TV: Twin Peaks S03 E11 – Reviewed

If there’s one thing I can take away from Episode 11 of Twin Peaks: The Return, which aired Sunday night, it’s David Lynch’s flawless delivery of the line “He’s dead,” upon looking at an obviously deceased character’s remains in the back of a police vehicle. The line is both absurd and timed perfectly for just the right amount of horror comedy.

“Horror comedy” would also be a choice phrase in describing this episode overall, which for my taste was a major improvement over last week’s less-than-stellar outing. The episode begins with Becky (Amanda Seyfried) stealing her mother Shelly’s (Mädchen Amick) car, and devolves (in the best of ways) from there into one the series’ strangest hours.

Amick finally gets some material suited to her talents (I had been annoyed that both Shelly and Norma had only been seen in the diner, thus far, leaving both characters underserved) and gets at least one great scene – though oddly misplaced, given location – with Bobby (Dana Ashbrook) where it is confirmed that Becky is indeed Bobby and Shelly’s daughter. I’m particularly interested in Bobby’s evolution as a character, as he was never one of my favorites in the original series, or in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. As an actor, Ashbrook seems much more reserved, making Bobby far less prone to the outbursts I’d grown accustomed to seeing in the original run. He too gets a great scene involving the accidental firing of a gun, a traffic jam, and a woman from hell who will not lay off the horn. When I say this episode is horror comedy at its finest, this scene (along with the aforementioned Lynch scene,) is what I would point to.

It was nice getting to spend time with more of the Twin Peaks alumni in this episode. Near the midpoint, there’s another great scene between Hawk (Michael Horse) and Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster) involving an ancient map that points the way to possible answers about Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan). Unfortunately, Agent Cooper, or “Dougie,” as he will most likely forever be known, is still my major hang-up when it comes to Twin Peaks: The Return. We now have seven episodes left of the series, and there appears to be no end in sight when it comes to “restoring” Agent Cooper.

I get it. I’ve heard from multiple people telling me I’m watching Twin Peaks in the wrong way, and that my love for the series is based on all the wrong reasons. This same group of people doesn’t seem to realize that opinion is always subjective, and I’m simply judging the show based on what it does and whether or not it works for me. Twin Peaks: The Return is not Twin Peaks, nor is it necessarily meant to be.

Damn fine pie

That said, a large part of my enjoyment of the original series came from MacLachlan’s quirky performance as Cooper. The new series keeps teasing us with hints of Cooper’s possible return. In this episode, it’s marked with the signature cherry pie and Cooper’s brief remembrance of the phrase, “damn good,” when describing how delicious it is. It is also how I would describe MacLachlan’s original performance, particularly during season one. While at times he’s entertaining as Dougie Jones and downright sinister as Cooper’s doppelganger, none of it matches the richness of Cooper. I think even as a new version of the show, Twin Peaks can’t quite be Twin Peaks without Special Agent Dale Cooper. I hope before too long the show is as damn good for me as it is for almost everyone else.

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-Matt Giles