Wednesday, September 6, 2017

20/20: #16 Twin Peaks: The Return (second half)

[Like the "10 for 10" series but a little longer.  It's my endeavor to clean the backlog slate (with some things watched well over a year ago now) "this" month with 20 reviews written in 20 minutes (each) over 20 days...
...two in one day!]

2017, d. David Lynch



I was pretty high on Twin Peaks: The Return in my review of the first half, having watched it all in a rather brusque 2-day binge-fest.  At the time of writing had decided to wait and stockpile the remaining 9 episodes, as I felt that the binge watch made the slower parts less painful and the intriguing parts had better payoff.

Well, I couldn't wait.  I would up watching episodes 10 and 11 back-to-back, but went pretty much week-to-week from therein, and man it was not only an infuriating experience but I've gone from loving it to almost bitterly loathing it.

The tangential nature of the show, the means-nothing asides, the Audrey Horne diatribes, the seemingly endless Dougie Jones escapades, the awkward line readings, the cheesy effects, the just bum-fuckery of it all got to me.  When you don't immerse yourself in it, the corniness and rudderlessness of the production constantly slap you in the face, jarring you out of the reality the show/movie has built for itself.

Twin Peaks: The Return is a behemoth, David Lynch's 18-hour art-house experiment that has allowed all his childhood influences and directorial impulses manifest, seemingly at random.  You can tell there's a solid story in the through lines, but the meandering pace (all that footage of driving... splice it together it probably takes up a whole episode) kill so much of the momentum each storyline has.

There's little satisfaction to be had here.  There's the odd bone-throw like Nora and Big Ed finally getting together after all these years, there's Cooper's return (in episode bloody 16!), there a wonderful moment for Lucy in the penultimate hour, and a really sweet and solemn goodbye to the Log Lady/Catherine Coulson, but it's all buried in Lynch's perverse desire to explore randomness.

It's a certainty that the show was assembled in the editing room, that very little of how the show plays out was scripted as such.  Perhaps the Gordon Cole, Albert Rosenfeld, Tammy Preston, Diane Evans thread was one straight script, and the Dougie Jones story another, but the mixing and meandering between became quite tedious.  The stories we start to explore, like Shelly Brigg's daughter's turmoil, or Harry Dean Stanton's neighbourhood samaritan, or almost anything that happens at the Bang Bang Bar... they aren't given any satisfactory purpose, nevermind any resolution.

Even if I had sat through Twin Peaks: The Return's second half in one or two sittings, while I may have been more appreciative of the unique craft with which Lynch puts together his stories, I still would have been wholly pissed off with the finale.  In the show's final hour, instead of bringing things to a close or even just letting the existing events linger, Lynch saw fit to give Coop another journey, that took him to yet another strange realm, with Diane and Laura.  We got barely 20 minutes across 2 episodes of bright and perky Coop, before the finale left him poker-faced, confused, and almost bumbling through reality, not even in a heroic Dougie Jones style, once again ending with a whole pile of questions, this time with little apparent intent to answer them.