Spoilers ahead for Twin Peaks: The Return!
The short version: "Case files."
Well, this week's episode was rather short on big plot reveals and massive events, but that's only because the four hours we got in a single night for the premiere is a very tough act to follow. Co-creators David Lynch and Mark Frost consider what they're trying to do here to be an 18-hour movie rather than a piece of episodic television, which means we can't really expect twists and cliffhangers to hit us every week. The first four hours were tone-setting, introducing plot points and re-introducing various characters. Now things feel a bit more transitional, like the middle of a movie. That means less flashy stuff this time around, but many of the developments are fascinating on their own, and a lot of great groundwork is laid out.
Specifically, things move forward in very subtle ways when it comes to unraveling the mystery of who Dale-Cooper-doppelganger Dougie Jones -- who has been replaced by Cooper himself, though seemingly without his memories -- really is, and what he's been up to. We know from past episodes that a group of men have been hired to kill Dougie. Those men re-appear in this episode, frustrated that they can't seem to locate Dougie, and their boss nervously dials a number marked "Argent," then presses the number "2." More on that a bit later. Meanwhile, in Buckhorn, the male body from the double homicide discovered during the premiere -- the one with ties to Cooper's evil doppelganger -- reveals a clue during the autopsy. Inside the body's stomach was a ring with an inscription to Dougie from his wife, Janey-E (Naomi Watts). To make matters more intriguing, Janey-E later mentions that Dougie (who, remember, is actually Cooper) is having "one of [his] episodes" as Cooper continues to stumble around with no idea who he is. This indicates past confusing behavior, and we know already that Dougie was created for some kind of purpose relating to both Cooper and DoppelDale. Has something been possessing Dougie and causing him to commit murder? The episode leaves us hanging, but the groundwork here is more than enough to move the story forward in this hour. I complained last week about the memory-less Cooper bit dragging on (something other critics actually quite liked), but this week it is definitely paying dividends.
As for Cooper himself, he seems to slowly be growing more lucid. He now has a very serious craving for coffee, and when he hears the words "agent" and "case files" he perks up significantly. Unfortunately, he's not his old self yet.
Meanwhile DoppelDale's story also delivers a couple of very interesting moments. In his prison mirror, he seems to reconnect with BOB and says, "You're still with me. That's good." This seems to confirm that the incident which almost pulled him out of our world didn't take away his mean streak, or his connection to the darkness of the Black Lodge. Then, when he gets to make a phone call, he dials what seems to be code and says, "the cow jumped over the moon." This cuts to a shot of Buenos Aires, Argentina ("Argent," remember?), where a black box beeps and blinks, then shrivels. It's not clear what this means, but it does build on the ever-present mystery of exactly what DoppelDale was up to in the 25 years since we last saw him.
In other highlights, there was a brief visit to the Double R Diner, where Norma (Peggy Lipton) and Shelly are still holding down the fort. Apart from the general joy of seeing them again, we also see a young woman who would seem to be Shelly's daughter, Becky (Amanda Seyfried). Becky borrows money from Shelly, then takes it out to her husband (according to the credits), Steven (Caleb Landry Jones), a deadbeat in an old sports car who gives her cocaine. This is a great moment in the grander scheme of Twin Peaks, as it echoes Laura Palmer's own cocaine-addled relationship with Bobby Briggs 25 years earlier. And when Becky smiles up at the sky for an extended shot of drug-fueled bliss, it feels very much like a throwback. That shot could have very easily been Laura herself. Is Twin Peaks about to claim another victim?
Nothing to really complain about this week, apart from a young man credited as "Trouble" (Riley Lynch) harassing some women in a bar for apparently no reason. It's hard to pick on this moment out of context, but it fits a pattern of using violence against women to set a tone that emerged in the premiere. It's very uncomfortable, which is the point, but the discomfort also doesn't feel earned ... yet.
CORRECTION: This character's name is actually Richard Horne, and he's played by Eamon Farren. Sorry, folks. These recaps happen fast.
- Buenos Aires, Argentina, was the last place FBI Agent Phillip Jeffries was seen after his re-emergence years ago during Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. Now that city is in the picture again, adding intrigue to whatever Jeffries and DoppelDale were up to prior to the events of The Return. We've been told before that Fire Walk With Me had a major role to play in the new episodes, and this is yet another connection.
- The fingerprints of that headless body now have a name to go with them: Major Garland Briggs, the Air Force UFO investigator who seemingly died in a fire sometime before The Return. We know DoppelDale was among the last people to see Briggs alive ... or at least, we think we do (remember, Dougie also looked like Cooper). Now the circumstances surrounding Briggs' death have changed, and Dougie's wedding ring is connected to it. Where does this road lead? The Air Force is on the case.
- Apparently Agent Preston (Chrysta Bell) has discovered some anomalies in DoppelDale's fingerprints.
- The showgirls in pink dresses staring dreamily off into the middle distance while a man is savagely beaten is a wonderfully Lynchian image.
- Remember the name "Mr. Strawberry." The warden certainly seemed to think it was important.
- Cooper's old key from the Great Northern is finally on its way back to Twin Peaks.
- We finally know what Dr. Jacoby had planned for those gold shovels: He's selling them to viewers of his conspiracy theory webcast show. And the hilarious evolution of one of Twin Peaks' strangest characters continues.
And that's it for this week! Join us next time for Part 6!