This week’s episode of Twin Peaks: The Return uses Mark Frost and David Lynch’s abiding preoccupation with doppelgangers and mirror imagery as an often subtle structural device. Take Hawk’s (Michael Horse) fleeting mention of Jacques Renault (played in the original series by Walter Olkewicz) during his conversation with Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster) about the handwritten pages he found in the bathroom stall door. This brief reference is later echoed by our introduction to Jean Michel Renault (also Olkewicz), the French-Canadian clan’s next generation of sleazy bartender-cum-pimp. Lynch uses a couple of classic rock instrumentals to link scenes set in the wee hours of the night: Booker T. & the M.G.’s “Green Onions” incongruously accompanies the image of a man (reduced almost to a silhouette) sweeping the floor of the Bang Bang Bar, a shot Lynch holds until it becomes strangely hilarious. Set to Santo & Johnny’s aptly titled “Sleep Walk,” the end credits scroll over the late-night patrons of the Double R Diner, only the second time the new series hasn’t concluded with an on-stage performance.
At other times these architectonic duplications are more overt, especially in two sequences that disquietingly allude to the sexual-predatory proclivities of the Bad Dale (Kyle MacLachlan). Doc Hayward (the late Warren Frost, to whom the episode is dedicated) tells Sheriff Truman via Skype that the last time he saw Agent Cooper (MacLachlan) was the day after his return from the Black Lodge in the second-season finale “Beyond Life and Death.” Cooper was coming out of Audrey Horne’s hospital room and acting very strangely indeed. As Twin Peaks habitués will recall, Audrey was caught up in the bank-vault bombing that apparently killed Andrew Packard and Pete Martell. Alongside a bewhiskered gag lifted from the Marx Brothers’s Animal Crackers, Doc Hayward manages to leave us with some nagging doubts as to the doppelganger’s activities in that intensive care unit.
Doc Hayward’s troubling recollections, however, pale in comparison to what emerges during the confrontation between Diane (Laura Dern) and the doppelganger. Things obviously aren’t kosher from the start, because, when Gordon Cole (Lynch) tells Diane that Coop’s in a federal lockup, she retorts, “Good.” Once they’re face to face in South Dakota, it’s even clearer that something untoward happened the one time Cooper visited Diane at home. The implications of their telegraphed exchange are chilling: “I’ll always remember that night,” says the Bad Dale. Diane bluntly responds: “Same for me.” Most of the episode’s heavy lifting falls to Dern, from her finely shaded delivery of Diane’s all-purpose mantra (“Fuck you!”), to the way she allows her fear and sorrow to slowly crack through Diane’s mask of cynical aloofness. And the way Lynch and series DP Peter Deming film Dern for the interrogation scene—in extreme close-up and slightly from below—seems oddly reminiscent of Maria Falconetti in Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc.
“The biggest revelation in “Part 7” concerns Hawk’s handwritten pages. They prove to be the missing pages from the diary of Laura Palmer that prominently feature in an arc from the show’s second season. These pages, as it develops, record Laura’s disturbingly bloody vision of Annie Blackburn as depicted in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. Lynch and Frost continue to weave together, in fascinating fashion, bits of Twin Peaks lore taken from disparate sources—TV shows, prequel film, books—into what proposes to be a unified whole. This isn’t to say, of course, that every single clue eventually will be tied up in a tidily beribboned package. Lynch has never worked that way.
Then again, many of the earlier episodes’ seeming non sequiturs have already paid off in tonally interesting ways. There’s borderline slapstick when hit man Ike “The Spike” Stadtler (Christophe Zajac-Denek) finally makes his move on Cooper in the plaza outside the Lucky 7 Insurance offices. Ike’s attack triggers a deeply buried autonomous response from Cooper, a blunt blast of action-movie violence that Lynch cannily juxtaposes with some deadpan media parody, showing faux-news interviews with bystanders who offer cogent insights along the lines of “That guy didn’t look like a victim to me!”
And then there’s the deeply bizarre: The anomaly in the doppelganger’s fingerprints that Agent Preston (Chrysta Bell) detected back in “Part 5” links up with the reason Gordon didn’t think he greeted him properly, and it all has to do with one of Cole’s byzantine codes. Bad Dale’s prints also indicate that his “spiritual mound” has been reversed, as in a mirror, thereby betraying his malevolent ways. As it stands at the end of “Part 7,” there are now two camps, the Twin Peaks sheriff’s department and the feds, who know that something’s very wrong with what passes these days for Agent Dale Cooper. Only problem is, owing to intimations of blackmail that involve unsavory customers and severed dog legs, Mr. C and Ray Monroe (George Griffith) are on the road again, with a trusty “friend” tucked away in the glove compartment.
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