This episode marks a totally new chapter of the Twin Peaks reboot—and, really, the series as a whole. It also makes the case that this season might even be better viewed in one go—or at least keeping in mind that all the duller, more unconvincing parts of the season so far lead somewhere awesome, cinematic, and uniquely revelatory in this 25-year-long saga. This week, we’ll dispense with the location-based recaps—partly because, as you’ll see, we don’t even know where we are half the time.
In South Dakota, Bob/Cooper and Ray Monroe are on the run from prison. They ditch the tracking devices on the car, and pin them to another truck. Bob is apparently technologically savvy. Ray tells Bob/Cooper he hopes he's not sore with him for running off—referencing how he left Darya with him after he got nabbed crossing state lines. Bob/Cooper lies and says Darya is waiting; we of course know that he killed her along with the help of Chantal, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, long ago.
But Ray can’t understand how they got out. “You have something I want,” Bob/Cooper says. Apparently, Ray has certain numbers memorized perfectly. Ray tries to bribe him for the info, but Bob/Cooper is not keen on that plan. Freeways and roadways tend to be high-tension atmosphere for Lynch (see: Mulholland Drive, Lost Highway). They plow along in the darkness, and Ray gets the sense that this is a bad situation. He asks to pull over to pee. Bob/Cooper takes the “friend”/gun out of the glovebox to waste Ray when… reversal! Ray has a gun. “Tricked you.” Yes. He shoots Bob/Cooper dead. The camera spins and we know something bad is about to go down.
Creepy, ragged men—taking shape much like the apparitions from the Red Room—charge at Ray and toward the body. They try to pump the shot-through chest—or are they clawing at it? Remember the hobo-looking apparition in the jail cell next to Bill Hastings a few episodes back? These are those guys (per the credits, they're called the Woodsmen). They smear blood and paw at the body, as a terrified Ray looks on, helpless until… he sees the face of Bob on top of Cooper. Shot with almost no color, the sequence continues in strange flashes where we can barely see anything—until the screen goes entirely black, save for a strange moon.
Ray is flipping out and calls Philip (Jeffries, presumably): “I saw something in Cooper. It may be the key to what this is all about.” Ray is not dumb.
At the Bang Bang Bar, the Nine Inch Nails are playing. This is what I call a musical guest. This is the Twin Peaks I came to see. This is a good episode!
And just like that, at the end of the interlude, Bob/Cooper wakes up. But is he still Bob... or the real Cooper?
That would make for a pretty awesome episode in its own right, but things get way weirder. Bear with us here and pity the recappers.
Cut to: July 16, 1945. White Sands, New Mexico. It's the Trinity Nuclear Test—the first detonation of a nuclear weapon. This episode is bonkers. (Also, from here on out, we're almost solely in black and white.) We watch a slow, surreal view of the erupting mushroom cloud—with insane, tense music as we get closer and closer and closer. Inside are impressionistic flashes, burnt-out film splotches, particles, rainbow bursts of color. Essentially, this is Lynch fantasia. It’s basically pointless to try to recap this sequence—just go back and watch it. It's cool.
At a New Mexico convenience store, a strange cloud moves in and out of a gas pump—and then we get the appearance of the strange, ragged Woodsmen from before. In a clipped, glitch-y sequence, they appear and disappear. We hear echoes of the weird surging sound that brings people in and out of the Red Room as the lights go on and off.
Back inside the, er, mushroom cloud: a strange humanoid creature—the Experiment Model (see below)—appears in darkness and vomits up a strange, glutinous substance. There’s a small blob, inside of which we see the face of Bob. We get more shots of the explosion and destruction wrought by the bomb in another operatic sequence. A gold blob comes at us—we go inside of it. More surging through a space of red blobs. Lots of blobs. And then we arrive at a purple ocean—a lot like the place Cooper stopped on his way out of the Red Room. A steep rocky cliff houses a steely, ominous structure with a single, tiny window. Inside, a strange 1920s scene in high-contrast black-and-white containing the strange machinery that Cooper touched when he was on top of the strange place in between the Red Room and the real world.
A vamp-y, dark haired woman called Senorita Dido waits in a sequined gown, listening to music. The machine lights up and begins to buzz. The Giant or "??????" appears, and looks out the window. He switches off the machine. He goes to a theater where a similar machine exists. On the screen, he watches the same footage of the same explosion that began the sequence and the footage of the strange men overrunning the convenience store. He looks disturbed. He also pauses on the footage of Bob being borne out of the Experiment Model.
Then he levitates. The woman approaches him, also concerned about the image of Bob on the screen. Both look imbued with a sense of purpose. A spotlight follows her as she watches the Giant dissolve into golden molecules that produce a tree above his head, resulting in a golden orb that he emits, like a counterpoint to the orb containing Bob. It is delivered to the woman: Inside is the face of Laura Palmer. (!!!) She lets the orb float away into a tubular (heavily CGI-ed) contraption on the ceiling that dispenses it into planet earth—penetrating the screen. Insert your own less time-constrained film-theory critiques.
Now we’re in 1956, August 5, in New Mexico again. A strange egg hatches and out comes a strange, reptilian, winged, crawling creature. Elsewhere, a boy walks with a girl at night, and she finds a penny near the convenience store... the same one from before. A strange figure appears in the landscape—possibly Bob? On the highway, one of the evil Woodsmen asks a passerby, “Got a light?” in a strange voice. The car is overrun by tons of them, zombie-like, but the potential victims speed off. The kids are still walking around, as the boy walks the girl home and gives her a goodnight kiss.
At a local radio station, a Woodsman breaks inside. He asks again, “Got a light?” in a sinister tone as he crushes a secretary’s skull. He heads for the DJ, but has something else in mind. As he’s crushing his head, he takes hold of the mic, and repeats a strange chant: “This is the water and this is the well. Drink full and descend. The horse is the white of the eyes (?), and dark within.” Anyone listening—at an auto shop, a diner, and the same girl from before in her bedroom—drops in a slumber. And then: the strange insect crawls into the girl’s window, and enters her mouth. Laura Palmer, 1.0?
Whew. Are you still there? Cool. Another big one here is the appearance of the Experiment Model, listed in the credits but kind of hard to identify. We only ever saw it before as a white, shadowy figure holding a golden orb in the strange glass box in present-day New York a few episodes ago, before it killed the unsuspecting Sam and Tracey. So that explains the top-secret government connection: this thing is a result of nuclear experimentation gone awry. The strange insect entering the little girl also smacks of Bob and how he inhabits human hosts. And what's going to happen to the real Cooper now that Bob is dead? Hey, I’m not making any bold claims now: The whole Twin Peaks universe just, well, exploded.
Laura Dern, Naomi Watts, Patricia Arquette, and Hailey Gates Open Up About Working with Legendary Director David Lynch: