Absolutely loved this episode. Apart from the astonishing Ep8 and the first 15 mins of Ep3, it may be my favourite so far. Short in duration, but so much to enjoy.
At every step, this mystifying, elliptical work resonates with truth. Preternaturally still and silent for much of its duration, Twin Peaks: The Return periodically erupts with sound and fury, signifying everything. And lurking in the silence, that faintly menacing, sometimes seductive background noise. Electrical current coursing through cables, or the deep soulful resonance of a monastery bell? Or more likely the irreducible aural detritus of evil, lurking in plain sight, metastasising in the margins of the mundane.
Harry Dean Stanton sings and strums - a delicate pleasure shattered by the stridently dissonant intrusion of everyday evil. 'Domestic abuse' is such a self-sanitising term: it apologises for itself, a contradictory conflation of the timid and the transgressive. There is nothing domesticated about Steven's feral attack on Becky, but the monstrous man-child sans pareil is, as always, Dick.
Richard Horne - Id Unbound. Instinct unconstrained by conscience. Immature, petulant, vulnerable and all the more dangerous for his patent weaknesses. No matter how tortured his soul, Richard exports more than he imports, the balance of pain is always configured in his favour.
The Return is a tale of somnambulism and solipsism. Wounded characters turn inside, or lash out - evasive obfuscation and shallow gratification, introspection and projection, sublimation and predation, it's all here. Candie's ethereal hand movements are as inscrutable as Lil's coded gestures in FWWM, as escapist as Becky's cocaine high. Like DougieCoop, she is both present and absent, a facsimile occupying the space where a person should be. The casino security camera scene, as Candie engages so effusively with Anthony Sinclair, to the increasing bemusement of the Mitchums, is Lynch's method in microcosm - the mundane rendered mysterious via the filter of abstraction. What secrets lie beyond the surface of Candie's comically animated, but unheard, conversation with this stranger? Her unexpectedly expressive engagement contrasting so vividly with her default setting of languorous vapidity. Is she identifying air conditioning vents, or escape routes?
Janey-E's opportunism is almost as stark as Richard Horne's, but her modus operandi infinitely more subtle. She surely suspects that this is not her husband, but the sack of casino cash, 'Dougie''s uncharacteristically decisive response to Ike the Spike's attack, and the six pack have worked their magic. In a world bedevilled by communication problems and infidelity, populated by dysfunctional couples who invariably want their partner 'to change', 'to be more like someone else', Janey-E happily upgrades to a more desirable model. Coop lands in her lap, gift-wrapped and her nature compels her to take advantage, just as Ben, inevitably, reverts to type with Beverley. It's doubtful that Ben has heard a monastery bell in his life - if this reassuringly potent metaphor chimes with him at all, it's not from its essential harmony, but in its utility as an instrument of seduction; a womaniser's misdirection designed to bamboozle his 'mark.' Ben's eventual gratification will assume no greater nobility for its delay; his callous response to Sylvia's traumatised phone call reaffirming his essential venality. Meanwhile, back in Vegas, DougieCoop's vacant repetition of Janey-E's 'I love you' barely registers. As meaningless as so many parroted 'I love you's, echoing vacuously around interchangeable marital homes in soulless suburbs. For Janey and Ben, it's all about them.
The Mitchum Brothers are played broadly, for comic effect: reassuringly 'old school': these anachronistic gangsters with their outdated moral codes (Candie strikes Rodney, who does not reciprocate) have been rendered quaint by the passage of time. "Fuck us once, shame on us, fuck us twice, shame on you" sounds like a catchphrase of a Vegas cabaret act. The Mitchums are the Penn and Teller ('fool us once...') of the mobster scene, with the ethereal Candie and co. their glamorous assistants. No-one would cross Red, or Bad Coop, or Richard Horne, once and live to tell the tale. Nostalgia hasn't been excised from The Return, it's just been rendered impotent. The Mitchum brothers, with their bad gangster film affectations and cliched dialogue, are men out of time. Evil has moved on and left them behind, preserved in neon, in that most self-parodic of settings, Vegas. I'm loving their double act though, and hope they follow DougieCoop back to Twin Peaks. Who knows, they might even end up on the side of Good in the showdown with Evil.
Candie's paroxysms of guilt, after accidentally striking Rodney, contrast sharply with Richard and Steven's unapologetic abuse. These male abusers pathetic transgressions are rooted in a childish, misguided sense of entitlement. Candie claims no such privilege.
What could be more romantic than the inexorable attraction of two inveterate cynics, drawn into each other's orbits, fiercely independent stars becoming binary? And yet, even here, in this hopeful moment, there is a tinge of sadness, as real life intrudes. Gordon and Tammy's knowing winks and and expressions of delight, as Constance and Albert bond, seem artificially heightened, like the reactions of the witnesses at Richard's hit and run; eerily reminiscent of DoppelCoop's unsettling impersonation of the Good Dale in Ep4. Even when things are right, there is clearly something wrong.
We already know Albert went rogue once, disclosing confidential information to 'Jeffries', and the revelations of Diane's cryptic communications with DoppelCoop, and Cole's confirmation of how her hug was 'off', suggest we can't take anything, or anyone, at face value in this maze of doppelgängers and imposters. In a world of mimicry, sincerity seems fake. And what to make of the ominous soundtrack as Tammy sashays into view, approaching Cole's hotel room like a viper? In this disorienting environment, the floor beneath our feet shifts and shatters, almost as soon as that distinctive chevron design looms into view, lulling us into a false sense of familiarity.
As determined as we are to impose some order, or discern Lynch's intentions, The Return resists reduction: shape-shifting and transforming, like a phantom; evading detection, eluding interpretation, dissolving before our gaze, like snow in spring.
The Log Lady's words to Hawk are infused with real pathos, drawing their power from not only the mythology of Twin Peaks, but the world beyond the script and the screen, infused with a bracing dose of authenticity. A bone-chilling elegy for dying world delivered by a terminally ill actress. As graceful, poetic and powerful as anything in The Return so far, segueing into that beautiful performance by Rebekah del Rio. No stars. The glow is dying. The light is fading. The last flicker of hope has almost been extinguished. Lynch has taken us to the brink of hopelessness. It is from this dark place that we are ready to return.