Twin Peaks: The Return – Episode 11 Breakdown, Thoughts, and Analysis

Part 11
Written by Mark Frost & David Lynch
Directed by David Lynch


A trio of young boys play catch outside their home. The ball rolls across the road, and the eldest goes to retrieve, only to find a broken and bloodied Miriam crawling out of the woods. So she survived the attack by Richard Horne which makes her able to testify against him one day.

Over at the Fat Trout Trailer Park, Becky receives a phone call telling her Steven was seen with another woman. She calls Shelly in a rage saying she needs Shelly’s car and gets a handgun she has hidden away. Becky steals the car when her mother arrives, but Shelly hangs onto the hood only to be thrown. Carl Rodd finds Shelly and gets her a ride back to the Double R. We learn Bobby is Becky’s father. Carl radios Maggie at the PD and gets Shelly in contact with Bobby.

Becky slams on the door of the apartment where Steven was seen at. The neighbor tells her they just left. Becky unloads her gun into the door. There’s a strange camera tracking shot to Steven and…Gersten Heyward hiding in a stairwell listening. Maggie gets overwhelmed with calls to the station about the shooting. Gersten (Alicia Witt) was last seen as a very young girl in Season 2, Episode 1. She is Donna’s youngest sister and was played by Witt, who also worked with Lynch on Dune. She seems to have fallen into a rough patch, as the older lover of Steven and living in a relatively dismal place. More signs that Doop’s exit from the Lodge back in Season 2 has caused more corruption to leak into the world.

Gordon, Albert, Preston, Diane, Macklay, and Hastings go to the location of the Zone gateway. Hastings points out a hole in the fence that gets you closer to the rift. Gordon and Albert spot one of the burnt men lurking behind the building. They enter, and Gordon begins to witness a portal opening in the sky, swirling and cavernous, much like the tracking shots inside the Trinity bomb explosion in episode 8. Those outside the fence don’t see any distortions though. Gordon begins to fade and sees a staircase with three burnt men positioned on it. Albert jumps forward and pulls Gordon back before he vanishes for good. The two men discover Ruth Davenport’s headless body with the coordinates written on her arm.

Back at the cars, Diane spies one of the burnt men creeping towards Macklay’s vehicle but says nothing. The spirit enters Hastings and blows the top of his head completely off. Everyone rushes over to find the man is dead and Diane still says nothing.

At the Double R, Shelly and Bobby have brought Becky in for a serious talk. Becky seems to be caught up in the same emotional state Shelly once was, hating and loving her abusive husband. In the midst of this serious conversation, Red walks by the diner and Shelly seems overcome with joy. She leaves her ex and her daughter sitting at the table stunned as she rushes out to say hi to Red. Apparently, Red and Shelly have been dating off screen for awhile.

Shelly returns to the table, but the peace is broken by sudden gunshots from outside. Everyone hits the ground in a panic and Bobby exits to investigate. He finds a van stopped at the light, a mother raging at a father for putting a gun under the seat, a gun which their son got his hands on. The father and son behave strangely, both similarly dressed in camouflage hunting clothes, wordless and striking strange nonchalant postures. The mother is in hysterics. The driver behind them fills the air with the cacophonous noise of a car horn.

Deputy Jesse arrives on the scene, and Bobby goes to deal with the woman honking her horn. She immediately begins yelling about being late for dinner. She continues by talking about an unnamed female saying “she” is going to see her uncle who she hasn’t seen in a very long time and that they have miles to go. She also states that “she” is very sick at which point an unseen until now young girl emerges from the shadow of the passenger’s seat, spewing green liquid from her mouth, arms extended and grasping out for some unknown hold.

At the Police Department, Hawk shows Truman an old Nez Perce map of the area and explains that this is a living document, a map that always seems to speak to what is happening in current times. He explains that Blue Pine Mountain, where Briggs’ listening station was, is a holy place. He also says that the fire on the map is a symbol for what would be modern-day electricity, a force devoid of morality but that can be wielded by good and evil. Hawk also points out the image of black corn and explains this is a corruption of fertility and life. When you combine the fire and the corn you get an image of black fire, sat next to a black teepee (black lodge). Truman asks about a symbol matching the one on Briggs’ note and Doop’s scratched up playing card. Hawk replies that Truman doesn’t ever want to know about that. The Log Lady calls and says she knows that where they are going there is fire and they must be careful. Deputy Jesse knocks on the door after the call wanting Truman to come see his new car and is rebuffed.

hawk's map

The discussion of the black fire made me think of two things: Annie *Blackburn* and the seeming corruption of Twin Peaks over the last 25 years. The black corn is a corruption of fertility and life, the garmonbozia that spirits like Bob feed on, symbolized by creamed corn in Fire Walk With Me. The strange encounter Bobby has in the street felt like a corruption of reality. It was all so chaotic and wretched, a corruption of the good things in life.

In Buckhorn, Gordon is still shaky after his experience in the abandoned lot. Albert pulls out the photo of the coordinates on Ruth’s arm to examine, and Diane appears to memorize them, possibly to send to Doop later? Gordon asks where those coordinates represent and Albert responds a small town in the north…but is cut off by the arrival of Preston and Macklay with coffee. If it were Twin Peaks, which Albert and Gordon have been to, you would think he would just say that. So I don’t believe the path is leading to Twin Peaks or something else is going on with characters’ memories. Discussion of Hastings’ death is struck up, and Gordon and Albert talk about the burnt man they saw. Diane chimes in but lies saying she thinks she saw some one like that getting out of the police car.

We now go to Las Vegas where the rest of the episode will take place. Phil leads Cooper into Bushnell’s office with coffee where the boss explains what he found. The Mitchum brothers had a legitimate claim on their burnt down casino, so Cooper is to take a $30 million check to the brothers. Bushnell also believes there is a conspiracy to kill Cooper because of his work as a claims investigator. The Mitchums want to sit down with Cooper, still thinking he is Dougie and not knowing they about receive a massive payout.

Bradley Mitchum tells his brother he is anxious about meeting with Cooper and that he had a dream about this day.

Cooper is brought downstairs by Bushnell for the limo but is lured into a confectionary shop by an image of the One Armed Man. He comes out with a large box and gets into the car, driven by the same man who dropped him off the casino back in Part 4. Bushnell tells Cooper to knock ‘em dead, and Cooper responds by reaching up to squeeze his own cheeks and say “Dead.” This is the same gesture Doop made when he killed off his mechanic henchman in Part 3. Do Cooper and Doop share memories in some way? Then we have a horrrrrrible cover of Viva Las Vegas that is the worst piece of music used all season.

Cooper is brought to the Mitchums at an undisclosed location in the desert to be executed. Bradley still feels like his dream was trying to tell him something and proves there’s validity by showing Rodney his cut is healed. Bradley recognizes Cooper’s box from his dream and wants to investigate. He finds a cherry pie inside and then frisks Cooper. He discovers the check and the Mitchums’ tone toward Cooper completely flips.

Cooper is taken to a nice dinner on the Mitchums where the cherry pie is sliced up and served. The Lady Slot-Addict from back in Parts 3 and 4 is at the restaurant having dinner, dressed nicely and celebrating her earnings with her son. She sees Cooper, calling him Mr. Jackpots, and thanks him for changing her life. A melancholy song plays on the piano that seems to draw Cooper into a deep trance. The Mitchums three ladies arrive, and Candy is still in a daze, talking about how many cars were on the Vegas Strip. There are a lot of similarities between Cooper’s Dougie daze and Candy’s behavior. I almost wonder if she is someone who passed through. Last episode, the Mitchums mention getting rid of her but talking about how she would have nowhere to go. That implies to be that they discovered in a bad situation, homeless, wandering the city?

The episode concludes with the piano player performing the melancholy tune, “Heartbreaking” by Angelo Badalamenti. There is a connection between how this episode ends and the last time we saw Gersten Heyward. Compare the two videos.


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