Slead Score: B
Green tea lattes aren't all that bad.
With four episodes mostly spent outside of what Lynch and Frost consider reality, this week is signaling perhaps there will be a more cohesive story unfolding by The Return's end. With good Cooper sheltered in the green suit-wearing Dougie and bad Cooper locked behind bars, small connective details are beginning to emerge between Las Vegas, Argentina, and our beloved Twin Peaks. However, despite the majority of the episode being spent in the "real world," the clarity is becoming murkier as each week's episode unfolds, this one being the most noticeably troublesome. With so many characters, mysteries, cameos, and plotlines to hang onto, it's starting to feel like a recipe for frustration.
In part 5 we span our time across the globe, from Twin Peaks to Las Vegas, to South Dakota, and even Argentina. Several previously set up plots are returned to, including good Cooper's return to the real world in Dougie, a financial advisor who has more secrets than a financial advisor should. After his wife has to drive him to work since he still can't seem to form coherent thoughts or sentences, Dougie guzzles down a cup of coffee and we get to see a view of his office life, which introduces a few new characters, one of which Dougie abruptly calls a liar during a meeting. This might be another leading to Cooper's supernatural exposure manifesting itself through his interactions with other people, but most of that intrigue is thrown away with another scene of him trying to express he needs to pee. This humor, which was on full display last episode, is already starting to feel overused and is a constant reminder that it's imperative to bring the real agent Dale Cooper back to life. At this point, it almost feels like that could never happen, and while that's a terrifying concept, it's not exactly unthinkable when it comes to Twin Peaks ' history of expectations. Apart from the outburst in the meeting, the only other notable beat we get with Dougie is his brief interaction with a fellow female employee who says she'll "finally kiss him," implying the two have had a history. This could be an important clue for later, but since we know Dougie has affairs outside of marriage, this is probably just another joke or mislead.
On the flip side, killer Bob inhabiting the real Cooper's body is being held in a South Dakota prison while his true identity can be confirmed by the FBI. There are some nice moments here, not only because it's our strongest tie to what we left off with the previous seasons of Twin Peaks, but also because Kyle MacLachlan's portrayal of evil Cooper remains to be the most riveting aspect of The Return. Jovial and coffee-loving Cooper never seemed like someone who could truly throw away his morals, but MacLachlan sells the stark change in the character through his unflinching gaze and honestly terrifying line deliveries. When being watched by the prison's warden, Bob mentions calling "Mr. Strawberry," which immediately startles the warden for some unknown reason, and then proceeds to dial a lengthy number to recite "the cow jumped over the moon," sending the prison into a tailspin. Alarms, lights, and all security cameras begin malfunctioning in the prison, signaling to us that Bob must have set off some form of silent alarm with that phone call and recitation. This mystery, and again anything involving Bob, remains to be the driving crux in keeping up with the show at this point. While the Dougie mystery is vaguely intriguing, it has whiffs of being included as purely comic relief or a distraction from really understanding the mysteries The Return wants to spotlight. Along with this is the discovery of another deformed dead body in South Dakota, which upon further inspection has Dougie's wedding ring lodged in the stomach. This connection with Bob just makes this plotline even more intriguing, so hopefully, we can spend more time here as the episodes roll on.
In a shocking twist, we actually spend a great deal of time in Twin Peaks, with more returning characters than any episode so far. The most intriguing came with a new character named Becky (played by Amanda Seyfried), who is the daughter of Shelly, and Becky's boyfriend Steven (Caleb Landry Jones). We first meet Steven in pure Lynch fashion: when we have no clue who he is or why we should care. As a random businessman calls in the scruffy Steven to his office, the first thing we learn is that Steven is a mess. The businessman denies Steven's application for work, and instead of just sending him away, he berates him for not filling out the form correctly. Not long after, he appears at the Double-R Diner to pick up Becky, who we meet as she asks Shelly for more money. Norma steps up to remind Shelly how much financial support she's already shown her daughter, and it seems this is a recurring problem around the Double-R. Becky seems upset with her boyfriend for not getting the job, but after he offers a hit of drugs and a nice dinner, she's flying high. Of course, this sort of arc should feel extremely familiar to fans of the series because this might be a new Laura Palmer doppelganger for us. The threads of old are starting to come together, but once again, this tension and intrigue get ever saddled by needless scenes of Dougie staring vacantly at statues. Sure, lingering and often misunderstood moments are a Lynch trope, but when they're surrounded by tasty morsels of plot they just feel that much more annoying.
Dr. Jacoby, who we recently saw spray-painting several shovels gold, has also evolved over the years. His new persona is Dr. Amp, a conspiracy theorist who we spend a good amount of time watching deliver a nightly radio program to the inhabitants of Twin Peaks, including Nadine. While this could be seen as a needless and ridiculously long scene, it's just a nice moment to spend in the town with people we love. Jacoby as a radio jockey and greedy salesmen feels natural and fitting for what we know of him, which honestly is the kind of humor Lynch and Frost should be going for, rather than another cut to Dougie wincing in pain while holding his crotch. One of the final beats of the episode takes place in the Roadhouse, where a mysterious young man disobeys the no smoking rule and just looks all around rude. A group of nearby ladies, one of which is played by Jane Levy, are captivated by him, and as one from the group heads over to get a light for their cigarette, the guy grabs her and openly threatens to rape her. Obviously, this isn't going to be a triumphant reveal of a hero character, but it does add more mystery to what kind of people blow in and out of the town these days.