Get ready to arm wrestle in Part 13 of Twin Peaks: The Return

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Aug 6, 2017

This week on Twin Peaks, the evil Dale Cooper makes progress, Norma gets down to business, and a familiar face takes the Roadhouse stage. Let's rock!

SPOILERS AHEAD!

The short version: "What story is that, Charlie?"

THE GOOD

Well, some of the pieces in two different major schemes surrounding two different versions of Dale Cooper really fell into place this week. The most exciting of which came when DoppelDale finally tracked down Ray at a secluded criminal hideout in Montana (where Richard Horne, who fled Twin Peaks a few episodes back, is also hanging out), and it's here that the bulk of the episode's key tensions were expended. Ray's been trying to kill DoppelDale in some way or another since the very first episode of The Return, while DoppelDale's been after a mysterious set of coordinates that Ray gathered from the secretary of Buckhorn's own William Hastings. Over the last few weeks we've learned that these coordinates were passed along in some way or another from Major Garland Briggs, who was hanging out in an alternate dimension after his apparent death more than 20 years ago.

At last, Phillip Jeffries' role in all of this is becoming a little clearer. We've known for a while now that Jeffries -- the FBI agent played by David Bowie in Fire Walk With Me -- and DoppelDale were working together in some capacity in the years before the series came back, and in the premiere a voice that may or may not have been Jeffries promised that DoppelDale would be "going back in," presumably to the Black Lodge. DoppelDale beat those odds and he's still roaming around, but that wasn't the end of Jeffries' planning. He somehow slipped Ray the mysterious green ring from Fire Walk With Me, the ring worn by everyone from Teresa Banks to Laura Palmer, and told him to put it on DoppelDale's finger after he killed him. Well, we all know Ray wasn't able to do that. As for why Jeffries requested this, the ring's powers are still not entirely clear, but it does seem to have some ability to block creatures like BOB from possessing a human body, so perhaps Jeffries was taking out some insurance. Its other key gift: If you're wearing it when you die, there's a good chance your spirit winds up in the Red Room. It happened to Ray tonight, and to Dougie Jones much earlier in the series.

At the heart of all of this seems to be Jeffries' desire to either banish BOB back to the Lodge or harness BOB's power for himself. The exact motives still aren't clear, but DoppelDale's path is. He got the coordinates he's been looking for, killing Ray in the process, and we know those coordinates lead to somewhere in the vicinity of Twin Peaks. Gordon, Albert, Tammy, and Diane are also aware of this, while Hawk and Sheriff Truman are pursuing some nearby coordinates of their own. The very thought of these three storylines converging after watching them unfold for more than a dozen hours is enough to give me chills. That, plus a truly terrifying arm-wrestling sequence, was enough to make this one of The Return's strongest episodes yet.

Meanwhile in Vegas, Duncan Todd's mission to eliminate "Dougie Jones" took yet another hit, as Sinclair (Tom Sizemore) just couldn't bring himself to off his co-worker with poison after the Mitchum Brothers miraculously didn't kill him. Dougie just keeps living the good life, eating cherry pie and getting free BMWs, while the mysterious forces of the Red Room conspire to keep him alive as he slowly finds his way back to his memories as Dale Cooper. There didn't seem to be much progress on that front this week, but watching Sonny Jim play on his new jungle gym was one of the most pleasantly eerie David Lynch moments in recent memory.

Woven throughout these major events were minor moments reflecting on just how haunted the citizens of Twin Peaks still are all these years later. Bobby Briggs, looking for Shelly but just missing her at the RR, wants to eat alone until Norma (Peggy Lipton) and Big Ed (Everett McGill) save him from his self-isolation. When we first met back up with Bobby this season he nearly broke down sobbing at the sight of Laura Palmer's high school photo. That, plus his broken marriage to Shelly and the things he's seen in town lately have clearly rendered him contemplative and more than a little shaken. Meanwhile, Big Ed, still carrying a torch for Norma, can't shake his own isolation, eating soup alone at the Gas Farm after it's clear Norma's still attached to Walter (Grant Goodeve), even if he is chastising her for sticking to the old ways of pie-making.

The two most pointed and striking of these little character moments, though, came when Sarah Palmer and James Hurley re-entered the picture. James, who we've been told has never quite been the same since he had an accident years back, takes the stage at the Roadhouse for an encore performance of "Just You," the song he once sang with Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle) and Maddy (Sheryl Lee). At the time we first heard it, that song felt like a little bit of wheel-spinning from a show struggling to find its feet after a strong opening, and the sound can be a little grating all by itself. This time, it felt more deliberately heartbreaking. James lost Laura, and Maddy, and Donna (absent from the revival but, as far as we know, alive), and finally somewhere along the way he lost himself. There's something incredibly moving about that, even if I wasn't all that happy to hear the song itself.

Then there's Sarah, sitting alone watching boxing, downing vodka, and chainsmoking with what looked like a plate of creamed corn (garmonbozia) next to her. Something else is clearly going on with Sarah, and it's not just because whenever we see her plopped in front of the TV she seems to be watching something violent. She clearly lied to Hawk about someone or something being in the house with her, and her mental state is such that even turkey jerky can cause an episode. No one could ever expect her to be stable after everything she's been through, but it feels like there's more happening here than an alcoholic widower with mental health issues. In Twin Peaks, even that would be too simple.

Overall, this was a very well-paced and even thrilling episode that moved several storylines in the right direction. David Lynch might not always make it clear where he's heading, but he's not just devoted to weirdness for weirdness' sake. There is a plan at work here, and this episode was one of the clearest examples of that.

THE BAD

Last week I was optimistic about where Audrey Horne's storyline might be headed, perhaps in retrospect because I was just so damn happy to see Sherilynn Fenn back on Twin Peaks again after nearly a dozen episodes spent waiting in the wings. I liked the idea that, weird though it was, Audrey had gotten herself sucked into another soap opera, or that perhaps she'd been living one for 25 years without us knowing.

Now, I'm finding her story so far to be not just boring but out of character. Audrey was always someone prone to drama, yes, but she also wasn't inclined to let herself be manipulated. Now she's seemingly at the end of her rope, and we don't know why, and it feels like the cool fire of the old Audrey has died down. She admits that she doesn't seem to know who she is anymore, and that's fitting because neither do I. Then again, she did spend some time in a coma after the bank explosion in Season 2, so perhaps her personality was shifted by the trauma.

I'm still hopeful that this will go somewhere promising soon. For now, though ... I miss the old Audrey.

THE OWLS

- Our detectives in Las Vegas have unwittingly stumbled upon the fact that Dougie Jones and Dale Cooper are one and the same (though, as Tammy Preston discovered, DoppelDale's fingerprints are altered), but they think it was just a goof of the system. That's too bad, because if they'd let the FBI know we could have seen the Gordon Cole-Dougie Jones meeting I've been hoping to see for weeks.

- Despite the urging of Shelly and Bobby, Becky still hasn't left her husband, and now he's gone missing. It seems hard to see this story ending in anything but darkness in some form or other.

- Jeffries is, according to Ray, at "the Dutchman's," which DoppelDale recognizes instantly. It's a name that doesn't mean anything to me, but now the evil Cooper has both the coordinates and the location of the man who's trying to kill him. Which one will he go for first?

- Nadine is still incredibly proud of her drape runners, as she should be.

- Did the pine cone on the mic stand at the Roadhouse change places from where it was last time we saw it? It certainly seems like it did.

And that's it for this week! Join us next time for Part 14.