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Written by Mark Frost & David Lynch
Directed by David Lynch

Airdate: 16 July, 2017

Author's Note: This and all subsequent reviews of Twin Peaks: The Return episodes will freely give away details from the episode at hand, and all those preceding it. The spoiler-averse should back away slowly.

Part 10 of Twin Peaks: The Return includes one of the most deeply upsetting moments in the new series' run, and a few other moments that are certainly more disturbing than otherwise, but my big takeaway from the episode as a whole is how very sweet it is, in some weird ways and some not-so weird. I find myself unexpectedly but pleasantly reminded of Episode 25 from way back in 1991, which I suggested in my review strikes me as an exercise in giving us hope and a sense of warmth so that we'll be all the more shell-shocked when that warmth is cruelly stripped away. Part 10 is a great deal more forthright in giving us the cruelty right alongside the sweetness, but the overall feeling is awfully similar: we're getting to see nice things happen to characters we like, and it feels nice. That is, of course, in those moments that we're not seeing brutally horrible things happen to people we like, or at least have no immediate reasons to dislike.

All this is mostly a roundabout way of saying: so that sex scene between Janey-E (Naomi Watts) and the man who isn't her husband Dougie anymore (Kyle MacLachlan), huh? The creepy undertones are there if you want them to be: Janey-E is sleeping with a man under false pretenses, and Dougie/Dale is at the approximate intellectual level of a toddler. I guess I just don't want them to be. Because the more upbeat undertones are there as well: Janey-E's reawakened sense of lust and desire, dormant for God knows how long, at the sight of her "husband" with visible abs; Dougie's dopey, awestruck look of childish joy at his first orgasm since re-appearing in the world; and their lovely little kiss in the morning. It's a moment that carries with it a vivid sense of people starting to find solace in their domestic world; maybe I'm reading into it too much, but I feel like Dougie is a bit more aware than he has been - is he not leaning in a little to kiss Janey-E? Before he'd have simply stood there like a mannequin. And of course, we know what happens to happy domestic spaces in David Lynch projects, so even in the moment it seems reasonable to expect that this is all going to end horribly. But at this point in the series,I've discovered something that I wouldn't have considered possible at the start of The Return: at such time that Dale Cooper reasserts himself over "Dougie Jones", I am going to miss Dougie. He's a gentle, naïve figure, and I want the best for him.

Anyway, the episode has its share of equally nice moments. In this, our second visit with Nadine Hurley (Wendy Robie), still watching to Dr. Jacoby's (Russ Tamblyn) raging left-populist webcast with a reflective expression on her face, I am firmly reminded of how much better Lynch was with her character than any other director in the initial run of Twin Peaks: he was the only one who ever seemed to respect her as a tragic figure rather than laugh at her as a caricatured weirdo. And I am inordinately happy that he and Mark Frost decided that she would have made enough of a success of her beloved silent drape runners to open a store selling them, under the appropriately corny name Run Silent, Run Drapes. I'm also happy that they've decided that sarcastic know-it-all Albert (Miguel Ferrer) is worthy of a date with Constance Talbot (Jane Adams), medical examiner with the show's most overtly warped sense of humor; I failed to mention in reviewing Part 9 that they shared a little exchange, perhaps the first time in the character's history that Albert has been scene to openly admire the wit and weirdness of a person other than himself, and I'm thrilled to see that moment pay off in even such a tiny gesture.

On the other hand: this is the episode where we get to see the extent to which Richard Horne (Eamon Farren) is an agent of raging evil (possibly literally, given the mythology of Twin Peaks). There hasn't yet been a murder in The Return so utterly gutting as his attack on sweet Miriam Sullivan (Sarah Jean Long), who was such an affably odd figure when we met her back in Part 6, who has know been killed in a perfectly-staged sequence right from the first we see of her trailer, decorated with forcible good cheer in the form of far out-of-season Christmas trappings, with her face appearing in the screen door as a ghostly impression beneath Richard's bright, solid reflection. It's hard to resolve it, a little bit: one expects the reflection to be more indistinct than the "real" object, and the visual confusion that results injects a feeling of grim foreboding into the scene even before we have the smallest sense of what it is about to happen. And then there's the touch of allowing the violence itself to occur inside the trailer while the camera remains outside, blithely looking at Miriam's home; the cut inside to her unconscious (but visibly breathing) body, in a pool of dark red blood, with the sound of the gas hissing in from the oven, is thus even a little more shocking, given the brief implication that we'd succeeding in missing the horror.

And in fairness, if my immediate sense of the episode is of nice things happening, there's still an overall sense that terrible things are much likelier to happen: the spectre of domestic abuse hangs over much of the episode, including the nasty fight that interrupts Harry Dean Stanton's performance of "Red River Valley", and Candie's (Amy Shiels) desperately apologetic reaction to accidentally whacking Rodney Mitchum (Robert Knepper) in the face (both of these, in fact, are ultimately scenes about severe tonal shifts: from something pleasant to something disturbing, in both cases), and Richard's horrifying attack on his grandmother Sylvia (Jan D'Arcy). Even the little therapeutic teddy bear we see with Johnny Horne (Erik Rondell) is something awful and repulsive, both because of its endless repetition of "Hello Johnny, how are you today?" and its head, a plastic globe painted with the scrawled face from Lynch's freakish short cartoon series DumbLand (the deepest cut of the many Lynch references that have peppered The Return so far).

This free-for-all of tones, from gentleness to savagery, is enough to remind me of vintage Twin Peaks more than any other episode of The Return so far. Which has, for the most part, slightly disappointed me when it happens, but in this case it all clicks into place somehow; that, coupled with the sense that the plot is starting to build up momentum as The Return ends its second half, is enough for me to regard Part 10 as one of the highlights of the series thus far: not one of the most creative or challenging, and outside of the scene outside Miriam's trailer, it lacks any oh-my-God-what-was-that compositions that have been part of the show at its very best. But all in all, the potency of the emotions at play here, be they disgust and fear or hope and calm, make this a consistently effective episode, one in which most of The Return's strength are on display, and near as I can tell, none of its weaknesses.

Grade: A