Whatever is happening inside the Palmer household and inside Sarah’s mind is definitely of interest, but what Zabriskie achieves so powerfully in her appearance here is a tragic depiction of inescapable grief. Twenty-five years later, Sarah is still haunted by the murder of her daughter at the hands of her possessed husband. Here is a woman stuck in time, forever cursed with the burden of her family’s ghosts (perhaps quite literally, depending on what that noise is coming from her kitchen).
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‘Twin Peaks’: How Audrey Horne and Sarah Palmer’s Jarring Returns Give the Series New Life (Zack Sharf / IndieWire)
On The Ridiculous, Sublime, and Inscrutable Nature of Duration in ‘Twin Peaks’ (Evan Davis / Decider)
The whole scene clocks in at seven minutes and fourteen seconds. There are long pauses between lines, reaction shots of still faces, pleasantries exchanged, fraught with deeper meaning. Lynch uses these same tools to invoke dread at various points across his oeuvre ; here, those silences are filled with a gentler edge, the past casting its heavy, sad spell on those trying to live in the present.
How does Lynch manage to evoke pathos, rather than horror ? For one, the performances of Forster and Beymer do much of the heavy lifting. They carry the burdens of both Frank and Ben in the subtle ways their faces communicate without words. Beymer moves back in his chair, and then forward, as he contemplates the sins not only of his grandson, but also of himself, and how that could have been passed on. Their connection over the key, and Ben’s touching gesture to offer it as a memento for Frank’s sick brother, Harry, reminds us of the history Harry holds with him. Once again in the series, an absent character conjures up deep feeling in those who care for them.
Lynch plays the scene without any non-diagetic sound. We are conditioned to hear Angelo Badalamenti music, or a sickening drone, or crackling electricity in the air, when we watch a Lynch scene. The dead silence apart from voices focuses our attention.
The coup-de-grâce comes when Richard remembers his father buying and painting a bicycle for him. It’s a simple memory, but Beymer and Lynch imbue the moment with a rich tenderness of loss, knowing that Richard never had a father who could make such a gesture the way Ben’s father did to him. Even Beverly sheds a tear.
If Lynch had compressed this scene by even a couple of minutes, it wouldn’t carry the same power. We need those silences, those still, composed reaction shots of Ben’s steady movements, in order to let this eulogy truly sink in. Ben is mourning the death of his family, in spirit if not in body.
Twin Peaks Won't Answer All Our Questions And That's OK (Chloi Rad / IGN)
Fans of Twin Peaks should be well aware that Lynch’s work has never been easy. The fact that the show continues to consciously, at this point comically, defy our expectations is part of what makes it such a breath of fresh air. It keeps it unpredictable, which in turn keeps us vulnerable, unaware of what is to come, which makes its more traditionally exciting moments even more rewarding. We are all Audrey Horne, screaming, “You’re not gonna tell me what she said?” as the show, like her husband, stares in unwavering silence. It might not always be gratifying in the moment, but when media isn’t actively challenging us, it can grow stale. No one should expect Audrey Horne to come waltzing in, 25 years older, still acting like a playful teen. Anything resembling that would have been cheap fan service.
Twin Peaks will continue to lure audiences deeper into its central mysteries, deny us information, tease us with reveals before mockingly drawing back or giving us something contrary to what we spent the previous week mulling over. It isn’t going to answer every question that it’s posed, but that’s precisely what makes Lynch’s work so captivating and enduring and different.[...]
It’s like Lynch himself once said, “When most mysteries are solved, I feel tremendously let down. So I want things to feel solved up to a point, but there's got to be a certain percentage left over to keep the dream going.”