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Week by Week TV: Twin Peaks: The Return Parts 3 and 4

Twin Peaks: The Return is directed by David Lynch and co-written by Lynch and Mark Frost. It stars Kyle MacLachlan as FBI special Agent Dale Cooper. This new, third series takes place 25 years after the original series, one of the most influential series of the modern TV age.

This is an ongoing commentary. To read about parts one and two, go here.

In my previous review I talked about how impenetrable the opening half an hour of this series was. The opening of Part Three was no different. We were back with good Dale Cooper in the Black Lodge, and something bizarre is happening. This stretches on for many minutes until Cooper forces himself through a plug socket into our real world. This opening felt like I was adrift in a boat where the sky is made of papier mache and the sea is vinegar and someone is constantly whispering “Who ate all the tin cans” in you ear. It was pretty weird and is the second time I imagined everyone but the hardcore fans switching off in alienated boredom.

However, there is a trick to surviving any David Lynch creation: just go with it. Whenever you start to panic because you don’t understand why something is happening, just let it happen. Also, laugh at the ridiculousness of the situations. I’m pretty sure it’s what Lynch expects of you. He doesn’t think that everything he says is important, or life changing. It’s entertainment. A more niche and artistic type of entertainment, but entertainment non the less. This feels like David Lynch having fun with people’s conception of him. Also, this weirdness quickly subsides into his more off-kilter domestic oddness in the second half of these two episodes.

When Good Cooper emerges into the real world (causing the doppelganger versions of himself to explosively vomit), the episode picks up a lot. We learn that Cooper now has two doppelgangers. One is evil and leathery, the other is called Dougie and is wrapped up in some criminal activities in Las Vegas. Cooper switches places with Dougie and ends up in a casino. However, his prolonged time in the Black Lodge has left Cooper shell-shocked. It has been 24 years, after all. This Cooper is a shuffling, bumbling character, and he has the sense of someone learning how to adjust to our world. Cooper remains in this state for the rest of this double bill and, after winning countless mega-jackpots, he is taken in by Dougie’s wife (Naomi Watts) and son. These sequences are played solely for comedy and give a sense of the amalgam of genres at play here.

There are some more welcome returns from characters. Miguel Ferrer and David Lynch appear as FBI agents Albert Rosenfield and Gordon Cole, who receive word that Cooper has been found. David Duchovny also makes an appearance as DEA agent Denise in the second episode. We also see the new Sheriff Truman in Twin Peaks, this time played by Robert Forster as the brother of Harry Truman.

There is a bizarre cameo from Michael Cera as a Marlon Brando from Rebel Without A Cause type, straddling a motorbike, with an odd accent to go with it. It’s as out there as the rest of the two-parter gets, but is fun and distracting enough to give a sense of Coen Brothers-esque tone.

All in all, this was another strong episode, despite the bizarrely patience-testing opening. I am still on board with this series, much more than with the new X-Files, and I’m excited to see who all the new cast members are playing. We’ve not seen Laura Dern yet and there are countless other returning characters left to make an appearance. Please join me again next week for my review of Part 5 and 6 of Twin Peaks Series 3.

Twin Peaks: The Return Parts 3 and 4 aired in the UK on Tuesday 30th May on Sky Atlantic and are available for catch-up now. Image source: Vulture.com