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Twin Peaks: The Return - Part 16 - Review: "I am the FBI"



For 16 episodes, something has felt wrong about the world of Twin Peaks. David Lynch and Mark Frost are giving us more of the strange and wonderful world we fell in love with watching the original, but the version of that world they have presented to us in The Return is fractured. Not too much has changed, but enough has. Many of the characters we love are in similar places to where we left them 25 years ago, but the passage of time has left its mark. Now, so much of the vibrancy that defined the original is nowhere to be seen, and it has been replaced with a disquieting malaise, and a longing for the way things once were.

It's not only the characters that long for that, but viewers as well. But what's important to remember is that the show from 25 years ago that we remember so fondly never really existed; at least not in the way we look back on it. Yes, Twin Peaks was the show with pretty waitresses serving coffee and cherry pie to good-natured law enforcement officers, but it was also the show built around a father, possessed by an evil spirit, raping and murdering his teenage daughter. That being said, while the original show was filled with plenty of darkness, it also featured an innate goodness to offset some of it, and to twist how people ended up looking back at the show in the subsequent decades.

This season has been about making us feel the absence of that innate goodness, even as Lynch and Frost gradually returned to it, inch by agonizing inch. This return to something more closely resembling what the show once was has been symbolized by the gradual return of Special Agent Dale Cooper, who has spent most of the season in a near-mindless state, a shell of the man he was but still managing to spread warmth and kindness everywhere he went. And in "Part 16", Cooper finally woke up from this state, and a bit more of the old Twin Peaks came back with him. Waking up in the hospital after electrocuting himself, he now speaks with the same authority and confidence he used to, embracing the family he has found in Janey-E and Sonny Jim, and thanking Bushnell for the kindness he showed him. As he gets set to return to the small Washington town he arrived at back in the original pilot (the Brothers Mitchum are glad to prepare a jet), with one line he, and Kyle MacLachlan, make 16 episodes of waiting worth it: "I am the FBI". And then, for the first time since "Part 4", Angelo Badalamenti's original score plays full blast. Something has been set right in the world of Twin Peaks.

And so, fittingly, this episode features two scenes in which justice or karma or whatever you want to call it seems to assert itself. The first of these scenes is the one that opens the episode, as Richard Horne, soon after meeting his father, is manipulated by him and dies, a very high Jerry Horne watching on from a distance through the wrong end of a pair of binoculars ("Bad binoculars!"). Richard has featured prominently this season, and so to see him dispatched so quickly could have been anticlimactic, but is instead given a slightly tragic weight. A young man, raised without a father figure (and maybe not a mother either), finally meets Mr C, only to die pointlessly, his father watching on casually. Even still, Richard Horne has been a force of malevolence all season, and his death is a positive development in an episode full of them.

Another scene that could have felt anticlimactic but didn't was the eventual fate of hitmen Hutch and Chantal. The Vegas story line has always been building to a massive collision between all the different narrative threads: the hitmen, Dougie/Coop, the cops, the FBI, and the Mitchum brothers. And as Hutch and Chantal waited outside the Jones house and watched both the FBI and the Mitchum brothers arrive, it seemed as if Lynch and Frost were about to give us that collision.

And then a Polish accountant showed up, and the scene got ten times better. It turned out that Hutch and Chantal were blocking the driveway of a man credited as a "polish accountant", and were not willing to move. The accountant walks back to his car, and drives into Hutch and Chantal's van. Chantal then makes the mistake of opening fire on the accountant, who then pulls out an automatic weapon and begins spraying the van with bullets as it tries to get away, killing our two favourite hitmen. All the while, the FBI and the Mitchum brothers watched on, in shock ("People are under a lot of stress, Bradley"). The scene is brilliant for how it subverted expectations. Hutch and Chantal didn't die because they failed in their job, they died because they're just not nice people, and blocked the wrong guy's driveway.

But the episode also reminds us of the pain that has been inflicted on some of the show's characters in the last quarter century. For instance, the Diane subplot comes to a climax here, as - in a scene almost guaranteed to earn Laura Dern an Emmy nomination - she reveals to Gordon, Albert and Tammy what really happened between her and Mr C, telling them of the time he raped her. But that emotional moment is only a reprieve in what is a tense scene, as Lynch takes a page out of Hitchcock's textbook by indicating to us that perhaps Diane is here to kill Gordon and co., as per Mr C's orders.

Throughout the scene Lynch cuts to the gun in Diane's bag, letting the camera linger on it for a second. And so as Diane grows more and more erratic in the scene, we're waiting for the other shoe to drop. When it does and Diane pulls out the gun, Albert and Tammy are ready. They shoot her, and suddenly she is transported to the Red Room, where it is revealed that she, like the original Dougie Jones, is a tulpa, manufactured by Mr C. It's yet another tragic layer to one of The Return's most tragic figures. Not only did Mr C rape Diane, he replaced her with a tulpa he could control that had all the original's memories.

Audrey, like Diane, hasn't had it easy in the last 25 years, even more so than we at first thought. At the end of the episode we get what appears to be just another regular visit to the Roadhouse - the musical guest this time being Eddie Vedder - that soon turns into so much more following Audrey and Charlie's arrival. The MC announces "Audrey's Dance", the crowds move off to the side, and Audrey begins dancing the same dance from one of the original's most iconic scenes. It's here that it becomes clear that the fan theories were true, and that Audrey's scenes with Charlie have not been taking place in "reality". When Audrey's dance is interrupted by a fight breaking out, she runs over to Charlie, urging him to get her out of here, and with a whoosh of electricity Audrey is suddenly in a white room, looking into a mirror. Is she in a hospital or mental institution? Or is she perhaps in a Lodge? And if so, has she been replaced with a tulpa? Who knows, but the fact that a backwards version of "Audrey's Dance" plays over the credits suggests that something mystical may be at play.

After a beautiful goodbye scene with Janey-E and Sonny Jim, Cooper heads off the Twin Peaks with the Mitchum brothers, who he insists "have hearts of gold". Also en route to Twin Peaks is Mr C, and the FBI will surely also make their way there once they get Cooper's note from Bushnell. If the next two episodes (which will air back-to-back tonight) are going to be the end of Twin Peaks for good, then the show is going to end as it started, with Dale Cooper arriving in a place both wonderful and strange.


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