David Lynch’s “18-hour movie” approach to Twin Peaks: The Return means that the series has a pace unlike any other big show. Many scenes seem disconnected from the episodes around them, some episodes consist largely of dialogue, and some even break away from the story to conduct an experiment in form. Then there are episodes like Part 14, where events pour forth at such a furious rate, the whole episode feels like one of Gordon Cole’s delirious Monica Bellucci dreams.
What comes in dreams?
Cole’s dream sequence in Part 14 is one of the most striking parts in an episode full of startling imagery, and given the primacy of dreams throughout Twin Peaks, it bears discussion. Dreams occupy a place of spiritual, thematic importance in the show. Cooper’s first trip to the Red Room — one of the original series’ most iconic scenes — occurs while he is dreaming, and it is there that the Man from Another Place and Laura Palmer give him clues to solve the mystery of Laura’s murder.
Cooper endorsed dream analysis as a means of investigating, and it seems to be a common trait among members of the Blue Rose squad, as Cole is preoccupied with his dream, laying out the details for Albert and Tammy. Traveling through a Paris rendered in grayscale, Cole meets actress Monica Bellucci for coffee. Gordon can see Cooper nearby, but his face is hidden.
Bellucci says “We are like the dreamer, who dreams, and then lives inside the dream … But who is the dreamer?”
Gordon then turns around to see himself and Cooper, in a scene from the film Fire Walk with Me, in which the long-missing Phillip Jeffries (David Bowie) walks into Cole’s office, pointing to Cooper and asking “Who do you think that is there?”
The first part of the dream expresses the show’s fascination with the different layers of reality, and Gordon’s concern regarding Cooper’s identity. It also reiterates the show’s focus on emotion, rather than reason; when Bellucci finishes her statement, Cole mentions a “powerful, uneasy feeling” washing over him. The emotion comes unbidden, and Cole can only accept it.
That the dream segues into a scene from Fire Walk with Me further establishes the importance of that film, once considered a misstep for Lynch, which has formed the backbone of the Cooper plot. Jeffries calls into question Cooper’s identity, a problem Cole has been trying to solve since finding Cooper’s doppelganger in prison, and along with the information he receives from Sheriff Truman — who calls to tell him about the missing pages of Laura Palmer’s diary, which mention “two Coopers” — Cole seems to be closing in on the truth.
All roads lead to Twin Peaks
The Return has had a noticeably grander scope than the original show, taking place largely in South Dakota and Nevada, but it still drifts back to Twin Peaks, creating a sense that the conflict is occurring on a global (or at least continental) scale. The show expands its scope all the way to Europe in Part 14, as James Hurley and his fellow security guard Freddie sit outside the Great Northern Hotel on break. James asks why Freddie always wears a green glove on his right hand, and Freddie tells him a story about how, one day in London, he was sucked into a portal in the air.
On the other side, he met a figure calling himself “The Fireman,” who tells Freddie to go to a nearby store and buy a box containing only one glove. After an unfortunate incident with an obstructionist clerk, Freddie acquires the glove, granting him superhuman strength in his right hand, but the item is also bonded to his flesh.
It’s a weird story, but makes a great deal of sense following a previous scene in Part 14, in which the Twin Peaks police finally reach the spot indicated to them by Major Briggs. They find the eyeless woman that Cooper met in Part 3, and a portal appears, pulling Andy into the Black Lodge. There, he meets the Giant, now calling himself The Fireman, who shows Andy a collection of images, including the Woodsman, the birth of BOB, and Cooper’s doppelganger, filling Andy with knowledge of what is happening and what he must do.
“The Fireman” also provided Freddie with the knowledge to acquire the glove, and told him to go to Twin Peaks where he would find his destiny. Will Freddie actually have some great fate? Knowing the show, his destiny could be something as mundane as lifting a heavy box for Cooper. Regardless, the scene establishes that whatever is happening with the Black Lodge, it is happening in multiple locations, with Twin Peaks as the epicenter.
What’s really going on with the Roadhouse?
Most episodes of The Return end in the Roadhouse, where bands perform for the oddly hip people of Twin Peaks. Not all of the Roadhouse scenes are mere showcases of Lynch’s indie playlist, however. Often, characters will meet and talk during the performances. Some of these scenes have been important (the introduction of Richard Horne took place during a Roadhouse performance), while others concern characters we never see again, offering a glimpse into the lives of people not involved in the plot — a valuable reminder that there is a world outside of Cooper and the Twin Peaks P.D.
At the end of Part 14, before a lively performance from rock artist Lissie, two women, Megan (Shane Lynch) and Sophie (Emily Stofle), discuss the former’s drug habit before getting into a meatier topic: The whereabouts of Billy, Audrey’s unseen lover, mentioned in an earlier episode. Megan relates how Billy appeared outside her family’s house days earlier, bleeding profusely and washing his head in their sink before disappearing. She also reveals that her mother is the Tina referenced by Audrey previously, another of Billy’s lovers.
Audrey’s role in The Return has, so far, been strange even for this show. A major character in the original series, she only returned in Part 12, apparently married to a man named Charlie, and her scenes have been disconnected from the rest of the show until now. Megan repeatedly mentions that she cannot remember if her uncle was present when Billy appeared, and that echoes Audrey’s crisis of memory in Part 13. Is the Roadhouse more than just a venue for music? Audrey’s isolation from the rest of the cast suggests that maybe she is not really in the “physical” world. Perhaps the Roadhouse is not entirely of this reality?
For more Twin Peaks discussion, check out our guide to the essential classic episodes.