David Lynch and Mark Frost’s revival of Twin Peaks has defied all expectations, daring viewers to rethink the way they discuss television. It is a theory-proof show, a mystery series that works beautifully in the moment but laughs in the face of traditional TV theorizing. How could someone possibly predict where Twin Peaks is going when we’re not even sure where it’s taken us so far? After the seventh episode, it appeared the show’s narrative might return to some sort of relative normalcy, but instead it rocketed ever higher into the Lynchian stratosphere.
When you’re watching a typical prestige show like Westworld, you can feel pretty safe in assuming that the big mysteries will be solved. There is no such presumption on Twin Peaks: The Return, and yet it’s difficult not to ask questions again and again each week. Here are five of the biggest in light of “Part 8,” the episode that aired last Sunday.
What the hell is happening?
While the Eraserhead-level surrealism of episode eight might lead some to throw up their hands and assume it all means nothing, it’s a relatively straightforward hour from a thematic standpoint. The rupture of “normalcy” created by violence and evil is a common theme in Lynch’s work, and it’s certainly part of the fabric of Twin Peaks. Bob was the manifestation of pure evil in the original series when a father abused, raped, and killed his own daughter. In “Part 8,” we may have seen the creation of Bob himself: When the first atom bomb was successfully tested in White Sands, New Mexico, it ruptured the balance of humanity in irreparable ways for the rest of time. Lynch also seems to be playing with another theme: the idea that evil doesn’t manifest itself immediately, and the impact of violent actions takes time to be felt. A decade after the bomb test, small-town America is attacked by a soot-covered murderer, supernatural forces, and a bug-frog hybrid. It’s especially telling that a young woman is the one presumably destroyed by the action of evil men in the episode’s final moments. Think of “Part 8” as a mirror reflecting the themes of the series overall, as well as a possible origin story for the show’s greatest villain.
Where is Phillip Jeffries?
David Lynch wanted David Bowie to return to the role he played in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, but Bowie passed away before they could shoot his scenes. Still, Jeffries seems to be a major player in the narrative of the The Return, tying the current iteration of the show directly to the film. Here’s what we know: In 1987, Jeffries disappeared in Buenos Aires, returning two years later in exactly the same clothes and muttering questions about identity and Dale Cooper. He also mentions a meeting of evil entities in a room above a convenience store. (Is it the same one we saw after the atom bomb goes off?) Jeffries then disappeared again, seemingly returning to Buenos Aires back in 1987. His name arose again this season in relation to Evil Cooper, who has been working with Jeffries — or perhaps an evil doppelgänger of the original man. When Ray Monroe shoots Evil Coop, he calls Jeffries to tell him the deed has been done. Could Jeffries return to the show played by a different actor? And will we learn where he’s been or what he’s done for the last 25 years?
What is the significance of the Giant’s riddle?
In the first episode, the Giant told Cooper in the Black Lodge, “4-3-0. Richard and Linda. Two birds with one stone.” Given the Giant’s ability to see the future and past, it felt like one of the few surreal lines of dialogue that would pay off. After all, his prophecies in the original series came true. So, what does it mean? We’ve met the violent Richard Horne, so it seems that he’s the Richard in question, although that’s not certain yet. And what about Linda? In episode six, a woman with that name was mentioned by Mickey, a resident of the Fat Trout Trailer Park, who spoke of taking care of his wife, Linda, as he drove into Twin Peaks with Carl Rodd. Might these two be the Richard and Linda? How on Earth are they related? What does 4-3-0 mean? Is it a coincidence that Andy was supposed to meet the man who owned the truck that Richard was driving at 4:30? Is anything a coincidence on this show?
What happened to Audrey Horne?
Sherilyn Fenn is set to return to the role that made her famous, but her absence has raised a great deal of questions about what exactly happened to Audrey in the last quarter-century. Here’s one very upsetting theory: Richard Horne is her son and Evil Cooper is the boy’s father, which would explain his vicious dark side. Given the strong suggestion in episode seven that Evil Cooper assaulted Diane, it’s not hard to believe that he would also try to corrupt his doppelgänger’s relationship with Audrey. Even more disturbingly, he may have done so while Audrey was comatose in the ICU, as Doc Hayward mentioned in episode five. Let’s hope Audrey shows up soon to set things straight.
What is humming in Ben Horne’s office?
In episode seven, Ben and Beverly are trying to track down a noise in Mr. Horne’s office. Is it important to the overall narrative, or is it one of those classic Lynchian asides that adds to mood but not plot? Perhaps the humming is related to the trapped Josie Packard, even though Joan Chen wasn’t included in the cast of the revival. Is it a portal to the Black Lodge, somehow getting louder because of what’s going on with Evil Cooper and Dougie Jones? Any answer is possible, including that it means nothing at all. Twin Peaks being what it is, who knows if we’ll ever find out.