Wow, so this was an amazing episode/Part/installment. The pieces are falling into place. So much content packed into one hour, each installment becoming more and more compressed. It was dense in the best sense possible.
Mark Frost was incredibly present in this installment, more Frostian than Lynchian compared to what we've seen so far. We see it in the formalism of the episode as well as the content. For now I'll mention the formal craft of the episode.
Plot, momentum, and puzzles dominated Part 7. We made strides in the narrative. Every scene was propulsive, not simply moving us forward but lending an actual sense of velocity or acceleration. So many of the developments of the episode had me verbally cheering or gasping. And there were two moments in particular that had me literally fist-pumping in addition to cheering: mentions of ANNIE, and Cooper taking down Ike the Spike without a break in his stride. These moments are different from the more atmospheric and methodical Lynch (not that he can't utilize velocity similarly--just check out Lost Highway as one example--or fist pumping cheer out loud moments) but this felt closest to Episodes 4-7, or even Episode 12. This adrenaline rush and acceleration are hallmarks of Frost's writing. He's a master at building this. Of course, the faster pacing of the episode made the more leisurely scenes stand out--the extended Roadhouse scene, the opening with Jerry. They become necessary ebb to the flow of the other scenes.
The pace also reminded me of Duwayne Dunham's episodes, which is of course because he is the editor. But his touch is, again, especially felt in this Part. As an editor, his episodes always excelled at pacing. He attacked his episodes with the rhythm of a drummer, knowing when to apply precision and when to play it fast and loose. I feel that here; this episode was percussive, expertly increasing tempo then slowing it down again then speeding up again.
The graceful unveiling of backstory, exposition, etc. was so Frost. Look at it from Storyville, his books, his episodes in the original, or even the plotting we know was his (Coop's backstory).
But of course Lynch is not absent here, but his touches have graciously stepped back more subtly to allow Frost's sensibilities the spotlight. We see Lynch's touches in framing, color, lighting, camera movement, all the craft of the visual side of cinema whereas Frost is more conducting the narrative side of it this time.
Loved how everything is coming together, but to discuss that I have to move on to...
Even in content, Frost's touch is so visible. "That finger is the spiritual mound", that is much more of Frost's side of the esoteric and occult than Lynch's spiritual interests. Of course, Lynch's touches are still there too. The CHARCOAL MAN in the hallway at Buckhorn's morgue.... that legit scared me to the point of gasping. It reminded me a lot of The Bum/Man Behind Winnie's, but with a more prolonged build up (Frost's contribution to the equation).
Diane is such a fascinating character. Sharp, independent, biting, but still vulnerable, compassionate. I really liked the Fab Four of Gordon, Albert, Diane, and Tammy this episode! I need that talk between Diane and Gordon next week ahhh.
The Diary pages!!! Annie!! Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces references! Amazing. More mentions of Harry, and Doc Hayward! So great. Frank continues to reveal more characterization: such a big brother, choosing to protect his younger/baby brother by withholding that urgent information (cause Harry is tired). I thought that was very touching but also of course probably that a frank should have told him anyway.
I think/have a strong feeling that next week is gonna be a momentous episode. I think Lynch and Frost will ride the accelerating momentum and finish with a bang before the one-week hiatus for the holiday weekend.
All in all, this episode was fantastic. Melding sensibilities of both Lynch and Frost together so well that this episode felt the most like Season 1 + Pilot in terms of holistic craft and theme, not necessarily in style or tone.
I'll have to post again with regards to thematic and symbolic parts of the episode because it will take at least one more viewing to let that all sink in and reveal itself like a big fish as Lynch would say.