Twin Peaks part 6 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 is a mercurial show by nature, but one thing’s for sure about last night’s part 6: it wasn’t quite as taxing as last week’s. That’s damning with faint praise, considering part 5 was one of the low points of the series for me. While many of those story threads continued to spool out over the course of this latest hour, at least there were a couple of bright spots mixed in to make it feel like it wasn’t a total waste of time.

In our Twin Peaks part 6 review, we’re thankful for Hawk’s mystery coming into focus, a key question being answered, and Albert’s glorious condemnation of a classic movie star.

The Best Scene in Part 6

Ever since I saw a bright, peppy version of FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) drive into the sleepy town of Twin Peaks in the show’s pilot episode and dictate his thoughts into a tape recorder for his assistant named “Diane,” I wondered if Diane was actually a real person or just another odd part of Cooper’s unorthodox method of solving cases. I know that in later episodes, Cooper received physical packages from Diane at the Great Northern Hotel, but since we never saw her in the show, I wouldn’t have been surprised if she was simply an elaborate figment of his imagination and his boss, Gordon Cole (David Lynch), mailed those packages to him from “Diane” just to play along and help support his old pal any way he could.

But thankfully, in the best scene of last night’s new episode, we finally got a concrete answer about this mysterious character. After a quick call to Cole from the inside of a car, perpetually cynical FBI Agent Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer) steps into inclement weather (“34 degrees and raining”), hilariously curses Singin’ in the Rain star Gene Kelly’s name, and enters Max Von’s Bar to meet the woman he and Cole know will be able to identify the real Cooper. (Remember, last time we saw them, they had just come from interviewing Cooper’s Bob-inhabited doppelgänger; they immediately knew something was off about him, and mentioned that a woman would be able to help them out.) In a thrilling reveal, we finally meet Diane – not only is she real, but she’s played by the wonderful Laura Dern. Unfortunately, her appearance here is incredibly brief, but at least this storyline has some narrative momentum.

Know what storyline doesn’t have narrative momentum, and may in fact be the worst example of it I’ve ever seen? This Dougie Jones situation. I’m becoming increasingly convinced that Lynch and his Twin Peaks co-creator Mark Frost have centered this entire revival around the idea of Dougie as a giant swerve away from audience expectation. “Hey, you know that beloved character you adored from the first two seasons of this show? Would you like to see him again? Sure, here he is. But he’s basically brain damaged now after spending 25 years in the Black Lodge. F*ck you.”

I can’t imagine anyone, even the most diehard Twin Peaks fan, truly enjoying this Dougie plot line, in which the real Cooper is still being mistaken for a fatter doppelgänger who was somehow “manufactured” by DoppelCooper to serve as an expendable vessel when the Black Lodge came calling for his return. Last week, Cooper was assigned a stack of paperwork from Dougie’s boss at the Lucky 7 insurance company, and this week, we’re put through the excruciating experience of watching Coop scrawl drawings of stairs and ladders all over the papers. Lynch’s camera luxuriates in this shit like a pig rolling around in filth, lovingly hovering on every single nonsensical pencil mark, because f*ck you, that’s why.

In a show full of supernatural elements, the behavior of everyone who interacts with Cooper as Dougie sticks out as the most unrealistic thing to me. Naomi Watts is a strong actress, but she’s been given an impossible task with this part. Meryl freakin’ Streep couldn’t sell the character of Dougie’s wife, Janey-E, because her dialogue is consistently unbearable and her actions frequently make no sense. (Props for talking those thugs into taking $25,000 for a loan repayment instead of the $52,000 they were demanding, though.) At least the scene in which Dougie’s boss reacts to Cooper’s cryptic pencil marks and congratulates him for doing great work had some humor to it; the rest of that entire storyline is practically unwatchable.

Back in the town of Twin Peaks, Deputy Hawk (Michael Horse) discovers the bathroom stall door manufacturer’s logo has a Native American chief on it. Thinking this may be the answer to the Log Lady’s mysterious message to him earlier this season about how he has to locate Agent Cooper using his heritage, Hawk unscrews the door and finds hidden notes inside. We don’t see what’s on them (yet), but after seeing all of the Dougie nonsense, I’m practically leaping out of my chair and cheering aloud at any part of this series that seems interested in pushing the larger story forward.

That creep from the bar last week (Eamon Farren) was credited as Richard Horne, and he’s presumably the offspring of Great Northern Hotel magnate Ben Horne or his brother Jerry. But we didn’t hear anyone call him by name in his introduction last week, and in this week’s part, his drug supplier patronizingly refers to him only as “kid,” something the erratic and drugged up Richard takes as a personal slight. There’s a magic trick sequence involving a coin that’s fun because it’s either the result of Richard’s drugged-out hallucinations or completely real, and the way this show works, both answers seem equally plausible. But in a fit of road rage after being embarrassed at the drug meeting, Richard plows through a stop sign and runs over a small child; the young boy’s screaming mother, who witnesses the accident, causes the show to briefly recapture the powerful sense of grief that it achieved so well in its first season.

Changing subjects: does anyone know what’s up with Lynch’s negative depictions of women? Double R Diner employees notwithstanding, practically every female character in Twin Peaks: The Return is either a nagging shrew, an idiot, or a murder victim. That last category should be amended to specify that they’re often victims of particularly brutal crimes – a beheading in the first part, and an unnecessarily gory assassination this week, thanks to an ice pick-wielding mercenary. I’m not questioning Lynch’s auteur status – he’s clearly earned his reputation and is a talented, singular filmmaker – but I’m just saying it’s worth noticing when patterns start to emerge and it might be worth wondering what message, if any, he’s trying to convey with those tactics.

Overall, I’d call this an improvement over last week despite the insistence on driving the Dougie stuff into the ground. But again, I would not be surprised if we never see Agent Dale Cooper back in top form, for the sole reason that Lynch and Frost know that’s exactly what we want to see. If this revival has proven anything so far, it’s that those guys very clearly don’t give a damn what we want.

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