Two weeks and one episode after Trinity, the Bob glob, The Woodsman, and an insectoid amphibian prone to crawling down human esophagi, Twin Peaks played it conventional in last night’s episode. But even a conventional episode of Twin Peaks still rings with what Beverly Paige might call “kind of a mesmerizing tone,” be it in the sustained tension of Diane’s smoke break, the inside jokes of the Detectives Fusco, Andy and Lucy’s martial tête-à-tête over the color of a chair, or Sky Ferreira’s rash. The catalog of strangeness within “Part 9” could be made up entirely of Beverly’s employer’s family members: Ben Horne’s back at it with that chiming in his office (“The ring out of a monastery bell has the same quality”), Jerry’s at war with his foot, and Johnny Horne—who was expecting to see him again?—has a run-in with a wall.

Even with all that, I think we’re destined to look back not-so-fondly at “Part 9” as the third-season episode in which the narrative engines clicked on, and clicked on hard, as Bill Hastings is finally pulled into the FBI’s orbit, and the Twin Peaks Sheriffs Department gets headed in a similar direction thanks to the cryptic missives of Major Garland Briggs. As they must, because Twin Peaks is still, at its core, a murder mystery, one we’re now halfway through, and there remain many stones unturned in the strange case of Ruth Davenport. So, as our own Emily L. Stephens notes, David Lynch and Mark Frost dump a ton of information into “Part 9,” some of which I found harder to deal with than the nuclear tests and Dougie savant-isms of past episodes. It’s necessary, but it’s also overwhelming.

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Photo: Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

At least the delivery mechanism for the most crucial information is sound: For his sniffling punctuation and his crinkle-faced emoting, I hereby nominate Matthew Lillard for induction into the Twin Peaks Crying Hall of Fame. Having lived with the world of Twin Peaks for so long, you might take it for granted that all of these characters are accustomed to the horrifying realities of alternate dimensions and the beings that exist therein. But both “Part 8”—with the emergence of The Woodsman and his cronies—and “Part 9” reiterate the terror of what Bobby, Hawk, and Sheriff Truman (Betty Briggs didn’t know it would be this Sheriff Truman) are gearing up to face. While they reconcile with Jack Rabbit’s Palace and pockets full of soil, Lillard’s bravura, two-take performance transcends the infodump and conveys the fear and confusion swirling within Bill Hasting’s mind. Like the ringing at The Great Northern, it’s confounding; but, also like that ringing, it’s kind of mesmerizing.

[Erik Adams]


Erik, you’re not wrong to call out the somewhat labored narrative efforts of this week’s episode. It was bound to happen eventually: Even though it’s still standing head(less) and shoulders above almost everything else currently on television, “Part 9” is the first installment of Twin Peaks season three that I would characterize as a bit underwhelming. Given the two-week break after part eight’s riveting origin story, it feels like the season is coming full circle back to where it began, with Matthew Lillard and a murder mystery, only now we’re got the accumulated knowledge of the subsequent episodes to lend insight to all that’s happening. And while it’s nice to see these disparate dots start getting connected (or thrown on the ground to ring at a certain frequency and then crack open), the episode struggled to maintain a sense of wonder and mystique, as plot point after plot point was thrown out in an effort to push the story forward.

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This was also the first time I became a bit exhausted with the ongoing foibles of the Andy And Lucy’s Wacky Relationship! interludes. Whereas the slow-moving and methodical nature of this series adds layers to the mystery and drama (and occasionally to the floor-sweeping), these two are so clearly positioned as little more than comic relief—and a bit of heart, as she ends up getting the chair color he wanted—that the pacing of their shenanigans feels creaky rather than inspired. Five seconds of Lucy holding up her hand as the men walk by, to signify she’s still on her lunch break, was more engaging and funny than the entire “darn it, we’re having a chair-color fight!” sequence. The best humor on this series comes when little moments on the margins of these people’s lives inadvertently and briefly take center stage, as opposed to treating those little slice-of-life beats as subplots unto themselves. It’s the difference between a scene involving everyone waiting around to continue with the narrative while Laura Dern’s Diane takes a smoke break, versus a scene being about Diane needing to have a cigarette.

But while it was good to get back to some of the promising plot threads introduced at the beginning of the season and immediately tie them in to the larger storyline (Lillard’s William Hastings met Major Briggs in another dimension!), I’m starting to worry that Doppel-Cooper and Dougie-Cooper might be here for the long haul. While the show has already proven it can dazzle without the grounding and comforting presence of Special Agent Dale Cooper, it does still leave everyone else in the cast (intentionally) orbiting around a bit of a void at the series’ core. And it looks like that’s going to be the central purpose of the entire season: restoring a balance lost when Doppel-Cooper used Dougie Jones as his get-out-of-the-Black-Lodge-free card. Dale Cooper will almost certainly come back to us by the end, but I’m no longer expecting to see him until the final few episodes.

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[Alex McLevy]


Even if it didn’t have to follow one of the most mesmerizing and avant-garde things to ever be passed off as an episode of an American television series, this week’s installment would still be underwhelming. It’s an inert expositional stopgap, and the one dull spot (to date) in the otherwise dazzling dream narrative that Lynch, Frost, and company have unveiled over the last two months. Yes, it leans too heavily on the weakest aspects of the revived series, including the belabored Andy and Lucy sitcom stuff and the “character” of Tammy, who plays probably too much of a role in unpacking this episode’s file box of information.

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But you know what? It’s still fuckin’ third-season Twin Peaks, ain’t it. Even when coasting, this series creates an atmosphere unlike anything else in the history of episodic TV: a feng shui harmony of parody, horror, and moral-emotional sincerity. And as much as that part of me that itches to rip into things I love wants to rag on this episode, it’s still full of wonderful moments. There’s Tim Roth’s Hutch sidling into frame alongside the horrifically bloodied Doppel-Cooper; Diane’s aforementioned cigarette at the morgue; “I am not your foot”; and Lillard’s wrecked, broken performance as Bill Hastings, which, truth be told, is probably the most realistic characterization in the otherwise weirdo-populated soap opera world of Twin Peaks.

But my favorite scene in this episode is one I haven’t heard mentioned anywhere yet. It’s the brief and very purposefully constructed sequence with Dougie-Cooper in the police station waiting room, which is basically Twin Peaks (or the Lynch-verse) disassembled in miniature. Dougie-Cooper fixates on a flagpole standing forgotten in a corner, at which point we hear a military band rendition of “America The Beautiful”; becomes distracted by the red heels of a passing woman in a pencil skirt; and then is menaced by a power socket. Cooper’s love of the flag is of course completely sincere; perhaps I take Twin Peaks a little too seriously as an artistic depiction of an eternal struggle between good and evil, but I’ve come to accept that, within Lynch and Frost’s cosmology, the patriotism and professionalism embodied by the FBI stand-in for all values. I think of it this way: in the Peaks world, good only acts through literal agents (sometimes imperfect, like Gordon Cole and Albert Rosenfield), while evil walks freely in disguise.

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So you have that moment of almost sublime earnestness, followed by notes of erotic fetish and fascination with all things beguilingly feminine, and then the greatest of all Lynch specialties: the transformation of something completely banal (it’s a wall socket, for Chrissakes) into a sinister presence. Does Dougie-Cooper discover the evil socket because he is paying attention to the woman walking by, or does the socket become evil because of his wandering gaze? Or, to quote a memorable line from Blue Velvet, spoken by one cast member of this season to another, “I don’t know if you’re a detective or a pervert.”

[Ignatiy Vishnevetsky]


During a curiosity driven hate-watch of the I’m Dying Up Here pilot—which, incidentally, did not disappoint in that regard—while waiting for Twin Peaks to pop up on the Showtime streaming app, I saw an ad for the new season that proclaimed that long before ”peak TV,” there was ‘Wonderful and Strange.” And just as Twin Peaks pushed broadcast TV forward then, it’s pushing the medium forward now, re-framing a limited series as an experience more akin to an 18-hour movie than a standard episodic format. Even so, although he once again dangled a carrot and then pulled it away with the shot of the woman in the red shoes Ignatiy mentioned above—“obviously a reference to Audrey’s red pumps in season one, episode one,” the internet detectives cry in unison—every once in a while, even David Lynch must succumb to the demands of narrative and push the plot forward.

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(Photo: Suzanne Tenner/Showtime)

Although I did, like the rest of you, view this episode as a placeholder, there were some shining moments: Lillard’s jailhouse breakdown (poor man, the world of Twin Peaks is no place for normal human beings); the three Fuscos turning around in unison when someone calls out their last name; Diane’s Memphis Group-esque getup and the show hitting pause so she could finish her cigarette; Sky Ferreira’s grotesque rash and meth-head teeth. (I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise that meth would have invaded a rural Northwest burg like Twin Peaks sometime in the past 25 years, but it’s still a bit of a bummer.)

But, although this is admittedly entirely subjective, the most interesting thing for me was watching this episode with someone whose knowledge of Twin Peaks came entirely from pop-culture references to pie and damn fine coffee and who had never seen a full episode of the show. I warned her that the show can be difficult to follow sometimes even if you’ve watched the whole thing, but she was delighted by the tone and casting, laughing out loud during moments of deliberate stiltedness and exclaiming at one point, “everyone I like is on this show!” After the roadhouse scene, as the credits rolled, I asked, “so, what did you think?” “I had no idea what was going on, but I would watch it again,” she said. That’s a positive review if I ever heard one.

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[Katie Rife]