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For fans who have felt The Return has been too slow in driving the plot, has strayed a bit too far from the tone and narrative style of the first two seasons, then "Part 7" must have provided a huge sense of relief for them; "There's A Body Alright" did more to evoke the original Twin Peaks and move the story along than any episode yet. I've spoken plenty about embracing the evolution of Twin Peaks, it's bigger scope, it's deliberate pacing and it's advancements in visual storytelling, but I'll be the first to admit I thoroughly appreciated the warm hug of nostalgia this episode gave us.
Back in Twin Peaks
After starting off with beautifully silly skit involving the Brothers Horne ("I think I'm HIGH!"), "Part 7" jumps straight into the major plot revelations; we cut to the Twin Peaks Sheriffs Department and see Hawk and Frank Truman pouring over what are soon revealed to be pages from Laura's diary, specifically those pertaining to her dream of Annie Blackburn from Fire Walk With Me. As Hawk explains what he found and where Truman reads the infamous quote aloud:
"My name is Annie. I've been with Dale and Laura. The good Dale is in the lodge and can't leave. Write it in your diary."
Truman clearly struggles for a moment with what's being implied, realising that Coop & Annie would never have even met Laura; without a hint of irony, Hawk states that this probably came to Laura in a dream, and they both agree that the pages are what the Log Lady referred to as 'something missing'. As the gravity of situation sinks in, that whatever left the Lodge was not the good man they knew as Dale Cooper, Truman establishes who else may have seen 'Cooper' after that fateful day and understands he's got some important calls to make.
The whole vibe of this scene echoed the Departments earlier investigation into Laura's murder, especially the way clues from the edge of another world, furthered seemingly by happenstance, pull themselves together to reveal the next direction to take; it's like the spirit of Coop, with his deductive combination of intuition and luck, has permanently imprinted on the Sheriffs Office of Twin Peaks. One element that felt purely The Return though was the way Hawk and Truman matter-of-factly discussed the Lodge. Logically there is no longer room for scepticism once the characters have literally seen people enter and exit it, but beyond that, I feel this is once again Lynch & Frost doing away with any notion the Lodge is in the mind - it's a dimension almost no one fully understands, but that no one doubts the existence of any more.
Frank places a heart-breaking call to Harry, their exchange suggesting the former Sheriff's health has deteriorated further; not wishing to upset his brother, Frank forgoes any mention of the situation. Next up he Skype calls Doc Hayward, the other person to have seen Coop that day, who is enjoying a well-earned retirement trout fishing. Doc notes that Coop was acting strange that day and the last time he saw him he was exiting the ICU; Doc supposes that Coop may have been visiting Audrey Horne, in a coma after being involved in that 'terrible ordeal' at the Bank. They share some jokes and pleasantries before Frank signs off, clearly more perturbed by the situation than ever.
For fans, there was an awful lot to love about this scene, including the appearance of the beloved Doc Hayward and confirmation that fan favourite Audrey did indeed survive the Bank blast from the season 2 finale; basically every conversation in the opening 20 minutes is littered with references and allusions to the original series, doubtlessly causing palpitations in many a Peakie. Personally I also loved how much of Pete Martell that Doc Hayward seems to be channeling in his old age; his refined academic style of speech replaced with Pete's mid-western cadence, his love of angling and fish turning up in random places ("there's a fish in percolator!" "there was trout in my pyjamas!") iconic elements of Pete's character. With Jack Nance, who brought Pete wonderfully to life, passing away so tragically years ago, it was heart-warming to see his spirit live on in this way.
Later on, we stop off at The Great Northern Hotel, with a cosily recognisable establishing shot that could well be stock footage from season 1. Ben Horne is discussing with his assistant Beverly Paige (newcomer Ashley Judd) a strange phenomena in one of the rooms, a low level buzzing or hum that appears to variously emanate from two corners, one containing a lamp and the other a totem pole. They decide to investigate more thoroughly the next day, and exchange some seemingly flirtatious looks before she leaves. The humming sounds like one of the many electrical noises associated with spiritual and supernatural Twin Peak; maybe Josie's long trapped soul has become ever more restless. At the moment I'm happy for this to be nothing but gentle nuance, and I feel perhaps the next scene is the more significant.
Beverly returns home late and runs into a day nurse as she leaves; the nurse informs Beverly that her husband Tom has had a difficult day and become distressed by her absence. Initially friendly, Beverly apologises for being late but Tom, who is in a wheelchair and hooked up to oxygen, gives her the cold shoulder; Beverly's mood quickly changes to frustrated anger and she scolds him, but his icy look remains. Behind closed doors in Twin Peaks, romantic relationships are as turbulent as ever; concerns of infidelity is subtly suggested as the fractious undercurrent to Beverly & Tom's relationship, and the time spent on this scene makes it feel the future state of it is going to be of some significance. How they are connected to the wider picture of Twin Peaks is majorly intriguing.
Lastly in Twin Peaks, we end up in the Roadhouse, seemingly a bit late to catch this week's performance; it's only Jean-Michel behind the bar and a gentleman giving the floor a laborious sweep still around. A call from a client reveals the last living Renault brother is still in some seriously dirty business; the client is indignant two girls he ordered were underage, but Renault brushes him off, reminding the guy not to fuck with him as the Renault's have run the Roadhouse for 57 years. The more things change, the more they stay the same, I guess. Lynch & Frost here remind viewers that nostalgic yearning should not mask the unpleasant parts of the past, with Jean-Michel evoking the very worst of his siblings; he is equal parts Jacques' lurid perversion and Jean's confidence and cunning. Some may have forgotten what a formidable force for bad the Renault family was, and I've a feeling Jean-Michel is here to remind them.
Elsewhere in "Part 7," we caught up Lt. Knox and her investigation of the Brigg's fingerprint match, as she arrives in Buckhorn with little expectation. She's rightly staggered when informed by the local police that the prints have come from a body, and perplexed by the decapitated corpse of a man apparently in his forties; given his age at death, Briggs would be in his seventies if still alive until recently. When Knox heads out to call her superior Col. Davis, we see the above shot, as a seemingly corporeal apparition of the spirit from the jail cell strides down the corridor unnervingly towards her. Despite her turning to look in its direction, it's unclear if Knox sees it, and she doesn't acknowledge it once she re-enters the morgue and it passes behind her.
With relatively little info relating to Briggs' situation so far, it's hard to know what to make of this scene; one possible explanation is that Brigg's benevolent spirit exists in the White Lodge, and he may have been inhabiting people for years to try and stop Mr. C. - he possibly ended up too close this time and got his avatar killed. This type of relationship between Mr. C. & Major Briggs could be an allusion to the one shared by MIKE & BOB in the original (the scene subtly echoes MIKE first appearance in the Pilot, skulking around the hospital corridors) but I'm not sure there is enough to support the idea yet; contradictory to this is the spirit looking nothing like Briggs, and in fact much closer to a charred version of the 'Woodsman' character seen in Jeffries' vision of the Lodge in Fire Walk With Me. There is also the mystery of Dougie's wedding ring in the corpse, seemingly inexplicable in it's arriving there. Whatever the case, I feel we've a long way to go yet before we will understand.
After a hilarious establishing shot of Gordon Cole whistling to tune his hearing aid, we're soon updated as to how Albert's meeting with Diane went; he told her it was in relation to Cooper and she, in no uncertain terms, told him to "fuck off". Albert tells Cole his touch is needed to convince her into helping; they head to her home where we quickly ascertain that Diane is a poised and assertive woman answerable to no one, with an immaculate taste in furniture and fashion. She bluntly puts Gordon in his place, telling him she has neither coffee nor cigarettes, despite drinking a cup while smoking. Diane allows Gordon and Albert a chance to say their piece though, and soon realises the seriousness of the situation; she agrees to see Coop and they head out to the Federal prison in South Dakota. During the plane ride Gordon drops some strong hints he knows what may be up with Coop to Tammy ("I'm yrev pleased to meet you" "this finger is the spiritual finger - think about that"); it clear from this and other bits of dialogue that Cole's knowledge of supernatural is deeper than he often lets on.
Once they've reached the prison and Diane has dropped another dynamite f-bomb ("Fuck you Tammy"), we're subjected to her unsettling face off with Mr. C. The black-eyed, baseness stare of Mr. C. immediately cuts into Diane and she is shaken, seemingly by memories of some trauma; she presses him to tell her when they last saw each other, that she'll never forget it, he coldly responds, "Same here. I'll never forget that night". Diane starts to become undone by what she remembers, not just of that night, but of the man he once was:
Diane: "Who are you?"
Mr. C.: " I don't know what you mean."
Diane: "Look at me!"
Mr. C. turns his head slightly towards her.
Diane: "Who are you? (shouting) "Who.. are you?"
Diane leaves it there and rushes out to the car park distraught; she confirms to Cole his suspicions, that the person in there is not the man that they knew as Dale Cooper. When Cole asks her about what happened that night, she says that they'll have a conversation about it sometime. Although I don't want to jump to conclusions before it's tackled directly in the show, the implication appears to be that Mr. C. assaulted Diane, possibly sexually, sometime after he left Twin Peaks and disappeared. Sexual violence by men against women and the effects it has on its sufferers is a highly emotive issue and something that Lynch has portrayed with compassion and earnestness before in Fire Walk With Me, and is a reason why the film connects so deeply with many. I hope if the series chooses to continue its discussion the issue, it's in a way that's sensitive and respectful to the victims and castigating of both the perpetrators and the insidious elements of our society and culture that propagate it.