Twin Peaks is at its best when we have no idea what we are getting into
For those who are entrenched in everything Twin Peaks, how would you respond to the following statement: James Hurley brought a young woman to tears and had a standing ovation for his live performance of “Just You & I” at the Roadhouse. Would you laugh, cry, or a combination of both? The statement sounds just as far out there as someone saying James Hurley “has always been cool.”
The second to last scene of Part Thirteen was, in fact, James Hurley performing live at the Roadhouse singing that oh so comical song from the original run. David Lynch really wanted to try to take the series into a weird direction. There have been a number of weird, surprising moments in Twin Peaks: The Return, but none more surprising than “always cool” James Hurley. It’s right up there with everything related to Part 8.
I joke, to an extent, about how weird the James Hurley scene is compared to everything Part 8. What this week’s episode demonstrated is truly how unpredictable the Twin Peaks revival has been. It’s damn near impossible to figure out what to expect when Sunday evening comes about.
Take last week’s episode for example. Part 12 may very well be the most disappointing episode of Twin Peaks: The Return so far. It came off as a typical filler episode you would see in a twenty-plus episode season on network television. The significant plot development in Part 11 was followed up with Albert’s blank stare as he does not care for Cole’s turnip joke. The lackluster Part 12 was then followed up with Mr. C doing his best Saitama impersonation as he kills the gang leader he defeats in an arm wrestling match with a single punch to the face. Was anyone expecting that to happen? Did anyone else expect Richard Horne to show up with that sketchy group?
One of the main reasons why Twin Peaks: The Return has been exceptional is the unpredictability of what is going to happen each week. Asking myself, “What are Frost and Lynch going to come up with next?” has been quite refreshing. I simply have no idea where the story is going. It’s why I tune in every Sunday.
This uncertainty allows for highs like Part 8 and Part 13, and lows like Part 12 Last week’s episode was truly frustrating for many fans of the series; the lows were on full display. The Twin Peaks franchise is weird, slow-paced, non-traditional, and yet, always trying to tell the best story possible. The episode was generic, drawn out, and had a poor story. Waiting for Cole’s “friend” to leave felt like it was three minutes too long. Audrey’s first scene felt like it was five minutes too long. Dr. Jacoby’s gold shovel rant felt like it was copied and pasted from an earlier episode.
Part 13 wasn’t necessarily the polar opposite, but it sure was fun to watch. Furthermore, we learned a number of things, which include Phillip Jeffries is playing a significant role behind the scenes, there is something funky going on with time at the Palmer residence, and that there is something really off about Audrey and Milk Toast Charlie. Is Audrey in therapy and Charlie is the therapist or are the two Audrey scenes figments of her imagination as she is still in a coma? We are going to have to put that on hold and see where that story goes.
Slowly building up momentum and hit its stride after part 7, killing the momentum with Part 12 and then restarting that momentum with Part 13 makes you wonder where David Lynch takes the series. He introduces Audrey in a surprisingly refreshing anti-fan-fantasy way and then has Big Ed eating creamed corn and playing with matches alone at the gas station. When I or any other person watching the series says, “I have no idea where Twin Peaks is going,” we truly mean it.
The cliche “expect the unexpected” has been the overarching constant of the revival. Yes, it’s going to have its dark moments, but the one thing that makes a good television series is to consistently be surprised each and every week. Twin Peaks: The Return has done this now for thirteen hours. Let’s hope it continues for another five.