Mr. Strawberry wrote:After a very long day driving to Nevada and exploring for hours around the shores of Lake Tahoe, hurrying after and at times carrying my son, we were heading back to California after dark. As I drove through the tall dark trees at night, the headlights illuminated a pitch black two-lane road winding through the endless forest, and I could totally Feel the Peaks.
Starting up Part 16, it was very cool to see that the opening visuals mirrored exactly what I'd seen through the windshield heading back down through the mountains. I was so excited as the dark story line unfolded along with a moody drone. The music, visuals, and content were very reminiscent of John Carpenter. The power of the opening scene had me fully in its grip. It was exhilarating and dark, and I was tripping on the mood, finding total satisfaction in the cinematic wonder of it.
Then... with the same "sudden horror" that drops during a car crash, it all started to turn upside down on me, everything shattering apart with the ridiculous Tulpa-Diane nonsense. My investment in her was smashed into a million smithereens. To introduce Diane at all is taking on quite a lot. The fact that this person wasn't even Diane is so disappointing and sloppy, and kind of a snatch-back after all the buildup. It felt like a lot had occurred in her life following that fateful night she was hesitant to talk about, and I was really curious to see what her hidden relationship with Cooper was. Instead, there was no actual life to relate, no hidden relationship at all. It was a big nothing that also eliminated her character from having any real value, since it basically negated her existence outright.
The reeling, brain zapped and emotionally sapped state that I was in turned out to be a mere teaser -- an appetizer for the inconceivably flat and impossibly shallow main course that was delivered when Cooper woke up and everything came crashing down around me. It was the lack of climax, the predictable, the dreaded "yes this is all exactly as it appears to be on face value". But worse yet it was treated like a joke, a segment one might have expected to see on Saturday Night Live when the original was airing. It came off like a car commercial featuring Agent Cooper. One great below the belt shot that left me speechless.
Unless this is all retroactively addressed in some way, and that is entirely possible given how this Part ended, then what we've seen here amounts to "all it took to bring Cooper back was a jolt of electricity," rather than him fighting his way out of the stupor, and "Evil Coop = Big Bad" as opposed to, say, something interesting. I'm really hoping that this "perfect" awakening with Cooper was "too perfect" -- that he is "too perfect" -- and that he's either not really Cooper or it didn't even happen at all. Such a bummer, especially because I wanted to like this inevitable scene and hoped it would be more believable.
It was not an entirely negative experience, however those two moments were the most bitter pill. As for the rest, I thought that it was so good that my gut reactions as the Part played out were, "This is the absolute best, worst episode of Twin Peaks!" and "That's it, we've jumped the Owl...". I mean, what gives... this Part was so incredibly good in so many ways, and such a devastating letdown at the same time.
Gotta say, though, that after being disappointed in how fleeting and rare the scary moments have been, this Part was book ended with serious creep outs. Cooper and Richard at the rock was very weird and it made me afraid of nothing. The odd formation lit by a single spotlight. The way Cooper said, "A place do you understand a place?", so reminiscent of the way he spoke at the end of Season 2, but a bit more detached and ominous. It was all creeping terror. Richard's fate struck like a snake from this sinister, motionless dread.
I loved the scene with all parties camped out on Lancelot Court. Hutch and Chantal have killed many but they weren't nearly hard enough for the frustrated accountant: "Lifetime of assassination" meets "Bad day at the office" and the results are unexpected.
The final scene in the Roadhouse was tremendous. The Audrey scenes were already frightening, in particular the ever present nothingness beyond the windows was very unsettling and made me think that it had to be unreal. Also there was the sort of imagery that seems completely normal when you're dreaming, but doesn't quite make sense when you awaken and reflect on it, such as the veil where an exit door should be. However, I refused to believe this was not reality, because it seemed like it would be too good to be true, and I didn't want to be let down by having fantastic expectations.
So, when Audrey and Charlie entered the Roadhouse, I declared, "Whoa, so it's not a coma!" Then when "Audrey's Dance" was announced, I was puzzled for a moment, but that quickly gave way to fear as everyone cleared the way for her and the lights illuminated the dance floor. You could just tell: This isn't real. It felt so sweetly strange and at the same time, chillingly disorienting, amplifying the fragile and discomforting sensations that her scenes have conveyed. I would liken the undertone in Audrey's scenes to the kind of fear that Inland Empire instilled, where you can just feel that something is so off, to the point that you're practically in the mind of the sufferer. It's a very uncomfortable and eerie place to be.
Just as I was totally sold on it, the fight broke out, and I said, "Wait, it is real!" and was completely confused, and then a second later, she's staring into a mirror and obviously lost, finally confirming everything we suspected. What a roller coaster!
All in all, so much good in this Part, but enough bad to make me wonder if the overall story is salvageable at this point. We've been telling the Profoundly Disappointed to wait until all 18 Parts have aired before judging The Return. My experience with Part 16 demonstrates that a few turns in the story can easily "break it" for some -- my joy was completely thrashed -- so I suppose it's logical to expect that in the same way, a few twists might "make it" for others.
Not sure where we can go from here but I'm hoping that much of Part 16 was simply a masterpiece of misdirection, and that Part 17 will come along and ask us how we managed to become the biggest suckers that ever walked the planet. I've steadfastly banked on more depth and less predictability, and now I'm flat broke.
Reading this review was more mentally exhausting than getting through the first 16 episodes of
. Not saying I wasn't entertained - but I need a nap now. But first I need to brush my teeth...