TV: Twin Peaks S03 E16 – Reviewed

The quasi-penultimate episode of David Lynch and Mark Frost's Twin Peaks: The Return answered many questions that have waited 25 years to be answered while simultaneously deepening the mystery and setting up a climatic showdown for the fate of reality. Episode 16 returns key players to the board while removing others, definitively drawing sides for the final confrontation between the Light and Dark avatars of The Lodges, before delivering two of the greatest pieces of fan service ever committed to the small screen. 

The narrative continues to cross cut between different stories. Cooper's dark twin journeys with his son in tow while "light" side Cooper languishes in a coma inside Dougie Jones' body. The Blue Rose team makes a Pyrrhic discovery while all forces begin to converge on Twin Peaks. While last week's episode balanced uplifting re-connections with arcane investigations, this week focuses on both delivering long awaited scenes to the audience and confirming several theories, all while preparing the endgame. A crucial puzzle is revealed in a remarkable twist which confirms that per usual, nothing is what it seems in the sleepy Northwestern town. Longtime fans have been waiting for this episode for two and a half decades, and the moment does not disappoint when it comes, and yet it also doesn't overshadow the remainder of the episode which features a hilarious shoot out, a mind-bending sacrifice, and smile inducing dance, and one of the most heartbreaking scenes of the entire series. 

As usual, Lynch toys with the surreal and issues of corruption within the heart of America, but everything remains extremely focused, with Frost's sense of storytelling keeping everything moving towards the conclusion. One of the most striking aspects of episode 16 is how it explores the characters of Audrey and Diane, with each of their respective situations being reflections of their relationships with Cooper in all of his various incarnations. Violence towards women has always been a Lynchian hallmark, however The Return has gone beyond the implications of his films to dovetail his notions of social constraints against woman within the arcane context of Twin Peaks' mythology. While much of the violence this season has been aimed towards women, women have always been more integral to plot and the institutions of power throughout Twin Peaks. Even in death, Laura Palmer remains a constant fixture. With The Return, Lynch and Frost take their time, exploring themes of love, betrayal, violation, and redemption, all of which primarily play out through female characters and it is this adherence to structure that is the perfect summation of Lynch's black opus. 

Ultimately, episode 16 contains everything a fan of Twin Peaks celebrates. There are surreal elements, horror, and the pitch-black comedy viewers have come to expect from Lynch and Frost. While everything exists in lockstep with Lynch's expose' on the corrupted American heart, this episode breaks away from the excoriation and magic to deliver an outstanding, fist pumping piece of fan service that both lifts the spirit and quickens the heart.


-Kyle Jonathan