Twin Peaks: The Return: The Rewatch – There’s a Body All Right
MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Let’s begin with the first thing that strikes you on a rewatch. Initially, we were all convinced that Diane’s interview with Mr. C was the most terrifying thing in this episode. It is, indeed, nightmarish, but it didn’t cause me to choke down an actual scream. That happened when Lieutenant Knox’s phone call to her superior about the mysteriously young body of Major Briggs is interrupted by a shadowy man walking past.
The Woodsman as a mysterious figure is scary enough, but knowing what we now know about them, it’s horrifying. Lynch has spoken in the past about his love for The Shining, particularly the ghost twins appearing in daylight: “You know they shouldn’t be there at that time”, he said to Chris Rodley in Lynch on Lynch. He used similar tricks in the original series of Twin Peaks – think of BOB leaping out from behind Maddie’s sofa. It gives a sense of the show as being unbound by genre rules, a troubling sense that anything could happen at any time.
Not that you need to be reminded of this seven episodes into The Return. Having set up Roadhouse performances as a way of ending episodes – a sort of Later… With David Lynch – Lynch broke his own rule in episode 5. Now he’s being even more perverse, with this episode’s ‘performance’ being a two-and-a-half minute shot of a man sweeping the floor to the tune of Booker T and the MGs’ instrumental soul classic ‘Green Onions’, followed by a deeply unpleasant phone conversation with Jean-Michel Renault.
Can Jacques Renault really have a twin brother, who also went into the somewhat specialised business of pimping underage girls? ‘Checkmate’, from season two, sees Jean Renault claim Jacques was his only brother. It’s true that Lynch wasn’t delighted by season two, and Frost has overwritten bits of its continuity in The Secret History of Twin Peaks. But this deliberate contradiction, coupled with what we see of the Roadhouse towards the end of the series, feels like a tip of the hand, an early admission that some of the scenes you’re seeing here might not exist in the same reality as the rest.
There’s also the ending, set to a version of Santo and Johnny’s ‘Sleep Walk’ with an unsettling Lynchian rumble under it. As soon as it went out, people claimed to have found all kinds of weird glitches and continuity oddities in it. I’m nowhere near observant enough for that, but watching it back there’s a serious bit of foreshadowing Lynch and Frost snuck in under people’s noses: the man who runs in at the end asking if anyone’s seen Billy. Billy? Audrey’s Billy? No, no-one ever sees him…
Episode 7 is a bit of a placeholder in some ways: Constance Talbot pops up to remind us that, yes, this whole Major Briggs thing certainly is very perplexing. But it’s full of strange codes and sigils. I’m not wholly convinced by the fan theory that the windows of the plane Diane, Gordon, Tammy and Albert are on are flashing some kind of Morse code – but what are we to make of the owner of the truck Richard killed the child in? Terrified, he promises to meet Deputy Andy at 4:30 for more information, but he never turns up. All we see is the open door of his house, and a suspiciously electric hum coming from inside. Is it significant that the Fireman tells Cooper to remember 430? Yes, that turns out to be about something else – but maybe numbers in this series don’t have a set meaning, perhaps they’re occult tools that can be used in a number of contexts.
And look at it this way – the biggest piece of foreshadowing for next episode is the picture of the atomic bomb behind Gordon Cole (as he whistles Rammstein!) and nobody could possibly work out where that was going to go…