Things are starting to pick up as we enter what looks like the second act.
Now, often, when I hear something like this, it sets off alarm bells. Seasons of TV aren’t typically able to sustain one single story for as long as they run, and even a show like Stranger Things, which had only eight hours to fill, still had to do a lot of plot stalling in the middle. TV shows that earn the “X-hour movie” label are usually ones that cleverly hide just how episodic they are, series like The Wire and Breaking Bad, where every hour of the show is a small piece of a larger puzzle but a complete piece unto itself nevertheless.
Twin Peaks, however, is tackling the “18-hour movie” descriptor in a very different way, which is to say that it’s basically taking the plot of a Twin Peaks movie and streeeeeeetching it ouuuuuuut. If you think of a typical three-act structure (and assume it neatly divides the story in thirds — which it might not), then we reached the end of act one at the end of episode six, and we’re just heading into the early portions of act two as this new episode begins.
And, intriguingly, there are some hints of this in “Part 7,” which moves with a momentum and purpose the series hasn’t always had since Cooper escaped the Black Lodge and assumed the life of Dougie Jones. Leads are pursued, questions are answered, and Evil Cooper gets out of prison.
But there’s still time for tangents, like a scene of a guy sweeping a floor to the tune of “Green Onions,” or a lengthy bit where Ben Horne and Beverly attempt to ascertain the location a strange ringing sound is emanating from in the Great Northern. (Might it have something to do with the return of Cooper’s room key to the hotel? I think it might!) Lynch and co-creator/writer Mark Frost aren’t tackling the “18-hour movie” as one long story but as many long stories, all running parallel, and you never know which one might take over the hour.
“Part 7” provides relief for those who have tired of Dougie Jones
Just as the anti-Dougie takes had reached fever pitch with last week’s episode — in which he drew ladders and staircases all over a bunch of insurance files — “Part 7” turns the story over to the other characters, whether that means checking in on the various plot threads set up in Twin Peaks or spending a lengthy amount of time with Gordon, Albert, Tammy, and Diane as they look into the case of the Evil Cooper.
Thus, when Dougie turns up, with only about 20 minutes left to go in the episode, it allows the hour to provide a more concentrated dose of the guy, which works well. In particular, it only underlines what might be the most intriguing question about him — why does no one seem particularly concerned that he apparently has forgotten how to speak English or function as a human being?
I’m a Dougie fan, but I can also recognize him as a plot stall — a way for the series to keep the character of Dale Cooper from getting to Twin Peaks before everything else is ready for him to arrive. Yet because Dougie so directly ties into some of the themes that animate this miniseries, like the nature of identity, or how we become the people we are, I’m enjoying what he’s up to.
Still, watching the guy leap into action when attacked by the assassin (with some help from his wife — Naomi Watts remains a scream in this), or seeing him have a sudden vision of the talking tree from the Black Lodge while subduing said assassin suggested that he’s much closer to snapping out of this state than you might expect.
And as goes Dougie, so goes Twin Peaks. This hour was filled with characters having revelations that were either years or moments in the making. The pages Hawk found in the bathroom stall door, for instance, were confirmed as missing pages from Laura’s diary (presumably hidden there by her father), with a direct tie to the message Annie Blackburn left for Laura in Fire Walk With Me.
Similarly, Diane’s meeting with Cooper’s evil doppelganger was an eerie scene filled with teases of secrets yet to be revealed. What happened between Diane and Cooper the last time they met? We’ll find out later — and we might even find out which Cooper she had such a fateful encounter with as well. (In general, Diane is a shot in the arm for the show, if only because Laura Dern knows how to give Lynch and Frost’s dialogue the acid bite it sometimes needs.)
All of these things occurring give “Part 7” the feeling of great import and great forward momentum, even as it has time for, again, scenes of people sweeping the floor. “Part 7” doesn’t speed things up that much. It just provides a few trickles of information that give the story a little nudge in a different direction.
It seems more likely than ever the Coopers will eventually face off in Twin Peaks
Even as I write all of the above, I’m aware of how easily it could be construed as either a long series of complaints or an apologia for the show. And yet I don’t mean it as either — at this point, I’ve more or less accepted Twin Peaks: The Return for what it …read more