An exercise in frustration…
This was an episode of B and C storyline progression. Fifty-two minutes of largely also-ran. This isn’t an indictment as much as it is a comfort. Having eighteen fresh hours to work with allow enough room for The Return to breath and have enough runway to allow for a subdued quiet episode that works to set-up the backend of The Return’s plot going forward. A criticism that can be allowed is the fragmentary nature of these scenes. Many felt disjointed, a series of unrelated vignettes that were cobbled together in the edit bay.
If there was a theme to takeaway it was a meta-commentary on impatience, on obstacles along your path. Much like some viewers who bristle at the start-stop nature of the Return’s narrative, so too did this episode’s characters have to deal with their own set of stutter steps. It is in how they deal with adversity that shows the true nature of their character. Their actions exemplify their level of agency in the face of fickle fate. Lynch forces the audience to question which of the characters they themselves are in the face of their own impending fate.
Are they like Richard Horne who answers fate with blind rage and callous force? With his progression potentially blocked by the threat of his vehicular homicide coming to light he answers with more murder and then assault and robbery on his own grandmother. Nice guy. All remaining speculation has been put to rest; this shithead is Audrey’s kid. No wonder she’s nowhere near Twin Peaks.
Do you answer fate like either of Richard’s grandparents? From the fallout of the robbery we learn that Ben Horne and his wife Sylvia have since divorced. Sylvia appears spiteful to the fate she was allotted while Ben is resigned to his fate. He is flexible but cannot be broken, not by the disappointment in his grandson or the extortive demands of his ex-wife. While he doesn’t break, he does bend as he does take his assistant Beverly on that dinner date.
Worse yet, are you a helpless victim to fate as it plays out around like Johnny Horne. Tied up and restrained, unable to interact or communicate with a world that doesn’t understand you, has your chair been tipped over while you helplessly watch the rest of the world steal and hurt one another?
Sometimes fate plays out on a loop as history repeats. Are you destined to be chained to this repetition like the Double R blondes? Norma escaped abusive Hank in the original series, Shelley outlasted abusive Leo, but her own daughter is caught in the midst of her own violent and unhealthy relationship with her the older brother from Pete and Pete.
Do you remain along the outskirts of fate, watching through the windows as others fates play out around you like trailer park owner, Carl Rodd? Rodd plays lovablely compassionate but weary observer to the rest of the world, idling his time peaceable strumming a guitar, content with his place in the world.
Do you find love where you can in the face adversity like Jane-Y and Dougie Jones? The two make the best of the obstacles that life throws at you. Naomi Watts highstrung Jane-Y is so concerned with everything else in her world she completely overlooked her suddenly dapper husband who came home with a giant bag of money and only ever speaks when spoken to. And Dougie seems to be enjoying himself as well.
Do you plot and stew in your contempt at how the fates have slighted you like the Las Vegas mob bosses who are still steamed at Dougie Jones’ Mr. Jackpots’ routine? After being misled to believe that Dougie Jones screwed them out of insurance claims at his Lucky 7 insurance agency, the two mob bosses are so blinded with their contempt they allow themselves to be led astray, to be pawns in someone else’s game.
I find their frustration with Candy, the non-responsive showgirl, are a metaphor for overall impatience that all of the episode’s characters are choking on. Moreover, the showgirl is a self-aware meta-commentary. The mob bosses are stand-ins for the audience just waiting for Candy to bring in the next plot point for us and she (Lynch) just remains preoccupied with swatting flies for fifty minutes.
Furthering the plot of Dougie Jones makes me apprehensive. Anything revolving around suburban mindwipe Cooper should keep its coat on because we don’t want to stay too long. With Las Vegas coming back to roost on Dougie there is the uncomfortable feeling that we’re running out of time to share quality time with Special Agent Dale Cooper before all is said and done. When the Return began, few expected it to be as literal and character-specific.
Maybe you search for answers in the face of an inscrutable fate like Gordon Cole. Like he said in a previous episode, he doesn’t know what was happening around him. He surrenders himself to this helplessness and keeps himself open to the universe to allow for signs and signals to be received whenever possible. Of the signals he’s picking up includes the texts between Dark Cooper and Diane, confirming that the two are in cahoots to some degree. The collusion is almost too predictable of a television twist and one of the few elements of the Return that actually feel like a regular television program.
Perhaps, best of all, you are like the crowd at the Roadhouse and just there to enjoy to show. Another meta parallel with the audiences back at home watching The Return. We can fight against it all and attempt to force sense like Richard Horne. We can sit passively and cry and not understand it like Johnny. We be open to the esoteric that is delivered in the Return and work to actively deduce its answers like Gordon Cole.
Or we can be like Jerry Horne and just get stoned in the woods.
Notes from the Black Lodge
- Albert is on a dinner date with the medical examiner. Sooo cute!
- Dark Cooper was in the New York penthouse with the glass box. To what end remains a mystery.
- David Lynch wrote the song that Rebeka Del Rio sings at the Roadhouse at the end of the episode. Somewhat self-indulgent all things considered but still, the most apt performance at the Roadhouse of the Return yet.
- It’s clear they filmed a block of Log Lady monologue all at once, before principle shooting even began and then dropped it in wherever appropriate.
- Jacoby is still doing his Alex Jones thing
- Nadine has her own silent drape runners shop. Dreams do come true!
The Log Lady (Catherine Coulson): “Laura is the one”
Carl Rodd (Harry Dean Stanton): “it’s a fucking nightmare.
Jane-Y Jones (Naomi Watts): “Douuuugggggiiiieeee!!!!!!!”
Jerry Horne (David Patrick Kelly): You can’t fool me! I’ve been here before!
Stuffed Bear: Hello Johnny, how are you today?
Gordon Cole (David Lynch): This is something… this is really something.