If you didn’t watch episode one of the new Twin Peaks, just stop reading now. As hard to follow as the original Twin Peaks series could be, the new season has a 25-year gap to fill in, plus a bevy of new locales far beyond the Pacific Northwest as well as plenty of distractingly awesome cameos. The second part of the premiere of the rebooted third season ties up a semi-satisfying amount of loose ends from the first part: we find out, for example, why Twin Peaks now has plotlines in New York City and North Dakota. But the mystery swirling around the new Twin Peaks is definitely not as simple as, “Who killed Laura Palmer?” Sometimes it’s more like, “Where the hell are we?” Still, it’s pure David Lynch, heavy on the symbolism and the question marks.
We begin where part one left off, as high-school principal Bill Hastings (Matthew Lillard) gets a visit from his wife (Cornelia Guest) in jail; he’s suspected of murdering librarian Ruth Davenport in small-town Buckhorn, North Dakota, because his fingerprints were all over her place. He makes a confession: “I wasn’t there but I had a dream that night that I was in her apartment.”
His wife, a Laura Palmer lookalike, reveals she knows about his affair with the woman, and brags that she’s having an affair, too. “You’re going down, Bill,” she taunts him. These two are great: their relationship is one of relatively few comic bits, and calls back to the soapy affair plotlines of the original. Hastings freaks out once she leaves, and the whole scenario smacks of Leland Palmer’s hysteria in the wake of Laura Palmer’s death. We all know how that turned out. Mrs. Hastings runs into her lover, George, at the station and tells him that her husband knows, and to meet her at home later. In a cell near Hasting’s, a mysterious painted, frozen man hunches over in a cell and then disappears, with just his head floating away.
Mrs. Hastings arrives home to find Dale Cooper, the long-haired Bob-possessed version, at her house, and these two apparently know each other. “You did good,” he says. “You follow human nature perfectly.” Then he shoots her without ceremony, using George’s gun.
Las Vegas! We’re in Vegas now. Why? Who knows. A man played by Patrick Fischler, another Mulholland Drive cast member, sits in an extravagant office overlooking the city. He hands off some money to a younger man, saying to tell an unknown woman that she has the job. “Why do you let him make you do these things?” the younger man asks about the boss. “Don’t let someone like him in your life,” the older one answers. That’s all we hear from these guys.
Back in North Dakota, Host Cooper eats at a greasy diner with his two young hostages/cohorts, Ray and Daria. Apparently, Ray can get information that Host Cooper desperately wants, but we don’t know what or where it is.
In Twin Peaks, Deputy Hawk searches the woods when he gets another call from Log Lady: “The stars turn and the time presents itself…Watch carefully.” Something strange happens in the forest as lights blink and bleed, evoking the Red Room. A bright light flashes and we’re right back there.
The real Dale Cooper is there with Killer Mike, Bob’s accomplice from the earlier seasons, who asks him, in the clipped, garbled voice specific to the Red Room: “Is it future or is it past?” The question is posed to the audience as well: we don’t know for sure when this takes place. After Mike disappears, a grown-up Laura Palmer appears in a velvet black dress. She tells Cooper he can go out now and asks if he recognizes her. But when he asks if she is Laura Palmer, she only says, “I feel like I know her but sometimes my arms bend back.” Cool callback. He asks her again, “Who are you?” and she replies this time that she is Laura Palmer. Then she takes her face off, revealing she’s made of blinding white light. The exchange is classic Twin Peaks: ask a question, and you’ll get a different answer each time, and all of them are correct.
When Cooper asks her, “When can I go?” she saunters over to him, kisses him, and whispers something inaudible in his ear. He nods, and she is quickly spirited away by some unknown force, shrieking wildly—not unlike how, in the last episode, the glass box creature attacked the couple. A wind comes in and blows the curtains open, and a white horse, a reference from Fire Walk With Me, appears…
… And we’re back in the same scene with Mike again. Clearly, this is Dale Cooper’s life in limbo. Mike takes Cooper into a different part of the room, where a swaying electric tree with a fleshy blob head introduces itself.
“I am the arm. And I sound like this.” It makes a weird sucking sound. “Do you remember your doppelganger?” We flash to Cooper laughing with Bob. “He must come back in before you can go out.” This all checks out with what Laura said, and it starts makes sense why Host Cooper back in reality is getting so nervous.
Somewhere in North Dakota, said doppelganger for Cooper arrives at a motel where his hostage/cohort Daria is waiting in pink lingerie, on the phone with Ray, who is calling from prison because he apparently got caught bringing firearms over state lines. (Side note: they obviously crossed in North Dakota from some other state, clarifying their location in the first episode.)
She hangs up when Host Cooper walks in. It becomes clear everyone’s intentions—murky as they already seem—are not what they appear: Host Cooper plays the recording, about how Daria and Ray are planning to kill him. He, in turn, tells Daria he plans to kill her. He demands she tell him who hired them but Daria doesn’t know, only Ray does. Host Cooper wants to know if anyone has told them coordinates or locations.
“Tomorrow I’m supposed to be pulled back to the Black Lodge,” he explains. “But I’ve got a plan for that one.” It’s coming together.
Then he asks if she has ever seen a certain symbol: a blob-shaped form on an ace card, and it looks not unlike the arm. “This is what I want,” he emphasizes. She has no clue, so he mercilessly shoots her. He immediately opens his briefcase and hooks up to a kind of intercom, where a voice tells him, “I missed you in New York.” It’s the voice of Philip Jeffries—the FBI agent who disappeared in South America and reappeared in Fire Walk With Me (originally played by David Bowie). “You’re going back in tomorrow,” he adds. Bob’s time in Cooper’s body is running out.
His laptop is connected to a DOJ site; it shows he is in Buckthorn, but there’s a marker on the State Prison in Yankton (presumably where Hastings, of the Buckthorn plotline, might be). Host Cooper downloads all the information on the case, and leaves the room with a drive containing the info. But he’s not going far: a few doors down, a new character, the robe-clad, gun-wielding Chantal, waits for him, played by none other than Jennifer Jason Leigh.
In Chantal’s room, Cheez-Its and champagne litter the floor. She’s going to clean up the crime scene for Host Cooper. They’re in this together.
Hold on, because this is where it gets confusing: The Real Dale Cooper is still trapped in the Red Room at the Black Lodge, this time with Leland Palmer. “Find Laura,” he says. Soon after, Cooper opens a red curtain and it looks out onto a highway, where Host Cooper is driving onto his next destination. The arm reappears, hissing, and squeals “Non-existent!” as Cooper falls into the breaking floor, into a sea below. Where does he land? Smack on top of the glass box, poking out of the side of a Manhattan building. So at least that’s settled.
Cooper enters the portal and floats inside the box—held inside the now familiar concrete space. It’s the same room from episode one, but no one is watching. Outside, no one is at the desk. That’s because this is the same scene from episode one, when the flirting couple decide to both watch the glass box since the guard is gone—presumably they are moments away from re-entering. Meanwhile, Cooper floats in the box, which, in a dizzingly sequence, shrinks and grows and shrinks again until he disappears in a flash of light. The box is empty again, and we know from episode one what happens after. Cooper surges through a strange atmosphere.
The rest of the episode takes place one night in Twin Peaks, and just does some work in the way of catching us up on other characters. Laura Palmer’s mother chain-smokes while watching lions rip their prey apart as she watches with interest. Nothing to see here, folks. At the Bang Bang Bar, Twin Peaks staples like Shelley Johnson (Mädchen Amick) and James Hurley (James Marshall) are out on the town, along with… Jessica Szohr from Gossip Girl? Anyway, the Bang Bang Bar has gotten a little hipper: The Chromatics are on stage performing “Shadow.” It’s not a total stretch—they are from Portland— but it’s the first time the show made me think “Huh?” in a bad way. The scene is sort of sloppy and moony in well, a Gossip Girl kind of way, though maybe it’s intentional. Expect more cameos, red herrings, and symbolic otherworldly creatures in the next installment.
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