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‘Twin Peaks’: Time Loops and Soup Offer Clues to the Town’s Dysfunction and Imminent Danger

It’s happening again and again and again…

Everett McGill, "Twin Peaks"

Everett McGill, “Twin Peaks”


[Editor’s Note: The following review contains spoilers for “Twin Peaks: The Return,” Season 3, “Part 13” (Episode 13).]

History repeating itself on “Twin Peaks” has so far fallen into the category of not learning from or not being able to move on from past mistakes. Shelly (Madchen Amick) married an abusive man when she was too young and is now romantically involved with Red (Balthazar Getty), a man who’s been shown to have violent tendencies. Her daughter Becky (Amanda Seyfried) also married an abusive man.

In this past Sunday’s episode, Ed Hurley (Everett McGill) reveals through a heartbreaking look that he’s still in love with Norma (Peggy Lipton), while she’s involved with someone else. Even Ed’s nephew James (James Marshall) gives viewers major deja vu with his rendition of “Just You,” a song he had crooned in Season 2 of the original series with two dark-haired ladies backing him up.

But Sunday’s “Part 13” did more than just reveal thematic repetitions. In one scene, Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie) is drinking in her living room while her TV plays the same clip of a black and white boxing match over and over, separated by the tell-tale sound of an electrical crackle. It’s not clear if she even realizes that the boxing segment has been playing on loop, but it appears that she’s still living linearly, sans loops, as she chain smokes and fetches more vodka.

"Twin Peaks"

Throughout “The Return,” the electrical crackle has preceded or followed numerous significant or fraught events, such as when Richard Horne (Eamon Farren) ran down the little boy or when Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) made his way into Dougie’s body. In “Part 11,” Hawk (Michael Horse) explains how the fire symbol on his living map indicates the concept of fire, something more like modern-day electricity, and that each has good or bad intentions behind it. In Sarah’s case, the “fire” or electricity hasn’t revealed its intentions yet, but she has always been sensitive to or a drawn to darkness. She saw visions of BOB before he killed her daughter Laura (Sheryl Lee) and lookalike niece Maddy.

If these forces can affect the dilation of time, that would explain many of the explicable occurrences: Major Briggs’ (Don S. Davis) body not aging, Annie (Heather Graham) speaking to Laura, and the question that MIKE (Al Strobel) asks in the Black Lodge: “Is it future or is it past?” The Evolution of the Arm also once declared, “Time and time again,” indicating the cyclical nature of so much of what’s happening in the series.

One eagle-eyed Redditor caught something curious in “Part 13” that may also hint at looped time. Just before the credits roll, Ed is sitting at the counter of Big Ed’s Gas Farm eating some soup out of a cup. But as he gazes out into the night, it appears he sees something too. Although he has put the cup down, his reflection is still holding the cup and then skips a bit and puts it down. In any lesser project, this could be chalked up to sloppy editing, but David Lynch is a master of control and manipulation, and this does not feel like an accident. In fact, this feels like it would have to be skillfully put together. Watching the clip back, we see that the live Ed is still moving in normal time, as his gaze follows the direction of a car that is driving by, but the reflection does not mirror this action. The reflection could be showing an incident in the immediate future or past… or it could be a doppelgänger.

"Twin Peaks"

Although similar murders have shown that Laura Palmer’s death wasn’t a unique experience, “Part 8” suggested that there is something special about her and her presence in “Twin Peaks.” It’s the warring “fires” of good (the Laura essence deployed) and evil (BOB, who was born from a nuclear explosion) that have left their mark on Twin Peaks. It makes sense that the Log Lady (Catherine Coulson) has visions from the good trees and her log, that Nadine Hurley (Wendy Robie) is curiously strong, and that Sarah is sensitive to bad things that will happen.

Is the wonkiness with time a symptom of the good and evil forces that will soon converge on Twin Peaks? There does seem to be an increasingly confusing timeline in the past few episodes. Becky shooting up a door out of the blue in order to find her philandering husband occurs two episodes before she says she’s worried sick because he’s been missing a couple days. Deputy Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook) investigates a shooting right outside the diner, but another cop says he heard gunshots at Big Ed’s Gas Farm. Bobby also mentions in the latest episode that he has just found the things his father Major Briggs left “today,” but not only did that occur about four episodes ago, it seems that at least a day has passed since the series shows Bobby at night investigating the stray shooting and then again in daytime at the RR diner. In the very least he should have said “yesterday” if time on the show is running in order.

But if time has been out of order lately then that could help explain some events. It’s worth paying attention to the show’s obvious markers of time, such as when characters mention the days. Some inexplicable things, such as the conversation between the women at the Roadhouse about a guy cheating on his girlfriend, could also give clues as to when events are happening. Time going sideways in “Twin Peaks” might also explain Sarah’s behavior earlier at the liquor store in which she gets freaked out seeing turkey jerky at the cashier’s counter that appears to be new — or is it? — and even questions the cashier if she were there to witness when it came in. Her sensitivity to what’s wrong is probably the strongest indicator that something big or bad or possibly both are about to go down.

With only five more episodes to go, not much time is left to wrap up this Lynchian exercise in surrealism, morality and nostalgia. But this plea below promises that what’s coming will be worth the wait.

"Twin Peaks"

“Twin Peaks” airs on Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on Showtime.

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