Monday, June 5, 2017

"The Return Part 5" Rolls Like A Fog Back Toward Twin Peaks!

The Good: Good performances, Surreal elements work well with answering key questions
The Bad: No real character development, Irksome disconnected elements
The Basics: Twin Peaks continues to coalesce its narrative in "The Return Part 5."

As the new mystery in Twin Peaks begins to become clearer, the revival of the surreal show has gotten better. But, so far, the show has been somewhat erratic with episodes that bounce between providing viewers with concrete answers and others that simply seek to create a mood piece that confuses the story. So, going into "The Return Part 5," viewers had good reason to feel wary.

"The Return Part 5" follows on the events of "The Return Part 4" (reviewed here!) and, by necessity, requires some references to the prior episode to be comprehensively reviewed. After all, in "The Return Part 4," viewers were given some comparatively concrete answers about Dougie Jones and some of Agent Cooper's old FBI coworkers finally encountered Cooper.

Opening in Las Vegas, a strung out drug dealer texts "Argent." Elsewhere, the medical examiner on the South Dakota case performs an autopsy and discovers a wedding ring in the stomach of the corpse. In jail, Cooper reaffirms that Bob is still with him, while in Twin Peaks, Sheriff Truman is yelled at by Doris. Janey hides the money before driving Dougie to work. The thugs pursuing Dougie continue to stake out the house in the development where Agent Cooper manifested in Dougie and the number of people staking out the house because his car is out front increases. Dougie arrives at work where he follows coffee to the proper part of the office he works at.

While at a meeting, Agent Cooper begins to assert himself when he recognizes one of the other insurance agents is lying. Back at the casino, the casino manager is visited by the bosses who own the facility and object to the manager having paid Dougie out more than $400,000. At the housing complex, thugs attempt to take Dougie's car and it blows up. At the Double R Diner in Twin Peaks, Norma Jennings is alarmed when she sees Shelly give money to Becky, which Becky then gives to her dirtbag boyfriend, who is high on cocaine. While the Sheriffs in Twin Peaks work long into the night on the Agent Cooper case, Dr. Jacoby presents a podcast that rants against corporate influences in food and the environment. His podcast concludes with an advertisement for Dr. Amp's Golden Shovels, which Nadine eagerly listens to. At the Pentagon, an officer reports a new hit on Major Garland Briggs's fingerprints - the sixteenth hit in the past twenty-five years - and the Colonel on duty indicates it may be time to get the FBI involved. At the FBI, Agent Preston compares Agent Cooper's fingerprints to the imprisoned Cooper and discovers the fingerprints are different. And Cooper makes his one phone call from prison.

Janey continues to be a pretty horrible character in "The Return Part 5." The wife of Dougie Jones, Janey seems to recognize that there is something not quite right with her husband but she literally tugs him out the door and pushes him out of the car to get him to work. The relationship between Doug and Jane is characterized as entirely dysfunctional long before an assistant at the insurance office proves to be vastly more helpful than Janey. "The Return Part 5" starts to become more problematic on the Dougie front in that everyone else around Doug seems to be as unhelpful and oblivious as Doug's wife. The forced suspension of disbelief becomes unbearable.

Twin Peaks fans are unlikely to be impressed with the return of Mike Nelson to the narrative in one of the more random scenes since the show returned. Nelson was a character from the second season of Twin Peaks (reviewed here!) and he was part of one of the more ridiculous subplots in the season. His lone scene in "The Return Part 5" is used to introduce Becky Burnett's strung-out boyfriend. His appearance is a psychic nod to Nadine, who then appears without lines in "The Return Part 5" for no other reason than to imply that she remains as gullible as she used to be.

On the plus side, while the mystery of Doug Jones builds, Norma and Shelly pop back into the Twin Peaks narrative. Shelly is presented as an enabler for Becky, while Norma is still running the Double R and acting as a motherly figure to her. It seems like nothing has truly changed for them and that at least helps to make "The Return Part 5" feel connected to Twin Peaks. In fact, "The Return Part 5" might well have the most characters from the original Twin Peaks yet and that helps to make the episode feel more like Twin Peaks as opposed to a random television mystery than many of the prior episodes.

Also interesting is the use of Cooper in the climax of "The Return Part 5." Cooper appears to have knowledge of the Warden's personal life (or corrupt dealings) and he uses his one phone call to hack the security system at the prison, which allows him to send a coded message out to Buenos Aires. The surreal aspect of that phone call is well executed and director David Lynch manages to do interesting things like the compressing of the phone and the morph between Cooper and Bob in the mirror.

Not all of the direction is wonderful, though. Lynch made an awkward cut with the car bomb scene. While the cut might have been done to be more sensitive to viewers given the violence in the world today, the cheated car bomb scene makes very little visual sense. The car is being ransacked by three people when the bomb explodes and how two of those thugs walk away from the explosion is a complete mystery based upon the way the scene is cut.

Ultimately, "The Return Part 5" genuinely feels like an episode of Twin Peaks and it strengthens the ideas that Agent Cooper is possessing Dougie and that Cooper is slowly losing his ability to stay in our world. How Cooper is tied into the whole Twin Peaks drug trade remains to be solidified, but the idea that Cooper is a hunted man is implied heavily throughout "The Return Part 5" and is enough to get viewers excited about where the show is going!

For other works with Robert Knepper, check out my reviews of:
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2
"Power Outage" - The Flash
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1
Heroes - Season Four
Prison Break - Season 1
"Dragons Teeth" - Star Trek: Voyager
“Haven” - Star Trek: The Next Generation

[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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