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'Twin Peaks' Is Testing Our Patience

"Part 12" circles around the same answers we already know, trying viewers' patience.

Jess Zimmerman

Laura Dern (Photo courtesy of Showtime)

This was a frustrating episode, although I'm on record as appreciating Lynch at his most frustrating. I talked a few weeks ago about question/answer ratios, and "Part 12" maintains the balance, kind of—but the answers we get are mostly answers we already knew. The questions, meanwhile, can be summed up by the cashier who witnesses Sarah Palmer's breakdown: "Whaaaaaaaat?"

First, the answers: Blue Rose is DL's continuation of Project Blue Book, the government investigation into alien life that was shut down for lack of evidence—that is, covered up—in the 1970s. If you watched the old series, Major Briggs basically says as much, though he doesn't use the code name "Blue Rose"—he just says members of the government are studying messages from space and Earth, and that they're searching for a place called the White Lodge. Jeffries was in charge of Blue Book, and he recruited Albert, Chet Desmond, and Dale Cooper. Of the four, only Albert isn't mysteriously missing. All of this we also basically knew.

We also knew that Ben Horne's grandson killed a little boy and then tried to murder the only witness, and yet we get to see Frank Truman tell Ben about it at length. We've seen Dr. Amp deliver one unhinged episode of his show, and now we have to sit through another nearly identical one, with Nadine Hurley's nearly identical reactions. We see Diane receive and send a text, but then we have to wait for a beautiful French woman to put on her cardigan and shoes and lipstick before we can watch Albert repeat those texts to Gordon. That scene, especially, is so agonizingly drawn out, and for so little payoff, that I suspect the physical sensation of frustration—of itching inside your skin—is one that Lynch was aiming for.

Sherilyn Fenn. Photo courtesy of Showtime

To me, almost all of this week's questions feel similar to that experience of listening to Audrey and Charlie rattle off names we don't know. They're not concrete, actionable questions—like "Where's Major Briggs's head?"—but a sort of flailing "What the heck? I'm lost." Besides two long, long stretches of "who are these people anyway," my biggest question sounds very dumb when you say it out loud: When Diane mouths "co-or-di-nates" while reading the coordinates on Ruth's arm, and then types "co-or-di-nates" carefully into her mapping program, are we supposed to interpret that as her memorizing and then typing in the actual coordinates? Because I'm pretty sure if you type the word "coordinates" into Google Maps, it doesn't drop a pin in Twin Peaks. Did Lynch et al. just not want to make up fake coordinates for the show? WHY ARE WORDS NUMBERS? WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? I'M LOST.

One mystery, at least, I was able to clear up with the help of the Reddit Twin Peaks forum. Yes, if you've been paying attention, you do know who Billy is—unless you put too much faith in Showtime's closed captioning, which I do. Back in "Part 7," I noted that Richard Horne stole the truck of a man named Bing; we know his name is Bing because after he has a threatening encounter with Richard, someone comes into the Double R diner shouting "anybody seen Bing?" Or rather, they don't. As it turns out, that was a transcription error: Bing comes into the Double R shouting "anybody seen Billy?" Which is to say, Billy owned the truck Richard used to commit vehicular manslaughter, and Audrey can't find him because her son(?) made him disappear.

Is Lynch setting up a cascade of satisfying resolutions with this litany of drawn-out nothings, repetition, and unfamiliar names and faces? Or is he teaching us to sit with that feeling, to assume that our bones will itch until the finale and maybe beyond? I'll grudgingly respect the latter, but I'll also want to scream. The official description of this episode is "Let's rock," and all I can say is, "Yes, please, let's."

Notes for Peaks freaks of old:

— Gordon's French friend looks not unlike Denise in her prime. One wonders if Gordon has an unacknowledged crush on his boss.

— Did anyone else yell at the screen while Frank Truman was telling Ben the name of the woman who witnessed Richard's crime and where she was? I'm not saying I expected him to go to intensive care and smother her with a pillow—but, yeah, I absolutely did.

— It hardly bears mentioning that Diane's gesture and response when she's asked to temporarily aid Blue Rose ("let's rock") echo the Little Man from Another Place. The sound effects are full Black Lodge too.

Follow Jess Zimmerman on Twitter.