Twin Peaks: The Return (2017) – Part 5, dir. David Lynch

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Cooper’s doppelgänger (Kyle MacLachlan) sits in prison, contemplating. Lynch plays with the mirror, returning us to BOB’s manifestation 25 years ago in flashback. “You’re still with me.” Cooper’s body is not whole. The doppelgänger is dragged into the interview room, monitored, allowed a call; instead, he fucks up the facility, displaying laden, supernatural powers. Tammy (Chrysta Bell) can see the trace, analysing an image of Cooper and his fingerprints and on her Mac.

Dougie remains trapped, signals of Cooper’s identity as FBI agent refracted through a mirror image, his garish bright green suit inverting Cooper’s black suit. Rather than solve cases for the FBI, Dougie works on cases for Lucky 7 Insurance, in a modern, glass complex, handed a wad of paper files by boss Mullins (Don Murray) to read overnight. Lynch plays up the fish-out-of-water comedy that was so genius in the Silver Mustang in Part 3. In the elevator, Dougie stares down at a pile of stacked lattes, grabbing a coworker’s, almost making love to his coffee as though he never had “damn good joe” before. In the courtyard, Dougie stares at a statue of a western figure, pointing his gun outwards. He gestures out his hand, loitering around into the night, as though he senses his earlier, gun-brandishing form.

We sense Dougie’s discomfort in the elevator, unable to move. His body is base level, unable to pee out his coffee besides standing there, holding onto his groin, vulnerable to the sexual manipulation of a co-worker. In the meeting room, a table spread out with donuts a la the Sherriff’s Office, Dougie struggles to conform to workplace protocols, calling a co-worker a liar, leading him in trouble.

Lynch knows how to play restrained comedy: Mike Nelson (Gary Hershberger), no longer the jock in high school, wears a suit, incredulous at the resume Steven (Caleb Landry Jones) failed to fill out, evoking the awkward comedy of the car dealership scenes in the Coen brothers’ Fargo (1996). Landry Jones, having impressed as Banshee in X-Men: First Class (2011) and the boyfriend in Byzantium (2013) is a welcome presence, a major crush but also a creep with his bizarrely awful moustache. Frank’s wife Doris (Candy Clark), better known for roles in films like American Graffiti (1973), adds little to the narrative, ranting to Frank (Robert Forster) about black mold on pipes, yet paces the narrative out with comedic tension, building character in the process. Season 2 lived and breathed in its comedic moments, from Andy and Lucy’s parentage conflicts to Nadine’s identity crisis as high schooler in the body of an adult.

Lynch moves past limitations, opening with beautiful, silent shots over Vegas; Lynch leaves the US, re-establishing Buenos Aires for the first time since Jeffries’ disappearance in Fire Walk with Me (1992) in an aerial, drone-esque shot. Lynch’s minimalism is clear with the clues he gives, staring down at a light bulb and a flashing, beeping device in locked-off shots, little indication to their significance. Lynch builds mystery further: casino staff watch over monochrome CCTV footage of Dougie’s lucky streak, furious; in the Pentagon, official investigation deepens as Major Briggs’ legacy hangs over. On Sycamore Street, we return to the child and drug-addicted mother of the previous episode, a car engulfed in flame. In the Sherriff’s Department, Andy (Harry Goaz) and Hawk (Michael Horse) read over folders, unable to find any Indians. We’re confronted with smaller clues: the coroner’s office look over a decapitated body, bathed in blood in a grisly shot; Jade (Nafessa Williams) gets her car washed, finding Dougie’s key to the Great Northern, mailing it back home.

Lynch also finally reminds us of the small-town Twin Peaks this series has largely avoided, re-establishing the Double R Diner, a respite from wider events, stopping by a cup of a coffee and a slice of cherry pie. Beyond the artificial sets of the series, the Double R feels part of a wider world just as it did in the pilot and Fire Walk with Me, glimpsing the passing traffic outside the windows. Norma (Peggy Lipton) and Shelly (Mädchen Amick) remain in their same jobs, unchanged by the decades; part of their home, never devastated by financial insecurity and the rise of Starbucks and fast food culture. The Double R is a community with warmth: the chef Toad, played by the late Marvin Rosand, invites us in, always smiling.

Lynch re-establishes Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) as modern day conspiracy theorist, broadcasting paranoia over the internet about being poisoned by muffins and the air we breathe in a “global corporate conspiracy”. Jacoby plays as a Wes Anderson anachronistic eccentric with the contrasting lenses of his glasses, captain’s hat, 1940s microphone and “lamp of freedom”. Jacoby’s views aren’t even fringe, within a culture where Infowars’ Alex Jones is afforded credibility as a rising media empire, selling toothpaste, supplements and t-shirts. Steve Bannon is a conservative, fact-bending documentarian turned Trump aide. That Jacoby sells shovels coated in gold paint online for $29.99, metaphor as he digs through shit, never feels false, but entirely realistic, an apt place to end up, only a few steps away from Ben Horne’s embracement of the confederate flag as Civil War general, battlefield spread over an entire room. Jacoby becomes a performance: Nadine (Wendy Robie) watches, still with her iconic eyepatch; Ben’s brother Jerry (David Patrick Kelly) lights a joint, watching on his iPad, the only way to enjoy the insanity.

Lynch pays close attention to music, from the jazz of Johnny Jewel’s The Flame in the opening montage, to its extension of identity, cutting sharply to Lorraine (Tammie Baird) on her cellphone to the diegetic distorted whirrs of Blunted Beatz’s I Am, tied to physical space; Uniform’s edgy, growling rock blares down the stereo of the retro black car moving through Sycamore Street. As Steven and Becky (Amanda Seyfried), Shelly’s daughter, end up on the run in noir-ish fashion, Lynch refuses the instinct to add dramatic weight or thrill through music; Lynch holds back, waiting until they turn the stereo on in the middle of a drug-induced high, snorting coke on their wrists in clear view of the Double R. Lynch keeps the camera locked overhead on Becky, smiling as her face shifts and the red seats engulf behind her, slow, love-infused lyrics passing by. Lynch refuses to manipulate time, allowing us to experience these moments.

In the Bang Bang Bar, Trouble perform Snake Eyes in their 50s-esque leather jackets and electric guitars, a new generation of youth watching. Richard Horne (Eamon Farren) stands as an anachronism, dragging a pack of Morleys in contravention of the no smoking sign as a James Dean-esque rebel. Richard’s cigarette is evocative of a moment with Justin Theroux on the set of Mulholland Drive (2001), with Lynch as a rebel of the pilot’s production:

[In] a scene shot after the network voiced its concern, Lynch told Justin Theroux, “Take a really fucking big drag–fucking love that cigarette.

Morleys are a staple of television production, in substitute of real brands through series like The X-Files (1993-present). Richard’s cigarettes represent a masculine aggression: the cigarette conveys sexuality, but he transforms, becoming an aggressive rapist as he forces a woman over, strangling her to the intensity of the music and the strobe.

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