The boat sways the other way once again in Twin Peaks: The Return. Where the going-ons of Agent Cole and the gang dominated last week’s episode, “Part 13” avoids a single scene featuring Gordon, Albert, Agent Preston, and Diane. In the switch, Lynch progresses the plot in several small ways, but continues to maintain a sense of giddy bewilderment.
The episode opened with a blast of uneasy celebration: a choreographed dance to Bushnell’s office, performed by Dougie, the Mitchums, and their trio of costumed girls. A BMW! Monogrammed diamond cufflinks! Monte Cristos! That’s just the tip of what looks to be going down between Bushnell, Dougie, and the Mitchums. Meanwhile, Anthony phoned Patrick Fischler‘s Todd in a panic, only to be told that his hopes of Dougie being taken out by the Mitchums doesn’t cancel their contract. He had two days, but now he only has one to kill his absent-minded colleague.
The Anthony storyline was feeling a bit adrift in past episodes, which is admittedly silly sounding in a series that delights in taking unexpected turns and mapping out an ambitious sprawl of strange occurrences. One of the more satisfactory moves made in “Part 13” was to at once seemingly put to bed the grievances between Dougie and the Mitchums while also seeing Busmill wrangle Anthony’s sporadic plot against Dougie. Now, the narrative must turn to unmasking Todd and his handlers, as well as their unsavory colleagues and criminal associates.
Speaking of which, Bad Cooper’s return proved to be similarly satisfactory. As soon as you saw Bad Cooper squaring off against Ray and Rezo (Derek Mears), you knew what was going to happen. Okay, maybe you didn’t think arm-wrestling was going to prove to be such a crucial element to the story, but still. Actually, Lynch has kept this world so consistently unsteady, so impossible to get a firm grip on, that it was never guaranteed that he was going to let Bad Cooper tear off and reaffirm his presence at the tip-top of the criminal food chain in such a grandiose faction. It’s what made the scene such a delight to behold, even with the parlor scene indulgence when Ray and Cooper are left alone.
With the trip back to the black lodge and talk of Philip Jeffries, the Blue Rose agent originally played by David Bowie, the parlor scene tied into a larger feeling of revisiting the past that seemed more prominent than usual here. There was, of course, the breathtaking rendition of “Just You” by James Marshall at the end, but then there was the return of Everett McGill‘s Big Ed and that sublime coda at the gas station. The best bit, however, was the meeting between Peggy Lipton‘s Norma and her corporate contact and possible suitor Walter at the RR, which she has successfully franchised. The discussion of compromise of originality and quality in the name of bigger profit touches on and continues a streak of eclipsing shade that Lynch has been throwing throughout this series.
Rounding out the Twin Peaks business is Dr. Amp and Nadine’s swooning meeting outside of Run Silent, Run Drapes, where she proudly displays his golden shit-digging shovel. For all the familiarity the actors exude with these long-recurring characters, they also show an endearing tenderness in two people who seem to be finding someone who understands them in full for the first time. This way of reinventing stable characters’ interactions so regularly is one of the many reasons Lynch can pull off throwing all that aforementioned shade.
There was a continued sense of corrupted yet ecstatic joy in that magnificent scene back at Dougie’s home. Naomi Watts has been doing such adventurous melodramatic work in this series, and she seemed to really lock onto her character when she’s seen fully embracing the clearly compromising gifts that Dougie’s partnership with the Mitchums has paid off in. She gives a scene with a simpleton who can only repeat random words genuine intimacy, and Lynch reflects it with that stunning image of the lit-up playland in the backyard, soundtracked by a synth cover of “Dance of the Swans.” Not unlike Tchaikovsky’s composition, there’s unfettered glee but also a bit menace in Watts’ performance and the way Sonny Boy bounds around his new neon lair. In both Norma’s situation and Dougie’s, Lynch’s belief in the toxic influence and illusory relief that money brings on is evident.
Though Gordon and his Blue Rose crew didn’t show up at all, there was one small reference to their case. While Bad Cooper presses Ray for information, one major point of contention is the coordinates to the portal where Hastings had his meetings with the Major. I don’t want to say that this all could conclude with Bad Cooper attempting to tear between the dimensions and bring the flickering, head-crushing hobos to Earth, but to end all this enigmatic, spiritual, and existential ruminating with a plot that Michael Bay would find gauche is also extremely Lynchian.