Twin Peaks: 3.08
It's quite hard to review this latest part in the Twin Peaks revival. Visually stunning, beautifully scored and a pure David Lynch-infused nightmare, it was both baffling and splendorous to watch in equal measure. The trouble is, I'm not sure what I just watched, except that it seems Lynch returned to the origins of Bob, Laura and the dark forces that have possessed mankind in the original series and beyond. Clearly indulged to deliver show on his terms, Lynch presented something quite unlike anything else I have watched in television.
We'll start with the opening 16 minutes, that dealt with evil Cooper after his escape from prison alongside criminal cohort Ray. Both were planning their moment to double cross each other and surprisingly it was Ray that got there first, shooting evil Cooper in the chest three times. And at that point, things got really weird.
Before Ray can deliver the finishing shot, a group of spirits, dressed like demonic vagabonds, crawl through the woods and surrounds Cooper, stabbing him in a frenzied bloodbath. It's disturbing, perhaps more so than many of the evil spirits we have seen in Twin Peaks before and sets the scene for the rest of the episode's descent into madness. And this really is madness, Lynch's nightmare reflected in the performance of none other than Nine Inch Nails at the Roadhouse as they sign She's Gone Away. It's stunningly lit, Lynch's take on a dark and twisted music video, capped by the resurrection of bad Cooper.
And then we move on to the rest of the episode, Lynch delivering something completely unexpected. If you thought you were getting some well deserved explanations and cohesion of multiple storylines in part seven, then eight throws all those expectations out of the window. The audience is taken back to New Mexico in 1945 and a test of a nuclear bomb. In a phenomenal piece of cinematography, and accompanied by Penderecki's very apt Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima with its frenzied string movements, the audience is propelled through the heart of the explosion. It is avant garde moment of horror in black and white lit up by burst of colour as the audience travels through the nuclear storm clouds and into rock and fire - the mouth of Hell itself.
Lynch's surrealism really takes effect with the still motion shots of the convenience store, distorted by time as people hang like shadows between the darkness and the light. I suspect these are the spirits that stabbed and resurrected Cooper, perhaps killed in the nuclear test. At this point in the episode I confess to have been both amazed and confused by what I was watching. What was really apparent though was that this explosion was where Bob and his evil spirit cohorts was likely formed; if I have to guess, the explosion tore a way into the Black Lodge itself? I could be utterly wrong and I suspect that what we witnessed in this episode will not be made clear until the revival is over...at least some of what happened here.
From there the audience travelled to the building on the edge of the purplish black waters from where Cooper escaped in part three. Like something out of a 1920's silent movie, we encountered the familiar Giant (Carel Struycken) and Mariqueen Maandig's spirit, watching the events occur. The score in this scene is stunning, the design and choreography beautiful and while I continued to comprehend what was really happen, the creation of Laura Palmer's spirit from the light did suggest that perhaps this was the White Lodge, creating a mirror to Bob's darkness.
But the most disturbing scene had to be the shift forward to the same New Mexico desert in 1956 as the vagabond spirits lurked through the desert, terrifying a poor couple as they lurched out in front of their car and asked "Gotta light?". The woman's slow down scream, sounding more like a lion's roar was deeply unsettling and it didn't stop there. As two sweet young teenagers, sharing their first kiss walked through the desert roads, unaware of the zombie-like menace close by an egg hatched in what was possibly the epicentre of the nuclear explosion years earlier. A monstrous half frog, half fly creature, it crawled all the way into the girl's open bedroom window and down her throat. It was a skin-crawling moment, suggesting her possession - and loss of innocence - by a spirit. I wondered if the boy and girl might be a young Leyland and Sarah Palmer, but the episode didn't give us those answers.
Instead, the horrifying spirit, Robert Broski's 'Woodsman', lurched towards the local radio shack and proceeded to crush the face of the terrifying receptionist before closing in on the DJ in his booth and speaking through the radio. His hypnotic, gravelly voice soon sent the residents to sleep, perhaps allowing for their possession, all the while the DJ looked up in terror before his own skull was crushed in gory fashion. In this final act, Lynch delivered a terrifying sequence, topping off a powerful, emotive, chilling episode.
In part eight, Twin Peaks delivered an Avant Garde masterpiece of horror; watching it, I had found myself having no idea what was happening but as the hours have passed since watching it, every beautiful, shocking sequence sticks in my mind and I find myself questioning what I saw. It is not like anything I've watched on TV before - and perhaps never will afterwards - and that alone makes it a unique experience. I suspect we've been given plenty of answers to the origins of the show. You just have to figure out what those answers are...