Please note there will be spoilers. It’s really impossible to talk about TP without mentioning anything that’s happening. I try to avoid mentioning major elements, but even still, you can’t please everyone.
If the first two episodes had shades of everything Lynch had done to date, then episode three, the first twenty minutes or so anyway, are a return to Eraserhead territory. It opens up with Cooper falling through space in a shot very reminiscent of the video for Peter Gabriel’s song Sledgehammer. He drops into a building of some sort, and meets the woman with no eyes. He follows her up a ladder and they’re on top of a cage in space, with what looks to be some kind of machine. She pulls a lever on it and is then propelled into space. Cooper goes back down the ladder, and meets another woman (played by the same actress who portrayed Ronette Pulaski in the original series). Coop doesn’t stay long as he’s sucked into an electrical outlet.
And that’s the first 15 minutes. Much like Eraserhead, there’s very little dialogue (half a dozen short sentences at most), but it’s heavy on visuals and sound. I’ve said this before in my reviews of Lynch’s movies, but sound is as important as anything else. A lynch film simply wouldn’t be the same without his other worldly noises.
We see bad Coop driving a Lincoln through South Dakota, while the other Coop is expelled through another outlet in a third doppelganger’s home. Almost simultaneously bad coop and doppelganger vomit up garmonbozia mixed with a foul viscous fluid. In what could be a coincidence, this new version of Coop has a yellow jacket on, that’s a copy of the bad cop’s jacket in Blue Velvet. And of course since garmonbozia is represented by creamed corn, there’s the color similarity as well. This new Coop however is a blank slate. He’s a computer that is without its operating system. A husk of what a human is. Only by watching and listening to others, including the hooker who had been with the real Dougie moment before Coop’s arrival, does he start to get imprinted. She takes him to a casino and drops him off there.
The second half of the episode is as close to the original Twin Peaks as it’s gotten so far. There’s the quirkiness, odd dialogue, and some pretty absurdist humor. We see Andy and Lucy at the Police Station, as well as Hawk. These bits are a welcome relief from what came before because we know these people. We understand them, even if we’re clueless about what’s going on. And there’s a lot to digest in the third episode. It ends with old friends Albert Rosenfield and Gordon Cole. These were two of my favorite characters from the original series, and seeing them again really gave me Goosebumps. Neither has changed much, though Cole has a more up to date hearing aid.
As with episode two, this one also ends with a musical number, this time by the fantastic Cactus Blossoms. I know most people loved the Chromatics song from episode 2, but I prefer this one much more. Of the four episodes three has been my favorite so far, If I have any issue with the series so far, it’s that it’s littered with all these Macguffins and red herrings, that we spend more time analyzing them than we do trying to make sense of what we’ve seen.
That’s a fool’s errand of course as sense can never really be made of anything Lynch does until the last frame fades to black. Still, it doesn’t keep us from trying. So, if episode three was a split of bizarre and familiar, then episode four is as familiar as you can get. This is the closest that we’ve gotten to the feel of the old show, and it’s quickly become a fan favorite, though not for me.
There are great scenes, but some go on too long, milking the quirkiness unnecessarily. A good example is the start of the episode we see Dougie Coop winning jackpot after jackpot at the slot machines. He sees a little vision of the Black Lodge over certain machines and those are the ones he plays. Each win is greeted with a robust “Helll-o-oooooo!” (something he had seen another winner do). There’s a homeless lady playing the slots as well and after he tells her which one to play, and she wins, the woman dubs him Mr. Jackpot. He wins 30 jackpots (technically 29 as the 30th was the homeless lady’s win), and is brought into the offices to see the casino manager who is none too pleased to have to shell out such winnings.
After arranging a limo home, Dougie Coop doesn’t know his house number (though apparently he knows the street), so the driver looks for a red door. Once found, his wife is furious with him until she sees the bag of money. All of this takes up the first 15 minutes, and while not necessarily boring it is a little repetitive. The fact everyone treats him as if there’s nothing wrong with him takes me out of the story. Yes, you have to suspend any notion of reality when watching Lynch’s work, but sometimes there are things so obviously a plot device simply to allow Lynch to do what he wants, that it’s almost jarring. From the hooker in the previous episode, to the former coworker he meets at the casino, and every interaction in between no one says, “There’s something wrong with this guy, we better call someone.” Don’t even get me started on the pit boss letting him win 30 consecutive jackpots. The only one who seems to see anything wrong is Dougie’s son, Sonny Jim. Even then he treats his Dad as if he’d had a stroke or something. It was actually quite touching I think, seeing the son care for his Dad. A rare bit of honest emotion.
Cole meets with transsexual FBI director Denise, who you’ll remember as David Duchovny making a very…unappealing…woman. It’s a fun scene but pointless, and cutting it wouldn’t have made a difference.
Back in Twin Peaks we see good old Bobby Briggs has become a cop, and we also meet Wally Brando, Lucy and Andy’s son. Michael Cera plays Wally who is doing a bad imitation of the real Brando in The Wild One, complete with dopey hat.
We end with Cole, and company meeting the bad Coop (who they assume is the only Coop), in prison. And then we have another musical number. Because, why not. I do think that there’s a reason we have these ending songs, but like most everything it won’t be obvious until after the season ends and we rewatch it a time or two. I found myself wanting to fast forward through a lot of this episode, not because it was bad, but it didn’t bear seeing again. It felt like Lynch and co writer Mark Frost tried too hard to make a quirky episode. It comes off to me, as clumsy and awkward-just like Dougie.
Fortunately we have 14 more episodes to go and in spite of my reservations about episode 4, I cannot wait to see what comes next.