While watching the latest installment of The Return, I kept thinking of the line from the Talking Heads song “Psycho Killer” – ‘…you’re talking a lot, but you’re not saying anything.”

For viewers of the series – myself included – who have grown impatient with David Lynch’s tortoise-on-tranquilizers pacing, episode 14 was a welcome respite in the sense that a lot was ‘said’ in a rather short period of time. There was the recounting by Albert of Gordon’s first involvement with Blue Rose, followed by Gordon recounting his ‘Monica Belluci’ dream, then later there was the Giant in the White Lodge recounting the origin of BOB to Deputy Andy, then there was James’ fellow security guard Freddie recounting the story of how he got his green Hulk glove…and finally at the road house, Tina’s daughter recounting the story of Billy bleeding profusely from his mouth. In short, there was a hell of a lot of goddamned recounting. But the truth is, none of it added up to any further clarity in terms of the story or drew us any closer to a conclusion.

In other words, David – ‘…you’re talking a lot, but you’re not saying anything.’

I’ve discussed, over the course of these reviews, Lynch’s career-long obsession with dreams and his use of dream-imagery and logic as narrative. Over the years, it’s what has made David’s art so singular, and at times, brilliant. However, it’s only when he’s leavened the murky tenuousness of the unconscious state with, you know, an actual plot that he’s been at his most successful. It’s the difference between a masterpiece like Mulholland Drive and a convoluted mess like Inland Empire. At this point, it’s pretty obvious that The Return has a lot more in common with the latter. That’s not to say parts of it haven’t been interesting, but more often than not, we’ve been left frustrated and confused. It’s all well and good to offer up tantalizing plums like, “We’re like the dreamer who dreams and then lives inside the dream. But who is the dreamer?” but this isn’t a seminar on transcendental meditation David…it’s a TV show. You had to do better.

So, what did we actually learn from chapter 14? Not a whole hell of a lot. Truth be told, I had to watch it twice to try and make any sense of it. On the second viewing, I was just as hopelessly lost. Maybe, my mind is simply too feeble to comprehend David’s grand genius – or maybe, just maybe, he sort of fucked up this series…this opportunity…to wrap up the Peaks saga in a satisfying, reverent and coherent way.

Anyway, I’m not sure, but here’s what I think he was trying to get across.

It’s all coming down to a showdown between good and evil. People have been recruited by the Giant or as he called himself, ‘The Fireman.’ Freddy was chosen to be the muscle – he will use his glove to smash something. Andy was chosen for some other purpose – maybe to be the protector of the eyeless woman? We see Sarah Palmer remove her face in the same way that we saw Laura Palmer remove it in the Black Lodge – not sure what the significance of it is, but the way she bites the barfly’s throat out seemed reminiscent of the phantasm that emerged from the glass box in New York to eat the young couple. Billy has something to do with it all. Do we know who Billy is? No. But perhaps, it’s somebody we do know. Phillip Jeffries is part of it. It’s also clear that Lynch is using the movie Fire Walk With Me as the basis of a lot of what’s going on in The Return. Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t make heads or tails out of that piece of shit either!

Noteworthy noteables

  • What’s with Agent Tammy? Is she a brilliant mind or an overly affected pin-up wannabe or both? Does anyone get a cringe-y vibe from her portrayal. Why is there always an undertone of misogyny in the way David Lynch writes his female characters?
  • James apparently finds the source of the strange hum at the Great Northern in the basement. Is it another portal?
  • Speaking of James, does James Marshall look great for his age or what?
  • Aside from Sharon Van Etten’s amazing performance, could Lynch have brought together a more soporific collection of bands to end these episodes? Jesus what a snoozefest.

We’ve only got a handful of episodes left and I honestly don’t have any idea how it all will turn out. It’s been way more of a ‘meditation’ than a story…and that’s been a disappointment. But with each new effort, there’s always hope that it all comes together somehow. For now, I’m like Hawk in the exchange he had with Sherriff Truman in the forest after they encountered the vortex in the sky.

Sherriff Truman: “What happened?”

Hawk: “I don’t know – something.”

Yeah…exactly.

5.0 Confusing

While watching the latest installment of The Return, I kept thinking of the line from the Talking Heads song “Psycho Killer” – ‘…you’re talking a lot, but you’re not saying anything.”

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Lives in Manhattan around the corner from a diner which serves poisonous tuna melts and adequate java. My dissections, commentaries, and occasional rantings have been published by a wide range of online sites, pulpy outposts, and fugitive rags.

1 Comment

  1. I’m sorry to hear that you’re hating it so much. Is it necessary to call ‘Fire, Walk With Me’ a piece of shit though, really?.
    I for one would have personally hated it if season 3 wrapped everything up in a neat and straightforward way. For me, Twin Peaks is about delving into alternate realities and ideas. I watch but don’t question too much, I just leave there in my brain and join up the dots slowly after each episode. It’s what keeps me wanting more.

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