Warning: This recap for Part 12 of Twin Peaks contains spoilers.
Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn) is back! Finally! Just not in the way anyone was expecting or perhaps hoping — a statement that could be applied to many aspects of Twin Peaks: The Return. A recurring theme of the new series is the corruption of innocence and how darkness has enveloped the light; the popular motifs that made us feel warm and cozy have been ripped up and stomped on. The town of Twin Peaks is no longer all coffee and cherry pie, it’s a disturbing hellscape of hit and runs, sexual assault, physical violence, gun-toting children, and zombie vomit.
Who better to represent that crumbling virtue than Audrey? The once disobedient teenager with a romantic heart, big aspirations, and dreamy dance moves. While Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) was innocent on the exterior and twisted underneath, Audrey was the opposite, so desperate to appear the bad girl when her very nature was pure and good-hearted — her shared affection with Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) remains one of the show’s sweetest and most cherished relationships. So to see Audrey now as an embittered, angry woman in a loveless marriage, proudly boasting of an affair, it is both dispiriting and a bleak sign of the times.
But this was also an episode of not getting what you want. Audrey wanted information that her husband refused to impart. Albert wanted Gordon to focus and get down to business. Sheriff Truman wanted to know the whereabouts of Richard Horne. Sarah Palmer just wanted a Bloody Mary! But in the words of the Rolling Stones, you can’t always get what you want. Fans may have hoped for Audrey’s return to be on a grander scale or more pivotal to the wider plot, but unlike Mr. C, David Lynch and Mark Frost are not in the business of “want” — they’re all about giving us what we “need.”
We start in South Dakota where Gordon (David Lynch) and the team sit in a red-curtained hotel room, sipping Bordeaux and dumping exposition like garbage trucks disposing of waste. The way this show jumps from abstract to literal storytelling is quite something, especially when it involves explaining the show’s supernatural elements. Part 8 was an origin story told through a prism of light and sound and nightmare imagery. In Part 12, Albert (Miguel Ferrer) dumps info on Agent Tammy Preston (Chrysta Bell) like he’s reading from cue cards. He provides a straight-faced explanation of the FBI’s investigation into UFOs, Project Blue Book, and the Blue Rose task force comprised of himself and agents Phillip Jeffries, Chet Desmond and Dale Cooper.
Albert tells Tammy that Gordon is reluctant in recruiting new blood into the Blue Rose group on account of all the missing agents, but with her credentials (Dean’s list at MIT, top of her class at Quantico), they want her on board. Tammy accepts, and we get a striking close-up of her smiling in front of the red curtain backdrop, bringing to mind the image of Laura in the Red Room in the final scene of Fire Walk With Me. The use of the red curtains here was surely intentional and perhaps a signifier of where Tammy’s journey is heading.
Diane (Laura Dern), meanwhile, steps through the curtains with purpose, giving off an air of confidence that suggests she is more familiar with the supernatural goings on than first thought. You could certainly picture her striding into the Red Room and snarling, “F*** you, BOB” before pestering the One-Armed Man for a cigarette. Despite no longer working at the Bureau, Gordon wants to deputize Diane as part of the Blue Rose task force, a way to keep tabs on her and her side-dealings. “Let’s rock,” she says, repurposing one of the show’s best known catchphrases, first uttered by the Man From Another Place to Agent Cooper.
Albert is still keeping track of Diane’s text messages and relays the latest one to Gordon, but not before the hard-of-hearing FBI chief bids adieu to his date for the evening. The red-dress-wearing French lady (Bernice Marlohe) spends an age putting on her heels, reapplying lipstick, posing, pouting, adjusting her clothes, and taking one last sip of wine before finally kissing Gordon goodbye. The glee on Gordon’s face as he watches this ritualistic performance is simply Lynch enjoying himself, regardless of who is waiting (Albert and the audience). It’s great how Lynch is mocking his own obsession with pretty young women, and his turnip pun was damn fine, but with six episodes remaining, you can’t help but feel a pang of exasperation in moments such as these.
“Las Vegas?” is the text Diane receives, and she replies that “they haven’t asked [her] yet.” If the person she is in communication with is Mr. C (Kyle MacLachlan), then it seems he is still a step ahead of the FBI and is inquiring whether or not they know about Las Vegas (and by proxy Dougie-Coop) yet. Later, Diane puts the coordinates from Ruth Davenport’s arm into her phone’s GPS, and what is the location? Of course, none other than our favorite little logging town of Twin Peaks.
The highlight of the episode, outside of the brief scene of Dougie-Coop (Kyle MacLachlan) playing catch with Sonny Jim (Pierce Gagnon), was Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie) at the grocery store shopping for vodka and cigarettes. Zabriskie, a long-time collaborator of Lynch’s, always knows exactly how to nail that haunted, off-kilter performance that fills a scene with foreboding. Here she is freaked out by the sudden appearance of Turkey Jerky behind the checkout counter. “Men are coming!” she yells at the checkout assistants. “Something happened to me! I don’t feel good!” Something indeed happened to Sarah; her daughter was raped and murdered by her husband some 25 years ago. But something also happened to Twin Peaks the day Laura’s body was found wrapped in plastic — it lost its innocence. It’s not really about Turkey Jerky (or is it?), it’s about how the town of Twin Peaks has changed, and not for the better.
Deputy Chief Hawk (Michael Horse) later stops by Sarah’s house to check in on her well-being, and as if to signify that evil is definitely still present we get those classic shots of the ceiling fan coupled with the ominous Angelo Badalamenti score. Every time the camera panned to that ceiling fan in the original series, you knew that BOB (Frank Silva) was nearby, the noise of the fan disguising the terrors happening within those suburban walls. The past still possesses Sarah, and the future frightens her even more so. She brushes off Hawk’s concerns, despite noises coming from inside the house, and sums up her life (and life in general) as a “God damn bad story.”
Twin Peaks is full of bad stories, from spousal abuse to drug dealing to physical assault to the murder of young children. Richard Horne is at the center of most of those atrocities, and Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster) has to break the news to Ben Horne (Richard Beymer) that his grandson is the man responsible for the hit and run murder and assault of Miriam (Sarah Jean Long). “That boy has never been right,” Ben admits, suggesting he was born evil and giving further credence to the Audrey + Evil Coop = Richard theory. He later tells Beverly (Ashley Judd) that Richard never had a father, before reminiscing about how his own father bought him a two-tone bicycle — “I loved that bike my father bought me.”
Parenting gone wrong is a consistent theme in Twin Peaks, one that featured heavily last week with Becky (Amanda Seyfried) and the Briggs family. Ben was the furthest thing from an ideal father in the original series, a manipulative, philandering, conniving businessman with little consideration for the feelings of others. But after his Civil War breakdown in Season 2, Ben started to turn a new leaf, and we’ve seen in this series just how much the Great Northern hotel owner has changed. That change is on full display here as he offers to pay for Miriam’s hospital expenses and gives Agent Cooper’s old room key to Frank to pass along to his ailing brother Harry. “I thought he’d like it as a memento,” he says, showing genuine sentiment.
Speaking of parents, we still don’t have confirmation on Richard’s. But all signs point to his mother being Audrey, who makes her long awaited return to the show, not in dramatic fashion as part of the Horne plot but as a surly wife sniping at her new husband, Charlie (Clark Middleton), in a scene that seems to have fallen from an alternate reality soap opera. It’s a true patience tester as we try to get a grip on the newly introduced Charlie, as well as keep up with the revolving door of new names — Tina (“bitch”), Chuck (“certifiable”), and Billy. I at least assume Billy is the same one the stranger was looking for back in Part 7 when he burst into the Double R. If not, then lord help us.
What we do know is that Audrey is sleeping with Billy, who has been missing two days, and that her marriage to Charlie is one of convenience, not love. The scene ends with Charlie receiving vital information on a phone call but withholding it from Audrey and thereby the audience. “You’re not going to tell me what she said?” Audrey screams. It’s funny in its downright boldness but also a kick in the balls, which according to Audrey, Charlie definitely doesn’t have. The disconnected storytelling in Twin Peaks is often interesting, like trying to put a puzzle together, but this scene — followed by the one at the Roadhouse with the two girls gossiping about more people we’ve never heard of — felt obtuse and redundant.
The redundancy is where this episode fell short for me. It wasn’t just that Lynch-Frost put Audrey, one of the series most iconic characters, in a scene so distant from the main goings on, it was that it felt repetitive and not in a way that was engaging on a narrative or a visual level. The same could be said for the Dr. Jacoby/Nadine intermission (simply a copy and paste of earlier scenes) and Gordon’s ogling of the French lady. Albert’s impatience started to become relatable this episode, rather than simply a humorous aside. Or maybe I just really missed my Dougie fix this week.
For an episode titled “Let’s rock” (a phrase steeped in Twin Peaks lore), I was expecting a more rowdy affair, especially coming off the back of Part 11, one of the season’s strongest outings. But I should have learned by now to throw expectations out of the window with this show. While the fragmented meandering did begin to grate for the first time this episode, I do trust in Lynch-Frost and their vision, even if it means we’re only hearing one side of the story right now.
THOUGHTS FROM ANOTHER PLACE
Jerry Horne (David Patrick Kelly) is finally out of the woods and seems to have control over his feet.
Chantal (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and Hutch (Tim Roth) dispose of Warden Murphy with a sniper shot to the head. Next stop Wendy’s. Then Vegas? I suspect that the Mitchum Brothers will end up helping Dougie to fend off these two reprobates.
During Audrey’s verbal smackdown on Charlie, there is mention of Billy borrowing a truck from Chuck. Is this the same truck Richard used to run over the young boy? If so, is Billy connected to the farmer that Deputy Andy (Harry Goaz) went to meet? Is the farmer Billy?
What did Sarah mean when she said “men are coming”? My first thought was the Woodsmen. Could they already be in the Palmer household? We heard that clanging. “It’s in our house now.”
Carl Rodd (Harry Dean Stanton) continues to be a shimmering light among the darkness, this week compensating a Fat Trout resident for his handiwork around the trailer park.
Something which I didn’t consider at the time, but has been posited elsewhere online, is that Gordon’s French lady friend was a coded message similar to Lil the Dancer in FWWM. Her drawn out movements did seem purposeful and Gordon mentioned her mother, just like he did with Lil. Not to mention they both wore red dresses. If this is the case, then when he told Albert he’s worried about him it could have been because he didn’t pick up on the message. Hmm.
Twin Peaks will air an hour earlier starting next week. New episodes will air Sundays on Showtime at 8 p.m.