If nothing else, “Part 11” of Twin Peaks: The Return gave us our first tangible link between the world of Twin Peaks and the black-and-white nightmare that emerged about 10 minutes into the now-classic “Part 8” since that episode ended. The dimensional vortex, for lack of a better descriptor, that Gordon sees at the site of Hastings and Ruth’s trip into the unknown brought us into another room on the other side, where the demonic homeless people stared vacantly and unmoved at the new visitor before Albert thankfully pulled Gordon out. Then Hastings got his head exploded by an invisible, obese homeless man that only Gordon, Albert, and Diane could see clearly.
One of the major issues with recapping Twin Peaks: The Return is that each episode feels at once connected and weirdly remote from the last. It’s not like writing about a chapter in a book; it’s like writing about a word in a sentence. Under these circumstances, “Part 11” was a big, fat noun. Questions were answered in the distinctly Lynchian style, which is to say that really they only got more complicated. Narrative arcs, such as the one involving Becky Burnett and her scumbag husband, were furthered but not particularly toward a tangible climax. And finally, it once again broke the main pattern of the show by ending with a “damn good pie” from Dougie and no cutaway to the Bang-Bang Club for another musical number.
This is all to say that “Part 11” was the first episode since “Part 8” that had a palpable weight to each of its scenes and sequences. Each turn seemed decisive and direct while retaining an unpredictable and off-kilter atmosphere, one that allows for puking zombie-like teens, sudden head explosions, and Bradley Mitchum’s prophetic dream of cherry pie. And yet, as Hawk seemed to be suggesting in his scene with Sheriff Truman, attempting to read all the images on Lynch’s map literally or symbolically will never yield the answers that viewers are looking for, especially when it comes to that bug-reptile-beast that crawled into the girl’s mouth at the end of “Part 8.” Still, isn’t that what you thought that little black ant head represented? Didn’t ya?
For all the show’s dead ends and indecipherable detours, it’s not like Lynch isn’t confronting “real world” issues amongst the talk of alternate dimensions and transmigration of the soul and all. There may be no scene in recent memory that got at the true horror of certain gun owners’ ambivalence toward the power and grave consequences of their weapons as the shooting scene outside of the RR that Bobby attempts to diffuse, after a number of bullets hit the diner. Bobby runs into the street to find the shooter, a pre-adolescent boy, looking away from his mother and trying to mute her rightfully panicked screams in the hopes that the mother’s fury will subside before he has to take even a scintilla of responsibility. The same overall look and body language can be seen in the boy’s father, the owner of the gun who felt no need to holster or lock away a revolver in his car. Without much of any discussion, Lynch paints an entire sect of gun owners as scared, bored little boys who don’t want to face who they are or what they do or the very real possibility that their most horrible mistakes could repeat themselves.
This was reflective of Bobby and Shelly’s interacting with Becky in the diner, as well as Shelly’s quick make-out with Balthazar Getty‘s Red. As Becky fumbles through her not-so-steady reasoning for both shooting five holes in the front door of her husband’s girlfriend and not really being ready to leave him, Bobby begins to see a pattern forming between Becky’s actions and Shelly’s old ways. In Bobby’s case, her trust was eventually validated by him becoming a genuinely decent person with a job serving the public good, but that hardly covers her other partners, especially Red. When Bobby runs out to find the family with the gun, he sees a dangerous cycle that will have no end and he can see the same thing in how Becky takes after Shelly, at least in her taste for men. Then again, if Bobby can turn his attitude around, why can’t Steven?
It’s been to many episodes now for me to still have my hopes up that the Agent Dale Cooper that we all remember will arrive in the next episode or even the series on the whole , but the exclamation of “damn fine pie” came on like taser. I’m not convinced Lynch is purposefully fucking with everyone, though it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if he was, just a little. Looking back on what he’s build here, however, it’s hard to care about what exactly his intentions are, at least until the series is over. Much like Dougie himself, Lynch is following his own unknown impulses and instincts in recalibrating his magnum opus and breezily criticizing the era of TV remakes and over-marketed nostalgia. Indeed, if one hope to get ahead of Lynch and his story at this stage of the game, a sudden vortex in the sky may be your best and only hope.