Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Twin Peaks: The Return, episode 8

At the beginning of the eighth episode of Twin Peaks: The Return, the evil twin of Agent Cooper is driving down the freeway in the dark along with a young accomplice named Ray whom he has just broken out of prison. As is true of many parts of Twin Peaks, especially the revived version, certain scenes take an inordinately long time. In the dark, with the roadside barely illuminated by the headlights of the car, Agent Cooper drives and drives and drives. After a while he exits the expressway on to what appears to be a state highway. Then he leaves the state highway and turns onto a single-lane road that soon turns into a dirt road. Agent Cooper tells Ray that he needs certain information from him. Ray tells Cooper that he will have to pay for it. Agent Cooper pulls the car to a stop and gets out to relieve himself. Ray gets out of the car, comes towards Cooper with a pistol, and begins shooting. Cooper falls over dead. Bizarre wraith-like phantoms appear out of the darkness and begin touching and waving their hands back and forth over the body. The terrified Ray gets into the car and drives away. Agent Cooper comes back to life.

We then move to July 16, 1945, in the New Mexico desert and the occasion of the first atomic bomb test. The bomb detonates, and the camera moves closer and closer to the blast, approaching the mushroom cloud and finally entering it. We see turmoil and turbulence and, apparently, molecules racing back and forth. Occasionally a form seems about to take shape but it never does. This goes on for quite a while. Next, we move to a scene outside a convenience store in 1956. A teenage boy and a 14- or 15-year-old girl are standing together outside a convenience store where they have enjoyed each other's company. He walks her to her house, and this again takes quite a while. He asks if he can kiss her good night. She's hesitant at first, but finally agrees, and they briefly kiss. It’s a sappily innocent scene. Next, we shift to the middle of the desert where what appears to be a pebble turns out to be an egg that hatches into a creature that appears to be half-cockroach and half-lizard. The creature crawls across the desert floor. A strange man who has descended out of the clouds invades a radio station and, after killing the receptionist and before killing the DJ, broadcasts a bizarre message. Everyone who hears it loses consciousness. Finally, the creature arrives at the house of the girl, who is lying on her bed listening to music. She loses consciousness as she hears the radio message. While she sleeps, the creature crawls through her window, across the floor and onto her bed, and into her mouth. She swallows.

These events take up about half the episode. I've left a lot out, especially a scene in a strange antique room with an old, overly made-up woman and her Lurch-like servant.  He walks into another room and begins to levitate and emits glowing material from his mouth. And, oh yes, Laura Palmer's face, along with the face of the demon Bob (so important to the original series), also plays into this sequence.

I think the whole point of these scenes is to illustrate Bob’s origins.

I am a fan of Twin Peaks. I intend to watch every remaining episode. I greatly admired David Lynch's film Blue Velvet. Wild at Heart was good. I did care for Eraser Head, or Inland Empire, or Mulholland Drive, which mostly seemed to me to substitute for creative vision or sense. I think what we see in Episode 8 is what happens when one has insufficient content to fill 17 episodes. In the end, Twin Peaks: The Return may all make sense, and I'll have to eat my words. (Just as the girl had to eat that creature). Some may believe that what we're given in Episode 8 is the vision of a true genius. I think it’s a failure of imagination.

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