Viewers are finally seeing more of their favorite town by Snoqualmie Falls in Part V of Twin Peaks: The Return, but this isn’t the cheery, doughnut-slinging Twin Peaks we all know. This isn’t even the town concealing a bumbling Ben and Jerry and a sordid, sex-trafficking One Eyed Jack’s.
The new Twin Peaks is a lawless town, where the new generation of Hornes is exponentially worse than the previous bad boys, the bureau’s best agent is AWOL, and the sheriff’s on a never-ending fishing trip.
Twenty-five years later, malice gazes out at us from every corner of Twin Peaks, most malevolently from a booth at the Bang Bang Bar, where psychopathic young Richard Horne (Eamon Farren) sits smoking a cigarette. His beautiful, terrifying Dorian Gray face angled just so that the whites of his eyes look devilish, he ashes onto the table and glares ominously at a booth of pretty young things. After he slides a cigarette pack of cash to an anonymous man for God-knows-what shady deal, one of the gals comes over for a light and a little bad boy action. But Richard is no small-town sweetheart; he clamps his amphibian hand around her neck and threatens to rape her, but no one does anything, and his evil seems unstoppable. The cops and bar staff are absent, and Richard seems set on fulfilling the helicopter parent’s encouragement: You can do whatever you set your heart to. Even Bobby wasn’t this bad—in fact, Bobby’s now chasing these guys, and maybe Bobby will be the one to stop Richard dead in his tracks.
Through these “regular” citizens, Lynch foreshadows the dual devil within all of us. The biggest threat to Twin Peaks right now isn’t Bob, who’s locked up inside Bad Coop in a holding cell; it’s the real, everyday citizens of Twin Peaks, whether their ills are malevolent, haphazard or just co-dependently supportive of bad blood. That bad blood includes a new Bonnie and Clyde-sque couple who are sure to leave pretty corpses: stunningly ethereal Becky (Amanda Seyfried) and emaciated, blow-happy Steven (Caleb Landry Jones) are the prototypical American couple, cruising beautifully to tragedy in a Firebird Trans Am that’s older than they are. Unfortunately, it’s Becky’s mother, Shelly, who’s partially fueling their ecstatic doom by relinquishing all the cash in her purse to the broke, jobless couple.
Ironically, Becky’s a baker, but she doesn’t make enough bread to support her shiftless lover, and all Steven’s got are witty, empty jokes and a vintage car with a soundtrack from heaven. Becky and Steven are just two more pleasure-seeking millennials who still yank on Mom and Dad’s pursestrings, but their destination seems to be disaster. Who’s got their chips down that Steven will bite it first and Lynch’s eye for lovely women will keep Becky on screen?
Meanwhile, Bad Coop and Good Coop are both moving slow, like molasses stuck to the bottom of the jar. Bad Coop’s wreaking havoc on prison security systems by manically keying secret codes into his one free phone call, and Good Coop is plodding through a 9-to-5 insurance life guzzling other people’s coffee as hysterical, dementia-ridden Dougie in an ill-fitting chartreuse-lime jacket. It seems a Cain and Abel face-off is inevitable, whether cosmic or literal. We know Killer Bob is still with us, because he pops by to say whassup to Bad Coop’s prison mirror, and there’s a bone-chilling flashback to the bloody mirror head-crack in Season Two’s finale. Once Bad Coop jailbreaks, as he inevitably will, and Good Coop awakes from his sleepwalking, the significance of the Buenos Aires metal ball or the murderous glass portal may (or may not, knowing Lynch) become clear. Until then, good is asleep at the wheel, and Hawk and Andy just can’t figure out the Native American significance of the case files.
Lynch is again showing a The Secret Sharer-like duality to humanity—the Coops are two sides of the same cosmic coin, different wrinkles on the same face, lunar and solar. No character is clean. Even insurance man Dougie, their third, was a bad hombre who owed $50,000 to unsavory types and had everyone trying to off him and relieve him of his remaining cash. Chaos abounds in this chapter: Good Coop-cum-Dougie’s coworker may be lying about insurance claims; mafioso owners pummel an innocent casino manager they believe has rigged Mr. Jackpot’s slot machines (while three bored blonde entertainer bunnies in pink stare off into the distance in the corner of the room, natch); competing teams seek to blow up Dougie and incinerate themselves before a young neighbor boy’s eyes; even beloved Twin Peaks characters are getting in on the commodification game.
Namely: Dr. Jacoby. Though it seems at first that the most resoundingly clear message of this chapter will come from the older generation, Dr. Jacoby is no longer just Dr. Jacoby. He’s gotten with the game, going from tape recording Laura to videocasting as “Dr. Amp.” In a Ginsbergian rant, sipping on huckleberry spring water, Dr. Amp howls about the “vast global corporate conspiracy” of our food as an eye-patched Nadine listens and nods from her home. “You must see, hear, understand and act,” he says, hearkening back to Pete Seeger’s days—but is Seeger’s virtuous idealism deader than a doorknob in a Trump-era Twin Peaks?
“Shovel your way out of the shit and into the truth,” Dr. Amp exclaims. But suddenly, the camera beams an image of him peddling the way out of the shit we’re knee-deep in: those double-sprayed gold shovels, double-coated in lies, are illuminated in a buzzingly electric golden light as angels’ hums soar into our ears. The price: $29.99. Is no soul, not even the one that struggled to save Laura’s, unadulterated?
But the pursestrings of good are pulling together: Jade, with her popping of the Great Northern key into the mailbox; Hawk and Andy, with their heeding of the Log Lady’s wise words; Colonel Davis, with his dispatch of Cindy into the Dakotas to search for Garland Briggs; and Tammy Preston, with her examination of the two sets of Cooperian fingerprints. There are fireworks to come, and soon.
End scene finds our bumbling hero, Good Coop/Dougie, ready to camp out the evening with a gun-toting statue, which draws him ever closer to his previous life as an agent. In his mockery of the ill-fitting office life, Lynch seems to call us to quit our insured jobs and stop making false claims so we can find the true path back to the White Lodge. How soon will our beloved agent be back in the Great Northern putting his life in danger, seeing giants, quaffing coffee out of a real porcelain cup (not that cardboard insurance cup), and eating bacon so crispy it’s almost cremated? How soon is now? We can’t wait for it to happen, even if Audrey and Annie aren’t there to romance him (and even if his new paramour seems predestined to be Tammy Preston, who doesn’t seem to be a fan favorite thus far).
In this chapter, like a Socratic teacher, Lynch brings us more scenes of divine beauty and mystical confusion than answers. The episode’s longest, most self-indulgent vignette—the near-music video that any Hollywood editor would have been forced to chop—is its most sublime: that of Becky, lost on an ecstatic bump of coke, her lovely head flush against the Firebird’s plush red seat, gazing into the sky as The Paris Sisters’ “I Love How You Love Me” strums her to the stars. If only all of life’s emotions could be that unadulterated, and if only Becky could keep that beautiful head forever.