The Good: Audrey Horne returns, Character development, Good performances, Plot threads are decent, Surprisingly funny, Ties together a number of previously incongruent moments
The Bad: One or two bits that still feel pointless and disconnected.
The Basics: "The Return Part 12" has most of the past Twin Peaks being smart in an episode that has almost no Kyle MacLachlan!
Twin Peaks returning to television has been a truly mixed blessing. The idea that the show might wrap up the twenty-five year old mystery of "what the hell happened after Agent Cooper was lost in the Black Lodge and Bob, with Cooper's face, made it out into out world" was a compelling one. But the concept has had an execution that is much more crowded than it is direct. Unlike the original Twin Peaks featuring disparate plotlines that did not have anything to do with Laura Palmer's murder, the incongruent elements of the new Twin Peaks seem widely unattached to the main plot. Viewers are further isolated from the original Twin Peaks by the fact that much of the action in the new season of Twin Peaks does not occur within the town of Twin Peaks.
"The Return Part 12" picks up after "The Return Part 11" (reviewed here!) and it continues the story with greater focus on answering the questions about the alternate planes of existence that Dale Cooper disappeared into. "The Return Part 12" takes a long time to get back to Cooper, but there is the sense in many of the scenes leading up to his appearance that people are working toward finding him or understanding what truly happened to him.
At the Mayfair, Gordon, Albert, and Tammy have wine and Albert informs Preston about Project Blue Book's end. Tammy is offered a position on Gordon and Albert's U.F.O.-related task force before Diane heads to the meeting. Diane is deputized by Gordon with the potential that she might learn the truth of what happened to Agent Cooper. In Twin Peaks, Sarah Palmer freaks out at the grocery store, claiming people are coming and in the trailer park, Carl exhibits compassion on one of his residents by releasing him from next month's rent.
Sheriff Truman visits Ben Horne and tells him about his grandson's hit and run. Horne takes financial responsibility for Miriam's treatment and laments his loss of his childhood bicycle. Albert meets with Gordon again and the two try to figure out what Diane is involved in. Cooper's assassins take out the warden. And Audrey takes to task the man who is supposed to find Billy.
"The Return Part 12" has a strong science fiction beginning. Dale Cooper, it turns out, was part of a top secret FBI task force pertaining to the Blue Rose Task Force, an investigatory body looking into U.F.O. cases that were unsatisfactorily investigated during Project Blue Book. Twin Peaks has had a pretty strong fantasy undertone to it when it was not a literal forensics drama or melodramatic soap opera, so the turn into explicit science fiction is an intriguing twist.
The inclusion of Diane into the Blue Rose Task Force seems like a thematic nod back to the Bookhouse Boys in the original Twin Peaks (when Agent Cooper was able to accompany the secret society). Gordon including Diane in the task force seems like a case of "keep your enemies closer," though and Gordon and Albert play it cool with Diane in a way likely to excite fans. It is refreshing when the follow-up scene comes up to see that Gordon and Albert are actually on top of things - especially given how Gordon usually appears like a bumbling moron.
Equally exciting to fans is how Benjamin Horne evolves in "The Return Part 12." Benjamin Horne spent the original Twin Peaks as a schemer, then a man suffering from a nervous breakdown before getting his skull cracked in. Apparently, all that horribleness left Benjamin a better person because in "The Return Part 12," he is contemplative, responsible, and he recognizes the horrible nature of his grandson immediately.
David Lynch takes his time with drawing out his scenes in "The Return Part 12." Gordon's date taking her time to leave is distractingly long. "The Return Part 12" is particularly melancholy for its moment with David Lynch looking sadly at Miguel Ferrer and it would be completely unsurprising if an eventual commentary track reveals that Ferrer told Lynch on the day of shooting this scene that he was ill (Ferrer died only a few months ago, before the first episode of the new Twin Peaks aired). The moment is especially poignant now and it is tough not to watch that portion of the episode and choke up.
But then "The Return Part 12" takes a right turn as Sherilyn Fenn pops back up as Audrey Horne! Fenn is part of a scene that answers a number of questions about previously incongruent elements in the new Twin Peaks season and fills in huge gaps in Horne's story. Fenn leaps upon playing the adult Audrey in a compelling way that still has the sarcasm and anger of the young woman she once played and the odd balance of dramatically advancing and maintaining the character is expertly handled by Fenn.
"The Return Part 12" finds just the right balance between answering questions and raising new one, progressing the story and continuing the mysterious feel. While there are still elements of the new Twin Peaks that feel forced for their weirdness - the exit of Gordon's mistress standing right out - most of the episode works incredibly well and fleshes out the story magnificently.
For other works with Grace Zabriskie, please visit my reviews of:
Santa Clarita Diet - Season 1
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me
FernGully: The Last Rainforest
[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Twin Peaks - The Complete Third Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the temporally displaced season of the surreal show here!
For other television reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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