Twin Peaks Season 3: David Lynch Is Not Your Bitch

Episode 3 of the new Twin Peaks may be the weirdest hour of television I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen the Star Wars Christmas Special (ok, most of it, over multiple sittings, years apart). It plays more like a continuation of Eraserhead than of Twin Peaks, and it doesn’t even include Arm from episodes 1 and 2. Good ol’ Arm. I like that guy. The way he vibrates and his squishy talking brain. I hope we haven’t seen the last of him.

Howdy, Arm!

Episode 3 is for the most part concerned with Cooper returning from the Black Lodge. Broadly speaking. More specifically, it’s about Lynch reassuring us after the first two episodes that no, he really doesn’t give a damn what anyone wanted or expected or needed of Twin Peaks, he’s going to open up his skull and show us what’s inside, however inexpressibly odd. Is there something in particular you wanted? A character? A vibe? A story-line? A damn fine cup of coffee and a little gossip at the Double R? Sorry. David Lynch is not your bitch.

I’m having fun reading episode reviews of the show so far. Those poor, addled writers of TV recaps. They don’t know what to do with themselves. They expect TV to conform to the same bland rules they’ve learned to write the same bland recaps about. They want a mystery to solve, they want clues, they want a simple theme they can talk about ad nauseam. Lynch is confounding them at every turn. Whatever Twin Peaks is about, it’s not about to reveal it four hours into its eighteen hour run-time.

Story-wise, it’s not terribly complicated. Yet. The basics are, um, simple. Sure they are. Cooper has been stuck in the Black Lodge, i.e. the red-curtained, zig-zag floored room, for twenty-five years, and according to no less than Laura Palmer, he can go out now. When he does, Evil Cooper will return to the Lodge. Only problem is, Evil Cooper says he’s not playing along.

Cooper’s Doppelganger goes for a relaxing drive

Instead, Dougie Cooper appears and winds up in the Black Lodge in Evil Cooper’s stead, only to turn into a small copper sphere. Like you do. One-armed Mike says Dougie was manufactured for this very purpose. So. Well-played, Evil Cooper.

Cooper returns to the real world, but he seems to be missing everything that made him him, although, possibly, his first drink of coffee brings him back. We won’t know for sure until episode 5. Evil Cooper is in jail, freaking out everyone with his improper thumbs-upping and poisonous barf (creamed corn? Aka garmonbozia? Anyone’s guess), and, says Mike, what with this whole Dougie issue complicating matters, either Cooper or Evil Cooper will now have to die.

We are deep in Lynch’s wheelhouse here. The man loves multiple identities, as Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive, Inland Empire, and the unproduced One Saliva Bubble have shown. What it all means for Cooper is as yet unknown. Anyone who says they know where this is going is too busy writing TV episode recaps to notice that what they’re watching does not conform to normal rules of episodic story-telling.

One of those days

Episode 3 begins with a sequence lasting close to twenty minutes so strange it belongs in a museum. Then again, it’s likely too strange for a museum crowd. With simple lighting and editing effects, Lynch brings us deep into uncut Eraserhead territory, but Eraserhead 40 years later. Cooper flies through space following his brief visit to the New York mystery cube and finds himself in something like a small, industrial living room in the middle of an ocean, where a blind, squeaking woman would rather he not travel by means of doorway number 15.

Same squeaking noises as the Giant played Cooper at the outset of Episode 1? I think maybe?

No matter. Blind lady brings Cooper upstairs and out into the starry night of deep space, throws a switch, and tumbles away into the infinite just before the giant head of Major Briggs floats by. “Blue Rose” he says by way of explanation.

Back in the room, Ronette Pulaski tells Cooper everything’s groovy, and he’s sucked into the machine in the wall, now numbered 3.

Of note, his room number at the Great Northern is 315. This is either important or not important. Trust me.

How lovely is the shot of black-smoke-Cooper creeping into the Las Vegas house through the wall socket? The shadow of the smoke-stick on the wall. The weird mound of Dougie-puke on the floor. Shoeless Cooper arriving in his perfect suit. There’s something terribly pleasing about it.

Mr. Jackpot gets lucky

HELLLLOOOO!!!

Mr. Jackpot. No normal human would allow this scene to last half as long as Lynch does. He plays it out so long the other half of it is in Episode 4. I wonder why no one but the weird witchy old lady asks him to point out a winner? Thirty in a row, you’d think somebody else would catch on.

Why is the Black Lodge showing Cooper the winners? The answer is either important or not important, I have no doubt.

Which is to say, like so many Lynchian moments, there is no “answer.” This is what the TV recappers are going to find themselves hard up against. Lynch doesn’t hand out answers. Lynch creates scenarios, and when he’s on, like now, those scenerios feel right. So of course Cooper is shown winners by ephemeral flames in which the red curtain and zig-zag floor appear. Not because of a reason we’re going to learn later, but because that’s just what happens in this situation.

Dougie’s doing just fine.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about what a poke in the eye to TV viewer expectations Lynch’s Twin Peaks season 2 opener was back in ’90. Season 3 is on an entirely new level of weird. This is Lynch unbridled. I don’t know how much Mark Frost contributed to the story. Possibly a lot. So far it’s not the story that’s on another planet. It’s the way Lynch tells it. It’s no wonder the number of episodes kept increasing while Lynch edited this all together in the months before it aired. Spending an almost wordless twenty minutes in an industrial space-box is going to increase run-time. Even spending two solid minutes watching Dr. Jacoby paint shovels is outrageously long when compared to your standard shovel-painting scenes.

The pacing, too, is unheard of for television. These scenes couldn’t move more slowly. Yet every time an episode has ended I’ve thought, wait, what? It’s over so soon?

Lynch has always liked his actors to deliver lines at an unusually sedate pace, but he’s pushing it harder than ever before. The scenes with Hawk, Andy, and Lucy are like a test. One imagines Lynch daring each of his actors to see how long they can wait between lines. The bunny scene in particular. It’s so wrong it’s right but then, no, it’s wrong again, only it’s gone on so long you like it wrong now.

The Wild One stops by.

I don’t know what to make of Michael Cera’s Marlon Brando impression except to say I was laughing so hard I had to watch the episode again a day later just to make sure I didn’t dream it. Will he be returning in later episodes? He either will or he won’t, I’m thinking. Whichever it is, I’m happy.

I’m happy with this whole show so far. I have no clue what it all means, or what it’s going to mean, or what’s happening aside from Cooper making a slow return to our world, and I don’t care. Or rather I do care, I’m just fine not knowing until Lynch decides I’m ready. I’m more than happy to give Lynch my hand and let him lead me where he likes. I know he’s going to take me somewhere weird and spooky and I know he’s going to ask a hundred questions he’ll never answer, and that’s just the way I like it.

Coffee!

8 responses on “Twin Peaks Season 3: David Lynch Is Not Your Bitch

  1. Yay! I was looking forward to reading this. I thought of something else I forgot to bring up while we were talking about it (should have brought notes).

    When Cooper passed through that box in NYC, it was *before* those kids got killed (they were in the outer room talking). Wouldn’t one of the cameras caught that? Which means the FBI should have found it when they went through the pictures. Maybe they haven’t gone back that far?

    • Right. I noticed that too. The FBI lady said they only had one frame (I think?) of the freaky monster that ate the kids’ heads, though from our perspective it was hanging out in the box for awhile, and the kids on the sofa were staring at it long enough to be thoroughly weirded out before having their heads eaten.

      So I don’t know. If Cooper’s on there, it’s only going to be for a frame. But you might be right, that they haven’t gone back that far searching every frame pre-monster attack. Maybe they’ll spot Cooper and then…um…stuff will happen.

      • My read on that was that the cameras weren’t very good at capturing box stuff, ergo paying that kid to sit in the room and watch.

  2. I have finally caught up on these first four episodes but feel like I haven’t. I mean. #1-2 was just so much. And then #3 was the weirdest shit I’ve seen in ages. And #4 was so funny. Lynch has basically taken the first two seasons and spread those episode’s diverse moods out like the thinnest swath of cream cheese. The build; it’s incredible. There are whole scenes and sequences that are diabolical and yet he’s just left them there to fester in your skull — who/what happened to Matthew Lillard? Why is Dr. Jacobi painting shovels gold?

    But Bobby as a cop is beyond perfect. Of course Bobby is now a cop.

    I didn’t recognize Ronette. I wonder whom else I’ve not recognized? It took me a minute to grasp Bobby was Bobby. And Major Briggs also took a second to sink in.

    So yes. I agree. No idea what the fuck is going on and that’s precisely how I want it. If I saw where this was going beyond “well, something is going to happen with the Coopers” I’d be vastly disappointed.

    Can’t wait to watch episode 5 tonight.

    • I watched the first four eps a couple of times, except for part 3 which I’ve watched maybe 5 times. Because of the weirdness.

      Part 5 was meh. Oh well, four out of five ain’t bad, and we’ve still got lots to go!

  3. Holy shit, four hours of Hardcore Lynch is not light on the brain. My love for Lynch knows almost no boundaries (the ones I do have appear somewhere midway through Inland Empire…) and he’s got me again. After seeing the first two hours I felt sledgehammered with confusion and the buzz of new things. The next two episodes further confounded anything I was expecting of this revival. The week following the release of those first four hours I felt simply brainwashed, bowled over and yes, infatuated with this familiar-yet-new creation.
    I’ve been especially obsessed with the Black Lodge mythology for years, it’s just so inspired visually and profoundly weird and disturbing and the fact that it’s now continuing and developing further is a huge source of pleasure for me. Frank Silva grinning with Cooper’s mouth was a wonderful surprise in that regard, the Evolution of the Arm… even more so. The fifth part that aired recently seemed more akin to a traditional TV show, but only in the sense that for now it didn’t include 13 minute scenes of cruelty or backwards-speaking spirits and sparkly trees. Man, did it have a huge amount of plotlines, characters and set-ups. Unwrapping the mysteries, looking at the many numerical and visual clues is like a hobby on its own, added to the enjoyment of the drama and comedy. Episode five delivered on the latter in spades…Candy Clark was hysterically funny.
    What touches me most about this revival is the feeling that besides being a new playground for Lynch’s obsessions, this show is for a big part a labour of love. Kyle Machlachan is knocking every single thing he’s doing out of the park. He’s played five shades of Cooper so far and it’s a joy to behold. I’d argue this is a beautiful gift of Lynch to Kyle. In the same way Inland Empire was like a gift to Laura Dern, giving her a whole smorgasbord of characterisations to chew on.
    I indeed feel like Lynch and Frost are purposefully withholding the trademark Twin Peaks stuff, in a deliciously clever and teasing way such as Dougie-Coop’s rediscovery of coffee, to maybe gradually return to full-blown oldschool Twin Peaks….if that is still possible or even still desirable by then…man, 13 more episodes to go!

    • It’s certainly a brain-melter so far. It’s not a movie, but it’s really not much like a TV series either. It’s somewhere in between. Or maybe far off to the left someplace. I don’t think Lynch and Frost are purposefully withholding anything. The way Lynch works, he has an idea, and he rolls with it, including whatever he thinks works and leaving out what doesn’t. But I imagine the show will find its way back to the town of Twin Peaks to find its resolution, or as much resolution as it’s going to give us.

  4. I would like to go on record as saying I loved episode 5. It finally let me step back enough for the show to infest my dreams. And man were those dreams fucked up.

Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man.