Twin Peaks part 8 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?)

When I prayed for a new Twin Peaks episode that went light on Dougie Jones, I had no idea that prayer would be answered with a full-on deep dive into David Lynch surrealism. I’ll give it to you straight: there is absolutely no way that I picked up on every narrative thread Lynch and Mark Frost were putting down here. But even though this hour made the first few episodes of this new season seem as coherent as a sitcom in comparison, I loved this episode. I’d prefer something strange and inscrutable over a Dougie Jones-centric story every single time, and I think this is the single most inscrutable episode in the show’s history so far.

In our Twin Peaks part 8 review, I’ll attempt to tell you about the best scene in the episode, and I’ll try (and likely fail) to wrap my brain around what any of that bizarre imagery is supposed to mean.

We’ll get to the best scene of the episode in a minute, but this one is so strange, it’ll be better to lay out the plot first.

The episode begins conventionally enough, but quickly transformed into something that almost defies explanation. The evil doppelganger of Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), still inhabited by the demonic spirit known as Bob, rides away from the federal prison with Ray (George Griffith), his low-life partner in crime. DoppelCooper wants information from Ray, and when he tries to force Ray into giving it up during a pee break deep in the woods, Ray gets the best of him and shoots him. That’s when things start to get strange: a group of spirits dressed like homeless lumberjacks materialize over DoppelCooper’s body, dancing around in a mysterious ritual that involves patting dirt all over him and spreading his own blood across his face. Ray hightails it out of there, calls Philip Jeffries to report what happened, and after the show cuts to a Nine Inch Nails concert in Twin Peaks’ Roadhouse (we’ll get to that in a second), we see DoppelCooper suddenly sit straight up, alive again…for the time being. Guess that ritual worked.

That concert is just as random as you think it is: the band, who apparently plays in super small bars during their tour of the Northwest United States, plays “She’s Gone Away” in its entirety. Here are the lyrics, in case anyone’s interested in parsing them for deeper meaning within the world of Twin Peaks:

You dig in places till your fingers bleed
Spread the infection, where you spill your seed
I can’t remember what she came here for
I can’t remember much of anything anymore
She’s gone, she’s gone, she’s gone away
She’s gone, she’s gone, she’s gone away
Away
Away
A little mouth opened up inside
Yeah, I was watching on the day she died
We keep licking while the skin turns black
Cut along the length, but you can’t get the feeling back
She’s gone, she’s gone, she’s gone away
She’s gone, she’s gone, she’s gone away
She’s gone, she’s gone, she’s gone away
She’s gone, she’s gone, she’s gone away
Away
Away
Away
Away
(Are you still here?)

“Dig in places till your fingers bleed” strikes me as a reference to the spirits digging around in DoppelCooper’s body to resurrect him. And “a little mouth opened up inside” reminds me of the last scene in the episode, which we’ll get to momentarily. Anyone else see any other connections?

The Best Scene in Part 8

The aforementioned sequences are the only ones that take place in modern day. After DoppelCooper sits up, the episode flashes back to 1945, during a nuclear bomb testing in White Sands, New Mexico. Lynch pushes in on the exploding mushroom cloud (which resembles the New Arm’s brain), and inside it, there’s a cacophony of surreal and unique images: brightly colored spots within tunnels that look like synapses firing inside a brain, a host of black and white spots dancing across the screen like snowflakes in a flurry, and then, inexplicably, a convenience store with the same homeless lumberjacks from earlier wandering in and out of it in a puff of smoke. (The editing here is similar to the stop-and-start style we witnessed during the real Cooper’s trip through the Purple Room a few episodes ago.) As much as anyone can possibly rank any scene in an episode like this, I’d choose this one as the best: it’s the sort of primal, image-driven filmmaking that Lynch excels at crafting, and it’s so out there that it makes practically any reading of it valid. Maybe it’s Lynch exploring the effects of humanity’s worst impulses (creating weapons of mass destruction).

But the director is just getting started: a body floats through empty space and vomits a plume of eggs, and we see the face of the evil Bob (Frank Silva) among the spew. If I had to guess, I’d say we were witnessing his birth. In a chrome tower at the top of a rock sprouting from an endless ocean, The Giant (Carel Struycken) answers an alarm and watches all of this happen on a movie screen. When he sees Bob’s face, he floats into the air and a golden light pours from his head, forming an orb that contains the face of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee). Laura is way more important than I thought: this happens in 1945, so she was chosen to serve a greater purpose long before she was actually born. The Giant sends the orb into the movie screen, where it heads toward Earth. (Like I said, this episode is really freaking weird.)

We then jump ahead to 1956, where one of the vomit eggs hatches in the New Mexico desert, birthing a frog/locust hybrid that looks like something out of Pan’s Labyrinth. Some of the lumberjacks emerge from the desert, walk into the street and ask a driver and his wife if they “got a light?” to ignite their cigarettes. One of them enters a radio station, squeezes a secretary’s head so hard it bursts open, and hijacks the radio feed, broadcasting the following phrase to anyone listening:

This is the water. And this is the well. Drink full and descend. The horse is the white of the eyes and dark within.

That’s ominous AF. The phrase also seems to put everyone who hears it to sleep, including a young girl who, just moments before, picked up a heads-up penny and was kissed by a boy she likes after he walked her home. That’s a cute story, right? Too bad it ends with that freaky ass frog/locust CRAWLING INTO HER DAMN MOUTH. Is this girl actually a young Sarah Palmer, and that creature intended to ensure that she births Laura to fulfill some kind of prophecy?

Looking back on it, this is clearly the strangest episode of Twin Peaks thus far, and even though I didn’t “get” all of it (not by a long shot), I’m still far more fascinated with these unfiltered looks into Lynch’s psyche than by whatever the hell Dougie Jones/Cooper is doing at the moment. Were you able to make any more sense out of this episode than I did?

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