If the three minute scene in episode 7 in which a man relentlessly brushed the floor of The Roadhouse was too much for you, then this week’s episode would have been a brushstroke (or few) too far
*Warning, this article contains spoilers*
David Lynch can do no wrong. Quite literally: even when the acclaimed director does miss the mark, his hoards of online fans are quick off the mark to defend the mishaps as ‘intentional’. The drawn out scenes in this week’s episode? They’re a purposefully intended to jar the watchers after the break throughs of episode 11. Audrey Horne’s underwhelming return? It’s a satirical embodiment of fan’s 25 year wait for this moment. The constant name dropping of characters we’ve never met before? A reference to how the population of Twin Peaks is disintegrating into chaos. In short: unlike other TV shows out there at the minute, Twin Peaks is a paradigm that refuses to be pinned down to any one interpretation.
The episode starts with so much promise: we finally discover the meaning of the Blue Rose. Albert reveals to Tammy in a room that looks suspiciously like the Black Lodge (red curtains included), that the Blue Rose case was opened up after ‘troubling abstractions’ began appearing in cases related to UFOs. After one such case, a women uttered the words ‘blue rose’, before she died. Philip Jefferies – who we saw in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, played by the late David Bowie – was placed in charge of the project, who then recruited Albert, Dale Cooper and Chester Desmond to the task force. As Albert points out before he asks Tammy onto the team, he is the only one of the original members who is still with us today.
And, indeed, it is an episode that relies heavily on the ground set by Fire Walk With Me. Sarah Palmer seems to go mad – or, for those more sceptical fans, becomes possessed – in a local convenience store. As we already know, it was above a convenience store that BOB and other spirits from the Black Lodge used to live.
The symbolism from the original series is in full force, and as Hawk goes to check in on Sarah Palmer, the old image of the spinning fan is zoomed in on. We hear a noise coming from the kitchen that Sarah instantly dismisses. In episode 8 we saw an orb with Laura’s face released into the world; in a series that is obsessed with resurrection (it is named Twin Peaks: The Return, after all) was this Laura Palmer’s spirit coming back to her old house?
The return of Audrey Horne was at moment that the new series had been building up to. But, where was the fireworks? The red heels? Her unmatched sense of unadulterated freedom? Instead she was angry, alone and trapped.
Desperately wanting a divorce from a man whom seems the antithesis of her character, the only pleasure fans could get out of seeing this beloved character so diminished, was the pleasure of seeing her scream “spineless, no balls loser!” at her bizarre husband. We learn she is in love with a man named Billy (a reference to Billy Zane, the actor who played her lover in series 2?), who was mentioned in episode 7, after someone runs into the R&R dinner looking for him.
And our biggest fears appear to be confirmed in this episode: when Ben Horne discovers that his grandson Richard was the one responsible for the little boy’s death a few episodes ago, he utters ‘he never had a father’. With the revelation that (Bad) Cooper was seen leaving Audrey’s hospital after she fell into a coma at the end of the second series, it seems increasingly likely that Bad Cooper raped Audrey in her coma, making Bad Cooper the father of the demon-child Richard.
After watching the episode, I rewatched David Bowie’s infamous scene was FWWM. As his character Philip Jefferies flicks between the ‘real’ world and the Black Lodge, the sound of electricity and images of pylons flick in and out of the screen.
After this visually epileptic act, Jefferies disappears, after the sound of electricity dominates the scene. If you read my review last week, you will know that this has been a running theme throughout the series. What with Cooper re-emerging into the world through a plug socket, it seems that electricity and electricity cables carry a link to the Black Lodge. When Diane entered the coordinates from Ruth Devonport’s arm into Google maps, the coordinates reveal a point in Twin Peaks. In last week’s episode, Hawk discussed how there was a ‘Black Fire’ somewhere in Twin Peaks, ‘more like modern day electricity’. Is Bad Cooper heading towards our favourite American town to harness the power of this ‘black fire’? Is he hoping that he can lure Good Coop there and force him into the Black Lodge, so Bad Coop can stay in the ‘real’ world? Or is he hoping to somehow harness the power of this black fire to unleash the evil of the Black Lodge onto the world?
Perhaps part of the issue with this episode was that there was so much at stake: with only 6 episodes left and the knowledge that many of the cast have died since filming, we are constantly conscious of the oncoming finale.
But, despite this, Lynch’s superfans who readily defend him perhaps do have a point: was this the calm before the storm? Lynch is a man who refuses to conform to expectations, so after the breakthrough of Dougie’s damn good coffee, was he really going to follow up that pace with even more breakthroughs? While the episode acted like an endurance challenge, like the rest of the series, its very nature seemed design to catch us out.
But, despite this, it was also an episode that was heavy in symbolism: it may have been drawn out, but the red curtains that frame Gordon’s room, the blue roses at Miriam’s hospital bedside, and the spinning fan in Sarah Palmer’s house all suggested that this was a deeply crafted episode, one that may prove to be more significant as the series comes to a close.
Like the infamous chess game in series two that determined so many people’s fates, Lynch is playing the waiting game, seeing how far we really will go to see what happens to our favourite special agent.
Image: The Independent