Sunday, May 28, 2017

Twin Peaks: The Return - Parts 03 & 04

In Parts 03 and 04 of Twin Peaks: The Return (2017), David Lynch takes us deeper into Agent Dale Cooper's lucid nightmare of an existence as he attempts to escape from the Black Lodge and return to his own body back on Earth, or at least the Earth we are more familiar with. And many old friends concerned for Cooper begin unraveling the mystery of his original disappearance 25 years earlier.
In Part 02, the good Agent Dale Cooper tried to escape the Black Lodge and return to his body, but BOB has pulled a fast one and with the help of the The Arm's Doppelganger the two baddies figure out a way to block Agent Cooper's spirit from returning back into his body, allowing BOB to remain in possession of Cooper's body on our Earth. The Arm's Doppelganger mentions something about "non-existent" to Coop and apparently banishes our lovable FBI Agent from the Black Lodge into the void.
Dale temporarily emerged in the glass box in New York City while Sam and Tracey were looking around for the security guard but could not find him, shortly before the two lovebirds returned to the room to begin making love until they were confronted and killed by a malevolent force that has some resemblance when standing still to the ubiquitous grey aliens from UFO lore in The X-Files (1993-2002, 2016), and when in motion the creature appears a bit more like the Smoke Monster from LOST (2004-10).
It is worth pointing out that the showrunners for both those other TV shows prominently cited the original Twin Peaks (1990-91) as one of their biggest influences in developing their own shows.
This monstrous dark entity apparently appeared in the glass box shortly after Coop left it vacant, leaving us to wonder if it is this The Arm's Doppelganger attempting to enter our world? BOB's spirit caught in limbo between the two planes of existence temporarily? Or perhaps a hitherto unknown third party demonic entity? We will have to wait and see.
But whatever happened in that glass box, suddenly Dale finds himself in David Lynch's as-yet-unmade feature film Ronnie Rocket and the Absurd Mystery of the Strange Forces of Existence. David Lynch and Mark Frost even give Special Agent Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer) a line of dialogue where he directly references that as-yet-unmade feature film's subtitle.
Here Dale seems to latch on to the last embers of his identity and existence and attempts to travel through electricity back into his BOB-possessed body. Here we meet two different women. The first woman is apparently a blind Asian woman named Naido. Aside from apparently having no eyes, she seems to live an existence of perpetual buffering that causes her and Cooper to skip back and forth around the screen in a jittery, disconnected fashion.
Naido seems eerily reminiscent to Josie Packard from the last time we saw Josie die from fear at the thought of being discovered as a murderer by everyone in town. Her spirit seemed to get stuck in a nearby dresser drawer pull at the end of the episode and in the original Twin Peaks finale Pete Martell seems to be carrying on a conversation with Josie through woodwork of the main lobby's fireplace mantle at the Great Northern Hotel. You will note that a fireplace mantle is prominently featured with Naido in the belly of this spaceship.
It is unclear, but I do get the impression that Naido might be some abstract remnant of herself attempting to atone for her murders in life as Josie, including her attempted murder of Agent Cooper himself in the first season finale cliffhanger shooting. Is it possible that Josie is trying to make things right for Cooper in a last minute act of redemption through her potential Lodgian identity? Maybe.
This whole sequence is abstract, but one gets the sense that Naido made some kind of sacrifice to help the Good Dale Cooper escape some Naido's mother, who is apparently some malevolent entity attempting to stop Cooper from returning home. But strangely, when Coop returns to the fireplace room with the electrical outlet, he discovers Ronette Pulaski waiting for him. The last we saw of her, Ronette was alive and well, if not a little shaken, in the original Twin Peaks series finale. Has BOB-Coop killed Ronette in the intervening 25 years? Is this Ronette's attempt to bring her killer to justice through the Good Dale Cooper?
And although I suspected this would be the case in the new Twin Peaks series, Parts 01-04 of The Return has confirmed my suspicions that this show is not just a continuation of Twin Peaks, but is a bridge interconnecting all of David Lynch's films and TV shows into one Lynchverse. Everywhere in the DNA of Twin Peaks: The Return (2017) we see homages, allusions, and direct parallels with every other David Lynch motion picture project up to this point.
 The bookends of the first episode were The Giant and Agent Cooper communicating in a strange room in black and white with a phonograph making strange noises, feels like we have clearly crossed over into David Lynch's first film: Eraserhead (1977).
The strange subplot of BOB-Coop picking up two alleged helpers, who are really secretly being paid to kill him feels like a direct reference to the Bobby Peru and Perdita Durango scenes in Wild at Heart (1990). In fact, one could say that the character of Agent Cooper in particular seems to be transitioning between all of David Lynch's film worlds.
And I am not sure it is possible to get any closer in tone and style to Mulholland Dr. (2001) than we do in the Las Vegas, Nevada and Buckhorn, South Dakota scenes. The Buckhorn police's absurd investigation into the Ruth Davenport murder and the strange machinations of ineffectual hitmen in Vegas both feel long-lost episodes from the originally imagined Mulholland Dr. TV series more than plotlines from Twin Peaks proper.
We even discover Dougie's wife Janey-E is played by Naomi Watts herself, the ingénue-turned murderess from Mulholland Dr. (2001). She is playing a character very different from that original role, though, but there is an undeniable melding of not just the casts of all the Lynchian masterworks, but of their styles and tones, too.
We even have Balthazar Getty crossing over from Lost Highway (1997) apparently playing another leather jacket wearing character, but this time in the Roadhouse of Twin Peaks: The Return (2017) where he hits on Shelly Johnson (Mädchen Amick) from the bar.
Mike/ Phillip Gerard (Al Strobel) has an unfortunate discovery that BOB has tricked Cooper into taking up residence in a body other than his own. In a surreal moment of existential horror, Dougie discovers he is not a real person but a manufactured entity who BOB used to trick the Black Lodge into sucking him back in BOB's place. The existential implications of this one scene alone are worthy of a whole episode of Rick and Morty (2013-Present) to explore. Are Janey-E and Sonny Jim golems, too? Or are they real human beings caught up with Dougie?
Mike informs Dougie that he was created and his purpose is now finished. Is BOB capable of creating lifeforms to serve his purposes? If so, then Coop's Doppelganger is even more powerful than we thought, capable of tricking Lodgian magical forces into allowing himself to stay in Cooper's body long past the expiration date with the creation of a Cooper-like golem.
And we are informed that this imbalance cannot continue and only one of them can survive. When the statement was made, all I could really hear was the Voldemort prophecy from Harry Potter, "The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches...  and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives..."
And given the sad state of the mental clarity of both BOB-Coop and Golem-Coop, their mutual coexistence on this plane of existence is taking a very hard toll on both of them. It looks like we hae an epic showdown on our hands, but unless their faculties start returning back to them soon, it will be one of the slowest and most bizarre fights in all of history. Hopefully Dale's friends can figure it all out in time to help him.

To have Agent Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer) and Regional Bureau Chief Gordon Cole (David Lynch) team up to try to help Agent Cooper is one of the new joys of the show I look forward to revisiting week to week in the show. Special Agent Tammy Preston (Chrysta Bell) is also a fun addition to the team, and particularly amusing when she makes Denise Bryson (David Duchovny) jealous of her youth and beauty.
And as much as those scenes were cute and charming, it is horrifying to see them question a clearly impaired BOB-Coop who is stuck in prison. Luckily Cole and Rosenfield seem to be catching on quickly to something being seriously wrong with Cooper, making both men think over the Blue Rose. Cole: "It doesn't get any bluer...."
Now whether BOB-Coop just happened to get placed in this Federal Prison by accident is yet to be seen, but I suspect BOB-Coop is after intel that only Ray is in possession of, so I posit that BOB-Coop intentionally had himself sent to the same prison where Ray wound up so BOB-Coop could interrogate him from the information he needs in person. That's quite a shrewd gambit. BOB-Coop is going to prove a formidable adversary, I suspect. Particularly with a 25 year head start and a mind full of knowledge of Lodgian magic.
However, at least one good side effect seems to have occurred from Agent Cooper's 25 years in the Lodge plane: Golem-Coop is impossibly lucky. Guided by Lodgian symbols hovering in flames over the correct slot machines, an incapacitated Dale Cooper is finding a way to survive and even help his new Golem-Coop family while being almost completely unable to speak and think for himself.
I sense a peculiar glee as David Lynch and Mark Frost revel in their absurdist humor as Golem-Coop sleepwalks from one situation to another. Everyone acts so suspicious and judgmental of Dale while he is clearly suffering from some mental ailment, yet almost no one seems to recognize it aside from Candy Shaker (Sara Paxton) who solemnly declares, "I don't think he's ok."
Then we get to my favorite scene from the first four parts of Twin Peaks: The Return (2017). We visit the Twin Peaks Sheriff Station once more to discover Deputy Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook). At a glance, we see a fulfillment of Major Briggs's fatherly vision of Bobby one day leaving behind his rebellious teen days behind him and finding peace and leading a life of contentment.
And as Bobby is confronted with the old photo of his former murdered girlfriend Laura Palmer, he breaks down crying. And as humorous and melodramatic as moody Bobby might be, I cannot help but break down in tears with him.
A melodramatic, Sheriff's Deputy Bobby Briggs is exactly what we have been needing. Thanks David Lynch and Mark Frost. Laura's tragic murder seems to have slowly galvanized Bobby into a better man and make him want to protect those he can after failing to protect Laura back in his youth. His entire development as a character over the past 25 years is written all over his face in this brief, poignant scene. This is Twin Peaks at its very best.

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