Slead Score: A-
Is that ketchup on your neck or is your throat missing?
The Return has gone off the rails, and I'm sure many are probably thinking I have too, seeing as how I'm giving this episode a high score. Apart from being well-shot and composed, The Return as a whole has been a challenging experience, and in my book, that's what Lynch has always been about. Sure, challenging can translate to some as nonsensical or "trolling," but for me and many others, a majority of this season's challenging showmanship is more akin to intrigue and shock. It's hard to ever know what to expect week to week, and in many ways, that's an amazing thing in today's TV landscape. Episode 14 is no different, and in fact, holds more of that challenging intrigue than I've seen so far this season. What is Diane's goal? What could possibly be going on with Sarah Palmer? Does Dougie even matter? These are all questions that can frustrate or allure, but the most important effect they have is they get people talking. Lynch and Frost's take on this season is so out of bounds and strange that almost any theory can be backed up or worthy of mentioning, and that's exactly why breaking down this episode is a challenging but alluring task.
First and foremost, most, if not all, of the previous plots introduced are coming together. The FBI's study of Mr. C and his connection to Agent Cooper have now brought them directly to the name Douglas Jones of Las Vegas. If we thought Diane was important just because she knew Cooper the most, her connection as Janey-E's sister adds a layer of connectivity that can't be overlooked. Welcome to the wonderful world of Twin Peaks and its ever growing mythos. It's no mistake we open the episode with more on the Blue Rose case, which has been referenced since the beginning of the series but never expanded on until now. The most important thing to hold onto from Albert's description of the case is that doppelgangers and alternate dimensions were in the mix. Thus, the elevator pitch that The Return is more Black Lodge and less cherry pie is coming together in a package that only certain people will understandably enjoy.
In addition, Gordon Cole's conversation with Sheriff Truman about Laura Palmer's missing pages adds an even deeper connection to the series on a whole, which is a welcome and pleasing decision at this stage in the game. This all has to do with Laura somehow, right? It does. In fact, I still think Laura is the most important character in the entire show, as what happened to her and her connection to everything supernatural is still unfolding even 25 years later. Her importance spans time and space. In the opening episode of this season, Laura talks with Cooper one last time, taking her face off to reveal a bright light, only to disappear moments later. While at the time just odd and surrealism at its finest, the more we see of Laura's mother, Sarah, the more it's becoming clear she too has been destined to act as a human personification of the struggle between light and dark.
In one of the most amazing scenes in the show, Sarah confronts a man at a bar by taking her face off, Laura style, to reveal a void. Then, she lurches forward and takes a bite out of the man's neck, killing him. No, we never saw Laura bite a neck off of another human, but we did see her revert to animalistic tendencies and expose a deeper existence beneath her beautiful exterior. This scene was a wonderful tie-in and connection to episode 8, where we saw Lynch's signature surrealism take us through an atomic blast to two young people on a date in the '50s, where the night ended with a bug crawling into the girl's mouth. I believe more than ever that that girl was Sarah, and not only she, but also Laura, have been destined to be a part of this cosmic warfare ever since that night. "Gotta light?" Laura does.
The insanity itself is making its own connections, as time jumps and alternate dimensions have now touched down on even the lowliest of characters in Twin Peaks. Once Hawk, Truman, Bobby, and Andy make the hike to the coordinates provided by Major Briggs, Andy is sucked into the same gray room we saw Laura's seed emerge from in episode 8. Images of two Coopers, the Coalman that murdered the people in the '50s, and a call from the "Fireman" send Andy sliding back into reality, with Naido, the eyeless woman from the other side that guided Cooper out of the darkness back in the early episodes. She is naked, panting, but alive, and is now acting as another human personification on the show: reality meeting alternate reality.
We can't forget about more James either, and while it's nice always seeing him, it's his security guard co-worker Freddie Sykes that packs one more punch of narrative tie-in. A strange glove is permanently attached to the man's left hand, which is a recurring image throughout the series, from the one-armed man named Mike from the original series to Dougie's left arm hurting him right before good Cooper came back into existence. If that wasn't enough, Freddie describes in detail his dream of meeting the "Fireman," which is most likely the same one we saw Andy talking to earlier in the episode. This glove saved him from being killed back in the UK, and the Fireman's insistence to wear it then brought him to move to Twin Peaks because he apparently has a purpose. What is that purpose? We have no clue, but my oh my, is it challenging and intriguing.
That in itself is why not only this season but this episode in general, deserves a harder look than just "it's confusing so, therefore, it must be terrible!" I can't say it enough, but this season is not like Twin Peaks proper, it's a deep dive into the unexplainable connection to reality and twisted timelines of alternate dimensions (heavy concentration on unexplainable). Is that a rabbit hole worth delving into? Not for everyone.