weirdo son, Wally Brando (Michael Cera, hilariously attired in Marlon Brando’s biker duds from ‘The Wild One’ and spouting a bunch of nonsense Beatnik philosophy). The scene is funny, but drags on far too long.
A good chunk of the rest of the episode is staged as a quirky domestic comedy as Dougie’s wife and son pretend that everything is normal and they don’t notice anything wrong with him. Mr. Jackpots is very excited when he discovers coffee.
Gordon, Albert, and new agent Tammy Preston (singer and model Chrysta Ball) fly to South Dakota and interview what they believe is Dale Cooper in prison. Mr. C tries to act friendly to Gordon, but something is decidedly off about his robotic behavior. He claims that he has been working undercover with Phillip Jeffries this whole time, and insists that Gordon debrief him. Gordon of course finds this suspicious and stalls by saying he’ll see what he can do. Afterwards, Albert confesses to Gordon that he put Jeffries in touch with Cooper back in the day. They both agree that this has some connection to Blue Rose. Gordon says that he’ll need the assistance of someone specific (unidentified, but female) to take a look at Cooper.
My recap here has skimmed over some details. A long scene with a female junkie doesn’t seem to be connected to anything else, but may come back around later. 1980s miniseries king Richard Chamberlain cameos as Denise Bryson’s aide. Some of Lynch’s other weirdness is difficult to describe, because… well, it’s indescribable. You need to see the rest to understand it. Or not understand, as the case may be.
Episode 4 is the first to spend any significant time in Twin Peaks itself, and it’s the first episode that decidedly feels like ‘Twin Peaks’, even in scenes outside the town – not just due to the humor, but because it’s the first episode to have any humanity, which was always the most important core component of the series.
Robert Forster is a great addition to the cast. His deadpan delivery is flawless. (Lynch had wanted to cast Forster as Harry Truman in the original series, but he wasn’t available at the time. When actor Michael Ontkean declined to return for this revival, it seemed the perfect excuse to bring Forster in.)
Episode 3 is far more experimental and WTF-inducing, but the presence of Cooper grounds it and I can appreciate the journey Lynch takes us on in that episode.
Still a serious detriment, however, are the cheesy visual effects, which are distracting no matter how many excuses you make for them being deliberate.
Perhaps the most important takeaway from this new series is what a tremendous showcase it is for Kyle MacLachlan, who carves out at least five distinct character personalities: the stoic Dale Cooper, the vile Mr. C, the hapless Dougie, the impaired Mr. Jackpots, and whatever it is speaking as Mr. C in prison. MacLachlan is phenomenal here. This is his defining role, and he’s pulling out all the stops for his performance(s).