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Twin Peaks S3.05 review: "There's a lot going on in this episode"

Our Verdict

A messy and fragmented episode, held together by a procession of compelling new characters and mysteries.

The fifth hour of Mark Frost and David Lynch’s surprising, subversive Twin Peaks revival has few revelations, but introduces some fascinating new characters to an already heaving cast list. It’s an unusually hyperactive episode, darting rapidly between scenes and making the labyrinthine show even more puzzling and complex. But it feels slightly aimless and scattered as a result, echoing the delirious Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) as he continues to bumble through the life of doppelgänger Dougie Jones.

We join Cooper as he’s shoved off to work by Dougie’s frustrated wife, Janey-E (Naomi Watts). Coop notices the couple’s son, Sonny Jim (Pierce Gagnon), looking despondent in the family station wagon and sheds a tear. It’s a rare display of emotion from the character, perhaps suggesting that Cooper is beginning to snap out of his daze. I hope so anyway, because he’s been like this for three episodes in a row now, and it’s beginning to wear a little thin.

Dougie, now revealed to be an insurance salesman, attends a meeting in his office and has a confrontation with colleague Anthony Sinclair (Tom Sizemore). Sinclair discusses an insurance claim and as he does, Cooper sees a strange flash of light on his face that seems to indicate that he’s lying. He tells the group—one of the few times Coop has said something that isn’t just repeating another character in a baby voice—and Sinclair is furious.

So not only does Cooper now have the ability to tell which one-armed bandits will pay out in a casino, but he’s a human lie detector as well. Well, if he’s human at all. It remains to be seen whether this is the FBI agent we know and love, or some bizarre construct conjured up by the Black Lodge. But whatever he is, Dougie’s friends, colleagues, and family continue to indulge his bizarre behaviour. Although in Janey-E’s case it helps that he won over $400,000 at the Silver Mustang casino in the last episode—enough to pay off a mysterious $50,000 debt haunting the family.

But for the boss of the Casino (Brett Gellman), Cooper’s windfall is a big problem. New characters Bradley Mitchum (Jim Belushi) and brother Rodney (Robert Knepper) beat the terrified manager up, convinced he’s involved in a scam with Cooper. Bradley tells the manager to leave town and never come back, and second-in-command Warrick (David Dastmalchian) is promoted in his place. If Cooper ever returns to the casino, he says, then they want to know about it. So in addition to the hitmen already hunting for Dougie (there seem to be two groups after him now), Cooper has unwittingly angered a few dangerous gangsters as well. The sooner he gets out of Nevada, the better.

In Twin Peaks, which still feels like it’s playing a supporting role in this new series, we join Lawrence Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) as he broadcasts a radio show from his trailer on White Tail Mountain—one of the titular twin peaks. The eccentric but good-natured psychiatrist from the original series is seemingly gone, replaced by a crazed, ranting conspiracy theorist who entertains an enraptured audience including Nadine Hurley (Wendy Robie) and Jerry Horne (David Patrick Kelly). It’s still surprising how much of a footnote Twin Peaks is in this new series, but I’m sure it’ll it’ll become more important in later episodes.

Elsewhere in Twin Peaks we finally revisit the Double R. Owner Norma (Peggy Lipton) watches, looking rather disappointed, as Shelly (Mädchen Amick) loans money to new character Becky Burnett (Amanda Seyfried). Becky’s husband Steve (Caleb Landry Jones) seems pleased that she’s been able to get some cash and the pair celebrate by taking cocaine, although Becky seems bothered by something—at least until the drug kicks in. She throws her head back in a blissed out haze as dreamy ‘60s pop ballad I Love How You Love Me by The Paris Sisters plays. It’s pure Lynch and one of the highlights of the episode.

In an earlier scene we see Steve failing miserably to get a job, and his potential employer is none other than Bobby Briggs’ old partner in crime Mike Nelson (Gary Hershberger). Eagle-eyed fans will also note the return of giggling German waitress Heidi (Andrea Hays), who appears briefly in the diner, as well as unfortunately-named cook Toad (Marvin Rosand). It’s remarkable how many original cast members they managed to squeeze into this new series, not to mention all the newcomers. It’s one of the most absurd, sprawling ensemble casts I’ve ever encountered in a TV show, but I would like to see the citizens of Twin Peaks get a little more involved in the story.

In the Bang Bang Bar, as the band Trouble (featuring David Lynch’s son Riley) plays a pounding, sleazy rock instrumental, we’re introduced to another new character. Richard Horne (Eamon Farren), whose relation to the Horne dynasty is presently unknown, brazenly smokes in the no-smoking bar, telling the bartender to “make him” stop. He’s a bad dude, clearly, and gets violent with a female patron who flirts with him. He also seems to be paying off the Sheriff’s Department, giving Deputy Chad Boxford (John Pirruccello) a stack of money hidden in a Morley cigarette packet—something X-Files fans should get a kick out of. Horne is one of the most interesting (and intimidating) new characters introduced in the series so far.

Meanwhile in a South Dakota prison, Evil Cooper looks at himself in a mirror and we see the twisted visage of BOB subtly emerge from his stony, emotionless face. It’s so subtle, in fact, that I missed it the first time. The prison staff allow him to make a phone call, and Warden Murphy (James Morrison) looks visibly nervous when he threatens to call someone called Mr. Strawberry. He doesn’t, however, instead calling an unknown person in Buenos Aires and saying enigmatically: “The cow jumped over the moon.” These Lodge spirits sure love talking in riddles. Fans may remember that Buenos Aires is where David Bowie’s Philip Jeffries lived in Fire Walk With Me before being suddenly transported to Philadelphia. Jeffries’ name has been mentioned a few times in the new series, but we’ve yet to see him. Did Bowie film a cameo before he died? Unlikely, but my fingers are crossed anyway.

There’s a lot going on in this episode and a lot of new information to process, but it feels like the story has only been gently nudged along. The mention of Major Briggs by Colonel Davis (Ernie Hudson) at the Pentagon is an intriguing new plot thread to tug at, although just five episodes in, we already have plenty of those. But one of the most exciting things about this new series is that I have absolutely no idea where it’s headed, or what twists and turns the story will take. Lynch’s work is utterly unpredictable, and that makes every new episode of Twin Peaks enormously exciting. Let’s just hope Cooper finds himself again, because there’s only so much of ‘Dougie’ I can take.

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The Verdict

3

3 out of 5

Twin Peaks

A messy and fragmented episode, held together by a procession of compelling new characters and mysteries.