I didn’t feel a need to write any more about the new Twin Peaks … until the incredible Episode 8, which was almost a full hour of beautiful, incomprehensible art film short on logic but packed with, as the kids say, “the feels.”
The feels are largely what you have to go on in this series, especially as the story of Cooper psychically lost inside the body of Dougie Jones goes on, and on and on. All of it is mostly okay, although it does wear the patience and the little Cooper-esque bits… like his childlike love of coffee… are okay but verge on the twee. Mostly his story is just unbearably sad. There is the moment at which he stares, weeping, at Dougie’s son, but especially the episode-ender where he stays looking at a statue of a lawman throughout all of the opening credits… and where we still find him in the morning during the next episode. It was nice to see a little flash of Cooper come out when defeating the assassin, but for the most part we’re just going along patiently waiting for our Cooper to come back.
The evil Cooper continues to amaze, particularly at MacLachlan’s performance. I keep staring at his face during these scenes, because the consuming blackness he is able to put up and sustain is so fascinating and devouring. The scene of him simply staring into the mirror [while his face almost imperceptibly morphs into Bob’s] was riveting. One can imagine the depth and scale of this role as almost a gift from Lynch to MacLachlan after decades of service, and MacLachlan is running with it. Then him being able to perform tricks like shorting out the prison security system with a phone call makes him like some kind of ultra-badass evil X-Man, and I love it.
There are other notables. The original cast continue to not have a lot to do, although their presence gives the new events resonance and lends to the historical scope of the whole thing. The finding of the lost pages from Laura Palmer’s diary are a huge boon to long-time fans, although a bit of a bummer to find out we’ve known what they said since Fire, Walk With Me. Amanda Seyfried’s blissed-out, drugged-out ride was sure something, in line with Lynch’s pulp-style heroines who are sweet, innocent girls drawn to bad men who use them in evil ways. This line, however, is beginning to look a bit dated and ugly, especially when we keep returning to scenes of women experiencing sexualized violence—or extremely terrorizing threats of sexualized violence—and being both attracted and repulsed by it. There is definitely thread of misogyny in Lynch’s work, a particularly ugly kind that mourns the lost innocence of girls that have been brutally raped and then admires the beauty of their corpses. This view is part and parcel of Lynch’s work—where it slots in seamlessly—and if he were a lesser director, and the rest of it weren’t so amazing, we would be talking about it. But we’re not.
And then: Episode 8. The bad Cooper gets shot unexpectedly, and the first electrifying moment comes as these gray shadowy men come out of the darkness and start mopping and mowing about the body, smearing blood all over it in unsettlingly low-fi special effects, the whole effect being terrifying. I had my hands on the side of my head, staring at the screen in horrified disbelief. Then the bad Cooper awakes—is he still alive?—and we go back to the first atomic blast, during 1945, in a super-slow, absolutely beautiful effect. We go into the cloud, where we see lots of bubbles coming at us, including one with Bob’s face on it, and while none of it makes any sense, it is all overwhelmingly beautiful, and this is the first time of this series I have noticed Angelo Badalamenti’s score being absolutely beautiful as well. Then the giant sees the blast, and Bob’s face, and starts floating, issuing color bubbles, one of which floats down and has Laura Palmer’s face in it. Seems as though we are witnessing a new evil coming into the world along with mankind’s new ability to destroy itself, and a pure soul such as Laura’s is being sent out for balance.
There’s also a bug with frog’s legs hatching from an egg, wandering into town and finally crawling into a girl’s mouth. And more of those terrifying gray men, terrorizing people and finally sending out a message over radio that causes people to spontaneously die. None of it makes any “sense,” but it is all strangely beautiful, evocative of many things without making any kind of direct statement, riveting throughout, must be among the strangest if not THE strangest thing ever to be broadcast on mainstream television, and essentially must be seen. Even if you haven’t watched the rest of the series, you could [and should] watch this and see one of the most amazingly beautiful and evocative art films you’ll ever see. Just lay back and let the images and emotions wash over you.
While the intriguing but ultimately fun mystery of the original series is long gone, and the darker world of Fire, Walk With Me seems like a fairly early step in this direction, and one could complain that what we’re getting now is SO completely different, I still maintain that Lynch is providing an amazing gift to the people who really engaged with the show at a deep level, and is blowing out the scope of this world at an exponential rate. If you love Cooper, you are getting a deep and extremely detailed excavation of his character. If you loved the whole world of the show, you are getting a vast explosion of its scope and the lives of its characters, two and a half decades later. This last episode seems to go back to the origins of the purity and evil that we knew in the guises of Laura and Bob. I’m still floored by how mind-blowingly amazing it was, and starting to mourn that there are only 10 episodes left.