The Return failed on a screenwriting 101/filmmaking 101 level.
For example, the main antagonist in a work of dramatic fiction should probably pose a threat.
Evil Cooper wanted mysterious coordinates to a mysterious location for mysterious reasons. What was he trying to accomplish? What threat did he pose exactly? If the main antagonist doesn't seem to pose a threat, then there's nothing at stake. If there's nothing at stake, then there's no conflict - there's no tension - there's no suspense - there's no drama. And, without any of that, what is there?
Gordon Cole and company seemed mildly curious about Evil Cooper. But, because Evil Cooper posed no clear threat, there was no urgency for the trio to take any action against him. They mostly just hung out at a hotel and did nothing of consequence.
The Twin Peaks sheriff's department decided to investigate the coordinates left behind by Major Briggs. Why? They had no compelling reason to do so. There was nothing at stake to motivate them into action. They decided to do it out of sheer curiosity, and nothing more - that doesn't make for a gripping story! And, the discoveries that they made at the location amounted to nothing. Naido ended up doing nothing of consequence. The information that Andy received from The Giant ended up being of no consequence.
What happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas - the events that took place in Las Vegas had no bearing on the rest of the series. The insurance fraud storyline existed in a vacuum - it was entirely irrelevant. Cooper returned to his senses as the result of a single random event - an event that was not predicated on any of the events that preceded it - thus rendering everything that came before it entirely pointless. Bushnell Mullins and the Mitchum brothers served no purpose in the overall narrative. In episode 17, the Mitchum brothers were relegated to watching from the sidelines with absolutely nothing to do, much like Hawk and Bobby and James and many other characters.
There was no mystery in The Return. In a legitimate mystery, there is something at stake which drives the narrative and motivates the characters to find the solution. What was at stake in The Return? Viewers waited patiently for the series to answer such questions as - Why is Jacoby painting shovels? - Is Richard Horne's mother Audrey? - Who is Duncan Todd working for? - Is Bobby the father of Becky? - But, none of these questions function as legitimate mysteries. In place of legitimate mystery, The Return took its sweet time to clarify basic details, such as how one character relates to another, in an attempt to tantalize viewers. Why did we have to wait until episode 15 to have it confirmed that Richard Horne's mother was Audrey? We could've been given that information in episode 6, and it wouldn't have changed a thing! I suppose that if we had been given such information right away, there would've been one less thing to distract from the fact that there was no actual story to talk about.
There's an old filmmaking adage that goes, "Show, don't tell." The Return often had a problem with telling instead of showing. For example, we're told that Tammy Preston is a great agent - she's "got the stuff" according to Gordon Cole. But, she never does anything to demonstrate it. We just have to take David Lynch's word for it - that's boring!
There's been a lot of talk about how The Return subverts viewer expectations. Subverting the expectations of the viewer is worthwhile only if the author delivers something that is more exciting and satisfying than what the viewer expected to see. Lucy being the one to kill Evil Cooper was good for a cheap laugh, but did anyone prefer it to a confrontation between Cooper and Evil Cooper? Wouldn't it have been more exciting if Tim Roth & Jennifer Jason Leigh had a confrontation with the Mitchum brothers, like we all expected, instead of a random character that appeared out of nowhere? It certainly would've given the Mitchum brothers something to do in the scene.
Anyway, I just wanted to highlight some of the major, fundamental problems with The Return. There are many more problems that one could discuss, and many of you have already done so. I loved reading this thread as the series was unfolding. I give my thanks to all of the contributors.
Last edited by Steve Liam
on Mon Sep 11, 2017 1:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.