Twin Peaks "Part VIII" Is 60 Minutes of Astonishing—and Totally Bonkers—Television

("The Return," Part VIII)

TV Features Twin Peaks
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<i>Twin Peaks</i> "Part VIII" Is 60 Minutes of Astonishing&#8212;and Totally Bonkers&#8212;Television

I admit it. They had me.

“Part VII” left us with a lot of signaling that world convergence was imminent. “Part VIII” gave us, well, fission.

OK: Evil Coop gets out of the clink and drives off with Ray. There’s a pee-in-the-woods moment and then Ray (finally!) shoots Evil Coop (go George Griffith!!). Then, a gang of smoky demon-thingies appears and starts feeding on the body—I guess they’ve probably got the Garmonbozia Munchies—and scares the crap out of Ray. Understandably, especially when a bubble appears containing the face of BOB. Evil Cooper lies bloody and lifeless on the ground; Ray flees and places a call to—Philip Jeffries? He says he thinks he killed Coop but that he “saw something” that might be key to whatever’s going on. Of course, Coop pops up again and we have no idea if he’s now Good Cooper, still Evil, or some other thing. If he’s been de-BOB’d, it does leave one wondering.

At the roadhouse, the MC introduces “The” Nine Inch Nails. Trent Reznor’s performance is the last remotely cogent thing you will see in the episode. The remaining 41-plus minutes are… um… mythographical? Preludiunous? I’m coining the word because I can’t think of an existing one that exactly captures what happens in two-thirds of this episode. We cut to White Sands, New Mexico, in August 1946—there’s a title card in case you don’t recognize the nuclear blast, which also appears on the wall in Gordon Cole’s (David Lynch) office. From there, things get pretty cosmic and we’re presumably looking at a big ol’ origin story for BOB. I’m pretty sure the test blast is shorthand for ex nihilo creation myth. There’s a lot of primordial ooze and bubbling and burning and flames and smoke and spider webs and stars and flickering white lights and electrical buzzing and ultra high-drama music (“Threnody for Victims of Hiroshima” performed by the Warsaw Philharmonic, for those of you taking notes). There is the cosmos.

Ah. There is a creepy white humanoid form vomiting a stream of weirdness toward the earth. We linger on the face of BOB for just a sec there, in case you weren’t getting that this abstract-a-palooza was about him. Um, so, like, lots of things happen. The Giant (!!) appears in that way-station lighthouse thingy in the purple outer-space sea—you know, like in “Part I.” He’s watching this Big Bob Bang and then his head becomes wreathed in flames and a glowing golden orb appears, with the face of Laura Palmer in it. We go back to New Mexico, flash forward to 1956, and see an egg hatch. From it emerges an incredibly upsetting wasp-frog-beetle-slimebeast and you know nothing positive is going to result from that. Then we encounter a demonoid creature (“The Woodsman”) who stops a car and asks the terrified couple inside “Gotta light?” in this incredibly scary voice until they finally drive away. The guy wanders into a radio station, commits two incredibly grisly murders (all the more gross set against The Platters version of “My Prayer”) and commandeers the mic. Oh, also, we are cross-cutting here: There’s a cute teenage proto-couple contemplating their first kiss (do these people grow up to be Twin Peaks residents?). There is a gas station, and a convenience store. Yeah, so the woodsman has the mic in the DJ booth and he says, over and over, “This is the water and this is the well. Drink full: End is end. The horse is the white of the eyes, the dark within.” As he repeats this, people listening to the radio station collapse, including the girl, who’s sitting on her bed being all cute and dreamy about her first kiss. So of course no one should be surprised when the bug-frog-monster flies in her window and crawls right into her mouth. You know nothing positive is going to come out of that, right?

It’s a pretty astonishing 60 minutes of television, and unless I’ve been taking my own wine pairing guide too seriously, we just got a whole crap-ton of BOB backstory. Abstracted and highly surreal, sure, but like I keep saying, Lynch will choose symbol over narrative at these moments and leave it all extremely open to interpretation. Did the advent of nuclear weaponry give birth to the Black Lodge and the demonic BOB? Or has it always been there? Will the real Dale Cooper please stand up? Are we maybe reaching a vomiting-evil threshold? Where the hell is Audrey Horne? So many questions.

No whimsical wine pairing this week: I would send back anything that had those aromatics. Plus, there could be an intensification effect with this episode, and dude, no one should need that.

Amy Glynn is a poet, essayist and fiction writer who really likes that you can multi-task by reviewing television and glasses of Cabernet simultaneously. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.