Forget “It is happening again.” How is this even happening? Somehow a cable network gave David Lynch 18 hours and seemingly unlimited resources to spatter the contents of his subconscious all over a huge canvas, allowing him to veer from absurdist comedy to stark terror to experimental filmmaking to musical numbers, and airing it weekly installments like a regular TV show or something. It’s only possible because Twin Peaks is a brand and David Lynch is a name, and Showtime wanted to be perceived as something other than the network that let Dexter run for 80 seasons too long. We’re never going to see anything like this again, and I am savoring every life-giving hour.
One thing I wanted to write about even before seeing last night’s journey into cosmic horror was the way Twin Peaks relates to the rest of so-called prestige television when it comes to depicting evil. We’ve become accustomed to these “difficult men” shows that try to help us understand bad people by exploring all the shades of gray, probing the psychological underpinnings, and delving into the subconscious trauma that made them the way they are. Of course I’m thinking of one of my all-time favorite shows here, The Sopranos, and others I’ve very much loved like Deadwood and Breaking Bad, as well as the many lesser efforts in this area (often found on Showtime). That’s all well and good, but this Twin Peaks feels like a better match for our current circumstances. (I’m tired of articles trying to make me understand and empathize with Trump voters, for instance.) There are bad people in the world and they’re trying to ruin it for the rest of us. Who knows where they came from or why they do what they do?
Part 8 (“Gotta light?”) does offer some kind of explanation. Maybe. I hesitate to even attempt to put it into words (and for the 300th time, I am so happy not to be recapping this show), but we do witness the Twin Peaks version of evil being brought into the world in the heart of a mushroom cloud. Did the first nuclear test awaken something, or open a gateway, or create something entirely new? I’m not going there. I certainly never expected any kind of origin story for Bob, but “The Return” has specialized in giving me what I never expected, whether it be the Dougie Jones experience or Dr. Jacoby as a crackpot vlogger or a guy sweeping a floor for two-and-a-half minutes. It’s what I cherish most about this miraculous revival: there’s no way of knowing where we’re going next or how long we’re going to stay there. We might drop in for a minute on Jerry Horne, high as a kite and lost in the woods, and never return to him. We might get 30 straight minutes of Dougie Jones or none at all. This drives certain professional TV critic types crazy, but for me, it’s a feature, not a bug.
Predicting where all this is going remains a fool’s errand, and yet every once in a while, like a stopped clock, I get it right. Even then, however, the destination is less important than the journey. I guessed from the start that the “something missing” that the Log Lady tasks Hawk with finding would turn out to be the torn-out diary pages revealing Laura Palmer’s dream about Annie: “The good Dale is in the Lodge and he can’t leave.” Did I predict Hawk would find them by following a dropped Indian-head coin and a Nez Perce logo to the inside of a bathroom stall door? I did not. So here are some general ideas and questions about things that may or may not happen in the 10 remaining hours.
- We saw the Giant (or ???????, as he is now credited) sending a gold sphere containing, I guess, the essence of Laura Palmer to Twin Peaks, presumably as a counter to the forces of evil that had been unleashed by Trinity. That didn’t work the first time, but in the premiere of “The Return,” we saw Laura being sucked out of the Black Lodge. Has she been sent back again? Will she and Cooper together be able to defeat Bob and/or the Evil Coop?
- Speaking of Evil Coop, do the coordinates he wants from Ray relate to what we saw in the 1940s/50s sections of Part 8? Does Philip Jeffries even exist as a physical entity at this point or is he just pure electricity? If Bob is “the key to this whole thing”…well, what is this whole thing as Ray understands it?
- How close is Dougie to regaining his full Cooperness, if that ever indeed happens? I originally guessed it would happen at about the halfway point, which would be the next hour (airing in two weeks!), but I’m not sure he’s that close yet. If and when that does happen, what becomes of Janey-E and Sonny Jim? Will he still feel a family connection to them?
- What’s next for Hawk’s investigation? When Truman asked him who else saw Cooper before he left town, he said he didn’t know, but he and Truman were both present when Bobby said his father had seen him that day. That’s when Major Briggs supposedly died in a fire, but now we have his headless body, no older than it was when last we saw him, in Buckhorn. We’ve already seen some time-travel shenanigans with the Major (remember when he showed up after a disappearance dressed as some kind of WWI flying ace?), so maybe that’s the explanation. Or maybe we’ll never go back there again, and the next hour will feature a 10-minute scene of Nadine unwrapping her new golden shovel. That’s the beauty of this Twin Peaks, and I wish it would never end.