One of the best episodes of the last few - or at least one that has some of the best, most Lynch-like moments (until Episode 29).
For once, the German episode title here is very fitting. It does feel like this episode should be called "The Path to the Black Lodge", given that it's got so much foreshadowing and exposition and characterisation about the lodges here.
Episode 27 feels more like a penultimate episode than Episode 29. I suppose it is a penultimate episode, in that it's the last stand-alone episode aired before the finale, but what I mean is this episode would have made a stronger lead-in to 29 than Episode 28 (which I know was originally aired together with 29 as the finale).
It seems pretty clear to me that Lynch was involved in these last few episodes, ever since Episode 23, where he suggested Josie in the drawer pull (and likely suggested Bob, LMFAP, and Josie in the mirror too), then appeared on set in 25 and 26, and now some of the touches here - the shaking hands, the Josie mentions, and in particular the closing shots and the red room appearing in the puddle - all feel very much like Lynch too. (There's already been some interesting discussion on these elements earlier in the thread, so won't reiterate much of that here.)
Fairly strong opening scene here, at the gazebo, picking up from where the previous episode left off.
Interesting scene with Doc Hayward and Ben here, though I'm still not a big fan of this subplot. It feels sort of distacting and out-of-place in this final stretch. Ditto the Lucy pregnancy/who's-the-dad plot.
The John Justice Wheeler and Audrey plot continues - and wraps up. Not much to say about it, except I like the Pete/Audrey interactions the most in this subplot.
More Lana. More Ugh.
Cooper's scene with Shelly, Audrey, and Donna is interesting. Some people have said Sherilyn Fenn seems a bit distant towards Kyle in this scene. Not sure whether I agree or not. But I think Lara Flynn Boyle seems a bit cool/distant here too. But maybe they're just trying to play up the apparent seriousness of the Earle stuff. Difficult to know whether there's behind-the-scenes tension here or not.
Earle looks great here. The black clothes really suit him.
Previously I've said I liked the horse scene here where Earle and Leo attack Briggs in the woods. I'd said that, despite it being ridiculous, that I found it almost eerie. But this time around it didn't do much for me for some reason.
The Cooper/Annie interaction in the diner is a very strong scene. The slow, creepy pull out, the syrupy dripping coffee - all ominous foreshadowing on their relationship, the lodge, and Episode 29 in general. But again, this has all been discussed earlier in this thread.
The box mystery continues.
More on the lodge and a mention of dugpas via the Earle videotape. This is not never really expanded on again, I don't think?
Briggs in the cabin with Earle is great stuff. I love his line about love.
And another strong Cooper/Annie scene in the roadhouse. More ominous foreshadowing. The Giant appearing on the stage is great and a strong callback to Episode 14.
The shaking hands scenes almost certainly indicate Bob as they visually connect with the shot of Bob's hand appearing at the end, feeling his way into the world. It looks like he was trying to feel out hosts. Some have said it just indicates the closeness of the lodge. Could be that too.
Not sure what else to say here, as so much has already been written on this episode, but suffice to say, this episode has some really strong, powerful scenes and some very, strong, very Lynchian visuals. The closing shots of the town and Bob appearing in Glastonbury Grove, while the camera pans down to the pool and the shot of the red curtains and jazz music appears on the soundtrack feels like the perfect lead-in to 29, but first some silliness will have to be endured in Episode 28.
All in all, a great episode, one of the strongest and one with some very intriguing stuff, that bears a lot of rewatching and analysis!
Actually, now that some time has passed, I like "The full blossom of the evening".