In a roller coaster of an episode, Twin Peaks ventures down some incredibly dark paths, before switching gears and finding humor and romance.
Love is in the air in Twin Peaks 'Part 10'. But this being another hour of television from the minds of David Lynch and Mark Frost, the serene surface of amorous feelings is eventually shattered by acts of shocking violence or simply disturbed by the series' penchant for delivering unexpected moments of broad comedy. 'Part 10' is a roller coaster ride of an episode that takes time to enjoy the highs of Gordon Cole spying Albert, on what is presumably a date with Buckhorn coroner Constance Talbot, or Janey-E discovering that her new and improved husband may not be one for conversation, but he sure looks good with his shirt off.
There is patience of Lynch's work, as the hour takes time to give the audience a laugh at Sonny Jim's startled and confused reaction to the sound of his parents' lovemaking (no, it's not technically his parents, just as dazed Dale Cooper isn't Dougie, but since the characters involved are unaware the truth, let's just roll with it, shall we?), just as it takes the time to show Janey-E's seduction of her husband as he luxuriates over a piece of cake (what, no pie?). It's the same sort of patient and deliberate filmmaking that's made Twin Peaks: The Return such a pleasure to have on television these past weeks.That unhurried feeling is evidenced by the fact that Dale is still stuck in Dougie mode after the series has passed the halfway mark of its 18-episode run, but it's also there in the long musical performances, the minutes-long take of a man sweeping up at the Roadhouse – presumably after one such performance – and, of course, in the unforgettable 'Part 8', an hour of television so far removed from anything else in terms of visual storytelling that it almost seems unrelated to the series depicted in episodes like 'Part 10'.
There is another side to Lynch's unhurried style of filmmaking, one that places the unpleasant, horrifying aspects of Twin Peaks front and center, effectively turning unbearable moments into something of a test of the audiences' fortitude. It's nothing new – to this continuation of the series or the two previous seasons. It was there in the premiere, when the two New York lovebirds were chewed up by the entity from the glass box. And it rears its unpleasant head again in 'Part 10' during moments like Richard Horne's murder of Miriam Sullivan, or the Burnetts' domestic argument turned violent, as overheard by Harry Dean Stanton, whose own serene moment plucking the guitar and singing 'Red River Valley' is shattered by the noise of the altercation, an effective example of what's in store for the rest of the episode.
Still, as uncomfortable as the fight had by the Burnetts is, it pales in comparison to the assault by Richard on his grandmother Sylvia, as he forces his way into her home to steal cash and jewelry. It's one of the most uncomfortable scenes in a series that's already had a number of them, most of which have depicted violence perpetrated onto women by men. This time, however, the scene is made more unbearable by the presence of Johnny struggling against his restraints and the apparatus wiring his shattered jaw shut, as a bizarre toy bear with a transparent, glowing head endlessly repeats "Hello, Johnny. How are you today?"
Just as there's no end to the bear's utterances, the assault by Richard Horne seems to go on forever. And yet Lynch is able to match that interminableness with a comedic moment involving the Mitchum brothers and the trio of cocktail waitresses: Sandi, Mandie, and Candie. In one scene, Candie is asked to fetch Anthony Sinclair from the casino floor and winds up engaging in a lengthy conversation punctuated by a series of almost indecipherable gestures. The longer Candie's conversation takes, and the longer Lynch's camera stays trained on the flabbergasted, increasingly impatient faces of Rodney and Bradley Mitchum, the funnier it becomes. This time, though, the moment's shattered silence carries with it a remarkable sitcom-like quality that's in keeping with Candie's earlier accidental assault on Rodney after a pesky fly lands on his face. Her exaggerated wailing of "How can you ever love me?" underlines the hour's contrasting depictions of violence against what should be their loved ones.
Amidst the violence – comedic and otherwise – 'Part 10' finds time to show Gordon and Albert are on to Diane and they're aware Dark Dale was once seen at the glass box loft in New York. Gordon is also the recipient of a vision of Laura Palmer, one that serves as a follow up to her visage being sent to Earth in 'Part 8' and is a reminder of the important part this "beautiful dead girl" still has to play in Twin Peaks.
Twin Peaks continues next Sunday with 'Part 11' @9pm on Showtime.
Photos: Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME