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Twin Peaks: The Return Recap Part 6

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Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 6

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Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 6

Many of the events in the latest episode of Twin Peaks: The Return seem to depend on the toss of a coin, inviting speculation about the balance between chance and necessity in the lives of the characters. When Richard Horne (Eamon Farren) buys a load of a drug called “sparkle” from Red (Balthazar Getty), the latter bewilders Richard with a surreal coin trick. The coin impossibly hangs in the air for some time, before then manifesting in Richard’s mouth. Except it hasn’t, because it’s back in Red’s palm. Red tells Richard: “Heads I win. Tails you lose.” Chance obviously isn’t a factor in their deal. The game is rigged, as the house always wins—and it’s an encounter that sets in motion a series of events that reverberates throughout the episode.

Watch the Killers’ New Music Video "Christmas in L.A.," Starring Owen Wilson & Harry Dean Stanton

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Watch the Killers’ New Music Video “Christmas in L.A.,” Starring Owen Wilson & Harry Dean Stanton
Watch the Killers’ New Music Video “Christmas in L.A.,” Starring Owen Wilson & Harry Dean Stanton

For the past eight years, the Killers have partnered with (RED), the AIDS awareness organization founded by Bono and Bobby Shriver, for a Christmas single. The latest, “Christmas in L.A.,” the proceeds of which will go to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, features Los Angeles band Dawes, while the music video, which premiered on Rolling Stone today, stars Owen Wilson and Harry Dean Stanton. The mixed media clip, directed by Kelly Loosli with animation by students at Brigham Young University, explores the existential crisis inevitable to all actors at some point in their careers. “I’ve played so many parts/I don’t which one’s really me,” Brandon Flowers sings as an animated Wilson spies various incarnations of himself along the streets of Hollywood.

Big Love Recap: Season 3, Episode 10, "Sacrament"

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<em>Big Love</em> Recap: Season 3, Episode 10, “Sacrament”
<em>Big Love</em> Recap: Season 3, Episode 10, “Sacrament”

Big Love’s season finales often have a bit of an out-of-control feel to them, as though any given season’s plotlines have gotten so all-encompassing that it’s all the show can do to race just ahead of the giant boulder of story that threatens to overtake it at any moment. “Sacrament,” written by Victoria Morrow from a story by Coleman Herbert and directed by Dan Attias, managed this feat more elegantly than last season’s finale, and it mostly brought the series’ sporadically brilliant third season to a close, even if the finale was, itself, only sporadically brilliant. I suspect everyone here is tired of hearing me diagnose the show’s problem as spending too much time at Juniper Creek (even if I’m more charitable toward those characters and storylines than some commentators), but the four episodes following “Come, Ye Saints,” the best episode the show has ever done, just got too bogged down in compound morass. Still, developments in the finale suggest that the focus of the show will shift decisively to the Henrickson compound in Sandy, Utah, and to stories of Bill Henrickson’s (Bill Paxton) third wife, Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin) in the show’s fourth season.

Big Love Recap: Season 3, Episode 9, "Outer Darkness"

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<em>Big Love</em> Recap: Season 3, Episode 9, “Outer Darkness”
<em>Big Love</em> Recap: Season 3, Episode 9, “Outer Darkness”

“What is it in us, Alby, that makes us the way we are?” Nicki (Chloë Sevigny) asks early in “Outer Darkness,” Big Love Season Three’s penultimate episode, written by Eileen Myers and directed Michael Lehmann (a terrifically talented TV director still mostly known for the 80s teen comedy Heathers). The whole episode hinges on that question and returns to one of Big Love’s favorite themes—the uneasy mix between the purity of religious creed and the imperfection of human beings. The things Nicki and Barb (Jeanne Tripplehorn) and Bill (Bill Paxton) have done are all eminently HUMAN things to have done, but by giving in to their own desires and their human emotions (in Barb’s case), they find themselves cast out of family and faith. The entirety of human constructs like religion and society are based around the idea that we can use a greater good to overcome our messy biologies, but those biologies inevitably let us down. When the boyfriend you most likely rightfully kicked to the curb comes back into your life and says he’s so sorry you lost the baby, are you going to stand firm to what you know is probably the right thing to do or welcome him back with open arms? No matter how devoted you are to your creed (be it religious or otherwise), you’re always going to let it down. You’re a human being. It’s what we do.

Big Love Recap: Season 3, Episode 8, "Rough Edges"

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<em>Big Love</em> Recap: Season 3, Episode 8, “Rough Edges”
<em>Big Love</em> Recap: Season 3, Episode 8, “Rough Edges”

“Rough Edges,” written by Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer and directed by Dan Attias, just plunges forward, pell-mell, not terribly concerned with if it makes a lot of sense (that Woodruff letter storyline still feels dropped in from another series entirely, Mormon content notwithstanding) but having a good time going ahead anyway. If nothing else, the episode cemented Nicki (Chloë Sevigny) as this season’s most compelling character; the long web of lies she’s been spinning all season crumbled around her in the wake of the infatuated Ray the DA pursuing her so far as her home. The episode also dove into the headlong descent toward the season finale (in two weeks), which was no easy trick, since this season has already had, like, 50 season finales. So this time, Big Love really, really means it.

Big Love Recap: Season 3, Episode 7, "Fight or Flight"

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<em>Big Love</em> Recap: Season 3, Episode 7, “Fight or Flight”
<em>Big Love</em> Recap: Season 3, Episode 7, “Fight or Flight”

As if making penance for the last two weeks of limited Juniper Creek storylines, Sunday night’s Big Love, “Fight or Flight,” written by Patricia Breen and directed by Adam Davidson, was probably the most Juniper Creek-heavy episode of the season, if not since Season One. Some of this was interesting. Some of it wasn’t. But pretty much all of it trafficked in the strange weirdness of the setting, and that kept some of the tragic things that happened at Juniper Creek from fully passing over from bizarre to truly affecting.

Big Love Recap: Season 3, Episode 6, "Come, Ye Saints"

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<em>Big Love</em> Recap: Season 3, Episode 6, “Come, Ye Saints”
<em>Big Love</em> Recap: Season 3, Episode 6, “Come, Ye Saints”

So let’s talk about God.

I mean, He’s arguably the most important character in Big Love, even if we never directly see Him, even if we never are sure how He feels about the Henricksons. Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton) is always so concerned about how the two of them are getting along that we are forced to take these sorts of things into account, even if we don’t particularly believe in God in any way, shape or form. Bill’s deteriorating relationship with his faith has provided a hidden spine to Big Love’s third season, and it finally erupts in tonight’s episode, in one of the all-time great television images to my mind.

Big Love Recap: Season 3, Episode 5, "For Better or for Worse"

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<em>Big Love</em> Recap: Season 3, Episode 5, “For Better or for Worse”
<em>Big Love</em> Recap: Season 3, Episode 5, “For Better or for Worse”

Few shows on TV have as many scenes that feel like they should be dream sequences but actually turn out to be reality as Big Love does. It’s probably because everyone on the show has something of an impulse control problem, so things tend to spin quickly out of control. Another show would have spent most of this week building up to the wedding with Ana (Branka Katic), but Big Love dispatched with that in the second scene. As soon as she said yes, Bill (Bill Paxton) was ready to get married in his backyard (at 3:30 that very afternoon, no less). Was it any wonder that things spiraled out of control from there?

Big Love Recap: Season 3, Episode 4, "On Trial"

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<em>Big Love</em> Recap: Season 3, Episode 4, “On Trial”
<em>Big Love</em> Recap: Season 3, Episode 4, “On Trial”

One of the best things about Big Love is that it’s decidedly agnostic about its purported protagonist, Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton). The show is smart enough to admit when he does a good thing but also keeps its distance from the man, as though it’s always concerned that he might turn into the second coming of Roman Grant (Harry Dean Stanton). Critics of Big Love have frequently said the show presents a too idyllic vision of polygamy, but that’s not entirely accurate. The show has frequently criticized Bill and his vision, particularly via Barb (Jeanne Tripplehorn), Sarah (Amanda Seyfried) and Barb’s mom, Nancy (Ellen Burstyn), and it’s shown how the polygamist lifestyle, even in a seemingly ideal set-up, manages to marginalize women and take away their ability to realize their potential. The show’s detachment, however, gets it into trouble with its critics where other HBO series (notably, The Sopranos) used that detachment to force the audience to probe their complicity in the actions seen on screen. On Big Love, the Henrickson household is presented so appealingly that we WANT it to be the kind of idyllic place it really can’t be, but it never really will be. The foundation it’s built on is the one of sand from the parable.

Big Love Recap: Season 3, Episode 3, "Prom Queen"

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<em>Big Love</em> Recap: Season 3, Episode 3, “Prom Queen”
<em>Big Love</em> Recap: Season 3, Episode 3, “Prom Queen”

At the end of Sunday’s typically overstuffed and compelling Big Love episode, “Prom Night” (conveniently scheduled directly opposite a surprisingly compelling Super Bowl by an HBO that is either confident in the show’s ability to pull in good ratings on rebroadcasts or just wants to rid itself of the thing already), written by Eileen Myers and directed by David Petrarca, I was contemplating which of two utterly predictable directions the storyline featuring Nicki (Chloë Sevigny) infiltrating the team working to build a case against her father Roman (Harry Dean Stanton) would take. It stands to reason that her new closeness to the attractive young DA she’s working with will either lead to her giving him misleading signals (and leading him to try to date her, since she’s ostensibly single) or to her eventually agreeing to testify against her father and thus dooming her family to exposure in a court of law.

In general, when criticizing works of art that fall within the Western narrative tradition (or, in Hollywood parlance, the three-act structure), it’s a pretty big sin to call a story “predictable.” This is usually shorthand for saying that something is formulaic or that it does nothing new within the genre it lives in. Certainly some forms of predictability are OK if the film, book, or play we’re tackling doesn’t claim to be reinventing the wheel—i.e., one of the chief pleasures of the romantic comedy is the almost religious quality to checking off the waypoints on the journey to getting the happy couple together at the end of the piece, and a work like this is usually judged by the skill used to bring the audience to a point they already know they’re going to. But, as I thought about the predictable nature of these storylines, I realized that essentially every storyline on Big Love is predictable, but I’m also not convinced that on television that that’s necessarily a bad thing.