Scattered Remarks on Twin Peaks: The Return (spoilers)

I’m really, really not interested in nitpicking Twin Peaks: The Return.  It’s too good.  Having a new hour of David Lynch every week is a gift, and it’s inappropriate to subject a gift to nitpicking.  Even if I tried to nitpick, I would fail, because I am totally incapable of seeing any flaws in this work.  Maybe they’re there, probably they’re not, but I’m enjoying it too much to notice or care.  I also don’t really want to defend the show against its detractors, because it boggles my mind that they even exist.  I’m more inclined to be like “fine, have it your way, more Twin Peaks: The Return for me.”  I am going to do a bit of defending anyways, against my inclination, because I can’t even handle living in the same world with people who don’t like Dougie Jones.  I told Angela that there’s allegedly a good deal of dislike for Dougie and she looked at me like she couldn’t understand the words coming out of my mouth.  Some remarks and observations:

  • Dougie Jones couldn’t be done more succinctly.  The central idea realized by the Dougie arc necessarily requires a lengthy development. Dougie wakes up in a suburban nightmare maze of imposing highrise office buildings and an ever expanding network of cul-de-sacs lined with prefabricated houses.  Like a more extreme version of John From Cincinnati, he isn’t able to form original thoughts, just repeat things he’s heard (typically the thing that has just been said to him).  There’s a degree of realism: it’s not like anyone thinks that Dougie is acting normally.  But the idea that comes into view is that this mode of functioning actually works reasonably well–it’s a passable strategy for navigating the suburban maze.  Josh suggested that we can think of him as a postmodern M. Hulot.  I have thoroughly enjoyed every bit of Dougie and I almost felt like something was missing in episode 7, where we only got a little bit of a Dougie fix.  Also, NB, Naomi Watts’ performance is brilliant.  She is sooooooo funny, and I love the way she plays off of MacLachlan’s Dougie.

 

  • I’m noticing quite a few references to Lynch’s films. Some clear examples: The Spike’s office hit that dominoes into a second hit is a reference to the black book/vacuum cleaner scene in Mulholland Drive.  The scene where we meet Richard Horne in the Bang Bang Bar and he aggressively gropes and threatens the girl who asks him for a light is a reference Bobby Peru’s introduction to Lula in Wild at Heart. Evil Coop’s creepy utterance “at your house” is a reference to Robert Blake’s creepy utterance of the same line in Lost Highway.  It’s a little bit more of a stretch but I had an urge to connect Balthazar Getty’s local crime kingpin to Frank Booth in Blue Velvet.  Let me know if you’ve noticed something I haven’t.  I haven’t found this aspect of new Twin Peaks too winky or gimmicky.  Rather, it helps promote this sense that this is a cumulative, career-encapsulating work.

 

  • Is Richard Horne the son of Evil Coop and Audrey Horne? I kinda got that implication from the revelation that Coop visited Audrey after leaving the Black Lodge 25 years earlier.  NB, I just googled this and it’s a fairly widespread fan theory.  Fuck fan theories in general, by the way.  Nothing is more antithetical to Lynchian aesthetics than trying to crack the code, especially in advance.  I do think that we are being invited to wonder about Richard’s parentage, though.

 

  • Laura Dern is a national treasure and I’m relishing her recent wave of activity. I watched Big Little Lies and thought she was more impressive than the rest of the cast combined, including the over-hyped Reese Witherspoon.  That show was all about Laura Dern, as far as I’m concerned.  Her scene with Evil Coop in Twin Peaks episode 7 was a tour de force and maybe the high point of the new series so far.

 

  • The story behind the Evolution of the Arm is amazing. Michael J. Anderson, the actor who played the Arm in the original series, has gone off the deep end.  He demanded a ridiculous amount of money to return in the new series, claiming that they couldn’t do Twin Peaks without him.  Lynch declined, which led to Anderson making all sorts of repulsive, unsubstantiated accusations on social media.  Lynch replaced him with a stick with a wad of bubblegum (or whatever it is) shaped like a brain stuck on top of it.   I guess they can do Twin Peaks without him after all.

 

  • I’ve seen a number of articles where people are trying to litigate which is better, old Twin Peaks or new Twin Peaks. This is a stupid question.  Old Twin Peaks was watered down with all sorts of non-Lynch creative input.  There are some great episodes that Lynch himself didn’t direct, but by far the best episodes are the ones that he did.  Only those episodes are anywhere near the quality of new Twin Peaks.  There’s a *ton* of disposable filler.  New Twin Peaks reflects a vastly more mature and developed artistic vision, and it is unadulterated and unrestrained by network censorship.  Nothing is disposable, it’s a unified work.  OF COURSE IT’S WAY THE FUCK BETTER.  OF COURSE.

 

  • Did anyone notice Andy wearing a Rolex? I’m sure there’s a surfeit of fan theories about that.  I’m not going to even hypothesize about what’s going on there, but it’s a bit of foreshadowing that I expect will be worth keeping in mind.  Side note:  Michael Cera as Wally Brando, dressed up like the damn Wild One, doing a damn Godfather accent, is one of the greatest little tangential moments of Lynch’s entire career.

 

  • One more thought about Dougie: there’s interesting continuity between his being guided by little lights (in the Mr. Jackpots scene and when he reviews the insurance files) and pre-lodge Coop’s mysticism.

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Scattered Remarks on Twin Peaks: The Return (spoilers)

  1. “Oh gee, gee… I guess i kinda sorta did. I have this thing for knives.”

    Reflecting on some pivotal scenes & visions from the original series, its a hard act to follow. You are picking up on references I didnt see or remember though i have been enjoying the series in a very sleepy way. Sometimes the slo cinema isnt working for me. I like rolling with a less than perfectly circular wheel but some beats have felt really off. Sometimes the weaving of settings, moods, threads feels like it could use more balance or pattern. I feel like there are intense moments of love for Lynch’s clarity & then i, literally, will dose off (partly because my life is fucking exhausting). I really appreciated a lot of what you have to say here. Agreed origional series had filler, whereas this had slow of a different kind. Coop’s foil to all is is perfect. Agreed the pre-cog connections. Noted. Clearly you’ve somewhat dropped any pretense of holding Lynch at a critical distance. I push a bit but mostly pull his work close. I do feel indeed a moral imperative to push it away at times because even ironic violence or referencial violence is still violence and to not recognize it is privilege. But art can be crude & difficult with cheese, if you please. I chose to (mostly) embrace Lynch’s Twin Peaks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s concept creep surrounding the term ‘violence’ that ought to be questioned. The term gets used metaphorically, as in “discursive violence.” While this is perhaps in some contexts an apt metaphor, it’s still just a metaphor, and when we lose sight of this we both minimize actual violence and risk histrionics. The violence of Twin Peaks isn’t metaphorical, it’s fictional, but claiming that it *is* violence seems like a manifestation of the same concept creep. This isn’t to say that there can’t be a critique of fictional violence, though I do think in this case it would be misguided. I plan to post about this eventually, but need to see more first. Quite generally for Lynch, as for e.g. Sion Sono, sexual violence in particular had an important aesthetic function. It’s a central way that these filmmakers portray powerful men as repulsive, and it’s evocative of a certain emotional reaction in the audience that’s central to the overall aesthetic experience.

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