Twin Peaks part 12 review

(Each week, we’re going to kick off discussion about Twin Peaks: The Return by answering one question: what was the best scene of the episode?)

Twin Peaks fans finally have the answer to a question they’ve been wondering about for 25 years: what happened to Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn)?

The Best Scene in Part 12

David Lynch and Mark Frost must have known how much fans wanted to see Audrey again, but they held her reveal until midway through the twelfth part of The Return and re-introduced her with absolutely zero build-up. One second we’re enduring another one of Dr. Jacoby’s grating internet rants, and suddenly, out of nowhere, there’s a hard cut to Audrey.

I thought her extended scene opposite a new character named Charlie (Clark Middleton), was the best part of the episode because of how it toyed with my emotions. I went on a journey from surprised to confused to irritated and finally landed on a sort of sublime acceptance as it became increasingly clear that we were never going to find out what was said on the other end of that phone call.

So what did we learn? Well, I’m still trying to figure out exactly who’s who because they dropped a lot of names on us during this section, but it’s clear that Audrey’s in a conflicted marriage to Charlie, and she’s not afraid to tell him that she’s sleeping with a guy named Billy. I don’t think we’ve actually seen Billy before, but it’s worth noting that at the very end of part 7, a Roadhouse musician named Bing ran into the Double R Diner and asked if anyone had seen Billy before running off. In an earlier episode, we saw Richard Horne steal a guy’s truck and then kill a small child during a hit and run, but I’m pretty sure that’s a separate incident. I’m going to need a bunch of yarn, some thumb tacks, and photos of all of these characters to straighten this thing out.

In any case, Charlie – who hilariously keeps informing Audrey of how tired he is – calls someone named Tina in an effort to help Audrey out and find Billy, and he learns…well, we never find out, because when he hangs up the phone, he just stares at Audrey as she briefly takes on the role of audience surrogate and screams at him, incredulous that he won’t reveal the information he just heard. Longtime Twin Peaks fans probably saw that coming a mile away, and at a certain point, we just have to sit back and laugh when we hear Charlie on the phone uttering astonished lines like, “Unbelievable, what you’re telling me,” since we know full well how Lynch and Frost are toying with our desire to know what’s happening.

The rest of the Horne family doesn’t seem to be doing so great, either. Jerry, who’s been alone in the woods for weeks, seems to be finally trying to leave them behind but trips and falls as he runs. (He pops back up like a champ, though, so hopefully he’ll be fine.) Hotel magnate Ben Horne meets with Sheriff Truman, who gives Ben the bad news that his grandson Richard killed the aforementioned child and that the lone witness, Miriam, needs an operation after Richard left her for dead. Ben agrees to pay for her medical bills and passes along Agent Cooper’s old hotel room key, which arrived in the mail not long before. Ben tells Beverly a long story about a beloved bicycle he received as a childhood gift from his father, and seems to dwell heavily on the fact that Richard never had a father of his own. Sounds like another hint toward the “DoppelCooper is Richard’s father” theory, because even after spending just a few minutes with Charlie in this episode, he doesn’t exactly seem like the type who would raise a monster like Richard.

The episode opens with Gordon and Albert inducting Tammy into the Blue Rose task force, dropping some exposition about the history of Project Blue Book and the supernatural events they’ve been exploring for years. We learn that the task force consisted of Cooper, Philip Jeffries, Chester Desmond, and Albert, the latter of whom is the only one who hasn’t mysteriously vanished. Later, Gordon has a French woman in his hotel room (gimme a fucking break, Lynch), and she takes an infuriating amount of time to leave when Albert comes in with some new info: he’s read Diane’s texts with DoppelCooper, and she’s waiting on Gordon and Albert to ask her about Las Vegas. After the promise of being deputized and let back into the inner circle, Diane learns that the coordinates carved into Ruth Davenport’s arm point directly to Twin Peaks. I still can’t quite wrap my head around how this plot thread is going to play out, but at least it’s consistently moving forward.

In the Twin Peaks grocery store, Sarah Palmer has a breakdown (she really didn’t like that turkey jerky display that went up behind the cash register) and Deputy Hawk stop by her house to check on her. There’s a noise inside while they’re standing at the front door, and something fishy is going on there; this won’t be the last we see of Sarah. Meanwhile, in the episode’s kindest moment, trailer park owner Carl Rodd helps out one of his tenants by giving him some cash and making sure he doesn’t have to sell his blood in order to survive.

Gary and Chantal Hutchens assassinate Warden Murphy (per DoppelCooper’s orders) in front of Murphy’s young son, and without blinking, move on to get fast food. It’s a brutal moment played with detached apathy from two trained killers. Meanwhile, Dougie Jones doesn’t understand the concept of playing a game of catch with Sonny Jim, and I’m thankful that scene lasted thirty seconds instead of thirty minutes (we’ve seen plenty of scenes with Dougie stretch well past the breaking point). And like most episodes this season, this one wraps in the Roadhouse after a quick check-in with some other members of the Twin Peaks youth. While most have hinted at the drug dealing that’s been sweeping through the town, the girls in this episode seem more concerned with their friend’s love life than anything else, and I’m not entirely sure what Lynch is trying to convey with that final scene.

I’ve never claimed to be a Twin Peaks expert (I first caught up with the original series and Fire Walk With Me weeks before The Return premiered), so while I’ve been able to track the mythology of the show and have generally been able to at least keep up with what’s going on in the big picture, it’s episodes like these that make me wish I’d steeped myself in Lynch’s movies more over the years to maybe have a better sense of what he’s trying to say in smaller moments that don’t involve iconic imagery like the Black Lodge and cherry pie. This episode may warrant a rewatch from me, but what did you all think?

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