I enjoyed this episode a lot on the latest rewatch.
I can see all its flaws -how the plotting is too contrived, over-explained and convenient, how it uses a Deus Ex Machina, and how the camera angles and shots and everything is overwrought and overblown and tries to mimic Lynch. I can see all that and by and large I agree with all the criticism that's been written here, and yet I found it not only entertaining but almost powerful on this latest rewatch.
Of course had Lynch directed this episode from the same script, I think we would have gotten the quality of Episode 14 or 29, but he didn't so we're left with what we did get. A script that is overblown (like the original script to 29) but that almost works. It's not a great episode, it will never be the great episode it should have been, but I did really warm to it this time around.
I really liked the scene with Donna and James in the diner. (That's not really an engagement ring he gave her, though, is it?)
And the bit with Donna and Andy is great.
The scene at the Tremonds is great too, very Lynchian. The whole feel.
The diary goof starts here. How did Laura write in her diary on that last night if she'd already given it to Harold Smith? A similar continuity error regarding the diary occurs in the new series. Nevertheless, I liked this.
And I really liked the Catherine/Ben scene in the Sheriff's Station!
All the stuff with Donna and Leland is great. The fact that she's wearing Laura's sunglasses again, which I thought almost seemed to possess both her and Maddy in Episode 8 is a nice touch. It's really creepy seeing Bob here in these scenes, and Leland saying "Shall WE have this dance?" implies he's fully aware he's working with Bob here. And it's a very powerful moment when he grabs and hugs Donna and she looks so shaken.
I also love the scene where Donna's running through the woods, crying, realising perhaps that not only is Maddy dead but that there's something very wrong with Leland.
The Donna/James scene is great too. A bit overblown, sure, but as someone else pointed out, at least we finally see these dreadful events causing emotion in the characters again, ala the pilot.
As for the big scene at the roadhouse. It is very Scooby Doo-ish or Agatha Christie/Poirot-like, but I like it. It's no less ridiculous than the trial scenes that previously took place here. Sure, it's convenient that Cooper suddenly remembers the dream - but the gum line probably did trigger it and the Giant had previously told him he'd forgotten something. So, from a writing standpoint, I feel this all works, albeit in a bit of a contrived manner.
I love the Giant reappearing and giving him the ring.
Leland going to the jail as Ben's attorney is ludicrous, of course, as has been pointed out. But again, is it anymore ludicrous than Leland being let wander around after killing Jacques Renault?
I think it's great when he's shoved into the cell and Bob goes wild like an animal. Apart from the obvious set wall that Leland bangs against, this is a great sequence.
Ray Wise's performance is great here. This is almost a throwback to Episode 11's opening scene - but now we see the full-on Leland as Bob. It's completely over the top but it works, I think. And the line about the ripcord is great.
It's a pity the Andy/Lucy/Dick subplot had to rear its head here - but at least it was used as a sort of catalyst when Dick's smoke sets off the fire alarms.
I didn't find Coop's speech to Leland as powerful on this rewatch, and I could see how this scene could be viewed two ways - some thinking its wonderful, others thinking its a bit much.
I like the final scene in the woods, though I wish they'd chosen a better outdoor set. All the outdoor scenes in the show look too obviously sunny and Californian.
I like the image of the owl flying through the woods too, I just wish they'd had better special effects. And I wish too they had followed up on this storyline of Bob being out there, possibly going to possess another towns person next.
All in all, I really enjoyed this episode this time around. It's very flawed but parts of it a pretty powerful. It should have been better, but all things considered, especially given the next few episodes, it's not bad.
Apart from a couple of the side stories, the whole episode plays like a season finale, maybe even a series finale, and I think they should have ended the season here - or taken a long mid-season break - to give them time to come up with new stories. This definitely is the end of this long arc that began with the pilot.
Actually, now that some time has passed, I like "The full blossom of the evening".