Following on from my previous Twin Peaks article, I want to share some thoughts on Parts 1-10 of The Return. This time last year we were at the halfway point and the social media chatter was indeed very lively!
Parts 1 & 2
The first two parts play like a movie with cleverly woven story threads. The entire glass box scene was mesmerising and terrifying in equal measure. The various new locations and new characters add to the overall sense of a mystery unravelling. Although some criticise this show for being abstract, the plot is pretty straight forward. The fact we can now binge watch and benefit from the knowledge of future episodes adds a richness to further viewings.
We spend a lot of time with ‘Mr C’ who has a commanding presence from his debut on-screen. He is a menacing figure and his scenes play out like a nightmare. It’s interesting how exposition heavy the early scenes are. Mr C references the black lodge and his plan to stay out. In the recorded phone call between Ray and Darya, Phillip Jeffries is mentioned. Perhaps Lynch and Frost felt it necessary to re-introduce us to crucial elements in the plot and I, for one am glad they did.
Cooper’s journey from the lodge to Las Vegas is a thing of beauty. The emphasis is on cryptic clues and stunning visuals. Some fans believe the whole Vegas story arc is a dream and you can see why. In this episode, the cat and mouse game between Cooper and Mr C really begins and we are introduced to a new third character in this arc. Dougie Jones split the fans and probably still does.
I, like everyone else wanted Cooper to wake up and assert himself into the story. Little did we know how long we would wait to see our here and how short and sweet his return would be. I grew to like ‘Dougie’, he was a pure heart who put things right for his family. Part 3, for me is ne of the most visually stunning episodes in this series.
We were re-introduced to Director Cole, Albert and new addition to the FBI team, Agent Preston in Part 4. I can’t help wish that the on-screen Tammy Preston had the same biting wit and sharp cynicism as the Tammy in Mark Frost’s ‘Secret History’ and ‘Final Dossier Books. Although the lack of a ‘secret history’ Agent Preston didn’t take anything away from The Return, it might have added more to it.
This episode has an overall law enforcement theme. On one side we see the FBI in action. On the other, we get an extended sequence at the Twin Peaks Sheriff Dept. Sherrif ‘Frank’ Truman was more than a worthy replacement for Harry but that will never stop me wishing MIchael Ontkean had signed up for season 3. Cole and Albert tease out tensions brilliantly in the closing scene with the now infamous ‘It doesn’t get any bluer’ line. Both Gordon and Albert seem to be holding out on each other yet we never learn why. This gives us room to speculate the possibilities. It keeps the mystery alive!
Major Briggs plays a major role in this episode. Once again, it’s such a shame Don Davies passed away. After Agent Dale Cooper, Major Briggs was one of the most likeable characters of the original series. I enjoyed this episode as it dipped into the Secret History mythology. The Major’s ability to move through time and space apparently allowed him to work in conjunction with The Fireman, Cole & Jeffries to protect Cooper from Mr C’s criminal network. Briggs, in conjunction with other agents successfully duped Mr C into following the wrong coordinates thus stopping him from his heinous plan.
Part 6 introduces us to a new villain. Richard Horne begins his story arc with an unspeakably evil act. To see a child get run over was seen by many as a step too far. The reality is awful things like this happen everyday in real life, far worse in fact. Perhaps Lynch & Frost wanted to draw our attention to what a sickening thing it is to harm a child in any way. It certainly set up Richard as a remorseless human being with no redeeming qualities.
Another police procedural episode of The Return. Diane (in physical form as opposed to a dictaphone) meets Mr C face to face and the ensuing conversation has very dark undertones. Mr C manages to be zany and comical while being completely wretched in every way. Later on, many of us find ourselves rooting for this absolute reprobate, now that’s something to think about! Other notable plot progressions include the discovery of missing pages from Laura Palmer’s diary and Mr C getting out of jail. This was the calm before the storm that was part 8
Much has been said about part 8 and what it means. The Final Dossier would later confirm some of the popular fan theories that came about after this episode. I admit, parts of this episode were jarring for me. The explosion in particular mainly because it went on for such a long time. As for the rest, it was a fascinating interlude to the standard dream logic narrative of Twin Peaks. Most of this episode was in black and white and had a 50s B Movie type feel. It was scary, surreal and beautiful. I make no apologies for declaring that this instalment of The Return was masterful.
We meet Hutch & Chantal, two hilarious Mr C cronies who will continue to entertain right up to part 16 with their Tarantino style banter. Like the original series, The Return is packed with quirky and charming characters who add to the overall narrative just by their unique characteristics. We might not have a Windom Earle or Dick Tremayne but Lynch & Frost more than compensate with the often hilarious new ensemble of The Return.
The interactions between Betty Briggs, Deputy Bobby Briggs, Hawk and Sheriff Truman are heart warming and humanising. This is one of the few moments where it feels like we are back in the Twin Peaks of old. Briggs knew his friends may have to ascertain who the real Cooper is if one or both of them should return so he set a plan in action to protect the people he cared about.
Cooper is in peril once again as a plot is hatched to turn casino owning gangsters, The Mitchum Bros against him. Richard Horne violently assaults his own grandmother for money, just in case you didn’t hate him enough already! The Return certainly doesn’t shy away from violence, particularly violence inflicted on the most vulnerable. Again, as much as we might balk at such scenes, we can’t deny how real and sadly, how matter of fact senseless violence has become in our society.
This is one of a few episodes that features a brief appearance from Margaret Lanterman (The ‘Log’ Lady). All of the scenes with the late Catherine Coulson are poignant, the dialogue is beautiful and poetic. Margaret’s final scene has to be one of the most heartbreaking moments in TV history. In loving memory of The Log Lady.
While this was very much a departure from the feel of the original series, The Return over delivered on its promise with a fine host of new characters to support our beloved Cooper, Cole, Big Ed and co. Like the original, this third season provoked a new kind of water cooler conversation, Each episode had something to talk about if not multiple things.
I’ll be back soon to share my thoughts on parts 11-18. Thanks for reading and please share on your socials.