Though prior installments of Twin Peaks have been, to put it mildly, idiosyncratic, there's something especially deranged about Part 6's whiplash shifts in tone. Or perhaps it's that the aura of unerring, anxiety-inducing sameness in each sequence, whether it be mundane or epochal, is particularly pronounced. That's much more Lynchian—everything's of a piece: A man doing paperwork can be as (anti)dramatic as a boy getting hit by a car. The crunch of a potato chip can upset one's equilibrium as much as the sound of an ice pick, wielded by a dwarf assassin, as it tears flesh and bone. Yes, all of this happens…and Jeremy Davies, too.
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Make Sense of It (Keith Uhlich / MUBI)
Dale Cooper is not what he seems...
In Praise of Dougie Jones, the Biggest Tease in the New Twin Peaks (Vikram Murthi / Vulture)
Lynch and Frost have created the single most compelling character of The Return by refusing to provide the audience with what they ostensibly crave. Dougie-Coop represents Twin Peaks at its best — an unpredictable vision that challenges and provokes its audience rather than appeases them.
The superficial pleasures of Dougie-Coop begin with Kyle MacLachlan’s performance, some of the best work he’s done in his career. Channeling characters like Peter Sellers’ Chance in Being There, Spielberg’s E.T., and Jacques Tati’s Monsieur Hulot, MacLachlan mines the full range of human emotion with his blank expression and clumsy movements. He approaches Dougie-Coop like walking Play-Doh, something to be molded by his environment, even as Agent Cooper lies dormant inside. By solely reacting to the actions of others, MacLachlan trades in his characteristic poise for stubborn passivity, in turn negating the traits that defined Agent Cooper. This minimalist technique succeeds on its own merits, but it also makes the smallest gestures — an imitated thumbs-up, a gracious smile, or a tearful face — feel remarkably significant. Every episode featuring Dougie-Coop adds new weight to MacLachlan’s performance, providing him with more avenues for subtle emotional engagement.
As Dale Cooper wakes up, Twin Peaks dares us to make sense of it—or not (Emily L. Stephens / The A.V. Club)
At times, it can feel like the Twin Peaks revival is daring viewers to make sense of its intricate obscurities and its patient, meandering pace. Like the numbed, muted version of Dale Cooper presenting his work to Dougie’s boss, the show is presenting not a tidy catalogue of evidence, but an impressionistic array of telltale signs. “What the hell are all these childish scribbles?” asks Bushnell “Battling Bud” Mullins (Don Murray, who played Bo in Bus Stop opposite Marilyn Monroe), flipping through his penciled-over case files. “How am I going to make any sense of this?”
In his now-familiar choked stammer, Cooper echoes back the last few words. “Make sense of it.”
Because David Lynch’s work, and especially Twin Peaks, employs the cues of noir—the square-jawed detective with a darker side, the femme fatale, the heavily shaded scenes of light and dark, the murky morals, the “woman in trouble”—it’s easy to expect him to deliver the clues of a classic mystery, to expect he’ll lay out evidence in just enough detail to put the pieces together in a logical pattern. To make concrete, objective sense of it.
Those expectations are destined to be disappointed.
There is sense in Lynch’s work, in his collaboration with Mark Frost, in Twin Peaks [...] But that sense is overwhelmingly emotional rather than rational.
A familiar character makes a striking debut (Jeff Jensen / Entertainment Weekly)
Part 6 of Twin Peaks: The Return was fascinating and frustrating, moving and confounding, often for the same reasons. Many of the negative things you could say about this installment reflect back its best meanings. Agent Cooper’s Dougie-ish, childlike state taxed our patience. Just grow up already, right? And yet his condition was intrinsic to the episode’s critique of adulthood and all of its degrading and worthless concerns. It grieved our quickness to run away from innocence, an idea most viscerally expressed in the form of Richard Horne, a punk in a rush to grow up, running over a child amid a stoned fit of “Don’t call me a kid!” pique. Similarly, Part 6 spent too much time trying to make us care about characters we don’t know, or don’t know well, or might never know. And yet, the stories were all about acquiring a heart — or not — for the strangers among us. We could be Carl and bravely choose to attend to the suffering others. We could be Chad and be indifferent to it. Toughen up, wussies! Soldier through! Survival of the fittest and most calloused: that’s what life is all about. Right?
A Dark Age (Noel Murray / The New York Times)
“We’re living in a dark, dark age.”
It’s not just that Cooper is a shell of a man right now. He’s also wearing the clothes and living the life of a scoundrel, in a society that seems to shrug off Dougie’s misbehavior as acceptable. “Part 6” cuts deep into some of the central “Twin Peaks” themes, using shocking violence and multiple interludes of Lynch’s dark industrial hum to help depict a culture of corruption and distraction, poisoned from the inside.