"Part 14" works hard to tie together old threads, potentially threatening the fun of David Lynch's mysteries.
I know how this is going to sound, but listen: I wonder if we're in danger of getting too many answers in the current iteration of Twin Peaks. I know, I know—I've complained before about episodes that introduce endless questions and little in the way of resolution. But I've also said, and I believe, that the key is balance: a tension between mystery and epiphany. Work too hard to tie up the loose ends, to weave the enigmas into a cohesive mythos, and you wind up going the way of LOST. Before the season aired, that was my major worry about The Return—that it would seek to shake itself free of much of the lingering inexplicability that made the original great.
"Part 8" put those fears to rest, at least for a while. "Part 14" has me a little on-edge again, though, with the way it seeks to tie together threads running all the way back to Fire Walk with Me. Is Janey-E being Diane's sister significant, or merely pat? Are the revelations and implications about Phillip Jeffries an attempt to reverse-engineer an explanatory mythology for scenes that were, perhaps, meant to be more evocative? I mean, maybe Lynch has really had the entire cosmology in his head from day one, but I've read the extensive oral history of the original show, and I kind of doubt it.
We have plenty of new strangeness this week, like most weeks—but a lot of it seems to point back to existing mysteries in a way that makes me (perhaps unnecessarily) concerned. I guess I'm mostly reacting to the scenes Andy views in the Fireman's weird living room, which is basically "the story so far" recap of the strangest bits of the show, but implying a connection evident enough to be legible even by Andy. Speaking of Andy, I think I wanted the eyeless chittering woman, Naido, to remain as part of the atmosphere; having her come back as a "real" person threatens to collapse her from a great mystery into a simple one. Then there's Freddie's tale of garden gloves and woe, which seems like a diversion, an entertaining side story from a one-off character—but then features the Fireman, conveniently only just given a name this episode. Or maybe Freddie was always meant to be part of the denouement, to find the destiny waiting in Twin Peaks for him and his green right hand—but in that case, why wait to introduce him until episode 14? Whatever else this show is doing, its pacing will always surprise me.
Still, I'm probably being needlessly picky about what was honestly a fun episode. It's really just a pitfall inherent to sequels: It can be hard to tell the difference between a revelation and a retcon. And I'm sensitized to the dangers of laboring too hard for a neat explanation, having seen it tank other promising cultural artifacts. If I'm being fair, though, I have to admit that Twin Peaks isn't laboring yet. It just might be perspiring a little harder today than it has been in previous weeks.
But even as the show hints at a level of resolution I'm not sure I want, it's also spending some time this week with the kind of catharsis I am looking for: shitty men getting their comeuppance. The crooked, whiny, misogynistic cop Chad is arrested, in a scene so matter of fact and devoid of gloating that you'd almost think the entire viewing audience hadn't been baying "can someone punch this guy?" since week one. There's a little knife-twisting later, though, as Chad is tormented by the strange vocalizations of his cellmates. Good. I hope he never gets to sleep.
And then there's the man who bothers Sarah Palmer and learns, too late, that this is a very bad idea: She takes off her face, showing a void with a floating left hand (the darkened finger, by the way, is the same one the jade ring is worn on, and also the same location as Doppelcoop's backward fingerprint) and a smiling mouth, and then tears his throat out. Sarah herself seems like she may be entirely unaware of her darker side; after the man falls bleeding to the ground, she jumps back screaming in genuine-sounding distress, gasping that she was trying to have her drink and mind her business and he just keeled over. Almost as soon as the bartender rushes over, though, her face is back to the stony, impassive expression it featured before she took it off. "Sure is a mystery, huh?" she growls, a massive shift from her previous panicked voice. Is Sarah a Blue Rose, too? Is she, perhaps, the girl who swallowed the frog?
If this continues, we should see Richard Horne punched to death any day now. I, for one, will weather all kinds of potentially deflationary callbacks and explanations to get that scene.
Notes for Peaks freaks of old:
— "You've been there all through the years, Lucy?" "Well, actually, I have gone home." Lucy this week was the Lucy-est Lucy we've seen so far, which was a relief to me personally. I was finding Kimmy Robertson's delivery strangely stilted, like she was playing Lucy in a tub of molasses. But I'm dying to hear the story about the time a dog got lost in the station, and why that required her to keep pajamas at work.
— I have never cared about James's love life, and I'm not about to start.
— I am a simple woman: I guess I just want everything to be exactly like it was on old Twin Peaks and simultaneously completely different and not trying too hard to tie up any loose ends but also revelatory enough to be satisfying.
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