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.
Without doubt, Twin Peaks is the hardest show I’ve ever had to review in this site’s relatively short life. Not only is it dazzlingly brilliant in places, it’s also frustrating, strange and doesn’t follow any of the narrative conventions we’ve all come to know. If that wasn’t enough, this series has required extreme patience, as Good Coop slowly starts to find himself again. There were signs in part six that he was beginning to emerge from his Dougie Jones reverie, and there were more signs in part seven, too.
Five weeks in and we were no closer to a resolution to the fate of Good Coop – Agent Dale Cooper – returned from The Black Lodge, and living back in the conscious world as Dougie Jones, still struggling to grasp basic social, movement and speech skills. To begin with, his predicament was high comedy, but as the minutes, hours, wore on I was left wondering – hoping, even – that it wouldn’t be too long until this strange duality would be resolved. The sooner we got Agent Dale Cooper back the better. There were signs in this sixth part that things were starting to turn around.
I have to say that this fifth episode was my least favourite of the series so far. The previous four episodes had been a stupefying mix of nightmarish surrealism and high farce – Good Coop had battled to escape The Black Lodge, but when he emerged Lynch and Frost gave us something entirely unexpected: he returned to the conscious world, taking the over the body of loser and chancer Dougie Jones, who, we soon found out, was some sort of decoy made by Bob (maybe). Good Coop’s brain was struggling to process the stimuli of our modern world, and he shambled around it with childlike innocence and incredulity. It was almost as if Good Coop was acting out a response to the leaps in technology, habits and consumerist ephemera that litters our world. Twenty-seven years’ absence can do strange things to a person.