Twin Peaks: The Return: The Rewatch – Case Files
MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
And so the mystery of Dr. Jacoby’s shovels comes to the stupidest and greatest conclusion it possibly could. The image of “Dr. Amp” and his “gold shit-digging shovels” was an immediate fan favourite, largely because it was one of the few things we saw over the course of The Return which felt immediately graspable. Jacoby is Alex Jones now – this is funny, we get it, we can laugh. Yet he mentions coming to us “live and electrified” – as daft and mercenary as his show can be, he’s in touch with the forces that control existence in The Return.
Other mysteries are still not resolved. It ought to be quickly mentioned that Episode 5 features an unusual amount of major new characters. There’s the whole staff of Lucky 7 insurance, its very name reminding us of the role of significant numbers in this show’s plot. They’re a fine set of grotesques – one seems to be having an affair with a colleague, one is outed by Cooper as a liar, and one is played by Tom Sizemore. There are also debuts for the Mitchum brothers, Richard Horne, Candie, Mandie and Sandie, Steven and Becky. The latter gets one of the iconic images of the new series: a close-up of her ecstatic, drugged-out face, as good as the close-ups of Naomi Watts in Mulholland Drive or Laura Dern in INLAND EMPIRE.
All of these characters will return, so we can talk about them later. For this review, I want to concentrate on a question which has driven greater minds than mine to insanity: what, exactly, is Mr. C’s plan? His stated reason for going into jail is that he wants to find Ray, but involving the Hastings family – not to mention the baroque chimera of a corpse that the Woodsmen provide him with – seems a little over-elaborate for that simple purpose. And why is Dougie Jones’s wedding ring in the body’s stomach?
All the details of the crime scene seem designed to either incriminate or get the attention of someone. Ruth Davenport’s head points the finger of suspicion at Bill Hastings, who the Woodsmen need out of the way because he and Ruth have seen Major Briggs. As for Briggs, his prints get the attention of the FBI and Blue Book, who might lead Mr. C back to Phillip Jeffries, who he still believes ordered Darya’s attempted hit on him. Or he might simply want to get close enough to kill Cole and Rosenfeld – they know too much about Judy, after all. But what about that ring? Why implicate poor old Dougie?
Well, among those few who have passed from the Black Lodge to our world, Dougie Jones seems to be a known quantity. This episode starts with Lorraine, mafia functionary and old-school hip-hop head, sending a message to Buenos Aires, a location which exists in Twin Peaks lore solely as the last known address of Philip Jeffries. Is Jeffries trying to kill the tulpa Dougie Jones before Mr. C can use it? Does Mr. C want to frame Dougie for a murder in Buckhorn in the hope that they might end up in the same prison, meaning that when the switch happens a near-comatose Cooper would be delivered essentially into the hands of his murderous shadow self?
There’s also the curious phrase “Mr. Strawberry”, which Mr. C uses to imply some dark, blackmail-ready secret in Warden Murphy’s past. It might be relevant to note that “strawberry” can be used as a slang term for a crack whore (see NWA’s ‘Dopeman’); it might also be relevant that Mr. C follows this up by growling “The cow jumped over the moon”. The sheer opaqueness and complexity of Mr. C’s plan, not to mention how irrelevant it all becomes, suggests a reading of The Return as a parody of gritty cable dramas, in the same way that the original series was in part a parody of soap operas. You want a gritty law-enforcement anti-hero? Fine – here’s one who’s an actual demon.
The soap opera format used to be the Trojan Horse which Twin Peaks used to smuggle in its surreal elements. That’s no longer needed; if anything, the Twin Peaks brand name serves that function now, providing cover for a fully experimental 18-hour Lynch feature. What we have in its place is a playful needling of the TV genre Twin Peaks is now part of. There’s enough criminal conspiracy in this series for three series of The Wire, and all of it ends up being overwritten by the authentically Lynchian elements of absurd humour, occult horror and sheer bad luck. There’s some pleasure in picking apart the many possible motives of Mr. C – I wouldn’t have written this otherwise – but at the end of the day, he’s from the Black Lodge. He just wants to cause enough carnage to get his garmonbozia.