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Twin Peaks Returned to Earth This Week (Mostly)

A relatively "normal" episode was still strange as hell

Price Peterson

Now that the shock of the new has worn off (and this Twin Peaks is definitely a new thing), American families can now safely gather around the fireplace and discuss avant garde art again. (Could THIS have been what all those red hats were referring to?) Between spending so much of its runtime in parallel realms of existence or simply being edited into near-unwatchability, last week's installments of Twin Peaks: The Return not only lowered but destroyed our expectations for what the next 14 hours will entail. But in this week's "Part 5," guess what sick twist David Lynch saw fit to spring upon us? Normalcy! Well, not TOTAL normalcy, but almost the entire episode took place in the real world, so that was a start. Also, and you may not believe this -- murders were investigated. And there were even multiple scenes that took place in Twin Peaks itself! Let's talk about this episode!


We began in Las Vegas, where a team of murderous bozos had failed to murder a bozo!


The local hitmen who'd been tasked with murdering Doug-E (Kyle MacLachlan) had come up empty in that department, so they broke the news to their boss lady, who in turn broke the news to her boss, a mysterious black box.


In a truly Lynchian twist, this mysterious black box could only be communicated with via BlackBerry™. Ugh, what kind of hell dimension was this? But considering how terrified this woman seemed regarding her failure, this box probably means BUSINESS.


Meanwhile the South Dakotan medical examiner played by Jane Adams was busy rehearsing her standup routine and also fingering this beheaded corpse she'd found in the apartment of a be-bodied woman. Was it the body of Major Briggs (the late Don S. Davis)? And why was Doug-E's wedding ring lodged deep inside its bodily cavities? Something tells me these two plotlines are related!


In case any of us had forgotten that Evil Doppelganger is a BIG fan of BOB's, at one point he just straight-up morphed into him for a second. What a beautiful tribute to the late Frank Silva, to use '90s-era morphing technology in his memory! So is Evil Doppelganger legit possessed by BOB or what? (I realize asking questions about what I'm seeing here is a mental exercise at best, but I can't help it I'm sorry.)


Returning character alert! Hey remember Mike (Gary Hershberger)? The jerk blond-bully football player who hung out with Bobby and later dated Nadine (Wendy Robie)? That Mike. (Not to be confused with MIKE.) Well he's in some kind of adulthood hell now, working in an office and sternly lecturing ne'er-do-well youngsters about their work ethic. Truly an accurate turn of events for Mike.


Also, Sheriff Truman's brother Sheriff Truman's wife Doris showed up to shout at Sheriff Truman's brother Sheriff Truman (Robert Forster) about EVERYTHING. Lady was annoyed and steamed and no amount of ranting could calm her nerves. For example, one of her pipes was leaking and she was NOT about to buy a large bucket that she may never have any future use for! As you could see, the drama in Twin Peaks was truly heating up.


Meanwhile it was time for Not-Doug-E to go to work. Naomi Watts was quite frankly tired of having him around the house, plus she needed him to go ahead and pay off the hitmen who'd been attempting to murder him recently. But Cooper wasn't completely catatonic in this scene, especially when he laid eyes on his boy Sonny Jim and shed a single tear. It's never easy spending 25 years in limbo only to assume the life of a philandering Las Vegas scumbag. You know? You'd get emotional too.


Fortunately we were treated to more fish-out-of-Black Lodge shenanigans when Cooper finally made it to the office complex where he works and snatched a coffee off a beleaguered assistant (Josh Fadem). He also made an immediate impression when he suddenly called out a coworker for lying, and his boss punished him by forcing him to go investigate some insurance crimes. But silver lining? Cooper was starting to remember his roots as an FBI agent! Baby steps.


We then followed up at that casino where Cooper had been compelled to win nearly a half million dollars in jackpots. Apparently the heavy there was none other than Jim Belushi, and he had several strong words and also punches and kicks for the floor manager (Brett Gelman). But the best Lynchian touch was that as the floor manager was getting Belushi'd nearly to death, these three ladies just sort of observed calmly:


So good. But yeah, it would appear the casino was no longer feeling so generous toward Doug-E, and he was probably still in danger. Speaking of which...


This boy from across the street went to investigate Doug-E's car, only to get brushed away by a couple of thugs looking to break into it. Well, the joke was on them when it 'SPLODED. So yeah, this poor kid watched several men get burned alive, and the explosion was loud enough to nearly awaken his junkie mom. Just another day in Vegas.


Oh, Jade was back! While getting her yellow Wrangler detailed, a car washer noticed the Great Northern hotel key that Cooper had dropped, and being the most normal and likable character in the vicinity, Jade did the right thing and dropped it in a mailbox. It was now only a matter of time before someone in Twin Peaks was alerted to the fact that Cooper was back in our realm again.


Speaking of Twin Peaks the town, do you want to hear something almost unbearably depressing? Shelly and Norma are STILL waitresses at the diner. Like, nostalgia-wise, sure, it's nice to see them in the setting we'd first met them (and wearing those same uniforms!). But man, what a dark update. At this point, Amanda Seyfried came in and bummed some cash off Shelly, but I wasn't smart enough to ascertain whether Amanda Seyfried was Shelly's daughter or not. The only thing I knew for sure was she loved getting high!


Also she was dating the low-life dude (Caleb Landry Jones) who'd gotten told off by Mike. So yeah, we were really delving into the new characters in Twin Peaks, and it felt right that they were so troubled. This town has always had a rough element, coziness be damned.


We also finally figured out what Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) had been up to with those golden shovels. First off, he had a local video podcast where he was basically pulling an Alex Jones conspiracy theorist routine. And it was viewed by the other nearby crackpots, including Jerry Horne and, of course, this lady:


NADINE! Nadine was back! How lovely to see her again. It's unclear if she'll suffer another concussion and come to believe she's a super-strong high school student again, but just seeing her made me happy. Anyway, in addition to his nightly rants about whatever, Dr. Jacoby was also selling golden shovels from his home, infomercial style. Why? Because everyone's got a hustle.


Then one of the Ghostbusters showed up dressed as a general and it became clear that the military was more invested in the South Dakota situation than we'd thought. Stay tuned, in my opinion.


In a weirdly unpleasant moment in the otherwise chill roadhouse, this monster not only smoked beneath a NO SMOKING sign, he also slipped a wad of cash to a bad dude and then assaulted a teenage girl (Grace Victoria Cox) while her friends (including Jane Levy) watched powerlessly.


Again, in a show that indulges in whimsy and coziness so frequently, it's always jarring when actual, unfun violence pops up. Truly hoping this dude gets what's coming to him!


Meanwhile, back in federal prison, Evil Doppelganger was allowed a phone call. And do you know who he called? Unclear. He simply mashed the buttons on the phone real quick and it caused the entire building to LOSE ITS SH*T. That's right, he somehow hacked the power grid using nothing more than a touch-tone phone. That's some next-level Hackers stuff. What was this guy UP to?


Also, that weird box from the beginning of the episode? Not only was it located in ARGENTINA, it also suddenly imploded into a tiny wad of gum (I think?). That was a twist I didn't see coming, but then again, I've never owned a BlackBerry™. Is that a standard feature?


And rather than end with the usual band performance, "Part 5" ended with a very long shot of Cooper gently caressing the penny loafer of a bronze statue. But who among us hasn't done that from time to time?

"Part 5", as strange and esoteric as it was, was perhaps the most "conventional" installment of this revival yet. Which was not to say it was uninspired -- it was borderline spellbinding. But for those craving slightly more structure and even storytelling, it perhaps came as a relief. The question remains whether it's important for any of us to follow these murder investigations with any kind of seriousness or not, but my feeling is that they will probably never feel too important and instead just exist for tonal reasons. Again, Twin Peaks was misremembered as a cozy murder mystery when it was only ever a nightmare sprinkled with absurdist whimsy. Though this incarnation is almost entirely different from those previous seasons, it's borderline comforting that the unsettling contrasts remain the same. What a blessing.

Twin Peaks airs Sundays at 9/8c on Showtime.

(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS, Showtime's parent company.)