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June 19, 2017

‘Twin Peaks: The Return’ Review: Exploring the Best Moments of Part 7

Twin Peaks part 7 review

(Each week, we’re going to kick off discussion about Twin Peaks: The Return by answering one question: what was the best scene of the episode?)

After the Dougie-centric adventures of last week’s Twin Peaks, I was sort of dreading last night’s episode. But to my great relief, David Lynch and Mark Frost picked up the pace and delivered one of the most straightforward chunks of the season thus far. It’s packed with all sorts of juicy revelations that answer questions fans have had for years, but also poses its share of new quandaries to consider.

In our Twin Peaks part 7 review, we’ll cover the return of an old key, a foiled assassination attempt, and much more.

The Best Scene in Part 7

It’s usually fairly easy for me to select the best scene of a Twin Peaks episode, but it speaks to part 7’s quality that there were a bunch of contenders for that title. My favorite moment came when Laura Dern’s Diane relays her feelings about her meeting with the evil Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), aka DoppelCooper, at the federal prison. After a tantalizing appearance last week, we finally get a sense of who Diane is: a ferocious woman who’s not to be trifled with and has no problem telling anyone exactly what she thinks. FBI agents Gordon Cole (Lynch) and Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer) meet with Diane at her apartment and convince her to speak with the man posing as Cooper, and despite the fact that there’s some bad blood between the FBI agent and his former secretary, Diane agrees to help.

There’s a great sequence in which Dern and MacLachlan – far and away the best actors on the show – share some screen time as she pumps him for information, but I thought the best part was what happened immediately afterward: she breaks down in the parking lot and confirms what Cole and Albert suspected from the first moment they laid eyes on this guy: “That is not the Dale Cooper that I knew.” Now that they have their confirmation, I wonder what they had planned as a follow-up move.

I say “planned” in the past tense, because DoppelCooper ends up blackmailing the warden (James Morrison) into letting him escape the federal prison. It seems this version of Cooper, who hails from the Black Lodge, knows something the warden doesn’t want anyone else to find out, so the warden begrudgingly releases DoppelCooper and his minion Ray Monroe (George Griffith) in the cover of darkness. We don’t know their plans yet, but I’m excited that another version of MacLachlan will be roaming around aside from the real Cooper, who’s still being mistaken for an insurance salesman named Dougie Jones.

Blissfully, this episode was light on the Dougie subplot, and the sections in which that character appeared weren’t nearly as plodding and languorous as they’ve been in previous episodes. This time, a few detectives (led by Anchorman actor David Koechner) question Dougie and his wife Janey-E (Naomi Watts, whose stomp game is especially on point here) about Dougie’s car, which recently exploded. When Dougie and Janey-E leave the office building, the same assassin who brutally murdered Lorraine in last week’s episode sets his sights on Dougie, but Cooper’s training kicks in and he springs into action, flinging the guy to the ground. Of course, this is Twin Peaks, so it can’t be just any regular old foiled assassination attempt: the Black Lodge’s new Arm – which, if you’ll recall, is a bulbous head atop an electricity-charged tree – appears to Cooper and tells him to “squeeze [the assassin’s] hand off.” Cooper wrestles the gun away from him, and later we see something was left behind on the handle. A piece of the guy’s hand, maybe?

In South Dakota, a curious Lieutenant Knox (Adele Rene) lays eyes on the decapitated body from earlier this season and confirms to her superior officer (Ernie Hudson) that the body belongs to Major Garland Briggs (Don S. Davis). But the body hasn’t aged the way it’s supposed to – Briggs should be in his seventies, but the body is of someone in his forties. It’s a good guess this anomaly has something to do with his exploration into Project Blue Book and the classified material he was working on during his time in the Air Force. I wonder if Briggs’ body will serve as a vehicle of some kind back to the Black Lodge; I can’t quite put my finger on it yet, but I have a feeling this plotline will somehow be tied to the downfall of DoppelCooper.

Back in the town of Twin Peaks, Deputy Hawk (Michael Horse) gets Frank Truman (Robert Forster) up to speed about the discovery he made at the end of the previous episode: the pages he found in the bathroom stall door were from Laura Palmer’s diary, and there’s still one missing page out there somewhere. The duo begins to piece together the truth about Cooper and the Black Lodge through dialogue that’s reminiscent of fans talking through our own theories and trying to figure out what’s going on with this story. (Hat tip to my wife for that spot-on observation.) Truman has a Skype call with Doc Hayward (Warren Frost) and fills in some info for longtime Twin Peaks fans: Audrey Horne survived the bank explosion from the season 2 finale, and the evil Cooper visited her in the hospital’s ICU. Could DoppelCooper also have been the one who encountered Diane on the day they’ll both “never forget,” or did that incident involve the real Cooper and DoppelCooper managed to absorb some of real Coop’s memories?

Jerry Horne (David Patrick Kelly), high and lost in the woods somewhere, calls his hotelier brother Ben (Richard Beymer), ranting about a stolen car. Is it a coincidence that Dougie’s conversation with the detectives also involves a stolen car? (Probably.) Ben and his secretary Beverly Paige (Ashley Judd) hear a strange, electric humming inside Ben’s office, which may have something to do with the key to Cooper’s hotel room finally making its way back to the Great Northern after 25 years in the Black Lodge. There’s some sexual tension between Ben and Bev, and we learn that Beverly’s sick husband is suspicious of her.

At the Bang Bang Bar, Lynch and Frost hold on an extended shot in which a man sweeps the bar’s floor. Cool. The real purpose of the scene, however, is to establish a third Renault brother, Jean Michel (also played by Walter Olkewicz), is running a prostitution ring out of the bar. That level of unsavory behavior must run in the family. And to round things out, an absolutely normal night at the Double R Diner is interrupted when a man runs by, sticks his head in the door, asks if anybody has seen a character named “Bing,” and then runs away. Naturally, no one reacts. And if you’re wondering, the role of Bing is credited to David’s son Riley Lynch, a member of one of the bands that played at the Bang Bang Bar a couple of episodes ago. I haven’t the slightest guess as to how he’ll factor into the future proceedings.

As someone who appreciates the strange Lynchian touches of this show but also loves long-form narrative storytelling, I was a big fan of the way this episode pushed the overall story forward. What did you all think?

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