‘Twin Peaks: The Return’: David Lynch’s Knotty Plot Tightens in “Part 9”

     July 9, 2017


For those still recovering from or in perpetual awe of “Part 8” of Twin Peaks: The Return, the more plot-based machinations of “Part 9” must have served as a kind of respite. Returning from the black-and-white death dream of the Woodsmen and that reptile-beetle-demon, the focus is back on Evil Cooper, back from the dead and getting some revival from Jennifer Jason Leigh‘s Chantal and Hutch (Tim Roth), who he sends off to kill the warden. If nothing else, “Part 9” felt like David Lynch settling back into his groove of the show’s central storylines after his sublime, death-drunk riff in the previous episode.


Image via Showtime

The big turn in the Dougie story was the strike against Ike the Spike, the small, muscular murderer who nearly did in Good Cooper. The Fuscos begin by questioning Bushmill about Dougie, capped off by a chorus of eerily boisterous and extended laughs from David Koechner, Larry Clarke, and Eric Edelstein. If there wasn’t already ample evidence that the three detectives were mordantly obnoxious and unsettlingly self-important, these guffaws strangely underlined the fact in less than a minute. And as ever, Lynch punctuates the otherworldliness of his set-up with flashes of draining, mundane everday life: “$239 for a fucking tailpipe!”

There’s an implicit comfort in watching the sequences back at the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Station, with Andy and Lucy just arguing about chairs. There’s a certain comfort in the ordinariness of the conversation and the distinct rhythm that Harry Goaz and Kimmy Robertson have eased into in their exchanges over the years. Meanwhile, something extraordinary was happening in town, as Truman, Hawk, and Briggs discover a secretive message from the Major via an elaborate metal tube trick that only his son knows how to unlock. 2 days from now at Jack Rabbit’s Palace, a special place that the Major and Bobby used to visit, something big will go down.

This wasn’t the only mentions of the Major. After a quick turnaround in the skies above, following the new of Evil Cooper’s escape, Gordon, Diane, Albert, and Tammy returned to South Dakota to talk about blogs over the dead body of the Major and meet with Matthew Lillard‘s William Hastings, who has his own very real blog. If there were no other testament to Lynch’s power as a filmmaker and his chemistry with his cast, and there are innumerable instances on record as is, the fact that he pulled such a haunting and wrenching performance from Lillard would be testament enough. This is one of those instances where Lynch employs operatic emotions to convey grief and loss, fear and confusion, and Lillard more than proves up to the task. Part of me was reminded about the disturbing monologue given by Ted Sorel toward the beginning of From Beyond about the dark pleasures of the next dimension. If nothing else, Hastings’ account of Major Briggs adds an unneeded but no less appreciated coat of menace to the Major’s reputation from beyond the grave.


Image via Showtime/CBS

Jerry seemed to be reckoning with his own sort of fears as well, high out of his mind and fighting with his foot in the woods. There’s an air of instability to what’s going on, something that no doubt has something to do with the “dimensions” that Hastings talked about before he mourned not going scuba diving. It might also be what’s keeping Benjamin from making a move with a willing Beverley, but trying to decipher the reasoning in any of this seems to be about as productive as chasing that electric hum. Lynch has reached a striding phase in this series. There is a confidence and certainty in the pacing of “Part 9” that was more leisurely and exploratory in previous chapters, and the coalescing plot is littered with exquisite interludes that might seem innocuous for now but portend another perverse turn in the ever-expanding plot. This is true of the “Johnny!” scene, as well as Good Cooper getting hypnotized by the American flag and a socket not unlike the one from which he was transported here. Even when he seems to be more focused on the beats of the narrative, however, his images point toward transcendence.

This is also true of the abrasive last note in the club, between Hudson Mohawke’s DJ set and Au Revoir Simone taking the stage. Two young women talk about getting pissed off about their jobs and just leaving for no reason. One, played by the singer Sky Ferreira, has a bad rash underneath her armpit and Lynch accentuates the sound of her nails clawing over the red, puffy skin. I don’t like to look too much into these things but that feeling that something awfully unpleasant is about to go down hasn’t dissipated since the opening one-two punch. I wouldn’t count on it letting up at this point.

Rating: ★★★★