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Twin Peaks: The Return Recap Parts 17 & 18

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Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Parts 17 & 18

Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Parts 17 & 18

The two-part finale of Twin Peaks: The Return puts us at long last in a position where we can assess the various layers of sense, nonsense, and pure irony contained in the show’s very title. We’ve always assumed that, at the narrative level, Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) would finally return to the town of Twin Peaks. And the finale certainly delivered on that promise, albeit in an extremely offhand and attenuated fashion, exemplified perfectly by the fleeting glimpse of the iconic “Welcome to Twin Peaks” sign we catch during Cooper’s limo ride into town. Series creators Mark Frost and David Lynch pointedly frontload “Part 17,” paying off several major storylines in the first half hour, only to spend the next 90 minutes spiraling into a terrifying Moebius strip of time loops and alternate realities that effectively undercuts everything we thought we knew about Twin Peaks.

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap Part 16

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Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 16

Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 16

“Part 16” of Twin Peaks: The Return is perhaps most remarkable for its numerous arrivals and departures, some of them quite literal, some a bit more metaphorical. In a more rules-oriented series, the second-to-last episode of the season would be spent mostly marking time, given over to scrupulously setting the stage for the finale. There were traces of that here, of course, but rendered wonderfully rich and strange through David Lynch’s meticulous attention to off-kilter audiovisual textures and details.

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap Part 14

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Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 14

Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 14

The latest Twin Peaks: The Return is, to invoke the Bard, “such stuff as dreams are made on.” David Lynch has always conjured up his disorienting, often disturbing narratives according to an intuitive dream logic. The original Twin Peaks often used Agent Cooper’s dreams to forward, and occasionally frustrate, the central mystery of who killed Laura Palmer. And the new series has taken several dreamlike excursions into far leftfield, in particular the recursive flashbacks of “Part 8.” But never before has Lynch commented quite so explicitly about the philosophical, even metaphysical, function of dreams. Suffice it to say, dreams and visions—as well as a few rather gnomic discussions thereof—take up practically the entirety of “Part 14.”

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap Part 12

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Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 12

Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 12

Tinkering with the basic building blocks of serialized television has always been a key component of David Lynch’s approach to Twin Peaks, particularly when it concerns tone and timing. The protracted opening segment of “May the Giant Be With You,” for example, demonstrates Lynch’s longstanding penchant for deliberately confounding viewer expectations. And you’d doubtless be in the triple digits by now if you were keeping a running count of the scenes sprinkled throughout the new series that linger lovingly over seemingly inconsequential details. But last night’s installment of Twin Peaks: The Return takes the concept of delayed gratification to whole new levels of perversity—and even apologists for deep-seated perversity are going to have a tough time justifying long stretches of this one.

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap Part 11

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Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 11

Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 11

Where last week’s episode of Twin Peaks: The Return brought intimations of encroaching darkness on a tide of unflinching violence and male brutality, last night’s installment divides its time pretty evenly between domestic drama, furthering the show’s overarching mythology, and an extended set piece of seriocomic pop surrealism. In a tidy structural parallel, “Part 11” opens with a pair of scenes that extend (and complicate) events from last week. The first reveals that eyewitness Miriam Sullivan (Sarah Jean Long) somehow survived Richard Horne’s assault and attempted assassination via makeshift gas-oven-and-candle explosive. It’s safe to say that Horne’s misdeeds will now see the light of day, setting up an inevitable showdown with the authorities that seems likely to end in a hail of bullets.

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap Part 9

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Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 9

Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 9

Showtime gave viewers of Twin Peaks: The Return two weeks to process the epically unsettling excursion into cosmic tone poetry and splattery monochrome horror that constituted much of “Part 8.” It seems likely that, given the show’s fondness for delaying the connection of its many plot points, those events will only bear their strange fruit a few episodes further down the line. And so last night’s installment resolutely picked up where the previous episode’s present-day first act left off, with the miraculously resurrected but still blood-soaked Bad Dale (Kyle MacLachlan) hoofing it along a dusty country road, until a blood-red bandana shows him where to turn off.

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap Part 7

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Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 7

Showtime

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 7

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.

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap Part 6

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Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 6

Showtime

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.

Summer of ’90: Wild at Heart

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Summer of ’90: Wild at Heart

The Samuel Goldwyn Company

Summer of ’90: Wild at Heart

The power of David Lynch’s Wild at Heart is the endurance of an Elvis Presley song (or two), the staying power of a children’s movie, and the sight and sound of a match being struck: romantically mellow, wackily comic, and deadly, darkly serious.

Lynch gets more and scarier mileage out of fire in Wild at Heart than he did out of Frank Booth’s lighter in Blue Velvet. In between the two came the game-changing Twin Peaks, which, soon after Wild at Heart, Lynch would round off with Fire Walk with Me. It’s easy to see the whole arc from Blue Velvet to Fire Walk with Me as part of a single centralizing vision, an identifiable phase of his artistic development—his “fire period,” if you like.

Oscar 2015 Winner Predictions: Supporting Actress

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Oscar 2015 Winner Predictions: Supporting Actress
Oscar 2015 Winner Predictions: Supporting Actress

In the Oscars of our dreams, when The Imitation Game’s Keira Knightley walks the red carpet and Giuliana Rancic asks her who she’s wearing, the ghost of Joan Rivers effortlessly interjects, “Those coattails are by Harvey Weinstein!” In dreams, too, Laura Dern wouldn’t also be passing through, but as layered as her performance in Wild may be, it’s impossible to shake that the film’s editing has so abstracted her character, however purposefully, that the performance itself feels only half-remembered. Meryl Streep’s turn in Into the Woods isn’t so easily forgotten. Its fantastical grotesquerie is consistent with the actress’s recent career choices, but no matter how playfully she vamps, no matter how affectingly she sings her way through “Stay with Me,” the film doesn’t possess the necessary pedigree of, say, the horrendous The Iron Lady. Prestige is something that Birdman doesn’t starve for, and at least one benefit of the film’s over-determined direction is the grace with which it pauses to let its actors express their characters’ desire to live in a less deluded world. Yes, there’s soul behind Emma Stone’s Bette Davis eyes, and yet, can this prisoner of the theater be fully trusted? If Patricia Arquette has remained a frontrunner throughout the Oscar season, it’s because her performance, like Boyhood itself, is a wistful reminder that there’s often more poetry in the real than there is in fantasy.