Yeah, this isn’t going to be easy.
Tonight’s episode of Twin Peaks was … well, I’m not sure how to describe it. Basically, if you combined Tree of Life and Kiss Me Deadly with The Beast of Yucca Flats and Tombs of the Blind Dead, you would end up with something resembling tonight’s episode. Tonight’s episode was David Lynch at both his most brilliant and his most cheerfully defiant. Tonight was David Lynch unleashed. People either hated it or they loved it.
The recapper over at E! News Online hated it. I almost didn’t include a link to their recap, largely because the only reason they’re recapping Twin Peaks is to get the clicks. They’re certainly not recapping it because they have any sort of genuine understanding or, for that matter, interest in what Lynch is attempting to do. For the most part, their recap went something like this: “Oh my God, that was soooo weird and the nuclear explosion sequence went on forever and what was the deal with 1956 and look at all the snarky nicknames I’ve come up with for all the characters and oh my God, did I mention that I have a roommate?” If your main complaint about tonight’s episode is that it was “too weird,” then you obviously are not meant to be a part of this show’s audience.
As for the length of the nuclear explosion … seriously? What the Hell type of complaint is that? You might as well complain that the stargate sequence went on for too long in 2001 or maybe that Picasso shouldn’t have taken up so much space with Guernica. It’s easy to imagine this critic in Elizabethan England, whining that Hamlet was just too talky. Tonight, we were lucky enough to witness one of the most visually stunning sequences in the history of television and you actually have the freaking nerve to complain that it went on for too long? I understand that, over at the Kardashian network, being snarky is a part of the job but you can be snarky without being stupid about it.
(I usually try to cut recappers some slack. After all, you’re on a deadline and you’re trying to beat everyone else for those clicks and sometimes, you rush and you say something stupid. I’ve been there. Just ask Arleigh about the first season Game of Thrones recap where I somehow managed to mix up Jon Snow and Robb Stark. That was beyond embarrassing. But, again, there’s a difference between being rushed and being willfully ignorant about what you’ve just watched. For instance, there’s a reason why I wouldn’t even try to recap that football show starring Dwayne Johnson. I guess my point is that maybe E! should focus on what they’re good at, like promoting scripted reality programs and helping Scott Disick get laid.)
Anyway, here’s my attempt to recap what I watched. I will warn you right now that a mere recap is not going to do this episode justice. If you haven’t seen it, you need to watch it before reading any recap, regardless of who wrote it. Tonight, I saw images that I never expected to ever see on television. There were visuals of such unexpected beauty and haunting menace that you simply must see them for yourself.
We open with a classic David Lynch driving scene. Doppelganger Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) and Ray (George Griffith) are driving down a country road in the middle of the night. The Warden attempted to put tracking devices on the car but Doppelganger Cooper was far too clever for him.
Ray apologizes for running off on Doppelganger Cooper and asks where Darya is. The Doppelganger says that she’s waiting for their phone call. (If you’ve seen the pilot episode, you know that she was murdered by the Doppelganger.) The Doppelganger says that Ray has something that he wants. Ray assures him that he does and that he all the “numbers memorized.” However, Ray thinks that it might be worth some money if the Doppelganger really wants what he has.
Doppelganger Cooper tells Ray that they’re going to a place called The Farm but Ray asks if they can pull over for a sec so he can, as he so charmingly puts it, “take a leak.”
“Go for it,” Doppelganger Cooper replies.
Well, not surprisingly, Ray has another reason for wanting to pull over. As soon as Doppelganger Cooper gets out of the car and demands the information, Ray shoots him.
“Tricked ya, fucker,” Ray says.
And that’s when things start to get … strange.
Suddenly, there is a flashing light and, as Ray watches, a group of dark men (much like the dark men who previously appeared in the South Dakota jail and outside the morgue) emerge from the woods. They surround the doppelganger. While some dance in a circle, others paw at the the body. Briefly, it appears as if Cooper’s chest has been opened and the smiling face of Killer BOB (Frank Silva) can be seen. Ray runs back to his car and speeds off while the dark men vanish.
As he drives away, Ray calls Phillip Jeffries and tells him that Cooper might be dead but he’s not 100% sure.
Meanwhile, at the Roadhouse, Nine Inch Nails performs. The recapper at E! felt that the Nine Inch Nails performance went on for too long, which again shows a remarkable ignorance about the importance of music in David Lynch’s work. (Considering how much Twin Peaks: The Return has in common with Lost Highway, the sudden appearance of Nine Inch Nails felt totally appropriate.)
As the song comes to an end, we cut back to the Doppelganger, who suddenly sits up. Has he come back to life or did those two gunshots really fail to kill him the first time? And what’s happening with Dougie/Cooper? It’s been suggested that the only way for Cooper to be Cooper again is for the Doppelganger to die and return to the Black Lodge. If the Doppelganger was dead for even a moment, does that mean Dougie/Cooper had a moment of clarity?
Those are all good questions that were not answered tonight because Lynch suddenly cuts from the Doppelganger to July 16th, 1945. Suddenly, we are in White Sands, New Mexico, listening as a voice counts down to zero. We watch from above as the world’s first atomic bomb is detonated. A mushroom cloud slowly and, it must be said, beautifully rises up into the sky.
The viewer plunges into the mushroom cloud and what follows is a mix of sound and image that so beautiful and so menacing that it is almost indescribable. We are surrounded by flames and explosions as we plunge into the heart of man-made destruction. In many ways, it reminded me of the Big Bang sequence of Terence Malick’s Tree of Life but, whereas Malick was imagining creation, Lynch is imagining destruction.
We find ourselves now looking at what appears to be a gas station in the middle of nowhere. Spurts of static are heard on the soundtrack while lights flash and shadowy men appear (and disappear) inside and outside of the station.
A figure floats in a gray space, apparently spitting up eggs. One of the eggs floats by us and, again, the face of Killer BOB is seen.
More flames. More explosions. A golden egg floats towards the camera. Briefly, we hear a heartbeat.
Cut to: the purple ocean that Cooper saw when he first escaped from the Black Lodge.
A woman who, in the end credits, is identified as being Senorita Dido (Joy Nash) sits in a gray drawing room. We hear an electronic clanking and a light starts to flash. The Giant (Carel Struycken) enters the room and turns off the alarm.
Moving slowly, the Giant walks up a flight of stairs. He walks into a theater, one that looks much like the Silencio theater from Mulholland Drive. On a screen, he watches the nuclear explosion. When he sees the egg with BOB’s face, the Giant suddenly starts to float into the air.
Senorita Dido enters the theater and watches as a golden cloud appears over the Giant’s head. From the cloud descends a golden egg, which Dido catches. In the egg, she sees the face of Laura Palmer. Dido kisses the egg and then releases it into the air. It’s sucked into a tube.
Dido stares at the screen, watching as the golden egg descends on Earth.
We cut to 1956. The New Mexico desert. (The rest of the episode is in black-and-white, giving these scenes a Beast of Yucca Flats feel. You can easily imagine Tor Johnson wandering about.) Another egg — this one much smaller, sits on the barren ground. It hatches and winged bug crawls out. (It looked like a mutated cockroach to me.)
Cut to the gas station, where a teenage couple is talking. (Coincidentally or not, they resemble James and Donna from the original series.) The girl (Tikaeni Faircrest) gets excited when she finds a penny on the ground. Well, who wouldn’t? Later, the boy (Xolo Mariduena) asks the girl for just one kiss. I’m not sure who they are or why they’re here but they’re both actually rather sweet.
A shadowy figure — the Woodsman (Robert Broski) — appears walking through the desert. The recapper at E! News apparently thought that the Woodsman was meant to be a “gorilla.” Of course, anyone who actually know anything about movies will immediately notice that the Woodsman looks a lot like the evil man who was living behind the dumpster in Mulholland Drive.
The Woodsman stumbles across the highway. He approaches a couple in a car. “Got a light?” he asks, his voice deep and almost robotic. “Got a light?” he repeats, like a malfunctioning recording. The couple speeds away and we see that the Woodsman is not alone. At least two other shadowy men are with him.
A radio station, KPJK, sits in the middle of the desert. The Woodsman approaches.
We see that everyone in the nearby town — from an auto mechanic to a waitress to the teenage girl who found the penny — is listening to the station.
The woodsman enters the station. “Got a light?” he asks, before crushing the receptionist’s head with his gloved hand. He does the same thing to the station’s disc jockey but not before the Woodsman gets on the air and says, “This is the water and this is the well. Drink full and descend. The horse is the white of the eyes and dark within.”
As everyone in town listens to the Woodsman’s voice, they pass out. While the girl lies unconscious, the bug crawls into her mouth.
Having delivered his message and killed everyone at the station, the Woodsman walks into the night. The sound of a horse whinnying is heard.
And that’s it!
What does it all mean? I don’t know. What I do know is that I’ve never seen anything like it before. This was experimental cinema at its best. (And make no mistake. Twin Peaks is not a TV series as much as it’s an 18-hour movie.) Was it for everyone? No. Then again, nothing worthwhile ever is. David Lynch once described his first feature film, Eraserhead, as being a “dream of dark and disturbing things.” I can think of no better description for Part 8 of Twin Peaks.
The saga continues in two weeks! Will we still be in 1956? Will Dougie/Cooper ever snap back to normal? Will James Hurley ever show up again? Who knows!? But I will say this: I can’t wait to find out.
Twin Peaks on TSL:
- Twin Peaks: In the Beginning by Jedadiah Leland
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.1 — The Pilot (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.2 — Traces To Nowhere (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Jedadiah Leland
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.3 — Zen, or the Skill To Catch A Killer (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.4 “Rest in Pain” (dir by Tina Rathbone) by Leonard Wilson
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.5 “The One-Armed Man” (directed by Tim Hunter) by Jedadiah Leland
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.6 “Cooper’s Dreams” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Lisa Marie Bowman
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.7 “Realization Time” (directed by Caleb Deschanel) by Lisa Marie Bowman
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.8 “The Last Evening” (directed by Mark Frost) by Leonard Wilson
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.1 “May the Giant Be With You” (dir by David Lynch) by Leonard Wilson
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.2 “Coma” (directed by David Lynch) by Jedadiah Leland
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.3 “The Man Behind The Glass” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Jedadiah Leland
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.4 “Laura’s Secret Diary” (dir by Todd Holland) by Lisa Marie Bowman
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.5 “The Orchid’s Curse” (dir by Graeme Clifford) by Lisa Marie Bowman
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.6 “Demons” (dir by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Leonard Wilson
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.7 “Lonely Souls” (directed by David Lynch) by Jedadiah Leland
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.8 “Drive With A Dead Girl” (dir by Caleb Deschanel) by Lisa Marie Bowman
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.9 “Arbitrary Law” (dir by Tim Hunter) by Lisa Marie Bowman
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.10 “Dispute Between Brothers” (directed by Tina Rathbone) by Jedadiah Leland
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.11 “Masked Ball” (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Leonard Wilson
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.12 “The Black Widow” (directed by Caleb Deschanel) by Leonard Wilson
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.13 “Checkmate” (directed by Todd Holland) by Jedadiah Leland
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.14 “Double Play” (directed by Uli Edel) by Jedadiah Leland
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.15 “Slaves and Masters” (directed by Diane Keaton) by Lisa Marie Bowman
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.16 “The Condemned Woman” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Leonard Wilson
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.17 “Wounds and Scars” (directed by James Foley) by Lisa Marie Bowman
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.18 “On The Wings of Love” (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Jedadiah Leland
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.19 “Variations on Relations” (directed by Jonathan Sanger) by Lisa Marie Bowman
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.20 “The Path to the Black Lodge” (directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal) by Lisa Marie Bowman
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.21 “Miss Twin Peaks” (directed by Tim Hunter) by Leonard Wilson
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 22.2 “Beyond Life and Death” (directed by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
- Film Review: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
- Here’s The Latest Teaser for Showtime’s Twin Peaks by Lisa Marie Bowman
- Here’s The Newest Teaser for Showtime’s Twin Peaks by Lisa Marie Bowman
- 12 Initial Thoughts About Twin Peaks: The Return Parts One and Two by Lisa Marie Bowman
- This Week’s Peaks: Parts One and Two by Ryan C. (trashfilm guru)
- TV Review: Twin Peaks: The Return Parts One and Two (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
- 4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Twin Peaks Edition by Lisa Marie Bowman
- This Week’s Peaks: Parts Three and Four by Ryan C. (trashfilm guru)
- 14 Initial Thoughts About Twin Peaks: The Return Part Three by Lisa Marie Bowman (dir by David Lynch)
- 10 Initial Thoughts About Twin Peaks: The Return Part Four by Lisa Marie Bowman (dir by David Lynch)
- TV Review: Twin Peaks: The Return Parts Three and Four (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
- 18 Initial Thoughts About Twin Peaks: The Return Part 5 (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
- This Week’s Peaks: Part Five by Ryan C. (trashfilm guru)
- TV Review: Twin Peaks: The Return: Part 5 (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
- 14 Initial Thoughts On Twin Peaks Part 6 (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
- This Week’s Peaks: Part Six by Ryan C. (trashfilm guru)
- TV Review: Twin Peaks: The Return Part 6 (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
- 12 Initial Thoughts on Twin Peaks: The Return Part 7 (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
- This Week’s Peaks: Part Seven by Ryan C. (trashfilm guru)
- TV Review: Twin Peaks: The Return Part 7 (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
- Ten Initial Thoughts on Twin Peaks: The Return Part 8 (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
- This Week’s Peaks: Part Eight by Ryan C (trashfilm guru)