Twin Peaks: The Return: The Rewatch – This is the Chair
MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
We are now halfway through Twin Peaks: The Return, and the show has reset a little following the astonishing rupture of last week. Episode 9 has a fairly even mix of scenes set in Buckhorn, Las Vegas and Twin Peaks, and ends with a double-bill of Roadhouse performances. It is bookended by disturbing images – Mr. C covered in blood, Ella’s armpit rash – but what’s in between has to do with love.
So let’s talk about what we love. My favourite character is Lucy, and it has been a little off-putting, so far, that Andy and Lucy have been written as comedy fools rather than what they are; naive and child-like, but not idiots. The first thing we see of Andy is him bursting into tears at the sight of Laura’s body, which certainly isn’t meant to be a comedy skit. Likewise, after Cooper’s impromptu lecture on Buddhism in Season One Lucy constantly has a half-finished book about Tibet on her desk. She’s not on his wavelength, but she does her best, and this is so much closer to the heart of the characters than all the “Andy gets confused and covers himself in Post-It notes” nonsense from Season Two. The Return will correct this, but not for a while.
On an initial viewing I also found the detail of Major Briggs’s corpse a bit distasteful, seeing as actor Don S Davis is actually dead. Now, I don’t know. It means something that Bill Hastings’s testimony about seeing Briggs’s head dissolve into a fountain of light comes just one episode after we’ve seen the Fireman do the same thing. It suggests that Briggs is now a White Lodge spirit, and the very corporeal, wrong-aged body the FBI are examining might be another tulpa. Like Ruth Davenport and Bill Hastings, I choose to believe he’s still out there somewhere.
Hastings’s interview with Agent Preston was actually the first scene Chrysta Bell filmed for the series, which is nothing if not a baptism of fire. Again, this casts a more positive light on something which seemed like a flaw at the time. Bell’s performance, which struck me as distractingly artificial on first watch, definitely starts to settle down from here onwards. If, at first, she doesn’t strike you as someone who could compile the Secret History dossier, that’s because she isn’t yet.
Diane doesn’t like her very much, that’s for sure. But we shouldn’t like Diane, considering we actually see her get a text from Mr. C in this episode. On initial viewing I stayed in happy denial for a while longer. It’s odd that I should feel such dedication to a character we only met three episodes ago – particularly considering I was always on the “Diane is an imaginary character” train during the original series. It’s a mark of how well Lynch and Frost have filled in the gaps, and how wonderful Laura Dern is in this role, that quickly became foolishly loyal to her. The scene of her smoking outside, trying vainly to get Agent Preston to return her icy stare, is a masterclass in non-verbal acting.
The most utterly lovely part of the episode is, of course, Bobby, Hawk and Frank meeting Bobby’s mother. Upon receiving the capsule from his dad, Bobby returns to a child-like state, excitedly telling his friends about his childhood nicknames for places. (2:53, previously seen as the time when Cooper exited the factory on the mauve sea, recurs, reinforcing my theory that numbers in The Return are tools with multiple uses, rather than codes with one meaning) When his mother gives him the capsule, Angelo Badalamenti’s music swells, reinforcing the sense that the show is slowly recovering its old character as the weeks tick by.
But for the rest of the time, Bobby is grown-up, responsible – the sort of person no-one, other than his parents, thought he could be. For all Lucy is my favourite Twin Peaks character, Bobby is my favourite character in The Return. In the midst of a series full of magical transformations and mutations, he shows that change caused by character and willpower can be no less dramatic.