This post will contain SPOILERS from the beginning.
For some of us it’s been an awfully long fortnight following so much new material. It was almost overwhelming being handed four hours of new Twin Peaks, especially seeing as David Lynch seems keen to double-down on his reputation for dream logic, disturbing brutality and extremely absurd humour. It was a feast, and then we felt starved. But Part 5 is here and, well, now we know what Dr Jacoby’s shovels were for, at least. But that might be all we know for sure…
Part 5 is as earthbound as new Twin Peaks has been. We didn’t visit the Black Lodge once. Back in the show’s original run, of course, it was rarely seen at all. But if you think that things are therefore bound to make a lot more sense, you can think again. Part 5 is ambitious in other ways, brazenly expanded the number of plates David Lynch and Mark Frost have already set spinning.
This week’s installment felt like opening a candy selection box; there were plenty of old favourites tucked away, and several new selections to indulge in. Regarding the new players, it seems as though Lynch and Frost are keen to bring in a new generation to the town of Twin Peaks, and that’s a welcome decision, though there’s a dark portentous sense of history repeating. Most significant among these new players is perhaps Amanda Seyfried as Shelly’s daughter Becky Burnett who, with her conspicuously poor choice in men (Caleb Landry Jones as Steven Burnett – husband??), strongly recalls the wildly careless Laura Palmer, while also recalling Shelly herself with Leo. Her fella has her mixed up in cocaine dealings too, which goes some way to echoing the avenues the show has previously driven down, and also goes to show how small town life only ever seems to travel in circles.
There are fresh faces at the Roadhouse too, and Lynch mixes things up a little this week. Our time there isn’t spent at the end of the episode but rather ten minutes before, with the band Trouble pleasing the crowd with a jazz-rock groove (their sax player is like a young Fred Madison from Lost Highway – surely not a coincidence). In the booths, however, we find a loner disobeying the ‘NO SMOKING’ sign hanging beside him. His rebellious streak catches the eye of one of the local girls, but her cursory flirtation with him reveals a sinister violence that’s barely contained. This scene uneasily continues the series’ preoccupation with violent interactions between men and women. It’s on theme, certainly, but I sometimes can’t help but wonder if Lynch uses this tawdry trope as a shortcut to identifying the bad guys. Who is this new unsavoury character? The credits reveal his name to be Richard Horne, suggesting another dark turn for the town’s most prosperous family. We shall see.
Probably the weakest of the new characters we encounter is Sheriff Truman’s nagging wife Doris played by Candy Clark. Her henpecking of Robert Forster’s weary sheriff comes across as cartoonish and somewhat mean-spirited of the show runners, as though she’s been set-up to perform this sole function. It may not be without motive, however, as certain parallels can be drawn between Doris and Janey-E Jones (Naomi Watts) who continues to suffer the shuffling somnambulism of her ‘husband’ Dougie (Kyle MacLachlan). Women suffer men in many ways, Lynch seems to be suggesting.
With so many new elements competing for screen time the show’s continuing stories eke forward incrementally. Hopes that Dougie achieved a breakthrough in Part 4 are immediately dashed; he’s still a great big baby, though further developments do come as Jayne-E packs him off to work for the day. We learn that Dougie works for an insurance firm, and our hopes are rekindled once more by his hazy responses to the words “agent” and “case file”. Like a man hopelessly trying to remember a faded dream, Dougie seems to be searching for his former identity of Dale Cooper, but it remains frustratingly out of reach. Despite his evident senility, nobody seems to want to do anything about Dougie’s present condition. It feels like a damning indictment from Lynch on the selfishness of our society, where something can be both acknowledged and swept between the cracks (isn’t that what the murder of Laura Palmer was discussing, after all?). Indeed there’s a lot of societal bitterness teeming within Part 5.
Dougie does seem to have some extra sensory perception going on though. Coop was always intuitive, but between his ‘Mr Jackpots’ routine and his outburst in the staff meeting that occurs here, one wonders if/when he is restored to his old self, will Cooper continue to possess such abilities?
Bad Coop (also MacLachlan and frequently referred to elsewhere as Mr C) has only a couple of scenes this week, but both are important. The first firmly establishes that he is possessed by BOB (some nimble effects work with some archive footage) while the second is perhaps the most kinetic in all of Part 5 as Mr C (I’ll play along) makes his phone call, in the process upsetting the prison’s security and surveillance systems. The warden, Dwight Murphy (James Morrison), seems particularly troubled by the mention of Mr Strawberry… Curiouser and curiouser…
Elsewhere, the Buckhorn investigation inches forward only very slightly. No sign of Matthew Lillard since our opening double bill, but Jane Adams is just about keeping this element of the story afloat, this time with the aid of some zingers from her sideline as a stand-up comic.
The rest of the episode is littered with old favourites revealing themselves. Dr Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) is revealed to be – of course! – an underground podcaster peddling a line of shit-shoveling gold shovels (not sure how to take this reveal; the build-up suggested something much more important going on with those shovels, but hey, as red herrings go its been pretty fun). His listeners include Nadine Hurley (Wendy Robie); briefly glimpsed but a small joy to see. While nothing felt as homely as a leisurely scene back at the Double R with Shelly (Madchen Amick) and Norma (Peggy Lipton). Even Mike Nelson (Gary Hershberger) got a little cameo, setting the tone for Caleb Landry Jones’ gangly delinquent. Most of these faces are appearing in this season for the first time here, which might be why the momentum feels a little stalled this week. Welcome as they all are (mostly), they’re a tax on the narrative propulsion that the last two parts were keenly imbued with.
And there are still more new players! Back at the Nevada casino (a place I had assumed we might’ve seen the last of), we’re introduced to its ruthless owner Rodney Mitchum (Robert Knepper) and his associate/brother Bradley (Jim Belushi!), though one wonders whether their inclusion might amount to little more than a curiosity for its own sake. Five hours in and it still feels easy to second-guess what’s going to prove relevant and what’s merely Lynch indulging his more playful side. I didn’t expect us to return to the drugged-out mother last seen in Part 3, but here she is in Part 5; her son witnessing an explosive event that underpins the Dougie storyline with a much-needed glimmer of urgency. Still, Jade (Nafessa Williams) might’ve set the ball rolling on resolution down the line by mailing Coop’s key back to the Great Northern Hotel…
Some of the briefest moments of Part 5 yield the most provocative questions. What on earth is going on in Buenos Aires? A confoundingly random scene upfront is paid off toward the end, but even then we’re really left none-the-wiser, if anything with more questions. And while Gordon Cole and Albert Rosenfield are nowhere to be seen this week, Agent Tammy Preston (Chrysta Bell) seems to be making headway of her own… but to what end?
This is a busy, fragmented chapter in the show. Interesting and giving in many ways, but also somewhat frustrating, especially as MacLachlan’s doddering Dougie routine is fast wearing out it’s welcome. The episode ends with him staring with incredulous fascination at a statue he’s already been preoccupied by outside of his work. This long, long take of Dougie standing still does uneasily reflect the feeling of the narrative at present. By the end of Part 6 we’ll be a third of the way through. Enjoyable and as singular as new Twin Peaks is, I’m hoping for some renewed sense of purpose during our next visit.