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Twin Peaks - The Return, Part 11 - Review: "We have miles to go!"

There's a scene in the middle of "Part 11" that I think works as a perfect microcosm for Twin Peaks as a whole. Running at about nine minutes long, this scene opens in the Double R Diner, with the Briggs family gathered around a table. A moment of heartwarming and insightful family drama, the opening couple of minutes of the scene don't resemble anything that comes after. We get confirmation that Bobby is in fact Becky's father, and that he and Shelly are separated. We get an insight into their different parenting techniques - Bobby seems a little more strict - as they both implore their daughter to leave what seems like an abusive marriage. This mini-scene ends on a moment of levity, as Becky suddenly remembers throwing her mother from the hood of her car, and they hug.

But this comfortable vibe is suddenly broken by the appearance of Red, as Shelly seems to regress to a much younger version of herself, running out of the diner to him, as if she's under a spell (given Red's possible supernatural abilities, this may actually be the case). Everyone else in the scene - Bobby, Becky, and Norma - are left stunned and confused by this sudden shift, as are we. It's here that Dana Ashbrook, already one of the revival's MVP's, really shows off, conveying so much quiet pain in just a single look.

It's not long after Shelly returns to the table that the scene shifts again, sinking further and further into darkness. A bullet flies through the window to the diner, and Bobby transforms into Deputy Briggs, his calm, rational demeanor resembling that of his father. Making his way outside, gun drawn, he finds the source of the gunshot. A little boy had found a gun in the back of his family's car, and had shot it. Bobby attempts to calm the situation down, as the boy's parents argue and the boy himself, dressed exactly like his father, stares at him unnervingly. Now the warm family interaction that opened the scene is a distant memory.

Perhaps the secret to this season's success has been the impeccable sound design (done by Lynch himself), and that's on full display here, as Bobby's attempts to calm everyone are interrupted by a constant beeping of a car horn. Wearing on Bobby and us viewers, it effectively puts us on edge, anticipating something darker to come. That effect is both alleviated and enhanced by the appearance of Deputy Jesse, who's intensity is at once funny and unsettling.

When Bobby makes his way over to the car with the honking horn, he isn't immediately faced with something terrifying, but, like with Deputy Jesse, something simultaneously funny and not quite right. The driver of the car, a middle-aged heavyset woman, starts screaming at Bobby when asked to stop honking ("We're late! We have miles to go! Please, we have to get home!"). And then the scene descends into pure horror, as a woman emerges from the passenger seat, fluid spilling from her mouth, her body language unnatural. It's a horrifying moment, and the perfect way to close a scene that started out nice and comfortable, and then gradually morphed into something far different.

Aside from being a remarkable piece of filmmaking, this scene was perhaps the perfect encapsulation of what has always set Twin Peaks apart: it's ability to be whatever it wants to be. This is something TV writers dream of being able to achieve, but so few ever have, and none quite like Lynch and Frost. The Twin Peaks revival is everything at once, and that's one of the reasons why it feels so fresh.

This ability to shift from one tone to another with ease is demonstrated not just by this one scene, but by the episode as a whole. "Part 11" opens with the darkness a bloodied Miriam crawling out of the woods, followed by Becky's rampage, and then the bizarre happenings in Buckhorn which saw Gordon find a place where the border between "reality" and the Black Lodge, while the episode ended with a quirky and heartwarming visit to Las Vegas, as Dougie and the Mitchum brothers became friends.

But even in these sequences there were variances in tone. For example, the intensity of Becky's rampage is briefly interrupted by Carl Rodd, who asks Shelly if she's okay before, in a welcome moment of ridiculousness, using a large whistle to summon his driver. And the wormhole scene in Buckhorn, while looking and sounding completely unsettling (it even featured the sound of electricity cackling, just like in "Part 8"), still found moments of humour, such as the wide shot showing what Gordon reaching up to the cosmic wormhole looked like to everyone else, and Gordon's reaction to seeing the remnants of Bill Hastings' skull ("He's dead!").

This was maybe the strongest episode of the season so far (aside from "Part 8", which is in a league of its own), and maybe the episode that felt the most like the Twin Peaks of old. Capable of moments of great warmth - such as the beautiful final scene - and moments of great terror, as well as everything else in between, this incredible season is starting to feel more and more like Twin Peaks.

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