[The following contains spoilers.]
After effectively taking a two-week holiday, or a one-week break and a one-week work trip to the 1950s, Twin Peaks: The Return is now rather guiltily getting on with its main job. We rush around with the police and the FBI, investigating things and exhibiting little spurts of progress. There is currently a Monday morning freshness to the show.
At the same time, episode nine finally stops creating its world and inhabits it for a while. Although Sky Ferreira turns up with a promising new character, we mostly hang out with familiar personalities such as FBI Deputy Director Gordon Cole (David Lynch) and Diane (Laura Dern) and Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster). It is not just that Lynch’s weirdness and horror is expended with a frustrating economy in this episode, but that there is a broader loss of momentum that comes from our increased relaxation with the show.
When we reencounter the imprisoned high-school teacher Bill Hastings (Matthew Lillard), it is hard not to wonder at how far we have come since he was last on screen seven episodes ago. Then, we were all at sea, flailing about and trying to clutch at straws of Twin Peaks nostalgia. Now, we know our way around the programme. We are more patient with the repeated diversions rather than peering ahead all the time.
The self-referential game-playing that is a characteristic of this season is largely put aside in episode nine. Yet the “strange little blog” that is maintained by Bill Hastings turns out to exist in real life. In a hell more inescapable than the Black Lodge, the poor mad fans of Twin Peaks will be visiting daily, for years on end, to check whether it has been updated.
The camera is otherwise in love with Laura Dern, as it is throughout Lynch’s 2006 movie Inland Empire. It is in love with Dana Ashbrook, who, as Bobby Briggs, looks preternaturally boyish for his fifty years. He juts out like Elvis in all sorts of odd places and he is given a storyline that revolves around an adventure to a boyhood play site. The camera is also still in love with Christophe Zajac-Denek, who plays the doleful, diminutive hitman Ike “The Spike.” Will he blubber in prison or will he explode out like Hannibal Lecter? There is still so much to learn about him.
Even so, there would be no suspense if we didn’t have to wait. There is an implicit understanding that Twin Peaks: The Return is keeping all of the fireworks stuffed up its sleeve. The fireworks have not run out. There are so many characters and so many potential combinations of dramatic meetings. We are midway through the season and the remaining nine episodes stretch before us luxuriously.