The Good: Good performances, Moments of character, Good special effects, Decent plot development
The Bad: Still a vast number of (so far) disconnected characters and events
The Basics: Twin Peaks develops well with "The Return Part 7" and finally rewards longtime fans with the proper appearance of Agent Cooper's boss, Diane, on screen!
As a fan of Twin Peaks (reviewed here!), I was very excited about the return of the series to television. The truth, however, has been that the show has developed as a very slow burn for the new season. On the plus side, Twin Peaks has evolved nicely to fit the current sensibilities of television, so despite having a long, divergent, beginning, the show is heavily-serialized and is being allowed to develop one long story over the course of the 18-episode season. As "The Return Part 7" begins, the show has finally begun to have some coherency and momentum as Agent Dale Cooper - within the body of Dougie Jones - slowly begins to acclimate to life on our mortal plane once again.
"The Return Part 7" follows on "The Return Part 6" (reviewed here!) and it is impossible to discuss the new episode without some allusions to the prior episode. After all, the serialized plot includes a number of follow-ups, including the resurfacing of a very high Jerry Horne and the Twin Peaks Sheriff Department going through notes that Sheriff Hawk found in the Twin Peaks bathroom.
Jerry Horne is out in the woods, his car having been stolen, and he calls Benjamin Horne for help. Sheriff Hawk goes through the lost pages of Laura Palmer's diary that he found in the Sheriff Department's bathroom. Sheriff Frank Truman calls his brother, then contacts Dr. Heywood about the Palmer murder. Lieutenant Knox calls Colonel Davis after she sees the headless body in South Dakota . . . the one that appears to belong to Major Briggs. Knox is perplexed because the body is only forty years old, but Briggs was much older, even when he disappeared.
Gordon and Albert visit Diane, Agent Dale Cooper's former boss, after Albert strikes out with her. They reveal that Cooper is in a federal prison in South Dakota and extort her to go there with them. Tammy notes that the fingerprints take in South Dakota appear to be altered and that impresses Gordon. Diane interrogates Cooper, starting with asking him repeatedly about when they last saw one another. Diane recognizes that Cooper is not Agent Cooper and tells Gordon that. Locked up, Cooper tells the guard that he needs to speak to the Warden about a strawberry. Andy waits for a meeting he arranged, but returns to Twin Peaks where he finds that the man he was going to meet has been killed. And Warden Murphy meets with Cooper, privately in his office, where he extorts the Warden for a car, a friend, and a gun. The episode climaxes with Dougie being returned to the narrative at Lucky 7 Insurance, while Janey gets tired of waiting for him outside. The police visit Doug at work and share with him that his car has been destroyed and was part of an incident. Very early the next morning, Cooper makes it out of prison.
"The Return Part 7" does a good job of filling in some of the specific details of how Cooper acted right after the second season finale of Twin Peaks. The episode offers the first reference to Audrey Horne, who was in a coma after the bank explosion in the finale. Dr. Heywood's appearance on "The Return Part 7" is one of the more delightful bits of exposition in the new season and the Skype call between Truman and Heywood is actually surprisingly fun.
The journey of Agent Cooper is delightfully rendered when there is an assassination attempt on Doug Jones. The reactions of Jones are those of Agent Cooper and when he sees something from the Black Lodge during the attack, it plays well to connect him to Twin Peaks.
Fans of Twin Peaks are likely to be delighted by the proper on-screen introduction of Diane. Back in the original series, Cooper was always dictating to Diane, but she never appeared on-screen. Laura Dern's Diane is an excellent addition to the cast and she has a presence that makes her character's position seem entirely plausible.
"The Return Part 7" is refreshing in that Deputy Hawk seems to be entirely clued into the idea that Agent Cooper might not have been the one who left the Black Lodge twenty-five years prior. Hawk easily accepts the mystical aspects of the Black Lodge and Bob; he seems entirely willing to make the leap that Agent Cooper might not have been able to leave the Black Lodge. "The Return Part 7" is nice in that more characters seem to be willing to accept the extraordinary. Diane is used to confirm to Gordon that Cooper is not who he appears to be and Sheriff Truman seems open to accepting that Agent Cooper might have become possessed by Bob.
Benjamin Horne's part in "The Return Part 7" starts to make him vital to the new season, when he recognizes that the key shipped back to the Great Northern was from Agent Cooper's old room there. Horne is also part of a weird new mystery within the Great Northern that has him and his employee looking for a strange noise in the hotel. That is enough to remind viewers of the secret passages in the hotel.
"The Return Part 7" is a good point to mention one of the lingering issues with the way the new season of Twin Peaks is being handled. Twin Peaks had a pretty large cast that changed quite a bit over the two years it was on and was populated by a number of intriguing secondary characters. The new season has a plethora of new characters and the show is hampered some by simple volume: when Tom is introduced as Beverly's sickly husband, viewers are likely to sit trying to figure out if Tom was someone from the original Twin Peaks. In a similar vein, now that the Road House's bartender has been identified as a Renault, it is hard for fans not to do a double take - Jean was killed back in Twin Peaks and actor Michael Parks, like Miguel Ferrer, has since died. So, the return of the comparatively minor character of Jacques Renault, played still by Walter Olkewicz is worthy of a real double-take.
Ultimately, "The Return Part 7" does a good job of deepening the mystery surrounding Cooper in a way that starts to get a decent number of characters to the point most Twin Peaks fans have been for the past twenty-years. It is, however, very much, a small component in a much larger story.
For other works with Laura Dern, please visit my reviews of:
Everything Must Go
I Am Sam
[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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