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Twin Peaks - The Return, Part 15 - Review: "My log is turning gold."



"You know about death. That it's just a change, not an end."

As this remarkable season of TV nears its endpoint, Lynch and Frost's true vision has come into greater and greater focus. A month or two ago, it would have been easy to look at Twin Peaks: The Return as a sprawl of Lynchian weirdness, and not look any deeper. But as the weeks have passed, those who have stuck with the show have been rewarded with an aching, mournful depiction of a world gone wrong, the vibrancy of the original series replaced with eerie silence and decay.

As I've argued in prior reviews, Twin Peaks is a show of immense compassion, and still finds room for joy and beauty, even amidst the terrifying darkness. Much of this has been seen through "Dougie Jones", who is actually our beloved Dale Cooper, lacking his wits and memories. Dougie has spent the entire season so far inadvertently bringing goodness into the world, even in the most unexpected places. But "Part 15" opens with a rare moment of happiness not related to Dougie, as Ed and Norma finally got together after all these years, the former being released from his marriage of guilt by Nadine. This sequence is sappy and heartfelt in a way Twin Peaks no longer gets to be, Otis Redding's "I've Been Loving You Too Long" playing as Ed waits in the RR Diner, eyes closed, before Norma places her hand on his shoulder and they kiss, Shelly watching on, as emotional as us watching at home.

Lynch then cuts to a shot of a beautiful blue sky and lingers, allowing us all to savour what we just saw, knowing that the rest of the hour would not be so nice. And then the episode descends from a dream into a nightmare, as Evil Cooper arrives at the infamous convenience store Philip Jeffries spoke about in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. Evil Cooper is here to see Jeffries, and is brought upstairs by one of the woodsmen, flickering out of existence as they ascend.

Firmly in another dimension entirely, Evil Coop is brought through hallways and up staircases, and eventually emerges in the parking lot of a motel, the same motel in which Leland Palmer almost had sex with Laura and Ronette back in Fire Walk With Me. That same motel room is unlocked for Evil Coop by a creepy woman, and he enters, and has a chat with Jeffries, who appears to him in the form of a large kettle, in what is the most bizarre way The Return has worked around the death of a cast member yet. What follows is strange and frustrating, Evil Coop asking Jeffries the same question fans have been asking for years: "Who is Judy?". Apparently, he's already met her.

The stunning convenience store sequence, which is unquestionably one of the filmmaking high points of the season so far, comes to an end when Evil Coop answers a phone and is suddenly returned to reality. He is then confronted by Richard, who claims to have followed him. Now that it's confirmed that Audrey is Richard's mother, will next week confirm that Evil Coop is his father?

The rest of "Part 15" cannot be so easily fit into binary categories such as "dream" or "nightmare" like its opening two sequences. Instead, the rest of the episode finds the characters caught in a sort of purgatory, not entirely in one state or another. Some, like the Log Lady or Steven, are on the verge of death, while others are about to undergo another sort of transformation entirely.

One such character is Good Coop, who, after hours of existing in a mindless haze, a shell of the man he once was, is startled by the mention of the name "Gordon Cole" when he accidentally turns on Sunset Boulevard (one of Lynch's favourite films). All of a sudden, he resembles the man he once was, his eyes brimming with intelligence. Not with his mental capacity returned but filled with determination, Coop crawls towards an electrical outlet, and sticks a fork in, electrocuting himself and briefly bathing the Jones household in a startling white light. Are we going to see the "real" Dale Cooper in the next episode? I think we just might.

Coop isn't the only character who finds himself on a "threshold" (a word uttered by Charlie that may prove to be significant), though none of these characters seem to know what lies beyond it. Audrey is getting closer to leaving the house and going to the Roadhouse, but what awaits her there? Freddie is searching for his purpose, and now that he finds himself in a Twin Peaks Sheriff's Department jail cell staring across at Naido, he may have found it.

The Log Lady is on a very different sort of threshold to the aforementioned characters, though if - according to her - "death is just a change", than is it so different, really? It's in Margaret's calls with Hawk where the series has reached its greatest emotional heights so far, and their final conversation is as powerful as anything I've seen on TV in years, a perfect mix of mystery and striking vulnerability, bravely performed by Catherine Coulson. It's in this final call where the show once again transcends fiction, as we say goodbye not just to one of the characters that came to define Twin Peaks, but also the actor who played her.

In her final moments Margaret found herself in a state between life and death, a similar state in which Steven, Becky's drug addicted and abusive husband, finds himself. The scene in which his lover Gersten Hayward tries to bring him down from the brink of suicide is subtly perhaps one of the strongest scenes in the series; a post-verbal masterpiece in which the actual dialogue being incoherently delivered is inconsequential to the composition of the scene, from the intensely physical performances of Alicia Witt and Caleb Landry Jones to how the two actors are framed, so small and insignificant against a huge Douglas Fir, and the expansive forest beyond. A young man's life has been destroyed by drugs, and it may have led to him doing something terrible to his wife, yet the woods don't care. When Gersten, startled by the appearance of Mark Frost, runs to another tree and hears the gunshot that likely means her lover's death, she looks up to the sky, as so many other characters in The Return have done, as part of a shared suffering.

The feeling of this scene is reinforced by the episode's conclusion (a scene that may also have some significance to the mythology), in which yet another new character, Ruby (Charlyne Yi) crawls across the floor of the Roadhouse as The Veils sing their track "Axolotl" on the stage. She crawls in between the legs of the crowd, nobody noticing her. She starts screaming, yet she goes unnoticed, nobody around her caring about or acknowledging her pain. Something is very wrong in the world of Twin Peaks, and people are suffering in silence. All we can do is hope that, like death, this is "just a change, not an end."

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