I'm slowly making my way through this thread, so apologies if you've already returned to any of these thoughts in this post. As I've said before, I really think the exposition scenes are nothing to fret over. They're tinged with a winking sense of humor, whether it's Lynch himself dropping the exposition or Albert starting sentences with "As you know..." I see the demystification done with a wink, followed by a boatload of other abstractions to think about hidden behind/within that demystification. Plus, the apparent double meta-meaning of "Jow-day" that many articles have pointed out. Plus the way the exposition gleefully disrupts the descent into unknowability that we've been used to, further disorienting and keeping us on our toes. And while the Freddy/Bob scene isn't my favorite on a plot level, I do think Lynch elevated it to a fiery work of art. And, there too may be something tongue-in-cheek taking place, though I'm not sure. There's so much to take in in that whole sequence.Mr. Reindeer wrote:Part 17 started out severely on the wrong foot, almost aggressively playing up everything that's made me uncomfortable so far about TR: the FBI crew sitting around overexplaining shit in bland exposition, making references to Gordon/DKL's virility ("Not where it counts buddy," with a cut to Bell grinning...uggggh), demystifying old mysteries with the kind of bland mythology you can find on any Lost ripoff (Judy), and absurdly retconning the original (when the fuck did Coop, Garland & Cole acquire this knowledge during the original series, let alone discuss it with each other?!).
And the Bob/Freddy fight was even worse than I could have predicted. Ironically, I've been defending the visual effects in the Part 16 thread over the past couple of days, as they're clearly extensions of DKL's work in paint, sketch, and Photoshop (not that that means they have to work for everyone, but they're clearly intentional artistic choices). The Bob orb superhero battle, though....well, it's obviously a workaround for the loss of Mr. Silva. I love the Evolution of the Arm, the Jeffries teakettle is cool although I dislike the vocal impersonation, and I think Bob had been handled well so far. But this particular solution was....not pretty. I guess I'd be a hypocrite if I didn't acknowledge that this, too, was presumably a conscious artistic choice. But, Jesus, what a cheesy, poorly-handled one. Freddy's backstory is charming and ok on its face, but I've been dreading him playing a major role in the Lodge reckoning. This was just about as cringe-inducing as I could have possibly imagined.
It's funny...going into this, given DKL's last few films, I would have assumed the DoppelCoop storyline would have been used as an opportunity to explore identity and duality. Instead, it seems like almost an afterthought -- something L/F felt obligated to make a big deal out of throughout the season because it was the major cliffhanger, but it functions mostly as a mythology-delivery-system, and DoppelCoop/Bob is dispatched of early in Part 17 with shockingly little fanfare, with a good chunk of runtime to go. I'm sad that the storyline didn't pay off in a better way, and that the wind-up was so frigging silly and cartoonish, but I am at least grateful that it ended when it did so that the show could go to a far more interesting place for its final 90 minutes or so.
(Caveat: I have no clue what actually happened in the final 90 minutes, and there is a strong possibility that once we start sorting it out, the Mr. C character/story WILL say more about Coop's identity/duality than we currently realize. Because the multiple Dianes, the trips in and out of the Red Room and potential "joining" of the Coops, Coop's "Mr. C"-esque demeanor in the sex scene, &c. do hint at some sort of overlap between Coopers which I don't think any of us can quite discern from a first viewing.)
I'm also sad that Coop didn't even learn that Harry is sick onscreen. Given the buildup about Harry's illness, I can't believe how little payoff there was to the Dale/Harry friendship. If they hadn't mentioned Harry, or had minimized his presence, I might be a little less disappointed by the lack of a reunion between the original series' leads. But what was the point of constantly reminding us of him just to have Coop make a glancing mention then move on? :-/
So the Dianagram theorists were definitely on to something, re: Naido and Linda. When Diane was covering up Dale's face in the sex scene, I was extremely uncomfortable, since she was obviously trying to avoid recalling her rape by Mr. C. It crossed my mind that the scene was needlessly exploitative, unless Diane is the dreamer and this has all been her story. There is something satisfying about the unseen listener-character from the original run being the dreamer. I don't think that's what ended up happening (although who the hell knows), but I do think Diane and Audrey are both somehow central to all of this (in a different way from Laura). Also interesting that the Audrey rape is left as vague as it was when it was first implied, and Dale isn't directly forced to confront raping either of these women. We know DoppelCoop had the real Dale's memories of Jeffries' appearance in FWWM; how much does Dale remember of what Mr. C did? How does it affect him?
Part 18 clinches Zabriskie as the season MVP. I didn't think any use of the homecoming photo could top "Pennsylvania 6-5000," but holy crap. Still really not sure what any of this says about Sarah's culpability in Laura's rape and murder, and the implications make me slightly uneasy, but on a pure visceral level, hers have been consistently among the strongest scenes on the show.
Unpacking the exploits of Richard, Linda, Carrie Page & Alice Tremond is an adventure for another day. I feel the same things I felt after my first viewing of IE: complete and utter bewilderment, frustration, and wonder. On subsequent viewings, IE became one of my favorite films. I can't wait to peel back the layers of this thing, but I'm far too exhausted right now.
I know you've been a huge supporter of Dougie and the way his arc examines identity. I've been following your thoughts on Mr. C not having much to him in that regard, but for me the emergence of Richard absolutely sealed the deal that Mr. C has been an exploration of Cooper's identity all along. That is what Richard did for me, united everything we've seen and heard about Mr. C to everything we explored with Dougie to everything we thought we knew about Cooper. I think the study of Cooper's identity is actually the main component of The Return, thanks to the finale, which sees Cooper attempting to hang on to his identity one more time as it melts and slips away, or as we see all of these facets finally merge into one being. Dale isn't forced to confront his acts of rape, but as his face goes cold and distant during the sex scene, we realize, along with Diane, and perhaps on some level Dale himself, that he is indeed capable of such acts. A lot to unpack.