Twin Peaks – The Return Pt. 8 (Review)

…Or How I learned to Love the Bomb

Well this one is going to be a divisive episode…

In what has to be an hour of the most art house true cinema verite on major television, David Lynch raises the same bar he himself has set yet again.

True to the reverse-speak of the Black Lodge, we start with a  death and witness what appears to be its birth. Freshly sprung from their South Dakota lock-up, Ray and Dark Cooper are escaping in their beige rental but Cark Cooper has not forgotten Ray’s conspiracy to murder him; or the set of coordinates that he really, really, “wants”  (bur doesn’t need).

Ray knows those numbers are the only thing keeping him alive so he wisely gets some distance while he makes an excuse to take a leak on the side of the road. Knowing about Dark Cooper’s “Friend in the glove box” Ray has the drop on him when he attempts to get the information out of him at the end of a gun. Ray’s luck holds out and fires two bullets into Dark Cooper. Before he can deliver what would appear to be the killing point blank shot, what can only be described as black skinned soot people emerged from ethers and surrounded Dark Cooper’s body like a pack of hyenas.  The soot people mutilate or at least bloody Dark Cooper’s body until a tumorous placenta emerges from Dark Cooper’s bowels with the face of Black Lodge serial soul possessor, BOB.

Understandably terrified, Ray escapes while making a revealing call to someone named “Phillip”. The same Phillip Jeffries, previously played by David Bowie, that has been mentioned by Dark Cooper and the FBI already? He debriefs Phillip of the shooting and the fact that he half-expects this entity to self-repair and come back after him; intimating a wider knowledge of the situation than we were led to believe of Ray. Is he an undercover agent of the FBI or something even deeper?

I feel like this act was the final scene of an episode seven that ran too long for Showtime to fit into place, in this regard, Nine Inch Nails performance at the Roadhouse suddenly has a more climactic  fit to the series in line with the other bands that have closed the episodes. I like to imagine with their presence in The Return and their contributions to Lost Highway, that Nine Inch Nails is a cross-dimensional band that travels between Lynch’s world and ours.

Okay… Here we go.

In a striking black and white, high contrast, flashback to the White Sands of New Mexico in 1945, we witness the detonation of the first atomic bomb, exploding with the Theodony of Hiroshima- a crescendo of careening strings depicting the devastation of nuclear warfare. In a masterpiece of experimental cinema, Lynch burns though a sensory overload of Rorschach imagery after diving into the heart of an exploding nuclear bomb. What follows are abstract flurry of particles, cosmic flotsam, sparks of life and death. It is not important what they are, but what they represent. Horror. Chaos, Confusion. Panic. Pain. Distress. Destruction. Immolation. Volatility. On a deeply subliminal level, Lynch conveys the basest notions of the human condition in its rawest, and earliest mitochondrial manifestations.

Diving into the heart of the bomb, we penetrate a microcosmic world that is infinite in its smallness. From within we reach a black void and witness a horned female creature, similar to the creature that appeared in the glass box of episode one. She spews forth a stream of viscous gelatinous matter that is full of debris, seeds or eggs, essentially she is issuing forth life. Considering among said life, is a proto-BOB, one can assume this creature is in some way responsible for sowing evil upon the earth. It is around the same time that more Soot People are flickering into existence among the prop city built to test within ground zero of the atomic blast site.

It has been long theorized in occult circles that the atomic blast held the potential to rip a hole in our universe. Some believed the act of rendering the very atoms of the universe apart in a nuclear reaction would cause a ripple effect that continued deeper into the atom on a subatomic level until it could unravel the structure of reality itself. From this unmooring of reality inter-dimensional entities are able to pass through worlds- hence the Black Lodge lines from the original series, “The magician longs to see, one way out between two worlds. Fire, walk with me.”

Presumably, this act tears a hole in the universe and this dark world of Soot People and the Devil Mom take note and enter our world through the breach, wasting no time in spreading the darkness, presumably on behalf of the Black Lodge. The Secret History of Twin Peaks, released prior to the Return and written by co-creator Mark Frost, goes into great detail of peripheral character Dougie Milford who worked the shadows for clandestine UFO-related government agencies. Through the character’s exploits, Frost highlights the atomic testing and lays the groundwork for similar theories with a found-footage style dossier.

Deeper still we travel where time and space have no meaning. Ladies and Gentlemen, the White Lodge…

The Devil Mom, the White Lodge and what we’ll see inside are the best a human mind can hope to perceive of such large celestial forces at work,  like a dream translating the subconscious on primal and interpretive levels. Across a vast purple sea, a white citadel sits atop a precipitous cliff side. (The same purple seaside dwelling where Cooper fell while in Limbo just before reentering our world in episode 3?) Within, we are bereft of all color while pushing in an opulent woman casually listening to old timey radio which gets interrupted by an alarm stemming from the detonation of this atomic blast.

The Giant emerges and travels through the White Lodge, which looks quite like a cinema, to a viewing screen where he gravely watches the atomic blast and inception of BOB. In response, the Giant raises to the sky and begins to emit a slurry of golden essence, which I can easily imagine are souls purified by divine creation to counteract those issued forth by the Black Lodge and their rank and file. One of the globules he creates bears the face of Laura Palmer, as if her creation was a direct counter-balance to BOB. There is a sense of respectful sadness the opulent women exudes while gazing at Laura’s face, as if they know exactly what awaits her.

 “Ah, it’s hatching. It’s kinda cute.

“I’ll call it Bumblebutt…

Oh God! It’s crawling into her mouth!”

Fast forward to 1956 to the New Mexico desert.

One of the eggs spewed forth from the Devil Mom hatches in the middle of the New Mexico desert and a locust/frog (both among the seven biblical plagues) drags its nascent body across the sand. Arriving too are the Soot Men. These black faced men are similar to the Dugpas that Windom Earle (season 2 baddie) revealed he had been in search of during the original series. These Dugpas are literally sorcerers of evil that have previously sacrificed their human aspects in devotion to spreading evil and are assumed to work as a sort of ambassador for the Black Lodge.

A Soot Man enter a local radio station and attempts his own pirate radio (after crushing two skulls) for a presentation direct from the Black Lodge. As the original series had the “Fire, walk with me” chant, these appear to be the new stanzas  we will all be pouring over for quite some time. It works as an apparent incantation, working a black spell over the denizens of the sleepy hamlet. They are pouring their evil influence across this wholesome town, potentially unleashing their mellifluence across the world. Concurrently the locust/frog works its way through a young girl’s bedroom window and crawls into her mouth, presumably to gestate.

There are two schools of thought with this. Either the girl is one among many that are infected with the evil that poured from the Devil Mom or she is the mother of a character that will be relevant to the canon and that woman will eventually give birth to whatever the frog locust becomes in a sort of perverted divine inception?

Again, the take away is in the subtext not the actual event. This demon-hatched creature crawled through the bedroom window of an innocent girl while she was sleeping defenselessly at night and entered her, violated and infected her with its presence- not unlike Bob’s abuse of Laura Palmer and BOB’s possession of Leyland Palmer. Whether the two are literally one in the same is less the point than the fact that both the nature of the locust frog and BOB are conveyed through the psychology of their actions. This evil corrupts, degrades, penetrates and violates all that is precious, vulnerable and innocent.

What happens in the desert and within the cosmic cinema of the White Lodge are the results of god-level cosmic forces wrestling for the balance of all of existence. For lack of a better word, and because much of this episode transcends language, the White Lodge is a form of heaven and the Giant and Opulent woman are the caretakers of creation. They look down upon us all and take pity at the sight of such an otherworldly evil taking root and send forth a being made of their own creation to help us all in our time of need, one who will have the experience great sacrifice first. Sound familiar? We can now assume the past visions Cooper had of the Giant in the original series were all attempts by the white Lodge to guide Cooper further in his quest to defeat BOB; the obverse side of the same coin. Maybe that was the significance of the girl finding the penny on the ground.


Notes from the Black Lodge

  • Dirty Cooper is loaded with weird evil outdated tech
  • Ray is suddenly one of the most interesting and likable characters of the Return
  • I could totally see Nine Inch Nails playing the Black Lodge
  • When original series Mike (the one armed spirit guide) claimed that these evils spirits “lived above a convenient store” we all assumed literally, like the floor above. What if he meant cosmically above? In that context we’ve just seen either the emergence or the central nexus of the Black Lodge entities in this ground zero prop town convenient store.
  • Given the locales seem similar, is the Opulent Woman the same “My mother is coming” that Cooper was warned about before he escaped through the plug socket in episode 3?



Ray Monroe(George Griffith)

Uh… I think he’s dead, but he’s from some kind of hell so I don’t know.”

Soot Man/Dugpa (Robert Broski)

“Gotta light?”

“This is the water, this is the well. Drink deep and descend. The horse is the white of the eyes and the dark within.”


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    Content Strategist, novelist and prolific roustabout who drinks entirely too much coffee. You can find him on Twitter @therealadamdodd