This third series has been a sometimes thrilling, sometimes viscerally terrifying and sometimes infuriating journey. Throughout 15 episodes we’ve waited and waited until Agent Dale Cooper – our beloved FBI man – snapped out of his fugue and take back the identity that had been locked away for so long. No question about it: we’ve all needed saintly patience to get to that point. Ultimately, this is what this third series has been about – the search for identity. It’s been so different in tone and structure to the first two series that I know many friends have been turned off by it, but I’ve seen this as another detective story but not in any traditional, rational or step-by-step procedural sense. No, this series of Twin Peaks has, among other things, been about shattered identities and characters searching for who they used to be. And, after so many false dawns, Dale Cooper – the Dale Cooper we knew and loved – looked for all the world to have found himself again.
Yes, I’m a bit late with this review of part 15 of series three of Twin Peaks, but I couldn’t leave it be. I’m so engrossed in this new series – even though, on the surface of it, it doesn’t make much sense – that I really do think it’s having as much of an effect on me as the first two series did. Which is saying something.
Any long-time viewers of Twin Peaks will have been at once beguiled, terrified and intrigued, as well as frustrated, by this extraordinary third series. We’ve been waiting patiently through all the errant, seemingly innocuous and scattered scenes and new characters, hoping that Good Coop is finally revived from his catatonic state and that Bad Coop is returned to The Black Lodge. Finally, finally, by the end of part 14, things looked as though they were on the move.
In part 11, we were back in Twin Peaks for perhaps longer than we have been in a while. In fact, we seem to be spending more time in the town as each episode goes by, which suggests that all scattered characters and identities will eventually make their way back somehow and there will be some sort of denouement in the town at some point. Although let’s face it, trying to predict anything in this series is such a futile exercise. I’ve said it before and I’ll said it again, every time you think you know what might happen does the rug is well and truly pulled beneath you. And this is one of the reasons why it’s so watchable: you tune in desperate to see Good Coop emerge from his catatonic Dougie Jones state only to see teases of his old self.
We’re now into the second half of this series – or 18 hour-long movie as David Lynch would have us approach it – and we’re still none the wiser when it comes to the fate of Dougie Jones/Good Coop. In this 10th episode, there were diversions, some unsettling scenes (in a more subtle way than the kinetic scarefest that was the epic episode eight) and a few, just a few, more hints at where this might go.
How to follow part eight? That was the question heading into the ninth instalment of this remarkable series. It has had a week off – something I had forgotten about – which was probably a good thing after the sublimely extraordinary shenanigans of that episode. It was the episode where Lynch and Frost presented us with a step outside of the present-day timeline and took us back to the 1940s and 50s, to a black-and-white world where the advent of the atomic bomb had created an unspeakable evil that was to manifest itself in 1990s Washington State. Had we witnessed the birth of Bob in these crazy scenes? And what now, after a new dimension of political and visceral polemic, had been added to what was hitherto an invigorating whodunit (albeit and cross-dimensional procedural)?
The first thing to say about this episode is, “wow”. The second thing to say about this episode is, “wah?” It was that kind of episode. Again. Constantly throughout this third series of Twin Peaks, you think you kind-of-maybe-sort-of-know what’s happening and can perhaps kind-of-maybe-sort-of-predict what might happen. But then all your assumptions are ripped up in the most unexpected, mind-frazzling, dazzling way possible, to the extent you sit there in stony silence wondering what the fuckety-fuck just happened. This was one of those episodes.