TV: Twin Peaks S03 E10 – Reviewed

We’re now ten episodes in to this new iteration of Twin Peaks with eight more episodes remaining and whatever is going on has yet to be revealed. This continuation of the original show is the very definition of a slow burn.

Four of us Sleuths have taken a crack at writing about what we’ve seen thus far, but I think I’m the only one who is skeptical of David Lynch’s genius. True, it’s unfair to grade one’s work before it is complete, but our job is to review one episode a week, so here we are.

So, past the midway point, and still Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) is walking around aimlessly as Dougie Jones. Ignoring the show’s humor and the fun that MacLachlan is having, is this really the best use of his talent on screen? Before you get angry, truly think about it. One or two episodes, sure, but we haven’t seen Cooper as Cooper since the midpoint of episode three. And this episode features several other pointless scenes with Dougie, including one that involves a physical exam, and another raunchier, but funny, love scene. (I’ll admit I laughed, but just because I was amused doesn’t mean I think it works).

My concern from the start has been that Lynch originally pitched the show as nine episodes. When he left because Showtime wouldn’t give him the budget he wanted, and then subsequently came back when it was agreed on both sides that eighteen episodes would justify the money, I wondered if that would mean nine episodes of filler followed by nine episodes of actual story. Turns out I appear to be right and wrong. I was right that, at least from my perspective, the first nine episodes (with the exception of episode eight, which is spectacular) have mostly felt like deleted scenes, a la The Missing Pieces from Fire Walk With Me, and wrong that the second nine would be more story-driven, at least so far.

The original series at least had a narrative to it. It was a weird, dark show about the murder of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) that got progressively weirder. But there was a drive, at least in the first season, and the first eight or so episodes of season two. The show at least seemed rooted in whatever one defines as the normal standards of television. That first season, for me at least, is the quintessential Twin Peaks, which is probably why I’ve found myself frustrated with Twin Peaks: The Return as much as I have.

I don’t subscribe to the idea that Lynch is doing amazing things with this show. There have been some truly awe-inspiring moments (I mentioned episode eight) but there have also been far too many pointless scenes that seem poorly acted and directed. Last week’s episode seemed to be a bit more focused than this week’s, which is annoying because it seemed like things were starting to gel a bit more. Episode ten felt like some sort of weird need to service all of these side stories and characters, specifically Jim Belushi and Robert Knepper as Bradley and Rodney Mitchum, respectively.

That's some damn fine coffee!

I hope that the show regains its focus soon and that Cooper is Cooper again before long. A friend of mine suggested that we might not see that until the final episode, which really would be a damn waste. I completely own up to the fact that maybe I loved Twin Peaks for what many would argue were the wrong reasons and that if this is Lynch at his best, maybe I’m not his biggest fan anymore. I’ll wait until the show ends to make my final judgment, but I’m a bit worried. Consider me in the minority on this one, I guess. Perhaps a fish got into my percolator this morning.

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-Matt Giles