Twin Peaks S3.03 review: "Striking, strange, and slightly uneven"

GamesRadar+ Verdict

The mystery deepens in this striking, strange, and slightly uneven third episode.

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Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) falls through a starry void and finds himself in a part of the Black Lodge we haven’t seen before. It seems the Red Room is just one small part of this labyrinthine netherworld. The opening scenes of the third episode are David Lynch at his most daring and abstract, with stuttered, staccato editing that feels like watching a scratched record. Among the surreal imagery Cooper encounters is the floating head of Major Garland Briggs (Don S. Davis) who whispers the words ‘blue rose’, an eyeless woman who seems to be the caretaker of this strange place, and her unseen mother who bangs repeatedly on a metal door. Then this jarring, nightmarish journey, which has echoes of Lynch’s Eraserhead, ends with Cooper slithering out of a power socket into the real world.

As well as the long-haired evil Cooper introduced in the first episode, there appears to be a third: a schleppy, bouffant-haired businessman called Dougie Jones who lives in a Nevada suburb and wears loud suits. But when Cooper emerges from the power outlet, Dougie is whisked back to the Red Room where MIKE (Al Strobel) says he was “manufactured” and that he’s served his purpose. Interestingly, Dougie is wearing the Owl Cave ring just before he vanishes, a mysterious part of the Twin Peaks mythology that seems to be incredibly powerful, but in a way that doesn’t entirely make sense. It was worn by Laura Palmer and Teresa Banks before they died, and if The Secret History of Twin Peaks is to be believed, was even owned by disgraced president Richard Nixon at one point.

When Cooper—our Cooper, the one previously trapped in the Black Lodge—returns to reality, we see his long-haired doppelgänger vomiting a disgusting mixture of creamed corn and blood. It’s worth noting that a substance coveted and consumed by Black Lodge spirits called garmonbozia—a physical manifestation of pain and suffering—looks like creamed corn. It seems Cooper’s double is suffering the consequences of his escape from the Lodge. But the real Cooper is a shadow of his former self, wandering around in a daze and unable to speak other than repeating what people say to him in a babyish voice. Dougie was with a prostitute (Nafessa Williams) before he disappeared, and she emerges from the shower to find Cooper lying on the floor, wondering why her client suddenly has such fine taste in tailored suits.

Unable to get a clear answer from the bewildered Cooper, she drives him to a nearby casino and drops him off, narrowly avoiding a mysterious assassination attempt along the way. Dougie seems to be a man with a few enemies. In the casino Cooper notices a strange, ghostly shape—through which we can see the red drapes and zig-zag floor of the Red Room—floating above a one-armed bandit. He inserts a quarter, yanks the handle, and hits the jackpot. Then the shape lures him to another machine and he wins again. For some reason the Black Lodge wants Cooper to win big at the slots, perhaps so he has enough money to get out of Nevada. All he has on him is a key to his old room at the Great Northern Hotel.

Meanwhile in Twin Peaks, Hawk (Michael Horse), Andy (Harry Goaz), and Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) spread files and evidence from the Laura Palmer case over a table, trying to solve The Log Lady’s riddle about something related to Hawk’s heritage that is “missing”. And we finally find out what Dr. Lawrence Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) was doing with those shovels he had delivered in the first episode: he’s spray-painting them gold. And so one mystery has been replaced by another, which is something you have to get used to when you watch this show. So far the scenes featuring characters from the original series haven’t served much of a purpose story-wise. It’s nice to check in with our old friends, but events elsewhere seem to be driving the narrative more directly. Hopefully the Washington town becomes more intrinsic to the story later on. And why haven’t we visited the Double R diner yet?

In Philadelphia we’re reunited with Gordon Cole (David Lynch), now Deputy Director of the FBI, and the acerbic Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer). They’re discussing the death of the couple who were killed by the strange ghostlike figure that emerged from the glass box in the first episode, when Cole receives a message that Dale Cooper has been found alive and well. Lynch is hilarious as the hard-of-hearing Cole, who yells in a loud, nasal voice. And his office is remarkable, featuring an enormous photo of a nuclear bomb detonating and a framed portrait of Franz Kafka. This episode also introduces young FBI agent Tamara Preston (Chrysta Bell), whose notes are found scribbled in the margins of the secret dossier featured in The Secret History of Twin Peaks.

This is a deeply strange episode, even by Twin Peaks standards. I didn’t expect Cooper to escape the Black Lodge quite so early—although it remains to be seen whether his journey back to reality is permanent. Here’s hoping he snaps out of his fugue and returns to his old charismatic self before the series ends. And, as is to be expected, we’re left with a lot of lingering questions, like why Cooper had a third doppelgänger, why those men are so eager to kill ‘Dougie’, and why he melted into a tiny gold pearl when he returned to the Black Lodge? I suspect that last one is best left open to interpretation, because looking for literal answers to absolutely everything in a David Lynch project defeats the point of his art entirely.

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