Before she passed away from natural causes (a street fight), the great Dr. Maya Angelou once said, "When people show you who they are, believe them." A truer statement has never been spoken, and that's probably why she said it all the time, to anybody, including into every Taco Bell speaker box she ever encountered. But that doesn't mean we can't also apply this phrase to Twin Peaks!
Last week's two-part premiere of David Lynch's longest art film to date unsurprisingly baffled many and enraged more than a few. What WAS this thing? Because it surely wasn't a continuation of the cozy murder mystery many had mistakenly believed the first two seasons to be. For those unlucky enough to abhor confusion, this week, in "Part 3" and "Part 4", Twin Peaks outright told us what it was. It's the piping hot cup of coffee the reincarnated Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) THOUGHT he'd been craving for the past quarter century, only to spit it out after it scalded his tongue. Twin Peaks was also the chocolate bunny Lucy Brennan (Kimmy Robertson) ate out of the evidence locker that later spurred a debate about whether it was ever important in the first place. Twin Peaks was also the Garmonbozia that two characters vomited up. What was that stuff? Whatever it was, it smelled weird and sent at least one state trooper to the hospital. Where am I going with this? Oh, right. Twin Peaks outright told us that the Twin Peaks we're now getting is not the Twin Peaks we were expecting, and if that's a problem we need to change our hearts or die.
Friends, this show is tremendous. For a 27-year-old series, the thrill of discovery here is just so palpable and delightful and I can't remember the last time I was this excited about a TV series. Let's talk about "Part 3" and "Part 4," which were somehow even more difficult and bizarre (and charming) than last week's premiere!
We began, obviously, with Agent Dale Cooper flying through time and space only to land in a purple alcove overlooking a dark violet sea.
So far, so relatable.
But then Cooper entered a window where he encountered an eye-less Japanese woman who spoke in clicks and seemed distressed by the random banging on a nearby door. Because this is Twin Peaks, this entire sequence was nearly dialogue-free and filmed in stilted, sped up, and occasionally backwards footage, as though David Lynch's copy of FinalCut Pro had a glitch and he just went with it. I was already dizzy and smiling.
As eye-less Japanese women are wont to do, she led him up a ladder onto a floating cube where she threw a switch, electrocuted herself and then flew off into space. It looked like that would be pretty fun if it weren't so rudely existential. This guy knows what I'm talking about:
It was Major Briggs (the late Don S. Davis), he of "classified" military knowledge and also perhaps the greatest scene in Twin Peaks history. His disembodied head floated by and tipped off Cooper that he should heed the "blue rose." I know that sounds like gibberish, but a quick Google search informed me that in Fire Walk With Me, the FBI use "blue rose" as a term to denote possible supernatural incident. This will come into play later, trust me.
At this point Cooper re-entered the cube and found himself in a new room, this one inhabited by someone the credits listed as "American Girl" but was played by the same actress (Phoebe Augustine) who played Ronette Pulaski in the original series! She has a new haircut now and seems a little less beaten up, so fingers crossed this character has seen happier times than Ronette ever did. Anyway, at this point Cooper stuffed himself into a wall outlet.
I laughed out loud when his shoes came off during the journey. Not enough shows address the shoe-falling-off issue that must plague so many action scenes. But yeah, it was looking like Cooper had finally figured out how to re-enter the real world!
But things are never as simple as stuffing ourselves into wall sockets and reincarnating. In this case, we met a THIRD version of Kyle MacLachlan, a tubby man in an ill-fitting suit named Doug-E Jones. He was just finishing up a hot sesh with a gorgeous sex worker when he fell to his knees and vomited up a hefty spoonful of Garmonbozia (which is pain and sadness rendered in creamed-corn form, just FYI). From here Doug-E Jones was whisked away to a very familiar location where his head turned into a golden pearl.
As the one-armed man informed him, Doug-E was only created as a trick... And I think we are meant to believe this was the "plan" that Evil Doppelganger had concocted to keep himself out of the Black Lodge. He set up an extra body that Dale Cooper would re-enter instead of his own! Clever girl.
Anyway, Dale Cooper slithered out of an electrical socket, which the sex worker Jade found very confusing. But, charmingly enough, she still took care of him and helped him get back to town in her yellow Jeep Wrangler.
Jade is honestly wonderful. I am probably not the person to write a thinkpiece about how this was probably the first black character in Twin Peaks and she was a naked sex worker, but I would like to point out that I instantly loved her. We should all be so lucky to have a Jade in our lives. And at this point Dale Cooper needed her, as his re-entry into human form had left him, uh, developmentally disabled and he was not transitioning to the realm of the living very well. Or maybe it's just that Las Vegas really sucks.
Speaking of which... Even though Evil Doppelganger had eluded the Black Lodge's pull, he still vomited Garmonbozia through his fingers and crashed his Lincoln Town Car off the side of a highway! Again, almost too relatable.
I truly do not know or understand (and maybe don't want to) what this scene was about. Observing Jade and Reborn Dale from across the street was this woman who seemed VERY into pills and booze and deflated balloons. But, you know, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, am I right?
Back in Twin Peaks proper, we were then treated to what I am guessing was David Lynch and Mark Frost's way of brutally lampooning Old School Twin Peaks. Because holy jeez was everyone, uh, not very smart anymore.
Obviously Lucy and Andy have never been brainiacs, but now it's like they're developmentally disabled? Like they should be wearing all-day helmets maybe? Between Lucy becoming incoherent with guilt over having eaten a chocolate easter bunny out of the evidence closet, and also later pulling a Rain Man at the sight of an iPhone, I'm worried about her. That being said, this scene was absurdist perfection, as Hawk attempted to navigate whether the missing bunny was important to his case or not. (He decided it wasn't.)
And then another brief interlude with Dr. Jacoby. Last week we saw him accept shipment of 5 shovels, and this week we saw him spray-paint them gold. But why? Are they going to be trophies? And does his elaborate painting contraption suggest he does this a lot? What you up to, doc?
We then dropped in at the main office of the FBI where they were finally starting to look into the dead bodies that we saw eviscerated last week. And guess who the lead agents were?
Albert (the late Miguel Ferrer) and Gordon (David Lynch)! I loved getting to see inside Gordon's office, which has a picture of a nuclear explosion as well as a portrait of Franz Kafka. Seems about right. Anyway, their discussion of the beheaded teens was soon interrupted by the news that Dale Cooper had been found! And while WE maybe suspected he'd been found wandering a Las Vegas casino, the truth was, he was in South Dakota. Which meant, of course, that it was the Evil Doppelganger who'd been arrested. Buckle up, everybody.
In "Part 4" we were treated to this delightful sequence in which a dazed Dale Cooper trudged around a casino floor heeding supernatural glowing signs that indicated which slot machines were due to jackpot.
And he won 30 different jackpots! (I enjoyed this cameo from The Walking Dead's Josh McDermitt here.) It was almost like a supernatural force was trying to help Dale Cooper out somehow...
I also loved when Ethan Suplee and Sara Paxton showed up as concerned friends of "Doug-E's". Again, what Twin Peaks doesn't get enough credit for is the essential kindness so many characters show toward each other. Here we were in a den of iniquity and these two casual acquaintances truly were concerned about Doug-E's well-being. So cute.
Also wasn't it cute how honest the casino was? Like when it pushed all of Cooper's winnings onto him even though they REALLY didn't wanna? Sure, the manager (Brett Gelman) seemed borderline ticked at having to see so much money walk out the door, but that's still a stand-up move on his part!
Doug-E's wife, Janey-E (Naomi Watts) was mad at him for disappearing for three days and probably also for hanging out with sex workers and whatnot, but her anger was assuaged when he returned home with a couple hundred thousand dollars in a burlap sack. As we learned, there had been loan sharks attempting to kill Doug-E, so this was going to solve their problems in that regard. Again, it was like the Black Lodge was trying to do Dale Cooper a solid in his quest! Such a cool place. Sign me up.
This little throwaway scene was still one of the best of the night. Agent Cole paid a visit to Denise (David Duchovny) who now essentially RUNS the FBI.
And it contained the most charming exchange between the two of them, starting with Gordon recalling that the pre-transitioned Denise (Dennis) was "a confused and wild thing sometimes" but also the finest agent he knew. And this led to Gordon's instantly iconic line regarding Denise's eventual transition and acceptance by the FBI: "I told all your colleagues, those clown comics, to fix their hearts or die." Again, I am not here to comment on the finer intricacies of modern trans representation. But I am here to say I laughed out loud with a soaring heart when David Lynch uttered those words. "Fix their hearts or die"!! God, I love David Lynch.
Probably the biggest returning face of the night was that of Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook), who is now a Twin Peaks Sheriff's Deputy! The most touching moment came when he laid eyes on an old picture of Laura Palmer in Hawk's evidence pile and he burst out crying. Again, do you remember in the pilot how SAD everyone was about Laura's death? It's one of the main things everyone loves about this show... Weirdness aside, these are really vulnerable, relatable human beings. I love this place.
And then the night's most alternately hilarious and baffling moment came from this very long scene of Lucy and Andy's son, Wally Brando (Michael Cera), paying Sheriff Truman's brother, Sheriff Truman (Robert Forster), a visit. Wally gave this long-winded, stilted speech about his travels across the country, and his best friend being a shadow, etc. I truly didn't know what to make of this moment, but I loved every second of it.
We definitely got many scenes of Dale Cooper attempting to be human again, including his efforts to put on clothes, eat pancakes, and go to the bathroom. But the main thing we can take away from this is how hilarious Kyle MacLachlan is. I mean, we all knew he was funny from Portlandia and Showgirls, but this was next level comedy and that's a fact.
For contrast we then saw Evil Doppelganger meet Albert and Gordon face to face, as he (poorly) impersonated Dale Cooper. I had to rewind the moment to see if I'd misheard it or not, but did you catch when he said, "I'm yrev, very happy to see you" to Gordon? And then later, Gordon confided in Alfred that the greeting didn't seem right.
SO GOOD. There they agreed they had a "blue rose" situation and, in fact, the situation "couldn't be bluer." These guys were ONTO Evil Doppelganger, and they decided they should let "her" meet him to verify. But who was she? Audrey? Annie? Sarah Palmer? All we know is, they knew where to find her...
And from there we checked back in at the roadhouse where Au Revoir Simone were doing their thing. (The Cactus Blossoms performed at the end of "Part 3"). So yeah, it appears that, as sprawling as this story gets, it's all going to come back to Twin Peaks. Eventually? At this point it's probably not safe to assume anything, but it's undeniable that Twin Peaks isn't ALL random esoterica. David Lynch knows what he's doing, and even if he knows he's doing something unexplainable, it still feels like we're in very safe hands.
Twin Peaks airs Sundays at 9/8c on Showtime.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS, Showtime's parent company.)