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'Twin Peaks' Gives Us a Few Answers, but Mostly More Questions

"Part 9" brings us back down to Earth by checking in on extant plots.
Kyle MacLachlan. (Credit: Suzanne Tenner/Showtime)

The most important thing for you to know about Twin Peaks this week is that Bill Hastings's "The Search for the Zone" is a real website. I mean, it's not a real website. It's a website that was created for the show. But its got a late-90s design that's so convincing, I checked when the domain was registered. (It probably didn't need to be quite that elaborate; Hastings says he's been interested in parallel universes for "many years," but not how many. But when you have an audience who will appreciate late-90s web design jokes—like, say, people who are into Twin Peaks—you take the opportunity.)


In terms of textual density, the site is a little disappointing, especially for a show that has generated three full companion books, but it does have its secrets: At the bottom are hidden coordinates for a spot near Lookout Mountain Road in southwestern South Dakota. If you click them, you get a very glitchy video of… maybe the gas station where the woodsmen were milling around in the last episode?

This is all to say that there was a lot of plot on Peaks this week, so much that it spills outside of the boundaries of the show. After the beautiful, almost excruciatingly slow, nigh-impenetrable reverie of the last episode, "Part 9" checks in on almost every extant plotline—even Jerry Horne getting too high and losing himself in the woods. More than that, the plots are starting to cross and re-cross one another like strings on a crazy wall.

Currently, the most promising subplot is the posthumous message from Major Briggs, secreted in an enigmatic metal tube hidden inside a chair. While the "Garland Briggs knew everything that was going to happen in the future" mysticism could get tiresome—a sort of deus ex Major-a—the message itself is obscure and straightforward in equal measure, a satisfying balance that promises both solutions and mysteries. Most TV shows tilt too far away from enigma for my liking, but Lynch often just runs at it headlong, like Johnny Horne into the wall, with no actual assurance of an exit plan. Garland's treasure hunt, though: This is going somewhere. The time is noted. The place is assigned.


Michael Horse, Robert Forster, and Dana Ashbrook. Credit: Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

And yet the message also offers new mysteries. What's the drawing? Two peaks, yes, but is that all? There's a sun and a moon, or a full moon and a crescent moon, but that's never the orientation of a crescent moon in the sky. It is, however, sometimes the orientation of a crescent Earth from the surface of the moon. And that blob with wings—it calls to mind the symbol on Dougie's ring, which old fans will know by heart, but it also looks exactly like the blob with wings on Doppelcoop's ace of spades, the symbol he demanded to know if Darya had ever seen.

This isn't the only storyline that points at resolution with one hand while gesturing at grander secrets with the other. Early in the episode, we see Doppelcoop use a burner phone to send the message "around the dinner table, the conversation is lively" to an unknown number. Later, someone gets that message, also from an unknown number—and it's Diane. Does she know that it came from Doppelcoop? Does she know who he really is? Was her distress at seeing him a few episodes ago a put-on, or did it spring from a source that we don't fully understand?

And the Hastings plotline, hoo boy. It's a torrent of answers, and every one trails new questions. How did Major Briggs's body get to Buckhorn, and why isn't it older? Why did it appear decapitated, paired with the head of Hastings's secretary Ruth? Why were Hastings's fingerprints all over the walls? Well, Briggs had been hiding out (how?) in a parallel dimension (where?) to which Hastings and Ruth tracked him (how did they know?). They broke into a military database to get him the coordinates (of what?) he asked for (why?). And then… well, he floated up, and his head disappeared, and it was beautiful, and Ruth was dead. What? Why? How? I believe we'll find out the answers, or something like answers. I do not believe, or wish to believe, that the answers won't bring their own mysteries.


David Lynch and Laura Dern. Credit: Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

In general, after last week's deep dive into history and symbol and strange realms, "Part 9" reaffirms its promise to managing the tricky harmonics of puzzle and reveal. It's something not many TV shows pull off, or even try. I remember being impressed by the early-2000s HBO show Carnivale, which took part in the tradition established by original Twin Peaks in a lot of ways (it even starred Michael J. Anderson, the "Little Man from Another Place"), for its skill in navigating this balance in its first season: Essentially every episode offered one answer and one new question. Twin Peaks is running at a different ratio, maybe… let's say three questions per answer, if you don't include last week. But "Part 9" offers some assurances that it will continue to hold that tension, neither letting us wander in the dark for no payoff nor collapsing the mystery by weighting it down with too many answers. As much as I want to know what happens on October 1 at 2:53, this—the tension, and the promise of continued tension—is really all I care about.

Notes for Peaks freaks of old:

— You already knew, of course, that Garland Briggs always realized his son would make good. His speech to Bobby about his dream is one of my favorite moments of the original series, and I will never get tired of Bobby tearing up over his old man's faith in him—not young wastrel Bobby, and not silver fox Bobby either, it seems.

— Major Briggs's drawing calls to mind the brand or tattoo on the Log Lady's leg, which resembles two mountains (they're a bit craggier than the simple triangles in his drawing). The major, of course, has a similar mark on his neck, which shows up after his abduction: His features three triangles. Cooper combines the two to get one of the Owl Cave symbols, except he doesn't; he combines the Log Lady's tattoo with three DIAMONDS, a fact that makes me yell every single time. Triangles aren't diamonds!!! Let's hope there are no such shenanigans this go-round.

— Ben Horne not only declines to initiate an affair, he also references monastery bells. It seems that his "good Ben" persona actually stuck.

—I don't even know what to predict about the reappearance of Johnny Horne, except please don't fuck with the Native headdress again, Twin Peaks.

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