Welcome back, Audrey. Thanks for the headache.
It was hard not to commiserate with poor, tired Charlie (Clark Middleton) after our sudden reintroduction to his wife: Dropped into the scene without warning and knowing very little about the characters under discussion, it was Audrey’s presence that was meant to hold us at attention throughout her lengthy 2017 debut. But between getting to know Charlie, sorting through all the insults, and figuring out the identities of Chuck, Tina, and the missing Billy, her unveiling was about as jarring as a bomb going off in a bank.
From what we can remember, Billy — the man Audrey’s been cheating on her husband Charlie with, and is now desperate to find — is the nervous fellow from Episode 7 who Andy meets with at his trailer. First, he begs Andy to leave, and then he never shows up for their arranged 4:30 p.m. rendezvous later that day. At the very end of the episode, a man bursts into the diner and shouts, “Hey, has anyone seen Billy?” and then scampers off as the credits roll.
However the Billy mystery plays out is all well and good. It’s obviously of more importance than anyone could have guessed when those brief scenes played out weeks ago, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned about “Twin Peaks: The Return,” it’s that key information will be related when it’s needed. Putting the pieces together can be fun, and perhaps Audrey’s contrarian nature makes such a puzzle-sorting unveiling fitting for her character, but it did little to bolster “Part 12” overall.
Even with similarly obscure, throwaway moments from past episodes being brought back up with renewed prominence, some of the extended and disconnected scenes in “Part 12” felt redundant. How many more times do we need to watch Gordon ogle a beautiful woman? Albert’s exasperation at how long it was taking for Gordon’s date to get up and leave could be read as exhaustion or admiration: the same two emotions likely felt by fans at home.
Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) shouted one of the best lines of the series in “Part 12” — “The fucks are at it again!” — but we’d already heard it in “Part 5.” We’d already seen his sales pitch, too, just as we’ve been aware of Nadine Hurley’s (Wendy Robie) infatuation with the mad doctor. (Though, admittedly, we haven’t sent him our $29.95 yet.) Even Hawk’s (Michael Horse) visit with Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie) did little to enhance her beautiful scene in the supermarket just minutes prior. “Something happened to me!” she screamed at the bemused stock boy and checkout girl: Something did, to be sure, but that’s all we learned when we saw her again, as well.
As the week progresses, fans will undoubtedly uncover more secrets from the dense episode. But as an immediate experience, “Part 12” did a more artful job doling out blunt exposition than teasing secrets to come.
Final Note: “Part 12” only had one scene with Dougie. This is it. (I loved it.)
“Twin Peaks” will air an hour earlier beginning next week, August 6. New episodes start at 8 p.m. ET on Showtime.